How to Spot EMail Scams

Email spamming and scamming is becoming a huge problem as more and more sources try to lure you in with false emails and links. Anything from promising free goods, to gift vouchers, pleas for help, warnings that your password has expired, or that your account has been compromised; the list goes on. Here are a few tips for spotting these fake emails.

Let’s take an example of a very common one as of today, the Amazon Voucher scam. On the face of it and with a quick glance it does look like an Amazon email but look closer;

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Many of the tell-tale signs of a scam are evident in this email.

  • Poor grammar
  • Personalisation in the subject line
  • A link to click on requesting information or login
  • More poor grammar – 90% really do have multiple errors
  • A sender email address that doesn’t match the company logo

The purpose of this email is to get you to click on the Complete Registration link and you will then be prompted to enter your Amazon login details – if you do then they’ve got you. Not only your Amazon details but also your login and password, not good for those of you that use the same password for separate sources.

Let’s dig a little deeper. Let’s assume none of the other signs were there, how else can we tell this is a scam?

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If you are using an email application, such as Windows Live Mail or Outlook, by putting your mouse cursor on the blue Complete Registration text the actual (real) link that this will connect you to if clicked pops up. As you can see in this example this is definitely not an Amazon link. Would you intentionally connect to a link with all that rubbish in the address? Of course not but this is exactly what happens if you click on that link.

This also applies to email scams that include an attachment. The principle is the same. Check out that attachment and never open it unless you are 100% sure of the source and expecting it.

Now after sharing these tips with you I’m going to negate all this and basically say that none of this really matters. Email has become such a target for scammers and criminals that my actual advice is to NEVER open a mail containing a link such as this, even if it looks perfect.

If Amazon really had a voucher for you then by logging in to your Amazon account via your usual browser, you would see if there was any communication pending. This is true of almost any large modern organisation. Use your account logins to check the status of your accounts and communications, never rely on email prompts.

Taff Lovesey
www.litespc.co.uk
www.weblites.co.uk
www.lovesey.net

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A 2017 Hacker Update

Online IT security threats will continue to grow significantly in 2017 as hacking and scamming sources increase investment in technology and in training criminals and cyber-terrorists. So who are these hackers?

Hackers with hats

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Articles on Internet security often refer to hackers by a ‘hat’ colour;

· White Hat: These are the good guys – they are ‘ethical’ hackers who focus their efforts on trying to break security systems to improve them.

· Black hat: The opposite of the above. These are the bad guys, intent on violating system security for malicious reasons or personal gain

· Grey Hat: A mix of the above two. These hackers will try to illegally break system security but not necessarily for personal gain. However, these hackers often contact the target of the breech and offer to ‘fix’ the problem for a fee. Some even publish details of their successful hacks.

The BIG boys

Billions of pounds are lost every year to hackers and scammers. Not surprisingly this has attracted the interest of much larger groups.

· Hacktivists: This group include cyberterrorists, an area of particular concern to the modern world. They target systems for purposes of furthering religious, political or ideological beliefs and ideas.

· Organised Crime: Make no mistake, the huge sums that can be exploited from individuals and businesses has drawn the attention of international crime gangs that share information and invest heavily in their own IT systems and hacking tools and skills.

· Governments: The threat of the above groups, plus the chance of carrying out their own cyber-espionage has forced heavy funding in cyberwarfare and prevention by all governments.

The Internet of Things

You’ll hear this term a lot as we move into 2017 and beyond. This is a term that came into being due to the number of devices that now connect to the Internet other than the usual PCs, tablets and Smartphones. Technology is moving into the home in a big way. ‘Smart’ devices such as TVs, set top boxes (e.g. Freeview), printers, fridges, heating systems, light bulbs, electricity meters etc. More and more of our everyday devices are beginning to have integral Internet connectivity.

Hackers are rubbing their hands in glee over this as many of these devices do not allow for regular security updates as on PCs, tablets and Smartphones, as a result they can be more readily exploited to spread viruses and hack networks.

What should I do about it?

For many of the modern day threats we are in the hands of our service providers for protection, however, at an individual level we should ensure that we install and maintain Internet Security software and be cautious when using emails and visiting new web sites. I would also recommend at least two sets of back ups. The first on a regular basis to a connected device, such as a disk drive or cloud (Internet) backup option. The second to a device, such as an external disk, that can be disconnected from the system after the backup.

This latter tip is due to a new wave of ransomware virus that searches for all data including any connected backup device and any active cloud (Internet) backup. Ransomware attempts to extort money from the target by encrypting any data found and demanding payment to provide a code to allow decryption.

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Is Your Windows 10 File System Corrupted?

 

As an engineer providing support to home users and small businesses in the South Lincs area, I have seen a very high number of systems with Windows 10 file system corruption. This even stretches to a few systems that were straight out of the box, brand new!

In many cases users may be blissfully unaware that they have a fundamental problem. Often systems will continue to run but response will be sluggish or resulting issues intermittent. A common symptom is an intermittent issue with the software that controls Internet access, resulting in the occasional loss of Internet connection or dropping off the wireless network.

Even if you are not experiencing these issues I would still recommend that you test your Windows filesystem integrity by using the method detailed below.

How do I test my Windows 10?

· Right click (ie; click the right mouse button) on the Start button at the bottom left of the screen.
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· In the options that pop up click on Command Prompt (Admin). Note that it must be the one that states Admin not the one without.
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A black window will now open up that looks like an old basic IBM DOS system (for those that remember those).

· Type the following into this box
sfc /scannow
then press Enter on the keyboard

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The system will now carry out a scan of the main Windows 10 file system, the very structure of the program code.

It may take an hour or so to complete so just leave it running. You can use your PC during this time but it will run faster if you just let in finish.

Once the tests have completed you will see one of three responses:

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This is the one you want to see. Windows 10 has checked its own filesystem and found no problems. Of course if you are having intermittent issues with your system this may be bad news as it means that you have something else going on.

 

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This is good in many ways. It confirms that there was corruption but that Windows has been able to identify and repair the damage. If you have been having issues this may well have addressed them.

 

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You don’t want this result! If you see this one you are almost certainly going to need to do a Windows 10 refresh (a fresh install of Windows 10) to correct the problem. If you are not familiar with how to do this search online, find a friend/relative who is or contact someone like myself at LITES PC for assistance.

 

Hope this helps

Taff Lovesey
www.litespc.co.uk
www.weblites.co.uk
www.lovesey.net (fantasy novels)

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Network Connected but No Internet Available

I’ve had this problem a few time over recent weeks, all with Windows 10. The wireless and/or wired card appears to be connected but the system cannot access the internet.

There are a number of things to check.

(1) If wireless connected ‘forget’ your wireless setting in Windows and re-establish it.
See http://www.thewindowsclub.com/forget-wireless-network-profiles-windows-10 if you don’t know how.

(2) There appears to be an issue with Windows 10 update that causes this problem (I’ve even had this happen at home). To fix this run a system file check with repair at an admin command prompt. You can also try running a DISM command. Here’s how http://www.howtogeek.com/222532/how-to-repair-corrupted-windows-system-files-with-the-sfc-and-dism-commands/

(3) Repair the Winsock libraries. To do this open a command prompt with admin rights (see above) and type:     

netsh winsock reset

Note: I’ve had three instances of this in the past month so this may be worth running as a first fix.

(4) Windows refresh. If in item 2 above you receive a message informing you that there are problems that cannot be fixed then you will need to do a windows refresh. Hold the shift button and press restart. You can then select troubleshooting mode to do a Windows repair.

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Stop Windows 10 Updating when I’m using my PC

Many of you will have experienced it. You’re in the middle of something and your PC suddenly wants to restart, or even restarts without prompting you.

Microsoft have got more and more aggressive on forcing update son us but you can set aside a ‘work time’ where the updates will not be installed.

At the bottom left of your screen click on the Start button and select Options (the cog)

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Select Update & Security

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Select Change active hours

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In the window that pops up select the time that you want to restrict from restarts for updates. (in the example shown from 8am-8pm.)

Rather annoyingly Microsoft limit this to a 12 hour period (shows how hard they work over there!!).

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Click on Restart Options

restart

Make sure that the ‘Restart Options’ setting is set to Off

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Hope this helps

Taff Lovesey
www.litespc.co.uk
www.weblites.co.uk
www.lovesey.net

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Outlook Unable to Open iCalendar after Windows 10 Anniversary Update 1607

IMPORTANT UPDATE:

After posting this fix I discovered that the process had removed any distribution lists (Group emails) that I had saved in Outlook. The contacts were there but the groups were gone. I would therefore recommend backing up any mail groups before the Anniversary Update occurs to prevent having to recreate them all – easiest way to do this is to copy the list to your local Outlook address book.

____________________________

 

I know Microsoft hate Apple and vice versa but you’d think they’d fully test any Windows updates with the most popular applications before releasing them. Clearly not!

I’ve just suffered this annoying issue on my desktop. Following Windows Update moving my system to Windows 10 v1607 (known as the Anniversary edition), my iCloud calendar would no longer open in Outlook.

If this happens to you then the FIRST THING TO TRY (after an obligatory reboot) is to uninstall iCloud for Windows.

To do this:

  • Log out of iCloud
  • Open the Windows Control Panel
  • Open Programs
  • Uninstall iCloud for Windows
  • You will be prompted to reboot (if not do so)

 

  • Now download the latest version of icloud from https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT204283
  • Reinstall iCloud for Windows ensuring Outlook is NOT open
  • Select the settings you want and login to iCloud when prompted

 

iCloud should now log back into the cloud and start to repopulate your calendar and tasks.

There is also another bug in Windows 10 1607 that impacts the synchornisation of Outlook and iCalendar. Details of this issue can be found on the Microsoft site at:

https://support.microsoft.com/de-de/kb/3178906

I would not implement this unless you are having problems after reinstalling.

Rgds

Taff Lovesey
www.litespc.co.uk
www.weblites.co.uk
www.lovesey.net (fantasy novel author site)

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How To Update Your Google Chrome Bookmarks Without Synchronisation Putting All the Old Ones Back Again

If you have ever tried to manage and clean up your Google Bookmarks you may face the frustration (as I did) of all the old ones being restored automatically.

This occurs when you are logged into your Google account and have the Bookmark Synchronisation enabled (the default setting).

To get around this there are a number of steps that you need to take.

First of all I’d recommend backing up your Google Bookmarks locally.

 

  • Open the Bookmark Manager

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  • Next click on Organise and Export bookmark to HTML file
  • Save this file in  a suitable location (e.g.; backups)

The next step is to disable the automatic synchronisation with Google for bookmarks.

  • Click on the 3 bars at top right
  • Click on Settings

At the top of the page you should see the account that you are logged in with.

  • Click on Advanced Sync settings

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  • Click Choose what to sync if not already selected
  • Remove the tick from Bookmarks to turn off synchronisation
  • Click OK

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This next step is very important. If you are using Chrome under your Google login on other devices, you need to check the synchronisation settings on these devices too. Watch out for phones and tablets that may be resynchronising old bookmark data. Turn off all of these other synch settings too or you’re going to get very frustrated as old bookmarks will keep popping up again.

You can now use the Google Chrome bookmark manager to add/move/delete folders and bookmarks until you are happy that all is as you want it.

Before turning synchronisation back on again you need to login to your Google Dashboard and clear the old bookmark data otherwise all your hard work will be undone.

  • Go back to Settings again and in the account information at the top of the window you will see a link to the Google Dashboard. Click this.

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You will now be taken to  settings page displaying all of the current synchronised data. To clear this click on the Reset Sync button at the bottom of the page.

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After a few seconds all of the values shown will be zero. You are now ready to turn your synchronisation back on.

  • Go back to Google Chrome Settings for a third time
  • Click on Advanced sync settings once again
  • Turn the Bookmark sync back on to ensure your bookmarks are backed up to your Google Account.

You should now be done but remember, if you are using Chrome under your Google login on other devices, you need to check the synchronisation settings on these devices too. Watch out for phones and tablets that may be resynchronising old bookmark data.

 

Hope this helps

 

Taff Lovesey
www.litespc.co.uk
www.weblites.co.uk
www.lovesey.net (Fantasy novels)

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