Password Dos and Don’ts

The importance of using varied, strong passwords is one that really can’t be understated. If you use the same password across the board, all it takes is for one site to be compromised and your personal details, money and reputation can be in immediate jeopardy. 

There have been countless studies and reports on the importance of good online passwords, and most of them present some pretty shocking facts. For example:

In spite of this, 73% of people use their online banking password elsewhere, and 60% of people use the same password across multiple sites. 

In order to be safe, you have to think complicated. ‘12345678’ and ‘password’ remain two of the most used passwords on the internet, and are nowhere near secure enough to protect your personal information. 

Here’s a few tips to stick to when creating your next password:

  • Mix letters and numbers – an alphanumeric password is much tougher to crack than just letters. Change ‘letmein’ to ‘l3tm31n’, for example. 
  • Mix cases – alternate between lower and upper case letters
  • Use different passwords for each site – this may be a pain, but it’s the best way to keep your personal information protected

If you find you can’t keep track of your passwords, you can always click ‘forgot password’ on the sites you visit and have a reset code delivered to your email address. Or you can use a Password Manager to keep everything safe and in one place.  Whatever you do, make sure you beef up your security and make it as hard as possible for those attempting to gain access to your accounts. 

Virgin Digital Help on Mashable

Technology is supposed to make our lives easier — that is, until something goes wrong. While only about a third of people say that technology as a whole stresses them out, that figure more than doubles when it comes to specific technologies, according to a new study.

The top three stress-producers are related to connecting to the Internet. Respondents say problems with Wi-Fi caused the most stress (12.4%), followed by “the cloud” at (11.4%) and then trouble with networking and syncing devices (10%). When any of these three or a combination goes awry, you can’t get to the information you need.”

Via @Mashable

VDH Virus Guide: Digital Currency

The internet carries its own currencies. Zynga Coins, Facebook Credits and XBOX Points are all online equivalents of cold hard cash that can be used to buy virtual goods, enhancing gaming, social networking and a bundle of other activities that require some sort of monetary outlay to be made complete. 

Well, you probably don’t need us to tell you that exchanging cash online is fraught with danger. If you buy any of the above – or the more anonymous Bitcoins – you should be vigilant at all times. As with anywhere money is exchanged, thieves are ready and willing to dip into your pocket. 

The modus operandi of our online currency thief is simple. A Trojan virus is added to your computer when you download some seemingly innocuous software. That Trojan, over time, mines your Bitcoins – for example – account, slowly taking currency here and there, delivering it back to the creator of the virus without them having to do a thing. 

This really hammers home the fact that we all must be careful when downloading anything. If you don’t know or trust the source, avoid it. Trojans can be completely symptomless, working away in the background while you are blissfully unaware. 

In order to stay safe:

  • Ensure you understand how the currency works and the possible implications should your digital wallet be a target for cybercriminals. 
  • Do not use your Bitcoins address if your account has been compromised. 
  • Keep active tabs on your digital purse. 
  • Stay away from phishing emails and security updates you haven’t specifically sought out to download.

If you get caught out, you can start to lose real currency, and cybercriminals will have access to your personal information, meaning things could get a lot worse. 

The VDH Virus Guide – Rogue AV: Windows Protection Unit

Using the internet can be littered with risks. Malware, phishing scams, viruses and a plethora of other nasties that can threaten your system and personal information. Most people know that some kind of protection is necessary – but what happens when a wolf in sheep’s clothing arrives offering just that?

(Image: Trojan Killer)

Rogue Antivirus is just that. It pretends to be helping, all the while infecting your computer with malware that can lead to serious damage. The Windows Protection Unit rogue AV masquerades as an antivirus program created by Microsoft to protect your system from malware. It will be presented in a pop up that will ask you to register and purchase the product. Don’t. 

Generally, a rule of thumb is that if something pops up asking you for payment details, avoid. Other ways to safeguard yourself from Rogue AV are:

  • Avoiding downloading software from torrent or peer-to-peer programs
  • Keeping your trusted antivirus update (Microsoft Security Essentials or AVG, for example)
  • Refraining from filling out random online surveys (answer this for a free iPad!)
  • Deleting your temporary files
  • Refraining from opening suspicious emails that have attachments

If you don’t take these necessary precautions, you could end up with a completely wrecked device. This virus will corrupt internet settings, .exe files and your .dll drivers file, rendering your computer useless. 

If you’ve fallen foul of the Windows Protection Unit Rogue AV and don’t feel up to the task of removing it, don’t panic. Call an expert and ask them to guide you through the process. 

Keep safe everyone!

We’ve received a clue!

We’re getting closer to the truth, thanks to all your expert help. We really couldn’t do it without you - so thanks.  We’ve just received the following clue from the thief, sent over email.  It’s a piece of Richard’s diary, but we need your assistance deciphering the code. Can you help us? If you’ve got the answer, head over to Facebook and visit our app - kindly designed by our in house technicians so we can work together and catch the rogue. 

Richard’s diary has gone missing!

Oh no! We’ve just had reports from Virgin Head Office that Richard Branson’s diary has been stolen! We can only imagine what must be going through his head right now - all his business secrets, Facebook logins, private memories, stolen by some crook!

We need your help in order to be able to find the culprit, and to make sure they’re punished! Keep your eyes on our Facebook page throughout today - we’ve heard that the thief might post some clues, so we’d be very grateful if you could be our eyes and ears. Take a look at what Richard has to say:

Together we’ll find this rascal!

VDH Virus Guide

Introduction to Virus Guide

At VDH we receive an awful lot of requests for help. This covers all sorts of areas, from setting up new computers to recovering deleted files. However, one issue crops up again and again for people in need of our expert assistance: computer virus prevention and cure.

It is for this reason that we’ve written the VDH Virus Guide, the first in a series of guides that we’ll be publishing to help tech users come to grips with their devices and avoid any pitfalls that come hand in hand with their usage.

The VDH Virus Guide will cover common issues, including:

  •          Rogue Antivirus
  •          iGoogle page redirection
  •          Facebook clickjacking
  •          QR Codes
  •          Digital currency
  •          Fake apps on Google Play
  •          Pharmacy discount sites
  •          Twitter spam
  •          Zero Access Virus

Each week, we’ll be posting new sections of the guide for you to refer to whenever you have problems with malware or viruses on your computer, so stay tuned.

If you have any additional questions, or areas you think we should cover, just let us know over on Twitter or Facebook. Thanks!

Give the Geek A Break

We were delighted to be featured on the great Freaky Frugalite blog this week, with a post about our service. Take a look below. 

Tech Support for the Tech Support, or, give the geek a break

I had to reformat *another* one of our computers this week. The Windows Updates ALONE took THREE days, a staggering wait, I think. I am the chief tech support person in the house, and now that everyone has his or her own computers, troubleshooting all the electronic gadgets sometimes feel like a full-time job. I just don’t have that kind of time anymore, maintaining the family’s digital lifestyle! I’m starting to think about out-sourcing some of the stuff. I’ve already subscribed to an automated backup service, which lifts a big weight off my shoulders. When my computer got a virus and my blogs were later hacked (twice!), it was a ton of work rebuilding everything.

Not everyone knows how to manage all the in’s and out’s of PCs and other devices. And not everyone has the time anymore to fix it all and still have a life! So if you are one of those folks, here’s a little tip: Get tech support help! Ever hear of Virgin Digital Help? The company is very impressive. They handle everything, and I mean everything – Laptops, routers, smartphones, hardware and software problems. They remove viruses, fix slow computers, set up email, set up Internet games, home networking, fix Windows errors, everything. What you do when you have a problem is give them a call and describe your problem.

Virgin Digital Help will diagnose it, suggest a solution, and fix it remotely. No hauling your stuff to the shop. No mailing your computer to the warehouse.

Prices are outstanding. The “pay per fix” cost starts at $30. I think that’s an exceptional bargain. When your computer has a virus, this is a STEAL, believe me. I would have gladly paid them to remove my computer virus had I known about Virgin Digital Help then. I lost several work days, fixing my computer. $30 is nothing.

Or, if you think you need a partner on standby for help, Virgin Digital Help has support plans at $15 a month. That’s less than a New York pizza. And it’s better than harassing the geek in the home with all the computer problems. ;)

So next time you have a tech need, check them out. I am definitely bookmarking the site!

Summer is here!

The sun has got his hat on! In this weather, you want to get out of the house, hit the beach, relax in the park, dance the night away at festivals and generally shake off all of the remaining winter blues. Getting out into the sun presents a few extra challenges with your tech. The beach, for example,  is full of hazards for your camera, tablet or MP3 player. Sea, sand and sun may be great for you, but they aren’t necessarily the best for your treasured gadgets. 

Below, we’ve listed a few of our favourite pieces of summer tech to make your time in the sun even better. Enjoy!

Waterproof camera 

When you’re by the beach, in the park or by the pool, you want your camera at the ready so you can look back on winter and remember just how fun summer is. However, where there’s water, there’s danger for your gadgets. 

The Olympus TG-310 removes this danger. Waterproof to a depth of 3m,  able to take a drop of 1.5m and made to withstand temperatures as low as -10c, the TG-310 is your perfect poolside companion. 

Available for around £100, it has 14 megapixels, a 3.6x optical zoom and all sorts of effects to play with. A great buy for summer. 

The X-Mini II Portable Speaker

While the portable speaker market is a crowded one, we’re constantly amazed by the X-Mini II. In terms of price it can’t really be touched. £13-£20 will buy you a speaker that charges by USB, lasts for hours, has surprisingly good bass and is great for playing music in the park. 

Where the X-Mini II gets even better is its ability to daisychain. Buy two or more of the speakers and you can hook them up, effectively doubling the volume without compromising on sound quality. 

Yes, there are better quality speakers out there – though the build of the X-Mini II is very solid – however for this money you’d be mad to miss it. 

Kindle 3

The Kindle is perhaps an obvious choice here, but it’s not just one of our favourite pieces of summer kit, it’s one of our favourites year-round. The £89 version will give you a 6” screen, let you store around 1,400 books at any one time and a full battery charge will last up to a month. 

The fact that you don’t need to cram your suitcase with books for the beach means the Kindle is ideal for taking on holiday, and the crystal clear E Ink display is impervious to glare from the sun, meaning you can read your Kindle in all conditions. 

Solio Universal solar charger

If you’re out in the great outdoors for a whole day, you’re unlikely to see any power outlets. This means your phone, MP3 player or camera batteries are more than likely to die on you, leaving you without music, photos or – more seriously – any means to call anyone in an emergency. 

In steps the Solio Universal solar charger. Its award winning design makes it light enough to carry around with you anywhere, it’s durable, weather resistant and an hour of sunshine will give you an hour’s worth of playback or ten minutes of talk time. You’ll never need to worry about your battery letting you down again. 

Life without Richard Branson

Our friends over at Virgin shared this great Forbes infographic recently, and we thought we’d pass it on to you. It’s an illustration of a few of the great things Richard Branson’s been up to over the years, and a glimpse at what life would have been like without him.

In addition, Richard recently took part in Ask Richard, an opportunity for anyone to ask him pretty much anything theyliked. Topics covered everything from business to Richard’s favourite meal, and were asked across Twitter, Google+ and on a Google Hangout.

You can view the questions, answers and video from Ask Richard here.