Protecting our Beloved Children

Do you have school-age kids in your life? Perhaps you have grandchildren. Or maybe you have friends who have kids or grandkids you care about.

They’re back in school, and connecting with their friends. Maybe they are making new friends. In any case, they are communicating, and they are doing it online…. and with their phones.

When we were growing up, we connected face-to-face, or sometimes by phone. When the phone rang, we knew the person we were talking with. Of course, a stranger might call, or someone might even call under false pretenses. But we didn’t immediately become friends when a stranger called. Continue reading “Protecting our Beloved Children”

Where Did My Money Go?

I recently attended a meeting where someone from a title company spoke about problems people run into when buying a house.

Suppose you are buying a house. You’ve made an offer. Perhaps you had to negotiate with the seller. Now it’s time to close the deal.

The title company had previously suggested that you wire the money to them and said they will e-mail you instructions when it is time. They often rely on wire transfers to transfer money. Waiting for a check to clear takes much longer.

The time they told you to expect the e-mail on how and where to wire the money has come and you are watching your inbox for that e-mail.

The e-mail arrives. You verify it is from the title company. The agent’s e-mail address is listed, the amount is correct, and everything looks right. So you wire the money, excited about taking possession of your new home.

There’s just one problem. The money never arrives. Continue reading “Where Did My Money Go?”

How Computers Get Hacked – Part 2

How would you break into a locked building? If your life depended upon doing so, how would you go about it?

Perhaps you would walk around the building, looking closely to discover any points of easy access. For your actual break-in, you might wait until night when everybody had gone home. Would you break a window to get in? That might be noisy and attract attention if there were people in the vicinity. Would you learn how to pick locks? Or perhaps you would find a “locksmith” to pick the lock for you. Is there any video surveillance that might give you away? Do you need to disable the video cameras? What about alarm systems?

Or perhaps you would try to bust the door down by brute force. In any event, it would probably take some planning and preparation. And you would need to get the timing right if you want to avoid getting caught.


But there’s an easier way. Continue reading “How Computers Get Hacked – Part 2”

WannaCry – a New Strain of Ransomware

Wildfires are threatening nearby communities in Florida. One of these grew from 3 acres to over 3000 acres in a matter of hours, threatening homes in the vicinity and shutting down parts of the interstate highway that connects this side of the state. Firefighters are working hard to attempt to gain control of this (and other) wildfires in the area.

As these fires were spreading, another outbreak was spreading just as rapidly. A new strain of ransomware spread globally, to more than ten thousand companies in over 150 countries. Instead of closing highways and threatening homes, this ransomware outbreak closed down companies and government sites and threatened lives. Numberous hospitals were among the victims and they had to suspend important services to existing patients and turn ambulances away. Continue reading “WannaCry – a New Strain of Ransomware”

Look What I Found! A Flash Drive!

You are probably familiar with flash drives (a.k.a. USB drives, thumb drives, memory sticks, etc.). They are small things that you can plug into a slot in your computer that you can use to store data or to transfer data to another computer or device.

They have become quite inexpensive and you can buy one with a respectable amount of storage for $10 to $20, especially when they are on sale.

Before I say anything more Continue reading “Look What I Found! A Flash Drive!”

Has Your Gift Card Been Hacked Yet?

Criminals have discovered and used different methods to “steal” the “money” on your gift cards for some time now, but a new threat has surfaced this year which is distinctly different than previous methods.

In the past, it was typically necessary for the thief to be present in the store and handle the gift cards to get the numbers, or to steal the information. That could be done by hacking or by someone present in the store. Or, they could trick the customer into revealing the card number.

This year, a new method has surfaced and it poses a much greater threat. The hacker doesn’t have to be present and they don’t have to hack into the store. Instead, they take advantage of the methods the card provider uses for customer service.

Here’s how it works.  Continue reading “Has Your Gift Card Been Hacked Yet?”

Shady Marketing Practices – Part 2

Suppose you are considering a purchase and want to find out about a product or a company. Maybe you have a particular product in mind, or perhaps you want to find out what the best options are. It is natural to turn to the Internet to do a search.

When I was preparing to create this web site, I was looking for a new web host. Web hosting is something you need when you have a web site. The web host provides a location for the web site. They provide the services and equipment that allow your web site to exist and to operate.

I already had a host that I used for some of my previous work but I wanted something better for this site. My previous host (which I still kept) had limitations that were likely to be problematic as my site became more popular.

I did a search for reviews on web hosts and found sites that listed the “top 10” web hosts or promised similar results. Many of the same companies kept coming up on the lists. But, from my previous experience and research, I knew some of these companies were poor choices for what I needed. I investigated further and discovered that a great number of those companies were all owned by a single, larger company. That larger company has a history of providing poor quality and service. But, unless you get behind the scenes and find out what people in the industry really think, you will never discover that. Continue reading “Shady Marketing Practices – Part 2”

Shady Marketing Practices – Part 1

A number of years ago, I was out of work and looking for a position. Nobody was hiring in my field. Some of the other top professionals in my field were also looking, but couldn’t find positions either. I eventually decided to take a part-time, temporary position at a sales call center. It was commission-only, but I thought I’d give it a try. I ended up working there about two or three days a week at about 10-20 hours per week.

This company was marketing a discount medical service program. It wasn’t insurance but, if you became a member of the program, you could get the same type of discounts you would get if you had regular medical insurance. You paid a monthly premium and then had a copay when you needed medical services. It sounded like a good program to me.

But I soon discovered some problems. Continue reading “Shady Marketing Practices – Part 1”

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