U.S. Postal Service Warns Of New Phishing Scam

Posted January 21, 2015 By Mom
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Today’s post is brought to you by the Fiore® 4 Pack of Designer Reading Glasses w/ Spring Hinges & Matching Cases, a product I myself have ordered and use every day. Advertisers make it possible for Digital Media Mom to bring you great content each day for free, so thanks for your support.

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The United States Postal Service is warning postal customers (which is pretty much anyone in the world who has a mailbox) to be on the lookout for official-looking, but bogus, emails that claim the postal customer has received a package or owes online postage fees for a mailing that was sent with insufficient postage.

The emails go on to instruct the customer to either download and complete an attached form / print an attached postal label (DON’T DOWNLOAD THAT ATTACHMENT!) and/or click on a provided link to go to the USPS site to get more information and/or pay the fee (DON’T CLICK ON THAT LINK!). These types of emails, intended to trick consumers into willingly providing sensitive information, are known as “phishing” scams. From the USPIS site’s own SpamAlert announcement*:

Like most viruses sent by e-mail, clicking on the link or opening the attachment will activate a virus that can steal information—such as your user name, password, and financial account information. What to do? Simply delete the message without taking any further action. The Postal Inspection Service is working hard to resolve the issue and shut down the malicious program.

Other sites are reporting that the same scam is being run over the phone too. In that case the scammers call postal customers, pretending to be a representative of the U.S. Postal Service, and ask the customer to provide the same types of information the phishing emails are intended to collect.

*USPIS stands for United States Postal Inspection Service, which is a the federal law enforcement and security arm of the United States Postal Service

 

If you have reason to believe you really DO have an uncollected package waiting for you at the post office, go to the official U.S. Postal Service site to look up delivery status by tracking number, or call 800-ASK-USPS (800-275-8777) to talk to a customer service agent and ask if there is any record of an undelivered package with your name and address on it.

 

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Kindle/Fire Tech Tip of the Week: Sending Content To A Specific Kindle / Fire

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Today’s post is brought to you by the NageBee Line of Cell Phone Cases, Covers and Accessories. I bought one of these for my own new smartphone and couldn’t be happier with it! Advertisers make it possible for Digital Media Mom to bring you great content each day for free, so thanks for your support.

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Oh Noes! When I Got A New Phone, I Lost My Custom Ringtone and Text Alert!

Regular readers know I recently bit the bullet and got a smartphone, but only because I need it to test the Digital Media Mom apps I’m currently developing—stay tuned for more news on that front!

Anyway, I was pretty disappointed to learn that the custom ringtone and text alert I created for myself years ago, using an audio recording and editing desktop program, would transfer to the new phone as sound files, but couldn’t be assigned as ring tones or text alerts. Why?! Why?!

I didn’t want to be stuck with some lame-o, pre-loaded ringtone! I put a lot of time and effort into creating my own so that I would never have trouble picking out my own ringtone or text alert sounds in a crowd. My signature ringtone was Cake’s Short Skirt, Long Jacket, and I wanted to keep it!

 

 

Enter Ringtone Maker

I happened to complain about this to my son’s girlfriend, and she recommended I try a free app called Ringtone Maker. Boy, am I glad she did! This app is so easy and amazing that I’d gladly have paid a few bucks for it, but it’s FREE! It is ad-supported, but I found the tiny ads at the bottom of the screen to be pretty unobtrusive and I only needed to use the app for a few minutes to create my ringtone and text alert files anyway.

The app lets you choose ANY sound file on your phone or memory card and create a ringtone/text alert from a specific snippet of the sound file. So if you want a ringtone that plays just the chorus or a certain line or verse of your favorite song, you’re in business. You can also assign an entire song as a ringtone or audio alert, so it will just keep playing until you answer/mute the phone or clear the alert.

You can also use your phone’s sound recorder capability to record any sound you like (e.g., your child saying “Mommy,” a favorite character on a favorite TV show saying his signature catchphrase, a song off the radio, etc.) and then use Ringtone Maker to turn it into a ringtone or other audio alert for the phone.

 

My ringtone is Short Skirt/Long Jacket, off this album

 

One Caveat

Some users have complained that the ringtones and text alerts you create with Ringtone Maker are deleted when you delete the app, and this is true. However, since the app only requires 1.1MB of space I don’t see any reason why I can’t just leave it installed indefinitely. It doesn’t constantly run in the background or anything like that, it’s only running when you actually open and use it.

 

The Permissions Skinny

Some others have questioned the permissions on this app, but I’ve checked ‘em all out and I’m satisfied there’s nothing questionable about them. Here’s what they are, and what they’re for:

Read only access to device state – lets the app verify the phone is on and is not currently being used to make or receive a call

Open network sockets – allows the app to connect to the developer’s server to serve ads and check for app updates

Write to external storage – to store your created ringtones on a memory card, if your device has one

Read or write the system settings – allows the app to let you assign specific ringtones or text alerts to specific actions on the phone (e.g., text message alert, multimedia message alert, etc.)

 

My text alert is Daggett Beaver yelling his catchphrase, “That was nuts!”

 

Read the user’s contacts data – so you can make a selection from your Contacts list in order to assign specific ringtones to specific contacts

Write (but not [simultaneously] read) the user’s contacts data – allows you to use the app to assign specific ringtones to specific contacts

Access information about networks – allows the app to detect whether or not you currently have internet access, again, to allow the app to communicate with the developer’s server to serve ads and look for app updates

Record audio – self-explanatory

PowerManager WakeLocks to keep processor from sleeping or screen from dimming – so the phone won’t turn off right in the middle of using the app to create a ringtone or audio alert

 

I can personally recommend Ringtone Maker very highly. Using this app, it took me less than three minutes to get my custom ringtone and text alert sounds back!

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

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Kindle/Fire Tech Tip of the Week: Sending Content To A Specific Kindle / Fire

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Today’s post is brought to you by Zebra Tees, where you can get limited-edition, incredibly cool t-shirts at very reasonable prices. Advertisers make it possible for Digital Media Mom to bring you great content each day for free, so thanks for your support.

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If You Can’t Make It To Bonnaroo…

…grab these three free albums and hold your own private indie music fest!

 

Sub Pop 2013: First Place Losers (4/5 stars)

Sub Pop is a very well-known and respected label when it comes to breaking new acts that go on to great success. For example, among the 15 tracks on this album you’ll find a remastered version of Such Great Heights by The Postal Service, I Like It Small from Mudhoney and Low’s Just Make It Stop.

 

New West And Normaltown Records Spring 2014 Music Sampler (4/5 stars)

This album offers an eclectic mix of 16 alterna-country tracks. A little honkytonk, a little pop, and even a little bluegrass.

 

Cantora Sampler (4.5/5 stars)

If you prefer your alternative rock with a singer-songwriter, folk, or Lilith Fair type of feel, this is the album for you. 7 tracks.

 

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Kindle/Fire Tech Tip of the Week: Sending Content To A Specific Kindle / Fire

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Free App Friday For 1/16/15

Posted January 16, 2015 By Mom
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Today’s post is brought to you by the Eton Rugged Rukus All-Terrain Portable Solar Wireless Sound System, currently being offered by Amazon at $74.99, which is 42% off its regular price of $129.99. Advertisers make it possible for Digital Media Mom to bring you great content each day for free, so thanks for your support.

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Free App Friday!

Here are some of the top 100 most downloaded AND highest-rated apps (4/5 stars or better) from Amazon’s Android App Store as of this writing. Note that where a given app has already been included in a Free App Friday post, a different one (still with a minimum 4/5 star rating) will be subbed in. Remember that free apps may include in-app purchase (IAP) options or be ad-supported, but given that these apps have been given very high ratings by MANY consumers, where IAP links or ads are present they must be pretty unobtrusive. Descriptions below are from the apps’ product pages.

Verse-A-Day Free – Delivers a new bible verse each day that engages you with commentary, allows you to select a preferred translation, and provides the ability to share your experience with friends over e-mail, SMS, and social network mediums such as Facebook and Twitter.

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine – Congregate at TOS for homeschool motivation galore—any time, any place! Note that while the app description says “coming soon to Kindle Fire,” Amazon has it listed as compatible with second-gen Fires and up.

AccuRadio – AccuRadio is Internet radio that accurately reflects your tastes! * 900+ great-sounding, expert-programmed music channels * Unlimited skips * 100% free!

Abby Sight Words Games & Flashcards – THE BEST WAY TO LEARN AND PRACTICE SPELLING AND QUICK RECOGNITION OF THE MOST COMMON WORDS! 6 great educational games to develop your child’s essential reading skills for school success.

Sago Mini Ocean Swimmer – OPEN-ENDED PLAY EXPERIENCE PERFECT FOR TODDLERS AND PRESCHOOLERS. Laugh out loud as you explore a magical underwater world with Fins the fish.

Start Page Private Search – StartPage Search gives you convenient mobile access to StartPage.com, the world’s most private search engine.

Pocket – Over 10 million people use Pocket to easily save articles, videos and more for later. With Pocket, all of your content goes to one place, so you can view it anytime, on any device. You don’t even need an Internet connection.

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Reversi Free – Reversi Free is the best free Reversi (aka Othello) game on Android!

Doodle Toy – DoodleToy! is an awesome app for kids to use to draw/paint and create cool designs and artwork. It’s easy to use and lots of fun!

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

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Is Using Public WiFi Dangerous?

Posted January 15, 2015 By Mom
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Yes, It Is Very Much Dangerous To Use Public WiFi Hotspots. Here’s Why.

Public WiFi Hotspots, like those at Starbucks, OfficeMax and so on, are typically unencrypted connections, and that’s just a fancy way for techie types to say “unsecured”. In other words, anyone else who’s connected to that same WiFi hotspot can, through the use of readily available hacker apps and tools, use the connection to “listen in” on, and record, any data transmissions going to or from your device. Hackers can even record every keystroke and tap of all the users around them with their hacker bag o’ tricks.

When you visit a site that routinely deals in sensitive data, like a banking site, the site itself will generally employ its own encryption. But that doesn’t really matter much if the shifty-looking gal in the back corner has already used her hacker app to slurp up all your keystrokes or taps as you made them: now she can visit the same sites you did, and she has your username(s) and password(s). She can just sit there for hours at a time, nursing her latte and monitoring/recording the online activities of everyone around her, with no one the wiser.

 

 

Fake Public WiFi Hotspots: A Bigger Danger

Some hackers take it a step further by bringing their own portable WiFi hotspot routers to locations where consumers generally expect to find a free, public WiFi hotspot. Then they name their hotspot something very similar to what the consumer would expect the real public WiFi hotspot to be named, so that many or even most hotspot users will log in through the hacker’s own hotspot router instead of the legitimate hotspot.

This is much worse, because it allows the hacker to move data in both directions: he can install malware, viruses and trojans on any devices connected to his fake hotspot, in addition to using that connection to collect keystrokes/taps and sensitive data.

 

 

How To Reduce Your Risk When Using Public WiFi Hotspots

If you absolutely MUST use public WiFi hotspots for some reason, here are some things you can do to mitigate the risks.

1. Never keep ANY sensitive data on the device(s) you use to access public WiFi hotspots. Seriously, don’t even maintain a Contacts list on the device(s) you intend to use. Nobody can steal your sensitive data if it’s not there to be stolen in the first place.

2. Never use a public WiFi hotspot to access any site that has sensitive data, nor to use any app that requires a login you want to keep private. That means you shouldn’t do any of the following while connected to a public WiFi hotspot: check your email, shop online, do any online banking, make online payments of any kind, check your credit card balances, et cetera.

3. Do all you can to verify the hotspot login/Terms of Use screen (where you’re asked to agree to the hotspot provider’s Terms of Use before using the hotspot) is legitimate. Remember that hackers are very good at faking this kind of thing, so don’t assume the mere presence of a login/Terms of Use screen means the hotspot is safe. You need to mouse over any links on the page to verify they’re legitimate, read all the text on the page to check for obvious misspellings and grammar errors, and be tech-savvy enough to tell if the web address you’re seeing for the login/Terms of Use screen is the correct one for the real hotspot. You can also check with a store/business employee to verify the network you’re about to sign into is the correct one—they will know the name of their network.

 

But again, it’s safest to simply never use public WiFi hotspots in the first place.

 

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Fire Tech Tip of the Week: Customize Silk Browser Settings On A 2nd-Gen Kindle Fire

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