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 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

or

Use the form below to email us:

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:
Form removed due to SPAM BOT. Will be added soon
 

 

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:

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

Ransomware – Internet Plague!

Over the last few weeks I have had several clients infected by Cryptowall 3.0, a very destructive virus making the internet rounds right now. This type of virus is known as ransomware. It infects your computer and encrypts all of your documents, pictures, QuickBooks files, etc. Then it offers to decrypt them for a “modest” fee. (Usually $500 or more.) They come in through email attachments, or rogue websites.

The encryption used by these is RSA-2048 private key. This means that the key or “password” to decode this is over 600 digits long. That is impossible to break with any modern computer. So, if you get ransomware your files will become unrecoverable.

There is only two known ways to get your files back from ransomware.

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1 – You can hope that the virus writer is ethical and will decrypt them if you pay. Reports of people who paid having success at this are very mixed at best. A survey of web sites pertaining to this show less than half of reported payments were successful in regaining their files.

2 – Be prepared. Having a solid backup plan in place before an infection will totally mitigate all damage. One of my clients got Cryptowall and it took less than two hours to restore a backup that put the infected laptop back to where it was the day before the infection hit.

Wolfe Computer Solutions specializes in helping small businesses manage their technology. Call today and schedule a FREE onsite consultation for your business.

No business is too small to have an IT pro on their side!

Call Wolfe Computer Solutions at:

307-222-9270

or

Email us using this form:

(originally posted by Wolfe Computer Solutions on the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce blog as a guest post on May 4, 2015)