WATCH OUT FOR THE UPDATE AD

Our screen kept nagging us with messages that we needed to update Adobe Flash Player, a program necessary for video playback on the web. But since we knew we already had the latest version , we ignored it.

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GOING DARK

What if Hilary Clinton had used encrypted email instead of a private email service? Could anyone have uncovered her conversations? We don’t know the answer but we have one word for privacy seekers: encryption.

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HACKERS WIN

Hewlett Packard recently sponsored a hacking contest in Vancouver, Canada, to see if anyone could break into “unhackable” programs, web sites and browsers. It may come as no surprise that there were people out there who were fully capable of hacking into the unhackable.

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THE ULTIMATE KEYBOARD

How’s this for perking up your paranoia: 45 percent of employers monitor every keystroke typed by their employees — email, web browsing, chat, sports results, you name it, according to a survey from the American Management Association. That’s nearly half! If only the workers could use an encrypted keyboard.

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GOING PRIVATE

A reader tells us he always starts his Chrome web browser in “private” browsing. This means there is no trace left on your computer of sites you visit or files you download. It’s particularly helpful to use this when you’re on a public computer, like at a library or hotel.

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WE GET SCAMMED

It happened like this: Joy got one of those Roku sticks you plug into your TV set so you can get dozens of extra channels. It didn’t work. Joy said it must be a problem with the Sony TV. So Bob, ever helpful, went on the web and searched on the term “Sony support.” He clicked on the first one that came up and dialed the number for Sony Support. Boy, was that a mistake. The smooth-voiced gent that came on the line advised us that we had a bad virus situation and took control of our computer with one of those remote control programs that let you do that. The screen began to fill with hundreds of error messages […]

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GETTING IN THE DOOR

Joy’s mother once left a note on the door, telling a workman she would be back in half an hour and to come on in. That was enough time for the house to be robbed. An alternative is the “Kwikset Kevo” deadbolt. Type in a code on your iPhone to open the door, and change the code as often as you wish. Hopefully, the people you give the code to have an iPhone, but if they don’t, the lock also comes with a key fob; press it to open the door. You can get as many extra fobs as you want for a small charge. If you use the app instead of the fob, however, stand close to the door. […]

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ONLINE GAME TEACHES YOU TO FIGHT INTERNET ATTACKS

PBS.org/wgbh/nova/labs/lab/cyber is a game designed to teach people how to fight against Internet attacks. Players pretend to lead a company similar to Facebook that is being targeted by malicious hackers. Learn the basics of programming along the way.

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DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE

A reader shared her computer disaster and we want to pass on the warning. Her iPhone broke and she spent five hours at the Apple store before the guys at the “Genius Bar” (they really do have a “genius bar”) suggested she get a new one. Fortunately, she’d copied her contacts and appointments from her phone onto her Windows PC. Unfortunately, during backup, she didn’t notice a small box that was already checked and automatically encrypted the contents. Later, she didn’t remember the password to undo the encryption. “Keep trying to think of the password,” said the guys at genius bar. (Don’t think we need a genius for that advice.) Frustrated, she tried the $29 “iPhone Backup Extractor,” from Download.com, […]

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A READER QUESTION

A reader wrote to tell us he loves Microsoft’s free anti-virus software, “Microsoft Security Essentials,” and has been using it for years. But it doesn’t come on his daughter-in-law’s Windows 8 machine; Windows 8 comes with “Microsoft Defender,” which is only part of Security Essentials. So we recommended switching to Avast, which is free from Avast.com.

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