The following information is provided by the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency:
NCCIC/US-CERT reminds users of the importance of creating and managing strong passwords. Passwords are often the only barrier between you and your personal information. There are several programs attackers can use to help guess or “crack” passwords. However, choosing strong passwords and keeping them confidential can make it more difficult for others to access your information.
NCCIC/US-CERT recommends users take the following actions:
- Use multi-factor authentication when available.
- Use different passwords on different systems and accounts.
- Don’t use passwords that are based on personal information that can be easily accessed or guessed.
- Use the longest password or passphrase permissible by each password system.
- Don’t use words that can be found in any dictionary of any language.
- Refer to Tips on Choosing and Protecting Passwords and Supplementing Passwords for best practices and additional information.
And an additional suggestion from Bee Hive Support, it is better to use a program to store your passwords – and not a piece of paper with all your passwords!
If you would like to discuss a password vault program for you, please feel free to reach out to Bee Hive Support.
If you see something similar to this:
This is a pretty common occurrence and nothing to be worried about. This is just a pop-up and your computer is not infected. The message is a scam that is trying to scare you into calling the displayed phone number so the scammers can get access to your computer and try to sell you some software you don’t need.
The pop up can be difficult to close. You can just restart your computer or close your web browser through Task Manager.
To close this through Task Manager, right-click the time in the bottom right of your screen, then click Task Manager.
Find your web browser on the list and right-click it then click End Task.
Sometimes when you reopen your browser the pop-up will display again if your browser is set to go back to the page it was last on when the browser closed. If this is the case, just close the web browser again through Task Manager. Now hit the Windows key + R on your keyboard.
This should bring up a Run window. Type www.google.com in the space provided then click OK.
This should open your browser on this website instead of going back to the previous one that displayed the pop-up.
The IRS continues to warn consumers to guard against scam phone calls from thieves intent on stealing their money or their identity. Criminals pose as the IRS to trick victims out of their money or personal information. Here are several tips to help you avoid being a victim of these scams:
- Scammers make unsolicited calls. Thieves call taxpayers claiming to be IRS officials. They demand that the victim pay a bogus tax bill. They con the victim into sending cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls,” or via a phishing email.
- Callers try to scare their victims. Many phone scams use threats to intimidate and bully a victim into paying. They may even threaten to arrest, deport or revoke the license of their victim if they don’t get the money.
- Scams use caller ID spoofing. Scammers often alter caller ID to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.
- Cons try new tricks all the time. Some schemes provide an actual IRS address where they tell the victim to mail a receipt for the payment they make. Others use emails that contain a fake IRS document with a phone number or an email address for a reply. These scams often use official IRS letterhead in emails or regular mail that they send to their victims. They try these ploys to make the ruse look official.
- Scams cost victims over $23 million. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, or TIGTA, has received reports of about 736,000 scam contacts since October 2013. Nearly 4,550 victims have collectively paid over $23 million as a result of the scam.
The IRS will NEVER:
- Call you to demand immediate payment. The IRS will not call you if you owe taxes without first sending you a bill in the mail.
- Demand that you pay taxes and not allow you to question or appeal the amount you owe.
- Require that you pay your taxes a certain way. For instance, require that you pay with a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to bring in police or other agencies to arrest you for not paying.
If you don’t owe taxes, or have no reason to think that you do:
- Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
- Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” webpage. You can also call 800-366-4484.
- Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
If you know you owe, or think you may owe tax:
- Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you.
Phone scams first tried to sting older people, new immigrants to the U.S. and those who speak English as a second language. Now the crooks try to swindle just about anyone. And they’ve ripped-off people in every state in the nation.
Stay alert to scams that use the IRS as a lure. Tax scams can happen any time of year, not just at tax time. For more, visit “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” on IRS.gov.
Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on IRS.gov.
And those Social Security calls are scams too! Here is a great article by AARP
Apple has been promising – have they delivered?
Apple has been promising since they first released the iPad that it was the future of computers! But those of us who have used iPads know it is a device that hasn’t come close to replacing our desktop or laptop computers. However, Apple MAY be getting closer with the new iPadOS.
The new iPadOS is much like the iPhone’s iOS13 with a lot of features that are specific to the iPad. These improvements are for iPad models going back to the iPad Air 2 and Mini 4.
The first thing you will want to remember is to NOT install a public beta version of the software. You will end up with glitches, your apps may randomly crash or the iPad will suddenly reboot. The production version of the iPadOS will arrive in the fall and most people will be better off waiting until then! So it is coming…just give it a few months.
Some things to look forward to:
Widgets on the home screen! These helpful at-a-glance tools provide weather, reminders and news headlines, if you have an iPhone, you are probably already using them.
Safari on the new iPadOS will be more like an actual desktop browser! Providing the user with a richer more computer like browsing experience.
If you use a Pencil you will notice the improved Pencil lag takes something that was good and improves on it making a nearly seamless feel. Writing, in particular, feels very fluid.
The new iPadOS has a lot of multitasking improvements including the ability to display a wide range of Apple apps allow for split-screen support, allowing you to have two windows open at once. Currently, these are Apple apps, but by the fall you should see this functionality in App Store apps.
There are a few other things this new iPadOS can do, such as allow for USB storage, multi-gesture editing, and even quasi mouse support. So, will these improvements be enough to pull me away from my desktop computer? Not yet, but there are a lot of tools that will help bridge the gap for a lot of people. But one take away from today’s post – while it may be tempting to download the iPadOS public beta – WAIT!
What if all the devices in your life could connect to the internet? Not just computers and smartphones, but everything: clocks, speakers, lights, doorbells, cameras, windows, window blinds, hot water heaters, appliances, cooking utensils, you name it. And what if those devices could all communicate, send you information, and take your commands? It’s not science fiction; it’s the “Internet of Things”, and it’s a key component of home automation and smart homes.
Home automation is exactly what it sounds like: automating the ability to control items around the house—from window shades to pet feeders—with a simple push of a button (or a voice command). Some activities, like setting up a lamp to turn on and off at your whim, are simple and relatively inexpensive. Others, like advanced surveillance cameras, may require a more serious investment of time and money.
There are many smart home product categories, so you can control everything from lights and temperature to locks and security in your home. We will be presenting the ones that we have had experience with starting with the Amazon Echo family of products.
Amazon Echo Family
Three years after the debut of the original, which we had almost immediately, Amazon decided the time was right to refresh its flagship smart speaker, the . The Echo is a Bluetooth speaker powered by Alexa, Amazon’s handy and friendly, voice assistant. Alexa works with a number of smart home devices directly, as well as with If This Then That (IFTTT) to control plenty of others via “recipes” you can create yourself. If you ever wanted to turn all your lights out, lock the front door and set the thermostat for bed without getting out of bed – Alexa can do that! It’ll take a little work to set up the commands, but you can use Alexa to control most of the gadgets in your house by the sound of your voice. If you already have a favorite speaker, the inexpensive Echo Dot can connect to it and add Alexa functionality. And if you want a touchscreen to see search results and make video calls, check out the Echo Show or Echo Spot.
The Amazon Echo is frequently discounted from its standard $100 price. At $100, nearly half the cost of the original, the new Echo seeks to undercut them all. In short, it’s the same Alexa speaker that quickly became a dominant smash hit, only now it’s cheaper and nicer-looking. If you’re interested in bringing voice controls into your home, smart or otherwise, the Echo still offers the most bang for your buck.