Big Mac Attack (inedible)

It's our birthday!

Computers dot mom launched twenty years ago--with coffee and biscuits, desktop computers and dial-up connections.

Before Google search. (Imagine!).

We'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of you--friends, family, clients, many of whom have been with us from the beginning--who continue to make this an amazing, challenging, and rewarding journey.

Mac users, don't get complacent.

This week unusual piece of malware appeared on a client’s Mac that was NOT detected by the usual tools like Malwarebytes and was a bear to remove. 

Symptoms: Constant pop-up windows pushing helpful-sounding (but not free or safe) programs. Chrome and Safari home page and search options changed and those changes locked so they couldn't be undone.
Cause: Client clicked on a legitimate-looking prompt on a webpage: "You need to update Adobe Flash Player" which installed all kinds of nasty stuff instead. 

Solution: The usual fixes only solved part of the problem. The unusual aspect of this particular malware was to add a PROFILE; deleting that unlocked the browsers. (A very similar attack on a client's iPhone last summer used the same technique).

What you can do: If you use a Mac, iPhone or iPad, check in System Preferences (Mac) or Settings > General (iOS) and look for Profiles

If you don’t see a Profiles option, great!  If you DO find Profiles, check the contents and investigate any profiles you find—they could be malware. (Legitimate profiles are generated, for example, if you use a VPN). You can always send us a screenshot if you’re not sure.  (Here's how: MacPCiPhone).

Prevention!!!!: There's a common misconception that you should always update "Adobe." Adobe is a company, not a product; they make lots of different apps, including Reader (which Mac users don't usually need), Photoshop, and Flash.  YOU PROBABLY DON'T NEED FLASH, so don't update it unless you are 100% sure it's necessary. More info here.

On a More Cheerful Note:

  • The latest update to the Apple Watch enabled the cardiogram features; Wired magazine has a good rundown of the pros and cons here.

  • AT&T is finally ready for dual-sim (two line) iPhones. Verizon---soon.

Wishing you healthy and happy holidays and a wonderful 2019!

Heads Up!

Two quick pieces of news you should know about: 

The Marriott Breach


. . . is all over the news today, but if your reaction was "Nope, I haven't stayed at a Marriott," you might not realize that you are affected if you had a reservation at a Starwood property (Westins, Sheratons, etc.).  (Starwood merged with Marriott, but Marriott had a separate reservation system until recently).

What To Do?
First of all, don't panic; apparently the breach goes back to 2014, so it's not exactly a new problem.  Marriott has hired Kroll Associates to handle the fallout, and is offering free monitoring; details here

Those Scary Pop-Up Scams

Alarmed clients regularly check with us about pop-up windows claiming that "something dire is wrong with your computer, call this number immediately."  So it's great that a bunch of scammers were arrested in India this week; but take a moment to read the NY Times article for a sense of how WILDLY profitable these schemes are, and why they're not going away anytime soon.

If you do get such a warning, feel free to take a screenshot (directions are here for Mac and for Windows) and send it to us at; we're happy to give you a quick read on its veracity.  We don't EVER want ANY of you to get scammed!!

Back to the Salt Mines

You Voted!

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It’s That Time of Year

Black Friday officially begins November 23, the Friday after Thanksgiving, but some retailers’ plans have leaked. It can be hard to tell what is ACTUALLY a deal, so do your homework BEFORE the sales start.

One Phone, Two Lines? Almost.

The new iPhone XR is available now, and the reviews are good; it’s pricey, but a better value than the stratospherically expensive XS models.  Unless you’re Pete Souza, it’s probably the iPhone for most people who want to upgrade.

One of the big selling points of these new iPhones is that you can have two different phone lines on one phone. You can even use two different carriers. Why? Well, they could be work/personal, or private/public (Tinder, anyone?), or US/international plans. The catch? None of the major US carriers are ready yet; likely by the end of the year.

It’s getting harder every day to recommend Windows.

Imagine building a house with 40 different plumbers, and then a pipe leaks. That’s the fundamental challenge of Windows; too many parts from too many places.  And lately Microsoft has had a series of embarrassing problems with Windows Updates, including file deletion. Rumor has it that the delayed October update will finally be out tomorrow.

“Apple has once again gone and ruined everything you own by releasing new products.”

—the Macalope, Macworld

Apple just announced a makeover of the venerable and beloved MacBook Air, the Mac Mini, and the iPad Pro. Don’t drop everything to upgrade, but if you’re in need of a new laptop, desktop or tablet, they’re all worth considering.

Apple also launched a free repair program for problems with certain iPhone X and MacBook Pro models. And the previously-announced $29 battery replacement program ends at the end of the year, so take advantage of it while you still can.

Can You See Me Now?

Facebook just launched Portal, a hands-free video-calling device that tracks you around the room—incredibly useful or incredibly creepy? Reviewers are liking it, and The NY Times said “If you already chat and call on Facebook Messenger on your phone, then chatting and calling from Portal isn’t putting you in any greater danger.”

Alternatively, Apple’s recent software updates (Mojave on the Mac, iOS 12 on the phone) enable FaceTime calls with up to 32 people.  Great for families, or committee meetings in nasty weather.

The Best Words

Do you use Word, Excel, Outlook—that is, Microsoft Office? Of course you do. Microsoft recently launched the 2019 version of the ubiquitous Office suite (Windows and Mac: $149).  As we’ve explained before, you can either BUY Office once, or SUBSCRIBE and pay annually; the right choice depends on your use. Here are the basic options compared.