Today’s scammers have moved up in the world and are looking for more than just your passwords.
Every day we get phone calls or people walking into our shop saying that Microsoft or a similar support company called them and told them that their computer is infected or has some sort of problem. They then say that they need to remote into your computer to fix it. There is a catch however, you have to pay them anywhere from $200 dollars and up to do this.
First off Microsoft will probably never call you and tell you your computer has a problem. They have multiple articles on their website stating just that.
Last year Eugene Kaspersky, the head of the global IT security company Kaspersky Lab, wrote an article saying that 5% of home computers around the world are infected with either malware, spyware, or viruses. That included machines that are running a current antivirus solution. That’s at least 50 Million computers worldwide. So its safe to say Microsoft can’t take the time to call every single home user with a virus. So who will call you? Unfortunately, scammers looking to cause harm to your computer and swindle you out of money.
Phishing email messages, websites, and phone calls are designed to steal money and get personal information. Cybercriminals can also do this by tricking you into installing malicious software on your computer or stealing personal information off of your (or some company you do business with) computer. Security breaches can happen in any number of ways.
One of the most successful ways to get into someones computer is to ask the user let them inside the computer. They call or email you then have you navigate to a website and download some remote software, there by allowing them into your machine. After gaining remote access they can do practically anything to your computer. Including pulling saved passwords out of your web browser and downloading anything you might have saved on your machine all with out your knowledge.
- Who is asking for information? Are they claiming to be Microsoft or another support company?
- Does the email or website have spelling and grammar errors?
- Are they calling and telling you that your computer is causing issues online?
- Are they offering a fee service or subscription, if so why do they need a credit card?
- Is this the IT company you normally use?
Those are just some simple questions that you can ask yourself and the caller when you encounter a possible phishing site or phone call. People and companies prey on the average users lack of knowledge in these areas. So never be afraid to hang up the phone and call us. We deal with issues like this every day and are more than happy to give you free advice on how to proceed.
Windows 10, are you excited because we know we are. Late last month microsoft released Windows 10 for tech preview so some of the things mentioned below may or may not be in the final version of the OS. This is just a tech preview giving your IT professionals a heads up of things to come.
So being the geeks we are we got excited and downloaded it. The general opinion of our techs is that we like what we see. Now I could ramble on and on about all the cool new features but for now I’m just going to cover some of the things that we liked to most.
Have no fear, Microsoft brought users back the feature that everyone is familiar with, the all powerful start menu. No more updating to windows 8.1 or installing a third party piece of software to give you all back what most of us need and love. Now they did keep the tiles for touchscreen users in addition to a classic start menu. By adding tiles to a start menu they are making it easy for touchscreen users as well. Tiles can be added, removed or re-sized depending on customization by the user.
Dual desktops for users need I say more. All under the same user you can have one desktop for work one for play and another for well whatever, its pretty cool if you think about it. Have your games all setup and ready to go under one desktop and work spreadsheet, document and banking on another. Keeping it all in one place but organized at the same time.
Now most people may not know about this feature but it has been around for a while. Task Viewer its not much different from the Alt-Tab keyboard combination shortcut, but it has gotten a facelift and its own button the the taskbar. This highlighted feature should make it easy for power users to switch between windows and tabs.
Family Safety is another addition to windows 10 that we like sure windows 8 and 8.1 had this feature but how many people know about it and or use it. Family Safety enables parent to have control over kids accounts. Taking control over the websites you want your children to have access to. Set time limits on when kids use the computer and what apps they have access to when they use it. All based on a schedule you determine. Control games and windows store apps based on rating or title. And activity reports on users all under family safety. See what your kids were up to when they were signed onto the machine.
Keep in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg for Windows 10. We enjoyed playing with the preview and putting it through its paces. Now lets see what Microsoft will add to it and show off when they talk more about it early next year.
Yakima Networking would like to share this free printable coloring book with your children. You can print one page or every page.
One thing I hear a lot from people, is that their computer was fast when they bought it, but now it’s slow. Maybe they upgraded to a million megabyte hard drive, so it would never slow down. But hard drive space isn’t the only thing that can slow down your computer. If your computer is running slowly, there might be more than just disk space issues to be resolved.
Issues With Viruses, Spyware, Trojan Horses Or Malware
Not Enough Memory
Your computer uses something that is known as Random Access Memory or RAM for short. The more RAM your computer has, the more programs you can run and processes you can do at one time. (For this reason, RAM is oftentimes referred to as your computer’s memory.) However, if you don’t have enough RAM, it will become bogged down and unable to do much. The only ways in which to correct this problem is to upgrade your RAM or stop running and doing so many things at the same time. If you have to have a lot of things open or need to do a lot of things at once, then you have no choice but to upgrade your computer’s memory. We carry and install RAM upgrades, it’s a quick procedure.
Too many things to do at once
So what if you have the maximim amount of RAM your computer can accommodate and it’s still running slowly? Check the “automatic update” settings on some of your programs. You’d be surprised which programs are set up “stay awake” waiting for updates as long as your ocmputer is on. One easy way to check, on Windows XP, is to expand the menu of active programs in the bottom corner of your screen (where the clock is) right-click or click on each icon to see what it is. Your antivirus and firewall should be running constantly, but other things don’t need to be. Change the settings on these other programs, so that they don’t automatically start every time you power up.
A lot of slow computers are plagued with registry errors. These will oftentimes go undetected because they are so hard to pinpoint. Essentially though, these errors occur whenever your registry files become corrupt over the course of time. Adding, updating and removing software usually cause this. Whenever you have a lot of corrupt or unused registry entries your computer will become bogged down because it is still attempting to run these commands, which takes up a lot of your processing speed. If you need to fix a registry error on your computer, you will need to get a registry repair software program. This program scans your entire computer looking for any errors and unused registry files. It will then delete these things so as to be able to clean up your registry. Once this is done, your computer will begin running faster.
If there’s anything on this list that you need help with, let us know. We’d be happy to help.
Back away from the computer slowly. When your eyes are burning and your vision is blurry and you know you’ve been working too hard, you’re suffering from eyestrain. Eyestrain is something that a lot of people who spend long hours working on their computer find themselves suffering from.
By using an over the counter eye drop you will be able to stop your eyes from burning, feeling itchy and dry. It only takes a few drops in each eye throughout the day in order to keep your eyes well lubricated.
The Blinking Cure
The reason your eyes dry out is because you’re blinking less often, focusing on the screen. If you’re one of the many people who don’t like using eye drops, you may want to know that there is natural remedy for dry eyes. Just blink more often. Experts say that whenever you are using a computer, or focusing on something for a long time, you blink five times less than normal. Every time you blink, your eyeballs get a fresh coat of eyestrain-preventing lubrication. It’s the very lack of that moisture that makes eyestrain hurt.
Remodel Your Office
It may be time to consider remodeling your office. If you decide to do this, there are some things that you should keep in mind. First of all, if you’re facing a sunny window, you should move your desk to reduce the amount of glare your eyes have to deal with. Secondly, look for an ergonomically friendly keyboard that will help you to have better posture. Third and finally, make sure that your monitor is at the right level for your eyes. This may mean that you will need to move it back a few inches to help your eyes focus better and easier.
Flourescent lighting flickers at a very high rate and can cause eyestrain faster than other kinds of lighting. Consider changing the light bulbs in your office to something more comfortable, like a full-spectrum bulb.
Talk To Your Eye Doctor
Make sure that you see your eye doctor at least every two years for a check up. While there, you should talk to him about his suggestions for eyestrain. You may even find that your eyestrain is due to the need for eyeglasses. Be sure to report any headaches, double vision, trouble refocusing from the computer to other things, images that stay imprinted for a while, increased sensitivity to light and any sign of “auras” or glowing trails of light around white objects.
Rest Your Eyes
One of the easiest things that you can do is rest and relax your eyes. Give them opportunities to focus on other things throughout the day. The ideal situation would be to take a 15 second break every 15 minutes or a 5-minute break every hour. Simply allow your eyes to focus on something further away from you than your computer.
Eyestrain usually isn’t a big deal. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Eyestrain doesn’t have serious or long-term consequences, but it can be disruptive and unpleasant. It can make you tired and reduce your ability to concentrate. In some cases, it may take days for all eyestrain symptoms to go away after you’ve taken steps to change your activities or environment or treated any underlying cause.”
Sure, we love it when they catch on fire and you come in crying. No, I’m just kidding. A lot of us leave our computers on all the time. It’s really not that big of a deal, most of the time.
In fact, we wonder why no one asks whether or not it’s OK to turn it off for long periods of time. Leaving your computer off for a long time can allow dust to get into your tower and settle into the various components within. Then, when you go to turn it on, it can spark or ignite and maybe even smoke up the house.
But when you leave your machine on, it keeps the fan running. That keeps a lot of dust from getting into the tower. This does not mean no dust will get in, just less. If you suspect you have dust in your tower, check out “How to Clean Inside your Computer.”
By turning your computer on and off, you could be causing excessive wear and tear on the various components, that are designed to run, not to be turned on and off. Just like a car, the process of turning your machine on uses significantly more power, and may end up costing you more than leaving the machine on all hours.
There are some times when you need to leave your computer on overnight or while you are at work due to uploads or downloads that are excessively large and will take many hours to transfer. Or you may prefer to do maintenance such as virus scans and software updates overnight when you are not using your machine, as they can slow response time down. This is perfectly fine and will not hurt your computer in the slightest.
Even if you do leave your computer on all the time, you will need to do the occasional reboot which is fine, since the computer needs to do maintenance as well as clear out the memory. But this is not something that needs to be done on a daily basis, it can be done every few days or on a weekly basis if that works better for you. If you do find your computer is not running at its best, go ahead and reboot it to give it a chance to clean out its memory.
One thing to consider doing if you leave your computer on all the time is to turn off the monitor, or put it into power saving mode. This way you will save power. Laptops generally have built-in features for saving power, especially when you’re running on batteries.
If you still can’t decide, you may want to leave it on from morning to night, but turn it off overnight while you are sleeping, unless you’re transferring files, running system maintenance or regularly scheduled virus scans.
If you haven’t jumped into online shopping yet, you don’t know what you’re missing. Sure, you can’t try things on, but the mall isn’t going anywhere. If you’re the type who doesn’t enjoy braving the malls, or you know you won’t have much time to prepare for the holidays, then maybe it’s time to try shopping online. Here are a few tips for ensuring that the site you visit is secure.
One of the simplest things that you can do is check the address of the website you are on. If it starts with an “http” then it is not a secure site. If it starts with an “https”, then it is secure. You can remember this easily, because the “s” stands for “secure.” This type of security means that your data is encrypted and then sent through a secure server. You may not see the https until you get to an order page, but it should be there.
Another thing to check for is a lock icon somewhere in the window of the browser. They are not always located in the same place, but you should be able to find a lock icon, and it should look locked. If the icon looks like an open lock, the site is not secure. Here are a couple of examples of a secure, locked site (above).
An important note is that you can click on these locks and get information about the security of the website. If you do not know where to find them on your browser, then make sure to go into the help files and explore some of your browser’s built-in security features.
You may also notice different icons when you are on websites. If you see icons from Verisign, GeoTrust or SSL.com you know that the site you are on is a safe site. They meet the security standards of the company issuing the certificate, and as a result, the vendor gives them a seal to put on their website. Any website that meets these guidelines will display these, as it is an important feature for them to gain your trust. Be aware that these seals can be easy to duplicate. When in doubt, click on it and you should be brought to a page on the Security Certificate site that verifies the company’s reputation
If you are still not sure about the website, but cannot get the item any other way, you will want to make sure that you use a credit card that’s insured, to make your purchases. It is advisable to have one card just for Internet shopping, as it will make it easier to catch a fraudulent charge.
- Microsoft Windows $200
- Microsoft Word $140
- Microsoft Excel $140
- Microsoft PowerPoint $140
- Microsoft Outlook $140
- Microsoft Access $140
- Adobe PhotoShop Elements $70
- Quickbooks $125
- Peachtree $130
(prices are from Amazon.com)
Free Software Alternatives
Open Office can replace Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access. It also has the ability to do desktop publishing. I haven’t come across anything that I couldn’t do using Open Office, and you can’t beat the price.
Free Software Resources:
Wikipedia has links to several free open code software programs.