Category Archives: Uncategorized

A trustworthy way to get rid of Mac Crapware

After nearly four decades of consulting, I’m pretty jaded about programs that claim to do good things, and turn out to be lying. MacKeeper, CleanMyMac, and so forth.  Those are nasty “nagware” that exists to vacuum money out of your pockets.  They are VERY difficult to remove.

I’m glad to say that there is a better choice, and it costs you nothing unless you CHOOSE to keep using it.  I don’t, usually.

Malwarebytes for the Mac is being aggressively recommended by Apple during support calls. That’s the only reason why I even bothered to look at it. I’ve been fooled before.

Here is how I use it when I am working on untangling a Mac:

I download the free demo version of Malwarebytes:

https://www.malwarebytes.com

Then, I install it. When asked if I want to “Try Premium”, I say “No thanks, I just want to scan”. Then, I click “Scan Now.”

Nearly 100 percent of the time it FINDS real, authentically bad stuff that has snuck by the Mac owner’s notice. This malware exists because of those damn “Click here to upgrade your Flash Player” web-pages. Somebody downloads and installs Flash Player, along with a bunch of nasty programs that hijack the web-browser, block emails and slow everything down.

After scanning and deleting the bad programs, pull down Malwarebytes’ Help menu, and choose “Uninstall Malwarebytes”.

It leaves NOTHING of itself behind, which I find to be laudable. It’s the only one of the “Download ME and I will fix everything!” apps that I know of, that actually does.

Yet ANOTHER Mac scam, and how to fix it

I’m still around!

Some folks have heard that I was quite ill. This is true.

I am diabetic (Type II), and about one year ago, I developed a very bad reaction to my brand of insulin. It was like having pneumonia for months and months, while attached to oxygen. I was very weak and distressed.

I had to figure out what the problem was, because dozens of medical tests showed nothing wrong. I switched to a different brand of insulin, and after a few months, I have gone from five percent energy-level, to about 95 percent.

So, I’m back, helping folks and fixing things. It’s a huge relief!

Current State of the Art of Internet Access

I would like to point out the differences between what people are talking about, comparing three levels of local Internet-access services:

1 – AT&T “Wireless”, which is crap. Maximum speed of around 35Mbps, because it uses Plain Old Telephone Wires. Can’t ever get any faster,. and you’re paying for Internet speed that you are not getting. I’ve seen folks who are paying AT&T for “Premium” Internet speed in remote parts of the county, and they are getting a maximum of THREE Mbps.

2 – Cox cable (or Spectrum, depending upon your location). Better. If they promise you a certain speed, that is the maximum speed possible, but that is RARE. Since you are sharing bandwidth with all of your neighbors, the speed will fluctuate constantly, up, down and all around, such as when your neighbors come home from work. Cable has been the Gold Standard for decades.

3 – AT&T FIBER. This is new, and superb (I don’t work for them). There is one fiber going from the AT&T station, directly to your home. No sharing of bandwidth. I started out paying $70 per month for “300 Mbps”, but have had a consistent speed of 380, usually. I just ran a WiFi speed test on my iPhone, and it was 336. A nice bonus.

The problem was, we stream a lot of 4K Amazon Prime, Netflix and the like, and I kept running into the 1terabyte limit each month, so I am now upgraded and spending 90 bucks each month for unlimited data,

Years ago, AT&T started laying-down fiber-optics in the wealthier neighborhoods, and then started spreading out to middle-class neighborhoods. HOWEVER, they made it plain that they were protesting the possibility of Net Neutrality, which would inhibit them from screwing folks as they saw fit. So, they stopped adding fiber customers.  They ARE a big corporation, and I still don’t approve of their tactics.

When Net Neutrality was defeated, suddenly, there were AT&T salescreatures knocking on doors, to offer their services. I was wary. I did my research. Then, after dealing with Cox one too many times, I decided to switch. That was eight months ago. I am delighted.

My 101-year-old home has chicken wire in the walls, so I placed my AT&T router and two AT&T mesh extenders under my house (since there is no chicken-wire in the FLOORS). Perfect signal, perfect speed, no complaints.

Lovely. A New “Assistant Apple Consultant” Local Scam.

I am seeing a client today. I haven’t helped her for years. She called me the other day with a complaint: my assistant had done a terrible job setting up her new network a few months back. I was amazed to hear this, since, in 39 years of being an independent computer consultant, I have never HAD an assistant of any kind.

After thinking about it, I realized how clever this guy was, representing himself as being attached to me, since I am a well-regarded, well-known Apple Certified Consultant. I have 187 five-star ratings on Apple’s site, and I have been recommended in 90 percent of the NextDoor neighborhoods in San Diego County.

I earned every bit of that reputation and good will, and now somebody is scamming folks, using my hard-earned esteem like a parasite.

So, if the person involved doesn’t look like a really tall, old and heavyset guy with a gray beard, it’s not me, and it’s definitely NOT my “assistant.”

The Apple Watch is for Old Folks, Like Me.

No, this is NOT a sales-pitch. I don’t do that. I just like to share wisdom based upon four decades of computer support. It’s my nature.

As of this week, a VERY important new feature has been activated on all Apple Watches except for the very earliest (series “0”) models. If you update your Apple devices, your Apple Watch will monitor your heartbeat and warn you if it detects abnormalities such as afibrillations, and unusually high (or low) resting heart rates.

If you have the newest “Series 4” Apple Watch, then it adds the ability to perform a limited ECG. This is already saving people’s lives:

https://bit.ly/2L3s033

An even more practical benefit of getting the newest Apple Watch is its built-in ability to detect a slip, a trip or a fall. Real ones, not just flopping onto the couch.

If it detects you hitting the ground, it starts tapping you on the wrist, asking if you are OK. If you don’t respond within one minute, it calls 911 (anywhere on earth), and tells Emergency Services your exact geographic location within nine feet, along with all of the info in your iPhon’e Health app. It then sends the same distress message to three loved ones.

Remember the old “I’ve FALLEN, and I CAN’T GET UP!!” commercials? Those were advertising a service that cost a minimum of thirty bucks per month. If you own ANY Apple Watch, then you can hold down the biggest side button until the watch beeps. That calls 911. This is free of charge, and even works when you (and your iPhone) are visiting any country, anywhere. It will call the local equivalent of 9-1-1.

Current Scams to Watch Out For

Well, the scammers DO keep shifting around. Please be allergic to ANYTHING that smells even the slightest bit fishy, folks.

Here are the two newest ways that tricksters are getting past people’s defenses:

– The “I know your PASSWORD, and here it is! Gimme MONEY!” trick. Within the last year, Yahoo made a sorrowful confession… “Ummm, remember when we said that a BILLION people’s emails and passwords were stolen? Well, gosh. It was actually THREE BILLION identities stolen. Our bad!” Scammers bought that info, and are now flashing their stolen info to scare gullible people into thinking that their data is going to be stolen, unless they call RIGHT NOW and give money. As long as you have NOT been using that same password for everything, you’re in no danger. When the newest operating system (“Mojave”) comes out, all of this will become a thing of the past. Mojave will force you very pleasantly to make much, much more secure passwords, and the operating system will handle it all for you, safely and automatically. No more hand-scrawled password lists.

The other new one has to do with urgent-sounding calls from “Apple Support.” Apple doesn’t do this. Bombay tricksters do. One of my clients in his mid-80’s fell for this one. The woman on the phone was digging through his computer. She LOGGED ONTO PAYPAL and attempted to send herself money. As she did so, he asked her “Are you trying to scam me?” and she says “No, no- I’m FIXING your security.” Shameless. When he FINALLY thought to call me, the first words out of my mouth were “Hang up, call the number on the back of your card, and cancel any payments! ” He did, and his bank found just under $1,000 of scam purchases.

These scams don’t leave any damage on the afflicted person’s computer, usually. They just want to impress you with snappy patter while they are trying to rob you. They tend not to stick around, preferring to smash and grab.

Here’s another scam: If you try to get support from a major corporation, and they ask you for money, or payment in store gift cards, they re NOT representatives from that large corporation. They are tricksters.

NEW Scam

One of my clients called me to complain that he had gotten an email “from Apple” that told him that his Apple ID is being used by somebody in another city. He called me to talk about it, and I walked him through several steps:

Did the email use his actual name, anywhere in it? No. A REAL email from Apple uses your actual name, clear as can be.

Did he see the same message on his iPhone? No. The iPhone is your primary security device. It’s a beast of security. Any crook can send you fake-o email alerts, but ONLY Apple can pop up security messages, right spang in the middle of your iPhone’s screen.

If you get a suspicious email from ANYBODY making a claim of authority, and you are using the Mail app on your Mac, click on the little “v”-shaped character next to the name of the sender. It reveals the TRUE sender’s address. If there’s no “apple.com” in there, they are attempting to fool you.

——

Here’s some security wisdom:

The FBI, NSA and CIA have standardized upon Macs for all of their computers. Why? Because they can’s be hacked into over the Internet, or WiFi. You can take a Mac laptop into a Starbucks, sign onto their free, public WiFi, and your Mac is invisible to bad people. Even if they CAN make guesses and locate your Mac out of 256 possible local addresses, they get exactly THREE tries to guess your name and password. On the fourth try, they are blocked forever from trying again.

So, since bad people can’t hack their way in, they can only FOOL YOU into giving away your secret information, and, best of all, give them money that they don’t deserve.

My client-list is crammed full of sweet, neighborly and kind-hearted people. Scammers see you as chumps and rubes. Don’t be fooled!

Current Mac Scams

I’m distressed right now, because way too many of my clients are being harmed. I’m posting this warning here, to reach as many people as possible:

If you get a phone call, or a web-page, warning you that there are viruses or other problems with your Apple devices, IT IS A LIE. There is no earthly way for anybody who is not in physical contact with your device to KNOW anything about its condition.

Unfortunately, these big-city sharpies are taking advantage of people’s kindness and gullibility, to the cost of around $200, all of the way up to about $2,000. They will leave your Mac cluttered with adware (trying to sell you stuff), and hijack your web-browser to monitor your activities.

These scammers (from India, in every single case) don’t have your best interests in mind. At all.

Some tips to keep in mind:

– There is only ONE, actual, valid phone number for Apple corporate support: 1-800-MY-APPLE. Anything else is bogus.

– Apple hires plenty of fine support-staff who come from India. NONE of them have heavy accents, since this just frustrates customers. Heavy accent? Scammer, pretending to be from Apple.

– NEVER give your passwords to anybody over the phone. Apple Inc. never asks.

– There is only ONE safe, trustworthy method of updating your Flash player: Pull down the Apple Menu, go to System Preferences, and then to Flash Player. Then, click on “Updates’ at the top, and click on “Check now”. ANY other method (such as web-pages saying “Your Flash Player Is Out Of Date”) is most likely a scam, trying to induce you to install multiple bad programs onto your Mac.

– If you need support for your other devices, beware. Scammers have paid Google to let them mess with you. Try this: Go to Google, and type in “HP Printer Support”. Look at the first few, bogus listings. None of them have “hp.com” in their web-addresses. HP offers FREE phone-support, but the scammers at the top of the list want to hook you into paying.

– KEEP UPDATING YOUR DEVICES. Apple can’t protect you, if you’re not up to date: On the iPhone or iPad, go to Settings – General – Software Update. On the Mac, go to Apple Menu – App Store – Updates. If your Mac is able, download and install High Sierra.

– If you HAVE been financially taken advantage of, call the number on the back of your debit or credit card, and cancel the payment. If this outrages the scammers, and they call you, say the phrase “The police have been informed of this scam”, and then hang up. They won’t call back.

– You do NOT need anti-virus programs added to your Mac. The finest one in the world is built into every Apple device. It is called “Gatekeeper”, and it protects you far better than any purchased software. The problem is, people don’t see it, and they assume that they need something, anything to protect them. As long as you keep adding every software update when requested, you are protected and up-to-date.

The Scams Continue…

Apple iCloud Scam
Beware Apple people! We received 3 calls today from 858-795-6870 that caller ID identified as Apple Inc. First two were on our voice mail and just after listening they called again. I answered and it is a recorded message stating there is a security breach with the Apple iCloud and urges you to use your Apple device to call 844-871-7945 or to press 1 if you want to speak with a support advisor now, or 2 if you want to hang up. I pressed 1 and a male voice speaking with a foreign accent answered. I said “you are not with Apple, you are fake and a scam”. I’m not sure at what point he hung up.

Googling 844-871-7945 shows a whole store full of scam ideas that use that number.

From Tony:

It’s not just that number, as I’m sure everybody already knows. Most of my Mac clients have been getting hammered by such tricks. The CURRENT, NEWEST scam is the “Six Numbers” deception:

My phone number starts with “619-804-….” If you get a call from a number with your OWN six personal digits, it is very likely to be a scam. Bad people are now having their Caller ID numbers camouflaged to match your own number.

For folks with iPhones, I still stand by my advice for you to go the App Store on your iPhone, click on “Search” at the bottom, and get the free app called “Hiya”. It has spared me at LEAST a hundred such crappy calls since I installed it.

Also: If a stranger calls, and they sound East Indian, HANG UP. My consulting clients are getting swamped by such scammers. They are like whales… They need lots of small fry to succeed. They may only rip you off for between $200 and $700, but that’s still a big deal for most of us. Then, they sell your contact-info to other scammers, and then even more of them, eager to hound you even more. So, do NOT cooperate, or engage with them at all. Since they are outside the USA, the “DO NOT CALL” list is no protection.

Here is why they exist:

Ever since OS X came out, Apple has been diligently adding more and more security to all Apple devices.  THEN, the FBI tried to arm-twist Apple into building-in a “secret” back door, that I predict would immediately become public as soon as possible, and we would all be screwed.

Remember the “Patriot Act”?  It’s still in force.  That means, if a corporation agrees to cooperate with a government agency, it is a FELONY for them to talk about it.  That is why Tim Cook and others from Apple are loudly broadcasting “We are NOT COOPERATING!”  If they ever go silent, that’s when it is truly time to panic.

So, in the two or so years since the big fight between Apple and the FBI, there have been two (soon to be three) major updates to all of Apple’s operating systems.  Each one has been a big, screw-you to the FBI, adding much more draconian security features.  We are now at the point where a high-end Apple Tech (like me), has to struggle to fix problems that are very hard to access and trouble-shoot now.

Security on Apple devices has continued to escalate.  iPhone theft in New York City has dropped 99% in the last two years, due to Apple locking everything down, making a stolen device useless.  This means that the weak link in the security chain is YOU.  That is why the scammers are hitting on you… they can’t break in, any other way.