Check Wi-Fiís security
Q. I downloaded a program that said it would help me test my Wi-Fiís security. It said my Wi-Fi was unsecure and told me to download more software. Do you think this is legit?
A. Iím betting that it isnít. Plenty of viruses and other scam software masquerade as programs that help you test your computerís security.
Once you download them, they load your computer with junk and then try to convince you to buy a program to clean your computer.
It doesnít usually end well. Itís time for you to run a legitimate virus scan like MalwareBytes.
As for actually testing how secure your computerís Internet connection is, try PortTest. It looks for open ports that hackers could use to take over your computer and helps you close them.
Picking a smartphone
Q. Iím buying my first smartphone but I donít know whether I want an iPhone or an Android. What do you think?
A. For the average consumer, Android phones and the iPhone are almost identical in features and usability. Either will work well as long as youíre not locked into specific services like iCloud or Google Calendar.
My general advice is that if you like consistency, stick with the iPhone. If you want plenty of different design and customization options, go with Android. Either way, make sure you play with a couple of the models in your price range for comfort and usability.
Remember, youíll probably be using this phone for two years or more, so make sure you love it.
Who owns your posts?
Q. When I post something online, do I still own it? I read something on Facebook that said I give it a license to my photos, and I donít know how I feel about that.
A. Most sites have legalese buried in their terms of service that say you give the site a ďlicenseĒ to use what you post.
How the site can use what you post varies. Facebook and a few other sites can use your posts in advertising. Reputable sites, however, donít take ownership of something when you post it. That means you can still close your account and delete your information to stop the site from using it.
A good reference tool for closing your account is AccountKiller. It tells you the steps to close accounts on common online services.
Q. Iím about to sign up for Internet service in a new area. Whatís the minimum speed I need for streaming video?
A. It depends on how many gadgets you have connecting in your house. If you have only one or two things online at once, 7 to 10 Mbps should be fine, even for streaming video. If youíve got more gadgets connecting to the Web at once, upgrading to 20 or 30 Mbps might be a better investment.
However, you might still see slower speeds due to network congestion and other interferences. To make sure you always get the full speed youíre paying for, or close to it, use Speedtest.
What is Ďransomware?í
Q. I read a news story that said ďransomwareĒ is on the rise. What is ransomware and how do I avoid it?
A. Ransomware is definitely on the rise and you have to watch out. Itís a type of virus that locks you out of your computer and demands that you pay money to regain access. It mostly spreads through email and infected websites. That means avoiding email scams, and having security software like Avast! or Avira installed will keep you safe.
If you do end up with some form of ransomware on your computer, donít pay! You can use a rescue CD or bootable anti-virus (AVG makes a popular one) to wipe the ransomware out.
Kim Komando hosts the nationís largest talk radio show about consumer electronics, computers and the Internet. Hear it locally at 94.3 WSC News Radio noon-3 p.m. Sundays. For more information, go to www.komando.com.
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