GTT Edmonton Meeting Notes, Stay Safe Online, November 11, 2019

            Summary Notes

GTT Edmonton Meeting November 11, 2019


The most recent meeting of the Get Together with Technology (GTT) Edmonton Chapter was held November11 at 7pm at Ascension Lutheran Church 8405 83 Street in Edmonton.

17 people attended.

Reading Tip: These summary notes apply HTML headings to help navigate the document. With screen readers, you may press the H key to jump forward or Shift H to jump backward from heading to heading. Read the Additional Resources section following the meeting notes to learn about our one on one telephone support, the National monthly teleconference, and the support email list.


2020 Membership Dues

Thank you to those who paid their CCB 2020 membership. We have a total of 32 paid up members for 2020.


November Topic –Stay Safe Online

Lisa Boone from the Athabasca University informed us of many perils we need to be aware of in the online world and she provided recommendations for dealing with those security concerns.

Disclaimer: The opinions and recommendations of Lisa’s are her own and not endorsed by the Canadian Council of the Blind. However, Lisa is an IT  professional and her comments and recommendations are worthy of your consideration as you evaluate how to stay safe online. Following is a summary of her presentation.


Internet Browser Address Bar Secure Indications:

For browsers such as Chrome, Edge, Safari, Firefox – consistent across all of them the address bar says httpsfor secure connection, the https means you are communicating with a legitimate web site and the data you send to that site is encrypted. Don’t communicate with sites that show only http instead of https in their address.

Visually, secure sites also show a padlock icon and screen readers will announce that the site is secure. You may need to press Shift+Tab at the address bar to have your screen reader read the secure designation.


When it comes to online banking there is an EV certificate, a third party that confirms a safe site (I.e., digicertt). In a browser address bar these EV certificates show a banks name (e.g. TD Bank, then the https and the text are green. Red colour means it is not secure. Chrome now does not indicate this way when an EV certificate is confirmed. Other browsers currently show the EV certificate. Safari shows the certificate by using green text in the address bar


Stop using Internet Explorer. Microsoft does not support it if it gets hacked.


Using apps or browsers?

Is it more secure to use the web site or app? (e.g. Amazon, eBay, Kijiji, etc.). Safer to use an app on mobile devices then a browser. On a computer, there is no real best way app or browser.


Apps leak information. App developers never tell us they leak. Info can be username, password, email address. Apps can send packets of data and malicious people grab those packets.

Android is wide open, and you are not sure an app is encrypting your data you may want to look at the Check out the recon site and download the app to see what network traffic is going out without you knowing.   tracks what kind of traffic is going out from your phone so it blocks info going out from phone (android, iOS, windows).

Also, ask the app vendor if the app data they send out from your phone is being encrypted. Less risk with apple developers then other operating systems.



Do not use birthdates, names, mother’s maiden name or addresses

Try to make a password at minimum 8 characters

Use sentences, phrases, symbols and numbers in place of letters.


Online shopping:

Use a separate credit card with a lower limit or debit visa that is separate from our normal account. That way hackers are not accessing your major credit cards and accounts. Vanilla or prepaid credit cards can be safer because they are not linked to you.


Sign up to Take Advantage of a deal:

Anytime you need to create an account just to get a promotion like Spotify, Recipes, etc. use a junk email you’ve created for just such instances and let it receive all the resulting spam that typically follows. Remember the email and password because you may have to verify it from an authentication email.


Often email providers require 2 factor authentication. This is encouraged so that the person trying to access your email account, needs to also have your phone number or fingerprint.


Email Accounts:

Don’t install Gmail or Outlook on a computer. Use a browser to access emails if accessible. When you open an email that has malware, the browser server gets to deal with it, not your local hard drive. Never open attachments that end in the extension .exe or .bat. Be suspicious of any link that says click here.


Phishing Emails:

Most phishing activity is about banking. They want you to click their website and log in to your account. The result is they now have your username and password.

These are scammers trying to get access. Their fishing emails are usually shocking and look accurate. No government, bank or large corporation is going to ask you for private information or money. Check the email address. Big companies will not use outlook, Gmail or Hotmail. Apple or your IT department.

This is the email version of the fake phone calls from Revenue Canada, Microsoft, the bank.



Scammers do this all day every day. Always be aware. One of the first things to ask them is “what is my name?”. There are social media scams such as if you pay $ you will get a gift card from Costco.

In Canada, the only thing required of someone if you win something is to answer a skill testing question.

Your email may be actually sending the email. Never click on a link in an email when they claim you’ve won something. You can phone your bank or CRA to confirm. Don’t respond. Delete it forever.


Fraud Reporting Departments:

Big companies like Amazon often have a fraud reporting department. does investigation of rumors and hoaxes like costco or walmart card. They will tell you if its true or not


The Anti Fraud Center, RCMP, and Consumer Affairs Canada  are all good reliable sources to check for information about fraud and scams. Please report fraud.


Other Safety Tips:

  • Don’t willingly give codes or personal information. Ensure they confirm your info rather than you divulging it.
  • Debit machines have red tape on them to show the debit machine has not been tampered with.
  • Place daily limits and weekly limits on withdrawals of bank accounts.
  • Use tap as it is safer or Apple Pay on your smart phone with fingerprint confirmation because you are not giving away your pin.
  • Check your statement often. Call the bank.
  • Clear out your internet browser cookies or cache. Be advised you will then need to re-enter passwords on web sites.


Privacy Settings:

All computers, smart phones, social media accounts have privacy settings. Turn off location tracking and decide which apps you will allow to use your microphone or web cam. If you have gone away, don’t post your pictures on social media until you get back home.


Spoofing Phone Numbers:

In Canada, spoofing phone numbers is legal and the scammer computer grabs any phone number in Canada which then appears on our call displays even though the scammer is likely calling from abroad. The spoofed number may even be an actual number such as CRA or Microsoft. The government is relying on the phone provider to protect us from spoofing and bogus numbers. Again, be smarter than them and let them tell you about yourself rather than the other way around. Even better, don’t answer the phone at all if you are not expecting the organization to call you. They can leave a message.


Private Browsing:

Chrome has incognito mode (a private browsing mode) presumably to prevent websites that want to know when you visit their site (airlines, google,) but browsers are smart, and you never really hide from those sites. They still track you. instead of google search claims to be a private browser that does not store/track search or location info. Set it as your default search engine or use it’s extensions.

Google and Bing try to catch your search data


Ad Blockers:

Ad blockers are good to have. But Youtube is rewriting their core and if you have an ad blocker you won’t be able to use YouTube

Unblock is one ad blocker


Antivirus Software:

In Windows 10, windows defender is sufficient if you are reasonably cautious. The huge downside of Defender is that it is really slow to scan your system. If you turn your system off every night, you are not giving it enough time to do its job. Let Windows 10 go to sleep and log off your computer rather than completely shutting it down. This allows Defender to do its scan. Keep your Windows 10 up to date to ensure you are closing any loopholes that Microsoft has patched.


Legacy Windows7, 8.1,2000

Download windows defender separately. You will also have to download SHA2 algorithm that ensures it is from Microsoft. Those older Windows systems will prompt you to download SHA2 before it will install windows defender.


Upgrade to Windows 10?

Likely older hardware will have trouble running on new operating systems. Take your system to a computer store or Geek Squad


A special tool – Microsoft Safety Scanner is another double check virus scanner that may be up to date if windows defender virus definitions are not up to date yet. It’s an applet, download it, launch it and it automatically installs. It’s only valid for 10 days.


Next Meeting (Monday December 9 at 7pm)

  • Topic will be our annual presentation and tech demo by Steve Barclay, CEO of Canadian Assistive Technology. Steve has over 30 years’ experience consulting and selling assistive technology across Canada and always has interesting tech to show us. He is also glad to answer questions about your needs. We recommend you come and see what is new and exciting in tech and take advantage of Steve’s vast experience. It’s the Christmas season so if anyone wants to bring any Christmas baking or treats that would help make the evening more festive.


Additional Resources

Telephone Support

Contact our GTT coordinators, Kim Kilpatrick in the East or Albert Ruel in the West to book one on one telephone support.

Kim: 877-304-0968 Ext. 513


Albert: 877-304-0968 Ext. 550



GTT Blog and Monthly Teleconference

CCB sponsors a national GTT monthly teleconference. You may subscribe to the GTT blog to get email notices of teleconferences, meeting notes from GTT chapters, and other information. To subscribe, activate the Follow link at the bottom of the blog web page to enter your email.

GTT Email Support List

CCB also sponsors a GTT email support list to provide help and support with technology for blind and low vision Canadians.  To subscribe to the email list, send an empty email to:


GTT Edmonton Overview

  • GTT Edmonton is a chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB).
  • GTT Edmonton promotes a self-help learning experience by holding monthly meetings to assist participants with assistive technology.
  • Each 2 hour meeting consists of a feature technology topic in the first hour and a general tech discussion in the second hour.