Security Tips & Talk

Tips about computer security, online safety, and privacy

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  • Blog Post: HOW TO: Recycle your old computers and devices for Earth Day

    Today is Earth Day. Show your love for the globe by getting rid of your old technology in the most environmentally friendly way possible. Step 1: Back up files or data you want to keep Use the backup utilities that are built into Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 to transfer files from your...
  • Blog Post: Tax scams: 6 ways to help protect yourself

    We’ve received reports that cybercriminals are at it again, luring unsuspecting taxpayers in the United States into handing over their personal information as they rush to file their taxes before the deadline. Here are 6 ways to help protect yourself. 1. Beware of all email, text, or social...
  • Blog Post: Help! Someone is holding my computer hostage

    If you see a pop-up window, webpage, or email message warning you that your computer has been locked because of possible illegal activities, you might be a victim of a criminal extortion scam called ransomware . Ransomware often masquerades as an official-looking warning from a well-known law enforcement...
  • Blog Post: 5 safety tips for online dating

    If you’re going to be connecting online this Valentine’s Day (or ever), follow these safety and privacy tips. Avoid catfishing . This is a type of social engineering designed to entice you into a relationship in order to steal your personal information, your money, or both. Always remember...
  • Blog Post: The best time to change your password is now

    You can reduce your chances of being hacked by regularly changing the passwords on all the accounts where you enter financial or other sensitive information. Set an automatic reminder to update passwords on your email, banking, and credit card websites every three months. Different sites have different...
  • Blog Post: Q & A: Keeping kids safer online

    I recently sat down with Sonia Livingstone , a professor in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics to discuss children and kids and the Internet. Q. You’ve spent the last two months at Microsoft’s Cambridge research facility. How did that opportunity...
  • Blog Post: 10 New Year’s resolutions for your digital devices and your online life

    It’s a new year, which means it’s time to resolve to create healthier habits in our daily lives. But we don’t have to stop at just improving our body, mind, and spirit. It’s also a good idea to resolve to keep our PCs, laptops, smartphones, and social networking sites healthy...
  • Blog Post: Shop for gifts online more safely

    If you want to stay home and avoid the crowds this holiday season, you can do all your shopping online. But before you log on, make sure you know how to identify websites that won’t compromise your privacy. Before you enter your credit card number, check for signs that a site is safe: ...
  • Blog Post: Using SkyDrive this holiday season can help protect your personal information

    It’s no surprise that the holidays are one of the busiest times of the year for online shopping. But did you know it’s also one of the busiest times for uploading pictures to photo sharing and social media sites? On average, more than 250 million photos per day were uploaded to Facebook alone...
  • Blog Post: How do I keep my firewall on?

    Using a firewall is like locking the front door to your house—it helps keep intruders (in this case, hackers and malicious software ) from getting in. Windows Firewall is included in Windows and is turned on by default. If you see a warning that your firewall is turned off, it could be because...
  • Blog Post: Microsoft won’t ask for your credit card to unblock your email account

    Tom asks: I’m getting messages from Microsoft about my email account. The messages say that my account is blocked and I can only unblock it with a credit card number. Is this legit? No, these messages sound like a phishing scam , a type of identity theft designed to steal your personal information...
  • Blog Post: Why does my AV software keep turning off?

    Bob writes: My antivirus software keeps turning off and I can’t get it back on. Here are the most common reasons you might encounter this problem: Your computer is already infected with rogue security software The warning that you’re antivirus software is turned off might be a...
  • Blog Post: Have authorities detected illegal activities on my computer?

    John writes: I got an email saying that illegal materials were found on my computer and it would be locked until I paid a fine. Is this a scam? Yes, this sounds like a common blackmail scam called ransomware. Ransomware is an email, website or pop-up window that displays warnings about possible...
  • Blog Post: Catfishing: Are you falling for it?

    The news is filled with stories about people, famous and otherwise, getting caught in online dating scams. The phenomenon is so common that it now has a name: Catfishing. The term catfishing comes from the 2010 movie Catfish about a man who was lured into a relationship by a scammer who was using a fake...
  • Blog Post: Microsoft Security Intelligence Report v14: Why antivirus software matters

    The latest volume of the Security Intelligence Report (SIR) highlights the importance of using antivirus software . Antivirus software helps protect your computer from malicious software (malware) and can be downloaded or installed inexpensively or at no charge. Still, according to the SIR v14 findings...
  • Blog Post: “Cyber Crime Department” scam

    We’ve received increased reports of a new phishing scam email message that uses the name and official logo of the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit (DCU). The wording varies, but it looks like a security measure and says you need to validate your account by confirming your user name and password or...
  • Blog Post: Filing taxes? Beware of scams

    It’s tax season in the United States, which means it’s time for us to remind you about tax scams—especially email messages that appear to come from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or another legitimate organization. These seemingly valid offers are designed to trick you into turning...
  • Blog Post: Help! My email’s been hacked

    If you use Outlook.com or Hotmail and think your account has been hacked , you should act right away to help protect your Microsoft account . If you can still access your Microsoft account, sign in and immediately change your password. For Outlook.com, go to the Password and Security section; for...
  • Blog Post: Clean up malware resulting from the Bamital botnet

    On February 6, Microsoft announced that its Digital Crimes Unit had worked with Symantec to successfully deactivate a major botnet called Bamital . Below is an overview of Bamital and how you can remove it from your computer. Botnets are networks of compromised computers, controlled remotely by criminals...
  • Blog Post: Watch out for fake Java updates

    You may have seen reports about security alerts for Java recently. Java is a commonly used piece of software from Oracle, so there’s a good chance you have it installed on your computer. Cybercriminals often use fake virus alerts to lure you into buying fraudulent antivirus software. These alerts...
  • Blog Post: Watch out for prize scams

    We’ve seen an increase in scam email messages that promise recipients they have won some kind of prize or a lottery. These unsolicited messages will often claim that the prize is sponsored by Microsoft or another well-known company. They request personal information that cybercriminals can use...
  • Blog Post: What to do if you think you’ve fallen for a phone scam

    In recent years, many of our customers have reported phony tech support phone calls from people who claim to be from Microsoft. These callers are cybercriminals who want to: Trick you into downloading malware . Take control of your computer remotely and adjust its settings to expose it to security...
  • Blog Post: Take care with ransomware

    Have you ever received an email or seen a warning page on a website claiming that legal authorities had detected illegal activities on your computer? This scam infects your computer with a type of malicious software called “ransomware.” The aim of ransomware is to prevent you from using...
  • Blog Post: Online fraud: Get practical advice

    Need help spotting an online scam? Download our new free 12-page booklet called Online Fraud: Your Guide to Prevention, Detection, and Recovery . This guide includes: Real-world examples of false promises made in fake emails Images of scam emails to help you avoid them Tips for guarding...
  • Blog Post: The $500 Costco card scam

    Many respondents to a recent Microsoft survey expressed concern about trickier scams that are happening on social networks. The Microsoft Malware Protection Center recently blogged about one of these new scams that claims to offer a free Costco gift card to all Facebook users. But don’t click...
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