The world of computer science and technology is brimming with misconceptions and popular myths, most of which are patently untrue. Below, we take a look at five of the most common computer myths, and explain why they’re totally bogus.
#1. Your computer is running slowly because it has a virus
While a virus can be the culprit of your computer’s glacial pace, there are plenty of other reasons your computer might be running slowly, including:
Too many programs trying to load during startup.
Your computer has been on too long. Sometimes this happens if you put your computer into power save mode or sleep mode at night, but never actually shut down or restart the computer.
There are too many programs running at once. (Check your Task Manager.)
Temporary files are crowding your available hard drive space.
Your computer doesn’t have enough RAM.
Your computer is old.
If your computer is running too slow to function or be productive, you can always bring it into Computer Repair Plus and we’ll be happy to take a look at it for you. We can determine the root cause of your computer’s slowness, and make the necessary fixes to get it back up and running at top speed again.
#2. Macs don’t get viruses (or at least, not as many as Windows)
This popular misconception is often shouted as gospel by Mac users. It comes from the fact that for decades, Mac users represented a much smaller portion of computer users, as compared to the Windows population. Therefore, their rates of virus and malware infection were disproportionately represented, appearing to be much less common, and giving Macs the false appearance of being safer than Windows fundamentally.
Now that Macs have gained in popularity, hackers and spammers have begun focusing their efforts on Mac-operating system viruses, and those efforts have paid off. As of February 2020, Macs have more malware than Windows machines for the first time in history.
#3. Companies that sell antivirus software….create viruses
This is a patently, demonstrably false misconception brought about by conspiracy-minded thinking. There is no truth whatsoever to this myth. In reality, antivirus software is a solid, dependable and excellent front line of defense against viruses, malware and other digital threats. If you’re overwhelmed by your antivirus options, Computer Repair Plus can make recommendations and install antivirus software for you, on the spot.
#.4. A small business’s biggest security threat comes from the Internet
The truth is, a small business’s biggest security threat usually comes from the inside, not the internet. A small business’s employees are the biggest source of vulnerability when it comes to security and room for human error. Often, an employee can make a small mistake that leaves the business vulnerable to hacking. An internal source can accidentally leak a password, or leave a computer unprotected overnight. Theft and internal error are enormous sources of risk, much more dangerous when taken together than random acts of hacking or cyber terorrism.
#5. Hackers target “big business,” and don’t bother targeting small businesses
This popular misconception is rooted in a sense of false security and a sort of safety-in-obscurity mentality. Small business owners can fall into the trap of thinking that they’re invisible or somehow hidden from the targeting schemes of big hackers and scammers. The logic tends to go like this: simply because they’re not as big as huge corporations like Sony or Bank of America that make global headlines when they suffer a security breach, they’re invulnerable to attack. You can see how this logic fails to hold up under scrutiny. In fact, hackers and scammers prey on small businesses all the time, frequently using multiple small businesses to accumulate massive stores of data and multiple revenue streams at once. Just because you’re small, doesn’t mean you’re safe.
Keep these popular myths and misconceptions in mind, trust your instincts and think critically. If you ever need help with a virus, a security threat, a too-slow computer or even just want to know the difference between a Mac and a PC, head on down to Computer Repair Plus. We’re here to help and always happy to answer your questions!
In 2019, the FBI reported a record $3.5 billion in losses due to internet scams. The sad fact is that as the internet has exploded in popularity, so have the opportunities for being conned, scammed, defrauded, and targeted by professional hackers. It’s imperative these days to stay informed about the most common and dangerous scams – so you know what to look out for, and how to avoid them. Having a solid plan in place for keeping your data and online assets safe can help avoid tragedy. Below is Computer Repair Plus’s list for 2020.
We hope it goes without saying, but if you think these scams are sitting in your inbox: do not respond. Do not engage. Never answer requests like these below, and never, ever give your bank information away – to anyone, but especially to a stranger – online. Any email correspondence that you suspect is a scam should be sent directly to the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, or the Federal Trade Commission.
The 419 Fraud Scam
Sometimes referred to as the Nigerian letter scam or the “advance fee” scam, the 419 fraud scam is one of the most common scams online today. In case you were wondering, the 419 comes from the section of Nigerian criminal code that outlaws fraud. In 2019, more than 14,000 people fell victim to this scam. As a collective whole, they lost more than $100 million, averaging a loss of nearly $7,000 each.
We hope at this point that the scam sounds familiar to you, but just in case you’re unaware: the scammer usually poses as a Nigerian prince or other wealthy West African socialite who is grieving the death of a beloved family member, and needs your help financially. Somehow, this member of Nigerian royalty has contacted you directly. He says he needs to keep a large sum of his money in your bank account for safekeeping. In return, he says he’ll share a large chunk of the money with you – but he needs you to pay the advance fees first. You can imagine where it goes from there.
The Pre-Approved Notice
Congratulations, you’ve been pre-approved! You may have seen an email with a subject line like this in your inbox before, usually accompanied by a cluster of glittering, smiling, winking emojis. These emails usually offer a credit card or bank loan with fantastic interest rates and sky-high credit limits. These offers might be extra appealing to you if you’re in a financial bind. But beware: you must pay advance fees at sign-up and at various stages along the way – and before you know it, the con will run its course and you’ll get nothing in return.
Always remember that with valid, legitimate credit card and loan offers, you will never be asked to pay advance or up-front fees at sign-up. Credit card companies and loan lenders do charge interest or fees, typically, but they never ask for these payments in advance of granting you a card or a loan.
The Phishing Scam
This one operates on a different principle than some of the more obvious scams. Let’s say you get an email that looks legit – it’s from your bank, your college, some store you like to shop at. You don’t look too closely at it but you recognize it generally. You open it up and clink on the link. Instead of taking you to the legitimate source you expected, the link redirects you to a site where you are asked to enter personal data like passwords and account information. We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again for the folks in the back: do not give your private information away online. Hackers will steal it and use it to break into your accounts. More than 114,000 people were victims of phishing scams in 2019. They lost $57.8 million, collectively.
Never, ever click the links in phishing emails. Doing so only makes your computer, your passwords and all your private data vulnerable to hackers, scammers, and viruses. Be sure to closely inspect your emails for legitimacy. Phishers will try to make the email look legit, and trick you into trusting it. Be on the lookout for typos, spelling or grammar errors, suspicious formatting, logos that don’t look quite right – as well as, obviously, a sketchy or suspicious email address.
The Disaster Relief Scam
Ah, yes. Operating by one of humanity’s darkest and most repulsive instincts, the disaster relief scam preys on vulnerable, well-intentioned people who believe they’re donating to a disaster relief fund or other charity. After Hurricane Florence hit in 2018, for example, grifters and scammers began targeting civilians across the country, trying to get passwords, bank info and other data for the purposes of identity theft and fraud. It got so bad that the Attorney General of Virginia issued a formal warning, cautioning all Virginia residents to be hyper-vigilant.
As with other scams discussed today, you can usually tell these guys from their legitimate counterparts because of the way they ask for money up front or demand sensitive info and passwords. Never supply these details. Only give to legitimate, established institutions or efforts. If you’re in any doubt abou the legitimacy of a relief fund or charity, you can visit GuideStar or Charity Navigator to verify that they’re legit.
Social Media Travel Scams
Social media has now become one of the most popular ways for scammers and con artists to trick you out of your money. Instagram in particular is vulnerable to these types of schemes. Scammers use victims’ FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) against them with this scheme. Travel scams usually lure the victim in with a beautiful travel photo – and because all ads on Instagram are simple and meant to be alluring, it’s hard to tell at first that you’re falling victim. Sometimes the ‘ad’ will promise a free trip or plane tickets to some exotic locale. Once you click on it, you will be asked to fill out a survey overflowing with personal data and private information, or hackers will simply use the open connection to install viruses and data-harvesting malware on your computer.
Scams like these are one of the reasons we have blue checkmarks on Twitter and Instagram now – so you can tell if the account is legitimate, verified and trusted. Look for that blue checkmark, and any other markers of legitimacy. Travel companies, airlines, hotel chains, travel bloggers and other legitimate sources will all have verified accounts and tons of followers. Beware of suspicious-looking accounts that are unverified and that only have a handful of sketchy followers.
A Good Rule of Thumb
A good rule of thumb is that if anyone online is asking for your bank info, your private data or any kind of weirdly personal information up front, you are looking at a scam. Always use secure servers, verify accounts, and never give your personal data out online.
If you think you’ve been scammed, change all your passwords and have your computer tuned up by a professional who can remove any hidden viruses or malware (like, oh, we don’t know…the trusted pros at Computer Repair Plus).
Keep in mind that legitimate institutions, charities, merchants and organizations will never ask for your private banking info or personal data up front – and furthermore, they will always provide a way of establishing validity, authenticity and trust.
Trust your instincts and be on high alert. If something seems a little too good to be true – it probably is.
When you drop your iPhone in the bathroom sink, or when it falls out of your back pocket into the toilet bowl, or even when it tumbles out of the two-person rowboat you’ve rented for the weekend and flies magically through the air into a standing pool of water on the opposite bank – there’s one thing you have to do in that moment, as fast you can: TURN YOUR PHONE OFF. Before you even start to panic, turn your phone off. If you do that, your phone has a chance (a chance!) at survival. Once you’ve turned it off, you can follow the rest of this handy dandy guide.
You might be tempted to think it’s all over. But all hope isn’t necessarily lost. You can still save your iPhone, possibly, as long as you move fast and take immediate action.
Follow the steps below next time your iPhone is water damaged, and do them as quickly as you can. Timing is the difference between life and death.
1) TURN YOUR PHONE OFF IMMEDIATELY. We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. This step is absolutely crucial. To turn off your iphone: press and hold the power button, then swipe the slider at the bottom of the screen to power off when prompted. The reason you need to turn your phone off, before you do anything else, is that if any water crosses a live electrical circuit in your phone, your phone will short-circuit and become garbage immediately. You must cut the power to your phone to avoid short-circuiting.
If at first your phone won’t power off, try, try again. Sometimes it takes several tries, depending on how quickly you plucked your phone out of the toilet bowl.
2) Go to the nearest hardware store and buy yourself some DampRid. DampRid is a heavy duty, high-capacity moisture absorber, about a million times more effective than rice. If you already have some on hand from the last time you dropped your phone in the lake, even better. Just get your hands on some DampRid as fast as you can.
3) While you’re in the hardware store buying DampRid, wrap your phone in a towel and leave it on the hot dashboard of your car. Or throw it in a ziploc bag full of rice as a temporary stopgap. (The rice trick also works nicely if you’re out in the middle of nowhere, with no access to a hardware store.)
4) Buy some Ziplock bags – the thicker, the better.
5) Buy the DampRid. It typically comes in buckets or packets. Packets are preferable, if the store has them. If not, just get the bucket. There’s no time to waste here, people.
6) Put your iPhone in between two packets of DampRid, like a sandwich. I like to then wrap the whole bundle in a hair tie or headband to keep it tied securely together.With the porous sides of the DampRid packets facing each other, make sure your iPhone is all snuggly and safe, nestled between the two packets.
7) Put the whole bundle – packets, iPhone and all – into a thick Ziplock bag, seal it up, and stash it away in a warm, dry place.
8) Wait 24 hours. Use this 24-hour period away from your wounded iPhone to consider your own foolishness and vanity. Let’s face it: nobody needed that bathroom selfie. Nobody.
9) After 24 hours have elapsed, get on your knees, pray to God that it works, and then try powering your phone back on. If it doesn’t power back up immediately, don’t panic – it might take a couple of tries. You can always let it rest longer if you think it needs it. But the chances are pretty good that your phone will power right back up, so long as you got it out of the water as fast as humanly possible, turned it off immediately, and got it into some rice or DampRid within a few minutes of the accident.
10) REJOICE! If your phone powers back on, you’ve just saved yourself $700.
If it powers back on only partially or if you notice some residual water damage, don’t freak out. It will clear up over the next few days, typically. I once dropped my iPhone in the toilet bowl – yes, it fell out of my back pocket – and I kept it in a bowl of rice for 36 hours. When I turned the phone back on, it worked but there was a massive water stain and visible water damage all over the screen.
Luckily, the water stain and damages were only visible for a few days, as most of the moisture dried up naturally. (The excess moisture was heated up or cooked out of the phone over the course of normal operating activities – a nice little built-in perk of electronics.)
So next time you drop your phone in Michael Phelps’s olympic training pool – don’t despair! Stay calm, turn your phone off, and follow the steps above as quickly and steadily as you can.
If you move fast and think quickly, your phone has a decent shot at survival.
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