From a device spanning the size of a room to cell phones small enough to fit inside a pocket, technology has come a long way. It seems the world is at the finger tips of anyone with access to it. Families and friends can now communicate in a matter of seconds. Lovers of fashion can shop in any country and at any time with the click of a button. Tasks have become easier to complete. Technology has been the solution to many problems. However great, though, it has also brought new problems along with it. “In today’s world, we have never been more connected through computers in the history of the world,” LogOn Computer Services sales and service manager Joe Sellars said. “That means, you can send an email, quite literally, to someone on the other side of the planet, and they’ll be reading that email in seconds.
“As wonderful as that is, what is also means is that we’ve never had greater ease of those with ill intentions obtaining your personal data,” he continued. “With everything that is out there, now more than ever, you need to make sure you’re protecting your computer systems and your data.”
Sellars said threats could include viruses (these “wipe out” data stored on a computer), ransomware (these “steal” data until a fee is paid), adware (these flood a computer with unwanted advertisements) and more.
Each carries its own dangers, and protection from each is different.
Sellars recommended first investing in strong and trustworthy anti-virus software. He said even the most secure versions will not protect against everything, but it will scan the computer and alert the user to any threats present in files or emails.
As a second line of defense, he recommended anti-malware.
“Unfortunately, what is on a sharp rise are scams related to these types of software,” he explained. “Neither will protect you from these, and nothing can protect your computer when you give someone permission to access your personal files. Be very careful.”
He said these scams typically manifest as unwanted, pop-up advertisements. They will flash and, sometimes, make noise and display a message similar to, “Your computer has been infected. Please call this number in order to protect your data.” When the number is called, someone will gain access to the computer.
Sellars said to never call a number flashing on the screen and to close all pop-up advertisements quickly — press “Alt” and “F4” on the keyboard to close the currently open window and avoid clicking the pop-up which could lead to the computer being compromised.
Other scams come in the form of a phone call relaying a similar message to the pop-up advertisements. Sellars explained, as with the IRS, reputable computer companies will not make phone calls asking for personal information or computer access.
To avoid it all, Sellars said to simply find in-person services for help when a computer is compromised or for defense solutions including the anti-virus software and anti-malware.
“Any time you look online or seek telephone support, you run the risk of not knowing who you are really talking to. If you run down the street to the store… chances are, you’re going to be able to trust they’re going to take care of you and not be gone tomorrow because it’s a scam,” he said.
“If you do look online, only get help from reputable manufacturers direct web pages,” he continued. “But, when in doubt, call a local computer company you can actually visit, that you trust and where you can look someone in the eyes.”
Other tips he shared included being wary of the information stored on computers. Don’t store passwords and usernames on a computer; write them down instead. Be careful of storing financial information in a hard drive; carry and conceal the information in an alternative way.
Finally, if a computer is thought to be compromised, try the simple solution first. There are vast numbers of computer problems that can be fixed with a reboot.