Dok's Tips & Tricks
Dok’s Top 10
1. Create a Secure Environment for your Computer
There are multiple areas in a computer where you can set up, configure, and tighten the system security. In Windows, check the control center and make sure you have one (and only one) active, updated Antivirus program, a firewall, and Windows updates. In your browser, turn on pop-up blocking, remove your cookies and temporary internet files on a regular basis, and configure your junk mail and spam filter.
2. Strong Passwords
It’s really easy to create a super secure password! Think of a short unique phrase that you can easily remember; add some punctuation, a capital letter and a number, and you’re all set! Keep your passwords safe and use different passwords for your accounts, especially bank passwords, shopping accounts, Paypal, etc.
3. There is No Such Thing as Too Many Backups
To minimize the possible loss of information due to infections or system crashes, you should make regular backups to an external hard drive or the Cloud. Some services, such as Google Drive, provide access to all previous versions of a text document. But be careful, if a new backup simply overwrites the old one, or just syncs it into the Cloud, you may have a problem if data was deleted accidentally, encrypted, or blocked by a virus. If you can recover a previous version of this file, you might minimize the loss. I highly recommend using backup software that archives dated backups automatically without overwriting. There’s nothing sadder than to receive a “lightning fried” computer with irreplaceable photographs and documents that were never backed up.
4. Be Savvy with Social Media
It’s convenient, fun, and business savvy to keep in touch and share content through Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Linkedin, Tumblr, Instagram, Flickr and other networking sites. But make sure you set privacy settings carefully to tighten security. Update them from time to time. Use different passwords for your accounts. If everything is linked, and one account becomes compromised, it’s like dominos. Be wary of clicking on games, ads, etc. that lead you outside the social media platform. Also be aware of lottery scams and hijackers (posing as someone you know!) who try to get information out of you.
5. Email Security and Phishing
Phishers use the internet to steal your personal information. They often target you through emails. Speaking of emails, be wary of clicking on an e-mail, even from your best friend, with no subject or an unlikely subject and with an attachment. Their account may have been compromised by a virus and it has spread to you through their contact list. Then it can go from your email contact list to the next set of victims, and so on. You can “train” your spam filter by sending unwanted or suspicious email senders to the spam or junk folder. If you just delete the annoying posts, they’ll keep coming back to haunt your in-box.
6. Be Wary of Scareware
If you see a sudden pop-up telling you that your activity has been reported to the FBI, don’t panic, don’t click, and don’t even think of paying. Any action on your part may lock your computer. The hackers that create these types of infections are just trying to infect or hold your computer ransom, and then scare you into divulging personal and financial information, or even into paying them an untraceable fee via cashier’s check. The worst type even encrypts your file! If you see a scary pop-up, it’s best to shut down your computer immediately and bring it to the Dok for a deep cleaning.
7. Employ Safe Browsers
Some browsers are better than others. Internet Explorer 6.0 had lots of bugs and holes viruses can exploit. Internet Explorer 11 is much better than the earlier versions. Firefox, Opera, and Safari are very good. But I prefer Chrome. It is very fast, synced with Google, visually uncluttered, easy to use, and has many useful extensions. Tabs are separated, so an error in one doesn’t bring down the rest. By the way, when trying out new software, it’s best to use web browsers with sandboxing capabilities. A sandbox can contain malware and bad programs, which keeps them from entering your unit.
8. Safer Shopping
It is always better to use https:// websites; the “s” means that it is a secure site. Check certificates for trustworthy sites (your computer should warn you if a site is suspicious). Again, make sure you have strong, differentiated passwords! Paypal is safer, because you have more protection and you don’t have to give out your credit card numbers. And with paypal, it’s easier to get your get money back if you were taken in by a fraudulent seller. If they don’t accept paypal, pay with credit cards, not debit cards. They have more fraud protection.
9. Caution When Using Public-WIFI
The NSA advises you to “Exercise Caution when Accessing Public Hotspots.” When using public internet access, avoid any shopping, banking, etc. that requires personal, credit, or bank information. You never know who is spying on you.
10. Don’t Mix Business and Pleasure!
If users go to lots of social, gaming, “free” streaming portals, inappropriate, or questionable sites on your office computer, your unit is more likely to pick up damaging viruses and spyware. Wise users restrict personal use of their business units.
Several years ago, during the time my oldest daughter, Silvia, was engaged to a Dutch chemist, I decided to subscribe to a Dutch language program. It wasn’t expensive and was easy to use on my iPad. There are many language programs such as Rosetta Stone and Babbel that can teach you basic language skills quicklyread more
The beginning of the New Year is traditionally a time when people make resolutions toward positive habits and changes. This should include your digital life. Here are my suggestions for some things that you should consider to keep all your electronics shipshape for the New Year.read more
A few days ago, a client stormed into my office, pleading “I need help! A hacker stole my password, got access to my computer webcam, recorded me, and is now demanding money!”read more
The Dok says…
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Almost every week a client comes in or calls about some suspicious phone call the got. This blog tries to spread the news about those scams via phone so hopefully you will not fall for them.read more
If you have pets, did you know that your notebook fan could be covered with hair? Yikes! A fan in this shape can't work properly, which causes your computer to overheat and possibly more damage. Dok recommends a regular check-up and cleaning of notebooks used around...read more
This is a super common repair problem. I can not tell you how many times I see a laptop being taken out of the carrying case with the AC adapter still plugged into the unit. Most of the time, if the client did not have a problem with either the AC adapter or the...read more
Business and pleasure shouldn't mix on your computer. If you go to personal or questionable sites on your business computer, your unit is more likely to pick up nasty viruses and spyware. Same goes for allowing kids to play on it. You don’t want them messing up your...read more