So I Think I’ve Been Hacked!

10 STEPS TO RECOVER FROM A COMPUTER HACK

So you think you've been hacked?So a friend tells you that you’re sending spammy-looking emails out.  But it can’t be–you had no idea.  You even check your sent email folder to see if you’re crazy, but all the emails look familiar.  You respond bewildered to your friend, not knowing what to do.  Have I been hacked??

The first thing to do is stay calm!  Part of the scam here is to get people worried and scared that everything on their computer has been stolen, which is terribly unlikely.  It’s most likely that this message was spoofed with your name and/or email but that your email wasn’t hacked.

If you think your computer has been hacked, but no-one has contacted you about a strange email, start at step 4.

Let’s do some discovery. Then figure out how to get cleaned up!

1. The first thing to do is to get a copy of the email “headers.”  This is the code sent through the servers that contain an email.  The headers are found by different means in each email client.

In Apple, click View —> Message —> Raw Source
In most Outlook versions, open the email in a new window, click File —> Properties
In Gmail, Click the down arrow, then click Show Original

All headers read from newest to oldest, so the top being the latest messages and the bottom being the originating headers.  So look towards the bottom of the header and search up for the first instance of these:

Look for:
“Received From: example1.com” and this server is who really sent the message
Look for the next “by: example2.com” to see who then received the message
X-Mailer is the device used to send the message.
You can also look for the line “DKIM-Signature” and find the d=somedomain.com.  This is a third party sending an email but is authorized by somedomain.com.

 


Example Header


*A more simple solution is to paste the header into Google’s Header Check at https://toolbox.googleapps.com/apps/messageheader/ and confirm the servers used match the real sender

If example1.com matches the From name domain, then this verifies this email as legitimate.  If you notice that the example1.com is somewhere located in India or Belgium, completely different than the sender, it’s fair to say that this was a spoofed email.

If you’ve been spoofed, then it’s time to tell your friend that he/she should run their virus and malware scanner and add that sender to their blocked list (since it really isn’t you).  In this case, that’s all.  Spoofing happens all the time and there’s little you can do to prevent it.  You haven’t been hacked, nothing has been stolen.  No need to proceed to #2.

But, if your discovery from above shows the email to be legitimate, then someone is likely sending email on your behalf.  This changes things.  If you determine someone is sending emails on your behalf (or you aren’t sure), then you should take some action. Go on to #2.Virus Stamp

2. Change your email password(s) and security questions immediately.  If you have a lot of sensitive information on them, consider enabling 2-factor authentication.  If your email has been blocked or you can’t log in, Use the recovery methods provided by the email company.  Check your contacts list to make sure it’s still there.

3. Notify your friends that you’re account has probably been hacked and to not open any strange emails from you, especially attachments.

4. Virus Scans. Run your Antivirus Scanner in “Full Scan” mode.  This will take a while, but you need to do this.  Consider running a full Virus scan on your other computers to make sure nothing has spread.

What Virus Scan?  Use whatever virus scan you have installed or consider switching to Kaspersky or Avast, which have the top ratings in 2018, if you think it’s not finding the virus.  The best FREE antivirus is Avast, rated by Toms Guide and PC Magazine.

Free vs. Paid?  Well, under normal conditions I recommend using free virus scanners.  They usually take less resources and don’t bog the computer down when running a scan.  However, these are circumstances I’d recommend a paid service:

  • You have kids (or you) like to click on a lot of things, not always knowing if it’s safe.
  • Your computer stores a lot of sensitive information.
  • You want to “set it and forget it” and don’t mind paying for it.
  • You think you may have been hacked big time!  Now’s probably the time to pony-up.

 

Do I have a virus?

5. Run a good malware scanner.  Malwarebytes.com has a free one.  For serious hacks, consider paying for a virus and malware scanner combo.  Avast has a very reputable one this year.

6. Make a backup of your computer.  Everyone should have a backup! Google “creating an ‘Image’ of your hard drive.”  Keep this backup in case things get worse.

7. Contact Credit Agencies.  Depending on how much sensitive information is stored un-encrypted on your computer (ie. bank info, social security numbers), consider contacting the credit agencies to see if anything has been run through your credit.  Change banking and other sensitive website accounts you use online.  If you don’t save a lot of this type of information, you can skip the hassle.

8. Run a scan of your Windows Operating Files to be sure your operating system is running correctly.  To do this, in the search field, type “Command” without the quotes.  Right-click on the Command Program and “Run as Administrator.” On a command line type “sfc /scannow” without the quotes.

9. If you can’t access your computer, follow instructions given by LifeWire.

10. Monitor your computer!  If, after trying all of the above steps, it’s slow, freezes, restarts on its own, the next step is to reinstall Windows.  But that’s for another article!

Feel free to reach out to us if you need any help.  We offer free consultations by phone or through the help desk.  Happy computing!

 

Make a Website Yours – It’s Simple

Getting a website going doesn’t feel like small potatoes!  Creating logos, styling, creating the content, and cost can all seem so overwhelming. Where do I start?  Is it worth the investment?

Well, listen up!  I’ve got you covered.  I’ll share a few things to ease your mind.

Let this information sink in:  About 81% of adults have a smartphone and use it over 1 1/2 hours a day to look at media (stats by Nielson Co.).  It’s wild to think about!  That’s a whole lot of eye balls potentially viewing your products or services!

3 Benefits of a Self-Hosted Website

1. A Website Makes You Visible

It’s a noisy, distracting world out there.  How is your business seen unless it stands above the crowd?  Window shopping is now done by searching Google (notice I didn’t say Facebook) before making a purchase.  Your website becomes a platform for you to stand above the crowd.

2. You Can Be Heard

A website is your place to be heard.  Here’s where you share the heart of your business. Once you capture their attention, you are able to provide value to these prospects, even on a large scale.
You’ll then also be able to:
  • Provide Value
  • Give Credibility
  • Convey Your Company Values
  • Make Your Business Legitimate
  • Provide Another Marketing Channel

3. Engage With Your Audience

Social media has changed the way we do business.  A website is no different!  You can engage with your REAL customers that come to your site, collect information, gather feedback, and more!

 

Don’t Make It Too Complicated

Here’s what you need…

1. You need a website name (domain name).  Need help choosing a name?  Check out this article here.

2. You’ll need, well, a website.  This is the creative aspect and initial investment.  This may help you see what services you’d need.

3. Then you’ll need a company to “host” the website on their computer.

The hardest part is gathering good content and quality pictures!

All of these things can be done on your own or done with the help of a web design or marketing company.  Obviously the cheapest, but sometimes least professional way, is doing things all on your own.  If you are gifted this way, great!  I’m happy to be a resource for you to call with questions.

Doing it yourself can be tiring, though.  If it would distract you from what you really need to spend time doing, then have someone help you.  But avoid the temptation of using sites like Wix, Squarespace or WordPress.com, which you wouldn’t fully own in the end.

I’d love the opportunity just to talk with you about your specific situation and how we can meet your individual needs.

 

Get More Web Traffic

What You Need to Know

Is your website traffic flat? Or worse, declined?

 

You keep waiting for that search engine optimization (SEO) you just added to start working, but so far, nothing! You might have been even promised results and you’re left shaking your head.

 

Here Are 4 Ways to Increase Web Traffic

 

1. You Really Do Need SEO Setup

This is an ever-evolving animal. Google (and others) have a revolving algorithm that determines who gets put on top of the search results. Pick a very specific keyword for each page and post. That’s how you will get put to the top the fastest! Having a unique keyword will make you stand out.

If what you have isn’t working, try another word. Here’s a resource to check your key words. My go to plugin for SEO is Yoast SEO. This article will give you much more info on SEO and Keywords.

2. Use Google Search Console

Google Search Console is free and will help you find words to use for SEO; it will also show you what people were searching for to find your site and the number of hits you’ve had. You just have to have a Google account to make a search console.

3. Be Verified on Google My Business

“Local Search” is your new best friend, so be on Google My Business. There are ways that search engines will point users to local establishments when you are 1. closest AND 2. meet the search criteria. So when someone types “mens jewelry wilmington nc” into a local search, they will only see businesses that have “mens jewelry” as keywords closest to the center of Wilmington, NC.

To make sure you are verified, sign up for Google My Business here. Fill in as much info as you can, but most importantly your local address, business phone and website. Then be sure to have your business verified, usually by mail.

Then sit back and watch your business pop up in Google Maps searches! You can even download the Google Business App.

4. Stand Out From The Crowd

Whenever you notice your competition is not doing something that you know is popular, do it! For example: Your competition isn’t making videos. Video is so popular right now! So make some videos. Don’t be afraid, either. They never start out the best, but over time, you’ll get the hang of it.

 

One Step at a Time

 

There’s always more we can do to improve our SEO! Don’t let some email or marketer tell you they have the secret to getting you to the top of the search results. There IS NO secret!

If there’s anything I can do to clarify or help you wade through the SEO soup, please reach out. I’m happy to help or point you in the right direction.

Tech Tips

Tech Tips

1.  Be sure you have a Virus Scan program and it’s up-to-date. I never recommend anyone paying for this service. One, FREE versions are good enough. Second, the paid versions are too robust! I’ve seen computers run slower with paid programs. Windows 10 (and 8) come with FREE scanners, called Windows Defender, and it should be running automatically. You can check under SETTINGS to be sure. I think this works fine. For Windows 7 I have used Microsoft Security Essentials most (FREE) (link here) and AVG FREE VERSION (link here).

2. Run a Malware scanner? Anytime someone calls me about a slow computer, this is the first thing I recommend. Every month or 2, I run Malwarebytes (link here). It’s free to download and use, but it will want you to upgrade ($) after 30 days. Just say NO when the time comes.

3. Need Speed? You may know that you can upgrade most computers by adding memory (RAM). You also may know that you get what you pay for in a computer. So when you spent a lot when initially buying the computer, it may have been because of the motherboard or “CPU” being an Intel i5 or i7.

BUT a third way to speed up your computer (mostly Desktops because this is a cheaper trick) is to add a Solid State hard drive to your computer to run it on. Solid State drives are drives that don’t spin and use similar technology that’s in your smartphone.

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3 Myths to Starting an Email Campaign

Email Campaign Ripple Effect

Start an Email Campaign!

But do as I say, not as I do.

So you have a small business?  You have a limited (or no) marketing budget. Your time is very precious, but you want to connect with your customers or start an email campaign.  Sound right?  Well I agree and often don’t heed my own advise!

Emailing your fans and customers probably doesn’t seem to fit your schedule, then.  Few in the small business world do as awesomely consistent job with email marketing.  There’s always a “good” reason to put it off.  Topping the list seems to be: “I really don’t see a a direct return on this investment” and “I’m really not a writer” or “I hate getting emails, so they probably do too!”

Can I change your mind?  Since email marketing is (mostly) FREE, AND still has the greatest return on investment (ROI), then there must be something to it!

 

The 3 Myths

1. Email Doesn’t Provide a Good Return of Investment

Your email (as long as it isn’t marked as SPAM) WILL HIT your customers’ inbox 100% of the time!  How much time do you spend on Facebook or Twitter?  On average, less than 20% of those posts on social media will be fed to your followers.  That’s all!  Then why not spend a fraction of the time targeting a multitude of people?

How many times do you check your email each day?  Many people start and end their day checking their inbox.  Then, during the day, they check it several times.  Plan your email to send at a convenient time for your customers. Make it catch their eye and they will read it or come back to it.

 

2. I’m Not a Writer

Most people aren’t writers.  You don’t have to be.  Just pick your best time of the day and week that you aren’t trying to pressure yourself to be creative.  Then it’s just about practice.  Don’t try to make it the perfect newsletter.  Getting things done is better than perfection!

 

3. I Hate Getting Emails, So They Probably Do Too

Think again.  If you are sending information that your fans want, then why would they hate getting it?  There will be some on your list that never should be on your list.  Or were on the list for a season and now aren’t needing your information.  But it you target very specifically to these different groups of people, then BINGO.  Think about what value you can add to their world.  Then provide it!

Start by answering “what one or two questions to you always get people asking you?”  Then answer the question(s).  Provide a discount for the Holidays or offer a special invitation.  Share a story.  You might not get people to read your whole email, but if you are consistent in sending messages, eventually you will get noticed, or eventually they will have the time.

If you need additional information or help with this topic, I’d be happy to help.


 

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