Security Tips & Talk

Tips about computer security, online safety, and privacy

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  • Blog Post: When should kids be allowed online?

    As a parent or caregiver, you probably needed only one trip to the playground to realize that children can have radically different styles of play. Just as there’s no “one size fits all” approach to helping children navigate the jungle gym, the way you talk about online safety with...
  • Blog Post: 7 ways to avoid TMI

    Technology can make everything in our lives easier—including sharing too much information (TMI). Just because you can take a picture of your new credit card and post it on Instagram doesn’t mean that you should. In fact, you shouldn’t. Sharing too much information can lead to identity...
  • 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: There is no Hotmail Maintenance Department

    Cassie writes: I received an email from the Hotmail Maintenance Department requesting personal information verification. The message included a PDF file. Is this a scam? Yes. This is one of many types of email cybercrime, also called phishing . Cybercriminals often use the Microsoft name to try...
  • 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: Top 10 security stories of 2012

    From the latest scams and fraud to how, when, and why to update your computer, here are the stories that you viewed and clicked on the most this year. Download security update for Internet Explorer . In September, Microsoft released a security update for Internet Explorer. To help protect your computer...
  • Blog Post: Shop online with care this holiday season

    Holiday shopping is in full swing and so are the scams. The following tips can help you stay safe when you shop online. Use a modern browser. Internet Explorer 9 and Internet Explorer 10 (available with Windows 8) include the SmartScreen filter. SmartScreen helps protect you from fraudulent shopping...
  • Blog Post: Beware of deceptive downloads

    The Microsoft Security Intelligence Report (SIR ) analyzes online threats using data from Internet services and over 600 million computers worldwide. Volume 13 of the SIR is now available and focuses on vulnerability disclosures from the first and second quarters of 2012. A featured article, Deceptive...
  • Blog Post: Avoid scam phone calls

    Gabby writes: I just wanted to let you know that I received a phone call this evening from a guy called “Daniel” from “Technical Maintenance of Microsoft Windows.” He said that Microsoft had received error messages from my computer and he asked me to turn my computer on and...
  • Blog Post: How to spot fraudulent tech support phone calls

    Betty writes: I just received a call from a guy who said that my Windows was infected. He wanted me to sit in front of my computer while he fixed it. He became angry when I told him no and I hung up. Thanks for writing, Betty. This type of call is a popular scam and you did exactly the right thing...
  • Blog Post: What’s your online reputation?

    Most of us put a boundary between our personal and professional lives. Online that’s not easy to do. In the Official Microsoft blog, Brendon Lynch, Microsoft Chief Privacy Officer , writes, “Every piece of personal information that exists online about you -- whether posted by you or by...
  • Blog Post: Beware of Ransomware

    Cybercriminals use social engineering to prey on our weaknesses. Sometimes they take advantage of our goodwill towards others, like in the “I’ve been mugged scam” I wrote about in a recent blog post . More often they try to trick us with deals that seem too good to be true . Cybercriminals...
  • Blog Post: Think twice before you broadcast holiday plans

    Your best friend from high school is probably not a cat burglar. But do you know everyone on your friends’ and followers’ lists (or everyone on their lists) on your social networking sites? If not, don’t post information about your holiday travel plans. More information about social...
  • Blog Post: Beware of “confirm your account” scams

    Last week a member of our team shared a phishing scam that she’d received in her personal email account. The bogus email claims to come from Microsoft and asks the recipient to respond to the email with their user name and password to avoid permanent cancellation of their account. This is a...
  • Blog Post: Is your browser keeping you safer online?

    Research in the newly released Microsoft Security Intelligence Report Volume 11 reveals how social engineering techniques contribute to the spread of computer infections. Attacks that require user-interaction (social engineering) to spread accounted for 45% of the attacks analyzed in the report. In addition...
  • Blog Post: Remove personal files from your PC

    Last month, we told you how to recycle an old PC more safely. We suggested that you use an authorized refurbisher or disk-cleaning software to make sure that all of your personal information was removed from your computer before you gave it away. Since we posted that information, we’ve received...
  • Blog Post: Safety tips for chatting with Facebook friends in Hotmail

    Did you know that you can chat with Facebook friends within Hotmail? Just connect your Facebook account to Windows Live and be sure the “Chat with my Facebook friends in Messenger” box is selected. No matter where you’re chatting, it’s a good idea to be cautious. There...
  • Blog Post: Report the Microsoft phone scam

    An anonymous blog reader writes: “Someone keeps calling me every other week claiming to be from Microsoft tech support. They even gave me a number to call back. Can't we report them?” Yes. Learn about how to report phone fraud in the United States. Outside of the US, contact your local...
  • Blog Post: Beware of bin Laden malware on the web and in email

    If you’re searching for news about or pictures of Osama bin Laden, you might find malware instead. This week the FBI warned computer users to be especially careful of emails that claim to show photos or videos of bin Laden’s death. Cybercriminals are quick to put up fraudulent websites...
  • Blog Post: Beware of Facebook email scams

    A friend recently forwarded us the email below because they thought it was a scam. They were right. This email is a great example of three easy ways to detect a scam . Spelling and bad grammar. Cybercriminals are not known for their impeccable grammar and spelling. A professional company like...
  • Blog Post: Hotmail hacked? Change your password

    We received this email message from a reader: "My Hotmail account keeps getting hacked and my contacts are getting a message from me requesting money. I had gotten two [email messages] from Microsoft asking me to confirm my Hotmail account with my password. It happened twice and I thought it was...
  • Blog Post: Avoid scams through your phone

    We recently received this email message from a reader: "I got a call from someone who said that he was from 'Windows Technical Department Support Group.' He said he was calling to fix my security system. He wanted me to log onto a website so he could walk me through a process that would give him...
  • Blog Post: Fraud alert: UPS package scam

    A reader asks: "I recently received a package from UPS. This Overnight Air envelope contained three postal money orders for $820.00. I called the UPS number on the envelope and spoke to someone about tracking the envelope and found out it was a scam. Whoever sent it believed that I would deposit...
  • Blog Post: Pakistan floods: Avoid donation scams

    Disasters like the recent floods in Pakistan are another opportunity for cybercriminals to take advantage of people who want to donate money online. Use caution with suspicious email , websites, instant messages, or posts on social networking sites and look for signs that the site where you donate...
  • Blog Post: Fraud alert: “Your account will be deleted”

    A reader of this blog recently received the following suspicious email: "This Email is from Hotmail Customer Care. We are having congestions due to the anonymous registration of Hotmail accounts so we are shutting down some Hotmail accounts and your account was among those to be deleted. We are sending...
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