Internet Safety Tutorial #3; Internet Explorer Pop Up Dangers – HaliPawz

I realize it has been a while since I have done one of my “internet safety” blogs and this one is long overdue.  This blog is not for the computer savvy for more for those who play with their computer, using it mostly to connect to family and friends, look items up, mostly using it for fun.  You may not realize how easy it is to get fooled into clicking something which could put dangerous spyware; (to learn more about spyware, click here) on your computer.  Those attempting to infiltrate your computer to get your information are getting better.  Think about a criminal in general, the more they perfect their craft, the better they are.  Well over time, that is what those trying to put spyware on your computer are doing…each and every day.

This tutorial is more for those using desktop or laptop computers.  First, I can not stress enough how important it is to have some type of anti-spyware, anti-virus software on your computer.  There are a variety of good ones.  I am not an expert on them, so I will turn to the experts.  PCMag wrote an article on the best ones for 2015.  It is definitely worth the read.

Today I am sharing a very common problem you will see on a lot of desktop and laptop computers running on Windows.

Have you ever seen a notice like this pop up on a screen when you have internet explore (the internet) open?

Media Player HD Spam

The first thing to notice is it looks legit.  Before you click anything, take a minute and think; Did I request anything that would open my media player (in case you don’t know, your media player is what plays songs, videos, etc.)

The next thing to do is to look at the URL and see where it is from.  The URL is the area at the top of your screen that you type in the .com you are going to.

Internet Safety Tutorial Feb 2015

As you can see, this one says “ad120” so it is a clear guess it is some type of advertisement or spyware, but they are not always this clear.

Another example of attempted spyware:


Just because you have an alert does not mean it is from your computer!  It does not mean your computer is outdated.  Again, make sure to look at the URL.

Internet Safety Tutorial Feb 2015 2

If you are not sure, CLOSE the screen.  Run a computer check if you feel you need to.  Run a virus check.  Bottom line, don’t take a chance, you don’t need to give a hacker access to your computer.

Staying safe when on the internet isn’t difficult, you just have to take a minute and THINK about what you are seeing on your screen before clicking “ok”. Use this thought before clicking on anything on the internet, not just on internet explorer but on social media links and emails.

Protect the SHARE button; keep the hate bandwagon in the station-HaliPawz

I should be asleep right now. I fell asleep downstairs watching tv, woke up around 2:30am, headed up to bed with the thought I would listen to the latest Randomocity podcast and then go to bed. These guys crack me up and I am so excited about getting the opportunity to work with them. That’s a story for later!

I couldn’t sleep. My brain is racing. So many things happening right now. I go where everyone who can’t sleep goes; social media. Amongst the latest YouTube mash-ups, the puppy memes, and friend updates, I come across the following picture


with the poster encouraging others to stop supporting the brand.

My first thought was something doesn’t seem right about it. The wording in the article was off. Michael Kors is a business man. I am in no way saying a business man cannot be racist, but the actual wording did not seem legit. I am not naive to the fact racism exists. I’m not a Michael Kors fan per se but if he was truly, openly, racist, I would be an advocate of sharing the information with everyone I know so they had the knowledge to do with it what they chose. On the flip side, I hate a business being boycotted or deemed racist due to the rapid “social media hate spread” that exists in our world today.

My investigative mind wasn’t going to stop until I dug into this. So much for my light, happy, puppy pic sharing mood…I needed to know. Within 30 seconds, I had my confirmation. It was fake. In my defense, if it had been a link on the post I saw, I would have known quicker, but since it was just a picture, I had to dig further. The article was written on a site where they have the disclaimer “all of the articles published on the site are “complete fiction.” Question answered. I felt obliged to go and post in the comments, knowing it doesn’t always change opinions. Once it’s out there and spread throughout social media, it will be believed by many as fact. The damage is done. Will it affect Michael Kors business? Maybe, maybe not. I won’t speculate.

This leads me to a few other concerns. The first is WHY these sites can continue to post very untrue statements about people, make them appear legit, and because of a hidden disclaimer, they can not be held responsible for any damage to a reputation or business?

Why do people continue to SHARE & COMMENT on things without either viewing the source (I try to make a mental note of the fictional sites so when I see a link back to them, I know it isn’t true) or taking the minute to just look into it further if the information you’re seeing / reading sounds a little far-fetched. Why have we reached the point in our society where we are so quick to accept a person is bad, a person is secretly racist, the person(s) involved did a bad thing. We assume the worst a lot quicker than assuming the best anymore. I admit I am guilty of it sometimes. Is there so much wrong today it is easy to accept it? That saddens me a little.

My last thought….and this is probably the one troubling me even more; is SOMEONE wrote the words Michael Kors assumably said. The article stated:

“Just for the sake of a sale I have to deal with women like Nicki Minaj? I’d rather not. After all my fans made me money, It’s only fair I be honest and let them know how I really feel,” said [the] CEO of Michael Kors on his twitter account.

The fashion industry is shocked from Michael Kor’s Ceo offensive statement when he said “I’m tired of pretending to like blacks.”

Early Tuesday morning Michael Kors took to his twitter page to express his true feelings about blacks. Considering every black person either has or knows someone with a MK watch, MK Purse or MK key chain this might affect Michael Kors sales.

“I can’t stomach the thought of my Michael Kors purses being stuffed with synthetic hair, weave or what ever else my fans are into.” Said Michael Kors.

Is it just me or is there a lot of HATE in those words? It made me wonder just how full of racism is the person who wrote it? Someone used the power of a fictional accusation to write how they felt. The last part about synthetic hair, weaves, etc really hit me. It just seemed to ooze with hatred.

Someone who hides their racism behind fictional writing to the extent this writer did is someone I would be more concerned about than the person who shows their ignorance or racism openly.

I have said it so many times and I will continue to say it. If our country would just learn to RESPECT other people, we wouldn’t have so many issues. You don’t have to like everyone if you don’t want to, but be respectful of one another. Have a respect for self. Have a respect for life. So many problems would be solved with respect.

Be mindful of what you share on social media. Take a minute to verify. Look to see where the source is. Here is a good article with the list of fake news websites.

Remember, just because it looks legit, doesn’t always MEAN it is legit. Use caution. Use thought. Most of all, protect the share button like you would want someone to do for you.

Internet Security – Security Questions-HaliPawz

If you are anything like me, you HATE the dreaded security questions when you go to register on a new site. They can be confusing sometimes, they are like those word problems we had in school. Sometimes worded just right that they trip you up!

I noticed that financial institutions have gotten even more complicated with their questions. “who was the best man at your patents wedding?”, “What was the house number of the house you lived in 3rd grade?” I read some of them and thought, wow, I don’t know an answer to over half of these….imagine someone who came from a broken home or moved around a lot. What about someone in and out of foster homes? The questions could get a little ridiculous. They could even sink a depressed person into deeper depression!

I know the questions are there to protect us. To make sure that only we are accessing that site, no one else. For that, I am appreciative. Not all of them are that complicated.

Today’s post is about helping you protect yourself, even with these security questions. With the social media ever-present in all our lives, a lot of the basic security question’s answers could be found using your photo album and your friends list. You want to be able to answer the questions but not let anyone else be able to answer them.

1. Use formal answers instead of shortened. For example, if the question is, “What is the name of the High School you attended?” Don’t put “GVHS” if it’s all over pictures, you might want to put Green Valley or even Green Valley High (leaving out the word High or High School).

2. Use Various punctuation. Most security questions are case-sensitive; meaning upper case and lower case must be how you typed your answer. Remember that most people are lazy with their security question answers and leave them all lower case or only capitalize the first letter of the first word. Do not do this! Mix it up a little as long as YOU remember what you did. You could even reverse it. For example: gREEN vALLEY hIGH sCHOOL

3. Try not to use just numbers. Even when the security question is your date of birth, try spelling it out instead of just numbers or using the punctuation associated with your number on a keyboard. For example, instead of putting 28, put ]*

4. Do not answer things that put all of your most basic questions in one spot! I have seen this going around Facebook a couple of times and cringe when I see it.


It is giving a potential hacker so much key information. All they have to do is sit and wait for your friends to comment on them. Over a few days they will have almost all if the answers at their fingertips. Maybe not to your most secured sites, like those crazy financial institutions, but it might give them enough to hack into your computer and then access all that information.

5. Use past pet’s named instead of current or use the name you call them instead of what you type. For example, I might put “ZipZip” instead if “Zipper”. A name only I use. That way, when someone is going through my photos and see “Zipper” or even “Zip” on all my photos, they still don’t have the answer to: “What is your pet’s name?”

So remember, the next time you are signing onto a new site, don’t blow through the security questions. Take a minute to really answer them. Use some creativity but not so much that you won’t remember what you put! You may even want to go in and update some of your old ones.

Have fun on the internet but also stay safe!

Internet Safety Tutorial #2 – Opening Email-HaliPawz

So it is time for another Internet Safety Tutorial. I know that our email in boxes can get inundated with email and we don’t always have the time to go through them, especially for those that just have one email address (or addy for short). I will address that in another tip. Today is just about keeping yourself safe when you are opening email.

The first thing I want to say is that if you EVER receive an email from a “family member” saying that they were traveling overseas and their wallet was stolen, please send money….DO NOT SEND MONEY!!!!! EVER!!!!! What happened is somehow, their Social Media site (generally Facebook) was hacked and they are email everyone in their friends list. I know for those of you that are reading this that are not internet savvy, it is difficult to understand how this all happens, but trust me, it does. A family member would NEVER contact you this way. I know that it seems like it is coming from their email and you want to help a loved one, but it would never happen that way. Do not do it. PLEASE!!!! Side note, even though this is about Internet Safety, the same would go for a phone call from a third-party. Never send money because you think a family member is stranded somewhere unless you talk to THAT family member directly! Even overseas, if something like that should happen to a family member, there are places they could go, their hotel would let them contact you, the police, US Embassy, etc. It would not be through a third-party that you do not know!

Now, that leads me to opening email in general. For the most part, the email you receive is safe and you do not have to worry about it. The ones I am focusing on in this blog are the ones that seem to trip some people up.

The first one I am going to focus on is when it looks legitimate at first glance but it shows up in your junk email. Use the filters in your junk email for a reason! They catch things internally that you might not always see at first glance.

I recently received an email Titled “expedited Shipping” Now, I have been ordering a few things lately, so I thought, maybe it isn’t really junk mail, it’s a notice of something arriving. Then I opened it and I realized right away that it was junk. Not everyone would though.

This is what it looked like:

Screen shot of potential dangerous junk mail

Screen shot of potential dangerous junk mail

If you notice, it has USPS on it, so you would think that it was sent from them. But it wasn’t the typical logo and style of USPS so that had me on alert. If you weren’t familiar with their style of email or if you didn’t catch subtle things like that, it might have you fooled.

With my notes

With my notes

Now, here are some basic steps to help keep you safe. The first thing you want to do is look for the email address of the sender….not just what they listed as the title. For example, “Expedited Shipping” isn’t their email address, all email addresses end in always look at the name AFTER the @ sign. That is the key to who it is from. If you are looking at the email from a tablet or smart phone, you may have to click more or click on the name to see the email address. It is IMPORTANT that you do that! In this case, this was the email address:

The Email Address

The Email Address

It was clear that it was not from anyone at the USPS. If it was, the email would have been something like At this point, you would be best to just delete it and move on.

For those that like to go the extra step to prove that it isn’t the right thing to do….If you notice in the pic up above, I said that you could right-click on the “Print Address Label” and copy the path. If you are looking at the email on your computer, you can also often click properties after you right-click and it will show you the path. For this blog, I am showing you a sample of what it would look like on an iPhone. I held down over the “Print Address Label” and then clicked “copy”. From there, I opened up a blank text message screen, held down over the area you text in, and clicked “paste”. This is what it showed me….

The path

The path

The sender’s whole goal is to get you to click on “Print Address Label” In doing this, it may have allowed them to put a virus on your computer, it may have allowed them access to your computer to get into your files. There is no telling WHY and WHAT they had in mind. By doing these few extra steps, you can save yourself a lot of headache.

Another popular trick that is happening is that the sender’s name may be a name you recognize, maybe even someone you have emailed in the past, and the spelling is the exact same….do not be fooled! If it ended up in your JUNK or SPAM folder, there is probably a reason. Or if it just says “Web Page for __________ (your name)” BE SUSPICIOUS!!!! Chances are, it’s SPAM.

Junk or spam from a name I know

Junk or spam from a name I know

Now, because it was in my junk email AND it was just a generic title, I took the one extra step and click to see the email address. This is what I saw:

Email Addy not right

Email Addy not right

These are just a few of the examples of how to protect yourself from opening bad emails or causing damage to your computer or your personal information.

I hope this helps.

Internet Safety Tutorial #1 – Facebook Giveaways – HaliPawz

It happens to the best of us. We get overwhelmed with everything on social media and we miss those dreaded problem sites. Those moments a friend or family member shares or likes a posting on Facebook from companies that are just using it to spam their friends! I recently was talking to a couple of family members about when to click and when not to and they had no clue about some of the basic tell-tale signs so I thought I would take the time to help educate everyone. Will this stop all of the SPAM? No, not at all. Will it help? YES!!!! Please do some due diligence before you start clicking and liking pages on Facebook. This first tutorial is focused on those amazing giveaways that everyone wants to win.

Here are a couple of steps to keep you and your friends from getting hacked or SPAM.

Step 1. LOOK at the offer. I mean, REALLY look at the offer. If it seems like it is an amazing offer that a company has NEVER given away before…..chances are, it’s going to be easy to spot the tell-tale signs of a fake. You should already be on alert that there may be a problem with it.

Facebook giveaway

Facebook giveaway

Step 2. Click on the business name that is attached to the item being shared. It should take you to their business page or group page. This is where a lot of information is found. Do not go by the number of “likes” a business has because many people are duped. They believe that if their friend shared it, it must be reputable. NOT TRUE!!!! Once you are on that page, take a look at it. Is it a company you are familiar with? For the sake of this blog, I am using a giveaway that was posted for Southwest Airline. They are a large company that many people are familiar with. The first thing to look for is the spelling of the business. The actual spelling is Southwest Airlines (notice the s is missing from Airlines). Large corporations aren’t going to spell their business name wrong. The next thing to look for with a large corporation is a blue and white check mark after their name. That check mark means Facebook (and twitter) have done the work for you and verified that it is the legitimate company. I have included some samples for you to see the difference. Those two things right there will have you stopping the “share” before more people are affected.

Let’s talk about the smaller companies….the ones that Facebook hasn’t deemed big enough to verify. The first thing you want to look at is when was their Facebook page started? How many other posts are on the page? If that particular give-away is their ONLY post (even if it’s multiple times) then it probably isn’t a valid company. For example, I saw a couple of friends share a Camaro give-away from a smaller company. When I went to that site, the only posts were about that give-away and nothing else. The page had just been started in 2014. Chances are, a company that just entered into the world of social media doesn’t have the capital to give-away a $20,000+ prize. You can find all of their posts if you scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on “More posts”. Most companies doing a large give-away have been on Facebook for a few years.

Step 3. If you have done the following steps and you still aren’t sure if it the real thing…..go into the search box of Facebook and type in the company that you believe is doing the give-away. Find the one that has the verification mark next to it and go to their page. If there is no mention of the give-away, then it isn’t happening!

Verified and non Verified Southwest Airlines Companies

Verified and non Verified Southwest Airlines Companies

Another one that is shared a lot is Walt Disney Corporation. Here is an example of all of their verified entities and the fake ones

Verified Walt Disney Corp

Verified Walt Disney Corp

Step 4. IGNORE THE TEMPTATION TO SHARE BAD GIVEAWAYS!!!!! It’s that simple. You will help cut down on the dangerous SPAM emails that you and your friends receive that could potentially give your computer a virus or allow someone to hack into your Facebook to get detailed information on you.

The BAD company

The BAD company

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines

Just taking a few extra seconds and paying attention to some small details will help keep your Facebook perusal safe and fun!

Thanks everyone!