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What is a Phishing and How to Avoid a Scam
Whether you realize it or not, you have likely been targeted or know someone that has been targeted by a phishing scam. They are the most common cyber incursion today with scam attempts steadily increasing over the past several years. Good news is you can avoid falling into phishing traps with a few simple best practices.
What is it?
Phishing is one of the simplest forms of a cyber scam —most often coming in the form of an email or text message. The goal is to gain your personal identification information. This means passwords, account numbers, credit card numbers, social security numbers or anything that can be used to take your identity. Although email and text messages are the most common form, phishing has spread to social media and messaging apps.
How does it work?
These messages usually try to masquerade as a company you know and trust. To better pass for the company and further gain your trust, they will add little details like the company’s logo to the message. Logos for major organizations are often available online for anyone to download and use. Scammers will even go as far as creating a landing page (if not an entire website) that looks like it would belong to that company.
The content of the message will vary, but most often with an end goal of leading you to a fake website or to unwittingly download and install malware. Be aware there are long game schemes as well. Hackers using fake social media profiles have been known to build rapport with a victim over several months or even years. Once that trust is established, a ploy is used to get personal information handed over to them.
What can I do?
Knowing what phishing attacks are gives you an advantage and promotes remaining guarded —especially with emails from unrecognized sources. The vast majority of these attacks have red flags to look out for. Some key indicators include:
Poor spelling and grammar. Basic errors are common in messages. Official correspondence from major organizations are likely to be professionally written.
Suspicious website URLs. Fake websites are created to lead victims to. These websites (like the messages) will have details that seem off. Don’t brush it off. Take time to give the link a second examination and look for text that doesn’t seem to fit.
A strange sender address. This is something that usually can’t be faked. Even when everything in the email looks accurate, including a proper logo, professionally written message and correct company information below, the sender address could be the giveaway.
Offers too good to be true. “Your subscription is ending soon. Click below for a lifetime subscription for only 99¢ now available for a limited time.” If you find this in your inbox, chances are it really is too good to be true.
Below is an example of a previous email sent to our customers by a scammer. Look closely and see if you can find some indications this is a fake.
At a glance, this could pass for an official correspondence from Reliance Connects. It’s not until you look closely at the details that you realize there is something phishy about this email and doesn’t sit quite right with you. Well, you would be correct. We have highlighted some of the key indicators found in this message below.
One of the best things you can do is listen to your instincts. Even if you can’t peg exactly what is wrong or bothering you with the message. Call the company’s official number that you have used in the past and double-check the validity of the message. You could be doing yourself a huge favor.
What is my devices max wi-fi speed?
It doesn’t get much more frustrating than upgrading to a high-speed internet package and then experiencing sluggish performance when you connect your smartphone. It doesn’t mean the speed isn’t there and available for you. It may be your devices are not capable of supporting the speed you subscribed to and they are only giving you the best they can. If you run a speed test on each device, you might notice each device’s “best” might vary.
Think about Wi-Fi as speaking a language. Your router speaks this language to your connected devices. There are five different Wi-Fi languages with a sixth on the way. Wi-Fi 1-3 are the slowest of the Wi-Fi languages and are only found in older devices. Wi-Fi 4 and 5 are capable of much faster speeds and are found in new devices.
Whatever device you have connected, your Reliance Connects provided router is backwards compatible —basically meaning it can speak any Wi-Fi language. The problem comes when only one device can speak at a time.
Imagine a circle. At the center of that circle is your router. Surrounding it are all your connected devices. Just like most people, the router can’t understand all the devices at one. So, a talking stick is used. Each device can only communicate with the router when it holds the talking stick. Each device can only hold the talking stick for a specific amount of time before it has to pass it on and each device has to have a turn as long as it sits in the circle.
When all the connected devices are speaking the same language, it works great! Especially if that language is Wi-Fi 5. All of this is happening in milliseconds and when devices are speaking Wi-Fi 5, that talking stick gets passed around so fast, you don’t notice any lags. However, things begin to slow down when you have one or more devices in the circle that speak a different language than the rest. Because the router communicates with only one device at a time, it now has to take the time to switch the language it’s speaking to communicate with that device and then take time to switch back. This alone can eat up to 30% of your subscribed speed. This is because the talking stick is moving so fast around the circle, the router is constantly having to take a moment to switch languages.
A connected device’s age, type, and software it’s running all factor into what speeds it can support. The chart below will give you a general idea of what speed each device is capable of, based on the type of device and language it speaks.
How Does Wi-Fi Work?
We use it every day. We get frustrated when it lags or doesn’t work. Wi-Fi has become an integral part of the way we live. But do you really know how it works? There is actually a lot going on in the airspace around our home that we can’t see or hear. Understanding how it works will help you get the most out of your internet package.
To connect your wireless devices to Wi-Fi, you need a router setup in your home. Modern day routers have come a long way and now actually often encompass several devices into one device. An ethernet cable is plugged into your router that brings the internet to your home.
Routers are often updated and improved to handle faster speeds and communicate between devices more efficiently. Recently, new routers can communicate to multiple devices at a time as well as on different frequencies. This helps eliminate over-crowding and brings optimal speeds to all capable devices.
Once the router is setup and you begin connecting wireless devices to it, you can now access the internet! The router communicates with your devices through radio wave frequencies of 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. 2.4 GHz can provide coverage for a wider area but is often slow. 5 GHz provides coverage for a smaller area but can bring you faster speeds. Newer routers and devices are dual-band which means they can work on either frequency. This is especially helpful because the 2.4 GHz airspace is often over-crowded. Other devices such as baby monitors, microwaves and garage door openers also communicate using the same frequencies and can disrupt or slow down your internet speed. 5 GHz offers more private space dedicated to you and your devices. The only problem is it has a harder time travelling through solid objects like walls or bookshelves.
Speaking Different Languages
All connected devices speak a certain language. Languages range from Wi-Fi 1 (the oldest and slowest language) to Wi-Fi 5 (the newest and fastest language.) Older devices tend to speak slower languages while newer devices tend to speak faster languages. Your Reliance Connects provided router can understand each of these languages. If you have too many connected devices all trying to communicate with your router at the same time, you will begin running into speed issues. Especially if you have connected devices speaking different languages. Although your router can communicate with each one, the router still needs to take some time to switch the language it’s speaking to understand the device that is trying to communicate with it.
You can use the analogy of the talking stick. All connected devices get a turn with the talking stick, even if it’s just to pass it on. They can only communicate when they are in possession of the talking stick. On top of that, each device is only allotted a certain amount of time with the talking stick before having to pass it along. If it does not finish what its communicating, it needs to wait until it gets the talking stick back before continuing.
Reliance Connects is now offering a high-powered dual band AC Wi-Fi router for a low monthly charge. This means worry free replacement and gives our support team more tools to assist you if you do have troubles. What’s even better is your Reliance Connects provided routers are configured to automagically switch devices to less crowded frequencies as needed. This means each device has more opportunity to communicate. Coming soon, we’ll have an app so that you have more control over your home. Set parental controls, do speed tests, change your Wi-Fi password and more!
If you have any issues with your router, please contact our Help Desk. The Reliance Connects Help Desk is available Monday-Friday from 7am-9pm and Saturday-Sunday from 8am-5pm. If there are any problems that come up with a rented router, please don’t hesitate to call us.
In Estacada & Corbett 503.630.8909
In Mesquite 702.346.0040
In Elkton, Haines and Antelope Toll free 1-866-894-4657
Smartphone Hidden Tips
Smart phones are constantly being updated with new features. Many of these features go unnoticed. Try these tips to use your smart phone to its fullest potential. Today’s smartphones are powerful and feature-packed, we are sharing just a few of the more practical hidden features found in iPhones and Androids.
Silence Unknown Callers: Have you ever been plagued with random phone calls from numbers around the world, robo calls, or telemarketers looking to save you money on your insurance? iPhone has the exact feature you need to end it! The Silence Unknown Callers function sends calls from unknown numbers directly to voicemail and displayed on your Recent list. Numbers that are in your contacts, recently called and Siri suggestions will continue to ring when they call you. To turn this feature on:
- . Open Settings
- . Tap on “Phone”
- . Toggle the Silence Unknown Callers button to on
Group FaceTime Call: Don’t worry about downloading and setting up accounts with Zoom or Skype to have group video conference calls! With this iPhone feature, you can add up to 31 people to the same FaceTime call. Here’s how to do it:
- . Open the FaceTime app on your iPhone
- . Tap the + button on the top right of your screen
- . Enter the name or number of the person you want to call first
- . Enter up to 30 additional contacts
- . Tap Video or Audio to place your FaceTime call
Customize Text Messages When Screening A Call: We all get busy and sometimes must ignore a phone call. It doesn’t mean you have you leave your friends or family hanging though. Your iPhone has three pre-written text options you can send instantly. These messages can be customized to suit your style/circumstances. Here’s how to edit them:
- . Open your Settings app
- . Tap on “Phone”
- . Tap on “Respond with Text”
- . Tap which field you want to edit
- . Enter new text (these automatically save when you exit)
Smart Lock: Smart lock is a great feature that give you more control over your lock screen. It sets up geofencing so when you enter certain trusted locations, your phone’s lock screen is disabled. You can setup an unlimited amount of locations such as home, work, school, church, etc. So, when your phone is lying next to you in the office, you needn’t unlock it numerous times throughout the day. To setup Smart Lock:
- . Open your Settings
- . Tap on “General”
- . Tap on “Lock Screen & Security” or “Security & Privacy”
- . Tap on “Trust Agents”
- . Toggle the Smart Lock button on and enter your pin
- . In the same area, setup your trusted locations
One-Handed Mode in Gboard: If you’re one that prefers texting one handed, this feature was made specifically for you. When activated, the keyboard shifts over to either the left or the right (depending on your dominant hand) to easier reach all the keys using only one hand. To activate:
- . With the keyboard open long-press on the comma
- . Slide over to the icon that looks like a hand holding a box
- . Designate which hand you use
Split-Screen Mode: Do you ever jump back and forth between two apps? This cool feature splits your screen and allows you access to both at once. You can use this in either portrait mode (in which the apps are stacked one on top of the other) or in landscape mode (in which the apps appear side by side). To activate:
- . Make sure both apps you want to use are open
- . With one of them open on screen, long-press on the Recent Apps button (this is the square icon to the right of the home button)
- . A list of available open apps comes up. Select the second app you would like to use.
These are only a few of the long list of less well-known features available in iPhones or Androids. Updating your operating systems regularly will help ensure your phone functions properly and makes the latest features available. Take a little time and do some exploring and see what other fun/useful features you can find!
There’s An App For That: 10 Apps Everyone Should Have
So long are the days of boring single ability phones! From rotary dial phones to phones that can take care of pretty much everything. What do you think Alexander Graham Bell would think of the modern-day smart phone? What’s more, our phones actually CONTINUE to become more and more useful (a lot of that use being meaningless) through the development of apps.
There are currently over two million apps available right now with thousands more being released daily. Have you ever needed to run to the bathroom in the middle of a movie, but didn’t want to miss anything good? Well, there’s an app for that! RunPee is an app that tells you the optimal time during any movie to run to the bathroom. Just type the movie title in and you’re set to schedule the perfect break. Ever want to be a ghost hunter? Don’t worry, there’s an app for that! Ghost EMF Meter is an app when open will take the reading of any room and alert you of any paranormal activity.
All fun aside, there really are some spectacular apps out there that can make everyone’s life a little bit easier. Here is the countdown of our top 10 most practical apps everyone should have.
Venmo is a mobile peer-to-peer payment service app. You are able to send and request money from anyone with a Venmo account. It takes the chore away from reimbursing friends or family members for dinner or other outings. Instead of handling cash or handing over a credit card, Venmo keeps the transaction clean and secure. Debuting in 2009, Venmo is so popular now that many vendors or merchandisers now accept payment through the app.
Life 360 is a family location and alert app. The app allows you to setup locations and alerts to track when family members arrive at home, work, school or other locations you setup. It has the capability of sharing driving speed, travel time and even has crash detection that will alert other family members and emergency response units immediately.
Uber is a ride-hailing app that allows you to submit a trip request that is automatically sent to Uber drivers nearest you. Once the request is accepted, the driver makes their way to your location and you are alerted of wait time and what vehicle to keep an eye out for. Don’t worry about having cash on hand or pulling out your wallet either. The app calculates the distance and fare and handles the transaction through the app with your selected payment method.
GroupMe is group messaging app that helps you stay coordinated with coworkers, family or any group of people you want to stay connected with. You can create as many groups as you’d like at no cost. It’s a simple way to stay in touch by sending texts, GIFs, images and videos. It is also parent friendly by allowing parents to use third-party apps, like Bark, to monitor potential cyberbullying, sexting, or drug content.
CamScanner is a handy mobile app that turns your phone into a document scanner. Using the camera on your phone, it quickly turns the image into a pdf that can then be shared via email. It offers smart cropping and auto enhancing to create clear and sharp looking documents. The batch feature allows you to scan multiple pages and then bundle them into one clean pdf file. You can add notes, tags, merge with other documents, password protect and more.
Although not available in all cities yet, PostMates is a food delivery service app. You can place an order from any number of available restaurants through the app and the food is delivered to your designated location. All charges are taken care of through the app. And don’t worry, the list of restaurants is ever growing. You are sure to find some of your favorite lunch-time eateries on the list!
Have you ever been out and heard a song playing that you really liked and wish you knew the name so you could download it later? Shazam is the app you need! Open the app and with just one press of a button, Shazam will “listen” to the music and tell you the name and artist within seconds. It will even store the information for you so you can look it up later.
Audible unquestionably has the biggest collection of available audiobook titles at nearly half a million. There are many unique features included in each subscription to enhance your experience. Some of these include bookmarking, recording snippets, play speed control and personal tracking. All audiobooks purchased are stored in your account library. They can be downloaded to your device or kept stored in the cloud. Cancelling your subscription does not mean losing any of your purchased books. Listen to a book and hate it? Don’t worry, Audible allows you to trade those titles in for a new book at no extra charge.
Amazon is one of the biggest names in business. Through their app, you can find just about anything you could ever want/need and have it delivered to your front door. With a growing number of warehouses, many items can be delivered to you within a day or two. Beyond shopping, Amazon also has Amazon Music and Prime Video that all link to the same account. Amazon Music membership offers you access to over forty million songs. Prime Video gives you access to over 4,000 movies and tv shows similar and has a dashboard similar to Netflix or Hulu.
If you tend to travel or have extra lodging available, Airbnb is a must. This app connects people looking to rent out their homes with travelers looking for accommodations. It is an easy way for participants looking to host to make some money. If you have a listing, it is completely free to list on the app with photos and written descriptions. For travelers, you can perform a detailed search of the type of accommodations you are looking for. You can find anything from a single room or apartment to yachts or even a castle! Of course this varies by location. Airbnb is established in a little less than 200 countries around the world!