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Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Do I need to have a password for everything?

Answer: YES you should put a private password onto anything holding personal information, such as Email, Banking, Social Media, etc. The passwords should have a level of complexity, usually with some kind of special character, such as “!ndifference” instead of “Indifference”. This is because plain dictionary words are very easy to guess and hack using specific tools. These days with people having information in so many places, it is ever more important to keep this info private and out of the hands of malicious people.

Question: How do I tell if an email is spam or malicious?

Answer: Some spam is obvious (“I lost 30 pounds and made $24,356 in five hours by taking this special pill!”), but other messages are more subtle. A lot of spam relies on “phishing,” in which a spammer will try to make their email look like it’s coming from a legitimate source in order to get your information. They may tell you to click a link that looks like it’s going to paypal.com, but really goes to their PayPal-disguised site where you willingly type in your information. Luckily, you can usually avoid those tricks by checking the URL and typing it in yourself instead. Be careful, too—sometimes those links will cause you to unknowingly spam one of your friends.

Question: What does an anti-virus actually do and do I need it?

Answer: YES you do need it. Anti-Virus programs actively monitor your system for “Malware” based on a constantly updated database of threats that are reported by all types of people around the world, mostly in the technical or security sectors. When a new threat is found in the internet world, the definitions of such threat are recorded and then the details shared across the world through various channels to advise anti-virus programs what to look out for. These are called anti-virus definition updates, and usually occur a couple times per week, depending on the frequency of new threats being released.

Question: What is a Malware? Trojan? Spyware? Scareware?

Answer: MALWARE:

The word Malware is short for malicious software, and is a general term used to describe all of the viruses, worms, spyware, and pretty much anything that is specifically designed to cause harm to your PC or steal your information.

Answer: TROJAN:

Trojan horses are applications that look like they are doing something innocuous, but secretly have malicious code that does something else. In many cases, Trojans will create a backdoor that allows your PC to be remotely controlled, either directly or as part of a botnet—a network of computers also infected with a Trojan or other malicious software. The major difference between a virus and a Trojan is that Trojans don’t replicate themselves—they must be installed by an unwitting user. Once your PC has been infected with the Trojan, it can be used for any number of nefarious purposes, like a denial of service (DoS) attack against a website, a proxy server for concealing attacks, or even worse—for sending out buckets of spam. Protection against Trojans works the same way as viruses—make sure that your antivirus application is up to date, don’t open suspicious attachment

Answer: SPYWARE:

Spyware is any software installed on your PC that collects your information without your knowledge, and sends that information back to the creator so they can use your personal information in some nefarious way. This could include keylogging to learn your passwords, watching your searching habits, changing out your browser home and search pages, adding obnoxious browser toolbars, or just stealing your passwords and credit card numbers. Since spyware is primarily meant to make money at your expense, it doesn’t usually kill your PC—in fact, many people have spyware running without even realizing it, but generally those that have one spyware application installed also have a dozen more. Once you’ve got that many pieces of software spying on you, your PC is going to become slow.

Answer: SCAREWARE:

Scareware is a relatively new type of attack, where a user is tricked into downloading what appears to be an antivirus application, which then proceeds to tell you that your PC is infected with hundreds of viruses, and can only be cleaned if you pay a fee. Of course, these scareware applications are nothing more than malware that hold your PC hostage until you pay the ransom—in most cases, you can’t uninstall them or even use the PC.

Question: Is it safe to connect to free public WiFi?

Answer: Most of us put a lot of effort into finding free Wi-Fi, but public Wi-Fi networks have their own share of problems—particularly that it’s very insecure. Even if a Wi-Fi network has a password, that doesn’t keep you safe from other people on the network. It’s notoriously easy for any of them to see what you’re doing and, in some cases, steal personal information or passwords.

 

Question: Does rebooting really solve issues?

Answer: YES, because when you restart your forcing the computer to remove things from its temporary memory, and close anything which is open holding and onto information or controlling a piece of hardware. Restarting will not solve all computer problems. See power-cycle below for another alternative solution.

Question: What is a power-cycle, and when do I do this?

Answer: A power cycle is when you turn off a device for a couple of minutes and then turn it back on. What this does is drains the power from the device completely, allowing it to be able to start fresh, usually this resets certain counters, or removes certain things stuck in memory. Restarting doesn’t exactly force things back to “zero”, which is why sometimes it is best to do a full power-cycle.

 

Question: Why do I have to “safely remove” USB drives?

Answer: It’s because computers use something called write caching to improve performance—if you copy something to your drive, sometimes it’ll tell you it’s completed the task, but it’s actually waiting until it has a few other tasks to perform so it can do them all at once. When you press eject, it finishes anything in the queue to make sure you don’t yank it out before it’s done. Windows does a better job of avoiding problems than OS X and Linux, but we recommend ejecting all your drives anyway. It’s small price to pay for avoiding lost data.

 

Question: What is the Cloud? How do I use it?

Answer: Refer to our article on Moving to the Cloud….

 

Question: Why is my wireless so weak at home?

Answer: There are many reasons why wireless signals can degrade in any home or office, however it is mainly because of competing devices and physical distance from the access point (wireless router). When you have many types of devices all ranging in age, these will all have different types of wireless technology. The general rule of thumb is that one can run into a slow connection when there is older device and a new router working together. In addition to slow connections, one can also experience diminished range of signal. The other factor is physical distance including wall penetration. Some signals, depending on the router, do not do well with walls and hallways as the signal can bounce and become lost.

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