Make Your Old Apple Device Faster

September 3rd, 2013


If you’ve had your iPhone or iPad for over a year, chances are it’s running a little slower than it should. If so, you have two options. You can buy the newest model from Apple, or you can get the most out of your old model with a few tricks.

Whitson Gordon, of Lifehacker, suggests using some tricks to speed up your old Apple device before giving in and buying a new one.

  • Don’t update

Your favorite app might prompt you to update to the latest version, but don’t be too hasty. That latest version may have more features and demand more resources than your old device can handle. That could make your favorite app nearly unusable on your phone or tablet. If you are a couple of generations behind, apps and even the iOS updates will begin to leave your device behind. If it works well now, consider sitting the updates out. 

  • Go native

The apps that Apple included on your device usually work best. So, while you may prefer a different internet browser, that third-party app won’t run as fast as the included Safari. This isn’t a big deal for newer devices, but if you want to milk as much speed out of an old device as you can, it helps to use the native apps. 

  • Clean it up

The more storage space being used on your device, the slower it will get. You’ll even be at risk of crashes. So, clean up that storage space by deleting anything you don’t need or use. Apps you rarely use are usually the first to go. This may also mean you need to trim down your music library and find another place to store pictures and videos. It’s also a good idea to delete old text messages. 

  • Unjailbreak

You may have decided to jailbreak your device to be able to customize it better or to gain new features, but that may also cause it to slow down over time. If you have an older device that’s gotten too sluggish, consider unjailbreaking and uninstalling all of those custom features. This may get your device back to working order. 

At Geek Rescue, we fix broken devices and help to keep them running well for longer. If your device is broken, or just not working as well as it should, bring it in for a tune-up. Come by or call us at 918-369-4335.

Broken Smartphones: Fix These Common Problems

September 3rd, 2013

Broken smartphone

Apple offers a valuable trade-in program for customers who are upgrading to the newest iPhone model. The catch is that your phone has to be in working order. Fixing your phone is certainly worth it when it means potentially getting more than $200 towards your next iPhone.

Amazon, Best Buy and Verizon are just a few of the other options you have when looking to get some money back on your used phone. Those options include Android phones as well. But, a working phone will always get more money than one that can only be salvaged for parts.

Joshua Brustein, of Business Week, published some common smartphone problems and how to fix them.

  •  Water damage

We all know someone, maybe it’s you, who has dropped their phone in a toilet, washing machine, pool or spilled water all over it. Putting a wet phone into a bag of rice is a commonly known solution, but there are some problems. The phone needs to be put into rice immediately after coming in contact with water and should not be turned on. Rice also probably isn’t a solution if the phone is soaked. A hair dryer is helpful, but blowing hot air on electronics can be just as harmful as the water, so use the lowest setting and use it in short bursts. 

  • Headphone jack doesn’t work

This is a common occurrence because lint from your pocket or dust gets caught in the headphone jack. Cleaning out these foreign particles usually fixes the problem. Many people suggest cutting down a q-tip, then dipping it in alcohol. For the record, Apple doesn’t recommend this treatment because alcohol is corrosive if it contacts certain parts of your smartphone. 

  • Physical buttons stop working

Maybe the home button on your iPhone is stuck, or you can’t use the back button on your Android anymore. Once again, this is a problem that can be cleaned away. While alcohol is again a popular solution, be careful not to use much and watch where you put it. If you just want your phone to be usable again, there are workarounds such as iPhone’s “assistive touch”, which allows you to use the touchscreen for everything your broken physical buttons usually do. 

  • Cracked screen

Though there are some who consider a cracked smartphone screen to be a fashion statement, most would prefer to have it fixed. There are kits available online that include tiny tools so you can fix your own phone. While they will give you the tools necessary to complete the job, they don’t guarantee success. For this common problem, it’s usually best to rely on professionals. 

Geek Rescue fixes all of the common problems listed here and more. Whatever the problem with your smartphone, we’ll get it in working order. Call us at 918-369-4335, or bring your device in to Geek Rescue today.

Surf Smarter To Stay Secure Online

August 30th, 2013

Smart surfer

Protecting your security and keeping your privacy online is possible. It takes more of a commitment than just keeping your antivirus software updated, however.

John Okoye, of Techopedia, suggests that your own browsing habits have as much to do with security as your security software. Here are some of the ways you can protect yourself.

  • Understand Your Browser

Do a little research and discover how the internet browser you’re using stores your data. It may be tracking your history and selling it to advertisers without your knowledge. However, many browsers have options to surf privately without saving your history or data. 

  • Proper Spam Techniques

Even if you are extremely careful about who you give your email address out to, you’ll still receive your fair share of spam emails. When one appears in your inbox, don’t respond. That includes following the ‘unsubscribe’ link. Once spammers learn that your email is active, you’ll actually receive more spam than before. Also, be sure to mark the email as spam, rather than just deleting. it. If you find that more spam emails are making through your spam filter, consider adding additional rules, or changing email providers. 

  • Be Careful With Social Networks

Social media profiles are a resource for hackers. By learning your birthday, address, phone number and email address, they can intelligently hack into other accounts, or send you phishing scams. Be sure to take advantage of security options to keep your information private and don’t over share. There’s usually no reason to include a phone number on your Facebook page. 

  • Be Smart About Email

Do some research and find an secure email provider. One that protects you from spam and doesn’t save your emails in a log. Your email should also be encrypted to ensure that no one but the intended recipient is reading them. You may also consider having multiple email accounts. That way, when registering for accounts on ecommerce sites or anywhere that you don’t want to have your primary or business email, you can use a secondary account. 

These are just some of the ways you can take action to stay safer and more secure online. To beef up the security for your home PC or your business network, call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335.

Windows 8 Picture Passwords Are Insecure

August 30th, 2013

Windows 8 broken security

Windows 8 offers users a unique password option when users sign in. Rather than a text password, users are able to use an image from the Pictures folder to keep their PC secure. Although this is an interesting idea that personalizes a user’s device, it is proving to fail in the security department.

As Thomas Claburn reports for Information Week, a group of researchers created a method for breaking the Windows 8 picture passwords. Their model was successful in hacking a password 48-percent of the time during one test.

To set a picture password, users choose an image, then draw circles, lines or tap different places on the image. When they log-in, they just need to take the same actions in the same order. It’s similar to smartphones that lock with a pattern, rather than a pass code.

Windows 8 does take some precautions to make this method more secure. Most notably, a user is limited to 5 log-in attempts. After a fifth failed attempt, the device is locked down. This means hackers can’t launch a purely automated attack, or brute force attack, that tries every combination possible. During testing, a purely automated attack was only successful about 1-percent of the time.

That is still a significant number of users at risk, and researchers suggested that a higher success rate is likely with a little training. Beyond the technical capabilities of picture passwords, what makes them insecure is how most people use them. When manipulating an image, most people will circle, or tap the eyes and draw a line on the mouth. These tendencies make it much easier for a password to be hacked.

What’s lacking from picture passwords is a strength meter. When you make a password for an online account, most sites will tell you if the password is strong, weak or unacceptable. Windows 8 included no such meter for picture passwords.

Since this is a new log-in method for most people, users won’t know what a strong picture password consists of. A password meter could help ensure that users have a password strong enough to hold up to a hacking attempt.

To keep your machine more secure, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We have a variety of security solutions to keep you safe.

Understand Phishing Attacks To Avoid Being A Victim

August 29th, 2013

Phishing attack

The instances of phishing attacks is on an aggressive rise. Over the past 12-months, the number of users who have experienced a phishing attack has risen 87-percent, from 19.9-million to 37.3-million.

During that time, there have also been multiple high-profile attacks, whose victims have included Twitter and the New York Times. Anyone can be a victim to a phishing attack and the rise in victims seems to indicate an increase in the number of threats online. It also suggests that more users need to understand the risks and how to avoid them.

Brian Clark Howard delved into this topic for National Geographic to help educate users so they may be able to avoid phishing attacks in the future.

A phishing attack refers specifically to an online scam use social engineering to coerce users in giving up personal information like social security numbers, bank account information and phone numbers. The most common means of phishing comes through spam emails. These emails are sent to hundreds or thousands of recipients and made to look like official correspondence from banks, service providers or even government agencies. Some include the threat of termination of service, while others will promise money or deals.

Spear phishing is an attack specifically targeting an individual or organization. By using information gleaned from other places, a hacker will put together an email that seems more legitimate because it will include information about you that a random person shouldn’t know.

This is usually how large-scale enterprises get hacked. They’re specifically targeted and employees are tricked into giving out their log in information, which opens the door for hackers to access the company’s network.

Anyone using email is at risk of a phishing scam. Trusting your spam filters helps to avoid many of the lazier phishing attempts, but you’ll also need to be wary of unsolicited emails asking for information you wouldn’t feel comfortable giving out to just anyone. Attachments, links, misspelled words and bad grammar are all signs that the email isn’t legitimate. In nearly every case, it’s better to contact a company by phone instead of replying to an email with personal information.

If you do fall for a phishing scam, you should immediately take action to change your passwords and monitor accounts closely for strange activity.

For help keeping your email secure and beefing up spam filters, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We’ll help keep hackers out and your information secure.

Don’t Forget To Back-up Your Android Device

August 29th, 2013

Back up plan

What would happen if you lost everything that is currently being stored on your Android device? You may initially think it wouldn’t be a big deal because you don’t have any vital or valuable data stored on your smartphone or tablet, but consider how much personal value is stored there.

Pictures, videos, text messages, contact information and potentially much more information that isn’t available anywhere else would be lost if something happened to your smartphone or tablet. Geek Rescue is often able to restore previously lost information from broken devices, but in some cases the information is lost forever. That’s why you should always have a back-up plan.

Jill Duffy, of PC Mag, describes how to back up your Android device in case the worst scenario plays out. She accurately points out “the key to backing up is redundancy”, which means you should have important information saved in multiple places.

  • Copy the SD card to your PC

This is the first step because it’s the easiest, most complete and it’s free. You’ll want to go through your device and make sure everything you want to back up is saved to your SD card, and not just to your hard drive. Once you connect your device to your PC with a USB cable, you’ll be able to copy everything from your SD card to a folder on your PC. You’ll want to make a note of the date you made this back-up and try to keep it updated as much as possible. 

  • Automated back up in the cloud

There are a number of apps to help you keep your data backed up regularly. These usually cost money for the apps themselves, and sometimes charge a regular fee for storage space. The upside is it takes minimal effort to back-up your data and it is regularly scheduled in advance so you always have an up-to-date copy of your information. 

  • Backing up text messages

The previous two methods don’t create back-ups of your text messages. If you’re the type that regularly wipes out all of their text messages, then you won’t have a need to back them up. If you’re the more sentimental type, however, you might want a record of your texts. There are a number of paid third-party apps that make this process simple. You’ll be able to save texts to your Gmail account, or to the cloud. 

Again, the more copies you have saved and the more places you save them, the better off you’ll be in case of disaster. This article applies specifically to Android devices, but remains true for any device you use to store information that holds value to you.

For help with data storage, back-ups, or to recover lost data, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335.



Android Users Have Highest Risk Of Malicious Attacks

August 29th, 2013

Android Smartphone malware

The most used mobile operating system in the world is Android. If you own an Android device, you’re also the most likely to be the victim of a malicious attack.

The BBC reports that Android users were 79-percent of attacks on mobile devices in 2012. Apple’s iOS, on the other hand, suffered less than 1-percent of attacks.

The simple fact that more users are available through Android than iOS plays a role in why hackers dedicate more time to that operating system. Another reason is chalked up to Android’s very architecture. The same thing that makes Android so developer friendly and customizable also makes it susceptible to malware.

There have been many security vulnerabilities exposed in older version of Android operating systems. Since many users are still using devices with those systems installed, they are still at risk. Apple, on the other hand, reports that more than 93-percent of their users have the latest operating system installed on their device.

Two key threats have been identified as the main sources of malware infections. One, Text trojans, sends unsolicited SMS messages to users containing harmful links. The other are fake sites that appear to be the legitimate Google Play store, but actually contain harmful apps.

Although older versions of the Android operating system are most at risk, newer version have displayed vulnerabilities as well. Recently, the so-called ‘Master Key’ bug allowed hackers in China to take control of a number of Android phones.

To keep your device safe, you need a combination of security apps and smart surfing practices. To increase the security on your device, be it Android, iOS, mobile or desktop, call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335.

You’ve Been Hacked, Now What Do You Do?

August 28th, 2013

Angry Hacking Victim

Recognizing that an account that you use often has been hacked is fairly easy. Recovering from a hack is much more difficult.

Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, recently tackled this issue on his blog. As he notes, not only do you need to make sure the hacker no longer has access to any of your accounts, but you also need to safeguard for the future.

In the event that you have a hacked account, here’s what to do.

  • Change your password

Take this opportunity to make passwords stronger using numbers, symbols and both upper and lowercase letters. If you’re changing multiple accounts, make sure you’ve secured your email address first. Otherwise, a criminal could have access to emails from other accounts informing you about your new passwords. 

  • Check log-in details

For Google accounts, and most email and social media accounts, you should be able to see when your account was last active. If you’re being told that someone accessed this account within the hour and it wasn’t you, you know there’s still a problem. You should also be able to find out where other users are logging in from. 

  • Check settings

For email accounts, a hacker may have set your address to forward to his. For other accounts, check to make sure your email address is still the one associated with the account. 

  • Consider two-factor authentication

This method is available for most accounts and requires both your log-in and password in addition to a code the website send you, usually over text message. This adds another layer of security and throws in an additional pass code that outsiders shouldn’t know. 

Unfortunately, even if you’re careful you run a significant risk of a hack. Knowing how to recover quickly and re-secure your account is important so you don’t lose more than you have to.

For help with security at home or the office, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335.

BYOD Is A Threat To Your Security

August 28th, 2013

BYOD smartphone

Bring your own device, or BYOD, is a growing trend in business. It refers to employees using their own devices, like smartphones and tablets, to access their company’s network and make their jobs easier. This becomes a problem in terms of security.

As Anders Lofgren writes for All Things Digital, an estimated 80-percent of employees are already bringing their devices to the office but many employers aren’t embracing this trend. This doesn’t mean that workers will stop using their smartphones to check their work email. It does mean that they’ll be doing so in an unsecured manner.

The threat of data being lost is exponentially higher when there are no security mandates on employees devices. Just by password protecting a smartphone, you greatly reduce your risk. There’s also a need to ensure that any device accessing your network has adequate security software installed.

Beyond adapting to the growing BYOD trend, you should also have an eye on what’s ahead.

Bring your own cloud, or BYOC, is another employee habit companies must plan for. Using Dropbox, Google Drive or other public cloud services makes an employee’s job simpler, but there are a number of security concerns.

If you allow individuals to bring their own device to work, what happens when they leave the company? Take your own device, or TYOD, refers to the policy of remotely wiping a former employees device of any sensitive data specific to your company. Currently, less than a quarter of all businesses have a policy to ensure former employees don’t still have sensitive data on their personal devices.

Compatibility issues also become a major problem when employees bring their own devices. Many will have iPhones or iPads, which may not be immediately compatible with your companies software choices.

To lock down your security in the face of the BYOD trend, call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We solve compatibility issues, close gaps in security and offer solutions to keep your business running efficiently.

Data Security Is A Concern For Every Business

August 28th, 2013

Data Security

Is your organization the target of a cyber attack? Almost definitely, yes.

John P. Mello reports for CIO that “about half of global organizations have suffered a cyber attack in the last year”.

What you should take away from that statistic is that every organization is at risk, regardless of size, who they cater to and what industry they’re in.

Here’s why an attack is such a major concern for any business. About 65-percent of attacks result in a loss of revenue because of system and employee downtime. About 19-percent result in the loss of potentially valuable data. If you aren’t protecting yourself properly, you’re inviting criminals to affect your bottom line.

Many of the cyber attacks that affect businesses worldwide are not of the targeted variety. A targeted attack implies that an individual hacker or group specifically came after your company for a reason. That reason can be because they wanted specific data, or just because they don’t like your company.

If an attack isn’t targeted, it’s usually the result of bad surfing practices by employees or lax security. Hackers unleash malware on the public with no specific target in mind and wait for their tactics to pay off. Clicking a bad link, opening spam email or downloading a file all opens the door for these attacks.

Detection of these attacks is key. Just as stopping a virus attacking a human body is easiest when detection is early, early detection of a cyber threat makes stopping the threat and closing the gap in security much easier.

To improve your company’s security, call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We offer a customized approach to safeguard your data and network.