We always seem to hear about it more this time of year….”thefts are on the rise”, “there are credit card skimmers at the gas pump”, “someone stole my identity”….sadly, the list goes on. Your digital world is just as vulnerable this time of year, and it too sees similar spikes in malicious activity during busy commerce times. In the last week alone, we’ve gotten calls from four different clients who were mistakenly duped into allowing someone to remote into their computer and infect them, jeopardizing their security. One client did a Yahoo search for a legitimate company’s tech support number, called the first number she saw on the screen, and within minutes was connected to someone overseas (naturally, named “Joe Smith”) who was able to remote in and “find thousands of virus infections”, leading them to recommend a $700 network firewall for their home. Another client got a persuasive phone call from “Microsoft” telling them that their virus protection was out of date, and they were infecting their iPads, iPhones and other devices in the house unless they could remote in and fix the problem for $250. These seem almost too comical…but when they’re happening to you, they’re all too real, and the impact can be devastating to your credit and your computer security….not to mention your ego.
While you can’t prevent these types of spams, you can be smarter about stopping them, and encourage your friends, family, and other less-tech savvy friends you know about how to be smarter in these situations.
- Be Careful Doing Online Searches! We’ve talked about this in the past (http://canyonero.org/2016/07/07/who-you-gonna-call/), as it’s so easy to unintentionally contact malicious companies for help. Malicious companies pay to be the top hit on search engines so they are the first number you see, and hopefully you call them first for tech support. They hope you call them first, so they can remote into your machine and either lock out all of your data, infect your machine, or try to sell you services.
- Cautiously Respond To Phone Calls! Let me remind everyone…NO legitimate company will EVER call you on the phone and say your computer is running a virus and they need to remote in to see what’s going on. Trust me….these people are very good talkers, and can make you believe they are in fact legitimate. If you think you’re in the clear because they remoted in and you hung up before paying them money….think again. They usually install “Trojan horse” type programs on your machine that won’t activate until a few months down the road, after you’ve already forgotten about this call. Also know that scammers buy phone lists on the black market- lists of people in older demographics, or people with more traditional, old-fashioned names- and they use those to call and scam unsuspecting people. If someone remotes in, have a trusted IT company review your computer as soon as possible afterwards!
- Watch Out For Email Scams Too! Most of us are probably smart enough not to fall for the email from the “President of Nigeria that left us thousands of dollars in an account”, but that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t fall for other email based-scams. Recently, another local small business owner was contacted about providing her services for a wedding, and after various emails back and forth about the details, the customer wanted to overpay their deposit, and the business owner realized she was getting roped into a scam. Don’t forget to be careful with craigslist or online-sales meet ups or ads you post or respond to!
Don’t be ashamed if you fall victim to something like this….it’s getting harder and harder to spot a scam from legitimate business. Educating your contact sphere to be aware and cautious of the different types of scams out there is best way to prevent being a victim. Please remember these tips and be smart and savvy anytime you work online!
We all have that person who is extremely hard to buy for, who already has everything and needs nothing. If they want a new phone or computer, they go out and buy it on their own, and they always have all the latest and greatest tech stuff already….so what do you get them? One of the easiest things to get them are accessories to help them maximize what they already have and use. I’m always asked for my opinion on what I think are “great gifts” to get the people that have everything, so by popular request, here are some of my favorite gifts to consider.
- A Backup Solution. Backup hard drives are a MUST in this technology driven world…and it’s a great gift to give. Even if you already have one, a Portable Backup Hard Drive is one of the smartest, and most practical gifts to give. We like the HGST Touro http://amzn.to/2gfZy1N because it has a low failure rate, is slim and small, and is a good price point. This is great for your parents or older friends, and especially great if you help them set it up so it’s all ready to go.
- Online Backup. If your friends aren’t much for a physical device, or would forget to plug it in, consider getting them a subscription to Carbonite Online Backup. For $60/year, it runs in the background on your computer, automatically backs everything up, and makes getting files back simple. If you really care about your data (or have pictures you would hate to lose on the computer), we recommend both an on-site backup solution (like the hard drive mentioned above), AND an online, off-site backup….that way your chances of ever losing the data are SIGNIFICANTLY lessened.
- Better Phone Accessories. This one is a fun one, especially because there are SO many options out there to choose from. One of my favorite purchases for my iPhone- without a doubt- is my corded, extra long Bolse iPhone Lightning Charging Cable (http://amzn.to/2gowh3q). The iPhone cables are notorious for fraying or breaking, and these are jacketed with fabric for extra strength and durability- and they never look dirty. I love the extra long one for my nightstand. Best of all, there are MFi Apple Certified (i.e. verified by Apple to work with your phone)…which is important to know if buying an off-branded iPhone accessory, as it won’t break or ruin your phone. It can be tempting to find cheap cables & accessories at Five Below or other discount stores…but check their reviews online and make sure they’re certified- nothing is worse than giving something that might harm them or their device….and there’s a LOT of cheap counterfeit accessories on the market. If they have too many cables, consider a military-grade drop protection case (these are customizable with a photo: https://www.rokform.com/products/iphone-6-6s-custom-rugged-case).
- Battery Backup Protection. This is one of my favorite gift ideas, and it’s oh, so important to have. I live in an area with frequent brownouts and power failures, and virtually every electronic device over $200 in value is hooked up to a battery backup device in my home. If the power goes out, my device stays on, and the power fluctuation doesn’t harm your devices. You should have one behind your TV and attached to any computer in the house. They’re not all created equal….and we like the APC ones for their guarantee: http://amzn.to/2gf7vPz.
- Get a Good Laptop Case. I’ll admit it, I’m a bag snob- but one of the biggest problems with computer bags out there today is that they don’t offer enough protection for your laptop if it’s dropped. Getting someone a laptop sleeve is a GREAT cheap gift…because it can be added to another bag for extra padding. We like this one: http://amzn.to/2gf17Is, because it’s basic and cheap- and can be put into whatever my favorite expensive designer laptop bag of the week is. If you looking for a bag, finding one with structure and padded walls on all sides of the bag is important (like this one http://amzn.to/2gFVcwY). There are literally hundreds of great bags out there- but not all have a structured frame and padded walls which significantly helps in a drop or fall.
- Accessorize Their Desktop. Most people have a specific desk or location they use their computer from- be it a laptop or a desktop. Consider upgrading their screen by getting a 25″ monitor (like this one http://amzn.to/2gG9A8w)….or better yet dual screens! If it’s out of the budget- a nice wireless keyboard/mouse combo is always well loved (we love Logitech, like this one: http://amzn.to/2gf347K)
It’s literally impossible to keep up with the latest products or trends out there, that’s why we love hearing suggestions from our readers or followers online. If you have a favorite- we would love to know- post it in the comments below. Making smart purchases on your technology and accessories helps ensure their longevity for years to come….so give practical, techy gifts to your loved ones this year!
red gift box on a laptop keyboard
A few of our customers have reported issues with their iPhone 6s phones having unexpected shutdowns and other power issues. Luckily, Apple recently released a replacement program, and if you’ve experienced issues with this, you can check to see if your model is eligible for a replacement. The news website 9to5mac.com has a good article with detailed instructions on how to check if your phone is eligible (https://9to5mac.com/2016/11/28/apple-how-to-check-iphone-6s-battery-replacement-serial-number/), or go directly to Apple’s website and begin an online chat with one of their representatives (https://getsupport.apple.com/?caller=psp&PRKEYS=PL133) to start the replacement process.
If your phone isn’t covered by the warranty or this replacement program and you’re still having issues with the power or battery, there are a few things you can check out. First of all, try seeing if you can close some of the apps you have open- it’s possible one of them isn’t acting right and is either draining your battery or causing problems. On the home screen, quickly “double tap” on the home button twice to view every program you have open, and try deleting the apps you don’t need open right now by swiping up. If that still doesn’t work, try restarting the phone by holding down the power button for 3-4 seconds. You can also see which specific apps are causing your battery drain by going to Settings –> Battery, and it will show you which apps have caused the most battery drain. Lastly, you can check out one of the many free “battery saving” apps in the app store. Battery Saver (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/battery-saver-manage-battery/id999500679?mt=8) can show you some more details about your battery performance if you’re continuing to have issues. If all else fails, make sure you have a portable battery charger available in case you run into issues!