Ask The Nice Guy - Ransomware, iPad Mini, AirPrint Printers

This is the 14th post in a series called Ask The Nice Guy. In this series I will attempt to provide answers to the various questions I get asked throughout the week.

What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in this blog post, boiled down to five word (or less) summaries.

  1. Ransomware
  2. iPad Mini To Buy
  3. AirPrint Printer Recommendations

QUESTION 1: Scary Email - Am I Safe?

I received this terrifying email from the company that sold me anti- spam and virus protection programs on my old computer.. Is this just another “scheme” to entice me to purchase more software or am I okay with the free Microsoft Security Essentials?

Here is the "terrifying" email:

Last week I sent out a newsletter alerting you all of the Crypto Locker Virus that is spreading like wildfire. I’m sending out an email this time because it’s important I alert my clients of this once again.

What this virus does is locks you out of your computer unless you pay a $300 fee. You get it by opening an attachment in your email; usually one that says it’s from FedEx or UPS. This is now a well-known virus in all computer repair industries,and yes...while many technicians can fix the issues, this is not saying they can for sure and it could possibly be more expensive to fix than the $300 ransom. I am letting you know that I cannot fix this virus, not onsite or remotely. Your best defense is prevention.

There are various viruses that will do what is described in the email. They are called "ransomware" because they take your computer as a hostage and demands a ransom payment to unlock your computer. This is a very aggressive form of malware and can be challenging to remove. I just helped a client a few weeks ago that had a laptop taken over by this kind of malware. I was able to get the laptop functional again but we lost everything that was on the laptop.

In theory some of the paid anti-virus software may do a better job than the free Microsoft Security Essentials. There is no guarantee though and in this situation I am guessing that the client had clicked on an attachment from someone they didn't know and ended up downloading and installing the malware onto their computer. It will disable the antivirus at that point and take over your machine.

The best way to prevent viruses, malware, spyware, ransomware or any other attack on your computer is to follow these basic guidelines:

  • Don't open attachements from people you don't know. If you do know who sent it, double check with them to make sure that it was really them who sent it. This is not necessary if you were expecting an attachement from someone you know.
  • Don't download programs from random websites. This is where a large majority of the viruses, malware, spyware, ransomware comes from. Most people will type in a name of a program into Google and will often land on Make sure you are downloading software from the official website (e.g. Microsoft.com, Adobe.com, Apple.com)/
  • Don't download music, movies, television shows, or applications illegally. This is another common way to infect your computer. The music, movie, and television industry does not give their stuff away for free. If you are obtaining this kind of media for free you are breaking the law and opening your computer up to attack.
  • Pay attention when you are installing software. Some programs attempt to install malware as a part of their own installation process. When installing software, pay close attention to the message boxes before clicking Next, OK, or I Agree.

QUESTION 2: WHICH IPAD MINI TO BUY?

What IPad mini should I buy? Does the ability to use the internet in the car come with all of them? I would like to use the maps and GPS in the car.

I would buy the iPad mini with Retina display (available later in November) or perhaps the iPad Air (available November 1st). The iPad Air is smaller than the large screen iPad that most people have and yet offers a bigger screen than the iPad mini.

To use the iPad on the internet in the car along with GPS you would need to purchase the iPad with Wi-Fi + Cellular. You will have to pick a cell phone carrier (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon) and make sure that you purchase the iPad for that specific carrier. You do not need to pick the same carrier that you have your cell phone through because it is billed separately (one month at a time to your credit or debit card).

There will be a small monthly fee for the ability to access the internet through the cell phone carrier. I would choose the carrier that gets the best reception where you would use the iPad most frequently. I have heard that Verizon and AT&T generally have the best coverage across the country. I have T-Mobile on my iPhone 5S and it works great in the Twin Cities but was spotty on my recent road trip to Fargo.

I would stick with the 16GB or 32GB variety. Hope that helps! I just bought the iPad Air and I have been very happy with it.


QUESTION 3: AIRPRINTER RECOMMENDATIONS?

I was in your spring iPad class in Hastings and you mentioned “air printers” that are needed to print from an ipad. Any recommendations?

I would recommend the Epson Workforce WF-3520. The reviews are positive and is priced reasonably. I have many clients that have purchased this printer and I have heard positive feedback from them. If I was looking to purchase a new AirPrint compatiable printer this is the one that I would buy.


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