Google Chrome Tip: How To Open A Search In A New Tab When Using The Omnibox

In Google Chrome, where you type in a web address, you can also perform a search. This is called the “omnibox”. Many folks I assist in the home environment are quite surprised when I show them this feature. When typing in the omnibox, whatever it is you are searching for, you will also notice relevant suggestions to assist you with performing the search.

Now that you know how to search from the omnibox there is another tip that will improve your productivity when performing that search. If you type in the omnibox, whatever it is you are searching for, and hold down the “Alt” key on your keyboard and then hit the “Enter” key, your search result will open in a separate tag.  To me, this is a “must know” tip that will allow you to stay on your current page tab (without losing it), perform a search, and get the results on another page tab.


GEEK SQUEAKS’ OF THE WEEK
(17-011) 

Preventing and Responding to Identity Theft – You can be a victim of identity theft even if you never use a computer. Malicious people may be able to obtain personal information (such as credit card numbers, phone numbers, account numbers, and addresses) by stealing your wallet, overhearing a phone conversation, rummaging through your trash (a practice known as dumpster diving), or picking up a receipt at a restaurant that has your account number on it. If a thief has enough information, he or she may be able to impersonate you to purchase items, open new accounts, or apply for loans…. READ MORE


Google Photos rolling out Archive feature to hide images in the main feed – With Archive, you can remove images from the main Photos tab without deleting them from your library. Those who already have the feature should see a new Archive option in the navigation drawer just above Trash… READ MORE

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HTTrack Website Copier for Windows – HTTrack is an offline browser utility that allows you to download a website from the Internet to a local directory, building recursively all directories, getting html, images, and other files from the server to your computer. It arranges the original site’s relative link-structure… READ MORE


Sneaky teen texting codes: what they mean, when to worry – If your teen has a smartphone, chances are they spend several hours a day on text and social media. If you ever look at what they’re actually doing on there, you’ll likely see a lot of innocent “Snapstreaking,”… READ MORE

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All the movies and TV shows hitting Amazon Prime in June 2017 – The sixth month of the year brings a bunch of new movies to Amazon’s streaming video service. Sure, there are plenty of household names, such as “Apocalypse Now,” “Star Trek Beyond” and “Magnolia.”… READ MORE


TOP TEN

Hot New Releases in Data Storage

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Identity Theft – Here is what to do if someone is using your information to open new accounts or make purchases…

If you are a victim of identity theft or know someone that is, the Federal Trade Commission has an identity theft website setup (identitytheft.gov) where you can report an event. The site provides streamlined checklists and sample letters to guide you through various recovery plans and processes based on the type of identity theft you have been exposed to. Note: I also encourage victims to contact and file a report with their State Police so that there is record of the event (at the local level) and to alert the police to a trend that may be occurring in their jurisdiction.

Identify theft can occur through breaches of your credit card account; telephone, mobile or utility accounts; debit, checking or savings accounts; employment or taxes; government benefits or IDs (such as your Social Security Number); loans or leases; AND, other accounts such as internet accounts, medical accounts, insurance accounts, investment accounts, etc…

Clues that someone stole your information are:

  • You see withdrawals from your bank account that you can’t explain.
  • You don’t get your bills or other mail.
  • Merchants refuse your checks.
  • Debt collectors call you about debts that aren’t yours.
  • You find unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit report.
  • Medical providers bill you for services you didn’t use.
  • Your health plan rejects your legitimate medical claim because the records show you’ve reached your benefits limit.
  • A health plan won’t cover you because your medical records show a condition you don’t have.
  • The IRS notifies you that more than one tax return was filed in your name, or that you have income from an employer you don’t work for.
  • You get notice that your information was compromised by a data breach at a company where you do business or have an account.

Source: Federal Trade Commission – Identity Theft Recovery Steps


GEEK SQUEAKS’ OF THE WEEK
(17-005)

MusicWire – Portable App to search for and download music. All downloads are in the MP3 format… READ MORE

MusicWire

Chrome to More Aggressively Highlight Insecure Sites – Starting with Chrome 62, the browser will show the “not secure” warning when users type any data into HTTP sites… READ MORE

How to snooze your Wi-Fi in the Windows 10 Creators Update – Click on the Wi-Fi icon in your taskbar, and when the panel listing all the available Wi-Fi connections appears, click the Wi-Fi tile in the lower-left corner. Next, the panel as pictured here appears. By default, your Wi-Fi will only be restored if you activate it manually by clicking the Wi-Fi tile. If you want it to turn on automatically after a set time, click the drop-down menu under Turn Wi-Fi back on. Here you’ll see options for turning it back on in an hour, four hours, or one day… READ MORE

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Schedule web pages to open automatically with Open Me Later! for Chrome – Open Me Later! is a free Chrome extension which enables scheduling a page to open automatically, as the date and time you specify… READ MORE

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Amazon Echo – The Echo may be the closest thing we’ll have to a Star Trek computer at home… READ MORE

What is Echo?


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Today’s Geek Squeaks – October 15, 2013

A summary of Today’s Geek Squeaks:

Squeak #1 – (FREE Windows 8.1 ebook): Windows 8.1 is to be released this week. If you are an IT Professional, get a “heads up” on Windows 8.1’s upgrade path and the new features (SEE BELOW);

Squeak #2 – (Freemake Video Converter): This converter is a “must have” on your PC and the best out there (SEE BELOW);

Squeak #3 – (Did you know your profile name and photo might appear in Google products?): Google recently revamped their “Terms of Service” where your profile name and photo may appear in products that they endorse (including in reviews, advertising and other commercial contexts). Important that you read this to see how it will affect you (SEE BELOW); and,

Squeak #4 – (Create Digital Art With The Wacom Cintiq 22HD): See how Tech and Art can come together to create extraordinary results (SEE BELOW)…

[ CLICK HERE TO LEAVE A COMMENT ]

Geek Squeaks’, featuring a round-up of tech products, news, software, apps, wallpapers, articles, you name it;  from my favorite tech web sites… I just plain love tech!

See An Endless Stream Of Geek Squeaks’ [ HERE ]


Free ebook: Introducing Windows 8.1 for IT Professionals

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Goal in this book is to help you on that upgrade path by presenting the facts and features about Windows 8.1 … GET THE BOOK HERE


Freemake Video Converter Updated

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Freemake Video Converter is designed without any limitations and hidden costs. This is freeware of new level, which offers a quality alternative to paid products. Convert video free to AVI, MP4, WMV, MKV, SWF, 3GP, DVD, MPEG, MP3, iPod, iPhone, PSP, Android, rip & burn DVD, convert online videos directly from 40+ sites, burn Blu-ray, and upload to YouTube with our free video converter!!! GET IT HERE


Google Terms of Service Update – How your Profile name and photo may appear (including in reviews and advertising)

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Your friends, family and others may see your Profile name and photo, and content like the reviews you share or the ads you +1’d. This only happens when you take an action (things like +1’ing, commenting or following) – and the only people who see it are the people you’ve chosen to share that content with. On Google, you’re in control of what you share. This update to our Terms of Service doesn’t change in any way who you’ve shared things with in the past or your ability to control who you want to share things with in the future… READ MORE


Wacom Cintiq 22HD Touch Interactive Pen Display

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The Cintiq 22HD touch features a 21.5-inch display with a wide viewing angle and a widescreen aspect ratio, ideal for large-format work. With professional levels of pen-pressure sensitivity and pen-tilt recognition, the Cintiq 22HD touch provides the same responsiveness and ability to create artistic brush effects as using an actual paintbrush or marker… CHECK IT OUT HERE


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Today’s Geek Squeaks – October 12, 2013

A summary of Today’s Geek Squeaks:

Squeak #1 – (A Complete List of Google Search Engine Tips & Tricks): Google has a site up called Inside Search that not only provides information on how search works, search stories by people like you and me, and a search playground; but, also provides a complete list of Google search engine tricks. I often refer to Google as my second brain (SEE BELOW);

Squeak #2 – (Best FREE Computer Optimization and Cleaning Utility):  CCleaner has been around for ages and has developed into a premiere computer optimization and cleaning utility. If you are not using CCleaner, then you do not know what you are missing (SEE BELOW);

Squeak #3 – (Imagine if, one day, you log into Facebook and your account is gone.): Facebook has become a very powerful entity that has made your identity its’ central mission (SEE BELOW); and,

Squeak #4 – (An Intel Solid State Drive ): Intel is now making its’ mark in SSD’s (SEE BELOW)…

[ CLICK HERE TO LEAVE A COMMENT ]

Geek Squeaks’, featuring a round-up of tech products, news, software, apps, wallpapers, articles, you name it;  from my favorite tech web sites… I just plain love tech!

See An Endless Stream Of Geek Squeaks’ [ HERE ]


Google Inside Search

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Web history

Start simple

Ignore spelling

Use web friendly words

Less is more

Search with an exact phrase

Use descriptive words

Don’t worry about cases

Search within a specific site

Don’t worry about punctuation

Search by file type

Include or ignore words and characters in your search

Find related pages

Find recipes

Search numbers in a range

Get number conversions

Get the time

Get currency conversions

Search the web in all languages

Check the weather

Get realtime stock quotes

Check sport scores and schedules

Search with Goggles

Track your packages

Get definitions

Search by advanced image search

Calculate anything

Locate earthquake activity

Search by location

Search locations by zip and area codes

Shop and compare

Get local sunrise/sunset times

Discover local business

Get movie times

Read public domain books

Hone in on a particular range

Check flight schedules

Research health conditions

Check flight times

Get world news

Search for an address

Similar terms

Search by voice

Examine public data

Get interactive financial info

Find medication information

Instant on mobile

Use instant preview on mobile

Search by location

Get interactive weather


Optimization and Cleaning

CCleaner

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CCleaner removes unused files from your system – allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. Additionally it contains a fully featured registry cleaner. But the best part is that it’s fast (normally taking less than a second to run) and contains NO Spyware or Adware!… GET IT HERE


What if Facebook stole your identity?

@ ZDNet

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No one company (and possibly no government) has ever had the power to shut off an individual’s personal connections like Facebook does today… YOU MUST READ MORE


Intel 530 180GB 2.5-Inch Internal Solid State Drive

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As a high-performance hard drive alternative, Intel Solid-State Drives boost your PC to the next level in storage performance and reliability. Improved PC responsiveness… CHECK IT OUT HERE


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Increase Your Productivity By Adding Tabs To Windows Explorer

If there is a way to increase productivity when performing file management operations, you can always count me in. I guess this is something I inherited from the Norton Commander days.

Today I stumbled on a find that I consider a “real find” that you may be interested in; especially if you are someone that is proficient in working Windows Explorer to perform file and folder operations. It is a third party application, called TabExplorer.

What TabExplorer does is simply this: it adds tabs to Windows Explorer.

TabExplorer

The beauty of a tabbed file manager is that you can toggle between the tabs to perform file operations in a much more effiicient (and quicker manner).  TabExplorer needs some polishing, but I think you will find it makes for a great add-on for Windows Explorer that can be toggled on or off.

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and MORE…

Windows Essentials 2012 arrives and adds features to Windows Movie Maker and Photo Gallery

10 Steps To Boost Multimedia Performance of Your PC (Part 2)

College Students: Avoid Identity Theft At School

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Three Ways to Securely Wipe Files from Your PC

TuneUp Blog What’s On My PC welcomes the following Guest Article, “Three Ways to Securely Wipe Files from Your PC” by Christoph Laumann, President & Managing Director, TuneUp.

The TuneUp blog is written by a team made up of certified Microsoft experts, authors, and editors from major computer magazines. The people behind this blog also head up one of the most successful tuning suites around, called  TuneUp Utilities.

Three Ways to Securely Wipe Files from Your PC

If you’re one of the many people who upgraded their PCs this holiday season, you’ll likely want to donate or dispose your old ones. However, it’s important to securely wipe critical files that contain personal or sensitive information from your computer before doing so. Windows alone cannot wipe data. Even if sensitive files are deleted using the Recycle Bin, they can easily be restored using various data recovery programs. Here are three simple steps to help you ensure your files are wiped once and for all.

Step 1: Delete Volume Shadow Copies.

Windows creates Volume Shadow Copies of system files and some of your personal data (i.e. files residing in C:\Users\Username). Normally, it’s a great way to restore previous versions of files that may be accidentally deleted. Unfortunately, it’s also a potential liability as these files can be restored.

On a PC soon to be decommissioned, you’ll want to get rid of these Volume Shadow Copies by right-clicking on “Computer” and selecting “Properties”. Go to “System Protection”, select your system drive and click on “Delete”. This will delete all of the previous versions of files kept by Windows.

But beware! The next time your PC is idle, these Volume Shadow Copies will be recreated. If you’re in the habit of safely deleting files, you might just want to turn them off altogether by clicking on “Turn off system protection”. Be careful doing this because it will not only disable the previous version restoration feature—it also disables System Restore and can affect some backup tools (such as Macrium and Paragon) which rely on Volume Shadow Copies.

Step 2: Safely delete files.

To safely destroy data, we’ve created a wiping mechanism called TuneUp Shredder. It uses several algorithms that comply with data security standards and render files unrecoverable.

Here’s how TuneUp Shredder works:

  1. Grab the trial version of TuneUp Utilities 2012. This will add a new context menu item (TuneUp Shredder) to your Windows explorer. Simply right-click on the folder or file you’re trying to securely wipe from your machine, and select this menu item.
  2. Next, choose your algorithm. Keep in mind that it is next to impossible to recover the data, even with the “Fast delete” option, since you’ll essentially be overwriting it. However, if you want to be absolutely sure that this data is rendered irreparable, go with one of the more advanced methods.
  1. Hit “Yes” to delete the file.

Step 3: Completely wipe a drive.

If you’re going to donate your PC, it’s wise to perform a complete wipe of the entire hard disk. In the past, I’ve used and recommend either Active@ KillDisk 5.5 (the Pro version creates a bootable KillDisk USB key that you can use to destroy the data) or Darik’s Boot And Nuke. These tools overwrite your entire hard disk with zeroes or multiple writes of different characters (much like TuneUp Shredder).

Now, while this works well on mechanical hard disks, you’re out of luck if you have an SSD. SSDs’ data gets written and deleted in a very scattered fashion, and neither the user nor the operating system has control over where the actual data is stored—it’s all done by the SSD controller. This whitepaperproves that while some data can be destroyed (either by using some of the built-in mechanisms or third-party tools), in many cases, the data was still intact.

The only SSDs that can be safely wiped are those that include the ATA Secure Erase command. If it does, the Kingston Red Tech Blog provides detailed steps on how to perform a secure wipe of the hard disk using HDDErase (which issues the ATA Secure Erase command to your SSD firmware). If your drive doesn’t support this mechanism, you should try to fully encrypt your hard disk and delete the encryption key. Windows’ own BitLocker (available in higher Windows Vista and 7 editions) is one possible way. If all fails, physically destroy the drive—pure brute force or some pyrotechnics might do the trick.

For additional tips and tricks on securely wiping files from your PC and maintaining system performance, I invite you to visit the TuneUp Blog about Windows.

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GEEK BONUS AREA

Just In – Deals at TigerDirect

Bookmark This (#19) – Sumatra PDF

FREE Today Only – Math Training for Kids (Android App)

A Best Seller at Amazon – HP 2711x 27-Inch LED Monitor

Bookmark This (#18) – TSR Watermark

Hot Hot Hot – The Dangers of Geotagging @ TTC Shelbyville

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Geek Squeaks’ of the Week (#48)

The hits keep on coming…  Geek Squeaks’ are weekly marvels of articles crafted by the members of the What’s On My PC blogroll. If  you have an interest in computers and information technology, I suggest that you bookmark these sites and make them part of your daily reading.

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TTC Shelbyville
Test Drive Windows 7 Online

Snakebytez
Easily import Twitter contacts into Google Buzz with Tw2buzz

I Love Free Software
360Desktop: Desktop Manager Adds 360° View to Desktop

Worthy Tips
How to unsubscribe from a Google Buzz conversation?

Technogran’s Tittle Tattle
Blogging with windows live writer. 7

TuneUp Blog
Building the Perfect Media Center (Part One)

Canadian Tech Blogger
Top 5: Best Laptops

Internet Security Blog
Change DNS Server IP Address Settings With Few Clicks [How To]

thePC Security
Auto Lock / Unlock Computer With USB – Free Download

Lifehacker
Google Says Buzz Needed Wider Testing, Issuing Fixes This Week

Rarst.net
View Microsoft Excel files with native free app

Tech-for Everyone
Briefest Scam Email Ever?

Free PC Security
Valentine’s Day ‘I Love You’ Around The World

411-Spyware.com
How to Remove My Security Wall

WP Expert
Image Organization Workaround For WP.com

Plato On-Line
Company to Care for Pets after Christian Rapture

Evilfantasy’s Blog
BITS from MooSoft

Bill Mullins’ Weblog – Tech Thoughts
Two Free Apps to Encrypt Your USB Drive

Big Geek Daddy
Identity Theft Advice

Scoroncocolo
Windows 7 and Vista God Mode

What’s On My PC
Beware! Telephone Bill Rip-Off…

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WOT now available for Google Chrome Web Browser

image (Web Of Trust) WOT –  a free Internet security add-on for your browser announced today that there is now a WOT add-on for Google Chrome (see Web Clip below). WOT, a very important level of protection, will keep you safe from online scams, identity theft, spyware, spam, viruses and unreliable shopping sites. WOT warns you before you interact with a risky website. It’s easy and it’s free. If you would like to test the WOT add-on for Google Chrome, you can download and learn more about it [ here ] . The add-on requires a current development version of Chrome (≥ 4.0.220.1). It’s been tested on the Windows version of Chrome, but should also work on Linux and Mac versions once their add-on support reaches the same level. To install the add-on, download the add-on using the Chrome browser.  The Chrome browser will automatically detect the download as an add-on and will prompt you for the installation.

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A “What’s On My PC…” Web Clip!

Thu 08 Oct 2009 11:39:59 AM UTC — Deborah S.

Google Chrome Good news for all you early adopters: You can jump ahead of everyone else and try the first release of the WOT add-on for Google Chrome. This one is for the geeky among us, so if you’re game, all you need is a current development version of Chrome and the WOT add-on.

WOT icon in Chrome One small difference is where the icon is located. You’ll find it in the lower left corner. The rating window opens a bit differently too, but you’ll see it. Notice also that the add-on is released under the GNU GPL, so patches are most welcome.

[ Source: Web Of Trust ]

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Once It Is Out There, It Is Out There

I was thinking about the time I first accessed the internet, up to the present, AND was questioning myself; “What have I put out there?” Now, I am talking about anything and everything from emails, web accounts, web mail, online purchasing, online chatting, files, credit card numbers, etc… Actually, I try to be very careful of what I am doing; however, what little I have put out there, is out there AND there is no turning back. The little bit of information I have put out there is just enough that my identity and privacy could ultimately be breached.

Recently we all read in the news where the ESPN reporter was a victim of a peepster who posted shots of the reporter on the internet. I actually was chuckling when there were reports of trying to stop this transgression and get it back.  There is no getting it back… In this case, the internet takes over, and these shots were spinkling down on people’s PC’s like rain (a million drops a second). There is just no way to stop it and there is no way to get it back.

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It amazes me what people are putting out there on the social network sites, such as Facebook and MySpace. Remember, when the information you are posting is “all about you”, it could come back to haunt you years down the road. The younger generation, oblivious to privacy, is telling it all and exposing sensitive matters about themselves that would make a sailor blush.

Email is another interesting tool that we use that leaves a trail. My email sending policy, is to keep it short and never express my feelings about something or someone. Once you hit that send button, it rockets into cyberspace, which in essence can be infinity.  Email can remain on servers forever. To give you an example, when I retired, my email account (at a government agency) remained active for over 2 years until I demanded it be terminated.  Termination of the account took it out of the public’s view; however, my data and email correspondence was still there.

The purpose of this article is to heighten your awareness about your identity and privacy; AND to make you think about what information you are giving away about yourself. It is human nature to investigate and to be curious. With just knowing your name and your zip code, a person with bad intentions can get your address, a map to your house, a photo of your residence, your property tax records, and it goes on and on.

Are you out there?

Simply by using Google or Yahoo you can find an abundance of information by simply entering a person’s name; however, there are online services that specialize in deeper searches (see below). I encourage you to perform a search for your name, using these services. If you know of any other services, please leave a comment below.

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Are wireless keyboards secure?

I was sitting here typing on my wireless keyboard wondering what I could write about and explore next; when, low and behold it hit me.  Are wireless keyboards secure? In other words, could another person intercept my keystrokes as I typed from my wireless keyboard?  If this is possible, this is not good.  In my case I am an internet junkie and my credit card numbers, usernames and passwords to all of my accounts, could be stolen. I know as an IT professional that wireless networking can be a security risk; so why not wireless keyboards.

Wireless Keyboard

During my research I soon found out quickly from an article at Enterprise Security Today, titled “Symantec Warns of of Wireless Keyboard Security Threat”, that a new form of attack aimed at users of wireless keyboards had been uncovered.

Excerpts from that article:

The warning follows the release of Keykeriki, an open-source “sniffer” project that allows users to remotely decode wireless transmissions.

The project was created by a site called remote-exploit.org. “This open-source hardware and software project enables every person to verify the security level of their own keyboard transmissions, and/or demonstrate the sniffing attacks (for educational purpose only),” the site notes.

Symantec warned that, although the creator’s intentions appear honorable, making the software code and hardware schematics open to everyone means that criminals could use the software to eavesdrop on wireless keyboard inputs.       [ Source: Enterprise Security Today ]

I then came across excerpts and a YouTube video with Steve Gibson, Security Expert and Founder of GRC.com (makers of the Spinrite hard drive data recovery software), being interviewed by Leo Laporte (from the “The Lab with Leo Laporte”) regarding “The Frightening Insecurity of Wireless Keyboards” (see excerpts and video below).

Having a keystroke logger installed on a computer is one of the worst things that can happen. But what it everything you type on your wireless keyboard can be easily intercepted by a neighbor or office worker?!!! It turns out, it probably can be.

Leo and I will examine and describe the incredibly weak “encryption” used on Microsoft’s 1000 and 2000 series (and probably other) wireless keyboards to show how easily that encryption can be broken to allow anyone within “radio range” to log everything typed.

If you Google: “wireless keyboard encryption” right now you’ll find a number of links to articles about the recent revelation of how simple Microsoft’s wireless keyboard encryption is. [ Source: The Lab with Leo Laporte ]

[ CLICK HERE TO SEE VIDEO ]

Lab With Leo Laporte

Needless to say, following my reviews of this information, I am considering going back to a wired keyboard; at least until the wireless keyboard manufacturers can responsibly demonstrate that the data being transmitted from my keyboard to the receiver is encrypted and is not at risk of being intercepted.

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Microsoft Video on Protecting Your Household from Online Fraud

Socially engineered internet and email scams such as phlishing, identity theft and online fraud is growing at an ever increasing rate. If you are new (or old) to computers (and the internet) I encourage you to watch this 3:26 minute video to learn about and recognize online fraud (such as fake emails and fake internet sites). It may save you from having your bank account wiped out or your identity stolen.

MSVideo

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Geek Squeaks’ of the Week (#7)

As always, this weeks’ roundup of articles by those on my blogroll (aka: Launch Pad) are absolutely remarkable.  Please note that I created a category on the blog, titled “Geek Squeaks”. You can easily preview past articles written by these authors by clicking on that category. The category listings are located on the sidebar of the blog.

If you are interested in a link exchange and to have an article from your blog featured on “Geek Squeaks of the Week, please leave a comment below and I will contact you… Thank you for another great round of articles…

Geek SqueaksGet $29.95 worth Paragon Drive Copy 9 Special Edition for FREE – AKSHAT

Oracle and Sun end of VirtualBox, OpenOffice and MySQL? – TTC Shelbyville

Social Bookmarking Buttons: 25+ Sets Of Free Stunning Web 2.0 Icons [Over 500+ Icons] – AllThatsNew

How to Remove Virus Melts – 411-Spyware.com

How To Watch TV On Your Computer – Tech-for Everyone

Learn a Foreign Language 10 Words at a Time – AskBillFirst

The Bare Minimum Processes Needed to Run Windows XP – Bill Mullins’ Weblog – Tech Thoughts

Medical identity theft is usually not given much thought – The Spyware Biz Blog

Documents search engines – Carol’s Vault

Jellybean: Free Wallpaper Shuffler – Snakebytez

Spyware Terminator v2.5 – Crazy World of G

Samurize – flexible system monitor with DIY interface – Rarst.net

9 Earth Day Free Stuff On Internet – Piyadas World

The Pirate Bay owners found guilty – Evilfantasy’s

LinkScanner Flags Dangerous Search Results – Lifehacker

Rename EXE files to Unblock Security Programs – Free PC Security

What’s On My PC… Free Layers of Protection – What’s On My PC…

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Getting rid of your mobile phone? Be careful; do not give your identity away!

Without purging the data in your mobile phone when you throw it away, recycle it, or transfer it, could cost you.  Today’s phones are comparable to mini-computers in their ability to store personal and often private information (e.g. text messages, voice notes, email, personal contacts, phone numbers, notes, reminders, addresses, photos, videos, etc…).  This information is stored in the mobile phones internal memory and or on the SIM card –Subscriber Identity Module, which is a removable memory chip in many phone models.  The memory in mobile phones are non-volatile memory that can retain the stored information even when not powered. It is important that you protect your identity and information; as well as, the identity and information of other people.

cellphone-pile

How big of a problem is this?

When I started thinking about this and researching the topic I wanted to find some supporting (reliable) data that hopefully would reveal and convince readers the magnitude of this problem.  I actually found (2)-two articles that hopefully will drive the point home.  You can click on any of the links for a direct connect to the original sources.

22 January 2009: Regenersis tops 2m handsets processed in 2008 – one every 15 seconds — but finds that 99% of handsets received contained personal data

Regenersis, Europe’s largest mobile phone recycling and reuse provider, announced that they processed over 2 million handsets for reuse and recycling in 2008.  The Company processed 2,007,652 handsets, the equivalent of one every 15 seconds.   Handsets are cleared of all data and fully tested.  If a handset is beyond repair or too old it is sent for safe recycling, ensuring nothing goes to landfill. Regenersis studied a random sample of 2000 handsets processed during the first week in December  and found that 99% of handsets received contained some sort of personal data, including:  Contacts, SMS messages, pictures, music, videos, calendar entries, emails, notes, mailing lists and to do lists.  In some cases, extremely sensitive information was contained, including bank details, addresses, and confidential emails.

12 December 2008McCain Campaign Sells Info-Loaded Blackberry to FOX 5 Reporter

ARLINGTON, Va. – Private information at bargain prices.  It was a high-tech flub at the McCain-Palin campaign headquarters in Arlington when Fox 5’s Investigative Reporter Tisha Thompson bought a Blackberry device containing confidential campaign information. When we charged them up in the newsroom, we found one of the $20 Blackberry phones contained more than 50 phone numbers for people connected with the McCain-Palin campaign, as well as hundreds of emails from early September until a few days after election night.

How to protect your identity when you get rid of your phone…

  • Notify your mobile provider and terminate all services.
  • If you are changing providers, purge the information on your online account and delete the account.
  • Find what method(s) are available for your phone model, from the mobile provider or manufacturer’s web site (or user’s manual) to reset (format) and/or overwrite the data:

The memory in these mobile phones/devices are very similar to a hard drive in your computer.  You can delete the data, but it is not actually gone.  The data can be retrieved from a phones memory module using third party software. A nice resource available on the internet, to assist you with purging your phone,  is Cell Phone Data Eraser.  It is a tool that provides deletion instructions for specific cell phones.

  • Return the phone to the provider and request that the data be deleted.  Verify that the data has been deleted.
  • Remove the SIM Card and reuse it or destroy it.

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BEWARE – IRS Stimulus Package Phlishing Scam

I grabbed this clip from the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) that I feel is of great importance.  Do Not; and I repeat Do Not respond to or click on any links in email that is requesting personal information, no matter the source.

In this case, the phlishing scam involves fraudulent U.S. Internal Revenue Service Emails.  The IRS or any reputable entity, for that matter, is never going to request your personal information via email or via an internet browser link.

US-CERT clipped from www.us-cert.gov

IRS Stimulus Package Phishing Scam


added February 6, 2009 at 10:03 am | updated February 6, 2009 at 02:43 pm


US-CERT is aware of public reports indicating that phishing scams are circulating via fraudulent U.S. Internal Revenue Service emails offering users stimulus package payments. These emails include text that attempts to convince users to follow a link to a website or to complete an attached document. The website and document request the user to provide personal information.

Users receiving the fraudulent email messages are encouraged to send the email message and the website URL to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov.

US-CERT encourages users to do the following to help mitigate the risks:


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Taking A Byte Out of Malware

Malware SpiderWhen I mention the term “malware” around my friends and family, I get some really strange looks. Most people are not absorbed into the tech side of protecting their PC’s and really do not care what the name of the current disease is. It is an attitude and approach similar to the government; “wait til it happens, then fix it”. Fixing a PC after a malware infection can be like the government trying to fix the economy. You try to fix it  and the problem does not go away, resurfaces, and in turn progressively worsens.

When you own a computer, the user must develop the attitude of prevention and protection. If you do not heed this advice, trust me, you will be in a position where you will be trying to fix your own economy… It is important to educate yourself about the threats, before the threats educate you. Malware today has developed into a threat with such magnitude that it is predominantly the preferred avenue of attack against everyday computer users.

What is malware?

In short it is “malicious software” that installs on your PC without your consent. It is designed to compromise your privacy, steal your money & identity, AND contaminate your PC. Basically, it just shows up in one form or another. (Obvious signs can be: as a popup, a browser redirect, suspicious security software, fake security warnings, your PC consistently runs slow, etc…).

How is it delivered?

Usually through misrepresentation or trickery… You click on a link in an email or a link on a web page that misrepresents what it really is and you’ve been had.  Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file sharing, software pirating sites, porn sites are also favorite launching points for malware.

How to take the byte out of malware?

Layers of protection…What this is referring to is multi-layers of protection such as your firewall and various types of security software (e. g. anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-malware, browser protection, windows updates, software updates, etc…). It is important to maintain and keep these layers of protection in place.

One layer of protection that I currently use and highly recommend to all of my friends and family, to combat the threat of malware, is a program called “Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware”. Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware is an anti-malware application that can thoroughly remove even the most advanced malware.

malwarebytes

I use this program to manually scan my PC on a regular basis.  There is a “FREE” and “PAID” version. The difference  is that  the realtime protection, scheduled scanning, and scheduled updating features are not activated in the “FREE” version. Performing manual routine updates and scanning is sufficient in most cases. Just the fact that you have it installed and ready to go on your PC, in the event of a malware threat, is a big plus. Most tech people, without software such as this, will look you in the eye and tell you, formatting the hard drive and doing a complete operating system rebuild is the only way they will touch your PC. Due to the complexity of malware and today’s operating systems, no one can guarantee that your PC will be completely cleaned after a malware infection. I highly recommend that you download and install this software today.

 

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Note to my readers:  This article has also been featured on the site “Tech Thoughts”, which as a blogger, is an honor and privledge. “Tech Thoughts” is a high-octane site devoted to Security and System Tools and Tips, Software Reviews, News, Views, Downloads and Links.
 
[ CLICK HERE ] to visit Bill Mullin’s “awesome” site, “Tech Thoughts”.

The Psychology of Email Scams…

Recently I posted a topic “Tis the season to be email scammed..” and someone asked me, “How does someone fall for something that is so obvious?”. I thought about this awhile and concluded that there are certain psychological elements or behavioral characteristics that are within us all that the cybercriminal focuses upon when crafting the scam email.

Greed – visions of grandeur; that inner compulsive or excessive desire to acquire more or you feel you deserve more. Almost in a sense it is uncontrollable and you will believe just about anything (even when you doubt it); especially if it is something that you think will enhance your standing and is only a “mouse click a way”.

Compassion – a deep awareness of and sympathy for another’s suffering AND the wanting to do something about it… Like greed, it is a behavioral element that can be uncontrollable as well; the person feels a sincere obligation to help. They like to trust everyone!

Vulnerability (Newbies) – a newcomer to computers and the internet. Very vulnerable, susceptible, fearful, afraid they will look dumb if they ask nonsensical questions; AND they don’t know that you should “believe nothing and verify everything”. A Newbie mixed with Greed; or A Newbie mixed with Compassion are prime targets, in my opinion, for an email scam.

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Tis’ the Season to be “Email Scammed”…

Writing a blog is addictive and the addiction is enhanced when you have a friend that actually reads what you write and turns around and says;  “Hey, I have something you can blog about!”  It really makes it all worthwhile and is my way to give back what I know or have researched.

Susan, a friend of mine, contacted me and provided a copy of a scam email that she received where the writer of the email “needs urgent help”.  I was really impressed that Susan knew immediately it was a scam and a false plea for money.  I applaud her for her attentiveness and  her willingness to publicly share this story to alert other people.

Please click on the screenshot below to see this email…

Email Scam - Click for Screenshot

Here around the holiday’s, where helping others are commonplace, these emails, as well as other vermin (malware, viruses, spyware), have a tendency to surface from the underbelly of the internet.  The intent is to “steal your money” through deception… If you read this email, you will see that “Fred” needs urgent help because he had his little bag of belongings (money, cell phone, passport, etc…) stolen and he is in a really bad way.  He wants you to send him $2900 (to Malaysia) to fill his little bag back up so that he can come home.  Now if he broadcasted this email to thousands of people and just 1 percent of those people sent him $2900, he would have to get a bigger bag…

Trying to make some humor of this; BUT seriously never respond to any email that is from someone you do not know; do not respond to any email that you did not solicit; and, especially do not respond to any email where a financial transaction, account number, password, etc. is being requested (even if it is your bank, credit card, etc…). 

During the research of this particular email, I came across a site called “Scamdex” that I found to be helpful in educating us about “scams” and just how epidemic they are.  Scamdex is all about ‘Get Rich Quick’ Scams, Spoof Websites, Bogus Lottery Winnings, Spoof Phishing Emails from Banks, Scam Emails from African Dictators (and their wives) and all other Identity Theft and Internet Fraud.

Scamdex

Scamdex’s enormous archive of scam emails is sorted into (5)-five classifications:

  • Advanced Fee Fraud
  • Lottery Scams
  • Phlishing
  • Auction Scams
  • Employment Scams

If you need assistance on reporting or filing a complaint for a scam, Scamdex has a whole web page devoted to anti-scam resources [click here].

 

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Beware! Telephone Bill Rip-Off…

Did you know?

A third party company can take basic identity information that is is easily obtainable on the internet and subscribe you to a “tele” service without your consent and tack a monthly charge to your phone bill under “Miscellaneous Charges”.

Beware, this may be happening to you…

Today my accountant (my wife) checked our Verizon phone bill and immediately noticed a $19.98 increase in our monthly bill… After close examination I found that under “Miscellaneous Charges and Credits” a third party company called ILD Teleservices, Inc. was billing us for (2)-two separate $9.99 charges for (2)-two months of service provided by another company reflected on the bill as “USCREDIREPAIR” (later determined to be U.S. Credit Repair – www.uscreditrepair.com – SITE WENT DOWN).  U.S. Credit Repair touts itself as a company that assists you with repairing your credit.  I never subscribed to any credit repair services, or have any need to; and secondly I was totally unaware that 3rd party sources could piggyback charges onto my phone bill without my consent.

What to do…

I subsequently contacted ILD Teleservice, Inc. (800-433-4518) and the customer services rep proceeds to tell me that I subscribed for the monthly U.S . Credit Repair service on September 9th . The rep was able to recite back to me my phone number, address and a “fictitious” (false) email address that had my full name (i.e. johndoe@imail.com).  I informed them that I was reporting this matter and demanded they remove the charges immediately (credit my Verizon bill).   Customer rep indicated it would take 60 to 90 days for the charges to be credited.   I told the rep I can smell a scam a mile away and the charges to my phone bill better disappear.

Following the call to ILD Teleservices, I contacted Verizon.  After approximately 5 minutes of going through the prompts I reached human being #1, who subsequently put me through to human being #2.  I explained the situation to the customer rep and they advised I should contact ILD Teleservices to have the charges removed.  I informed the rep that I had already did that and then they proceed to tell me, I can put a block on any “Miscellaneous Charges and Credits”.   I could not believe what this customer rep was telling me AND it was at this point I began to wonder if my identity had been sold by Verizon.  Why is there a section on my phone bill that is an open door to other companies to provide charges?

Followup…

Click on the “Ripoff Report” and “Consumer Affairs” logo below to see a listing of consumer complaints about U.S. Credit Repair and ILD Teleservices tacking additional charges onto phone bills (i.e. Verizon, AT&T).

Ripoff Report

 

ConsumerAffairs

 

I subsequently visited the U. S. Credit Repair website (www.uscreditrepair.com – SITE WENT DOWN) and it specifically states on their website “12 Low Monthly Fees comfortably sent to your home phone carrier”.  It also appears that sign up for the service simply just requires your name, address and phone number and an email address.  This is all easily obtainable information on the internet…  I also called a contact number that was available and I received a voice automated system telling me that if I wanted to cancel any services, I would have to provide my full name, phone number and an email address; which I did not do.  While I was composing this article their website magically disappeared from the internet.  I am now wondering if this site comes and goes.   Also, under their “Terms and Agreements” you will find the following clause:

4. PAYMENT OF MEMBERSHIP The payment of your Membership Fee (which includes any trial period fee, enrollment or processing fee and shipping and handling charges, as applicable) is made automatically by a direct charge(s) to your home phone number that was provided upon signing up for our services. If applicable, in the event that your billing source cannot process the Membership Fee due to disputing your phone bill, we may, at our discretion; we may cancel your Membership services until monthly payment is paid.

Conclusion…

There are (3)-three players in this rip-off and I am not going to publicly state who I think the main player is…  I’ll let you be the judge.  I just have to wonder how many people are paying these “add-on miscellaneous charges” and do not know they are paying for them OR they do not pursue the issue due to having to go through all of the red tape.

Call your telephone provider today; tell them you want to block any “miscellaneous charges” to your account.


ATTENTION

You can read an update to this article by [CLICKING HERE]

 

Addendum (1/11/2009) – A reader of this post, who maintains the blog (“Cats Working”)  , posted a similar article, “Keep the Garbage Off Your Phone Bill“, that I encourage you to also read.  One thing that I am noticing is a great majority of these “bogus” third party services are originating out of Florida.


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