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In this issue: 5 signs that identify scam email messages; Family Sharing means only purchasing apps once; Spring Break approaches!; A personal note; Software recommendations; Hardware recommendations.
March 2019 Newsletter

5 signs that identify scam email messages

A significant danger to businesses and individuals today is phishing—the act of forging email to fool someone into revealing login credentials, credit card numbers, or other sensitive information. Here are some tips you can share  and use about how to identify fraudulent email messages.
 
1. Beware of email asking you to reveal information, click a link, or sign a document

The number one thing to watch out for is any email that asks you to do something that could reveal personal information, expose your login credentials, get you to sign a document online, or open an attachment that could install malware. Anytime you receive such a message out of the blue, get suspicious.



If you think the message might be legitimate, confirm the request “out of band,” which means using another form of communication. For instance, if an email message asks you to log in to your bank account “for verification,” call the bank using a phone number you get from its Web site, not one that’s in the email message, and ask to speak to an account manager or someone in security.
 

2. Beware of email from a sender you’ve never heard of before

This is the email equivalent of “stranger danger.” If you don’t know the sender of an email that’s asking you do something out of the ordinary, treat it with suspicion (and don’t do whatever it’s asking!). Of course, that doesn’t mean you should be entirely paranoid, but people who are new to you shouldn’t be asking for anything unusual.


 

3. Beware of email from large companies for whom you’re an anonymous customer

Attackers often forge email so it appears to come from a big company like Apple, Google, or PayPal. These companies are fully aware of the problem, and they never send email asking you to log in to your account, update your credit card information, or the like. (If a company did need you to do something along these lines, it would provide manual instructions so you could be sure you weren’t working on a forged Web site designed to steal your password.)


Since sample email from large companies is easy to come by, these phishing attacks can look a lot like legitimate email. Aside from the unusual call to action, though, they often aren’t quite right. If something seems off in an email from a big company, it probably is.


 

4. Beware of email from a trusted source that asks for sensitive information

The most dangerous form of this sort of attack is spear phishing, where an attacker targets you personally. A spear phishing attack involves email forged to look like it’s from a trusted source—your friend, family member, boss, a co-worker, your bank, or a big customer. (The attacker might even have taken over the sender’s account.) The email then requests that you do something that reveals sensitive information or worse. In one famous spear-phishing incident, employees of networking firm Ubiquiti Networks were fooled into wiring $46.7 million to accounts controlled by the attackers.


 

5. Beware of email that has numerous spelling and grammar mistakes

Many phishing attacks come from overseas, and attackers from other countries seldom write English correctly. So no matter who a message purports to come from, or what it’s asking you to do, if its spelling, grammar, and capitalization are atrocious, it’s probably fraudulent. (This is yet another reason why it’s important to write carefully when sending important email—if you’re sloppy, the recipient might think the message is fake.)

 

Family Sharing means only purchasing apps once

Have you ever looked over your spouse’s shoulder and thought, “Hey, that’s a cool app.”? If you set up Family Sharing (in System Preferences > iCloud on the Mac, and in Settings > Your Name in iOS), you can download almost any app that someone else in your family has purchased on either the Mac App Store or the iOS App Store.

How you find these shared apps depends on the platform. On a Mac running macOS 10.14 Mojave, open the App Store app, click your email address at the bottom of the sidebar, and then click the name next to “Purchased by” to see another family member’s purchases.

In iOS 12’s App Store app, tap your icon at the upper right, tap Purchased, and then tap a family member to see their purchases (note that you can select Not on this iPhone/iPad to narrow the choices). Click or tap the cloud icon to download a purchased app.

Need help setting up Family Sharing? Let us know!

Spring Break approaches! 
MacAtoZ will be operating on a reduce service schedule during Spring Break, March 25-29, so that employees can spend time with their families. We will continue to monitor and maintain all Sentinel and Sentinel+ Macs as appropriate, so if anything serious arises we will be in touch. 

As a reminder, MacAtoZ follows the Salem-Keizer School District's lead in terms of snow days. That is to say that if the school district closes schools for the day, MacAtoZ will be closed as well and any appointments will be rescheduled. 
 

A personal note

As some of you know, my mother Carole Davison, 77, passed away peacefully in her sleep on the morning of March 2. My brother and I were there with a caregiver. 

Mom faced a variety of health challenges in the latter half of her life and most acutely this year. After multiple trips between hospital and skilled nursing facility this year, she entered in-home hospice in late February.

I am very grateful to everyone who's reached out to me during this time, and I especially appreciate Brittany, Dynée, Cassandra, and Kim picking up the slack in my absence. I hope you will understand and forgive any delays of service or communication you may have experienced. Thank you.
 

Software Recommendations

macOS 10.13.6 High Sierra. macOS 10.12.6 Sierra is acceptable. Earlier versions should be upgraded ASAP. We do not recommend macOS 10.14.3 Mojave at this time. You can see your Mac's operating system version by going to the Apple menu in the top left corner of the screen and choosing "About This Mac." If you have already upgraded to Mojave or have a new Mac that came with Mojave, you should upgrade to 10.14.3. 

iOS 12.1.4. No other versions are acceptable. Any device that can run iOS 11 should be upgraded to 12.1. You can see your iPhone or iPad's operating system version by going to Settings > General > About > Version.

watchOS 5.1.3. Older versions acceptable if necessary; upgrade if your devices (iPhone and Apple Watch) support it. You can see your Apple Watch's operating system version by going to Settings > General > About > Version. 

tvOS 12.1.2. Apple TV models that run tvOS should upgrade to this version. Note that earlier models of Apple TV do not run tvOS and are fine for what they do. You can see if there's a software update available for your Apple TV by going to Settings > System > Software Updates > Update Software.
 

Hardware Recommendations

Macintosh
  • iMac: iMac10,1 (Late 2009) or newer
  • Mac mini: Macmini4,1 (Mid 2010) or newer
  • Mac Pro: MacPro5,1 (Mid 2010) or newer
  • MacBook: MacBook6,1 (Late 2009) or newer
  • MacBook Air: MacBookAir3,1 (Late 2010) or newer
  • MacBook Pro: MacBookPro7,1 (Mid 2010) or newer
    • Note that 2016-2018 MacBook Pro models have a higher than usual keyboard failure rate. Used 2015 models, which use a different style keyboard, may be a more reliable option.
These are minimum hardware recommendations based on what is necessary to run a secure operating system (macOS 10.12.6 Sierra or macOS 10.13.6 High Sierra). 

The following are the macOS 10.14 Mojave system requirements. If your Mac does not meet these specifications, it will need to be replaced by fall of 2020, when High Sierra will no longer be secure.

macOS 10.14 Mojave system requirements
  • MacBook (Early 2015 or later)
  • MacBook Air (Mid-2012 or later)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid-2012 or later)
  • Mac mini (Late 2012 or later)
  • iMac (Late 2012 or later)
  • iMac Pro (all models)
  • Mac Pro (Late 2013)
  • Mac Pro (2010 or later with Metal-compatible GPU)
iPhone and iPad
  • iPhone 5S or newer. Older iPhones cannot run iOS 12.1 which is the only secure version of iOS. 
    • iPhone 7 models have a higher than normal failure rate over time. Given the choice, we would recommend iPhone 8 models as a strong alternative to iPhone 7 models. 
  • iPad Air or newer
  • iPad mini 2 or newer
  • iPad Pro or newer
  • iPad 5th generation or newer
The iPad line is made confusing by the multitude of model names and types (Air, mini, Pro, and just plain iPad). Generally speaking, devices introduced in October 2013 and later will run iOS 12.1. Earlier devices will not run iOS 12.1 and should be replaced unless they will not be used on the internet. 

Apple Watch
  • Apple Watch Series 4 is recommended; all versions are secure and acceptable.
Apple TV
  • Apple TV 4K is recommended. Apple TV (4th generation) is fine as well.
  • Older models of Apple TV do not support tvOS and cannot run Apple TV Store apps, though we are unaware of any major security issues. 

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Apple Consultants Network
MacAtoZ LLC provides technical support, upgrade, installation, networking, training and tutoring, web design and hosting, and remote support services for Apple products like Macintosh computers, iPhones, iPods, and iPads.

Ty Davison and Dyneé Medlock, our Apple technicians, are the only Apple-certified, Apple Consultants Network members serving both residential and small business clients in Oregon's mid-Willamette Valley.

MacAtoZ has been providing computer services for clients in the Salem area since 2006 (and since 1999 as SiteRev.com). Our technicians are certified by Apple and carry $1 million in business liability insurance. We frequently present and are well-known at the Salem Macintosh Users Group (SMUG). You can count on us.

Our Sentinel and Sentinel+ services offer home users 24/7 Macintosh monitoring, maintenance, and security. Join today!

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