Category Archives: Computer Security

If you have Windows XP, your computer is at risk


ID-10082591Support for Windows XP ends on April 8. 2014.  After this date, you will no longer be able to receive technical assistance from Microsoft.  More importantly, Microsoft will no longer issue security updates for this version of Windows, which means that your computer will be at risk for malware and viruses.  Furthermore, as more software and hardware manufacturers continue to optimize for more recent versions of Windows, you can expect to encounter greater numbers of apps and devices that do not work with Windows XP.



How Do I Know Which Windows Version I Am Using?  For Windows Vista, 7 and 8, go to Start, then type Winver.  For XP, go to Start, then Run, then type Winver

What can I do if I have Windows XP?  Upgrade to a newer version of Windows.

How do I know if my system will support a newer version of Windows?   Go to the Microsoft website and search for Upgrade Assistant

If you need assistance, contact Blue Salamander Solutions, LLC at


Five things you do to put your computer at risk


1.  You store your passwords on a shared computer 

Your stored password is safe, right?  It’s hidden behind those dots or asterisks.  Wrong! There’s a simple snippet of javascript code that, if typed into your browser, produces  a box that displays your password.  It might as well have wrapping paper and a  pretty bow–it’s like a gift to someone trying to break into your email!   Don’t store passwords on shared computers.

2.  You use an easy-to-guess password

The top list of “worst passwords” (according to splashdata) includes passwords with sequential numbers and easy-to-guess words, such as–you guessed it: passwordSuffice to say:  password12345 isn’t a good choice for a password. To be safe, use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols.

3.  You allow yourself to become a victim of phishing scams

Phishing is attempting to obtain personal information by sending a fake login form to an unsuspecting mark.  A good example of this is a phisher sending you a link to reset your bank password.  As a rule, don’t click email links asking you to reset your password or validate any account information.

4.  You use universal passwords for all of your accounts  

Don’t use the same passwords for all of your accounts.  If someone is determined to break into all of your accounts, at least make it difficult.

5.  You click on links or open attachments without considering the source 

Don’t click on a link unless you know it’s from a trusted source…and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Hacked, Hijacked, Spoofed, and Spammed: What to do if your email account has been compromised.


You check your e-mail one morning and realize that there are dozens of bounced messages and e-mails from contacts asking you if the link that you sent them is legitimate.  You didn’t send a link to anyone, so what happened and how do you fix it?

What is spamming? Spamming is the distribution of unsolicited bulk e-mail.  Intentional spam is delivered by individuals who are soliciting a product or business, while unintentional spam is bulk e-mail distribution from within an infected or compromised computer. This can be generated from a virus or worm that activates e-mail distribution, or from someone actually hacking into your account, effectively hijacking your e-mail account.

What is spoofing?  E-mail spoofing is the forgery of an e-mail  header so that the message appears to have originated from someone or somewhere other than the actual source.  To find out if the e-mail in question originated from your account, check your Sent Mail folder.

What to do if your email account has been compromised:

  1. Change the password to your email account and any accounts linked to it, such as Facebook or Paypal.  It’s best to use a combination of numbers, letters, and symbols, and don’t keep a universal password for all of your accounts.
  2. Create a sign-in seal.  This is linked to your computer, not your email account, so someone attempting to access your email account through a different computer will need to answer security questions.
  3. Change your security settings.  Log in to your account settings, and change your password hints, reset information, and linked accounts.
  4.  Make sure that your virus scan program is up-to-date.  AVG is my personal favorite.  Not only should you run a virus scan on a regular basis, you should also have a malware program, such as Malwarebytes to scan for malicious adware.
  5. Create a second email account and use it for online registration and ordering.  Don’t use your personal e-mail account for online registrations or purchases, forms, or mailing lists.  Keep a spam account solely for this purpose.