When to perform system updates and troubleshoot password issues

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Question: I have an HP Pavilion laptop which is about 1 1/2 years old and am quite happy with its performance. Recently I got a notice from HP support that it was time to update the system BIOS. While doing some initial research on the issue, I discovered that such updates can pose a risk to the computer as they can actually interfere with the proper boot functions of the hardware. I’ve seen other warnings online saying that you don’t need to install a BIOS update unless it fixes a particular issue. At the moment my computer is working fine. Currently, I am undecided. What you say?

Stuart cohen

A: You’ve done some good research. My rule of thumb is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. “

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Updates to the Basic Input / Output System (BIOS) will not improve computer performance and generally will not resolve security issues. They can be issued to fix bugs or to support new hardware. So if you haven’t experienced any issues with the computer, I wouldn’t install the update unless it includes the specific features you need. This could be, for example, support for a newer central processing unit that you want to install on the computer.

Question: My home router has the Wi-Fi Service Set Identifier (SSID) set to “hidden” so its name is not visible to nearby devices. It may not prevent hackers from accessing, but at least the average person nearby wouldn’t have this basic information to try to find or gain access to my network. I am using a strong password in combination with a long SSID.

After connecting to my home Wi-Fi network with an iPhone (iOS 14.7), the Info icon for this connection has the following comment: “Hidden network. Using a hidden network can expose personally identifiable information. If this is your Wi-Fi network, configure the router to broadcast this network.

How could Personally Identifiable Information be more vulnerable to discovery when an SSID is not broadcast? What is your advice on SSID broadcast for a home network?

Jerry rudy

A: It’s a debate that I’m revisiting for one simple reason: An experienced hacker can find your network whether or not your Wi-Fi router broadcasts its SSID. So, by disabling your SSID broadcast, you will only prevent inexperienced hackers from trying to guess your password. A strong password and the use of the WPA / WPA2 security protocol provide a better guarantee of security.

Here’s the thing, though. Yes, disabling SSID broadcast does not mean your router is invisible to users within range. It just means that the name of your router is not listed and is instead replaced with “hidden network”. As some reviewers have pointed out, it can actually attract experienced hackers who think you might have something to hide that is worth hacking.

Question: I have had a Comcast email address for many years without any problems. However, on June 23 of last year when I opened my Windows Mail I received a dialog from my mail server stating that there was a problem with my Comcast password. A computer savvy friend said to go ahead and change the password and things like this happen all the time. So I went ahead and changed my password, which wasn’t difficult.

A month later, however, the same thing happened and I changed my password again.

Overall, I have changed my password 28 times in the past 13 months, and it has become a major annoyance.

I called Comcast tech support and got some vague information that my email might have been the subject of random malware attacks, probably of foreign derivation. I am deeply suspicious of this because it seems to me that Comcast has the means to keep malware off its servers. I suspect that something on my computer like a password backup application is causing this problem.

Do you have any ideas?

Emery bayley

A: Email service providers will prompt users to change their password when algorithms detect suspicious behavior in your email account that may indicate that it has been compromised. If you are repeatedly asked to change your password, the most likely explanation, as you suspect, is that you have malware on your computer. This is, I believe, what Comcast tech support inferred.

If you haven’t installed any anti-virus / anti-malware software yet, I would definitely recommend that you do so right away and run a full scan.


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