Don’t Get Hacked! Computer safety guidelines from an expert

BY MARY HELEN DARAH

I was hacked. I feel violated, vulnerable and sad. I recently purchased what I thought was a Norton anti-virus program online. Instead, I ended up compromising my Visa card and laptop,full of years of photos,writing and personal information. After downloading the “Norton”program,I received a voicemail message saying there was a problem installing the product and was given an 800 number to call immediately,which unfortunately I did.I actually talked with my hacker who informed me, after getting into my operating system, that a third party was trying to take over my laptop. I saw my info scroll before my eyes and I must have said, “Oh no, I’m being hacked” out loud. He responded with words I cannot share in this venue and ended our conversation by telling me he was going to “trash” my computer. Before I could push the shutdown key, my screen went blank. Needless to say, it has been a challenging, frustrating time. I’m happy to report that I am up and running again in the world of technology thanks to my new hero, Gabe Ng, of Spacebar in downtown Sylvania. He not only kept me focused on the positive but he shared some helpful insights to help keep our readers safe while surfing through the potential rough seas of the internet.

No company will ever call you
Be attentive when searching for products to download. Many times it is not the legitimate site even though you see a company’s familiar logo. If you do not type in the exact website, you may purchase a fake one. Many times you will see an 800 number and are prompted to call if the product fails to install or activate. Often the fake website will call you wanting to verify your credit card number or tell you they need additional information.The most important thing to remember is that if a company calls you, 99 percent of the time it’s fake. This includes calls from the IRS and Social Security. It’s a major “red flag” if the caller wants to fix your installation or computer or demands a fee. If you do get a phone call, hang up.

Gaining access
Hackers want access to your computer. Many credible companies will not ask for access to your computer unless they have gone through many tiers of tech support without success or are already registered into your system.If you are asked for access at the beginning of the conversation, hang up.

Keep it legit
Sometime it can be difficult to know what sites are valid since they continually change. Many fraudulent companies pay Google to put them on top of a search list. If ‘https’ comes before the website, it is usually safer. Look for it. ‘http’ without the “s” is not as safe. The “S” stands for “secure.”Also, really look at the web address. For example, in this situation, the web address said ‘buynorton.com’ instead of ‘Norton.com’.”

No third parties
If the person tells you a third person is trying to get into your computer it’s most likely them.

Credit card savvy for safety
Never provide credit card info over the phone. There will be no trail to the transaction. Think about opening a credit card strictly for online purchases.If your system has been compromised, immediately call your bank or credit card company and if necessary, cancel your card.

Back it up
Back up your data on an external hard drive. Drop Box is also good for immediate use of photos but not long-term storage. Also, utilize a good ad guard or ad blocker. I would recommend using Chrome or Fire Fox.

Don’t kick yourself
Don’t feel badly about being fooled. Hospitals have been compromised and even a city has been held hostage by hackers. It’s getting more prevalent because companies are no longer provide CDs to install products. Any time you have to register at a website, you are at risk. Use caution.If you are suspicious that a site has installed spyware on your computer, call your local computer repair shop.Above all stay calm. If you allow hackers control over your peace and happiness, they win