Ebitz, Mari-Elain mug 2018

Mari-Elain Ebitz

All Things Tech

I’m sure you’ve had enough of watching TV reports on COVID-19. So, this is almost a coronavirus-free column.

Curt and I are on a coronacation. You know, like last year when you did the staycation, instead of going to Tahiti. Yup, I’ve got my tuna fish and Curt has his pretzels. We’re all set.

I recently saw a report on TV by a respected tech guru, advising us that all of our WiFi devices could be hacked; Alexa, smart garage doors, thermostats, lighting, door locks, desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, smart speakers and even Apple Watches.

This guru said a hacker could access those devices, including your computer, and steal your personal and financial information. That’s a very scary potential.

The advice by the TV guru was to purchase a device that connects to your router. That device will stop any intruder from accessing your WiFi-enabled devices, saving you from financial disaster, but that is at a cost.

You will spend a fair amount of money, ranging from $109 to $300 or more, not including the monthly subscription of $14 and higher.

However, there are two facts that he didn’t mention — first, your location. Living anywhere in Citrus County is not like living in New York City or Los Angeles. We tend to be a safer community than the large cities. The second fact is that to access your network, the hacker must be within 300 feet of your router.

I suspect you or your neighbors would notice a vehicle parked on the street for awhile.

So, save your money and don’t buy a network security device. There’s just no need to, unless you have a devious neighbor who doesn’t have Internet, or you have disposable money.

Note: There are ways to secure your router without having to buy a device. Check with your computer service guy. They can do it for you.

Tech notes

Now that Windows 7 is dead and the time to get the free update to Windows 10 ended in 2016, your only route is to pay $139. Right?

Nope, not true.

Go to zdnet.com, click on the red magnifying glass in the upper left corner and search for “upgrade to Windows 10.” Unless you are very familiar with computers, I suggest you have your teen grandchild or a professional do the upgrade.

This information is accurate as of March 19.

Remember, Win 7 no longer receives Microsoft’s security updates, fixes or technical support, period! Your risk now is very high for viruses and malware. Additionally, if you have Win 8.1, it’s also a free download to Windows 10.

Bonus: Once you have Win 10, you will be able to get the April 2020 update, which should be available in early May for the public. I suspect at that time Microsoft might pull the plug on the free Win 10. So, don’t delay.

Scams

Unbelievably, there are scammers who are trying to make money off this virus by fake fundraising, online marketing of vaccines (which don’t exist right now) or products claiming to treat the virus. There are companies that say they are working on a coronavirus cure and want you to invest.

If someone wants your donation in cash, gift cards or by wiring money, they’re scammers. Don’t do it.

The latest scam circulating on social media and text messages is that Netflix is giving out free passes as a response to coronavirus. Not true!

And, finally, please do not click on unfamiliar links or emails. You might unleash malware that will infect your computer.

The CDC has more important things to do than email you personally about the virus.

Mari-Elain Ebitz was the first editor of the Greenbelt Gazette, which serves Sugarmill Woods, and is a past member of the College of Central Florida College Board of Trustees. She also does web design, specializing in not-for-profit organizations. You can email her at chronicletech@yahoo.com.

(1) comment

LDouglas

Thanks for the info!

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