It’s a jungle out there – Computer security tips

Computer Security is for everyone!

In the information technology world, computer security is important for everyone. Hackers don’t just attack the big companies and governments anymore.

Image courtesy of hywards at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So what can you do to keep your computer and network safe? Though there is no 100% guarantees, here is a few things that will help.

Anti-virus

The first and foremost thing that no computer should ever be without is an antivirus program. It may be the most important computer security you have. There are many free options, but Wolfe Computer Solutions does not recommend using free anti virus programs. We offer a managed anti-virus plan, or we have standard Emsisoft licenses available.

Back-Ups

Back ups are vital to your computers life.  If you keep any file of any value on your computer, back ups are beyond essential.  Do you have family videos, family pictures, financial files, your resume, your school work, your……. I think you get the point.  If you lost these how hard would it be to replace them?  Pictures and videos are frequently irreplaceable.  You need to have a physical back up (like a portable hard drive) or a cloud backup (like Carbonite) or both.

Browser

The much maligned Internet Explorer is a source of a large number of computer security issues.  Wolfe Computer Solutions suggests using Chrome from Google, or Firefox. Then be very wary about all extensions used in them.  We go so far as suggesting not using extensions at all.

Updates

Keeping the latest security updates on your Computer system.  This includes Operating system updates (Window Updates) as well as updates for all of the programs you use.  Flash, Acrobat, Office and more need to be updated as hackers can find ways in through un-patched holes in these programs.  Wolfe Computer Solutions is in the process of adding update management (or as we call it in the computer industry patch management ) to our Business Managed Service plans, as well as to our Home User computer care plans.

DNS

Using the DNS (Domain Name Service) from your internet service provider works to turn that dot com into an internet address, but there are other much more secure ways to do it.  Wolfe Computer Solutions suggests using OpenDNS for this service.  It takes a bit to set up, but once you have it working, it will block phishing sites as well you can set up some basic filtering to block gambling, pornography, and more.

E-Mail

This is one area where personal caution comes in very helpful.  If you are not expecting an invoice or attachment from someone DO NOT open it.  Remember that legitimate companies are not going to ask you to email your password.  Check the links you click and make sure that you are really going where the email says you are.

So a little focus on computer security goes a long way.  If you have questions about your set up, or would just like to talk to a professional, give Wolfe Computer Solutions a call!

307-222-9270

or

The Final Countdown!

We are just about two months away from the end of a first.

Microsoft allowed for the first time to have a free upgrade to Windows 10. It is only free if you accept it in the first year. That means come July 29th, the option for a free upgrade if you have Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 will go away. It also means that, eventually, the nagging pop-up trying to convince you to upgrade will go away as well.

What does that mean for you?

In short, if you haven’t upgraded, and are thinking about it the time to decide is NOW. Microsoft will pull the plug on the free upgrade in just a few short weeks. If you wait till July 30th, you will not be able to take advantage of it.

Should I do it?

There is lots of debate about should you upgrade, and Wolfe Computer Solutions has moved to the side of yes. Why? Read on!

We have been using it since it’s inception as a testing product, and the pros are outweighing the cons. If you would like to see some of the things that we like about Windows 10, check out this earlier blog post.

As well, our studied opinion is that Windows 10 is an important platform, and one that all computer users should and will be using for the next 7-10 years. Also, as Microsoft goes, we all know that support for Windows 7 and Windows 8 will eventually discontinued and this is a great way to extend the life of your hardware.

Now what?

So if you have decided to take the plunge and move to Windows 10. What do you do?

There are 3 options:

  • Download it and do it yourself.
  • Let a “techie” friend help you.
  • Call the experts at Wolfe Computer Solutions.

However, in our experience, it is important that the upgrade be installed on a newly formatted or new new hard drive after first properly backing up important data files, programs and settings. This should be done by a professional.

As the Windows 10 Free Upgrade offer is rapidly coming to a close, we are offering a full update service (backup, Windows 10 install and data/programs/setting restoration) with a 48-hour turnaround.

Wolfe Computer Solutions is your professional in Cheyenne.

Make your appointment today:

 

307-222-9270
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The True Cost of Free!

There are lots of “free” anti-virus software packages available these days. It’s a great deal!
Right?!?
Why would this not be a great deal?

After some research into these Anti-virus programs, Wolfe Computer Solutions will no longer install them on our custome

r’s computers. As we all know there is no such thing as a free lunch and we cannot, in good conscience, put these risks on your system.
Let’s explore why a lot of free anti-virus software programs are not the best solution:

PUP’s:

This does not mean the cute, little animals you can adopt from Black Dog Animal Rescue . PUP is short for Potentially Unwanted Programs.  Things like browser tool-bars, registry optimizers (which don’t work), driver updaters, and many more. These have several problems:

  • They slow down your system
  • They track you (to sell to you)
  • They nag you to buy a product
  • They cause pop-ups (oh so many pop-ups)
  • They ask you for money

Of the top eight free anti-virus products, seven of them come bundled with PUPs. The PUP vendors pay the software distributors up to $2.00 per installation, to bundle them with the “free” anti-virus. Then they make even more money by re-directing you to their paid, erm, I mean “Safe” search sites.

Nags:

Another annoyance with free anti-virus products is that they will nag you. More than your mother did about cleaning your room when you were a teenager. After a while, it feels like they ask you to upgrade to the paid subscription every ten minutes. Then some of them continue to nag you even if you do buy their product…

They want you to buy optimizing add-ins, “Internet Security suites”, and all other kinds of products you don’t need and probably don’t want.

Privacy:

A quick read through the privacy policy of many free anti-virus programs lists many things the software collects:

  • Websites you visit
  • Infection information
  • Email information
  • Copies of ” Potentially Infected” files
  • Hardware information
  • Who knows what else.

Now, what alternative solution do we suggest? We only install Emsisoft Anti-malware. They have committed to never including PUPs and take your privacy seriously. We can install or sell a one year plan, or if you prefer a more hands off option we offer Managed Anti-Virus and computer care plans for home users.
Managed Anti-virus is also an optional add on for our Small Business Service Plans.

Call us at 307-222-9270 for more information

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Did you really send that?

More and more, in the business world, we are seeing email coming  to our inboxes that are not legitimate. Scammers are using these for some nefarious purposes! Such as to steal your personal data (commonly referred to as phishing), to steal your money (frequently by selling you a product that is not legitimate, such as a fake Anti-virus software), or to flat out extort money from you (this can be by threatening “legal” action or encrypting your files “for your safety” and asking for ransom).

The key thing to remember with this type of email scam, prevention is key.  A little education will go a long way in preventing these types of scams.

How can I tell?

There are several ways to tell if an email is legitimate or scam.

The first thing to remember is that a legitimate company will NEVER ask for your password in an email  Your bank, Paypal, Amazon, Apple, and more do NOT need your password to access your account details.  If an email asks for your password, you can very safely delete the email on the spot.

A second thing to look at is the links.  When you hold your mouse pointer over a link in an email, your email program should show the actual link in a pop up or status bar.  The link will point to a phony address, which usually has part of the address, but will end with something else.  There is a great example of this at: Bust Spammers.

A third thing to consider is if someone you do business with sends you an “invoice” and you are not expecting it. If you did not purchase anything from them, there is a good chance that the email contains some really bad news.  (Only if you open the “invoice” and let the mal-ware attached loose!)  If you get something like this, you should probably call the sender and let them know that they may have been compromised.

 

For more information, or to have a computer expert in Cheyenne help you out, call Wolfe Computer Solutions at:

(307)222-9270

or use the form below to email us:
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New Year- New Challenges

So here we are in 2016, as I look back on the year I have seen lots of growth in myself and my business. I have added new clients, and made some new friendships and partnerships that will help me to grow individually, and professionally.

So what about you? What can your business do to advance into the new year? I have some suggestions that encompass many facets of business:

Happy new year from Wolfe Computer Solutions!
  1. Network! I have found that networking is the most important thing you can do to make your business successful. In Cheyenne we have many options for networking at several levels of involvement, both financially and time wise. Consider the following groups:Toastmasters Public Speaking Club,The Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce, orThe Downtown Cheyenne Business Co-Op.
  2. Plan!The first of the year is a good time to revisit your plans and goals. I set a goal of having sixManaged Servicecustomers in the Laramie county area. I finished the year with five. Some might call that a failure, but I set the bar high for what I thought I could accomplish and therefore don’t consider it a failure. Now I should (and will) sit down and review last year, and decide what goals I need to set for this year and make an action plan on how to get there!
  3. Outsource the mundane. As small business owners, there are a lot of things that we have to do. It has been said that we wear many hats, and we all know that is true. However, there a lot of tasks that should be handled by professionals who don’t consider it mundane. Some very good examples (with links to Wyoming businesses you may consider) are:Bookkeeping, payroll, and taxes;Social media and marketing; and of courseInformation technology and computer services.
  4. Clean house. This can mean many things. From getting rid of old equipment that is cluttering up your office space, to making sure that your computer systems are virus and spyware free. Maybe you need to to trim your budget in various areas. This can many many things to many people and what it means to you is totally relative, but most of us have some area where we need a fresh start, so evaluate your situation and go with it!

As we head into a new year, lets all make 2016 the best we have had yet!

If you would like to contact an I.T. professional to evaluate your computer, network, and information technology needs at your business please call Wolfe Computer Solutions at:

307-220-9270

or use the form below to email:

Who stole my Netflix?

I’ve Been Hacked!

I was talking to Gary Freeman at KGAB radio this morning about an article in Business Insider about the availability of Hacked Netflix, Hulu Plus, Spotify and similar accounts on the “Dark Web”. These accounts are available for purchase for just a few dollars or less. How does this happen, how do I know, and how do I fix it?

How does this happen?

So the first question is how does this happen? There is several ways:

  1. The bad guy breaks into a website that has a password and your email. Some examples are Adobe, vTech, 000webhost, and elicit sites such as Ashley Madison.
  2. The hacker uses the email address he pulled off of that site and tries it on other sites like Netflix.
  3. Since many of these sites allow multiple logins at the same time, it will not kick out the legit user even if they are watching a movie at the time.
  4. This is then put up for sale on the “Dark Web.”

Have I been hacked?

There are several ways to tell if your accounts have been hacked:

  1. Check Have I been pwned for your email addresses.
  2. Check for strange suggestions based on what you have watched. (Even though you did not watch that!)
  3. Strange stuff in your downloaded music on Spotify, or Rhapsody type accounts.

They got me!

You have done that and discover that you have been hacked and someone is using your accounts for free (or close to it.) What do you do? Fortunately this is not a hard hack to fix. Of course the first thing you need to do is change your password! A lot of these services have an option to sign out all devices. You should do that! Some other things to consider in choosing passwords and security in general:

  1. Use strong passwords. Include capital letters, small letters, numbers and symbols. Some use a short sentence with mixed capitals and replacing a few letters with symbols as a password. For example: TheD0gjumped@fence!
  2. Change your passwords regularly. No less often then every 3 months.
  3. Don’t use the same password for everything. If you get hacked from Adobe and have the same email and password on your bank, the Adobe hacker got your bank password. That is potentially VERY bad!
  4. Have a good anti-virus program on your computer. There are several good free ones out there.

For more information, or to have a computer expert in Cheyenne help you out, call Wolfe Computer Solutions at:

(307)222-9270

or use the form to email us:

But I can do it myself!

As small business owners we all think that there are certain things we can manage in our businesses ourselves. There are many of these things we are correct about this in. It is, after all, simple and cost effective to vacuum your own office rather than pay a janitorial service. However there are several things that it is safer, smarter, easier or more cost effective to hire a professional for:

Some things I would include on this list:

  • Taxes
  • Insurance
  • Automotive maintenance
  • Bookkeeping and Payroll
  • Information Technology

Wait you say, Information Technology? That’s just the computers! I can handle that!

Though that may be true, several questions come up:

  • Do you enjoy taking valuable time researching the little things that a professional would fix quickly and easily?
  • Do you have and maintain a disaster recovery plan?
  • What if a Hard drive goes bad?
  • What if you got a virus that encrypts every machine on your network?
  • Finally, what is you time worth? Is the time you are spending on Information Technology time you could have spent growing your business?

With a managed service plan fromWolfe Computer Solutionsyou don’t have to worry about these questions. We handle all of those concerns. All plans include a backup and disaster recovery system. We maintain your network. We keep your computers and vital programs up to date. We ensure that all of your anti virus and anti spyware programs are working and keeping the bad guys off in the first place!

Let Wolfe Computer Solutions focus on your I.T., so you can focus on your business!

The Power and Protection of the Pack!

 

Call today 307-222-9270

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Windows 10 – Great “new” Features

Seems hard to believe that Windows 10 has been out for a month plus already! And with the wide adoption, the bugs are getting worked out at a rapid pace. So you are probably thinking: “What’s all the hype I am hearing about Windows 10?” and “Should I upgrade to Windows 10?” I am getting close to the point where I am going to recommend to my clients to start considering it. Though not perfect, in many ways Windows 10 is living up to the billing as the best Windows ever.

So I am going to highlight Three features “new” to Windows 10 that make it worth considering:

Windows 10 Start menu with live tiles

1. A start menu. Yes I know this is not “new”, but you may notice that the word new has been in quotes, because in some ways it is new. The metro start screen in Windows 8 was probably the most hated change to Windows. Microsoft however listened to the customers and put it back! Of course it is different than what we had in Windows 7 and before. It is a nice combination of the things in Windows 8’s Metro screen that were useful and what we loved about our start menus. We have live tiles with updated news, sports scores, and more and an all apps button and easy access to the programs we have installed on our computers!

2.Microsoft Edge. With Windows 10 we have a new default browser. Microsoft Edge is a lean and agile browser that is designed to compete with Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and the quick browsers out there. Internet Explorer is still there for compatibility reasons, but you have to find it. Edge can not use the old plugins that worked in IE, but instead is moving to an extension format for plugins. Active X is going the way of the dodo bird. And the general reception of Edge has been very good.

Cortana – Your AI Digital Assistant in Windows 10

3.Cortana. Cortana is perhaps one of the most interesting features ever added to Windows. Cortana is your personal digital assistant. She responds to voice commands and can look up things. She has some funny quips if you ask her the right questions. Her name comes from the AI computer in the Halo game series. Though she was available in Windows 8, she is much more robust in Windows 10. The thing that really differentiates her from Siri, is that she will eventually be available for Android and iOS. It really is beginning to feel like Star Trek where we could talk to our computers and get direct and intelligent answers.

There you have it. Three of the most interesting new features in Windows 10 so far. I am sure we will see more soon. If you would like to investigate moving your computer or your businesses computers to Windows 10, and would like to have a computer professional right here in Cheyenne make sure it goes smoothly, give Wolfe Computer Solutions a call at

307-222-9270

or use the form to email us:

Why Managed Service?

AtWolfe Computer Solutions we believe that no business is too small to utilize the services of an I.T. Managed Service Provider (MSP). A Managed Service provider can handle all of your Information Technology needs so your business can focus on growing and not on I.T. issues.

There are several very important advantages to hiring an MSP to assist your business:

  • Regular scheduled maintenance visits. Depending on your size and needs, Wolfe Computer Solutions will make regular visits to your site, either weekly (for larger small businesses), every other week (medium sized small businesses), or once a month (for very small businesses). These visits will include checking updates, virus scanning, backups and overall system health. Just like oil changes for your car, these are vital to ensure you are running at tip top shape!
  • Emergency on call visits. Included in all Managed Service plans is emergency services. Catastrophic events unfortunately happen, and Wolfe Computer Solutions is there for you when they do! Whether it is hardware failure, a nasty virus infection, or simply someone accidentally deleted that project you have spent the last month getting ready, we are here to help. This service is at no additional charge! (Except in the case of extreme after hours service i.e. between 8 P.M. and 5 A.M., or the need to purchase replacement hardware.)
  • Predictability.Every business wants, no needs, to be able to predict and control their costs. One of the major advantages you see with a Managed Service plan from Wolfe Computer Solutions is the predictability of a regular rate. If everything goes to plan and there is no issues, we are doing our job and you are happy, but if you have a catastrophe and we spend 15+ hours at your location recovering and restoring 5 or 10 computers, you are not going to have to come up with an extra $1000 dollars or more to cover it. It is all paid for in your plan
  • Vendor Management. Do you hate calling technical support for the company that built your laptop and talking to someone who seems to barely speak English? Would you love to have someone do that for you? Then you will love this benefit! Wolfe Computer Solutions will be your go between so you don’t have to talk to the outsourced technical support script reader on another continent. We do it for you!
  • Speed! In case of catastrophe we at Wolfe Computer Solutions want you up and running as soon as possible! Therefore, during regular business hours, our goal is to take your call the first time. If we cannot take it when you call, we strive to call you back within an hour of receiving your message. (We do live in Wyoming and know how cell phone coverage can be here!) Once we have talked to you, and determine that an on-site visit is needed, the goal is to be walking in to your office within 4 business hours.
  • Peace of mind! This may be the most important benefit. With a Managed Service plan from Wolfe Computer Solutions, you don’t have to worry about your technology. We keep everything running in tip top shape, so you can focus on growing your business.

Now that you see the importance and value of having a Managed Service Provider as a partner to your business, give Wolfe Computer Solutions a call and we will design a custom plan for your business. In order to do this, we will come to your office and do a FREE site survey and on-site consultation.

No business is too small! Have a Technology Professional on your side!

Call today: 307-222-9270

Windows 10 – Should you upgrade?

We are FAST approaching the date when Microsoft is releasing Windows 10 to the public. It comes out July 29th (THAT is TOMORROW!) as a free upgrade if you have Windows 7 Service Pack 1 or Windows 8.1. Yes you have read that right, it is FREE. In fact you have probably seen the notification icon on your screen asking you to register for the upgrade.

This begs the question: It’s free, should I take this free upgrade?

Windows 10

This is not a simple question with a simple answer. There are many things to consider in deciding if you want to take this offer from Microsoft.

  1. Do I have vital business files that I need to make sure work on this new version of Windows?
  2. Have my Programs been tested on Windows 10?
  3. Have I tested the change on my systems?
  4. Am I using old hardware that will not work on Windows 10?

And the list goes on and on.

There is a lot to love about Windows 10. Many users of Windows 8 and 8.1 miss the start menu, but Windows 10 brings it back. Cortana the new digital assistant (Similar to Siri) has tons of potential. The interface is very clean and easy to navigate. In my opinion, Windows 10 is one of the best operating systems Microsoft has released.

Preview of Windows 10 Menu

However it is not perfect. They are still working on the domain features in Windows 10. The last test of the Domain connector on Server 2012 did not work for me. If you are not joined to a domain updates are forced. You cannot manually set them to install. (I think this might be changed at least to some extent in the future.) There is bound to be many undiscovered bugs.

So then, what is my answer to the question “Should you upgrade to Windows 10?”

Yes………… BUT!

But wait.

If you are a home user who likes being on the cutting edge of all things technology, don’t mind some things not working at first for you. If you can afford downtime and some issues, then GO. Download the update tomorrow and have lots of fun! (I for sure will.)

If your business relies on your computers, a more measured and planed approach is better. Wait at least a month for the major bugs to be patched. Then pick a lesser vital machine at your business and test it. Let everyone mess with it a bit and get used to it. Then slowly one at a time move each machine to Windows 10 and let your technology partner help them through their issues.

Call or Email Wolfe Computer Solutions today for a FREE onsite consultation to evealuate everything technology for your business. We will create a custom plan to make sure you are ready for Windows 10 and help you through everything tech!

307-222-9270

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