Technology: Computers

I am so not a tech geek, but when this warning came across my computer screen I knew I needed to share it with you. My husband, who is a techie, has mentioned a few times over the last several months that he has grave concerns with wide-scale cyber security issues and gaping holes that need plugging on the internet. Last week, the FBI issued a rare public service advisory to businesses and homeowners to reboot routers due to a worldwide cyber hack 1. The encrypted malware can render your routers inoperable or collect information.

hacker-2883632_640.jpg

Last week as a follow-up to the initial FBI warning, Popular Mechanics Tech Policy writer Eric Limer advises taking measures one step further by "resetting your router to factory settings" 2. He suggests that you have at the ready instructions to get yourself easily connected after the reboot. Once you are back up and running, change your password and download any updates for your firmware.

Ben Herzberg, Threat Director at the security firm Imperva recommends "that anyone with a router that's at least 15 years old replace it with a newer device and that they regularly check for updates to guard against potential new attacks. And while regularly rebooting your router isn't always a necessary part of good security hygiene, he thinks it's good advice to follow this time — considering the source" 3 .

[1][popularmechanics.com/technology/security/a20918611/vpnfilter-malware-reboot-router]

[2][popularmechanics.com/technology/security/a20966735/router-factory-reset-vpnfilter-malware-fbi/]

[3][washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2018/05/30/the-fbi-would-like-you-to-reboot-your-wifi-router/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.27d8c3653e8f]


Back UP!  A Cautionary Tale

My Microsoft Outlook 16 email program crashed nearly every day last week.  Was it a virus?  I am not sure.  Thursday, it crashed three times while I was composing an email.  During the last meltdown, my contacts disappeared.  Searching frantically through the ost. and .pst files was fruitless.  Customer Support said they were likely gone for good.  Gee thanks.  That's what happens when they are housed in a temporary .ost file on the server.  Why is the default a temp file for something as important as Contacts?  Good question.

I ended up recreating my contact file.  This time it was a severely streamlined version in honor of spring cleaning only keeping those with current relevancy.  But…when I returned to my computer Friday morning, the slate was wiped clean yet again.  I had an old .csv file (a comma separated values file which allows data to be saved in a table structured format) housing most of my old contacts and very few of those added over the last 6+ months which I could have resorted to.  Instead I chose to try one more time with a truncated list (I am sure I am missing lots of folks). 

Immediately upon finishing, I ran an export of the file to an external backup drive as a .pst file (a Personal Storage Table) and .csv for extra precautions.  When checking the .csv I noticed groups were absent, so I had to go back and create the groups separately. 

About once a week I back up The Practical Sort files to an external source, but the contacts were out of date.  I have now added to my calendar a once a month reminder to do a full hard drive back up including all solo and group contacts.

 Open Outlook then select File, then Open & Export

Open Outlook then select File, then Open & Export

If you are using Outlook 16 or any email program for that matter (I cannot help you with the other email client programs), I strongly advise you to back up your emails and all contacts in the event you run into this random crashing problem or any other threat to your mail program.

Back up Contact List
 

To save contacts as a Comma Separated Values File (csv)

On an external drive (or in the Cloud), create a folder to save your emails and contacts.

Open Outlook>File>Open&Export>Import/Export>Export to a file> Next>Comma Separated Values (.csv)>Export to a File (Select folder to export from: Contacts Folder--scroll until you find your Contacts)> Browse until you find the file folder to store the contacts on the external drive>Finish

 Import/Export>Export to a file>

Import/Export>Export to a file>

 

 

 

 

 Export to a File (Select Comma Separated Values or Outlook Data File)> Export to a File (Select folder to export from: Contacts Folder--scroll until you find your contacts)> Browse until you find the file folder to store the contacts on the external drive>Finish

Export to a File (Select Comma Separated Values or Outlook Data File)> Export to a File (Select folder to export from: Contacts Folder--scroll until you find your contacts)> Browse until you find the file folder to store the contacts on the external drive>Finish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Browse until you find the file folder to store the contacts on the external drive>Finish

Browse until you find the file folder to store the contacts on the external drive>Finish

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check your hard drive to ensure the file is there.  Open it and see if the addresses did export.

 

To save contacts as an Outlook .pst file the process is almost identical.

On an external drive (or in the Cloud), create a folder to save your emails and contacts.

Open Outlook>File>Open&Export>Import/Export>Export to a file> Next>Outlook Data File (.pst)>Contacts (scroll until you find your contacts)> browse until you find the file folder to store the contacts on the external drive>Finish

Group Contacts

There may be a more succinct process for backing up groups, but after several attempts, this was the only one that worked for me.

Select a group in your contact list and open it. 

Then choose File>SaveAs>Browse to find the file folder where you wish to save the file)>SaveAsType(under File Name)>Select Text Only>Save.  Then go to the file, copy the group members (control 'C').  I opted to create a separate sheet in my contacts document (click on the plus sign at the bottom of the spreadsheet to add a sheet).  Then type control 'V' to paste the group.  You can add as many pages as you need to accommodate your groups.

To back up emails: 

Open Outlook>File>Open&Export>Import/Export>Export to a file> Next>Outlook Data File (.pst)>Select the email file you wish to backup>Browse for file storage location and select the folder>I selected Replace duplicates with items exported>Finish

For other email programs, please check with your program’s instructions for backup procedures.  Believe me, it is not worth the wasted time or hassle of losing your data.

Hopefully your files are now securely backed up.

The Practical Sort's genius is in organizing, not computer technology.  So if you need a hand getting organized, please contact ThePracticalSort.com.  Remember part of being organized is having the data you need when you need it.  So taking a few minutes of precaution is worth hours of saved time in the long run.  Believe me!


Stop, Don't Open That
 

Last week I was at a meeting where one of my colleagues mentioned that she would share with the group some helpful hints via email.  Like clockwork, the next morning there was an email from her with an attachment.  She is one of the most process-oriented, organized, and fastidious professionals I have ever met.  So it was no surprise that she was prompt with her promise.

cyber-security-1914950_640 pixabay.jpg

Yet, for some reason the hairs on the back of my neck tingled immediately.  First clue was that her message was in my Spam folder.  Not really a surprise, since messages from those who I rarely receive correspondence occasionally land in Spam.

Secondly, my suspicions were aroused because the email just did not appear legit.  Honestly, I cannot articulate what the tell-tale signs were.  But I let it sit unopened for a day until I had time to reach out to the sender.

The next day, I sent her an inquiry asking if she had indeed sent us an email with attachment, and to thank her if she did.

Without delay, a group message was sent to my colleagues and I explaining that her account had been hacked, and NOT TO OPEN THE EMAIL.

Thank goodness I responded appropriately to those raised neck hairs.  Bottom line: if you have any doubts whatsoever about an email especially if there are any attachments, check with the sender before you open it to verify its veracity.  Better safe than infected.

 

Passwords

Do you find it mind-boggling to keep track of all the passwords but leery of storing them on the cloud?  Keep a spreadsheet of passwords that is password protected.  Now you only have to recall one password instead of dozens.

Personal Finance Management Software

checkbook-688352_1920 pixabay.jpg

Do you still use an old fashioned checkbook and reconciliation process?  There are numerous benefits to using personal finance management software such as such as Quicken, Mint, Personal Capital, etc. 

1.  Save time with easy math calculations, statement reconciliation, and payment tracking.

2.  Stay on top of your bills with alerts and payment schedules.

3.  Manage your transactions, spending habits, budget, and debt strategies.

4.  Track investment performance and net worth.

5.  Download the data into your tax preparation software for simplified tax prep.

Click here for PC Magazine's comparison review of the programs they consider to be the "Best Personal Finance Services of 2017."   Learn more about the pricing and features of each of their top picks.