Archive for December, 2013:

Business IT Support: Are you prepared for 2014?

Posting Date: 12/27/2013  |   Filed Under: Data Back-up, Internet, Security, Technology, Tips  |   No Comments
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As 2013 comes to a close, many will spend this time reviewing the what they achieved this past year and begin making plans of the things they hope to achieve in 2014. For the majority of people this will include both personal and professional plans. When developing new business goals, it often includes increased efficiency while saving time and money and learning to work smarter not harder.

As you begin to establish and outline your goals and resolutions for 2014, we would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to consider establishing an IT support plan for your business.

 

How a Business IT support Plan can Benefit your Business

Moving into a Business IT Support Plan (also known as a Managed Service Contract) provides you the opportunity to find someone who can assess your current technology systems and understand the needs of your business.  After the initial assessment and understanding of future needs, a service plan can be developed that will move the IT responsibility into the hands of an expert IT professional, freeing you up to run the business.

Advantages of Establishing a Business IT Support Plan in 2014: 

•You have the ability to control costs, and have less “surprise” technology costs, when you outsource this to a true IT professional.  With this model you are only paying for services that your business needs, you are not responsible for many of the costs associated with a traditional employee, and you have someone monitoring your equipment that will be able to inform you of issues on the horizon that you can proactively address.

•When you move to this model you gain an immediate increased level of efficiency and expertise.  The IT professional that you have chosen to hire should provide an extremely high level of technology knowledge and have the ability to stay ahead of product trends for you and your business.

•New viruses and technology threats are emerging every day.  Are you convinced that your business is properly protected?  Your IT professional should make your business needs regarding security a number one priority, establish a plan if something were to go awry, and maintain updated knowledge on how to protect you against new threats.

•Save time and money by running and managing your business not your technology.  A Business IT Support Plan will allow you to rely on the suggestions and guidance of highly skilled IT professional so you can make informed decision on how to move and maintain your business technology at a managed cost.

3 Features get an Upgrade with the Windows 8.1 Release

Posting Date: 12/18/2013  |   Filed Under: Technology, Tips  |   No Comments
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There has been much scrutiny and opinions about Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system, and with the launch of the 8.1 upgrade there is no end in sight.

We have looked at three improvements that are part of the 8.1 upgrade, so if you are in the market for a new computer or have Windows 8 and are thinking about the upgrade you will be better informed about these 3 improvements that Microsoft has put in place.  These are not the only improvements they have made, but in trying to keep this blog post to a reasonable length so we choose to look at three.

 

Return of the Start Button (sort of): Users reacted swiftly and loudly when they realized Microsoft removed the Start Button from the new Windows 8 operating system. Microsoft listened to the users, and brought back the Start Button with the 8.1 upgrade.  The new Start Button won’t work as it did in past operating systems, but it will give you a shortcut to the tile menu and when right clicked it will display a contextual menu with additional options.

Snap is Overhauled: If you have not utilized the Snap feature on Windows 8, or are running an previous operating system it can be extremely useful.  Snap allows you to have multiple app screens open at the same time. This is an extremely useful feature, but they missed the mark with execution in Windows 8. In the 8.1 upgrade they fixed the issues and you are now able to resize smaller winders to just about any size with a simple swipe.

Optimized Search: Windows 8 unveiled a new search feature, but like many other new features within Windows 8 it did not meet user expectations.  The search function allowed you to begin typing on the Start screen and search for settings, apps, and information on the web.   With the 8.1 update, Microsoft’s Smart Search powered by Bing, provide search results that are more organized in a visually results driven page.

 

Is the upgraded Windows 8.1 flawless?  No, but a number of the user requested fixes and features upgrades has improved user experience between a tablet and a desktop.  Most felt as if Microsoft had launched Windows 8 to just the tablet market overlooking its place in the desktop market and angering users.

Microsoft is listening to the users, and created solutions to many of the issues that caused complaints and frustration, so hopefully it will be a little easier to take the plunge to Windows 8.    Consumers looking to purchase a new computer will have little choice when it comes to an operating system since all pc computers are coming standard with the Windows 8 operating system.  And, with the Windows XP deadline quickly approaching in April, 2014 many people will soon be in the market for a new computer and will be forced to take on Windows 8.

Viruses of 2013

Posting Date: 12/16/2013  |   Filed Under: Internet, Security, Tips  |   No Comments
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As 2013 comes to a close, everyone produces lists for the year in review. I love these, and look forward to reading them every year.   As we jump into 2014, we wanted to review the computer viruses, scams, and issues that made their appearance in 2013 and will probably continue into 2014, so you can make sure you and your technology continue to be informed and protected.  When you log on remember to STOP. THINK. CONNECT.

CryptoLocker – Emerging into the computer world in the fall, hackers were hitting computer systems and holding personal information and files for ransom.  The concept of holding something for ransom has been around for ages, but this is the first time it has taken a 21st century twist holding your computer hostage and demanding money to get it back.

This virus was developed by organized criminals overseas, and is spread through phony attachments in emails.  The best way to protect yourself is to avoid opening email attachments from unfamiliar senders or that you are not expecting to receive.

You should also invest in good anti-virus protection software, and if you are hit they suggest unplugging your computer immediately before the program as had a change to run completely.  The hope is that the virus stalled when you unplugged your equipment and an expert technician will be able to salvage your data.


Microsoft Phone Scam – This was making its rounds during the summer months, and even happened to one of our franchise owners.  Its goal is to catch people off guard, lull them into a false sense of trust by saying they are from Microsoft and there is an issue with your computer, and you give them remote access to your computer.
Once the representative, claiming to be from Microsoft, has access to your computer they install a virus.  Then charging you money to remove and repair your computer.

FBI Virus – This global Internet scam gets into your computer and preys on your fear of being contacted by the FBI and threatened with jail time.  A fake message with the FBI logo will appear on your screen claiming, virtually locking your computer, that you illegally downloaded some type of material.  Then like a ransom notice, the attacker forces a payment for access to the computer.

Computers become infected, most of the time undetected by the user, when a unfamiliar email attachment or an untrustworthy website is accessed.

Facebook Virus – The Facebook Virus is transmitted through Facebook by clicking a link, then find its way to your bank account and drain all of the available money.  This virus, commonly called Zeus, will remain inactive on your computer until someone log into a banking website.  It then swiftly moves into action, stealing username and passwords so the funds can be accessed by thieves.

The best line of defense is to only click on links from people you know that do not look suspicious or contain strange patterns or characters.  Also, because this virus targets bank accounts, making sure your banking establishment’s website is secure and has a 2-step verification process will help protect your money.

Search Conduit – Our final virus is not a traditional virus, it is actually a browser hijack.  It is a menace that exhibits malicious traits. It is most commonly bundled and installed  through something you downloaded, it will add the Conduit Toolbar and change your browser homepage and default search engine to search.conduit.com.

The Conduit search engine will display advertising and sponsored links in your search results and will act very much like Google and Bing.  It will also collect search terms from your queries in an effort to boost their advertising revenue, which is a black hat SEO tactic. It is pretty difficult to remove since it takes hold of some many pieces of your computer including your browser and operating system.