A Common Sense Guide: Computers for Everyday Business People Chapter 3

June 30, 2017

WiFifree wifi

 

WiFi… the good, the bad, and the ugly!  First the good, it’s everywhere you want to be!  The bad, is it safe?  How would I know?  Last the ugly, sometimes evil hacker types (bored teenagers, college kids, or worse!) may be trying to spy on your online activities.  I am not saying to never use public WiFi but you don’t really know anything about what you are connecting to.  It is possible for the bad guys to create a false Starbucks access point and intercept your traffic.  That being the case one should estimate how likely this scenario would be.  If you are paying to use internet access at the Hilton maybe not too much risk.  If you are using Mom and Pops Coffee Shop free WiFi maybe more risky?  Starbucks WiFi less risky?  Connecting at a business colleagues office probably no risk?  The reality is all of these scenarios have unknown risk.  If you know little about the WiFi you want to use, limit your use and don’t do any high risk activities such as: banking, stock trading, or transmitting unencrypted client information.  Use sites that are creating a secure connection.  For example: https://docs.google.com/document or https://www.amazon.com/

If you really are “on the fly” often and need to use whatever WiFi you can find consider using additional protection.  Use your own hotspot or jet pack.  If you have phone data use your cellphone hotspot to connect your laptop.  When the risk are unknown a virtual private network (VPN) service should be considered.  It is also possible to use a travel router to create a more secure connection.  For simple task use your smartphone with your carriers network instead of your laptop on iffy WiFi.  

Advertisements

A Common Sense Guide: Computers for Everyday Business People Chapter 2

November 1, 2016

Chapter 2

usb data loss

Data

Your data are the single most valuable part of your computer technology realm.  Why, because it represents a huge investment in time and effort.   Hardware and software is replaceable.  Your data are unique to you and your business.  Customer information as well as customer documentation is irreplaceable.  The longer you have been in business the more valuable your data becomes.  You need to ask yourself what would happen if my data were lost or destroyed?  Do you feel lucky?  Well do ya?  This is a position you never want to be in.  

What are data?  Merriam Webster says, “information that is produced or stored by a computer”.  It depends.  Everyone is different.  It could be a book, a customer database, an accounting file, your photos, contracts, correspondence, and many other items unique to your business.  

Data backup is the reason you don’t need to feel lucky and can avoid having a data loss.  What’s a backup?  Again, Merriam Webster says, “a copy of computer data (as a file or the contents of a hard drive).”  Having at least one copy of your data is a good idea.  A better system is to have a 3-2-1 backup system.  Let me explain.  3-2-1 mean 3 copies of your files, on 2 different media, with at least 1 copy offsite.  Simply put: one copy of data on your computer hard disk drive, one copy on an external or flash drive, and one copy in an offsite location.  Your external hard drive or flash drive gives you a copy on a second media.  Your offsite location can be another office, home, a bank, deposit box, or in the cloud (see Chapter 6 The Cloud) using a backup service.  Data protection is not difficult to implement.  In my experience a 3-2-1 backup system that is performed automatically (without daily user input) is the way to go.  You don’t want to find out the data backup is not being done when a data disaster strikes!  Data recovery is sometimes possible and usually expensive.  Have peace of mind and make sure your data are safe.  Seek professional help if need be to make sure your backup is appropriate to your business.

Data recovery is a growing field in the information technology business.  Why you ask?  Data are generated on multiple devices sometimes in multiple locations by possibly multiple employees.  Sometimes that data may be on a flash drive that is passed around by several employees.  This is called “sneakernet” because the data are walked around by employees.  

What happens if someone accidentally breaks the flash drive?  That’s one copy on one now nonfunctioning media?  Data recovery will be attempted.  Data are lost often by small businesses.  The two main causes of 75% of data loss are due to hardware malfunction and human error.  The data expert people will tell you, “one copy is none”.  What happens if the flash drive is lost?  

This brings us to the topic of data encryption.  Encryption makes your data unreadable to anyone that doesn’t have a key to decrypt the data.  The primary purpose of encryption is to protect the confidentiality of digital data stored on computer systems or transmitted via the Internet or other computer networks. http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/definition/encryption  

Anything moving around on flash or thumbdrives should be encrypted.  Depending on your industry you may be under regulations that dictate how your information is stored, transmitted, and used.

A few words about data disposal.  When you recycle any piece of hardware (computer, large network printers, phones, laptops) it is important to securely erase your proprietary data.  Your data can be erased using software or by physically destroying a storage media such as a hard disk drive.  Make certain that data are securely dealt with before the hardware is donated or recycled.  

Your company data should be maintained and controlled by a data policy.  It doesn’t have to be complicated.  It should delineate who is responsible for making sure the backup is happening.  The data policy should address issues such as how long data are retained, when and how data are deleted, and how and when is encryption implemented.  

My last thought about data backup.  Don’t wait until disaster strikes.  Have a disaster recovery plan.  Again, it doesn’t need to be complicated.  A new computer set up on your kitchen table downloading your data from a cloud based backup is better than nothing.  At the very least make sure you can access your data offsite.  Implement your backup strategy and make sure it is working.  Have a professional 3rd party audit your backup while everything is functioning normally.

Great Article from Tucson Local Media

October 28, 2016

5 ways to protect yourself from technology scams

Brandpoint (BPT) | Posted: Thursday, October 27, 2016 8:27 am

(BPT) – “What’s your favorite scary movie?”

This famous line from the film “Scream” sent shivers down the spines of moviegoers everywhere and made us all think twice about answering the phone. But while Ghost Face and his creepy question are nothing more than fiction, the wrong call in the real world can also be dangerous.

Phone scams are nothing new, but today thieves are using the phone to perpetrate tech support scams that prey upon the non-tech savvy. The fraudsters will make calls to would-be victims purporting to be with a reputable company, alerting the victim that there is a problem with their computer. Once the fraudster has earned the victim’s trust, they may then offer a software solution that could ultimately steal from the victim. The fraudsters inform potential victims what it will cost and tell them to send an online money transfer or provide their credit card number over the phone to cover the fee.

Understanding the dangers of tech scams

For the victims of a tech scam, the best case scenario is to discover that the solution they purchased doesn’t work or that they could have gotten the software elsewhere for free. They’re out the money they paid the scammer but little else.

In more serious cases however, the scammer may ask for remote access to “fix the problem” and then use that access to install malicious software (malware) on the victim’s computer. This software enables the scammer to steal the personal information the machine holds, including the victim’s phone number, social security information, credit information and other sensitive data they can obtain. The results of this identity theft could be devastating.

Protecting your computer and your sensitive information

To protect yourself from ending up the victim of a tech support scam, Western Union offers these fraud awareness tips.

Just say no. Never send a money transfer or provide your personal or banking information to people or businesses you don’t know personally. Scam artists can be very persuasive over the phone, so never turn over your information just because the person on the other line sounds legitimate.

Keep control. Never give control of your computer to someone that randomly calls you. Once you hand over control, you’re at the mercy of that other person to get control back.

Don’t be afraid to hang up. If you feel pressured or the caller mentions there is a subscription fee for the service they are offering, hang up. You can always call your software company on your own if you feel there is a problem with your computer.

Get professional help. If you suspect malware has been installed on your computer, take your device to a reputable computer repair service and have them run a diagnostics check on your machine to remove the suspicious software.

Act immediately. If you feel you’ve been the target of a scam, it’s in your interest to act as quickly as possible. The longer you delay, the longer you leave your personal information vulnerable to outside threats. If you get one of these phone calls and you have sent a money transfer via Western Union, call the company’s fraud hotline at (800) 448-1492 to report it. If the money has not been paid, then Western Union can stop the transaction and refund your money.

Unlike the characters in the movie “Scream,” tech support scams are very real. However, if you apply the fraud prevention tips above, you can help protect your personal information and keep the terror out of your technology. For more information on common scams, visit Western Union’s Fraud Awareness Center at wu.com/fraudawareness.

http://www.tucsonlocalmedia.com/online_features/tech_talk_and_innovation/article_febbd634-1937-58a2-b2c1-b1cf4cccc3f9.html

My New Book: A Common Sense Guide: Computers for Everyday Business People Chapter 1….more to follow….

September 30, 2016

A Common Sense Guide: Computers for Everyday Business People

10 Tips, 10 Chapters, 10 Pages Anyone Can Get IT!

 

Forward

Who’s this book for?  This book is for normal everyday business people who must use computer technology but don’t want to be a “techie”.  What’s this book for?  To provide “normal” business people an easy to understand practical guide to computer technology.  When did I write this book?  This book was written in mid 2016.  Why did I write this book?  After 20 years of experience, I wanted to give back a little of my expertise and insight.  This book was written to help “normal” business people figure out common sense advice to be safe, productive, and avoid common pitfalls using computers.  This book in not intended to be a how to guide, or a comprehensive overview of all business related computer technology topics and issues.

 

Tip: If you don’t read anything else at least read the 10 common sense tips in Chapter 1.  It’s quick and easy to understand and one page!

Chapter 1

common-sense

10 Common sense tips and computer best practices:

Tip 1:  back up: automatically, have at least two copies of important files

Tip 2: update: pc operating system, router, smartphone, software, and especially security software

Tip 3: do maintenance: blow out the dust, make sure it defrags on schedule, run automatic security scans and pay attention to items flagged

Tip 4: use good passwords: 10 characters with symbols and numbers, don’t use the same password on multiple sites

Tip 5: email is insecure, only use it for causal information

Tip 6: don’t open executable attachments or questionable websites

Tip 7: use firewalls both software and hardware if possible

Tip 8: use auto updating and scanning security software

Tip 9: only use wifi with proper security features enabled on a trusted network

Tip 10: just because it’s on the internet don’t make it true!  don’t post your secrets or whereabouts in real time on Social media such as facebook and twitter a little common sense goes a long way!

fast WiFi everywhere!?*.#$

July 9, 2016

orange wifiWiFiDoes you office WiFi bog down when everyone is connected to it?  Are you using older networking equipment?  It it too slooow?  Do you have so many connected devices you can’t remember them all?  Do vendors or clients complain about the WiFi?

I you answered yes to any of these questions give Computer Guy Consulting a call for a network evaluation.  Don’t suffer with bogged down and congested wireless equipment.  The need for good WiFi signals and adequate bandwidth is only going to increase with more connected computers, tablets, phones, and internet of things devices.

Are you using less than 4 bars on the WiFi.  Give me a call at 325-4656 and schedule your evaluation.Life is too short for bad WiFi connections!

Ransomware….

April 26, 2016

 

discovered ransomware

See a trend here?…..

  • Who is responsible?  Cyber criminals in countries where they will never be caught.
  • What is ransomware?  Encryption that locks up your data for a ransom.
  • Where do you get ransomware?  Malicious website or email.
  • When did this really become a problem? 2013, mid-2014, when it’s your data!
  • Why?  It is estimated that the criminals have made over 25 million dollars so far.

If you own a company or small business be aware of the potential problems that having your data held for ransom can cause.  This can put you out of business.  Paying the ransom is not a guarantee the crooks will give you workable key.  You have to use BitCoins to pay.  You have some already right?  This is not a good plan if your data is ransomed.  Look at the graph…. this will only get worse.

Best network practices and good offsite back ups are your best bets to avoid this.  Computer Guy Consulting can help you get your computers and network secured to not have to worry about this.  I can help your business implement security measures and automated back ups.  Having a good offsite back up is a good plan for avoiding other potential disasters as well.

If you need help with any of this technology stuff give Computer Guy Consulting a call to arrange a no nonsense consultation.

 

It’s back up week.

April 4, 2015

backup discAll computer users, from home users to professional information security officers, should back
up the critical data they have on their desktops, laptops, servers, and even mobile devices to
protect it from loss or corruption. Saving just one backup file may not be enough to safeguard
your information. To increase your chances of recovering lost or corrupted data, follow the 3-2-1 rule:
3 – Keep 3 copies of any important file: 1 primary and 2 backups.
2 – Keep the files on 2 different media types to protect against different types of hazards.
1 – Store 1 copy offsite (e.g., outside your home or business facility).

What to use: hard disk, usb thumb drive, cd, dvd, floppy, solid state drive, the cloud???  The the answer depends on your particular situation and needs.  If you need assistance, Computer Guy Consulting can help you or your business figure it out.  Don’t wait for disaster to strike.  Backing up is way easier than emergency data recovery!

Network Issues?

March 10, 2015

netgear-switchIs your network slowing down? Are users complaining they can not access server files? Shared database files are giving errors?

Sometimes routers and switches start to act badly as they age and become more and more unreliable. Computer Guy Consulting can help you diagnose network problems with all your connected computers and related network equipment.  Don’t wait until your network is down.  Computer Guy can help you replace any faulty hardware in the network matrix.  All network equipment should be gigabit speed in a small business network.  Gigabit switches are the standard in 2015.

Small business networks are a specialty at Computer Guy.  If you are having problems give us a call for a consultation about your networking issues.

Watch our for the PUPs

February 26, 2015

potentially unwanted programsPotentially Unwanted Programs

Here are several reminders on how to stay PUP free:

Instead of using download portals, go to the direct vendor website and download the desired software from there. Use caution here as well, because direct vendors can bundle PUPs themselves as well but at least it reduces the risk a little.

Read over the terms of agreement carefully. Moreover, read the privacy policy of each bundled program carefully: what do they do with your data? Avoid seemingly suspicious software (free and paid).

Uncheck boxes during installation since most PUPs use an opt-out approach.

Use an antivirus program that comes with PUP detection, such as Emsisoft Anti-Malware. Do periodic scans for malware and PUPs with the free Emsisoft Emergency Kit, which scans and cleans your computer.

Read the full story at http://emsi.at/dlpup

Got Malware?

January 22, 2015

Malware-Is-EverywhereMalware?

Who:
Many pc users are vulnerable to malware due to exposure via email and internet activities.
What :
Malware, short for malicious software, is any software used to disrupt computer operation, gather sensitive information, or gain access to private computer systems.
Where:
Malware is common on computers and may also occur on smartphones and tablets.
When:
Malware is typically picked up via an email link or bad website link when users are in a hurry and just click ok without thinking about what they are doing.
Why:
Today, malware is used by both black hat hackers and governments, to steal personal, financial, or business information.

Ok, hopefully you get it already. Now what? Give me a call and tell me what is happening. Don’t put it off because it will get worse over time. Malware removal is a specialty at Computer Guy Consulting. 95% of the time we can get your pc back to normal and running fast again!  While at it, I’ll make sure your security is up to the task as well.