Protecting Against Ransomware

Map of computers infected by WannaCry ransomware via

In light of the WannaCry ransomware attacks, NPR provided these 6 key steps to protecting your Windows computer:

  • Back up your computer and store the safety version in the cloud or on a drive that is not connected to your computer.
  • Use robust antivirus software.
  • Keep all the software on your computer up-to-date. Enable automatic updates.
  • Never open attachments in emails from someone you don’t know. And remember that any account can be compromised.
  • Enable the “Show file extensions” option in the Windows settings on your computer. This will make it much easier to spot potentially malicious files. Stay away from file extensions like “.exe,” “.vbs” and “.scr.”
  • If you find a problem, disconnect your machine immediately from the Internet or other network connections (such as home Wi-Fi).

Is Your Tech Ready for School?

Student Tech

As summer winds down, students everywhere are looking for school supplies and picking out the perfect backpack. But just having enough pens and notebooks isn’t enough anymore. Students of all ages are finding they need some tech in their backpacks too. Now is a good time to ensure all that technology is ready to go back to school as well. Continue reading “Is Your Tech Ready for School?”

Spam Down, Email Threats Still High

Antivirus maker Symantec’s Intelligence Report for June shows a marked drop in spam received by business email users worldwide. Their metrics show businesses received a little less than half the spam they usually receive over a month. Perhaps the spammers are taking vacation days as well? Continue reading “Spam Down, Email Threats Still High”

WTAM 1100 – Passwords & Kerbals

Even the most advanced security can be defeated by a poorly chosen password. On this week’s #Tech Tuesday segment on WTAM 1100 Newsradio, Bill Wills and I discuss basic tips on how to choose a strong password. I do recommend the use of a password managers, such as LastPass and DashLane.

We also talk about Kerbal Space Program, a fun but smart physics-based game for all ages with an interest in rockets and spaceflight. More information and a free demo can be found at

Listen to #Tech Tuesday on WTAM 1100 Newsradio in Cleveland every Tuesday at 7:50am. Follow Bill Wills on Twitter as @billwillswtam and myself at @agent3012.

WTAM 1100 – Protect Against Tax-Related Identity Theft

Tax Forms
Play Audio – WTAM 1100 Newsradio – Tech Tuesday – March 24th, 2015:

WTAM 1100 Newsradio Cleveland OhioA long-time listener of WTAM’s Wills & Snyder in the Morning show reached out to me via email, asking about the security concerns he should consider when using tax-preparation software like Intuit’s Turbo-Tax.

Being able to file your taxes electronically is a huge time-saver, so it’s a bit scary to hear news about hackers committing tax-related identity theft to steal your money by filing their own tax return in your name ahead of time.

Based on what has been reported, the servers for Intuit (the company that makes TurboTax) are not being broken into or hacked. In most cases, the criminals are using social engineering and other tactics to get your social security number and other personal information, guess your tax-preparation site password, or convince you to give access to your financial information. These are techniques used for criminals on any online account or service, including your bank or shopping accounts.

To help protect yourself from this type of identity theft, it’s important to first make sure you are not making your Social Security number easily available to thieves. Avoid carrying your Social Security card (or other documents that might have your SSN on it) when it’s not needed. Avoid giving your SSN to any business or organization that asks for it, but doesn’t really need it. Never give out your personal information to anyone over the phone, via email or on a website unless you can confirm who is asking for that information and initiated the contact.

To protect your tax-preparation software accounts make sure you are using a secure account password. Easy to remember passwords may be easy to guess, giving criminals access to your account. You might consider a password managers like LastPass or Dashlane to keep unique passwords safe but accessible.

Next, make sure you’re not setting up any easy to guess forgotten password security questions. For example, the answer to “Where did you go to high school?” might be discovered by visiting your Facebook and other social media profiles.

Make sure you’re practicing safe online browsing habits, like not clicking on email attachments or clicking on unknown downloads. Keep your operating system, software and antivirus suite up to date. Malicious software like viruses or spyware on your system could be used to capture passwords, including those from your online tax preparation site.

For more information on keeping safe with your tax information, visit the FTC and IRS page on tax-related identity theft.