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Ransomware threatens you and your computer

11:01 PM, Sep. 16, 2013  |  Comments
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Q: I just had a message pop up on my computer. It says the FBI detected child pornography on my computer and I have to pay a fine! Is this for real? What do I do?

A: You can calm down; this isn't a real message from the FBI. It's a type of virus called ransomware. Hackers use it to scare you into paying them money. In some cases, ransomware can even lock up your computer or files until you pay. You need to run a virus scan right away. If your scanner doesn't detect a problem, try another scanner like Malwarebytes. This should detect and remove the virus.

Q: I'm worried my kids will download infected programs to my computer. How can I stop them from downloading?

A: Windows, and OS X on Mac, allows you to create several user accounts. If you create a Standard account for your kids, they can't install anything without your permission. You can find user accounts in Control Panel>>Users on Windows and System Preferences>>Users & Groups on Mac. Just be sure to password protect the administrator account so the kids can't access it.

Q: I'd like to practice my Italian before my trip to Italy next year. Is there a place to practice online?

A: There are plenty of online resources for learning a language. Live Mocha can put you in contact with native Italian speakers. Digital Dialects helps you learn through games. If you want a comprehensive course, you can find free language courses originally developed for the U.S. government at FSI Language Courses. Between these, you should be all set. But if you want a backup, grab an app like Word Lens. It can translate signs and text for you in real time.

Q: I have an Apple MacBook Pro and my kid put an SD card in the DVD slot. I can't get it out. Is there a way to fix this?

A: This is actually a common problem with slot-loaded DVD drives. An easy way to fix it is to find a piece of cardboard. Cut it into the shape of an "L'' and then stick the short segment into the DVD slot. Rotate it so the short part gets behind the SD card and then pull it out. No problem.

Q: I'm moving to London soon. Is there a cheap way to make calls back to friends and family in the States?

A: Thanks to the Internet, there are plenty of ways. Skype is a popular option. It has versions for the computer and mobile gadgets. You can make low-cost international calls to land­lines. However, if the person you're calling also has Skype, it's free. You can do the same thing with services like Oovoo and Viber. Plus, these all work over a Wi-Fi connection as well as cellular. So when you're on the go, you can pop into a coffee shop and make calls without using your data plan.

- Email Kim Komando at techcomments@

usatoday.com.

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