Email Phishing – How to protect yourself.

If you are a Netflix customer there is a new scam going round that you should be aware off.

Phishing has long been one of the most common email scams that we see day to day in technology.

A phishing email is an email that will pretend to be from a source (in this case Netflix), telling you there is a problem with your account and you need to re-enter your login information. You are prompted to click a link and then you will be taken to a page that looks almost identical to the page in question (Netflix). Once you login to what you think is the Netflix home page using your username and password, your information is stored by the sender of this phishing email. You may be told that you have successfully re-entered your information and you are not aware that your username and password has been stored and could later be used to try to log into other websites that may have credit card details stored and do not have as good of security as the bigger websites.

If you use the same username and password combination for all these websites, your information could be easily accessed by the phishing criminals. Some steps can be taken to ensure that you do not fall victim to these crimes

• Check that the email address of the sender is correct , this does not mean the name of the person sending the email. Any name can be typed in to the “name” section when setting up an email but the email address will always remain the same. For example a Netflix email should always come from an @netflix.com email address and nothing else.

• It is ok to go to the website that is attached to the link in the email, this won’t do anything, it’s entering the information that does the harm. If you go to the website, click the padlock symbol and view the certificate of the website. See is the website registered to Netflix or whoever is claiming to send the email.

• Phishing emails can sometimes come from countries where English is not the first language, having a read through the email will quickly show if there is bad grammar or words used in the wrong context.

• These phishing emails will try to create a sense of urgency. They will try to make you think that you need to act straight away and enter the information.

Sometimes you may know the sender of the email. If may be someone that you carry out conversations with over email or that you have regular contact with. Their computer may have been compromised and their email is being used to send out these emails. An email can look strange for a number of reasons,

• The sender doesn’t usually send you emails with attachments in it.

• The sender doesn’t usually send you emails to “share” a file using a link.

• The sender won’t direct the email at you, i.e using your name, it will be more generic like “Hi”.

If any of the above set off alarm bells when reading an email, delete it straight away and contact the sender. They may need to change their email password.

Some precautions can be taken to ensure that you are not a victim of these email scams

• Make sure you change your password regularly (atleast every 6 months)

• Use a strong password, made up of multiple character types and not easy to guess words.

• Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts. Different websites use different levels of security. If a website with low security Is compromised and you use the same password for all your accounts it will be used to gain access to the higher level security websites.

• Practice caution when reading/sharing stories on social media. Sometimes a heading can be look inviting so that you will click to read the story and then share it with your followers.

Using good password policies and good email/web browsing practices can ensure that you are not affected by these email scams.

How to disable Live Photo’s on iPhone.

One of the most common questions we get asked is how do you turn off Live Photo’s on the iPhone.

Apple introduced live photos in September 2015 as a new feature for your iPhone camera. You may not even know it’s on but you may have noticed that your photographs have a bit of movement and even sound in them as you scroll past them.

Live Photo’s on the iPhone records for 1.5 seconds before and after the photograph is taken. It then makes a Live Photo which is similar to a very short movie clip. Most times it’s just of your subject posing or you loving your phone into position to take the photo.

The 1.5 seconds before and after can also be used to select a better shot of your subject/person in picture. They may have blinked and you just caught them with their eyes closed. You could select a moment from the Live Photo that had their eyes open and keep that as the picture. We will look at that in another tutorial.

The Live Photo’s can be cool and playful if that’s what you want however most people just want to take a standard still photograph and get quite annoyed whenever they see the photographs and they have movement and sound in them. This feature can be temporarily turned off by tapping the Live Photo’s setting on the camera application (as seen below)

But as soon as you close out of the camera and reopen it will be switched back on.

This quick tutorial will show you how to disable the Live Photo’s option so that when you open the camera application live photos will not be active. (It can be manually switched back on at any time if you want to take a Live Photo)

  • The first thing you will need to do is go to the settings on your iPhone.
  • Then go to the camera settings and then to the “preserve settings” option as seen below

  • Once you are in the preserve settings section you need to click on the Live Photo’s option and ensure that it is on. This means that any settings you apply in the camera app for Live Photo’s will be remembered when you close/reopen the app.

Return to the camera app and select the setting that you wish for Live Photo’s, on or off. These settings will now be remembered and kept in place when your close and reopen the camera app.

If you found this tutorial useful please share so that others will be able to find it.

PDFs- the universal file format.

Regardless of your level of computer skills you will more than likely encounter pdfs on a daily basis.

Whether it’s getting your insurance documents sent to you by email or sending or receiving an important document for school or work.

But what is a pdf and how can you make one. We will answer this question in two separate parts.

What is a PDF?

The PDF file was created in the early 90s by Adobe. Adobe wanted the pdf file to be able to do two things.

1. Be able to be opened on any device. Using only a pdf reader or browser.

2. Look the same as when it was created, regardless of the device that it was created on or being viewed on.

When instructing students to send of finished versions off documents (such as CVs). I always tell them to create and format a Microsoft Word document to the way they want it to look. Then create a pdf from the Word document and then they can send that pdf send it to the prospective employer.

Years ago if you sat down at a desktop computer and spent hours creating a document in Microsoft Word and sent it to someone else, there was a very good chance that the person at the other end was also sitting at a “desktop computer” receiving it. So once they opened the document and viewed it on their screen it would look exactly like you intended it to look.

Now, you could spend hours formatting a Microsoft Word document on a desktop computer to send to somebody. You could spend time choosing the fonts, spacing, bullets and alignment and it would look like you have it perfect. You send it and the other person opens it on a smartphone or tablet, and it’s going to look completely different than the original that you spent so long perfecting.

With PDFs we don’t have this problem. You create and format the document to look exactly like you want it to look. Once you have all the changes made you can simply use  the applications feature to export the document to pdf format. You will then have two versions of the document.

1. The one you spent all the time editing, this could be on Microsoft Word or any other program.

2. The finished/final document that will open and look the same on any device.

You should save both versions to your computers hard drive for future use.

Another positive characteristic of the pdf is that it cannot be easily changed or edited. The main word there is easily. PDFs aren’t designed to be edited or changed, It is designed for final versions. This brings a very common question.

Can I change a pdf?

The average computer user wouldn’t be able to go about editing it, there are applications and techniques that you can use to edit or change the pdf. We will look at doing this in a future post.

So how do we create a PDF?

You would go about creating the file as you normally would. It may be in Microsoft Word, Excel of any other programs that allows file creation. The exporting to PDF feature will usually be tied into the saving options. In Microsoft Office the pdf feature can be found in the “save as type” section of the saving window. The same can be said for Adobe photoshop and illustrator. Apple uses an “export as” option for its iWork application suite of Pages Numbers and Keynote.

The beauty, as you can see, of the PDF file format is that it can be opened on every device and more importantly it will look the same on every device.

It really is the universal file format.

Microsoft Office Shortcuts

Everything we do in life we always strive to find a quicker way, and Microsoft Office is no different. Each individual software has its own unique shortcuts, but there are a few which can be applied across the entire suite of programs. In this post we are going to look at introducing people to the basic shortcuts. They will be easy to learn and understand. Once you master the simple shortcuts, you can then focus on the more complex and program specific shortcuts.

Shortcuts are usually performed by using a combination of two or more keys on the keyboard. There are some shortcuts that use more keys but at that point you have to question if they are actually a shortcut and if it would be quicker to just do it the normal way.

The first shortcut we are going to look at is the “NEW” shortcut.

This creates a new document/ spreadsheet/ presentation/ page or whatever other task you are performing.

The new shortcut is performed by using the CTRL + N keys on the keyboard. I’l explain this one a bit more and the rest will explain them. So the CTRL stands for the Control Key, its located at the bottom left corner of the keyboard (if you are using a Apple Mac you use the command key instead of CTRL). The plus + sign just means ‘and” and then the N is simply just the N key on the keyboard, so in this case you need to press the control key and the N key at the same time. You want to make sure that you are only pressing the N Key once as holding it down or pressing more than once will create multiple new items

The second shortcut is actually a set of shortcuts, its Cut, Copy and Paste.

The Keys used for this shortcut are as follows: Remember if you are using a Mac, its command instead of CTRL.

Cut is CTRL + X

Copy is CTRL + C

Paste is CTRL + V

Once the text is selected you can press CTRL + X or CTRL + C and it will cut or copy it depending on the shortcut you used. You can then use the paste shortcut to paste the newly copied text to a particular location.

Next shortcut is the “Select All” shortcut.

Using  CTRL + A will select all the text/items on your page. This can be used if you want to select all the text in a document. If there is 40 pages of text it will select all 40 pages, allowing you to change text/font type of the entire document.

This Shortcut is probably the one I use most, its the undo shortcut. and we us CTRL + Z for this.

if you can get into the habit of using the undo shortcut as soon as you make an error, it will speed up your work more than anything else. Using undo will simply undo the last action you performed.

The last shortcut we are going to look at is the Find command or CTRL + F.

This command will allow you to search for any text in a document or spreadsheet. It will save you time when trying to locate a piece of text in your document.

As you will see all of these shortcuts are using a combination of only two keys, in my opinion anything more starts to pose the question if it is actually quicker to use the original way, there are more specific shortcuts that can be used in programs but if you can get these five sets of shortcuts in your repertoire it will greatly increase your productivity.

Share with your friends so we can all be more productive.

Protect yourself against ransom ware and viruses.

At this point we have all heard about the ransom ware attack in the news. Cyber attacks which will encrypt your files and demand a ransom in return for the files to be restored to their original state, if no ransom is paid, the files are then deleted. The threat is very real but you can take some precautions to ensure you are as protected as you can be.

Please note these steps should be integrated into your daily routine and not as part of a panic defense against viruses.

  1. Always ensure that your system is up to date. You should use the systems built in update feature or better again, set to automatically update. Microsoft will release software patches to cover up any vulnerabilities until the next “big update”, so regular updating is very important. It’s no coincidence that the NHS and similar organisations are having issues. The use of Microsoft XP is still widespread in government organisations. Microsoft hasn’t been supporting XP for over 3 years now.
  2. Have an anti virus program in place and update it regularly. There is any amount of anti-virus software programs in the market, both free and paid. Make sure you have one installed and updates to ensure that it will get regular updates of newly created threats. These anti-virus programs will update automatically and periodically scan your system. The first day or two that you install them they will seem as if they are constantly scanning and sending you notifications, but this will calm down once it has all its initial work done.
  3. Practice safe browsing. A seat belt is there for emergencies in car crashes but if you can practice safer driving you can make sure there is less chance of a crash. So try not to put yourself in the position to need the anti-virus. Try to use reputable websites, a good rule of thumb is that if you know the website then its reputable, like Ebay, Amazon etc. Avoid downloading any files which you don’t know the origin. Download files or content only from the recognised websites ie Music from iTunes etc.
  4. Don’t open any unknown email attachments. The majority of people know the person sending them the emails. They usually know what they are expecting to get. If you see an email coming in from someone. Read the wording in the email. See does it make sense. For instance does this person usually send you a link to a video of yourself. Or would they usually send you emails with attachments. Always think before you open. If it doesn’t make sense to you, contact the person just to conform that they have sent it and it is ok.
  5. If its too good to be true it usually is. Airlines don’t give away free flights, Phone companies don’t give away free Phones because they have too many, and you certainly don’t have an unknown long lost Uncle in another country that has just died and left you a fortune. Social media and the Internet is full of articles about free phones, money, flights and even cars. These things don’t happen randomly. Think before you click.
  6. Create back ups. Whether it’s an Phone or desktop PC, technology fails. It’s a fact. Things break and your data (files and pictures) are in limbo. By making sure you have a backup system in place, you can make sure that if anything ever does happen your device (virus,water damage, theft or loss) you have all your data safe. For windows you can use the built in file history (just type back up into your search option at the bottom left of your screen). It backs up your important files onto external hard drive. For phones use a cloud based backup system. It means you don’t have to manually back it up everyday. Having a back up means that if anything happens, your data is safe and can be easily restored onto a new device or repaired old one.
  7. The last but most important, Act now. It’s no good worrying about the previous 6 items in this list AFTER something has gone wrong, it’s simply too late then. Put the practices in place so that you can act if anything ever happens.

Share this so your friends are safe swell.