The IT world is confusing, there is so much to look out for, and so many components that one really wonders why they are there?
So I will start this years’ first article addressing a few common questions here, but at the same time I invite you to write me if there is any particular topic that you want to know more about, or where you simply are bogged down and could use some answers to keep you on the right track. You can write these questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
What’s Wrong with Using Public Wi-Fi?
Many of us, when passing through transit in airports, or taking a small break in a café hook up to the free Wi-Fi offered there. The thing though we constantly are advised to take great care when connecting to any public Wi-Fi networks as they have their own share of problems. Firstly, they are classified as very insecure. Why? Well, they may ask for password when you log-on but being public the password also tends to be public. Once you are on the “network” any other connected computer has the ability to look at the traffic flowing over that network, and in particular wifi network where its all “up in the air”. And thus, the data can be looked at, by anyone and then —if they were so inclined—steal personal information and passwords. What should you do? Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to stay safe: make sure sharing is turned off (that question you are asked when connecting to a new wifi network), use HTTPS whenever possible, and look at investing in a subscription to one of those VPN services where your traffic is encrypted until well on the internet.
Do I Really Need to “Eject” USB Drives?
We have all been told that you should “Eject” the USB drive before we remove them from the PC, instead of just pulling it out. But really, why should we do this? The computer has already told us it has completed the saving task, or the document has already been copied successfully! Well, it’s because computers use something called caching to improve performance (speed): or in other words, the computer has made you think it has finished the task, when it actually has not. It’s actually waiting until it has a few other tasks to perform so it can do them all at once, trying to be more efficient. That good, right? So, when you press eject, your PC finishes anything in the queue to make sure you don’t incur any data loss. Windows does a better job of avoiding problems than Apple OS X and Linux, but the recommendation is to eject all your drives anyway. It’s small price to pay for keeping your data safe.
How Can I Tell if an Email Is Spam?
It’s a repetitive topic, but one that we just need to be so aware of. Some spam is plain obvious (“Loose 30 pounds and earn €20,000 by taking this blue pill!”), but other messages are more subtle. A deal to true, but actually quite possible. Here the best advice is simple, is the seller reputable? Someone where you are sure you can go back to in case of problems? But the nasty Spam is from those who are, eh, “phishing,” a trick where the spammer will imitate a legitimate source in order to get your information. They may tell you to click a link that looks like it’s going to paypal.com, but if you check the address it’s actually taking you somewhere else—likely a PayPal-disguised site where you willingly type in your information.
What should you do?
Any email you receive always look twice. If the attachment pretends to be a pdf, but is actually a compressed file (.rar, .zip), don’t open it. If the from address is not from the organisation that it pretends to be.. don’t follow the instructions. If a link does not take you to the standard organisation website, don’t go there (look at the “URL” address bar at the top of the browser, does it show the expected address?) And if you have any doubt, contact the entity and confirm the message. If it’s a message from Paypal, the bank, instead of following the link, go to the website yourself by tapping manually the address into your browser. Only then can you be sure.
Oh, and be careful, too—sometimes those links will cause you to unknowingly spam one of your friends, which only spreads the scam.
This article was written by Tim Gorter, teletechnics.com. Teletechnics provides full shoreside support to Superyacht engineers and ETO’s, providing remote monitoring as well as specialising in troubleshooting and analytic maintenance. Join the workshops organised in Barcelona during the winter months, more on teletechnics.com
By Tim Gorter, AV/IT/Wi-Fi communication consultant