Thursday, September 30, 2010

Be careful installing FREE software

You never know with FREE software and even some paid for software – that is why it is always best to be careful and know what you are downloading and read the screens as they pass by. Today’s blog was first posted through Kim Kamando then through a local group I work with, the Space Coast PC Users Group.  It’s worth passing along to anyone you know with a PC (that may be a little new to this stuff) :-).  Remember when it comes to the Computer Health needs of Brevard’s Senior Citizens –look no further than Computer Tutor!  321-431-3866 and online at www.ComputerTutorHelp.Us

“ Many free software programs install browser toolbars and other programs. These may send your data to a third party. In many cases, they won't add anything to the Web browsing experience.
Programs may also change your file associations. This is a particular concern with media programs. Your files won't automatically open in your preferred program when you double-click them. Of course, you'll also find programs that install shortcuts on the desktop and system tray. Others plant toolbars in your Web browser.
Be sure to read the screens when installing software. I know, it's not fun. Uncheck any options for modifying files, installing add-on toolbars and other options that seem wrong. They probably are.”

Computer Tutor wants to take it a step further and show you the screen shots or commonly missed ‘malware’ or toolbars that come with software we like to download such as AVG FRee, CCleaner, and other great malware cleaning tools (with usefulness comes a price) what did you expect for free?  OF Course they are going to try to slip something by you. 

In this example you will see many different options, such as where the icon should be placed once the program is installed.  Another option is to add the Yahoo tool bar.  Not a necessary feature of the software and may be annoying to the person once it is installed. So watch for these little things. It will save you having to uninstall it in the future.

Here is another commonly downloaded software AVG antivirus:  In this case not only is your IE home page changed a tool bar is also added to the IE screen. 

I use and highly recommend each of the software's shown here but they do come with some attachments that you have to watch out for.   If you pay attention to what you are downloading and watch and read the screens presented to you during the install process you should be able to  take well educated decisions about what your are installing.

I hope you have found this information helpful.  If you have learned something please pass this blog around to your friends. 


Stacey Kile

Computer Tutor of Melbourne Florida 321-431-3866


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Is it possible to get a virus from surfing the Internet like a regular computer on my smartphone?


smasrtI was doing some research on local computer repair shops when I ran across this article by Ken of Data DR.s, a local and national Franchise Computer Repair business, – many of us are now using these Smart Phones and this seems like an excellent question – some of us might have about our phones.  So read on to see if your Smart Phone is as Dumb as our computers?


Thanks again to Data DR.s for today’s Simply Seniors Computer Tutor blog.  This question was answered on September 17, 2010. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

The amount of new ‘malware’ (malicious software) that is being written to infect computers that are on the Internet continues to grow at a fever pitch.

Most of the really sophisticated malware is written by organized crime syndicates around the world that have plenty of resources and a really big motivator: your identity.

A recent study shows that if you search for entertainment sites (music, video, games, software, etc.) and include the word ‘free’, your chances of coming across a malicious website goes up exponentially; in some cases 300%!

Additionally popular items like ringtones, wallpaper and screensavers have traditionally been big targets of the malware producers, so be careful what you search for!

When it comes to your question about smartphone vulnerabilities, if you’re referring to the common ‘drive-by download’ attack that silently slips malicious programs into your computer when you visit a rogue website, the answer (for time being) is no.

As of this writing, browser-based attacks on smartphones are generally in the ‘proof of concept’ stage, meaning that researchers are finding theoretical possibilities, but nothing substantial exists in the wild.

There is a new vulnerability that was recently discovered for Adobe’s Flash player, which runs on desktop operating systems like Windows, Mac and Linux, but the latest Android operating system (2.2) has some exposure to this exploit (the first of its kind, since most smartphones can’t run Flash).

At this point in time, it’s actually safer to use your smartphone for accessing web content, especially the fringe content that is highly targeted for desktop computers, but that’s likely to change over time.

With the popularity of smartphones on the rise, worldwide, be assured that this is an area that the malware coders are focusing on for future attacks.

The real concern for smartphone users for now are downloadable applications that can contain malware or silently access private information on your phone (contacts, e-mails, etc.) and upload it to a remote server.

Smartphone makers do their best to police rogue applications in their various app delivery systems, but they have had apps (only a handful of the hundreds of thousands) get into their systems that snuck past the security tests and were later pulled from their app stores.

Those that bypass the controls put in place by smartphone manufacturers (called jailbreaking) so they can override the system and install un-authorized applications will be the ones at greatest risk going forward.

With no orchestrated screening process for those that install apps outside of the system, malware producers will continue to experiment on those willing to take the risk.

Google’s Android platform is both open and gaining a lot of users, so it’s likely we will continue to see more of the malicious activity aimed at this emerging and more accessible group of smartphone users.

One of the side-benefits to only getting applications from the authorized sources is that the vetting process (especially for Apple’s App Store) is pretty rigid and the likelihood of a malicious program getting onto your phone is very low.

As the capabilities of what a smartphone (and now tablets like the iPad) can do increase, so likely will the risks in using those features (the current Flash issue is a good example) so keep your guard up and stay tuned.

Simply Seniors Computer Tutor can help with your Smart Phone questions as well!  Learn how to sync your Smart Phone to your computer.  Call today for more information 321-431-3866.  Servicing senior citizens  technological needs since 2002!

Thanks again to the really smart people over at Data Dr.s who wrote today’s technical tips.  This was originally posted by Ken of Data Doctors on September 17, 2010 on their web site.  

Friday, September 3, 2010

Are You Inviting Criminals Into Your Home?

Cybercrime – has it happened to you? Is it just a matter of time before it happens to each and every one of us?  Today’s article comes from 

Even if you're smart about protecting your identity, there is a new and dangerous digital threat. When you share music or download movies from peer-to-peer file-sharing networks, you could also be virtually unlocking your home to criminals.

Don’t remember granting identity thieves permission to come into your life? While you're busy downloading innocuous files, criminals can be tagging along--swiping everything that's on your computer, from your Social Security number to your health information.
Peer-to-peer (or P2P) file-sharing networks are hugely popular with about 22 million people globally using them every second to swap movies, music, software and documents. The problem? Users of file-sharing networks can unwittingly expose the contents of entire hard drives containing your information to everyone else on the network if the P2P file-sharing application is not configured properly. By simply searching for specific keywords, identity thieves are able to access and download the personal documents of thousands upon thousands of individuals that can include personally identifiable information.

In 2009, "The Today Show" demonstrated the dangers of these networks. They found an astounding 25,800 student loan applications, more than 150,000 tax returns, and nearly 626,000 credit reports--all made easily accessible on file-sharing networks.

While antivirus software is great at protecting your computer from viruses, it doesn't stop thieves from accessing your hard drive if you've given them permission. And if you use peer-to-peer file-sharing networks you may be doing exactly that.

You may think you're safe if you don't share files over the Internet, but think again…

Your doctor, employer or accountant could be doing it--with your personal information. The Federal Trade Commission recently warned nearly 100 organizations, including companies, schools and local governments, that the personal information of their customers and/or employees had been leaked onto online file-sharing networks. The information found included Social Security numbers, health information, and driver's licenses--more than enough information for any identity thief to successfully steal someone's identity.

How can you protect yourself?

A number of programs like TrustedID, LifeLock and Identity Guard help prevent identity theft. LifeLock, for example, not only helps provide credit protection, but also notifies you if your personal information is being used to apply for retail credit or mortgage loans, etc. In addition, it sends updated email alerts of potential identity threats and patrols websites for the illegal selling of your personal information.

For more information on these products follow these links to their web sites. 

If your computer is infected with viruses or you need more one on one information on how to protect YOUR computer – contact Simply Seniors Computer Tutor, Brevard’s PREMIERE Computer Consultant Service exclusively for senior citizens!  Visit for helpful links to legitimate FREE software to help clean your computer. 

Be sure to visit us on Facebook and become a FAN!!!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

9 ways to increase the security of your laptop while on the road

Today’s Article is brought to us by Microsoft!  I am a laptop owner and as the prices have dropped so are many more computer users.  If I were to loose my laptop I would loose EVERYTHING!!! I would feel like I had lost a good friend.  All of that information!  Well, ask much as I travel with my laptop I make sure I have a good back up copy of my information which is a good rule of thumb because you never know!  Here  are some more suggestions to keep your laptop safe while traveling.

Using your laptop to get work done away from your office or on the road is becoming widely accepted. But this rapid growth in laptop computing has made portable systems the target for theft around the world. If your laptop computer is stolen, company information can be exposed, as well as your personal and financial information.

Use these 9 tips to learn how you can keep your laptop more secure when you're on the road.

1. Avoid using computer bags

Computer bags can make it obvious that you're carrying a laptop. Instead, try toting your laptop in something more common like a padded briefcase or suitcase.

2. Never leave access numbers or passwords in your carrying case

Keeping your password with your laptop is like keeping the keys in the car. Without your password or important access numbers it will be more difficult for a thief to access your personal and corporate information.

3. Carry your laptop with you

Always take your laptop on the plane or train rather then checking it with your luggage. It's easy to lose luggage and it's just as easy to lose your laptop. If you're traveling by car, keep your laptop out of sight. For example, lock it in the trunk when you're not using it.

4. Encrypt your data

If someone should get your laptop and gain access to your files, encryption can give you another layer of protection. With Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 you can choose to encrypt files and folders. Then, even if someone gains access to an important file, they can't decrypt it and see your information. Learn more about how to encrypt your data with Windows XP, encrypt your data with Windows Vista, or encrypt your data with Windows 7.

5. Keep your eye on your laptop

When you go through airport security don't lose sight of your bag. Hold your bag until the person in front of you has gone through the metal detector. Many bags look alike and yours can easily be lost in the shuffle.

6. Avoid setting your laptop on the floor

Putting your laptop on the floor is an easy way to forget or lose track of it. If you have to set it down, try to place it between your feet or against your leg (so you're always aware it's there).

7. Buy a laptop security device

If you need to leave your laptop in a room or at your desk, use a laptop security cable to securely attach it to a heavy chair, table, or desk. The cable makes it more difficult for someone to take your laptop. There are also programs that will report the location of a stolen laptop. They work when the laptop connects to the Internet, and can report the laptop's exact physical location. One such tracing program is ComputracePlus.

8. Use a screen guard

These guards help prevent people from peeking over your shoulder as you work on sensitive information in a public place. This is especially helpful when you're traveling or need to work in a crowded area. This screen guard from Secure-It is just one example of a screen guard you could use.

9. Try not to leave your laptop in your hotel room or with the front desk

Too many things have been lost in hotel rooms and may not be completely secure. If you must leave your laptop in your room, put the "do not disturb" sign on the door.

What to do if your laptop is stolen

  • Change your network password to help secure access to corporate servers.

  • Report the theft to local authorities (police, etc.) and to your company's IT department.

  • If customer data was on the laptop, contact your account representative, legal representative, or appropriate person at your company so they can take the appropriate actions.