Holiday Tech Buyer Beware of The Temporary Sales Staff
Thanksgiving is still weeks away and yet we’re getting the “Black Friday” sales ads and our televisions are hawking the holiday sales commercials!
This also is a time of year when my students start asking questions related to information they receive while in the big box or office supply stores shopping for holiday tech gifts.
While you might believe that the stores selling devices and gadgets would train their staff on technology in general, for the most part, that just doesn’t happen. Therefore the blue shirt, red shirt or whatever shirt the tech sales person happens to be wearing may look like a knowledgeable expert, (s)he probably isn’t more knowledgeable than you. That’s why you need to be extra careful this holiday season and not take everything the sales person tells you to be absolute truth. And yes, that includes the genius at the Apple store!
Here are a few specific things you need to be aware of while shopping for that perfect holiday tech gift.
The Lenovo Purchase
Since consumers seem to have short memory spans, the manufacturers may try to pull one over on you by offering terrific deals on Lenovo devices. Don’t fall for it. I don’t care how good the deal is.
Why? Refresh your memory by reading this article in Information Week: Intelligence Agencies Banned Lenovo PCs After Chinese Acquisition.
And it’s not just the American government. According to the article,
Since at least 2006, personal computers manufactured by Lenovo have been banned from being used to access classified government networks in the United States, as well as in Australia*, Britain, Canada and New Zealand.
*The end of the article has a correction by Australia that states the allegation is not true as far as they are concerned but no other countries have refuted the claim since.
The reason why the governments are shying away from this manufacturer reads like a World War I spy novel. But the short version is that they are concerned that Chinese manufacturers are implanting malware at the factory.
And if you’re a long time reader of my blog or my newsletters, you may remember that when digital picture frames made their appearance in the stores at the holiday season – many years ago – the CDs from China’s factory had contained malware.
So, that’s why I would advise any consumer against purchasing a Lenovo manufactured device.
I can hear the comment onslaught already! “But Debbie! Aren’t all computer parts made in China?”
No, not all. Some components are manufactured in Israel, Japan, and even the U.S. and Canada.
But that also raises the issue of Intel chips, manufactured in Israel. You may remember that Israel has been a partner with the U.S. in creating Flame and a few other not-so-nice spying tools.
So, if you have the chance to get a device using the AMD chipset, get it! Although I build all my own devices for myself and my company, I only use AMD chips. And this was long before the whole spying thing became an issue. AMD is less costly and often times runs much better than Intel branded chips.
Beware of Dell
The Information Week article also states,
According to AFR, the dominant suppliers of PCs used by the five countries’ intelligence services that participate in the eavesdropping program are Dell and Hewlett-Packard.
If you read that line quickly, it’s easy to think that both Dell and HP are also participating in the eavesdropping program, but that’s not true. If you re-word the sentence, it’s saying that Dell and Hewlett-Packard are the dominant PC suppliers being used by the five countries’ intelligence services that participate in the eavesdropping program. So, they are indirectly saying that these two manufacturers may not be using parts that are susceptible to spyware or malware by foreign countries.
As for the Dell issue, I’ve long since stopped recommending – or buying – Dell products. They use sub-standard parts, their support stinks, and their company ethics leave a lot to be desired. I’ll leave it at that.
Malware In General
There is a horrible and dangerous myth still circulating around malware and devices. And that myth continues to be spread by temporary tech sales staff.
Read my lips Apple Geniuses, “APPLE DEVICES CAN GET MALWARE!”
Did you hear me? I said, “APPLE DVICES CAN GET MALWARE!”
That includes Mac’s, iPhones and iPods.
And not to pick on just the Apple folks, this one is for the sales staff at the Office Depot, Office Max, Staples, and the Best Buy who told customers that tablets don’t get malware.
Read my lips all sales people, “ALL DEVICES ARE CAPABLE OF BEING INFECTED WITH MALWARE!”
Didn’t hear me? I’ll shout it a bit louder, “ALL DEVICES ARE CAPABLE OF BEING INFECTED WITH MALWARE!”
If the tech sales staff isn’t educated in security, don’t get fooled as a consumer. Educate yourself! And while you’re at it, tell them to take my courses and get educated themselves.
Protect Yourself & Your Gifts
Before you wrap that new Kindle, iPad, smartphone, or any other device, do a favor for the recipient – install Lookout.
You can also add the premium version for $29.99 per year which adds additional security. After reading their full features list here, I actually purchased the premium version myself just now!
Consider it a device stuffer instead of a stocking stuffer!
*Note: This is an unpaid endorsement and links are not associated with any affiliate program.
Image Source: Morgue File