Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • A computer virus is a program that maliciously runs on your system without your knowledge. You get it by downloading fraudulent software, using infected thumb drives, or visiting unsafe websites. Signs that you may have a virus may include (but not limited to) programs running slower than normal, unusual popup messages, or new programs on your system that you did not install.

    If you should suspect that your system has been infected by a virus either take it to a professional to have them remove it or install an antivirus program yourself and remove it. Should you decide to try to remove the virus yourself, make sure that you update the virus software before running it on your system so that it can download the latest virus definitions. In order to understand the virus definitions better, just think of them as a sketch artist that works for the police. Whenever the police needs to find a new suspect, they work with a sketch artist that will provide them with the adequate details in order to be able to accurately identify the "bad guys". That's exactly what the virus definition file is going to attempt to do.

  • It is extremely important to backup your data in case of hardware failure or theft. It is best to backup to an external device or offsite (aka online backup) because if you backup to a folder on your hard drive and your hard drive fails, you won't be able to access the backup. The same goes to the unfortunate incident of theft of your computer.

    However (for the average consumer), it is usually not necessary to backup your operating system (OS) because you should be able to reinstall this. Your main focus should be on documents that have been created by you or others, as well as emails. One of the best "disaster recovery" methods of backups is via online backups because you can retrieve them virtually any where you have an internet connection.

  • Phishing usually utilizes some level of social engineering to attempt to gain enough trust in the victim in order to obtain the information the hacker on the other end of the phishing scam to steal information or some other destructive activity. For example, you may have received an email such as:

    Dear Customer:

    Your acccount has been compromised and your password must be reset immediately. Please provide us with your ID, password and social security number in the form below in order to verify your account.


    Notice the generic "Dear Customer" because these phishing campaigns are usually blasted out to thousands of potential victims but since they are not authentic, they don't have your name or other information.

    Always look for common give-aways like mis-spellings (like "acccount" in above example). Also, there is usually a sense of urgency but only the option of updating the so-called missing information online, without the option of calling a customer service line. If you do have an account with the institution mentioned in the email, call them directly and explain the email that you received. Never respond to these or any other suspicious emails.

  • You can reduce your chances of getting a virus through email by doing the following (before opening the email):

    1. Most modern browsers will allow you to hover over the From field which will allow you to see the actual encoded email address from which the email is sent. However, since this field can be manually set by the sender to whatever they want it to be, a legitimate-looking email address still doesn't mean that the sender is authentic (I know, confusing). Hovering over the From field mostly enables you to more easily identify a sender that is most likely fraudulent, but can't necessary guarantee that a non-suspicious email is safe. As always, use your best judgement, and contact sender by phone if in doubt.
    2. Look for common spelling errors in the subject.
    3. Be cautious of emails with the subject in all capitol letters.
    4. If your email service allows you to preview the email before reading, be suspicious of emails that address you generically such as "Dear Valued Customer". This doesn't mean that the email is not authentic but you should consider that along with other factors.
    5. Check the date in which the email was received. For example, if today is December 17, 2015 but the date of the email is January 15, 2016, that email is probably fraudulent and came from a server whose date was purposefully changed to a future date, guaranteeing that it would always show up first in your messages (assuming that your emails are sorted in descending date order).
    6. Look for repeated messages - same sender and subject.
    7. Generally be suspicious of any email strongly encouraging you to click on link to verify who you are.
    8. Be aware of emails that have no name listed in the "from" column or those that have your own name in the "from" or "subject" columns.
    9. This next one might seem obvious but if you receive an email whose subject states something about a bank account that you don't own, don't open it. For example, if you receive an email whose subject states "Your ABC Bank Account has been suspended" and you don't have an account at ABC Bank, this is most definitely fraud. Most likely a phishing attempt (see other FAQ regarding phishing) to get critical information from you.
    • Windows
      1. Press "Print Screen"
      2. Open Paint program (Start Program → Accessories)
      3. Either use the 'Paint' icon or type Cntl-V to paste the captured image in the Paint program.
      4. Now you can either manipulate / annotate the screenshot or save to your hard drive.
    • Mac
      1. Whole Screen

        1. Hold (sequentially) Command Shift 3 and your Mac will capture your current screen and place it on your desktop in PNG format.

        Partial Screen

        1. Hold (sequentially) Command Shift 4 and your cursor should change to cross-hairs.
        2. You can now drag the cross-hairs around the area you would like to capture.

        Specific Window

        1. Hold (sequentially) Command Shift 4 but once your cursor becomes a cross-hair, press the spacebar.
        2. Now your cursor turns into the icon of a camera and you can now hover over the window you want to capture and click on top of it to capture.
        3. The captured image is saved on desktop in PNG format.

    Note that once the image is captured onto your system's clipboard, there are a variety of software programs available for both Windows and Mac that will provide additional options.

    1. Use the define: keyword → If you are searching for the definition of a word (let's say 'auspicious') then instead of typing 'auspicious' and then scanning for the result(s) that are actually definitions, just type define: auspicious in your search and you will exclusively get the definition returned.
    2. Use the filetype: option → If you are searching for a guide to fix transmissions but you only want to see results that are in PDF format, then type fix transmissions filetype:pdf and Google will only return those results that exist in PDF format.
    3. Resctrict Prices Using 2 dots (..) → If you are shopping for an item but you want to restrict the results within a certain price range you can utilize the 2 dot method (..). For example, if you were shopping for a DVR but only wanted to see DVRs between the prices of $200 and $400, enter dvr $200..$400 and those will be the results returned. Note that Google may return results below your "low" number ($200 in this case) but not above your high number ($400 in this scenario).


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