Microsoft Security Warnings for Windows and Internet Explorer

It’s been a busy week for Microsoft Security.  First, they took down all support for Windows 7 on January 14th. And, if you are still using Win7 you saw this warning message pop up on your screen that Tuesday morning:

microsoft security - Windows 7 end of life warning message

Microsoft Security – Windows 10:

And then, also on January 14th,  the National Security Agency or NSA tells us that Windows 10 has a major security breach.

“On January 14, Microsoft released a set of patches for the Windows platform. While all of the issues addressed in the patch release are serious, this article will discuss one of them: CVE-2020-0601. Above anything else, we urge everyone to take action and patch their systems. CVE-2020-0601 is a serious vulnerability, because it can be exploited to undermine Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) trust. PKI is a set of mechanisms that home users, businesses, and governments rely upon in a wide variety of ways. The vulnerability permits an attacker to craft PKI certificates to spoof trusted identifies, such as individuals, web sites, software companies, service providers, or others. Using a forged certificate, the attacker can (under certain conditions) gain the trust of users or services on vulnerable systems, and leverage that trust to compromise them.”

I don’t pretend to know what this security breach does, but I do know that if you’re Operating System is Windows 10 and you haven’t downloaded and installed the latest Windows 10 updates, you’re crazy!

Internet Explorer:

And, now we find out that Internet Explorer also has a major vulnerability. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) reports:

“Microsoft has released a security advisory to address a critical vulnerability in Internet Explorer. A remote attacker could exploit this vulnerability to take control of an affected system. According to the advisory, “Microsoft is aware of limited targeted attacks.””

And, from Newsgram:

“Microsoft has confirmed a security flaw affecting Internet Explorer is currently being used by hackers and it is working on a fix, to be released at a later date. The vulnerability was first reported by US Homeland Security on Friday evening, although the issue is not limited to American devices.”

Since 2014, CISA has recommended that people not use Internet Explorer, but use a different browser instead:

“US-CERT is aware of active exploitation of a use-after-free vulnerability in Microsoft Internet Explorer. This vulnerability affects IE versions 6 through 11 and could allow unauthorized remote code execution. US-CERT recommends that users and administrators review Microsoft Security Advisory 2963983 for mitigation actions and workarounds. Those who cannot follow Microsoft’s recommendations, such as Windows XP users, may consider employing an alternate browser.”

Our recommendation?  Use Firefox!

Is Your Machine Infected?

How can you tell if you have a virus or other malware? Here is a description of some possible malware symptoms you may be experiencing.

Remember, with software, you get what you pay for, so don’t use a free anti-virus. Do you have a great anti-virus?  We like Eset’s NOD32.

Conclusion:

Make sure you have your anti-virus set to automatically check everything you do.  At least once a week, you should also run a virus scan to make extra sure that your machine is good to go.

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report on what to look for to protect yourself from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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Confessions of a Neophobe – 6 Surprising Reasons to Keep Windows 7

Believe it or not, Geek For Hire is recommending that you keep Windows 7.  Even though there’s some scary language coming out of Microsoft like “UPGRADE TO WINDOWS 10 NOW!” and “WINDOWS 7 ISN’T SECURE!”, we believe that you should be okay. But, here is the exact wording from the Microsoft website.

“The specific end of support day for Windows 7 will be January 14, 2020. After that, technical assistance and software updates from Windows Update that help protect your PC will no longer be available for the product. Microsoft strongly recommends that you move to Windows 10 sometime before January 2020 to avoid a situation where you need service or support that is no longer available.”

Call us crazy, but at Geek For Hire, we don’t think this is really the end of the world. And, at least for right now, we’re not recommending that you go out and purchase a new Windows 10 machine or migrate to the newest version of Windows.

keep windows 7?

Here are our reasons to keep Windows 7:

  1. Change is bad. (You were wondering what neophobe meant, weren’t you!)
  2. Your older machine probably can’t handle the memory requirements
  3. You don’t like to learn something new
  4. A new machine with Windows 10 is expensive, especially if it comes with all the storage and speed you need.
  5. Your old software may not work with Windows 10 – you’d have to buy a whole new software package.
  6. But, the Most Important thing to know if you keep Windows 7:
    Windows updates consist primarily of security and protection updates. As long as you use a very good AntiVirus software package AND keep it up to date, you should be fine.  We like ESET’s NOD32.

If you’re looking for more detailed information, we published this blog several months ago about what your options are with Windows 7.

Keep an eye on this page.  As the year progresses we may recommend an upgrade to Windows 10.

Conclusion:

If you decide to keep Windows 7, you must keep your Anti-Virus software up to date!

Please note: We will often recommend products, parts, and resources that we like. Sometimes we’ll receive an affiliate commission for at no additional cost to you.

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report on what to look for to protect yourself from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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2019 Tech Year In Review

2019 has been a busy year for technology.  Does anyone else feel like Moore’s Law has been replaced with something faster?  Here are just a few of the 2019 Tech Trends for the past year.

Apple:

Apple had two significant 2019 tech releases: the iPhone 11 and the Apple Watch 5. My friends who have purchased the iPhone 11 are thrilled with the new camera and longer battery life.  Other features include upgraded glass, faster CPU, and the newest WiFi 6.

I traded in my Fitbit Charge 3 for the Apple Watch 5 earlier this year and I am loving it! The interface for phone calls and texting is so much better.  With the Fitbit, I’d get a notification of a call.  With the Apple Watch, I can pretend I’m Dick Tracy and answer the calls on my wrist!  I like the fitness tracking on the Apple Watch much better than the Fitbit.  It’s more intuitive to use and seems more accurate.

Electric Cars:

To me, it feels like 2019 was the year for the electric vehicle.  Where ever I was driving I would see EVs all over the place; from Teslas to Chevy Bolts to the Nisson Leaf and others. Chris likes EVs for lots of reasons.  One being that their range has greatly expanded.  When they first came on the market, you’d be lucky if you got 150 miles.  Now they go 300 miles and more.  I have a friend who has driven her Tesla from Colorado to Washington DC and back.  There were plenty of places to stop on the way to recharge. Another reason Chris likes EVs is that they have very little engine maintenance.

Microsoft:

Don’t forget that support for the Windows 7 Operating System will come to an end on 14 January 2020.  If you’re still using Windows 7 you’ve got some decisions to make!  Please read our article for more information, and what your options are. Of course, we’re always available if you need guidance. https://geekforhireinc.com/windows-7-support-end/

Netflix:

If you use an older Roku for streaming Netflix you may already know that they will stop supporting older devices in December.  Check out their website for devices that they do support.

SpaceX

Chris has been watching the development of SpaceX for years.  This year, they’ve had a lot of activity with their Satellite Constellation project, Starlink.  Currently, there are 122 satellites in orbit. By the end of the first phase, sometime in 2021, Starlink will have over 1500 satellites in orbit.

Just after the launch in November of 60 satellites, they were seen as a “train” in the sky. (There were many UFO reports in Europe!)

According to wwwSstarlink.com “SpaceX is leveraging its experience in building rockets and spacecraft to deploy the world’s most advanced broadband internet system.”

Conclusion:

What else happened in 2019 Tech?  Add your comments below!

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report on what to look for to protect yourself from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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Happy Holidays from Geek For Hire, Inc.

Whatever your religion or whatever holidays you celebrate, Geek For Hire wishes you all Happy Holidays!

We all celebrate the Solstice though – Days start getting longer. A minute here and a minute there and pretty soon we won’t be waking up before the sun.  Yay!

Happy Holidays!Happy Holidays!

It’s not too late to get on our mailing list to receive coupons and discounts throughout the year.  Click to add yourself to the list and get our free Password Guide.

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report on what to look for to protect yourself from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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Overwhelmed by Google? Internet Searching Tips Save You Time!

Have you ever searched for something on the Internet, using Google or Duck-Duck-Go, and been so frustrated with the results?  You KNOW what you’re looking for, but you get back so many links that are not close to what you really want. When I’m searching for something, I’ll generally just type a word or phrase into the search box. Sometimes I just get too many results back. I’ve picked up a few tips along the way that may be helpful to you too. When I’m looking for something specific, I’ll use one of the Internet searching tips listed below.Internet Searching

Internet Searching Tips:

You might also be interested in these Keyboard Shortcuts for Mac or Windows.

Exact Match:

When you use quotation marks, you only search for what is inside the quotes.  For example:

Women “Science Technology Engineering Math”

…will bring up information about Women in STEM fields.

Exclusion:

When you use the minus sign, you’ll exclude that information from your search.  For example:Internet Searching

“Ada Lovelace” -Babbage

….will bring up information about Ada Lovelace without references to Charles Babbage.

Wild Card – Asterisk:

Instead of typing in “Women Engineers”, and then a second search for “Women in Engineering”, you can use a wildcard. When you use the asterisk after a word or partial word, you’ll get variations of that back. For example:

“Women Engin*”

…..will bring back results about Women in Engineering, Women Engineers, Engineering Programs for Women, etc.

Wild Card – Question Mark:

Similarly, you can use a question mark for a single character. For example:

Wom?n STEM

…will bring back links to womEn and individual womAn in the STEM fields

Specific Web Site:

Do you want to search within a specific web site?  Use “site:website”. For example:

“Wang Zhenyi” site:scientificwomen.net

….will bring up articles relating to astronomer Wang Zhenyi at ScientificWomen.  (She broke gender barriers in China in the late 1700’s.)

Weather:

If you’re looking for weather in a specific location, type “weather” and the zip code or city name. For example:

Weather 80302

…..will show the current weather in Boulder Colorado

Location:

If you want to find something in a particular location, enter the location and then type what you’re looking for. For example:

Colorado “Ski Report”

…will bring up a list of ski conditions at Colorado resorts

Internet Searching with Google’s Search Tabs:

Have you used Google’s Search Tabs? They are located underneath Google’s search bar and provide you with additional options. For example:

WEB     NEWS     IMAGES     VIDEOS     BOOKS     MORE     SEARCH TOOLS

News:

If you are looking specifically for a news story that occurred in the last 24 hours,  follow these steps:

  • Firstly, Enter your search terms in the search bar.
  • Secondly, Click on the News tab.
  • Third, Click on the Search Tools Tab
  • Last, Click on “Anytime” and select “24 hours” from the drop-down menu

Images:

If you’re looking for an image, enter a description in the search bar and then click on the Images Tab.  If you want to fine-tune your search, then you can add other criteria.  Click on “Search Tools” and then, select the color, type of image, usage rights, etc.

Google Cheat Sheet:

You can also print out this cheat sheet from Google:

Internet Search Tool

Have you used any of these Internet Searching tips?  Are there other tips you use?  Please share them in the comments below!

More Internet Searching Options:

Did you know you can use these tips on other Google pages as well?  Try it when you’re looking for something specific in your Gmail or Google Calendar.

Conclusion:

Using these Internet Searching Tips will save you time!

Did you figure out the theme of this post?  Share it with #WomenInTechnology or #WomenInSTEM!

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report on what to look for to protect yourself from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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How NOT to Become a Victim of Holiday Phishing Scams

It’s the Holiday season and, like me, you’re probably getting more emails than ever. Holiday phishing scams are on the rise! In the past few days, we’ve received a number of calls from people wondering if an email was “real” or not.  In most cases, they were not. I think they send out so many of these messages in November and December because they know we are so overwhelmed between work and shopping and family that we’ll likely miss any clues.holiday phishing scams

Examples of Holiday Phishing Scams:

  • One person got an email from her “email provider” saying she needed to log in to her account right away because they claimed her mailbox had exceeded storage on her account. “Just click this link and you can log in!”
  • Another received an email from his “bank” claiming someone else tried to log into his account and he needed to click this link and log in right away to confirm his identity.
  • A third received a phone call from her “credit card company” saying there was fraudulent activity and she just needed to provide her birthday and last four of her social security number to confirm her identity.
  • A fourth received an email from a magazine he subscribes to. They wanted to let him know that his subscription was up for renewal and they were all set to charge his account on December 13th.  If he wanted to make any changes all he had to do was click the link.

Scammers have gotten better and better about making you believe that a particular email is from a real company and not from a scammer.

Other Scams:

And don’t forget about Social Media.  I think by now we’ve all received the private Facebook message that says “I can’t believe what you did! Check out the video!”, but when you click on the video you start spamming all of YOUR friends! But other private messages are more subtle. Always double-check with your friend to see if they really sent you the link.

Another recent scam is sending a link via a text message. I’ve been getting a lot of these recently. In fact, I received one just this morning! It was sent to 20 other people all with sequential cell phone numbers telling us to “Tap to load preview”

holiday phishing scams - text message

So that leads us to the question…

How do I protect myself from Holiday Phishing Scams?

First, be hyper-vigilant with your personal information.  When a company calls you and says they want to confirm it’s you by having you provide your birthday, address,  or the last four of your social, just say “NO!”. Tell them you’ll be happy to call them back at a number you already have for that company to take care of the issue.

Next, check to see that the email even makes sense.  Are you receiving a message from a bank you no longer do business with? Did you get an email from your girlfriend saying she is stranded in Athens, but you saw her just last night?

Next, carefully review your emails before clicking on any links. Even if the logos are correct and the color scheme is correct, it still might be a scam.  Is the message really from “Amazon.com” or is it from “Amaz0ne.com”?  (Notice the letter “o” became the number zero.)  Check the “from” address.  And check to see if the link is shortened to a bit.ly link or is it the company’s actual web address?

I’ve written some other blogs about staying safe onlin recently.  Check out:

Of course, you can sign up for our newsletter and receive our free report on how to protect yourself from phishing scams.

Conclusion:

Think before you click!

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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6 Easy Steps to Delete Cookies from Your Browser

Not everyone knows that December 4th is National Cookie Day. And if you did know that, you’re probably thinking about the chocolate chip variety! At Geek For Hire, Inc., when someone says “cookie,” we think “Delete Cookies!” and of the little tracking code that is left behind when you visit most websites.

What Are Cookies?Delete Cookies

A cookie is a code that is stored on a file associated with your web browser on your computer. It is used to uniquely identify you without personally identifying you. Here is Chris’ explanation:

“I think of a cookie as a sticky note with a six on it.  A website will place that sticky note on your forehead. When you visit that website again, it looks at your sticky note and says, “Oh! You’re a six!” and will put a little checkmark to indicate you’ve revisited.”

How do Cookies work?

Cookies track your activity on a particular website.  Some websites collect and store a lot of information: others, just a little. For example, the Geek For Hire, Inc. website uses StatCounter to track the number of visitors to our site. When you visit our site, StatCounter places a cookie on your computer or phone. This helps us know how many visitors we’ve had, how many of those are repeat visitors, and what pages they looked at.  Cookies do not generally track personally identifiable information.

Should you Delete Cookies on your computer?

Absolutely.  When you leave cookies on your machine for months or years, the performance of your browser may be sluggish. (When there are more than 500 files in a folder, the file system becomes ineffective. The website you’re visiting will need to look at all the files in the folder to make sure it gets all the relevant data.  The more files you have, the longer it will take.)  When you delete cookies, your browser experience becomes much more efficient.

benefit to delete cookies

How do you Delete Cookies?

Follow these steps to delete cookies on your machine:

  1. Open your web browser
  2. Click on “Tools”.  If you don’t see a menu bar with “tools”, look on the far right side of your browser for a menu icon or three little dots.
  3. Click on “Options”
  4. Click on “Privacy and Security”
  5. Click on “Browsing History” or “Cookies”
  6. Select the cookies you want to delete.  Some browsers let you delete cookies for individual websites, others let you delete cookies for the past day.  You should also have the option to delete ALL cookies.
  7. If you use more than one browser, for example, Firefox and Chrome and Safari, you’ll need to repeat these steps for each browser.

WARNING: When you delete cookies from your browser history, the browser will have forgotten all of your login information for your bank, Amazon, Facebook, etc. You will need to log into different websites again. Make sure you know your passwords or are ready to change your passwords at the same time.

Check out this article about how to delete cookies on your iPhone.

Another Definition of Cookies:

I also like this definition from Thrillist:

“Simply put, “cookies” are actually small packets of data sent to your browser from websites you visit, containing information about your activity on the page, which your browser then saves as a small text file. That information can include your username and password, site preferences, or what you might’ve left in your Amazon shopping cart — the browser saves that stuff so you don’t have to re-enter it every time, which is nice.

“There are multiple different types of cookies which behave in different ways: Some are erased when you close the window, while others are stored on your hard drive until they expire (or you delete them).

“As for why they’re called cookies, there’s actually a straightforward explanation: It’s a play on “fortune cookies” (because they contain hidden information).”

Conclusion:

Just like changing the batteries on your smoke detector twice a year when the time changes, remember to delete all of your cookies on National Cookie Day.  (And maybe two or three other times per year too.)

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report on what to look for to protect yourself from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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Travel Tips for the Holidays!

It’s Holiday Season and time for many people to take big road trips.  Our family does this every year.  Most of our family is on the East Coast, others are near Los Angeles, and we’re here in snowy Colorado! So someone is driving or flying every year – this year it’s our turn so I want to share some of my favorite Holiday Travel Tips and Weather sites.

Travel Tips:

The first site I visit is Google Maps. It’s easy to enter all the addresses you will visit. For example, I’ll enter my sister’s address as the endpoint, and then I can enter the address for my friend in Des Moines and my other friend outside of Toledo.Holiday Travel Tips - Google Maps The other thing I like about Google Maps is that I can alter the route if I know that I have a preference. For example, I know that I’ll choose the northern route even though it is 10 minutes longer.  If I were to go into the city, I would likely hit more traffic.  The northern route is all cows and farms with very little traffic.

I also like that Google gives me the option to click and drag the route around an obstacle or construction that they might not know about.

Weather Travel Tips:

When it gets closer to our departure date, I’ll take a look at a few different weather sites to see if we need to leave a day earlier or later. My go-to website used to be The Weather Channel.  I could enter where I was traveling from and to and it would tell me what kind of weather I’d see on my way.  Unfortunately, they’ve discontinued that feature. Now, my favorite site is WeatherUnderground.  (FYI WeatherUnderground is better as an app.  There seem to be fewer ads when I view it on my iPhone.) I like that it tells me approximately how much snow I’ll see and when there will be sunshine.

Travel Tips - weatherunderground

I also like the NOAA website, especially during hurricane season!  Here’s their map for Thanksgiving week:

Travel Tips - noaaI’ve published a list of my favorite sites two years ago.  Here is where you’ll find that list.

Conclusion:

Whether you’re driving or flying, you’ll want to take a peek at the forecast before you leave.

Do you have favorite travel websites I didn’t include here? Write a comment below!

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report on what to look for to protect yourself from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Please follow and like us:
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9 Easy Tips for Online Safety

Staying safe online takes constant vigilance!  Clicking on links in your email, an app, or on a random website can lead to lots of problems.  But THINKING about it all the time is exhausting! Thankfully, there are a few shortcuts to ensure your online safety

Don’t give real answers:Internet Safety / Online Safety

Probably the most important thing to remember is that not everyone is entitled to real answers. Closely guard your personal information.  Who needs to know your birthday and why? Do you need to be at least 21 or 55?  Make up a birth date to fit those criteria! Do they want to know what your zip code is to show you the closest store to you?  Type in 80305 instead of 80302! No one except maybe your bank needs to know your mother’s maiden name. Come to think of it, most apps don’t even need to know your real name or email address.  Which brings us to tip #2…

Create a throw-away email address:

It’s easy enough to set up a new email using Gmail. Use a fake name. Forward the emails to your real address so if there is something important you’ll be sure to receive it.

WiFi:

When you’re using WiFi away from your home, office, or other trusted location, be very careful to ensure that it is a legitimate service. Always ask the coffee shop, or wherever you are, what the name of their WiFi is.  Be sure you are clicking on “Starbucks” and not “S1arbucks”.  (Did you see what I did there?) And, you should always connect to WiFi on your phone or tablet via a Virtual Private Network or VPN.

Online Safety with a VPN:

A Virtual Private Network helps ensure your online safety.  A VPN is encrypting software that masks your identity and location by hiding your IP address. Check out this article explaining what a VPN is and why you need one.

Banking:

If your bank gives you the option, you should check your balance online every day to make sure nothing nefarious is going on. (If they don’t offer online banking, I’d suggest switching banks.  After all, this is the 21st Century!) Another thing you should expect from your bank is a robust Fraud Department.  As a business, we’ve occasionally had to make online purchases from other countries.  The Fraud Department at our bank calls us each time to make sure it’s really us doing the transaction. I appreciate their diligence.

Online purchasing:

If you make a lot of purchases online, you should probably open a new debit card at your current bank just for those transactions. When you make a purchase, go to your bank account online and transfer enough funds into the account for that specific purchase. If your information is compromised, you can easily close that account.

Passwords:

Online Safety
Don’t use these passwords!

I know I’ve said this before. You can’t change your passwords often enough! Online safety starts with a secure password. Change your password on all of your apps and online accounts AT LEAST once a month.  Don’t reuse passwords.  Make sure they can’t be cracked. Use at least 12 characters.  So many rules!  Sign up for our free Guide to creating a secure and easy-to-remember password.

Location tracking:

Remember to check occasionally which apps are tracking your location. Yeah, you might have it locked down, but when you update the app, they may turn location tracking on again. Yes, you want the weather app to know where you are when you want to know how much snow you’re going to get.  Once you have your forecast and close the app though, they shouldn’t still be tracking where you are.

Online safety at Libraries, Hotel Business Suites, and Internet cafés:

Most of us can do just about everything we need to online with our phone or tablet. But there are times when we need to visit a library, internet café, or the “Business Suite” at a hotel. Be especially careful in these locations.  If you need to print an email, use your phone to email the document to your throw-away email account.  Then log in to that account instead of your real email.  If you do need to log into your real email, a financial account, or another secure app, change your password on that account as soon as you’ve completed your business. And use your phone or tablet to change your password, not the computer at the library or business suite.

Conclusion:

Online safety is a habit you can grow.  Be aware of what information you’re sharing and where you are sharing it.  What information can stay private?  You can do this!

Do you have additional suggestions?  Do you need more info or clarification?  Write a comment below!

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report on what to look for to protect yourself from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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9 Easy Tips to Set Up a Virtual Office

Please note: We often recommend products that we like.  Some of these are affiliate links and we may receive a commission at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Virtual Office Requirements:virtual office fast wifi

WIFI:

A virtual office must have fast WiFi. A minimum of 12mbps is recommended. You may need to upgrade your router in order to provide the contracted speed that is flowed from your ISP to your devices.  (Check your actual speed at SpeedTest.)  Good routers can support many simultaneous users and fast speed.  Chris recommends the Nighthawk AC2300 router which lists for $200.  You can find it at Amazon or Best Buy. I’m pretty lucky at my friend’s home.  They’ve got great wifi!

a Virtual Office needs fast wifiTablet:

Sometimes a laptop is just too heavy!  My iPad has been perfect for internet research, sending emails, and keeping the Geek For Hire calendar up-to-date. And it’s great for watching AmazonPrime movies, playing games, and keeping up with Facebook. Here’s our Buying Guide of what to look for in a tablet.

Cell Phone:

Well, this kind of goes without saying! But it’s important that folks can reach you. If you’re working in your car in between appointments, make sure you’ve got great cell service.

Charging Cords:

Do you have the proper charging cables for all of your devices?

Optional Equipment for your Virtual Office:virtual office

Laptop:

Sure, you can get a lot of business accomplished with just your Smartphone and tablet.  But sometimes, you just need your laptop to do certain tasks. For example, Quickbooks won’t let me enter all the detail I’d like on their mobile app. I need to login to Quickbooks from my laptop to do that.

TV:

Entertainment value.  Pure and simple. Sometimes it’s nice to have background noise in your Virtual Office.

Headphones:

If you’re watching a movie at a coffee shop, having a good pair of headphones is essential!  When I got a new pair of headphones, here is the buying process I went through.

External Keyboard for Tablet:

Typing on a tablet can be cumbersome.  The hands – so big.  The keyboard – so small.  The mistakes – so many! Get yourself a Bluetooth keyboard and typing will be much easier.  The newer ones have back-lighting which makes it easier to type when the lights are dimmed.

Speech to Text Software:

Sometimes you just don’t want to type, or you can be more creative when you speak rather than typing on a keyboard. Many of our customers have used Dragon Naturally Speaking to get their thoughts down without typing.  Keep in mind that it does take a bit to customize the software to your voice.

Do you have a Virtual Office?  What tools do you rely on? Let me know in the comments below!

Please share this with your friends who don’t work in an office building.

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report on what to look for to protect yourself from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Please follow and like us:
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