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.
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.
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!
People are sometimes told that once a computer slows down that it has reached capacity or that it's time for a replacement. This isn't necessarily true. Many times there are a few basic things that can be done to help in this situation. In the following article we have a couple of tips to help.
Note: Before trying any of these steps to improve your computer's speed, make sure to create a full backup of the computer.
Step One: The first option is to work on the Startup Process. Turning off programs that aren't necessary for the startup will help. If you have a newer computer with Windows 7 or 8, then you could install a Solid State Drive which will naturally have a faster startup time than a traditional hard drive.
Step Two: Cleaning out excess files is also a good thing to do when trying to speed up a computer. Once that is done, run the Windows program Disk Cleanup. This removes temporary files, empties the recycling bin, and removes a variety of system files and other items you no longer need.
Step Three: After cleaning out the files comes the Defragmenting process. On traditional disk drives, information gets scattered across the drive causing the computer to go and gather all the pieces of a file and assemble them once they are needed. This obviously isn't the most efficient way for the computer to gather information, so by running the defragging program built right into the computer, all this information can be collected, sorted, and organized making the computer run more efficiently and effectively. To do this: Open My Computer > Right Click on the Main Drive > Choose Properties > Select the Tools Tab > Choose Defragment Now. This process may take some time to complete, so make sure that the computer won't be needed during this process.
Step Four: Removing any Viruses also needs to be done on a regular basis. It's best to have a program that runs in Real Time to protect the computer from any major threats. We recommend having Malwarebytes, which can be set on a schedule and will run in the background without affecting productivity. This protects from malware like worms, trojans, and spyware. Also having Norton Anti Virus or Kaspersky will protect the computer from major virus attacks in real time and stop them before your computer is ever damaged.