TIME Security

These Are the Top 10 Telemarketer Area Codes

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Young man in call center Richard Drury—Getty Images

You're most likely to get spam calls from these area codes

Do you get a little pang of anxiety whenever your phone gets called from an unfamiliar, unlisted phone number? Personally, I always do. These calls could be from an important business contact, so I try to answer them when I can. But more often than not, they’re just nuisance spam calls.

Thankfully, there are ways to spot a spam call before you pick up the phone. Recently, the folks at Whitepages analyzed the 2.5 billion calls and texts routed through its Caller ID app to look for patterns that might identify telemarketers. They found that some area codes are home to far more spam callers than others, and came up with a listing of the top 10 spam area codes in the United States.

Aside from the popularly used toll-free number exchanges (800, 866, 877, 888, 855), the top spam area code is Detroit’s 313. Houston’s 713, Fort Lauderdale’s 954 and Atlanta’s 404 are also popular homes to telemarketer phone banks. The full list is as follows:

1. 313 – Detroit
2. 713 – Houston
3. 954 – Fort Lauderdale
4. 404 – Atlanta
5. 484 – Eastern and Southeastern Pennsylvania
6. 407 – Orlando
7. 214 – Dallas
8. 202 – Washington, D.C.
9. 972 – Dallas
10. 205 – Birmingham

These cities aren’t necessarily home to more spammers and scammers than others — just their phone exchanges are. These days, it’s easy for people to register and use phone numbers in virtually any area code regardless of location, so long as numbers are left available. A shrinking city like Detroit has a large number of unused phone numbers in its 313 bank, so there are plenty of lines for spammers to access. An established area code like New York City’s prestigious 212, meanwhile, has no phone numbers left to be registered and is thus is an unlikely source for telemarketing calls.

There are a wide number of technological solutions for stopping telemarketers beyond avoiding calls from a certain area code. Registering your phone numbers with the National Do Not Call Registry at donotcall.gov is the best place to start. Smartphone owners can also download the Truecaller app, which automatically flags calls from known spammers. You should check out our How to Block Telemarketers guide for more tips, apps and carrier options. And, of course, the best offense is always a good defense, so be aware of the top 7 ways telemarketers get your cell phone number.

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Techlicious. More from Techlicious:

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TIME Security

What To Do When Your Email Gets Hacked

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Person typing on a laptop. Benjamin Howell—Getty Images

First thing's first: Change your password

Last week, I got an email from a friend urging me to check out an amazing page. Between the grammatical errors and a link obviously pointing to a server somewhere in Russia, it was obvious that my friend’s email account had been hacked.

When I checked in with her another way, she already knew about the problem—the hacker’s message had gone out to her entire address book—and she was quite concerned. So I walked her through the steps for getting everything back in order.

Step #1: Change your password.

The very first thing you should do is keep the hacker from getting back into your email account. Change your password to a strong password that is not related to your prior password; if your last password was billyjoe1, don’t pick billyjoe2—and if your name is actually BillyJoe, you shouldn’t have been using your name as your password in the first place.

Try using a meaningful sentence as the basis of your new password. For example, “I go to the gym in the morning” turns into “Ig2tGYMitm” using the first letter of each word in the sentence, mixing uppercase and lowercase letters and replacing the word “to” with “2.”

Step #2: Reclaim your account.

If you’re lucky, the hacker only logged into your account to send a mass email to all of your contacts.

If you’re not so lucky, the hacker changed your password too, locking you out of your account. If that’s the case, you’ll need to reclaim your account, usually a matter of using the “forgot your password” link and answering your security questions or using your backup email address.

Check out the specific recommendations for reclaiming possession of your account for Gmail, Outlook.com and Hotmail, Yahoo! and AOL.

Step #3: Enable two-factor authentication.

Set your email account to require a second form of authentication in addition to your password whenever you log into your email account from a new device. When you log in, you’ll also need to enter a special one-time use code the site will text to your phone or generated via an app.

Check out two-step authentication setup instructions for Gmail, Microsoft’s Outlook.com and Hotmail and Yahoo!. AOL doesn’t support two-factor authentication yet.

Step #4: Check your email settings.

Sometimes hackers might change your settings to forward a copy of every email you receive to themselves, so they can watch for any emails containing login information for other sites. Check your mail forwarding settings to ensure no unexpected email addresses have been added.

Next, check your email signature to see if the hacker added a spammy signature that will continue to peddle their dubious wares even after they’ve been locked out.

Last, check to make sure the hackers haven’t turned on an auto-responder, turning your out-of-office notification into a spam machine.

Step #5: Scan your computer for malware.

Run a full scan with your anti-malware program. You do have an anti-malware program on your computer, right? If not, download the free version of Malwarebytes and run a full scan with it. I recommend running Malwarebytes even if you already have another anti-malware program; if the problem is malware, your original program obviously didn’t stop it, and Malwarebytes has resolved problems for me that even Symantec’s Norton Internet Security wasn’t able to resolve. Scan other computers you log in from, such as your work computer, as well.

If any of your scans detect malware, fix it and then go back and change your email password again. (When you changed it in step #1, the malware was still on your computer.)

Step #6: Find out what else has been compromised.

My mother-in-law once followed the ill-advised practice of storing usernames and passwords for her various accounts in an email folder called “Sign-ups.” Once the hacker was into her email, he easily discovered numerous other logins.

Most of us have emails buried somewhere that contain this type of information. Search for the word “password” in your mailbox to figure out what other accounts might have been compromised. Change these passwords immediately; if they include critical accounts such as bank or credit card accounts, check your statements to make sure there are no suspicious transactions.

It’s also a good idea to change any other accounts that use the same username and password as your compromised email. Spammers are savvy enough to know that most people reuse passwords for multiple accounts, so they may try your login info in other email applications and on PayPal and other common sites.

Step #7: Humbly beg for forgiveness from your friends.

Let the folks in your contacts list know that your email was hacked and that they should not open any suspicious emails or click on any links in any email(s) that recently received from you. Most people will probably have already figured out that you were not really the one recommending they buy Viagra from an online pharmacy in India—but you know, everyone has one or two friends who are a little slower to pick up on these things.

Step #8: Prevent it from happening again.

While large-scale breaches are one way your login information could be stolen—this summer, Russian criminals stole 1.2 billion usernames and passwords—they’re certainly not the only way. Many cases are due to careless creation or protection of login information.

Last year, Google released a study that reveals most people choose passwords based on readily available information, making their accounts hackable with a few educated guesses. Easy passwords make for easy hacking, and spammers use programs that can cycle through thousands of logins every second to identify weak accounts.

Picking a strong password is your best protection from this type of hacking. It also is prudent to use a different password for each site or account, or, at the very least, use a unique password for your email account, your bank account and any other sensitive accounts. If you’re concerned about keeping track of your passwords, find a password management program to do the work for you.

In my friend’s case, her passwords were pretty good and there was no malware on her computer. But she was careless about where she was logging in. On a recent trip overseas, she used the computer in her hotel lobby to check her email. That was a bad idea.

Computers in hotel lobbies, libraries and other public places are perfect locations for hackers to install key-logging programs. The computers are often poorly secured and get used by dozens of people every day who don’t think twice about logging into their email or bank accounts or entering credit card information to make a purchase. The best practice is to assume that any public computer is compromised and proceed accordingly.

This article was written by Suzanne Kantra and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME How-To

6 Ways To Save Tons of Money Shopping on Amazon This Holiday Season

Inside An Amazon.com Distribution Center On Cyber Monday
An employee loads a truck with boxes to be shipped at the Amazon.com Inc. distribution center in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. on Monday, Nov. 26, 2012. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Try the virtual bargain bins, for example

One of the best places to find a deal online is Amazon. However, not everything is the bargain it appears to be. Just as in the offline world, doing a little research pays.

Check out these tips to ensure you’re getting a great deal while navigating the virtual aisles at Amazon:

1. Shop the bargain bins

Look for what you want in the bargain bins, found through a link named “Today’s Deals” at the top of every Amazon page. On the Today’s Deals landing page, you’ll find the Best Deals section loaded with bargains in every category, the Lightning Deals section with time-sensitive sales—lasting four hours or until the item is sold out—on products from a specific category like automotive or electronics, and a Deal of the Day discount of up to 75% off a single item that changes daily.

On Fridays, find one-day discounts on even more products by clicking on the Friday Sale link at the top of the Today’s Deal’s page, where it’s adjacent to two more links worth using: those to Amazon’s Outlet Center and Warehouse Deals pages.

2. Use a price checker browser plug-in

Don’t assume that any of Amazon’s prices are the lowest available anywhere, especially if the seller is a third-party store. We’ve seen stores on Amazon sell products for as much as twice the retail price, often for products that are outdated or even obsolete.

Check other retailers’ prices and prices at specialty websites—Best Buy for electronics or Home Depot for tools, for example. If it is a hard-to-find item and you really MUST have it at any price, go ahead—at least you’re making an educated choice. Using a browser plug-in like InvisibleHand (for Firefox and Chrome) can make this process easy. When you’re browsing on Amazon, the plug-in will display a notification pop up with the price and location of the better deal if it knows of one.

3. Check the suggested retail price

Know what the real suggested retail price is of the product. Whether by design or error, it’s not that unusual to see inflated retail pricing so your discount appears higher than it actually is.

4. Use a price tracking browser plug-in

If you find an item at Amazon and you’re hoping the price will fall later, consider using the CamelCamelCamel plugin for Firefox, Safari and Chrome. Once installed, you’ll see a graph showing the Amazon price history, if it’s available. You can also sign up to receive email alerts if the price drops below a level.

5. Check out the seller

Look carefully at who is selling and who is shipping the item you want. An item may be shipped by Amazon on behalf of another seller with a returns or exchange policy that is different from Amazon’s—and not to your liking. Items that are both sold and shipped by Amazon will be tagged as eligible for “Super Saver Shipping” or for free shipping via “Amazon Prime” (a pre-paid premium membership plan).

And check out a seller’s feedback rating before buying. If the seller has very few reviews or a satisfaction rating less than 90%, you may want to take your business elsewhere.

6. Use Super Saver Shipping

Super Saver shipping is available only if the total value of everything you’re buying at once is $35 or more—but being just shy of that minimum can push the cost with shipping charges past the price of the item elsewhere. In this case, check out Filler Item Finder. This site suggest items on Amazon priced at exactly the amount you need—or slightly higher—to bring your order to $35. You can sort your results by category, including books, music, groceries and more.

TIME Gadgets

Hands-On With the Fitbit Charge, Charge HR & Surge

Fitbit Surge Fitbit

Fitbit showed off three new activity trackers this week; two fitness bands, the Charge and Charge HR, and one smart fitness watch with built-in GPS, the Surge. I got a hands-on look at the new devices before their launch and it’s evident that Fitbit is stepping up its tech game and gearing up to woo athletes away from the competition.

The Fitbit Charge

The Fitbit Charge, available now, is the promised replacement for the Fitbit Force that was recalled earlier this year when some users complained of skin irritation and rashes from the band. Fitbit calls this new model a reinvented version with not only a better design but more features.

The Charge still measures your steps, distance traveled and calories burned. It now also features automatic sleep detection which monitors the length and quality of your sleep based on an analysis of your motion. Additionally, it displays your phone’s caller ID on your wrist. You can’t actually answer a call or do anything with the information, but it’s good to have when you’re in the middle of a great workout or other situation and can’t grab your phone.

All this is shown on a bright OLED display that’s easy to read and scroll through. The band itself is not as smooth as before, it’s more textured, but that’s ok. It feels comfortable in the hand and on the wrist and didn’t seem too heavy.

The Charge will last up to seven days before needing to be recharged, according to the company. It’s available now in black, blue, burgundy and slate for $129.

The Fitbit Charge HR

Of the three devices I saw, the one I’m most excited about is the Charge HR. It’s basically a Charge with a built-in heart rate monitor so you don’t need to wear a chest strap during spin class or a workout. In fact, using Fitbit’s own PurePulse technology, it can provide a continuous measure of your heart rate, not just when you press start before beginning a work out, as you must do on other devices.

A huge improvement on this device, as well as the Surge below, is the watch-like closure which makes it much easier to put the band on your wrist. Though the notch closures on previous devices have been improved, I continue to struggle to get and keep the band closed on my wrist so I’m happy to see this change. In fact, I’d like to see it on the Charge as well.

All this heart rate monitoring on the Charge HR will cost you. It shaves around two days off the battery life, so you’ll have to recharge every five days or so. Plus it adds $20 to the cost, making this $150 when it becomes available in early 2015.

For serious runners and athletes, or those who like to track their outdoor workouts, the Surge is Fitbit’s most advanced tracker yet. It offers all-day heart rate and fitness tracking and adds in GPS tracking.

The device has eight sensors; accelerometers, gyroscopes, a compass, optical heart rate monitor and an ambient light sensor that all work together to give you a comprehensive summary of your daily activities.

The Fitbit Surge

The Surge is so much more than just a serious fitness tracker. It offers smartwatch features like Caller ID, text alerts and the ability to control your music from your wrist.

I thought this would feel much heavier since the band is a little wider than the one on the Charge, and the backlit LCD touchscreen display is larger. I was pleased to find it didn’t feel clunky and in fact sits nicely on the wrist. The Surge also has the watch-like clasp.

Alas, you’ll have to wait a little longer to go for a run with this GPS-enabled smart fitness tracker. The Surge will be available early next year for $250.

This article was written by Andrea Smith and originally appeared on Techlicious

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TIME Gadgets

Motorola Phone Promises 48-Hour Battery Life

Droid Turbo
Motorola's DROID Turbo smartphone promises 48-hour battery life Motorola

Looking for an Android smartphone with a huge battery that just won’t quit? You may want to check out Motorola’s newest entry in its DROID line of phones, the 5.2-inch DROID Turbo. The device will be available through Verizon Wireless starting on Thursday, October 30.

The most compelling feature of the DROID Turbo is easily its huge 3900-mAh battery. It promises to last a full 48 hours of mixed use on a single charge – approximately double the life of the Apple iPhone 6 Plus. And when time is a factor, you’ll be glad to know the DROID Turbo charges quick: You can get up to eight hours of power out of a brief 15-minute charge when you use the included Motorola Turbo Charger.

The DROID Turbo’s other features are no slouches, either: A 2.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor powers the phone, the same chip found in the powerful Google Nexus 6 (also by Motorola). The 5.2-inch Gorilla Glass screen, meanwhile, delivers stunning 565 pixels-per-inch quad-HD resolution, perfect for watching the 4K video shot from the Turbo’s 21-megapixel camera. And lest you wonder, yes, the DROID Turbo comes pre-loaded with Android 4.4.4 KitKat, the latest build of Google’s mobile operating system.

The DROID Turbo will be available with 32 gigabytes of storage in your choice of Metallic Black, Metallic Red and Ballistic Nylon colors for $199 with a new two-year Verizon contract. A 64-gigabyte version will be available in Ballistic Nylon only at a price of $249 with a two-year contract. To learn more about the new DROID Turbo smartphone, visit the Motorola blog.

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME How-To

6 Things to Do Before Selling Your Android Phone

Looking to donate, hand down or sell your old Android device? You’ll want to make sure you have a copy of all of your personal data and that you’re not leaving any of your personal data behind for the new owner. Here’s how. (Steps for iPhone owners can be found here.)

1. Back up your data and settings to your Google account

Save backups of your app data (saved games, etc.), contacts, calendar entries, Gmail, documents in Google Drive, web browser bookmarks, Google+ photos and more to your Google account. Ensure all of your data has been backed up recently by heading over to Settings > Accounts (tap Google) > Select Google account > check everything you want to sync.

You can also back up your Wi-Fi passwords and other device settings. You can find this option under Settings > Backup & reset > and check “Back up my data.”

For a one-stop backup solution, try MyBackup Pro ($2.99) or Helium (free for backup to internal SD card or $4.99 for Helium Premium for backup to your desktop or cloud service).

2. Back up your photos and videos

Back up all of your photos and videos to the cloud or manually to your computer. To back up to the cloud, you can use a number of cloud storage options, including Dropbox, Flickr, Microsoft OneDrive and Google Photos. All of these let you set your device to automatically back up your photos as you take them or only when you’re connected to Wi-Fi. If you haven’t signed up for a service already, Flickr, gives you the most free storage — one terabyte.

To back up your photos and videos to your computer, you’ll need to connect your phone to your computer. If you’ve never connected it before, you may need to install software or drivers. If you do, you’ll be prompted through the process.

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Microsoft

Your photos and videos are stored on the phone’s memory and may be saved to the phone’s SD card, if it has one. Open both locations — the Phone folder and Card folder. Inside, open the “DCIM” folder. Inside that, you’ll find folders that contain all of your photos and videos. Copy and paste the ones you want to your computer and then delete the DCIM folder and its contents in both the Phone folder and the Card folder.

For an extra measure of security, you can shred your files when you delete them. We like File Shredder (free) for Windows PCs and Permanent Eraser (free) for Macs.

3. Back up your texts and call log

If you’re concerned about keeping a copy of your text messages and call log, you’ll want to back those up separately. One of the easiest to use is SMS Backup + (free in Google Play). The app stores each entry in a folder in your Gmail. If you’re an AT&T or Verizon customer, you can back up your call logs and texts with the AT&T Messages app and Verizon Cloud.

4. Encrypt your data

Once you have all of your data backed up, it’s time to wipe it from your device. To ensure all of your data is gone, you’ll need to do more than perform a factory reset. In a recent study by Avast, the company found photos and other personal data on factory reset phones.

First, you’ll want to encrypt your data. That means that if someone wants to see any data on your phone, they’ll need your password to decrypt it. To encrypt your data, go to Settings > Security > Encrypt phone. You also have the option of encrypting the SD card. Only do that if you plan on handing over the SD card along with the device.

5. Disable reactivation lock

Disable the reactivation lock, if you’ve set it. You’ll find it in Settings > Security > and uncheck “Reactivation lock.”

6. Perform a factory reset

Perform a factory reset on your phone. Go to Settings > Backup & reset > Factory data reset and then tap “Reset phone.”

For a visual guide of steps four and six, here’s a video about how to properly wipe an Android phone or tablet:

This article was written by Suzanne Kantra and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME Gadgets

4 Products That Will Save You Hundreds On Your Utility Bills

If you’re looking to save money every month, your family’s home electric bill is a good place to start. Smart, green tech updates will save a lot of electricity — and money — over the course of a year. Even small changes add up quickly.

From home heating to lighting, I’ve compiled a list of four simple tech upgrades for your home that will save you a combined $225 per year on your utility bills. Most can be installed yourself with a little bit of handyman knowhow. And, once they’re installed, these devices are smart enough to take care of racking up the savings.

Honeywell Lyric Smart Thermostat

Average savings: $130 per year*

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Honeywell

One of the most powerful ways to save money on your home heating bills in the winter and electricity bills in the summer is to install a smart thermostat like the Honeywell Lyric. It takes indoor and outdoor humidity and temperature into account when cooling or heating your house, making temperature settings feel more consistent from season to season. You can even have the Lyric track your smartphone’s location, automatically turning the AC or furnace off when you’re away and turning them on when you return. And, of course, you can always control settings manually on the thermostat itself or via the included Lyric app.

The Honeywell Lyric Wi-Fi Enabled Thermostat is currently available for purchase through amazon.com for $239.01. Be sure to check with your local utility to see if any special rebates are available to lower the price even further.

Lutron Occupancy-Sensing Light Switch

Average savings: $10 per year per switch*

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Lutron

Does it feel like there’s one room of the house where the lights are always on, even though no one ever seems to be in there? Fight back against wasteful lighting with the Lutron Maestro occupancy sensor switch. It’s a replacement for a standard light switch that senses when people enter and leave a room (from up to 30 feet away), turning the lights on and off as needed. Advanced XCT technology helps the switch know when you’re moving around a room, so you won’t get accidentally left in the dark. Smarter yet, if the Maestro sensor detects enough natural light, the switch stays off. I like it for guest bathrooms, utility rooms and other places people typically stumble around looking for the light switch.

You can find the Lutron MS-OPS2-WH Maestro 250 Watt Occupancy Sensor Switch in a wide range of designer colors at amazon.com starting at $23.85. A version with a dimmer is also available starting at $34.98.

Belkin Conserve Smart Power Strip

Average savings: $75 per year*

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Belkin

Your home entertainment center is likely hiding a large number of energy vampires – devices like DVD players and video game consoles that suck up large amounts of electricity even when they’re not in use. The Belkin Conserve Smart Power Strip fights back against this problem in a unique way by offering a remote switch that can turn up to eight connected devices 100% off from 60 feet away. Just as importantly, this strip also offers two always-on slots for anything that truly needs power 24/7. The Conserve has 1,000 joules of surge protection and is backed with a limited one-year warranty and $100,000 connected equipment warranty.

You can find the Belkin Conserve AV Switch for sale at amazon.com for $51.36.

Cree 3-Way LED Lightbulb

Average Savings: $9.88 per year per bulb*

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Cree

If you’re still using energy-wasting incandescent bulbs, the time is right to consider trying LED home lighting technology. This three-way bulb from Cree puts out up to 1,620 lumens of soft warm white light (2700K). The color is better than with older CFL bulbs, and the energy savings are better too. Just note that these three-way bulbs have an unusual base shape that may not fit smaller fixtures. The regular Cree bulbs have a base that’s similar to incandescent bulbs.

You can find the Cree 3-Way LED Lightbulb for sale on amazon.com for $27.55 each or a regular 60-watt replacement for $12.95 on amazon.com. They are pricey, but consider that each one will save you approximately $10 per year on your electric bills over the cost of an incandescent.

*Savings estimate for the Honeywell Lyric from GreenOhm (for Honeywell) based on a home located in Newton, NJ. Estimate for the Belkin Conserve based on a TV, DVD Player, VCR, game console, subwoofer and compact stereo on but not active for 19 hours per day at $0.117 per kilowatt hour. Estimate for the Cree LED lightbulb based on use as a substitute for a 100W incandescent. Estimate for the Lutron Occupancy-Sensing Light Switch based on 1,000 wasted hours per year of 100W light.

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME How-To

5 Tips for Getting More Out of Gmail

Gmail is a comprehensive, powerful email program, but it can be confusing, even for those like me who have been using it since it launched in beta in 2004.

That’s because Google likes to add new features to improve the way it works. Some changes are welcome, like the tabs feature that sorts incoming mail into types of mail. Others may streamline the look, but hide basic options, like changing the subject on an email reply. So I’ve pulled together the five features I find most useful in the current iteration of Gmail.

Adding a calendar entry from Gmail

If you get a lot of invites in your email–whether they’re for social events or just plain old work meetings–it’s now easier than ever to add them directly to your Google calendar from an open email. Look for any dates or times in the email and you’ll see dashes appear under those words. Click the date and you’ll get a prompt asking if you want to “Add to Calendar.” Clicking yes shows you your calendar for that date with the event filled in. You can change the date and time and name of the event, before adding it to your calendar. Google also includes a link back to the original email right in your calendar entry.

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Google

If Google hasn’t identified a date or time within an email, you can still add the entry without leaving your email. With the message open, click the “More” drop-down menu on top of the email. Select “Create event” and your email message will show up in the description section. You can then edit and enter details and click “save”.

Adding a person’s info to your contacts

One of the things I love about Gmail is the ability to easily update a person’s contact information right from within an email. It’s just a little tricky to find this option. In an open email, scan over to the right, just above the ads. This is where you see the option to chat with, email or start a video call with this person.

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Google

Next to those icons is a little downward-pointing arrow that gives you more options if you click it. The top option is “Add to contacts” or “edit contact details,” if you have the person already in your address book. Before you click that, copy any info from that person’s signature that you want to paste into their contact entry. Now click edit contact details and you’ll see that person’s name and email address auto-populate in the proper fields. Paste the extra info like phone number and address into the notes field for easy access while you’re editing the contact information. All changes are saved automatically.

Once you’re done, simply hit the back button on your browser to go back to your email.

Sorting and labeling incoming email

One of Google’s recent “improvements” to Gmail is customizable tabs which separate incoming email into categories; Primary, Social and Promotions. Primary is email sent specifically to you, or that you mark as important. Social is email from social networking sites like LinkedIn, Pinterest and Facebook. Promotions is where I find my Groupon emails and other newsletters that I subscribe to. I like this system because it lets me scan my inbox and see what needs tending to first. Then I can go through my LinkedIn updates and ultimately see if there’s a good neighborhood restaurant on Groupon.

The problem with this is that some emails which are sent to multiple users may wind up in the Promotions tab, leading you to believe they’re unimportant – or worse, spam. For instance, the Techlicious Newsletter appears under my Promotions tab, so I don’t see it when first perusing my email in the morning.

It’s easy enough to train Gmail to send items to the proper tab. To move the newsletters and emails that are important to you, simply drag them to the tab you want them to appear in. For instance, I dragged the Techlicious newsletter from the Promotions tab and moved it to my Primary tab. Google asked “do this for future messages?” Clicking “yes” taught Google to send it to my Primary tab the next time. Another option is to right click on the message in your inbox. You’ll get an option to move it to any of the other two folders, or archive or delete it.

You can customize these tabs to your liking. Click the + sign all the way to the right of the tabs and you’ll be given the option of adding Updates and Forums as folders. You’ll be given a preview of email senders from your own inbox that will be sent to each tab. Play around with this feature and choose what works best for you. If you can’t stand the idea of emails being sorted into folders, use this feature to de-select everything but Primary and all of your emails will appear in one folder.

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Google

Creating and using filters

While we’re on the subjects of sorting emails, it’s really important to know how to create filters for certain types of emails. You can use a filter to label, archive or even delete emails without them ever seeing the light of day in your inbox.

To send non-priority updates — like deals from a favorite retailer — to a folder where you can find them if you want to, open the email and click the more button on top of the screen.

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Google

Now click “Filter messages like these.” You’ll see a pop-up window with the email address of the sender already filled in. Now select “create a filter” and you’ll see a box with different options. I generally select Skip the Inbox (archive it) and then apply a label, like LinkedIn or Facebook.

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Google

Now, when those messages come in, they’re automatically archived and sent to specific folders that I can peruse when I have time. You can also use filters to mark items important, or have email from a specific person – like your boss or your spouse – get sorted into a folder of its own.

Changing the subject line in a reply

This is a question I get asked all the time: “How do you change the subject line in an email reply?” Often, someone will reply to an earlier email I’ve sent and include brand new information on an entirely different topic than the original exchange, but the subject line doesn’t reflect that.

To change or update the subject, click reply in an open email and you’ll see that downward-facing arrow next to the reply arrow. Click that and you’ll see options to either reply, reply all, forward or edit subject.

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Google

Could they have buried that feature any deeper? Now, you can delete, or write URGENT or New Info or whatever else you might want to add to the subject.

What are your favorite Gmail tips and tricks? Let us know what you found, or if you have any Gmail questions we can answer.

This article was written by Andrea Smith and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME Apps & Web

The Best Browser Privacy Tools (That Don’t Make Life More Difficult)

Privacy
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In a year when social media giants and governments alike have made headlines for tracking users online without their consent, battening down the virtual hatches has become a vital part of Internet hygiene.

Blocking tracking technologies, however, also disables those handy auto-fill log-ins and web personalization features, preventing you from easily shopping online and making your web experience feel as if you’re back in 1999.

So we went in search of privacy tools that don’t impact your browsing experience. We tested browser tools ranging from the basic Private Mode on all browsers to full-featured ad blockers. We looked at the four most-used browsers in the United States: Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer. Here’s what we found to be most helpful for safeguarding your privacy and anonymity — and what measures of convenience you might have to give up if you use them.

The lowdown on cookies

Cookies are small text files that contain one or more bits of information about your computer, most commonly a user ID a website assigns you in order to keep track of your movements through the site. Cookies are often essential to using a site successfully, enabling you to check out from shopping sites or click around Facebook without having to repeatedly re-enter your password.

These first-party cookies come from the website you’re on and exist mostly to offer you a personalized web experience. Benefits include greeting you by name, giving you weather data relevant to your home location and keeping track of your achievements in a game.

It’s the third-party cookies from ads on the websites you visit that track you as you move between websites. Advertisers place these cookies in their advertisements, allowing them to follow your movements among the network of sites where they advertise.

Information about your surfing patterns goes toward compiling a profile of preferences and basic personal data — things like location, age and gender — that is used to create targeted advertising. If you’ve clicked on a lot of gardening sites, for example, targeted ad placements could even show you ads for tools or plants on non-gardening sites. If that bothers you, you can disable third-party cookies in your browser settings.

Browse in private mode

Seeing targeted advertising probably doesn’t bother most people if all they’re surfing for is news, cute cat pictures or a new iPhone. But for looking up information about something like health concerns, privacy mode allows you to browse without associating the search with your existing profile.

To open a private window in your browser:

  • Firefox: Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+P
  • Chrome: Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+N
  • Safari: Safari/Private Browsing
  • Internet Explorer: Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+P

This turns off your web history and enables the cookies necessary for the site to work but blocks third-party cookies. At the end of the session, all cookies are deleted.

The downside

Browsing in private mode does not stop the website from recording that you were there based on your IP address, which can still be tracked. And, crucially, private mode doesn’t stop social networks from tracking you. It’s best used for hiding activity on a shared computer rather than actually remaining invisible online.

Block third-party cookies

Third-party cookies aren’t the only way to track people around the Internet, but disabling them in your browser’s settings means advertisers can no longer store files on your browser to track your web surfing.

Here’s how to block third-party cookies, assuming you’re running the most recent versions of the browsers (a good idea from a security point of view):

  • Chrome: Preferences > Show Advanced Options (at the bottom) > Privacy > Content settings > Check “block third party cookies and site data.”
  • Internet Explorer: Tools > Internet Options > Privacy > Move the slider to the level of cookies you want blocked
  • Firefox: Preferences > Privacy > History > Select “Use custom settings for history,” then set “Accept third-party cookies” to Never.
  • Safari: Preferences > Privacy > Select to block cookies “from third parties and advertisers.”

The downside

Some websites require third-party cookies to work; for example, Microsoft asks you to accept cookies when downloading an update. In these cases, head into your browser settings and add the sites as exceptions.

Block the Flash super cookie

Sites may store Flash cookies on your computer regardless of whether you have allowed third-party cookies. Flash cookies can’t be easily deleted, and they may be downloaded to your computer from any website running Adobe Flash (such as sites with video or an interactive application). Designed to locally store your settings for the rich web apps that Flash enables, the capability for the Flash plug-in to allow other sites to store files in a user’s computer can also be hijacked by advertisers wanting a new way to track Internet users.

Flash cookies can identify you across different browsers on the same device and, in some cases, have been found to regenerate deleted browser cookies. Because they have far more storage (up to 100KB) than other cookies, they can contain more complex information about your habits. Like browser cookies, Flash cookies are used by websites to deliver a customized experience as well as give advertisers extra data.

Cookie cleaners and Flash player settings

Blocking Flash entirely could be an option with script-blockers such as NoScript (Firefox) or ScriptNo (Chrome). However, such plug-ins stop all Flash and Java on all pages, breaking the sites in many cases, until you can customize the settings so that trusted objects and pages can run freely. This can take a long time and represent a pain for the less technically minded.

If you use Firefox, you can download the BetterPrivacy, which automatically deletes Flash cookies as they crop up (as well as clearing cookies already there). You can also whitelist necessary Flash cookies, such as cookies used when playing a game.

If you’re not on Firefox, you’ll have to dig into your computer. First, disable future Flash cookies from being left on the machine. If you’re on a PC, open Control Panel and click on Flash player > Local Storage settings by site. You’ll find the default is “Allow All Websites to Store Data”; change it to “Block All Websites from Storing Data.” Then you can easily delete the Flash cookies by hitting the neighboring Delete All button, followed by “Delete All Site Data and Settings.”

If you’re on a Mac, change your Flash settings online at Macromedia by clicking on Global Storage Settings in the (pretty clunky) Flash-based settings manager. Uncheck the box for allowing third-party Flash content to store data on your computer. Then pull the slider for how much data third-party companies can store on your machine to None (far left).

Finally, to delete sites that have already left cookies on your computer, grab the free download CCleaner (Mac/PC), which deletes both Flash and browser cookies.

The downside

Sites including eBay use Flash cookies to verify your identity, so deleting them across the board can mean needing to re-enter passwords more frequently.

Dodge tracking you never signed up for

Microsoft recently announced it would not scan any of the content in its Outlook.com inboxes to use in targeted advertising, but Google makes no such promise with Gmail — quite the opposite.

As for the social networks, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn track users even after they’ve signed out — and even if you don’t click on a social media sharing button. The very act of landing on a page with a social-share button means it relays back to the social network. Sophos’ security blog has a straightforward account of how Twitter does it and how you can opt out. (Remember that opting out doesn’t stop ads or the collecting of information.)

In addition, Facebook uses an alternative to tracking cookies called a conversion pixel, which advertisers affix to their ads to see how many clicks they get. So a website doesn’t need a Facebook button to let Facebook know you’ve been there.

Anti-tracker plug-in Do Not Track Me (Chrome/Firefox/Safari/Internet Explorer) stops a website from sending information back to Facebook or Google unless you actually click one of the +1 or Like buttons. It also blocks other trackers and boasts a clean, intuitive interface for customizing blocking options. The Mask My Email and Make Me A Strong Password features help deter spam and hackers. When you’re signing up for a new account, masking your email address stops potentially dodgy sites from selling your real email address, while the password option creates a hard-to-guess password (that, crucially, isn’t the same as one you already use), then saves it in the plug-in’s encrypted password manager.

On the toolbar, clicking the Do Not Track Me icon shows how many trackers it has blocked — for me, 666 in under 24 hours.

Disconnect (Chrome/Firefox/Safari/Opera) is a similar plug-in that offers the additional benefit of dividing trackers into social, analytic and advertising categories. A graph shows the time and bandwidth saved by blocking trackers requesting information, and you get the option of adding trusted sites (and their cookies) to a whitelist.

The downside

There’s little downside to taking any of these anti-tracking measures. The only thing these scrappy little guys don’t do is block ads; you’ll still see them, but they won’t be targeted based on your previous clicks.

Kill most ads

Many companies (including Facebook, Twitter and Amazon) promise to honor opt-outs for “interest-based” advertising. But while opting out stops companies from delivering targeted ads based on what you’ve clicked on, it does not stop ads based on general information such as your location or other details you may have volunteered while signing up for the account. Crucially, it doesn’t stop companies tracking you and collecting your data.

To prevent ads from showing at all, thus thwarting the purpose of tracking via third-party cookies or other means, try a plug-in such as AdBlock Plus (for Chrome/Firefox/Safari/Internet Explorer), which blocks “annoying” ads: video ads, Facebook ads, pop-ups and the like. By default, a whitelist of ads that fall under the developer’s guidelines for acceptability is allowed, but you can change this setting to disable all ads.

You can also add different filters to block more or different types of ads. For example, the anti-social filter blocks social media buttons from transmitting back to the mother ship that you were there, neatly avoiding the all-seeing Facebook eye.

AdBlock Plus also blocks trackers and websites known to deliver malware.

The downside

Blocking ads deprives sites of revenue, and many websites rely on ad revenue to stay afloat. Unless you tinker with the settings for which ads should be allowed at different sites (a process that may take a long time to complete), you may end up depriving your favorite sites of those caching clicks.

Search securely

Two-thirds of U.S. search traffic is made through Google, distantly followed by Microsoft’s Bing (19%) and Yahoo (10%). While Google’s search algorithms turn up highly relevant results for most of us (in May, 31% of all Internet traffic came from Google, versus less than 2% for Bing and Yahoo combined), there’s an additional trade-off: Search results are also personalized based on what you’ve clicked on in the past.

That may not seem like such a big deal until you consider that Google also combines your search history with other information from your Google accounts, such as YouTube and Gmail, for use in targeted ad campaigns. Search histories can reveal highly personal information such as your interests, religion or health issues, substantially filling out the information already compiled from your YouTube clicks and Gmail messages.

Instead of switching to another Big Three search engine, try DuckDuckGo, which doesn’t log your searches so that all users get the same results. In our test, searches for subjects including current events (“Hong Kong protests”), general knowledge (“why is the sky blue”) and straightforward subjects (Halloween costumes), helpful links turned up in the first half of the page. However, when we typed the more ambiguous phrase “Tuscany fall cuisine,” only Google noted that we wanted autumnal food in Italy, not the town called Tuscany Falls.

DuckDuckGo also offers many of the same convenience features as Google, including a good range of “zero-click info.” For example, type “weather in California,” “650 USD in EUR” or any calculator function such as “square root of 60,” and the answer is displayed above a list of link results.

Similarly privacy-centric search providers include Ixquick, which doesn’t store your IP address or search data (and consequently doesn’t sell any of your information), delivering results based on what the five major search engines are saying. Two or more stars indicate multiple search engines have relayed the same result. However, Ixquick lacks the uber-convenient zero-click search.

Finally, the Disconnect anti-tracker plug-in also has a separate search extension that anonymizes your searches in any of the Big Three search engines as well as DuckDuckGo itself.

The downside

Auto-complete in Google Search has been a godsend when it comes to typing searches for news and factoids you can’t quite recall. Not having a search history also means not having those purpled-out links that indicate at a glance which sites you’ve previously visited (handy when you’ve forgotten to bookmark a great source).

The all-in-one option

Not up to fine-tuning settings, cherry-picking plug-ins and switching to a new search engine?

Get a whole new browser. The Epic Browser offers privacy mode as the default and only option. Epic doesn’t store web histories, search queries or cookies. Clicking on a plug icon in the URL bar turns on a proxy feature that anonymizes your computer by routing your traffic through a U.S.-based proxy network.

Epic also blocks trackers with a handy pop-up telling you exactly how many it’s blocked — and just to rub its success in competitors’ noses, it shows how many trackers exist on the other browsers you’re using. On my computer, Firefox had 143 data-collecting trackers (including Amazon, Experian, all the social networks and a ton of ad providers); Safari had 56 (including BuzzFeed, LinkedIn and Tumblr); and my Chrome browser with Do Not Track Me Plus running let through just two (eBay and ad provider Double Click).

The downside

It’s back to the caveman days of manually typing everything in, from passwords to URLs. There’s no auto-fill feature for log-ins or website addresses, because Epic doesn’t store any history. Nor does Epic save passwords, and it doesn’t yet work with password managers, so you’ll either have to remember all your log-ins or save them on your hard drive.

Browsing completely anonymously (mostly)

All of the options we’ve discussed prevent third parties from tracking you within and across websites. However, the website can still see where you came from through your IP address, and that address could be used as an alternate means of tracking your activities. For example, a person or company who disagreed with your comments on a site could use your IP information to track you down and sue you for libel.

To hide your IP address from being uncovered, you will need to use either an anonymous web proxy or virtual private network (VPN) service. Both not only mask your IP address from the website you’re visiting, but will also prevent anyone who monitors your network (e.g., your employer) from monitoring the sites you’re visiting.

The downside

Some of these services have stronger privacy options than others, and many are still susceptible to disclosure if they receive a legal subpoena from the jurisdiction where they’re located. Read our article on VPNs and web proxies for more details.

Future tracking options

What we do online has value to companies now because of what we may buy if we’re shown the relevant advertising. Down the line, we might be the ones negotiating the worth of our web habits.

Encrypt your own web behavior

The Meeco app for iOS recently launched with the ability to log your web visits — where you visited and for how long — and save the traffic into an encrypted cloud accessible only by you. Websites can only see what you click on while you’re on them, not what you do after and before, preventing the site from building a profile of you. The software also analyzes your usage patterns so you can glean insight into your habits — the same insight brands buy from data brokers now. Eventually, the idea is to create a data framework where users can offer such data to brands in exchange for loyalty points, discounts or other incentives.

Founder and CEO Katryna Dow says an aim is to help people understand that the value of their data is invaluable — and, at the moment, immeasurable.

A Meeco browser extension for Chrome and Firefox is available in beta; currently, users must manually add favorite sites to the dashboard, then click them in order to launch the site in the browser’s (natively available) private window.

The downside

Right now, the browser extension does not save the traffic to your Meeco encrypted account (as the iOS app does), but Dow says the company is looking at including the feature in future updates.

Where to draw the privacy line

Being tracked and advertised to by the websites we use is the trade-off for a free Internet. In fact, there are some really good reasons for why you may want to be tracked online,

But not drawing our own line at how much privacy we are willing to give up could mean some companies will cross that line when it comes to where they scrape information about us. Your likes, dislikes and identifying details taken from email, private messages or personal notes could then be linked (as Google already does) to information from other facets of your online life, and companies or the government may eventually make assumptions about who you are before offering you a service. Whether you find that convenient or creepy, it’s something everyone should have control over, not default into.

What do you think? Have you downloaded browser plug-ins to control your privacy, or do you believe that targeted advertising is what makes the Internet go?

This article was written by Natasha Stokes and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME Security

Google Now Supports USB Security Keys for Two-Step Verification

Most security experts agree that you should secure all your online accounts with two-step verification when you can. It’s an important additional security feature that requires you to have access to a physical item (typically, a mobile phone) to gain access to your online accounts.

After entering your password, you enter a second code from your smartphone to double-verify your identity. With two-step verification enabled, even if someone steals your current password through a hack, they won’t be able to enter your accounts unless they also steal that physical item – a requirement that stops most bad guys in their tracks.

Of course, there are always situations where you may not want to use – or simply don’t have access to – a mobile phone. That’s why Google announced the launch of Security Key. It enables two-step authentication for your Google accounts through the use of a physical USB stick.

“Security Key is a physical USB second factor that only works after verifying the login site is truly a Google website, not a fake site pretending to be Google,” the company explains on its official UK blog. “Rather than typing a code, just insert Security Key into your computer’s USB port and tap it when prompted in Chrome. When you sign into your Google Account using Chrome and Security Key, you can be sure that the cryptographic signature cannot be phished.”

Security Key requires a USB drive to work, so it’s not compatible with most mobile phones and tablets. Security Key also requires you to use the Chrome web browser (version 38 or newer) to complete verification. And, of course, there are questions about just how secure the USB format is in general due to the recently discovered BadUSB vulnerability.

If you want to give Security Key a try, you’ll need to purchase a FIDO U2F-certified key to use with the feature. You can buy a basic USB security key on Amazon for $5.99, or something slightly sturdier with a button for $17.99. You can learn how to register and add a Security Key to your Google account by visiting the Google Help page.

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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