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Welcome to this week's edition of the Computer Kindergarten Newsletter.
Today is Sunday, May 5, 2013

In this Issue:
Special Feature: Simple Tips to Secure a Mac from Malware, Viruses, & Trojans
Tips & Tricks: How Long Do Deleted Messages Stay?
Special Series: Twenty Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web: Using Web Addresses to Stay Safe
This Week's Topic: Tweeting, Instagramming, YouTubed. What Does It All Mean?
Special Feature: iPad Basics - Privacy
Websites of Interest: Cinco de Mayo; What is a Meteor?; Crossword Palace; Credit Score Resource

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Special Feature: Simple Tips to Secure a Mac from Malware, Viruses, & Trojans

By Paul Horowitz of osxdaily.com

The recent outbreak of the Flashback trojan (Apple released an update and fix, get it!) has brought a lot of attention to potential viruses and trojans hitting the Mac platform. Most of what you’ll read is overblown fear mongering hype, and practically all Mac malware has come through third party utilities and applications. What that means for the average user is that it’s very easy to completely prevent infections and attacks from occurring in the first place, especially when combined with some general security tips.

Without further ado, here are eight simple ways to secure a Mac to help prevent viruses, trojans, and malware from affecting you:

1) Disable Java

Flashback and other malware have installed through Java security breaches. Apple has already released several updates to patch the Java security holes that allowed Flashback to spread (you should install those), but you can also go a step further and completely disable Java on the Mac. Frankly, the average person doesn’t need Java installed on their Mac let alone active in their web browser, disable it and you don’t have to worry about security holes in older versions of the software impacting your Mac.

1a) Disable Java in Safari
Open Safari and pull down the Safari menu, selecting “Preferences”
Click on the “Security” tab and uncheck the box next to “Enable Java”

Disabling Java in the Safari browser is reasonably effective, but why not go a step further and disable it in Mac OS X completely? Chances are high that you won’t miss it, let alone notice its disabled.

1b) Disable Java System-Wide in Mac OS X
Open the Applications folder and then open the Utilities folder
Launch the “Java Preferences” application
Uncheck the box next to “Enable applet plug-in and Web Start applications”
Uncheck all the boxes next to “Java SE #” in the list below

2) Update Apps and OS X Software Regularly

Apple regularly issues Security Updates and many third party apps do as well, therefore regularly updating both your OS X System Software and OS X apps are one of the single best preventative measures you can take to keep a Mac secure. We’ve hammered home about this repeatedly as a general Mac OS X maintenance tip because it’s important and so easy to do:

Open Software Update from the Apple menu and install updates when available
Open the App Store and download available updates

3) Disable or Remove Adobe Acrobat Reader

Adobe Acrobat Reader has had multiple security breaches recently, therefore you’ll be safer without it in your web browser. There’s little reason to have Reader installed on a Mac anyway, OS X includes Preview for viewing PDF’s. Uninstall Adobe Acrobat Reader by running the bundled uninstaller app, or locate the following file and remove it to uninstall the Acrobat browser plugin:
/Library/Internet Plug-ins/AdobePDFViewer.plugin

4) Install Anti-Virus Software for Mac OS X

Using anti-virus software on the Mac is likely overkill, but it’s worth mentioning again. We’ve talked about the free Sophos anti-virus here before, and though you probably won’t ever need it, it’s a free and effective way to fight viruses that may end up on the Mac. If you’re the cautious type and you’d rather be safe than sorry there isn’t much harm to using it as a preventative measure:

Download Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac here:
http://tinyurl.com/3gmbjfk

5) Disable Adobe Flash / Use a Flash Block Plugin

Flash has been used as an attack vector in the past, and Macs stopped shipping with Flash installed for a reason; basically it’s a crash-prone battery hog that has occasional security breaches. Many sites use Flash for video and games though, so instead of uninstalling Flash completely we’ll recommend using a Flash block plugin for your web browser. This causes all Flash to be disabled by default until you click to allow individual plugins and instances of the Flash plugin to run, preventing unauthorized Flash from running in a web browser completely.

These plugins are free and available for every major browser:

ClickToFlash for Safari
http://tinyurl.com/blo3l2d

FlashBlock for Chrome
http://tinyurl.com/czduz6w

FlashBlock for Firefox
http://tinyurl.com/4pu2jqm

6) Disable Automatic File Opening after Download

Safari defaults to automatically opening “safe” files after they’re downloaded. For added security, disable this feature and manage the opening of downloads yourself:

Open Safari preferences and click the General tab
Uncheck the box next to “Open ‘safe’ files after downloading”

7) Double-Check Anti-Malware Definitions are Enabled

OS X automatically downloads and maintains a malware definition list which is actively used to combat potential threats and attacks. This is enabled by default, but you can double-check to make sure you’re getting the updates as they arrive by insuring the feature is turned on:

Open System Preferences and click on “Security & Privacy”
Under the General tab look for “Automatically update safe downloads list” and make sure it is checked

You can also check the update list manually if you’re concerned the latest version hasn’t been installed, but as long as you have the feature enabled and have regular internet access, it probably is.

8) Don’t Install Random Software You Didn’t Ask For

If you see a random pop-up window asking you to install random software you didn’t request, don’t install it! This may sound like common sense, but it’s actually how some Mac malware propagated in the past. Apple patched the hole that allowed for that to happen a while ago, but the overall message is still relevant: if you didn’t download or request an app to be installed and you’re suddenly confronted with an installation dialog, don’t install it.

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Tips & Tricks: How Long Do Deleted Messages Stay?

From worldstart.com

Question: How long does it take for email messages to be permanently deleted from a web based email provider such as Outlook or Yahoo?

Answer:

When you delete an e-mail there is a period of time that the e-mail will still remain accessible from the trash or deleted folder. That period varies provider to provider and client to client, so how do you know how long you have to recover a message?

The best way to find out is to refer to the e-mail provider’s website. Below is a list of links to various e-mail providers’ retention information on deleted/trash e-mails. Some providers list a specific day count, while others just advise how to un-delete messages and do not list a specific time they’ll guarantee that option is still possible.

Yahoo E-Mail Policy
http://tinyurl.com/boyehm6

Gmail E-Mail Policy
http://tinyurl.com/d3oduxc

Outlook.com E-Mail Policy
http://tinyurl.com/c6w2vln

iCloud E-mail Policy
http://tinyurl.com/c9rdtt8

Outlook Deleted E-mail Settings
http://tinyurl.com/cbpvu3f

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Special Series: Twenty Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web: Using Web Addresses to Stay Safe

Many of us these days depend on the World Wide Web to bring the world’s information to our fingertips, and put us in touch with people and events across the globe instantaneously.

These powerful online experiences are possible thanks to an open web that can be accessed by anyone through a web browser, on any Internet-connected device in the world.

But how do our browsers and the web actually work? How has the World Wide Web evolved into what we know and love today? And what do we need to know to navigate the web safely and efficiently?

“20 Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web” is a short guide for anyone who’s curious about the basics of browsers and the web. Here’s what you’ll find here:

First we’ll look at the Internet, the very backbone that allows the web to exist. We’ll also take a look at how the web is used today, through cloud computing and web apps.

Then, we’ll introduce the building blocks of web pages like HTML and JavaScript, and review how their invention and evolution have changed the websites you visit every day. We’ll also take a look at the modern browser and how it helps users browse the web more safely and securely.

Finally, we’ll look ahead to the exciting innovations in browsers and web technologies that we believe will give us all even faster and more immersive online experiences in the future.

Life as citizens of the web can be liberating and empowering, but also deserves some self-education. Just as we’d want to know various basic facts as citizens of our physical neighborhoods -- water safety, key services, local businesses -- it’s increasingly important to understand a similar set of information about our online lives. That’s the spirit in which we wrote this guide. Many of the examples used to illustrate the features and functionality of the browser often refer back to Chrome, the open-source browser that we know well. We hope you find this guide as enjoyable to read as we did to create.
Happy browsing!
The Google Chrome Team
http://www.20thingsilearned.com
http://www.google.com/chrome

Using Web Addresses to Stay Safe

Uniform Resource Locator — better known as a URL — may sound like a complicated thing. But fret not: it’s simply the web address you type into your browser to get to a particular web page or web application.

When you enter a URL, the website is fetched from its hosting server somewhere in the world, transported over miles of cables to your local Internet connection, and finally displayed by the browser on your computer.

Here are a few examples of a URL:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/
...to get to the news website for the British Broadcasting Corporation (“.co.uk” indicates registration in the United Kingdom)

http://www.google.com
...to get to the search engine Google

http://www.museodelprado.ex
...to get to the website for Museo Nacional Del Prado, the Madrid-based art museum. (“.es” indicates registration in Spain)

https://www.bankofamerica.com
...to get to the online banking website for Bank of America (“https://” indicates an encrypted connection)

It’s easy to take URLs for granted, since we type them into our browsers every day. But understanding the parts of a URL can help guard against phishing scams or security attacks.

Let’s look at what’s in a URL in this example:

http://www.google.com/maps

The first part of a URL is called the scheme. In the example above, HTTP is the scheme and shorthand for HyperText Transfer Protocol.

Next, “www.google.com” is the name of the host where the website resides. When any person or company creates a new web site, they register this hostname for themselves. Only they may use it. This is important, as we’ll see in a moment.

A URL may have an additional path after the hostname, which sends you to a specific page on that host — like jumping right to a chapter or page in a book. Back to our example, the path tells the host server that you want to see the maps web application at www.google.com. (In other words, Google Maps.) Sometimes that path is moved to the front of the hostname as a subdomain, such as “maps.google.com”, or “news.google.com” for Google News.

Now let’s talk safety. One way to check if you’re surfing right into a phishing scam or an impostor website is by looking carefully at the URL in your browser’s address bar. Pay particular attention to the hostname — remember, only the legitimate owner of that hostname can use it.

For example, if you click on a link and expect to be directed to the Bank of America website:

LEGITIMATE:
www.bankofamerica.com is a legitimate URL, since the hostname is correct.

www.bankofamerica.com/smallbusiness is also a legitimate URL since the hostname is correct. The path of the URL points to a sub-page on small business.

SUSPICIOUS:
bankofamerica.xyz.com is not Bank of America’s website. Instead, “bankofamerica” is a subdomain of the website xyz.com.

www.xyz.com/bankofamerica is still not Bank of America's website. Instead, “bankofamerica” is a path within www.xyz.com.

If you’re using a banking website or conducting an online transaction with sensitive information such as your password or account number, check the address bar first! Make sure that the scheme is “https://” and there’s a padlock icon in your browser’s address bar. “https://” indicates that the data is being transported between the server and browser using a secure connection.

Through a secure connection, the full URL for Bank of America’s website should look like this: https://www.bankofamerica.com. A secure connection ensures that no one else is eavesdropping or interfering with the sensitive information that you’re sending. So “https://” is a good sign. But remember, it’s still important to make sure that you’re actually talking to a legitimate website by checking the hostname of a URL. (It would defeat the purpose to have a secure connection to a bogus website!)

In the next chapter, we’ll look at how a typed URL into the browser’s address bar takes you to the right web page.

In our next edition: IP Addresses and DNS

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Today's Topic: Tweeting…Instagramming…YouTubed… What Does It All Mean?

From www.worldstart.com/

Recently, a family friend said to me in frustration, “I wanted a picture of my granddaughter and they said it was Tweeted and Instagramed. What does any of that even mean?”

For those of us who frequently use social media, we throw around newly-created verbiage like Tweeted, Facebooked and YouTubed like everyone should understand.

This is not an in-depth explanation of how to use these services, just some handy definitions. What makes social media different from traditional media like newspapers, television, radio and film, is that instead of a professional making content like a video or a story and showing it to the audience, the audience is participating by making the content.

Facebook

With over a billion users, you may have heard of this one. Facebook is a site that allows you to share what they call status updates – such as “Having spaghetti for dinner” or “Off to visit Grandma.” The service is also popular for sharing personal digital photos, links to stories on websites and images with inspirational and political quotes. You can also send private messages, similar to e-mail or text messages, within Facebook. The people you choose to interact with on Facebook are called “Friends.” Users add people they like as friends and “unfriend” those they no longer wish to communicate with. You may also choose to like “pages” for celebrities, products, stores etc… You’ll hear people saying they “Facebooked” a photo, meaning they posted a picture to the site or they “Facebooked” a person, meaning they contacted that person via Facebook. Facebook may be accessed with your computer, tablet or phone.

Twitter

This service allows people to share their thoughts – usually in short sentences. You may also share photographs and links to web sites. You follow Twitter users to see their updates. The service is popular with news junkies who follow news outlets for a continuous updates. Many celebrities have large followings on Twitter. Actor William Shatner has nearly a million and a half followers, while Ashton Kutcher has over 14,000,000.

You might hear someone say that they “Tweeted” a message. If someone shares your Twitter message with others, they have re-Tweeted. It can be exciting for a Twitter user to re-Tweeted by a celebrity. You will often see the hashtag symbol # at the bottom of a television screen during a program or movie (example: #americanidol). The hashtag invites Twitter users to share their thoughts on the program, using that particular hashtag so it’s easy for others to find those thoughts and share their own. Programs will often announce that actors from a show will be Tweeting at a certain time and responding to questions and comments from fans. Twitter can be used from a computer, tablet or smartphone; though it is more often accessed from a smartphone.

Instagram

This photo sharing and editing service owes its existence to smartphones and their handy cameras. When you take a picture with your smartphone, Instagram allows you to edit the photos right on your phone, adding “artistic” filters. One of the most popular changes is to make digital photos look like old Polaroid Instamatic prints. The service lets you share the shots with friends of your choosing. Those photos can also be shared to Facebook and Twitter. You can access your Instagram account with a computer, but the service is most frequently used on smartphones and tablets that feature cameras.

YouTube

YouTube is a site where people share videos, most of them made by non-professionals. Users shoot videos on cameras or their smartphones and upload them to the site where others can watch them. Before YouTube, it was pretty difficult for someone to just make a video and have the opportunity for millions of people to view their work. With YouTube, almost anyone can shoot a video and have the whole world as a potential audience. Some users’ videos become so popular that advertisers pay to be featured on their work. Violinist Lindsey Stirling has nearly 2,000,000 subscribers and almost 300,000,000 video views.

YouTube is very popular with musicians, so much so that Billboard is now including YouTube views into the calculations it uses to determine the most popular songs on the music charts. The site can also be a treasure trove of older TV programs, commercials, music etc… It is a unique environment when you can see cell phone videos of cats right alongside elaborately-produced HD masterpieces. YouTube can be accessed from computers, tablets and smartphones.

A major factor is the popularity of all these services is that you can use them for free.

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Special Feature: iPad Basics - Privacy

From gcflearnfree.org

Third-party apps sometimes request access to your personal information—not necessarily for suspicious reasons, but to improve your experience with your iPad in some way. For example, an app might request access to your Twitter account to make it easier for you to share things with your friends. Another app might request access to Contacts to help you connect with the people you know.

You can manage these settings and more under Privacy. Apps usually ask permission before accessing this information, but it can't hurt to check your current settings if you're concerned about sharing too much personal information.

To Manage Your Privacy Settings:
Tap the Settings icon on your Home screen.
Tap Privacy in the left pane.
Tap an item to view which apps (if any) have requested access to the information. Your options include Contacts, Calendars, and more. You can also manage your settings for Location Services.
Use the ON or OFF controls to enable or disable access.

More About Location Services

Location Services is an optional setting that, when turned on, uses Wi-Fi and/or your cellular signal to determine your current location. This data can be used by different apps in many different ways.

For example, Maps can use your location data to give you directions from point A to point B. Camera can use it to tag your photos and videos to identify where they were taken (sometimes called geotagging). Apps like Twitter and Facebook can also use this data to share your whereabouts with your friends.

When Apple collects this data, it's not done in a way that personally identifies you. However, if you have any third-party apps on your iPad, it's important that you review their terms of service as well as their privacy policy. That way, you know how they may or may not be using your information.

To see which apps are using your location data, visit Location Services under Privacy. You can turn each app ON or OFF depending on your personal preferences. You can also turn off Location Services all together.

 

In our next edition:
Syncing with iCloud

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Websites of Interest:

Cinco de Mayo
The Fifth Of May is a day that commemorates Mexico’s victory over the French army in 1862. For an account of the history, the battle, and the politics behind it, visit these websites:
http://www.mexonline.com/cinco-de-mayo.htm

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Mexican Fare. This website has recipes for spicy soups, salads, chicken and fish dinners and more.
http://tinyurl.com/75l7gth

What is a Meteor?
Learn about Meteors, Meteoroids, Fireballs & Meteorites
http://geology.com/articles/meteor.shtml

Crossword Palace
Free Printable Crossword and Sudoku Puzzles.
http://www.crosswordpalace.com/

Credit Score Resource
If you have any questions about what a credit score entails, check out:
http://www.creditscoreresource.com/