published Friday, March 26th, 2010

Jenkins: Don't fall for phony password scams online


by Donnie Jenkins

Today, some of your e-mail questions answered:

Q: One of my friends recently got in trouble on Facebook when he fell for a scam concerning his password. Is there any way to protect someone from such things?

A: Well, it's sort of like the old story of the pastor preaching to the choir. For some reason online security remains one of the most difficult subjects to teach users.

While you would think that everyone would be on guard for online security threats, this does not seem to be the case. Some people have a tendency to let down their defenses, especially on sites like Facebook where they are associating with friends. It is especially important to be careful on such sites because even your best friends can accidentally share malware with you. This often happens on Facebook in the form of shared video links and funny messages.

The password change scam is one of the oldest in existence, dating back to early AOL days. Many think people fall for this because of a tendency to be intimidated by technical issues. So, pay close attention to security and never assume anything. Above all, be alert.

Q: I've used CDs for years to back up my pictures and other files, but that is becoming a major hassle as I have so many to deal with. Any suggestions?

A: There are two basic methods of backing up files, online and off line. Online of course refers to uploading files to a service that provides backup ability, while offline includes CDs, DVDs and hard drives.

There are many online services that provide such offerings and they are useful, but I always advise my clients and friends to have an offline backup even if they use such sites. Probably the least expensive option is to back up to an external hard drive that you use solely for this purpose. Don't use one that is being used often for other tasks as the idea is to have a secure backup to an exclusive destination.

You can routinely buy 1 terabyte hard drives for just over $100 now, and sometimes less on sale.

Here's my solution to using a hard drive for backup. First, I schedule a daily or weekly backup for data I have saved recently. A good rule here is to back up at each point where you could not easily afford to lose your work or data.

Also, once every two months, I use a program called True Image to create a full disc image backup. This program and others like it basically record a picture or data image of your hard drive in its entirety, including operating system, software drivers and files. It thus allows you to restore your entire hard drive at the point where you created the backup. This can save hours or days of time.

Q: Will 3D technology catch on this year?

A: It will certainly gain ground in theaters, as several chains have announced their intention to show more 3D movies such as Avatar. Televisions with 3D in the home will also become more available but will remain expensive for a while. The greatest impediment to its acceptance is the need for the 3D glasses, but several companies say they will eventually eliminate them altogether.

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