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  • Patch lady – Make sure your 1099s are private

    Posted on February 11th, 2019 at 22:31 Susan Bradley Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    A bit off topic to patching – and very much USA centric at this time.  I’ll urge you to review your tax notices (or 1099s) (**) that you should have received – or are receiving – at this time.  Make sure that if they are mailed to you that your bank or sender has blanked out the tax identification number so that only the last four digits are listed.  Make sure that the entire social security number is not listed – especially if you get your tax documents emailed to you insecurely or mailed to you.

    I live in a neighborhood where the mailboxes are out on the street in unlocked mailboxes.  I have recently installed an alert on my mailbox that sends me a text message and email alert every time the door to my mailbox is opened.  Twice since I have installed it, I’ve seen people early in the morning and late at night go down the street opening the doors of the mailboxes obviously looking for tax documents and or refund checks.

    (On a geek note they use Amazon web services notification to send an email and text with the circuit of the magnet is broken when the door to the mailbox is open.  It hooks to my wifi so that I can get the alerts.  Obviously now I need to install a camera that can grab the car license number as someone opens the door to the mailbox as stealing mail is a crime.) 

    Also make sure anything emailed to you doesn’t include your full social security number.  If anyone sends you a document and doesn’t demand that you go through a slightly annoying process of logging into something, or providing a password, or touching your toes, or something else annoying and instead just emails you a pdf of sensitive information that you can read immediately after opening the pdf, so can the attackers.  Complain to any vendor, bank, financial institution and accounting firm and hold them accountable to doing a better job to keeping your identity secure.

    And if you think adding a four digit pin to a pdf helps to make it secure, there are a number of tools that will remove passwords from pdfs in a short amount of time.

    My sister has had tax identity theft and she has to provide a PIN number when she files her tax return.  Unfortunately those of us who have not had our identity stolen through the IRS system can’t get this same multi factor authentication process because the tax computers are a bit too archaic and there isn’t enough funds set aside to afford multi factor authentication for all of us taxpayers (I’m not kidding).

    So my recommendation is to file as early as you can as the person who files earliest (either the identity thieves or you) gets first into the system.

    Remember that the IRS never ever calls you.  Ever.  Nor do they email you.  They also don’t call demanding payment or a credit card number and say that they will be there soon to arrest you.    The IRS audit process is a slow slow process and you will get many things mailed to you over time.  And especially they do not call with a thick foreign accent pretending to be from an area code that could be an IRS center (VOIP can be made to look like it’s from a USA number even when they are calling from overseas).

    So take a look at those tax documents you are getting and see how private they are.  Complain when they aren’t.

     

    (**)  1099’s is the number of the form that the USA government requires that businesses send to recipients of bank interest, dividends, non employee compensation.  You may also receive your salary on a form W-2 that has your tax identification number.  For anyone overseas, think about any document that gets sent to you that has sensitive information on it.  Do you want it emailed to you just as an email attachment?  If no, take the time to reach out to the sender and ask them that they do something better to protect your information.

  • MS-DEFCON 2: It’s time, once again, to make sure Windows Automatic Updating is blocked

    Posted on February 11th, 2019 at 06:12 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Tomorrow’s Patch Tuesday so that means today is… Block Monday. As in blockhead. Don’t be one. Make sure you have Automatic Update well and thoroughly turned off.

    Full step-by-step details in Computerworld Woody on Windows.

    This bears repeating:

    The current beta test version of the next (“19H1” or “1903”) version of Win10 Home includes the ability to Pause updates for seven days. While that’s certainly a step in the right direction, it doesn’t help much in the real world:

    • You can only Pause once, and only for seven days
    • You can’t Pause again without accepting all backed-up updates in the interim
    • You have to know in advance that a bad update is coming down the pike –  there’s no warning

    All of which makes Win10 Home “Pause updates” a really nifty marketing setting (“Look! You can pause updates in Win10 Home!”) that’s basically useless. Unless you’re Carnac the Magnificent.

  • Woody’s Windows Watch: Where we’re headed with Windows Secrets

    Posted on February 11th, 2019 at 05:21 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    The migration has begun. It’s just that… you can’t see it yet. Soon, the massive Windows Secrets Lounge will merge into the AskWoody Lounge. We’re gonna swallow that whale.

    Here’s what you need to know — and what you can do to prepare — to make the move.

    Short version: You don’t have to do anything, but it’ll be easier for Windows Secrets Loungers to register a new account here on AskWoody (if you don’t have one already) now, in preparation.

    Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes are never easy. But I think this one will be very worthwhile, for all of us.

    In the new AskWoody Plus Newsletter issue 16.5.0 – out this morning.

  • LangaList: Three somewhat unusual, but interesting, reader queries

    Posted on February 11th, 2019 at 05:15 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Fred Langa’s back in the groove. This week he tackles three strange reader questions:

    • Getting rid of unnecessary language files
    • When you plug a smartphone into a PC, they used to act like dumb flash drives. Now they don’t. Why?
    • Is a drive heavier, by a tiny amount when it’s full?

    Fascinating stuff about fentograms and MTP.

    In the new AskWoody Plus Newsletter issue 16.5.0 – out this morning.

  • Best Practices: Ten tools and tips for better (and cheaper!) printing

    Posted on February 11th, 2019 at 05:09 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Michael Lasky returns with insider information about printers, how they (mis)behave, and what you can do about it.

    Let me say it for you, “Hey! I didn’t know that!”

    In the new AskWoody Plus Newsletter issue 16.5.0 – out this morning.

  • Patch Lady: Still on Win7? Get over it, for security’s sake

    Posted on February 11th, 2019 at 05:02 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Are you still running Windows 7? And if so, are you ready for its official end early next year?

    Here’s why I think moving to Windows 10 now is wiser than sticking with an OS that will become more and more unsecure.

    Susan Bradley takes a look at the risks of continuing beyond Jan. 14, 2020, with everybody’s favorite operating system. Well, almost everybody’s.

    In the new AskWoody Plus Newsletter issue 16.5.0 – out this morning.