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Has Your Login Information Been Compromised?

Do you have a Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail email account?

If so, your email address and password could be in the hands of Russian hackers.  They’re sharing this information with others – either for a price or “street cred” on social media.

Earlier this month, a security firm in Wisconsin convinced a Russian hacker to give them a database containing 272 million email addresses and passwords.

It appears the breach mainly targeted Russian users, but because nearly one-third of the email addresses were Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo accounts, American users could also be affected.

Interestingly, these compromised emails and passwords didn’t come from hackers breaking into Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo databases.

Rather, the information was stolen from smaller, less secure websites where people use their email address and passwords to log in.

 

Are You A Victim?

Unfortunately, there’s no way for you to know whether your email address or password appears in the latest database, according to Alex Holden, founder of Hold Security, the Wisconsin firm that acquired the information.

But you can check to see if your login credentials may have been breached on other websites, including Adobe, Comcast, Snapchat, Domino’s Pizza, and others.

Simply go to www.haveibeenpwned.com and type in your email address.  (Yes, that’s a P instead of an O in the web address.  Pwned is gamer slang for “owned.”)

 

Protect Yourself

  1. Immediately change your password on your Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo accounts.  Even if you don’t believe they’ve been breached.
  2. NEVER, ever use the same password for more than one website.

    In today’s increasingly vulnerable online world, the security of your personal information and identity is more important than convenience.  Using the same passwords across multiple websites gives criminals unfettered access to everything they need to steal your identity and your money.  It can take YEARS to clean up the damage.  But only takes SECONDS to prevent it.

  3. Use a secure online service to keep track of all your passwords.

    Creating unique passwords for each website is easy.  Remembering them – not so much.

    But services like LastPass (www.lastpass.com) and Roboform (www.roboform.com) allow you to store all your login information in one easy-to-use, secure location accessible from all your computers, smartphones, and tablets.

    These services can also generate impossible-to-crack passwords for you.

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This Tip Could Save You Money On Your Next Tech Problem

Reboot

Have you ever experienced any of these problems?

  • Your computer refuses to respond after being left on but unused for a while
  • Web sites take forever to load on your screen, even though you subscribe to a fast Internet speed
  • Programs run slowly, especially if they’ve been open a long time

Frustrating, isn’t it?

Especially when you’re trying to print an important document or send an urgent email.

So you pick up the phone and call me – your computer guy.

“Have you rebooted it?” is the first question I ask after you describe your issue.

What kind of help is this guy? you silently say to yourself.  Reboot?  I have a computer problem and Scott thinks rebooting my computer or restarting the program is gonna magically fix it.  And he’s a computer expert?  Pshhh.

It may seem like an elementary suggestion, but rebooting really can solve many problems with all of your electronic gadgets.

 

Real-World Examples Where This Works

Your Computer Is Slow

Leaving your computer powered on 24/7/365 allows you to use your computer without having to wait for it to boot up every time you want to use it.  It also lets your antivirus software run late night scans, keeping your computer virus-free.

But Windows processes constantly run in the background, even when you’re not actively using your PC.  Sometimes these misbehave, causing a drain on the computer’s resources that can’t be automatically fixed.

The next time you try to do something on your computer, it doesn’t respond or operates very slowly.

Rebooting your computer clears the system resources, giving your PC a fresh start.

Leaving your computer on all the time is fine.  Just be sure to reboot it at least three times a week.

 

Internet Problems

Your wireless router stays tucked away under your desk or in an out of the way place.  The little box magically feeds Internet and network access to all your computers, smartphones, tablets and wireless printers.

But just like a computer, the software on a router can become unstable.  This can bring your web browsing to a crawl or cause wireless devices to not connect. 

The majority of wireless network and Internet issues I receive calls about are usually fixed by unplugging your router for 30 seconds and plugging it back in.

 

A Software Program Stops Responding

Whether you’re using Google Chrome to surf the web or Microsoft Word to type a letter, you will probably encounter a time when the program stops responding to your commands.

What may have happened is the program encountered a memory leak.  The program consumes an exorbitant amount of memory, causing your computer to slow down and the program to “freeze.”

Simply close the program, wait 20 seconds, then reopen it again.

 

Did It Really Fix It?

Rebooting is always the first step you should take when you experience an issue with most any electronic gadget.

Your computer.  Your iPad.  Your Samsung Galaxy phone.  Your router.

If the problem persists or you have to reboot every day or multiple times a day, a more serious underlying issue could be the culprit.  A computer professional, like myself, can then help diagnose the root cause and recommend a solution.

 

The One Problem It Won’t Fix

Rebooting doesn’t fix every problem, though.

Every computer user eventually suffers from a pop-up window appearing on your screen, warning that your computer is infected.  You’re instructed to call an 800 number (which is a scam – so don’t call it).

Nothing you do closes the window.

To get rid of it, you must forcefully power off your PC.

If you experience this, immediately call a professional computer technician.  Do NOT continue using your computer.

Yes, you can power your computer back on.  Yes, websites may load fine.  Yes, you can check email.  Yes, you can type documents.

But your computer may still contain a virus or malware infection. 

Rebooting does NOT remove a virus – even if everything still seems to work fine.  In a short time, it will rear its ugly head again.  Viruses require specialized removal tools to thoroughly clean your system.

I always look forward to helping my clients with their computers.  Sometimes the fix really is as simple as turning it off and back on.