Technology

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Looking for a way to save or even make money in 2015?


If you’re looking for a way to earn extra money in 2015, here’s a list of a dozen mobile apps that can help.

  1. Nielsen Homescan This app will pay you to scan your groceries. Once you sign up to become a Nielsen Homescan family (yep, the same company that tracks TV ratings), the company will send you a free scanner or you can use your smartphone. Every time you go shopping, you simply scan the barcodes on the back of each product and send your data off to Nielsen.

If you want to give it a try, you can fill out the application here: Nielsen Homescan Application (you can’t download this one from the app store; you’ll need to visit their website first).

As an active participant, you earn gift points which you can redeem for different types of merchandise. You can choose electronics, jewelry, household items, and even toys for the kids. The longer you stay on the panel, the more opportunity you have to earn points towards prizes. You also receive entries for the panel’s many sweepstakes. Prizes include money, vacations, and brand new vehicles. http://www.homescan.com/

 

  1. i-Say Mobile The i-Say mobile app is one of the only legitimate paid survey apps out there. It’s actually a part of the Ipsos company, which might be a name you’re familiar with because they do a lot of the polling you see during presidential races.

Historically, some of the top-end surveys can pay up to $95, but those are rare and can take a while to complete. Most surveys pay a buck or two and only take 10-15 minutes. Also, the i-Say app rewards you with points which can then be redeemed for Paypal or gift cards to Amazon, iTunes, etc. (example: 1000 points can be redeemed for $10 Paypal). Use the link above to fill out an application and then they’ll send you a link to download the app. http://i-say.com/

 

  1. Ibotta The Ibotta app will pay you cash to take a picture of your receipts.

Here’s how it works: 1. Sign up for a free account with Ibotta (just need a name & email address). 2. Download the mobile app and then click on the “Rebates” section. 3. From here, you should see dozens of different rebates you can take advantage of. For example, right now the app is offering 50 cents if I upload a picture of a receipt showing that you bought milk. And there’s another rebate for $10 if you upload a picture of a Best Buy receipt.

Now, you obviously don’t want to go out and buy a bunch of stuff you don’t need, but you will find tons of rebates for things you are already buying. Plus, you can stack regular coupons on top of the rebate, meaning some of you savvy shoppers will be able to get free stuff. https://ibotta.com/

 

  1. Media Research Panel Media Research Panel is a smartphone app that helps media companies better understand how consumers use, view and share TV, social, digital and mobile media. Their app “measures activities conducted on a device, such as sharing, viewing, clicking, chatting, downloading and more. The app also listens for TV shows, and, using technology of Gracenote, Inc., identifies which TV shows was captured.”

When you install their app, they’ll pay you $5/month per device. And you can install the app on up to 3 devices. Plus they’ll send you a $5 bonus after the 12th week. (Totals $185/year)

Here’s how to do it: 1. Sign up for Media Insiders Panel (you can’t download this one from the app store) 2. Install and activate the MI Mobile app onto your device(s). 3. Watch your e-mail for important information and instructions on next steps. Also, at no time is a member’s personally identifiable information ever shared or released publicly, nor will they ever interact with you via social media.

Support devices: Android™ smartphones and tablets that run Android version 4.0 or greater, and are not rooted. They also accept the Kindle Fire HD, but not the first generation Kindle Fire. iPhone®5, iPad®, iPad mini®, and iPod touch® devices that run iOS version 5.0 or greater. ***You’ve got be a US resident, 13 years or older, and have a valid email address. https://www.mediainsiders.com/

  1. Field Agent The Field Agent app will pay you to complete small tasks around town for their clients. The tasks are pretty simple: scanning barcodes with your iPhone, checking prices at your local grocery store and conducting field surveys.

Payouts vary and depend on the job and area that you are in. For example, a job posted in Mission Viejo, California is looking for an agent to take 4 separate photos of products in the toothbrush section of the local Target. This particular task pays 9 dollars.

And in Brooklyn, New York, a field agent can go to a local Toys “R” Us store, snap a shot of the $19.99 & under video game display and come out a healthy $5.50 richer.

Remember though: you’re in this to make money; don’t bust out the plastic when you see a new Xbox 360 game nearby that you’ve been itching to buy. Field Agent job payouts typically vary between $2 – $8  (payable through PayPal). Most of the jobs only take 5 minutes, so the real time involved is with driving to each location. Still with travel time and gas, you could easily make $10-$20/hour completing mini-jobs. http://www.fieldagent.net/for-agents/

 

  1. Inbox Dollars InboxDollars has been around for quite a while now, but they just came out with a pretty cool mobile app that will pay you to search the web, play games, and take surveys.

The app is totally free to download. Plus, they give you a free $5 just to signup. Once you’ve accumulated $30 earnings (it’s possible to do this in only a couple of hours), you can request payment via check. It takes about 2 weeks to get the check when you cash out. http://www.inboxdollars.com/

 

  1. Receipt Hog Receipt Hog is very similar to Ibotta. You take a picture of your receipts and the “hog” rewards you with points that you can redeem for Paypal or Amazon gift cards.

The difference with this app is that you don’t have to shop anywhere specific, or buy anything specific. You can take a picture of any of your receipts and the app will reward you with points. http://receipthog.com/

 

  1. Bookscouter The Bookscouter app is really useful when you want to sell your old books that are just collecting dust on the shelf. You scan your book’s barcode with a smartphone and Bookscouter will let you compare the payout of 20+ different buyback companies.

Once you’ve found the buyback company offering the most cash, you just fill out a little information about where you want your payment sent and prepare the books to be shipped. Most of the buyback companies offer prepaid shipping labels too, so there aren’t any costs associated with this. http://www.bookscouter.com

 

  1. ESPN Streak for the Cash Think you know sports? The ESPN Streak for the Cash app will let you make predictions for upcoming games and then reward you with cash if you have the longest streak of correct predictions. To make it tougher, you have to make call for 10 different sports. The person with the longest winning streak earns $50,000 every month. Pretty sweet! http://streak.espn.go.com/en/

 

10. Mobee Have you ever tried mystery shopping? The Mobee app will pay you to go undercover in your local stores and restaurants and rate the level of customer service and cleanliness, among other things. http://www.mobeeapp.com/

 

11.  SlideJoy & 12. ScreenPay Both SlideJoy and ScreenPay operate on the same principal – download their app and they will serve ads on your smartphone’s lock screen. For this, you get paid a monthly stipend.

The SlideJoy app doesn’t specify how much you earn (it’s based off how often you look at your phone), but the ScreenPay app will pay you a flat fee of $3 a month, plus they’ll give you $1 just for signup up. These are both Android apps, so they won’t work on your iPhone or Blackberry. https://www.getslidejoy.com/ http://www.screenpay.com/

 

Special Thanks to ThePennyHoarder.com for this list of mobile apps

Did You Get A Drone For Christmas

If so, the FAA has launched campaign targeting you as a rookie drone pilots Drones are no longer high priced specialty item, they come in all shapes and sizes. From affordable film-quality options to toy-sized mini versions now most anyone can own one. Drones have become cheap, fun, and easy enough to control that they make good gifts for any holiday season. But that means that where tech-savvy families would have had to remember to wrap batteries alongside holiday gifts, now they need to worry about Federal Aviation Administration flight regulations.

Thanks to the massive rise of consumer drones, the FAA released a video this week that proposes best practices to help people “stay off the naughty list” as they play with their airborne gifts. The “Know Before You Fly” video is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XF5Q9JvBhxM

It’s safe to say drones were one of the hottest topics in 2014. “Drone porn” became a thing, and the FAA spent so much time going back and forth on how to regulate them that we might not have regulations until 2017. So it’s no surprise that the issue of privacy is actually on a lot of people’s minds:

If you were gifted a drone for Christmas, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has you in its sights. It may not be in the form of long-awaited laws for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that are due later this year, but is a campaign directed at rookie pilots whose expertise may be outstripped by their unbridled enthusiasm.

With the increasing availability of cheap and feature-packed drones, these aircraft have become an aviation concern. The danger is the potential for swarms of drones taking to skies across the US, controlled by people who mightn’t have such a great handle on how to use them.

The FAA is continuing to work away on new regulations to keep all these flying vehicles in check, but in the meantime it has teamed up with UAV organizations and hobby groups to launch Know Before You Fly, a public awareness campaign promoting its already existing rules. Primarily, this means keeping the drone within sight, not flying it over 400 ft (122 m), conducting routine inspections of the craft, keeping clear of manned aircraft and notifying airports or control towers if flying within 5 miles (8 km).

The FAA has also attracted criticism for its slow progress in revamping rules for what is a new era in unmanned flight. It remains illegal to fly UAVs for commercial purposes unless granted permission from the agency, a roadblock that has seen some private firms promise to take their operations overseas.

But Know Before You Fly is at least an acknowledgement of the sharp uptake in the number of drones taking to the skies and expresses a desire to inform and cooperate with budding pilots. The campaign will incorporate a website, educational materials offered at the point-of-sale, along with digital and social media campaigns.

 

The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the interconnection of uniquely identifiable embedded computing devices within the existing Internet infrastructure. Typically, IoT is expected to offer advanced connectivity of devices, systems, and services that goes beyond machine-to-machine communications (M2M) and covers a variety of protocols, domains, and applications. The interconnection of these embedded devices (including smart objects), is expected to usher in automation in nearly all fields, while also enabling advanced applications like a Smart Grid.

Things, in the Internet of Things, refers to a wide variety of devices such as heart monitoring implants, biochip transponders on farm animals, automobiles with built-in sensors, or field operation devices that assist fire-fighters in search and rescue. Current retail market examples include the NEST Smart Thermostat systems and washer/dryers that utilize wifi for remote monitoring.

According to Gartner, there will be nearly 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020. ABI Research estimates that more than 30 billion devices will be wirelessly connected to the Internet of Things (Internet of Everything) by 2020.

Integration with the Internet implies that devices will utilize an IP address as a unique identifier. However, due to the limited address space of IPv4 (which allows for 4.3 billion unique addresses), objects in the IoT will have to use IPv6 to accommodate the extremely large address space required. Objects in the IoT will not only be devices with sensory capabilities, but also provide actuation capabilities like light bulbs or locks controlled over the Internet).

So now let’s talk about what is sure to be the Internet of STUPID Things. It’s not that I don’t believe we shouldn’t be connecting more devices in the future, it’s just that this “Thing” is already being overdone with devices that have no real advantage to being connected to the internet.

Let’s take the light bulb. Even Mark Cuban of Shark Tank invested in a company making $90 light bulbs that dim and turn on with a smart phone app. Do we really need our light bulbs to have their own IP addresses so we can manage them from our cell phones? Most of us spend too much time looking at our cell phones as it is. And if texting and driving is a problem today – how about driving and adjusting the lights and the thermostat as you get closer to home.

Another “stupid” thing… connected toilets? Smart toilets sell for around $6,000 and believe it or not – hackers have already developed the means to hack them. I don’t really want to go there so I’ll let you search for it online – but don’t use Google to search because it’s tracking and cataloging all this stuff and everyone’s searches. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, use DuckDuckGo.com to search because they don’t track your searches.

How about connected waste barrels? Municipalities have been trying for decades to figure out when a barrel is full so they can empty it. With the Internet of Stupid Things – we’ll be able to send out trash trucks to empty each individual waste receptacle as they ping the servers saying they’re full. Sounds like a lot of trash to me…

Another stupid IoT is the Internet-enabled diaper. Even though I just became a proud, first time Grandfather, this seems really stupid to me… but then again, who wants to walk around with a load in their pants. I’m guessing this IoT will become a wonderful baby shower gift in the future.

We’ll also have connected refrigerators that email you when an item is running low as well as track when and for how long the door was opened last, pill bottles that flash when you don’t take your meds and connected slippers that radio back to a web server somewhere a person’s stability when walking in them.

I’m not convinced that connected light bulbs will take the world by storm because the old fashioned electrical switch still works, so does jiggling the handle on my toilet. And when one needs to check a diaper, your nose still works just fine.

The real winner with all these stupid things connected on the internet. As you might have guessed – Google – who will have a field day tracking everything we do and selling data and advertising around it.

Your Eyeball Is Your Password


Recent internet threats like Heartbleed indicate that we need a more secure way to do our work online. Eyelock, a New York based company, has responded with Myris, a palm sized device that scans your irises to log you in to your favorite sites.

Myris uses patented technology to convert your individual iris characteristics to a code unique only to you, then matches your encrypted code to grant access to your PCs, e-commerce sites, applications and data— all in less than 1 second.

Myris works easily with digital networks, including online bank accounts, social media accounts, Internet VPNs, email and more. On the back end, you can set passwords as complex as you like and once you link Myris, you can forget them. Myris is robust and reliable enough to secure workstations, high-value transactions, critical databases, and information systems for enterprise and small business.

Features
• FAR (False Accept Rate) is 1 in 1.5 million (single eye)
• Video-based system • USB powered
• Authentication occurs on device • Multiple user capacity—*up to 5 people per device
• Secure communication and encryption (AES 256)
• Easy set-up—user-friendly application software included
• Compatible with Windows 7 & 8, 8.1 and Mac OS 10.8 +

Benefits
• Only DNA is more accurate
• Fast and easy to use—as easy as looking into a mirror
• No recharging, works with any USB device
• Protects your privacy—no personal information is transmitted
• Only one device needed per household
• Your information is kept safe and secure
• Easily manage your access to digital networks
• Works with most PC and tablet operating systems

Never type a password again—Myris grants you access to your digital world. It’s portable, lightweight, fits in the palm of your hand—and is as easy to use as looking at a mirror.

Myris will be featured at CES 2015 and expect to see demos of an integrated Myris version featured by laptop partners including HP and Acer. Myris has also been nominated for an innovation award at CES 2015.

You can get more information on Myris here: http://www.eyelock.com/

 

Microsoft Kills Off Clip Art

Back in the ‘90s, Clip Art took over Word and PowerPoint files thanks to the thousands of office workers and students who used the images as a way to “improve” their documents.

These days there are a large number of free images available on the web, and Microsoft is recognizing this by killing off its Clip Art portal in recent versions Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook. “The Office.com Clip Art and image library has closed shop states Microsoft. Usage of Office’s image library has been declining year-to-year as customers rely more on search engines.

While most references to Clip Art disappeared with Office 2013, users were still able to insert the old-school images into documents using an Office.com Clip Art option. That is now being replaced by Bing Images, with Microsoft filtering images to ensure they’re based on the Creative Commons licensing system for personal or commercial use. Most of the new images are much more modern, instead of the illustrated remnants of the past. Clip Art might be facing the same Office-related demise as did the great Clippy assistant. clipartimages_0   Time marches on!

Protect Yourself From CYBER SCAMS This Holiday Season

FBI reminds shoppers to be aware of cyber criminals offering scams this holiday season!

If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

The FBI reminds shoppers in advance of the holiday shopping season to beware of cyber criminals and their aggressive and creative ways to steal money and personal information. Scammers use many techniques to defraud consumers by offering too good to be true deals via phishing e-mails advertising brand name merchandise, quick money making offers, or gift cards as an incentive to purchase a product. Remember, if the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is and never provide your personal information to an unknown party or untrusted website.

Scammers often use e-mail to advertise hot-ticket items of the year that may become hard to find during the holidays to lure unsuspecting consumers to click on links. Steer clear of untrusted sites or ads offering items at unrealistic discounts or with special coupons. You may end up paying for an item, giving away personal information and credit card details, and then receive nothing in return, along with your identity compromised. These sites may also be offering products at a great price, but the products being sold are not the same as the products they advertise. This is known as the bait and switch scam.

Beware of posts on social media sites that appear to offer vouchers or gift cards, especially sites offering deals too good to be true, such as a free $500 gift card. Some may pose as holiday promotions or contests. It may even appear one of your friends shared the link with you. If so, it is likely your friend was duped by the scam after it was sent to them by one of their friends. Oftentimes, these scams lead to online surveys designed to steal personal information. Remember, if the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. And never provide your personal information to an unknown party or untrusted website.

When purchasing gift cards online, be leery of auction sites selling discounted or bulk offers of gift cards. When purchasing gift cards in the store, examine the protective scratch off area on the back of the card to see if it has been tampered with.

Be on the lookout for mobile applications designed to steal your personal information from your smartphone. Such apps are often disguised as games and are often offered for free. Research the company selling or giving away the app and look online for third party reviews before installing an app from an unknown source.

Tickets to theater, concerts, and sporting events are always popular gifts during the holidays. If you purchase or receive tickets as a gift, do not post pictures of the tickets to social media sites. Protect the barcodes on tickets as you would your credit card number. Fraudsters will create a ticket using the barcode obtained from searching around social media sites and resell the ticket. You should never allow the barcode to be seen on social media.

If you are in need of extra cash at this time of year, beware of sites and posts offering work you can do from the comfort of your own home. Often, the work from home opportunities rely on convenience as a selling point for applicants with an unscrupulous motivation behind the posting. You should carefully research the job posting and individuals or company contacting you for employment.

As a consumer, if you feel you are a victim of an Internet-related crime, you may file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at http://www.IC3.gov

Here’s some additional tips you can use to avoid becoming a victim of cyber fraud:
• Check your credit card statement routinely.
• Protect your credit card numbers from “wandering eyes”.
• Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) e-mail.
• Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
• Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders. Scan the attachments for viruses if possible.
• Avoid filling out forms contained in e-mail messages that ask for personal information.
• Always compare the link in the e-mail to the link you are actually directed to and determine if they actually match and lead you to a legitimate site.
• Log on directly to the official website for the business identified in the e-mail, instead of “linking” to it from an unsolicited e-mail. If the e-mail appears to be from your bank, credit card issuer, or other company you deal with frequently, your statements or official correspondence from the business will provide the proper contact information.
• If you are requested to act quickly or there is an emergency, it may be a scam. Fraudsters create a sense of urgency to get you to act quickly.
• Verify any requests for personal information from any business or financial institution by contacting them using the main contact information on their official website.
• Remember if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Walmart Offers $99 Tablet PC On Black Friday

Come Black Friday, you’ll be able to get a tablet PC for less than $100

The Nextbook 8, a PC tablet that runs the latest version of Microsoft Windows, will be available for just $99 on Black Friday at Wal-Mart. It’s currently selling for $149.

There are some tradeoffs to buying a $99 Windows PC tablet — it has no built in mouse or keyboard, the processor isn’t all that great, and it only has 16 GB of memory. But the good news for consumers is that PCs are hitting bargain basement prices across the board.

The average selling price for an entry level Windows PCs during the last three weeks of October was $430. That’s the lowest pricing for Windows computers in history. Prices were about 10% higher during the same time last year.

Those super-low prices are helping drive up slumping PC sales significantly higher.

PC sales were up 16% over last year in the first week of October, all driven by the sub-$300 PCs.

Black Friday pricing has come very early to the Windows notebook market. The real question is what will the Windows PC market look like when we come out of the 2014 holiday season?

Microsoft has been subsidizing some PC prices to make them more competitive against Google’s Chromebooks. Google’s laptops only connect to the Web, but the increasingly popular devices can be had for as low as $150.

Meanwhile, Apple took its highest share of the U.S. PC market in its history last quarter, after it sold 5.5 million Macintosh computers.

Microsoft might be shooting itself in the foot with its extremely aggressive pricing. Sales of Windows laptops that cost more than $300 have fallen 10% in the past three weeks. That means fewer customers are buying the more expensive touchscreen laptops and tablet/laptop hybrids that make Windows products stand out from the competition.

Industry analysts forecast a significantly weaker PC business, less able to support the upcoming Windows 10 release, less able to compete with a surging Macbook market, and less able to clearly differentiate what makes a PC a compelling choice against a tablet or a smartphone.

You can check out the new Nextbook here: http://nextbookusa.com/productdetail.php?product_id=22

Trick or Treat From Microsoft

Seems like Microsoft wanted to play their own version of “Trick or Treat” on Halloween. Last Friday, October 31st, Microsoft stopped providing Windows 7 Home Basic, Windows 7 Home Premium, and Windows 7 Ultimate licenses to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), including its PC partners and systems builders. This means you’ll only be able to buy a computer running Windows 7 as long as current stock lasts.

The only exception will be business computers running Windows 7 Professional, which will continue being sold for at least another year. The Windows Lifecycle chart for sales below summarizes the important dates we know.


The two asterisks for Windows 7 Professional in the last column point to an important note: “Microsoft will provide one year of notice prior to the end of sale date.” Since Microsoft hasn’t updated the chart yet with a new date, we can safely say Windows 7 Professional will still be sold until October 31, 2015, if not longer.

So if you still want a Windows 7 computer, for whatever reason, expect to be paying for Windows 7 Professional. As inventory runs out, you may even be charged a premium for a “business machine,” because OEMs know they can get away with it.

It’s also worth noting that Mainstream Support for Windows 7, including for Windows 7 Professional, will end sooner than that, on January 13, 2015. Microsoft could decide to extend Mainstream Support, so as to avoid selling it with only Extended Support offered, though it has not given any indication yet it will do so.

For those who don’t know, Mainstream Support includes free incident support, warranty claims, fixes for non-security as well as security bugs, plus design changes and feature requests. Extended Support consists solely of security updates.

Microsoft’s main goal now is to get Windows 10 out the door. That being said, it wants to keep its current customers, especially enterprises and businesses, satisfied. After all, one day they/we will be considering upgrading from Windows 7 or Windows 8 to the latest and greatest.

Another Win For The Little Guys

When we first heard about the CryptoLocker malware a year ago or so, I thought, as cybercrime goes, that’s about as bad as you can get.

CryptoLocker is a very malicious form of malware: unlike a virus infection, it totally blocks access to your data but leaves your computer and your software running just fine.

Then the demand, “Pay us $300 within three days, and you’ll get your data back. Otherwise… it’s gone forever.” The $300 payment buys you the 2048-bit RSA private key needed to unscramble your encrypted data.

But, as malicious as CryptoLocker and now CryptoWall 2.0 are, there is another contender in this game of hacker warfare.

Fake support calls
Fake support scammers are the people who phone you out of the blue (whether you are on the Do Not Call register or not) and, not to mince words, scare you heck out of you spouting lies about malware on your computer.

For $200 – $300 or so, the same price point as CryptoLocker, the scammers will fix your computer, but any “fix” you get is as bad or worse then the “problem” you didn’t have in the first place.

Many people have reported that these guys don’t just call once if you fail to cough up the $300. They often call again and again, with the calls getting more insistent – outright threatening, by many reports – and with no real hope that they will stop.

Dealing with the scam
It’s easy for us to say, “But all you have to do is hang up, so this scam could never work.” But it’s also easy to see how a well-meaning but not very technically savvy user, especially someone without a network of family or friends to ask for IT help, could be scared into paying up.

Imagine the questions that worried users might ask themselves:

  • Didn’t the caller say he was from Microsoft?
  • Didn’t he say that a virus on my computer was attacking his company’s servers?
  • Didn’t he find evidence of it in my system log, just as he predicted?
  • Isn’t most computer support done over the phone and online these days?
  • Isn’t this the third time he’s called, with the symptoms getting worse every time?
  • Can’t you get sued for a cyberattack because you didn’t have a virus scanner?
  • Won’t it end up costing $300 anyway, or even more, if I go to my local shop instead?

Demanding money with threats is what it sounds like to me, amounting to extortion or blackmail. And these guys have your phone number!

FTC takedown
With that in mind, it’s always a good thing when fake support callers get bagged and thanks to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Uttam Saha and Tiya Bhattacharya, who ran a company called Pairsys in Albany, New York, have been shut down by court order.

That may not sound like much, as I’m convinced that there are still MANY other individuals and groups perpetrating this scam but in this case, the settlement with the FTC will see the scammers’ operation shuttered and their assets frozen.

Indeed, Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said:  ”We are pleased that the court has shut down the company for now, and we look forward to getting consumers’ money back in their pockets.”

There’s a lot of money to recover: the FTC claims that the pair have pulled in about $2,500,000 in the past two-and-a-half years.

Is it real punishment?
Of course, just giving the money back isn’t really a punishment for these 2 crooks, because they weren’t supposed to have it in the first place. It’s still a direct result for the FTC’s internet crime fighting efforts, so, “Well done, Bureau of Consumer Protection.”

The next question should be – how do you think the courts should punish fake support scammers?

Dealing with fake support calls
So if you have friends or family who have been pestered to the point of worry by fake support callers, here’s a short podcast you can tell them about. The podcast makes it clear that these guys are scammers (and why), and offers some practical advice on how to deal with them.

Avoiding fake support calls
https://soundcloud.com/sophossecurity/avoiding-fake-support-calls

The Antivirus Industrys Dirty Little Secret

The Antivirus industry has a dirty little secret that they really don’t want anyone to know. Despite their claims, their products are not all that effective.  Many of them are only protecting against at best 80% or 90% of the threats out there in the wild at any time.

Let’s look at that a bit more in detail. AV products need to protect against two general types of threats: ones that are known and threats that are unknown.  The ones that are known have an identified signature so that anti-virus programs can detect the threat and get rid of it. This is called reactive detection.  Then, there are threats that are still unknown, usually new threats created by the bad guys. AV products need to protect against those in a proactive way, and antivirus software can be scored looking at how many of those new threats they block.

This type of scoring on both reactive and proactive detection is actually being done by the antivirus industry’s premier site for insiders: Virus Bulletin.  They have created so called RAP averages. RAP stands for “Reactive And Proactive”.  They test all antivirus products every few months, and measure how each product does in both reactive and proactive detections of a large amount of threats.  And they create a graph where these scores are plotted for all tested products.  The proactive score is on the X-axis, and the reactive score is on the Y-axis.

The results are not pretty. One major antivirus industry player is routinely scoring no better than 75% reactive combined with a 70% proactive.  And people wonder how come PCs still get infected by malware. Check out the test results. Click here to see the most recent graph at Virus Bulletin: You can check there how your antivirus vendor is doing also.  https://www.virusbtn.com/vb100/rap-index.xml

The bad guys know this and count on it. Simply having anti-virus protection alone creates a false sense of security.  It’s just as important for all employees undergo regular Internet Security Awareness Training and to enforce compliance.  Just one employee in a weak moment, clicking on a phishing email, can cause untold grief, losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and potentially massive legal bills. Businesses and consumers definitely need both an endpoint security software solution AND education on the perils of using the internet. We use and recommend Threat Tracks VIPRE Antivirus business edition as it scores very well in the RAP tests and isn’t a resource hog negatively affecting computer performance.

Whatever Antivirus product you ultimately use to protect your computer – remember, the protection is only as good as the updated virus definitions. ALWAYS check and verify that your AV has the most up-to-date definitions to maximize your protection.

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