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14 posts tagged vdh

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 Virus Guide: ZeroAccess Virus

Viruses come in a range of shapes and sizes. Some are fairly benign – they’ll pop ads up, make your computer run slowly and not much else. Some, however, you really don’t want to mess with. The ZeroAccess virus is one of them. 

(Image: Precise Security)

If you’re unlucky enough to fall foul of ZeroAccess, you may experience a slow computer, files that won’t open, regular disconnections from the internet, corrupted files and drivers and worse. 

As with other viruses, you can pick up the ZeroAccess virus from just about anywhere. Watching videos online, downloading P2P files, clicking on banner ads that you don’t trust – even with common sense, we can all be unlucky. A few steps to follow to keep as safe as possible are:

  • Avoid downloading software from torrent and peer-to-peer programs 
  • Keep your antivirus updated 
  • Refrain from answering random online surveys 
  • Delete temporary files 
  • Do not open suspicious emails that have attachments

If you have followed all of this steps and have still been unlucky enough to be lumbered with ZeroAccess, call in the experts. In the long run, you’ll be happy you did. 

Virgin Digital Help Virus Guide: Twitter Spam

Are you a tweeter? Do you love the constant, immediate stream of information to which you have access 24 hours a day? If so, you may have been followed by some accounts that seem unusual. They may have no bio, they may just tweet links constantly. They may even tweet completely incomprehensible, baffling nonsense (though a lot of normal accounts do this too). 

These accounts are Spambots. They are created with the intention of luring you into clicking the links they tweet out, which then take you to scam sites or worse, malware. 

If you’re followed by one of these accounts, Twitter has a ‘block and report for spam’ feature that you should click immediately to prevent other users from being tricked. 

Never, under any circumstances, click a link you don’t trust on Twitter. Even a user who you do trust could have been hacked, meaning they send out links without their knowledge. Always ensure you keep your mobile antivirus updated, just in case. 

If you do click one of these links, the consequences can be pretty bad. You’ll immediately lose your social credibility, which is bad enough, but you could also find that malware gets onto your phone, stealing your details, adding charges to your phone bill and more. 

Twitter is fun, but make sure you stay safe! 

VDH: What causes you digital stress?

Everyday tech stresses us out! Don’t get mad, get help!

For the last month we have been conducting an ongoing survey to find out how everyday tech can raise your stress levels and today we’re proud to reveal the results! We’ve made an infographic to showcase the results - what do you think?

Over 60% of respondents said everyday technology stresses them out, citing computers, printers and social networking as the main bugbears.

“According to our Digital Stress survey, most consumers do not believe they are digitally stressed by technology until they are reminded or presented with specific technical issues they cannot resolve on their own,” said VDH’s Director Mustafa Khanbhai. 

“While today’s technology brings so much in terms of efficiency and connectivity, the results from our survey also suggest that our embrace of the latest gadgets are not always as seamless as we’d like them to be.” 

So what do you think? Does everyday tech wear you out? Let us know and we’ll give you a hand!

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: Ukash Metropolitan Police Virus

An online threat for our UK readers here, the Ukash Metropolitan Police Virus. This is a particularly nasty virus for your computer to contract, as it prevents you from accessing anything, telling you that you will only be allowed to access your files and programs again once you have entered a code for payment of £100 (the amount may vary). 

Image: Spyware Removal News

The virus will prevent you from opening Admin Tools, so you can’t do anything about it. Obviously this can be a scary ordeal, as you risk losing everything from your hard drive. This fear is how the virus works, scaring those who don’t know how to remove it into paying for their freedom. If you’re unlucky enough to be hit with the Ukash Metropolitan Police Virus, do not pay a penny. Do not enter any bank details at all. 

There are steps you can take to keep your computer safe. They include:

  • Avoid downloading software from torrent and peer-to-peer programs
  • Keep your antivirus updated
  • Refrain from answering random online surveys
  • Delete temporary files
  • Do not open suspicious emails that have attachments

These should keep you safe from most nasties. If you don’t deal with this particular virus, you risk having all of your .exe files corrupted, meaning nothing will open. It may also disconnect the PC from the internet, meaning you are unable to get help. 

If you think you’ve been hit by this scam, call in the professionals to get it removed as quickly as possible. As always, vigilance is the strongest weapon in your arsenal, so always keep an eye out and ensure that your computer is fully protected. 

The VDH Virus Guide - Rogue AV Scanner

Vigilance is an essential trait of the modern computer user. We all must be watchful at all times that what we’re doing isn’t putting our device in harm’s way. So what happens when we encounter the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing? Something that comes along claiming to help, but is actually designed solely to infect your computer with malware?

This is the practice of Rogue Antivirus malware. You’re surfing the internet, minding your own business, when a warning pops up telling you your computer is infected with malware. The pop up kindly informs you that you can visit a site for a full security scan, which will remove this malware. Of course, there is no malware – this will be added to your computer during the scan, or when you’re asked to subscribe to the security vendor’s service for a nominal fee.

So, if you’re browsing the internet and a scan starts without you asking it to, or you’re asked to purchase a security software license from a vendor you didn’t seek, there’s a fair chance you’re being targeted by Rogue AV Malware.

·         If there’s an option to, immediately click ‘x’ and exit the pop up or page you’re on.

·         Always be wary of sites that have lots of thumbnails linking to external sites offering the chance to see free movies, photos or other tantalizing treats.

·         Enable a link checker in your legitimate antivirus that checks links on Google before you click them, as hackers will often attack search engines to insert malicious links into results. AVG Antivirus offers this service, for example. 

·         Make sure your anti-malware and antivirus software is fully enabled and up to date. 

If you think you’ve been infected by malware and can’t get rid of it, call the experts, or talk to us online. We can all keep safe if we work together. 

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.

Tech Fixes You Wouldn’t Necessarily Think Of

We’ve all been there; your tech is damaged or won’t work, you don’t have any fancy specialist equipment in the house and you don’t know what to do. Well, have no fear. There are a number of things you may have lying around that can help you get your tech back into tip top shape. Here’s a few of our favourite repair methods you may not have thought of. 

Hard drive in the freezer

Has your hard drive given up the ghost? Act quickly and you won’t necessarily lose all of your files. Head to the kitchen and grab a couple of – good quality – sealable sandwich bags. Place the hard drive in a sandwich bag, then in another. You really, really want to prevent any moisture getting into the bags. 

Once the hard drive has been in the freezer for around 12 hours, take it out, put it into your computer and as if by magic it will boot. Take off the files you need quickly as the drive will almost inevitable crash again. Repeat the process as necessary. 

The cold compresses parts of the drive that may have spun out of shape, or begun to rub, hence breathing short lived new life into your damaged drive. This is, however, an emergency 

Waterlogged phone in rice

We’ve discussed this fix before on the blog, however it’s one of our favourites, and something we’ve all had to use at some point in our phone-owning lives. 

If you drop your phone in the bath, the sink or the pool – or if you spill your drink all over it – all is not lost. Firstly, do not under any circumstances attempt to turn the phone on. 

Open the phone up and drain the excess fluid immediately, taking out the battery and SIM card. Run to the kitchen and grab a Tupperware and some rice. Fill the Tupperware with rice, throw the phone in, pushing it well into the rice, and leave overnight. The rice will absorb the liquid left in the phone and – hopefully at least – will restore it to its former glory. 

Vaseline on Screen

Got an unsightly scratch on your phone or MP3 player screen? Annoying, isn’t it? Don’t worry, your favourite lip moisturizer is on hand to help. 

Dip a tissue in a small amount of Vaseline and wipe it on the affected area. Once liberally applied, use a clean tissue to buff the screen, ensuring the Vaseline is all gone and you should notice that the scratch is far less visible than when you started. Ok, it won’t repair the screen, but it makes a difference without costing a fortune. 

Vodka on a DVD or CD

If you’re finding that the movie you’re trying to watch is skipping, or won’t play, it may be that the disc is too dirty for the laser in your DVD or Bluray player to read. 

Instead of using a t-shirt to wipe the grime off, potentially making the situation worse, grab a bottle of vodka. Take a swig (only joking) – take a soft, clean towel and drip half a measure of the vodka onto a small area. Use this vodka soaked towel to clean the disc in small circular motions. The alcohol will remove any grease that has found its way onto your disc, and you’ll be free to watch or listen in peace.