It may be hard to see at first.
I wanted to show you this sequence of events so any readers can remind themselves that people can be very sneaky in getting your information and using it for their own purposes. What you need to do as a internet user is remain an "internet skeptic," a phrase used by the local university's IT security team. Don't rush into anything and be very guarded with any information you share.
Take a look and see if you can spot any issues along the way. I'll point out some things I noticed at each stage. Then some conclusions and things I could have done differently.
Part 1: First Contact (insert jokes about a certain bad star trek movie here)
I received this text message from the individual whom we will call Mr. X. I have a google voice account set up so that people don't call my cell phone directly. I can receive phone calls or text messages on my phone. Text messages come through as e-mails on that address associated with my google account. I highly recommend this if you are starting out as a small business and need to save some money. Anyway onto the short saga.
Pretty normal looking for a text message so I am certainly willing to reply to this given that it came from a valid area code and I live next to a large university. Very plausible that the person actually needs assistance with their computer(s).
Part 2: First red flags pop-up
Since I had determined to reply I sent the following message. I gave them my business phone number, which Mr. X may or may not have used to send me the text to my google voice account, and I made sure to give this person my website as well.
Here is Mr. X's reply. See if you can spot the same red flags that I did in the section I highlighted.
Very interesting, this person wants a secretary to send me a check for the services to be rendered. I also noticed one other thing that I did not highlight. Want to guess what it was? Yes it was the floppy drive diagnostic to make sure it was working after the work was completed. That is highly unusual in any business application with Windows 7 included in the same sentence.
Part 3: Is it real or fake
Now I knew we were going to find out really quick if this person wanted to actually do business or is going to try and steal something from me, maybe my identity or just money. To find out I wrote the following message with information that is freely available from my website with the inclusion of some provisions.
Here is Mr. X's reply. Now think of what we are dealing with here as you read his reply knowing what I wrote and how this conversation has proceeded.
Granted, I probably didn't need to reply further knowing full well that this was almost certainly a scam. I went ahead and sent the following though. I have not received a reply since sending this and Mr. X has had plenty of time to reply. Whoops just noticed my typo in that message :)
I didn't need to let this go on any further once I knew what it was so I encourage you to drop whatever it is and move on whenever you spot a scam. In addition, this is a tech blog so I implore you to always have an updated antivirus program on whatever computer you are using, yes that means you Mac and Linux users you need something too. Always run ad-blocking plug-ins on your browser (Chrome or Firefox). Yes you should go out and buy identity theft insurance if you don't have it. Something like Zander's Identity Theft plans (no they did not give me anything for linking this) are a worthwhile investment into reducing your risk. See the full link pasted below as well. Finally, always be skeptical of anything you see online or hand written on a lawn sign on the side of the road. There is too much for us to cover on this topic in one post, but please be conscious of what you do online, where you do it, and who will see it.
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Zander Insurance Link:
Should I upgrade?
This is a great question that may people are still asking themselves. Here are some things that may help you decide. For myself I have chosen to avoid the upgrade on most of my systems, but at least one of them will have Windows 10.
Will my computer run Windows 10 at a reasonable pace?
The bare minimum system requirements for Windows have always been a joke, but here they are if you are curious.
Should I do anything before upgrading?
Is it all right if I just go ahead and upgrade?
Probably, but there is always risk involved with upgrades no matter what system you are running. It is best to give an upgrade the simplest path possible whenever you are able to if you cannot do a clean installation of the new system. If you don't want to bother with doing anything before you upgrade then go ahead. Things will probably work, but there is always a chance that something does not function correctly... like sound, internet communication, your printer, proprietary software, etc.
What if I don't want to upgrade?
You do not have to upgrade to Windows 10 despite all the hard work Microsoft has done to make you think that there is no other alternative. Thanks to one of my favorite sites How-To Geek we can avoid all of this nonsense and hullabaloo with the instructions and tools they provide in this article.
How to stop Windows 7 or 8 from downloading Windows 10 Automatically.
I recommend using the tool Lowell Heddings refers to in his article. It really is a simple tool to use and I have used it on one of my systems.
What if I am tired of Windows period end of story?
CLet's cut to the point here. If you are an Apple fan don't waste your time, go buy one. However, if you are not necessarily in that category you don't need to in order to get away from Microsoft and Windows. You have the option of going free and open source with Linux. I recommend Linux Mint or FreeBSD. There are many useful guides available that will help you get started with either of these (and more). I will have a post in the future based on what I did with my system. In the meantime here is why I would switch to Linux if I were you.
I don't like to what extent I have to go to make Windows as private as it should be with Windows 10. I pay for a product and I expect to be able to use it however I choose withing legal limits of course. That should not including sharing what I run and do on my computer if I don't go through all these hoops to disable such functionality.
Windows 10 Home and Pro will not allow you to avoid updates permanently. All updates are pushed and will be installed eventually (even Professional users). I would prefer to have more control of what happens on my computer thank you. Linux let's you choose which updates you install.
Microsoft is taking over:
Microsoft is trying to move toward a more integrated experience across devices and platforms. If this is what you want then go ahead. However, people don't necessarily want this or need it. With Linux you have a great deal of freedom to change your desktop to something that is closer to what you want in the Linux versions mentioned previously.
Windows continually uses more resources to run what it "needs" to it seems. Although Windows 7 was better than Vista in many ways Windows 10 is starting to creep back the other way. Linux can run on a variety of hardware and run well too. If your computer is over 10 years old it will still run like it is over 10 years old whether or not you are on Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, or 10 (don't do this), or Linux. The point is Linux does not consume more resources unless you want it to.
Maybe now is the time to go over to Linux. I am here to help along the way and most importantly there will always be a community to help you with your journey along the operating system path to Linux. Yes it is a journey, but one well worth taking. If you choose to upgrade to Windows 10 you will not have horrible consequences befall you and it is extremely unlikely that you would lose access to your files due in sole part to the upgrade. It just isn't right for everyone.
Let me know what you think about today's post and as always make the choice to be happy.
Author - Nathan
I have worked with computers and technology for over nine years now. I enjoy tech almost as much as I enjoy my wife and kids.
About the Blog -
This is my informal approach to being a mentor for you. Let me know what roadblocks you have and we'll work on posting what you need here.
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