How To Prevent Your Thanksgiving Guests From Infecting Your PC

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and if you are hosting the feast this year, you are probably scrambling around, trying to get ready for the big day and getting your house spick and span so your guests don’t judge you. But there’s one area in our homes that we often overlook when it’s time for relatives to come over. It is an undoubtedly popular place among both young and old. It’s your PC.

Without fail, your 7 year old nephew is going to ask you if he can play computer games and your 70 year old uncle is going to ask you if he can “surf the web.” And everyone who steps in the door with a smartphone is going to ask you for your WiFi password. Because you’re a nice person and a gracious host, you will say yes and your guests will skip down the hall and plop down in front of your computer.

Now, you might think this is no big deal. However, letting others use your PC without implementing some proper security measures could lead to an infected computer or an invasion of your privacy.

What can happen

Imagine Uncle Joe sits down at your computer, logs into your account, and starts searching the web. He will immediately have access to your search history, autofill forms, passwords, YouTube watch history, email, and social media accounts (if you leave those logged in). You might not be searching for and watching anything “bad” but you might still be embarrassed if he sees that you recently searched for “how to cook a turkey.” You also don’t want him looking at your private email or your Facebook messages. And you certainly don’t want him stumbling onto eBay and starting a bidding war on your account accidentally.

The other thing that can happen if you let guests use your computer is an infection. While you, being tech-savvy, might know that you shouldn’t just click anything and everything on the computer, your little nephew probably does not. He will head straight to his favorite game site which is probably riddled with malware that will download straight to your system. It can happen way too easily, especially in the case of drive-by-download attacks.

There are ways to prevent both of these things from happening.

How to prevent an invasion of privacy

The first thing you need to do to prepare for computer visitors is to create a “guest” account. With a guest account, the user won’t have access to your browser history, files, passwords, email, etc. They will also be unable to install software to the computer or apply a password to that guest account. To enable the guest account in Windows 7 or 8:

1. Open the Control Panel.
2. Click on Add or Remove User Accounts. (in Windows 8 click on Change Account Type)
3. Click on the Guest icon to enable it.
4. Then click Turn On.

Microsoft changed a few things with Windows 10 and the guest account enabling gets a bit more complicated. If you’re interested, here are the directions for enabling a guest account in Windows 10.

Voila. Now guests can surf the web and play games without being able to see any of your personal stuff.

How to prevent an infection

First of all, you need to install good antivirus software. You should have this whether or not guests are using your computer because if you don’t, it’s not a matter of if you get a virus, but when. If you are connected to the internet, you are vulnerable to malware. You also need to keep your antivirus updated continually. Then, scan your computer for malware regularly to make sure you are not infected. Be sure to always back up your data before anything bad happens because once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Some antivirus software, such as Avast, will indicate whether or not a link is safe to click on. You could teach your relatives this to make sure they don’t click on the bad links.

What to do if you are infected

If it’s already too late and you acquired some nasty viruses (as well as a few extra pounds from all of that pumpkin pie) you should take your computer to a professional. Most antivirus programs have the option to eradicate the virus, but they don’t always work as well as they should. At catmandu, we may not be able to help with the pumpkin pie weight, but we can certainly help with the viruses.

John Deere & catmandu

John Deere and catmandu. Weird combination, right? What could an outdoor and farm equipment company have in common with a tech company? We live in an agricultural community here in Amarillo, TX. Our city thrives on the rampant production agriculture that occurs outside the city limits.

For miles and miles into the distance, all you can see is fields of wheat, corn, and sorghum blanketing the landscape with a lot of cattle herds mixed in. And what brand of equipment do you normally see tilling the soil, planting the seeds, and eventually harvesting the crops? John Deere. Why? Because they’re the best in the business and John Deere equipment is the industry standard.

At catmandu, we sell Lenovo brand laptops, desktops, and tablets. We like to say that Lenovo is the John Deere of PCs because Lenovo is the #1 PC maker in the world and has the lowest failure rate.

At catmandu, we could sell HP, Toshiba, or Dell systems and honestly, we would make a lot more money if we did because 1) computer brands like these are cheaper, therefore we would be able to charge a higher mark-up and still sell more and 2) the computers would fail more often, causing the customer to come into catmandu and spend more money trying to fix the problems that will inevitably crop up. We’ve seen too many one month old laptops come through our doors with a myriad of issues and we couldn’t live with ourselves if those were the laptops we were selling.

At catmandu, as our motto states, “everything matters.” Especially our customers. We want to sell you the best products in the world. You deserve nothing less than excellence from us. That’s why we only sell Lenovo, the industry standard and the John Deere of computers.

5 Tech Gadgets That You Will See During 2013

I’m sure many techy people are much like me in the aspect that I find myself counting the seconds till the new gadget hits the market. I am the definition of an early adopter, which is not always a good thing. It sometimes leaves me with the buggy 1st generation of a device that will only be upgraded and improved in future builds, but I can’t seem to help myself.

Whether it be a computer, tablet, media player, or just the newest smartphone, I have been on that end more than I care to admit. Well, for those of you like me, here’s a sneak peak of some tech devices that you will see hitting the market this year. Some are already on sale in many stores while others are more niche items and you might have to sleuth around online to find a place to make an order.

#1. Looxcie LX2 Video Camera

This camera is a quick and easy camera that keeps you from digging around in your purse or fumbling with on/off switches causing you to miss that special moment. It shoots 30 seconds of video and allows you to upload directly to the site of your choice including youtube. Never miss another memory. Those who already wear a bluetooth device might find themselves wearing a device on each ear which will end up in some stares without a doubt.

Purchase Price: $137.52 via Amazon

#2. ICG07 iPhone Mobile Game Controller

The biggest complaint of mobile gaming is that on-screen controls aren’t very functional due to the fact that they take up too much screen space. When you take your fingers off the display and have a full functioning remote control, you can truly have a first person gaming experience on a mobile device.

Purchase Price: $39.99 via Amazon

#3. Magic Cube Laser Projection Keyboard by Celluon

As if it were straight out of Star Trek or some other futuristic movie, the Magic Cube projects a useable keyboard right onto the surface in front of the user. The device picks up even the slightest keystrokes. It is great for mobile devices like phones and tablets and compatible with iOS, MAC, Windows XP, Vista, and 7.

Purchase Price: $115.64 via Amazon

#4. OCZ OCZMSNIA NIA – Neural Impulse Actuator

Again, let’s hop on the Starship Enterprise as this is a device that I still don’t quite believe. It gives the user a gaming experience like none other. It bypasses the many keystrokes involved in many games these days and actually pick up and tension differences that can cut reaction times in half. Absolutely out of this world.

Purchase price: Currently Unavailable via Amazon

#5. Alienware M14X 14″ Laptop

This machine is a beast. Period. 2.0 Ghz i7 Processor, 8 GB RAM, 750GB HD. This laptop will meet the requirements of even the most intense gamers and is available for purchase right now. Hard black shell casing makes this a very stylish piece of technology that I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on.

Purchase price: $1699.00 via Amazon