Spyware can take many forms. One of the most obvious are those executable files that come in emails. Of course you never want to open one of those, but what about the ones that aren’t so obvious? What I’m talking about is the banner ads that I refer to as “click bait” or the amazing piece if software that’s going to double your computer’s speed. Is all “click bait” bad or all accessory programs loaded with spyware? No, of course not, but the idea here is to be careful and use common sense. Read the fine print and make sure that there aren’t any boxes checked that you didn’t check yourself (I’ve seen this last one more times that I can remember…). So what do we recommend that you do with this information? Well, there’s a few things that we have recommended in the past and would continue to recommend.

Those are:

  • Don’t open emails or their files unless you know and trust the person or company.
  • Don’t download any software unless you are positive that the source can be trusted (If you need a recommendation, just ask us).
  • If you’re not sure about a particular link, then hover over it with mouse (assuming that you’re on a desktop). The actual location will be shown, in most browsers, in the bottom left-hand corner. This little trick should help you discern whether or not the link is taking you to the location stated.

With all that in mind, don’t be worried about browsing the internet. Use common sense, install spyware/malware protection, and you should be fine.

Thinking About a SmartLock For Your Door?

The “Internet of Things” is all the rage these days. Everybody wants to be connected to the internet for convenience and having a lock for your door that you can lock and unlock remotely seems like a good idea. However, there's something to consider before you rush to your computer and order that door lock that lets you open it using your smart phone. Think about this, computer manufacturers struggle constantly with malware and viruses that attack and compromise PCs. This continues to happen even though PCs have been around for a long time. If PC manufacturers struggle in making their products safe, do you really want to worry about someone using software to hack your front door lock? We're not telling you not to make the purchase, just to do your research and due diligence before rushing out to buy that new fancy software based door lock. After a little bit of digging into the reviews, that “old fashioned” door key may look more appealing to you.


We never stop talking about passwords and that’s because they are so important. There’s a couple of things that we would like to review about passwords and how they should be setup.

1. Don’t create a password that is too short or too simple
This should be obvious… password, 123546, your name, your birthday, etc. are not secure passwords. Hackers are going to run the simplest combinations and most obvious words first. The password should be meaningful to you, but, when you create this password, remember to add in things like special characters with your letters and numbers. For example: use the @ symbol instead of the letter A or an exclamation point ( ! ) instead of an L.

2. Never changing passwords or changing them too often
This is a double edged sword. Never changing your password isn’t good, but on the reverse, changing your password too often can also have negative side effects. For example, if you haven’t changed your password in two years, especially if it’s something like your Netflix account, then it’s definitely time. Why? Because, most people don’t type those passwords in, they’re just saved and when they’re saved they tend to be forgotten. On the flip side, changing passwords too often, statistically speaking, will cause most people to use a less secure password. This might be because people don’t want to be creative when the password is created or they’re just tired of changing the password and simply don’t care anymore. With that in mind, just remember that multiple years is too long but every month is probably too often…

Have questions or suggestions? Let us know by sending an email or simply responding to this email!

Keeps your eyes peeled!

A few days ago I received an email from "UPS". They were claiming that I had unpaid invoices. Now, we as a company use UPS all the time. However, I'm not the contact person nor do they have my email address on file as a contact... It's easy to see through a scam or email virus when the foreign prince is trying to entrust his fortune to you, but this email from "UPS" was not as obvious. At the end of the day, we can never be too careful, so keep your eyes peeled.

How's you virus protection?

When's the last time you thought about the virus protection on your computer? Often, we only talk about what to do after the infection has happened. However, there are ways to be proactive and in many cases avoid the infection altogether.

One basic way to be a little more secure is to find and fix the areas where a computer might be vulnerable. This might look like running an operating system that is no longer supported, such as Windows XP, or leaving outdated programs, that aren't being used, on the computer. In both of these instances, "doors" are open to an attack. Our advice, delete programs that you're not using. Not only will this free up space and help that computer to run faster, but it will also remove a possible entry point for a virus.

Of course, we can't talk about security without mentioning email. Plain and simple, be safe and cautious. Some things to look out for are the email address (do you recognize the sender?) and the formatting of the email (does the wording seem odd?).  

We've mentioned this a lot in the past, but always make passwords protecting critical information as cryptic as possible. The less they make sense, the harder they are to crack. Basically, don't use your birthday or easily found personal information.

No computer is unhackable, but why make it easy? So, take a few steps or as many as you can to protect that device.


We talk a lot about passwords and security here, but that’s because of how important they are to your computer’s security. If you have a simple password, i.e. 12345 or password (yes people do use that), then keep in mind that hacking such a simple password takes less than a minute. As we’ve said in the past, it doesn’t have to be so complicated that it can’t be memorized. However, a strong password should have upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters when possible. 

Safe Browsing

Between Apple being asked to create a back door to the iPhone and Google having to once again update security protocols, we can never be too safe. Information is becoming more and more difficult to protect, be cautious while browsing. There are people creating fake download buttons and attempting to replicate trusted sites in an effort to steal private information or extort money. Should you be worried? I would say no, at least for now, but would encourage everyone to implement safe browsing practices.

Safe Browsing and Deceptive Ads

Google recently announced that they would be enhancing their Safe Browsing protection to now include deceptive embedded content, such as social engineering ads. This will be in addition to the policies that they announced back in November. What does this mean? It means that embedded content, such as ads on a web page, will be consider social engineering (viruses, malware, phishing, etc.) when they meet certain criteria. 

These criteria are:

  • Pretend to act, look, or feel like a trusted entity. This means that the content could look like the actual website or browser.
  • Tries to trick the user into doing something that they would normally only do with a trusted site. This could mean trying to get someone to share their password, personal information, etc.

What does all of this mean? Be cautious. If you’re not certain of the validity of a link, then don’t click on it. If you get an email from your bank, email service provider, etc., stating that you need to update information, then go directly to that site instead of following the link. 

With the amount of viruses and malware floating around right now, it’s simply smarter to take the philosophy of better safe than sorry. Also, always have virus and malware protection installed on every computer. Attacks can spread to every computer on a network. Just as important, if not more, have a verified backup. There’s no excuse anymore given the prices of external drives and online real-time backup services. This is cheap insurance that is worth every penny and it could mean the difference between being up and running the next day as if nothing happened or not being able to open for business.

Don't take the Risk with EMV

Periodically we hear about some large company like Home Depot or Target being hacked by vandals and credit card data being compromised. The credit card industry has put a lot of effort into reducing this fraud and one method most talked about is the EMV initiative. This initiative will become effective in October of 2015. EMV covers a number of areas but to keep things simple there are two points to remember.

1. EMV makes it very difficult to duplicate a card for fraudulent purposes. The old magnetic stripe cards are easy for criminals to duplicate. Countries that have adopted EMV technologies have seen a dramatic reduction in the fraudulent use of credit cards.

2. If a company isn’t compliant with the EMV initiative, then when the deadline arrives that company will become liable for the fraudulent charges. 

For example, someone comes in and buys a welding machine with a credit card, the company isn’t EMV compliant and therefore doesn’t realize that it’s a fraudulent card. When the fraud is detected, the credit card company isn’t held liable, because the company wasn’t EMV compliant.

The main point here is that, to protect your bottom line, make sure that the company is EMV compliant.  If you’re going to buy new terminals for the counter, this might be a good time to explore DataWeld’s Online Payment Processing software. If you’re interested, then please feel welcome to contact us and we can explain some of the ways that the team here at Dataweld can help you to reduce the chances of being victimized by credit card fraud.

What's the Ransom?

Ransomware is making a come back, but it's nothing new. In fact, it's been around for awhile. What is it? It's a type of malware that can essentially lock up a computer. Of course if that was all it did, then it would probably have a different name. Ransomware not only locks up the computer that it infects but, as the name implies, it also demands a ransom. In most cases, the computer suddenly becomes unresponsive and then a screen appears stating that the operator has been involved in some illegal or illicit activity and must pay to have the computer unlocked. 

Most malware can be completely wiped from a computer or completely prevented with a couple of pieces of software. In many cases everything can be put back to the way it was before the attack. However, that's not always the case with this particular type of malware. There are versions of this malware that actually encrypt all of the files that it infected making it near impossible if not completely impossible to get the files back. Why? Because the encryption key needed to unlock all of those files is sitting on the hacker's computer. That means that the ransom would have to be paid in hopes that the hacker will actually send the key. Oddly enough, there are reports of people receiving the key after they have paid the ransom. What does all this mean? Be careful and take some precautionary measures.

Here are some of the precautionary measures we recommend:

1: Beware of links. Never click on links that are either not recognized or that can not be trusted. Companies like Pandora who survive because of advertisers probably have enough safeguards to stop these threats from embedding themselves, but what about your personal email? 

2: Have virus and malware protection. We can't stress this enough. Virus and malware protection is a drop in the bucket as far as expenses are concerned. Especially considering the fact that a new hard drive will most certainly cost more than the virus software. Also, keep this protection updated. It's not a sure fire way to stop every attack, but it's a great preventative measure.

3: Keep security plugins updated. Microsoft doesn't like these viruses and malware programs any more than you or I, so they're trying to stop the attacks from ever happening. Between security plugins and virus and malware protection the computer should be covered.

4: Back Ups! Back up the computer everyday. We recommend a service like Carbonite, which backups in real time, or a simple external/jump drive will do the trick. Carbonite will back up your files and, with some form of an external drive, a copy of your entire computer (all your software, files, and the operating system) can be made. This way all files can be accessed through Carbonite, if the computer needs to go offsite for someone to repair the damage, and if there's a complete copy of the drive, then the drive can be wiped and reloaded with the uninfected files. Note: the second option can be a little more complicated, so make sure to talk with a computer professional if you're uncertain about the process.

Protecting a computer from everything isn't possible, but these preventative measures should protect a computer from most threats. As a final note, cutting down on the time that a computer is connected to the internet also helps because it cant be attacked if it isn't on... When possible, turn off any non-essential computers at night, which will in turn conserve energy and save money!

Virus Protection: You can't be too careful

Spyware, Trojans and worms. These are different forms of software that have one common intent. They want to infect your PC or server. You can't be too cautious when dealing with any form of malware, so the following list is a few reminders to help protect against these threats. 

Reminder 1: Make sure to have a reputable anti-virus software product installed on each PC. Norton and McAfee are both good products. Also make sure to keep the virus software updated. A good anti-virus software product will constantly update the list of viruses it detects and protects against. 

Reminder 2: Never open zip files unless you know who the file is from and are expecting it. Double and triple check the legitimacy before opening any zip file. 

Reminder 3: Always be suspicious of any email you are not expecting or don’t recognize. It may be tempting to open that email from the guy in China who wants to place a big order with you, but the probability is that his intentions are not good.

Reminder 4: When in doubt, look at the email address. If the senders email address ends in something other than .com and you don't recognize the sender, then it's probably best not to open the attachment. 

Final Reminder: Be cautious.