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 your 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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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.

Please follow and like us: