Techie Stuff for Members April 7th

4 minute read

Cyber Crimes

Not everyone is looking out for his neighbour during the Covid Crisis - the bad guys have even stepped up their pace of being jerks.

Fake websites sell supposed cures for the Coronavirus or hard-to-find medical tools and supplies, like masks, for sky-high prices. Sites offer magical cures and apps to fend off the virus, but in fact, are only after your passwords and bank credentials to scam you.


It’s pronounced like “fishing” and in effect, that’s what is happening. Emails that look like they are from say the World Health Organization will solicit donations or offer draws for special prizes. If you fall for it, they have your information and will scoop your bank accounts for real money.

Actions: If you get an email that contains links – especially from sites or resources that don’t normally email you, be very careful before clicking those links. Check the “From” address to make sure it looks legitimate, and also inspect the web address of the link before clicking. You can generally do this by hovering your mouse pointer over the link for a couple of seconds.


Computer viruses and spyware are types of malware, and cyber criminals often send malware as attachments to email, hoping people will download and install the software.

Malware can arrive embedded in a Word Document or attachment, so if you are not expecting such a missive, be cautious before opening.

Actions: You can use a program like MalwareBytes to scan your computer for many of these bad actors. At least, if you get an unexpected file, pick up the phone, and call the sender to see what’s up.


Computer systems in the Czech Republic were shut down recently after a ransomware attack that asked users to unnecessarily shut down machines – in this case, including machines that were responsible for critical Coronavirus tests. Ransomware is software that effectively holds computer systems hostage until an action is taken, like paying the attacker.

Another ransomware attack, codenamed CovidLock, appeared to users as a real-time Coronavirus tracker but was actually an Android-based application that locked users from access to their phone until they pay $100 in Bitcoin to the cybercriminal. Clever designs, coupled with a climate of fear, help to assist the effectiveness of ransomware as people look to stay updated on the current spread of the virus and new restrictions, closures and death counts.

Action: Never download or install anything to your computer or phone unless you are 100% sure that it’s safe. If you are unsure, err on the side of caution. Also, only download applications to your phone from the official “store” of your phone – like the Google Play store on Android or the Apple Store for iPhones.

How To Protect Yourself from a Cyber Attack

Here are 6 essential tips to protect yourself from a cybercrime.

  • Never click on links in emails, or download attachments, unless you are 100% confident that they are safe and you know their source; don’t automatically download attachments
  • Never give your password or other personal information to anyone or any website unless you are completely sure you’re on the correct website (or talking to the right person)
  • If you are called by a supposed customer support representative and they ask for information like your social security number or password, ask them for a callback number; take their number, then call them back to ensure you’re actually talking to a legitimate person from the company
  • Choose hard-to-guess passwords; never use passwords like 123456, password, abc123 or even your pet’s name without also including special characters…believe it or not, clever cybercriminals guess these common passwords all the time
  • Pay attention to web addresses (URLs); like the World Health Organization phishing scam, criminals design websites that look exactly like legitimate businesses, but their web addresses will always be different
  • Keep your operating system up to date; software manufacturers like Microsoft and Apple routinely publish security updates for their operating systems, and it’s generally wise to keep your system as up-to-date as possible.

These notes were copied from an article in The Ladders


Many of the systems banks use to process loan applications are written in COBOL, a computer language written in 1960. This legacy programming language is still in use for 95% of ATM swipes. There are 220 Billion lines of COBOL code that have survived for the past 60 years. Each day, $3 trillion in commerce is handled by COBOL code.

University courses no longer teach COBOL, so there is a dearth of programmers familiar and fast in that language. The Coronavirus pandemic has exposed this need to handle the huge demands on government and bank initiatives dispensing help and funds to the public. Like the Y2K crisis (1999-2000), the call to re-program from COBOL to more modern languages is hitting home now.

Clean your SmartPhone

Coronaviruses can persist on inanimate surfaces like metal, glass, or plastic for up to nine days

With that in mind, Apple still says these tips apply to all of its products:

  • Apple has updated its official recommendation, which now says that it’s OK to “gently wipe the hard, nonporous surfaces of your Apple product, such as the display, keyboard, or other exterior surfaces” with 70% isopropyl alcohol or Clorox or Lysol disinfecting wipes.

  • Use only a soft, lint-free cloth. Avoid abrasive cloths, towels, paper towels, or similar items.
  • Avoid excessive wiping, which might cause damage.
  • Unplug all external power sources, devices, and cables.
  • Keep liquids away from the product, unless otherwise noted for specific products.
  • Don’t get moisture into any openings.
  • Don’t use aerosol sprays, bleaches, hydrogen peroxide, or abrasives.
  • Don’t spray cleaners directly onto the item.

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