Is It Malware Or A Virus?

September 20th, 2013

Virus Alert

Malware infects your computer and affects its performance. Or is that a computer virus? Are they the same thing?

Lincoln Spector, of PC World, writes that the difference between malware and virus is ambiguous at best. Technically, a virus is a form of malware. That’s not always the way it’s used today, however.

Not only is a virus a form of malware, but trojans, worms and rootkits are also. Malware is classified as a piece of code that infects your computer and performs actions independent of the user, which is you. To simplify, it’s something that has found a way onto your computer, by way of a download, upload, or a number of other ways, and is doing things without your knowledge, like monitoring your activity, harvesting data or spamming your address book.

A virus falls into the malware category because it infects your computer and is capable of performing independent actions. A virus infects an existing file and corrupts it. But, there aren’t many viruses around today because they’re seen as inefficient by cyber criminals.

The reason the terms malware and virus have become interchangeable is because computers and malicious programs existed before ‘malware’ became a term. So, whenever anyone spotted one of these malicious programs and in the 1980’s and 90’s, they referred to them as a virus. That’s been a hard habit to break even as we now understand the differences between unique forms of malware.

While your security software is called ‘antivirus’, it likely protects you from a variety of malware. To simplify security, call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We understand malware and viruses and, more importantly, know how to keep you safe and secure.

Change Your Privacy Settings Before Using Your iPhone

September 20th, 2013

iPhone user

Before you start playing with your new iPhone 5s or 5c, take a moment to adjust the privacy settings. Even if you don’t have a new iPhone, it’s a good idea to check that your phone’s settings are set to your liking. For instance, upgrading to iOS7 on your existing iPhone can reset your settings, so checking on them once in awhile is a good idea.

Jason D. O’Grady, of ZDNet, has some suggestions for how your privacy settings should look. These will keep your iPhone from allowing too much access to 3rd party apps and keep you from sharing too much with potential hackers.

  • Location Services

Most of the apps you download want to access your location. Few, however, truly need that access. To limit how you share your location, go to ‘Settings’ then ‘Privacy’ then ‘Location Services’. Scroll all the way to to the bottom to find ‘System Services’. Here you’ll be able to turn on notifications for anytime an app uses your location. That way, if you get a notification from an app that shouldn’t be accessing your location, you can go turn off that app’s capability. 

  • Diagnostics and Usage

This is code for ‘let Apple track my activity’. To turn this option off, touch ‘System Services’ from the screen you were just on. Turn off ‘Diagnostics and Usage’ to no longer send data to Apple, which they say is to help improve iOS. On this same screen, you’ll want to disable ‘Location Based iAds’, which is exactly what it sounds like. 

  • Do Not Track Safari

Finally, go to ‘Safari’ in your ‘Settings’ menu. Make sure that ‘Do Not Track’ is turned on so you’ll be able to surf anonymously. While you’re here, check that ‘Block Pop-Ups’ is also turned on. 

These quick adjustments to your settings help to improve your iPhone’s privacy. Improving privacy settings keeps your phone from sending data to Apple, advertisers and others who don’t need to have access to it.

Privacy settings don’t keep you secure from malware and other attacks, however. To improve the security on your smartphone, or to get rid of malware already on it, call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335, or bring your device in to one of our locations.

3 Ways Malware Gets Through Security Software

September 19th, 2013

Breaking in

Regardless of how many safeguards you have in place, your company’s data is never completely secure. Security tools like antivirus software and firewalls are helpful, but they can’t guarantee your safety.

Sam Narisi, of IT Manager Daily, points out that data breaches and cyber attacks create a number of negative results beyond just the loss of data. Employee and system downtime, money lost, damage to a brand’s credibility and compliance failure are all possible when your security is compromised.

One step towards improving security is to understand how your current security infrastructure is being infiltrated. Here’s some of the latest hacker tactics.

  • USB Threats

Everyone is aware of the dangers online so most companies focus their security to protect them on that front. However, 25-percent of companies victimized by a malware attack say it originated from an individual’s USB device. To accomplish this, cyber criminals send out complimentary USB devices, which are disguised as promotional material for a company and infected with malware. They also leave USB devices sitting in coffee shops, bars, restaurants or on the street. Eventually, someone picks it up and tries to use it. 

  • Remote Threats

An employee working at the office on your secure network is well protected. That employee may take his laptop or smartphone elsewhere to work, however. Especially if connected to a free WiFi network, that employee would now be vulnerable. Hackers could gain access to anything stored on their device, and then gain access to the company’s network when they return to work. 

  • Holes in Security Software

Even with antivirus software in place, you’re vulnerable. 40-percent of companies who have experienced a malware attack say the threat slipped through security software already in place. That software has a difficult time keeping up with new malware, even when it is regularly updated. Since hackers have such a deep understanding of how antivirus programs work, they are developing malware that stays undetected. 

Having the right tools in place is still a good place to start to avoid a malware infection. Proper training for employees is another necessary precaution. If you still find that your network has been infiltrated, call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We will disable the threat and also keep you better protected for the future.

These Devices Are Incredibly Difficult For Users To Repair

September 19th, 2013

Device repair

When a device stops working, a lot of us want to try to fix it on our own. For some gadgets, this is possible, but for others, it leads to headaches and possibly worse problems.

Lou Carlozo, of DealNews, has a list of the most difficult to repair devices. If you have a problem with one of these, it’s probably best to take it to a professional.

  • iPod Touch

Apple cases are notoriously difficult to get into. The iPod in particular has no external screws and is held together by adhesive and clips. Many parts are soldered together, which makes replacing individual parts difficult. 

  • iPad and iPad Mini

Once again the case is difficult to open because of a large amount of adhesive. The Mini also uses tiny screws that always seem to disappear after removing them. Parts like the battery or Lightning connector are soldered, or glued, to other pieces, which makes them difficult to remove and nearly impossible to replace individually. 

  • MacBook Pro

The battery is glued in and the RAM is soldered in. Want to replace one or the other? That’s a big and difficult job. There’s also proprietary screws holding everything together that take a special tool to remove. 

  • iPod Shuffle

This device is so small, it is nearly impossible to open its case without damaging it further. Once again, the battery is soldered in further complicating things for those fortunate few who do get it open. 

  • Surface Pro

Microsoft’s laptop/tablet features a display that’s glued in with an excessive amount of adhesive. Once you get inside the case, you’ll find more than 90 screws keeping you from accomplishing anything. 

  • HTC One

This 4G smartphone offering features a battery that hides underneath the motherboard. It’s also strongly attached to the midframe. None of that becomes an issue until you figure out how to open the case without tearing it apart. 

These are among the most difficult gadgets for end users to repair. If you are experiencing a problem with these or any other device you own, bring it to Geek Rescue. If it boots up or turns on, we fix it. Come by or call us at 918-369-4335.

 

Take These Steps To Quickly Improve Cyber Security

September 19th, 2013

Cyber Security

Everyone is interested in the silver bullet that will magically make them completely secure and afe from any cyber threat. It doesn’t exist, but as Thorin Klosowski points out at Lifehacker, there are a number of ways to become more secure within minutes.

  • 2 Factor Authentication

By far the simplest and quickest way to improve security is to enable 2 factor authentication on your online accounts. With this more secure type of log-in, you’ll be prompted for your password, but you won’t be given access to your account until you’re given a second authentication method. In many cases, you’ll be texted or called with a code to enter to prove that you are who you say you are. Once you’ve gone through this process, a hacker would need to using your computer, or have your smartphone to gain access to your account. 

  • Password Manager

A password manager can be added to practically any browser and will automatically log you into accounts that have been added to it. This actually sounds less secure, but the password manager locks away all your passwords and encrypts them so they’re safe. You’ll only need to remember one master password to use the password manager. Many managers will even generate a strong, random password for each site you wish to use with it, so the only way to log in to those accounts is by having access to the password manager. 

  • Encrypted Email

Email encryption has some headaches associated with it. Most notably, encrypted emails require a key to read, so whoever you’re sending a message to will need the key. But sending them the key over email defeats the purpose of encryption. You probably don’t need to encrypt every email you send, but messages containing information like bank accounts, social security numbers or even contact information are good candidates for encryption. Just be sure to send the encryption key through text, or in person. 

  • Secure Back Up

Backing up your files is always a good idea, but, just like email, it’s important to encrypt files containing potentially valuable data. There are a number of services that offer encrypted back ups, but one obstacle is that usually these encrypted files won’t be available to you on another machine. That means you won’t be able to access them from your smartphone or at work. 

These steps will improve your online security, but nothing is unhackable. The idea is to make it as difficult as possible for anyone to access your data and accounts. Geek Rescue specializes in improving your cyber security to keep your information safe and your devices free from malware. Give us a call at 918-369-4335 to find out how to strengthen your security.

Steps To Take If Your Personal Data Is Stolen

September 18th, 2013

Identity Theft

The focus of data breaches is usually on the company who was breached. Articles detail how to better secure your company’s data and how to recover if your company gets hacked, but what about the users whose personal information is now in the hands of criminals?

If you are informed by a company you have an account with that your data has been compromised, Andy O’Donnell of About has some advice for what to do next.

  • Change Your Passwords

The absolute first thing to do is change the password on the compromised account. This isn’t a futile effort. Most likely, your log-in information is just one of thousands or millions of log-ins stolen. There’s a good chance that the hackers haven’t even been able to try it yet. So, change that password immediately and you could save yourself a lot of trouble. To be safe, take this opportunity to change the other passwords on your most used accounts. Passwords should be changed periodically anyway, but if a knowledgeable criminal has your email address and other information, it’s possible they’ve hacked into other accounts. 

  • Contact Your Bank And Credit Card Companies

Even if your bank was the company who contacted you about the breach, you’ll want to make sure there’s a fraud alert on your accounts. This way, any suspicious activity will be immediately noticed and you won’t end up with thousands of dollars missing. You’ll probably also want to get new credit and debit cards with new numbers. Credit card information is often the goal of any data breach, so if there’s any way the compromised company had your card number on file, be proactive and get a new card. 

  • Ask About Free Identity Theft Prevention Services

It has become common practice for a breached company to offer this service to their affected customers. But, you may have to ask to get the offer. Or, asking may cause them to offer it to you even if they weren’t planning to originally.

  • Request A Freeze On Your Credit Report

This isn’t for everyone as their are positives and negatives to a security freeze. Do your research before requesting one. The reason it may be useful is that criminals who have access to your personal information will likely attempt to open a line of credit with it in your name. Irreparable harm could be done to your credit score if left unchecked.

Should you learn that your valuable data has been stolen from a company you do business with, you’ll want to act quickly to avoid as much damage as possible. You can’t get the data back, but you can make it significantly less valuable and prevent it from hurting you.

Geek Rescue helps business stay more secure in order to avoid these data breaches. We also help keep your home computer and network secure, so your personal information isn’t stolen directly from you. To find out how Geek Rescue helps your home and business, give us a call at 918-369-4335. 

Be Aware Of Challenges When Implementing A Cloud

September 18th, 2013

Cloud computing

Cloud computing is vital to business for storage, security, disaster recovery and continuity. As many as 90-percent of companies have adopted some sort of cloud service and many of those use multiple cloud models.

David Deans, of Business Technology Roundtable, explains how the reliance on cloud computing is changing e-commerce business. This change comes with inherent challenges.

  • Rogue IT

This refers to IT and the rest of your business not being connected. Your business may have needs that IT doesn’t yet know about and those needs may be addressed by adopting a new cloud technology before consulting with IT. This results in security concerns, redundancies and incompatibility. With cloud computing, communication across all departments is more vital than ever. 

  • Cost Surprises 

Shockingly, a number of businesses fail to adequately track the cost of their IT usage. Usage costs, training of staff members and upgrades to networks all contribute to a price tag that ends up much higher than expected. When implementing any new technology into your business, cloud systems included, it’s important to budget and track costs closely. 

  • Transforming Set Practices

A cloud system allows your business to run differently than it ever has before, but sometimes old habits die hard. Many professionals report that altering existing policies is an even greater challenge than integrating the new technology. 

There are a number of benefits to adding cloud computing to your IT infrastructure, but as with any change to your business, there are challenges as well.

For help integrating a cloud into your business, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335.

Is Your Business Prepared For A DoS Attack?

September 18th, 2013

Breaking Through Security

A Denial-of-Service attack, or DoS, refers to an attempt by a cyber criminal to interrupt your ability to connect to users. These attacks are launched against websites, networks and apps to disable them, usually by overloading the target with communication requests. In other words, the hackers force the website or network to shut down due to an excessive amount of traffic.

Bob Gorski, of PivotPoint Security, notes that about 65-percent of organizations have experienced three DoS attacks in the past year. The assumption is that hackers target large enterprises like banks and government agencies. However, small business owners need to be prepared for attacks also because their lack of security is attractive to criminals and they also possess valuable data.

The motivation behind a DoS attack can be as simple as an individual being upset at a company. That individual then launches the attack to shut down service and cost that company money. It can also be more complex than that.

DoS attacks have been known to be fronts, or distractions, from more sinister actions. While your security team works to get your website or network back online during an attack, hackers are installing malicious software or harvesting your data.

In another scheme, hackers disabled a site with a DoS attack, then were able to hijack the company;s social media account and redirect users to a phishing site. Users have log-ins and personal information stolen and blame the company.

Firewalls and antivirus software doesn’t protect you from a DoS attack. The best way to be prepared for one is to test. Load testing puts a strain on your website or network to find out if it can handle a DoS attack. This can cause the target to go down, which is why it’s best to run these tests at off-times but when an administrator is available to quickly get your website or network back up.

Geek Rescue helps you prepare for cyber attacks and uses the latest security solutions to safeguard your website and network. Give us a call at 918-369-4335 before an attack causes your business to grind to a halt.

 

Back Up Data Before Updating Your iPhone

September 17th, 2013

Cloud back up

With the impending release of Apple’s latest version of their operating system, iOS7, users will be prompted to upgrade their phone to gain access to new features. The release of new operating systems usually is synonymous with the addition of bugs and issues. Samantha Murphy Kelly, of Mashable, writes that before you upgrade, you should back-up all of your data.

There are already some users who have gained access to iOS7 and have reported no problems. However, it’s a good idea to back-up your phone periodically and ahead of a major update is a great time for some piece of mind. This way, you aren’t risking anything by upgrading.

If you’re currently using iOS5 or iOS6, your iPhone will automatically back-up data to the iCloud, but you must first enable this feature. To do that, go to ‘Settings’, select ‘iCloud’ and then ‘Backup & Storage’. Once you’ve done this, your iPhone will back up your data daily, as long as it’s plugged in and connected to WiFi with the screen locked.

Even with this option enabled, you’ll want to back up manually before upgrading your OS. By following the same steps as before, but selecting ‘Back Up Now’ your phone will back up your data right then and there. It’s a lengthy process so be prepared and the more data you have, the longer it will take.

One other issue you should resolve before updating to iOS7 is clearing some storage space. You’ll need space to update, so go ahead and get rid of seldom used apps, old photos and music you no longer want.

If you end up losing some of your data, call Geek Rescue. We have the tools needed to recover data for nearly any device. We also fix broken gadgets and get rid of viruses and malware infections. Call us at 918-369-4335 or come by Geek Rescue.

Security Updates And Potential Flaws Of iPhone 5s

September 17th, 2013

Fingerprint security

The iPhone 5s will be released soon, which has security experts scrambling to figure out what flaws could be exploited by hackers. Because the new iPhone, and even its new operating systems, iOS7, haven’t been officially released, Matthew J. Schwartz made some educated guesses about possible security concerns at Information Week.

  • iOS7

New operating systems usually make sure to shore up any security holes that previous versions may have had. In the iPhone’s case, the previous operating system was considered “a freaking vault” according to one security researcher. The concern then, is that any new operating system will have flaws of its own that are just waiting to be discovered. 

  • 64-bit Processor

A new processor also suggests new flaws to be exploited. But, the new processor promises to make previous exploits obsolete and reportedly makes jailbreaking, or gaining root access to the device through bugs, much more difficult. 

  • Fingerprint Scanner

Multiple security experts suggest the fingerprint scanner, or Touch ID, will draw most hackers attention initially. There have already been multiple suggestions about how to break through the new iPhone’s security measure.

One tactic, dubbed a “phish finger”, would be to take a finger print from the touch screen and use it to fool the fingerprint scanner. New technology is supposed to make it difficult to fool the scanner without an actual finger, but it can still be done.

Fingerprints of the iPhone’s owner are encrypted and stored on the device, so one theory is that these fingerprints could then be stolen and used to hack into the device. However, the way the fingerprints are stored makes them only recognizable to the iPhone’s processor, which means they can’t be exported to another device.

Touch ID isn’t the only security measure on the iPhone 5s. A password is still in place as well and is required in some situations.

There are certainly some security upgrades on the new iPhone, but there appears to be some potential vulnerabilities as well. In the coming days, more of these vulnerabilities will likely be revealed as more hackers and security experts have hands-on time with the iPhone 5s.

If you need additional security on your mobile device, be it a new or old iPhone, Android or other, bring it to Geek Rescue. We improve security, get rid of malware and fix broken hardware. Come by or call us at 918-369-4335.

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