Fix Your Computer’s Malware Infection

August 14th, 2013

Fix Computer

When your computer is infected with malware, it is usually easy to spot. It may not be that easy to fix.

Malware makes your computer do some strange things. It will seem to working hard at some task even when you’re not doing anything. Windows will open seemingly by themselves. The effects of malware on your system are generally not clandestine.

Once you’ve diagnosed a malware infection, what’s your next step? Matt Egan has some good ideas at PC Advisor.

  • Safe Mode

The malware infecting your computer may use your internet connection against you, so disable that immediately. Unplug any wired connections and turn off your WiFi connection. 

Next, assuming you’re using a Windows operating system, boot into Safe Mode. When restarting your machine, hit F8 to use Safe Mode.

This allows you to work freely without doing any more damage to your PC. Safe Mode doesn’t enable many of Windows processes and programs to run and, more importantly, malware doesn’t run either.

  • Scan Your System

While in Safe Mode, you’ll want to scan for malware. If you already have antivirus software installed, that’s great but you’ll need a different program. After all, that software didn’t stop malware from infecting your computer. 

Since your first step was to disconnect from the internet, you’ll have two options for installing a new malware scanner. You can either reconnect to the internet and disconnect once you’ve downloaded a new program, or download on a different computer and transfer the software via a USB drive.

Once it’s installed, run the scan and remove any malware it finds. There are some obstacles you may still have to deal with, however.

Some types of malware are capable of killing antivirus programs, even in Safe Mode. If you find the scan doesn’t finish and the program closes on its own, that’s the problem. You’ll need to call in the professionals. Geek Rescue is available to clean your machine and install heartier security provisions.

The scan may also come up empty. If this happens but your PC continues to act funny, you can try a different antivirus scan, or take it to Geek Rescue.

  • Post Infection

Even with the malware gone, you may have some lingering effects. Your browser may have a toolbar installed on it or your homepage may have changed. Fixing these issues is usually pretty simple, but you’ll also want to change your passwords and log-in details. Malware often harvests this information. Don’t limit the log-in changes to just your bank account and email either. Change any account you log-in to regularly, including social media. 

If the issues with your computer persist, call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We’re happy to help with any computer problems and help you to prevent them from happening in the future.

 

Privacy Is Key To Security

August 12th, 2013

9 Tips for Keeping Your Internet Usage Private [Infographic] by Who Is Hosting This: The Blog

Infographic via WhoIsHosting

The key to security when surfing the internet expands well beyond having the best antivirus software installed on your machine. That is extremely useful in fighting off any malware and viruses you may pick up along the way, but it doesn’t take a proactive approach to protecting your data and personal identifiable information.

We’ve talked about how to surf invisibly and the problem with storing passwords with your browser. The included infographic illustrates not only the problems with some of the most utilized web tools, but also alternatives that keep your data more secure.

Here are some of the more noteworthy revelations.

  • Incognito Insecurities- In Google Chrome, even using ‘incognito mode’ doesn’t stop the browser from using cookies and tracking your search history. Chrome then uses that data to sell to advertisers, which means going incognito doesn’t help nearly as much as you’d think.
  • Encryption For All- The value of encryption can’t be overstated. In order to protect your email, encryption is a much needed tool. Regardless of the type of email you use, encryption is an option and one you should be using.
  • There’s Always An Alternative- No matter what you are interested in doing online, there is an alternate option that offers more security than what most people are using. For file storage, chatting, email, browsing, video viewing and more, you don’t need to stop doing it, just find a better way.

Keeping your data and information private and secure goes a long way to keep your identity and computer safe. To heighten the security around your data, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We will match your needs with security solutions to keep you safe online and help you understand how to safely surf the web.

Your Company’s Biggest Threat To Data Security

August 9th, 2013

Frustrated Employee

If you’ve taken every precaution to secure your companies network and email and have installed consistently updated anitvirus software on every device, there’s probably only a slim chance that any of your data is intercepted by an outside source, right? Actually, there’s still the matter of your employees to worry about.

IPSwitch recently published an ebook that illustrates all of the ways your employees are compromising security, which allows for the stealing of data. Usually, these employees are not intentionally putting data at risk. They’re simply trying to make data transfer easier for themselves or clients.

  • Email Attachments- More than 84-percent of survey respondents admitted to sending confidential or classified information as an email attachment. 72-percent say they do so every week. Unless your company has specifically taken measures to protect attachments, all of the data sent this way is at risk.
  • Using Personal Email- Rather than utilizing the secured, company email, about half of respondents use their personal email, which lacks adequate security measures, to send company data. They do so in order to send larger files, because it’s faster and more convenient, they can’t connect to work email outside the office and a variety of other reasons.
  • Inadequate File Transfer Services- If they’re not sending valuable data via personal email or attachments, employees are using file transfer services, such as dropbox, or cloud services. Many times, the services they use are intended for consumers, not businesses. This compromises security and makes it impossible for IT to track how data is leaving their system.
  • External Devices- Nearly 80-percent of respondents use a thumb drive or other external device to transfer, back-up or store data. The problem with having a physical device containing important data is that physical devices get lost or stolen. Almost a third of respondents say they’ve lost an external device containing sensitive business data. About half of those were not reported to the IT department, which means the possible compromise in security couldn’t be planned for.

This list is certainly not exhaustive. Due to a lack of education, or a desire to do what’s most convenient, employees often put your organization at risk. Having security measures in place is a great start, but more is needed to keep you secure. Call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335 to find out what else needs to be done. We offer an audit of your organization that discovers bad practices and leaks in data. From top to bottom, in the physical and digital world, Geek Rescue keeps you and your business secure.

Do’s And Don’ts For Creating Your Passwords

August 8th, 2013

Password

How long do you think it would take an experienced hacker to break into your most valuable account online? For most people, the answer is about 3 minutes.

The average hack time is low because many people make it painfully easy to break into their accounts. Using names, anniversaries, birthdays and other personal information that is also public information, or at least readily available on any of your social media accounts, is a surefire way to get an account hacked. Similarly, using full words in your password makes it easier to crack.

There are four character types available for any password, upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters like symbols and punctuation. Use a combination of all four to make the strongest password possible.

As you might expect, the shorter your password is, the weaker it is. Shoot for a length of at least 8 characters.

Since nearly two-thirds of people use the same password for multiple sites, when one site becomes compromised, a cyber criminal gains access to every account using that password.

For more information about creating strong, secure passwords, check out Denise Lu’s article at Mashable and the accompanying infographic from Instant Checkmate.

Even the strongest passwords don’t protect you fully, but they do make it more unlikely that your most precious data remains secure. To put more security in place, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We have a number of security solutions for home and business to keep data out of the wrong hands.

Your Browser Stores Your Passwords For Anyone To See

August 7th, 2013

Password

When you log-in to your most visited sites on the web, your internet browser will offer to store your log-in information so you don’t need to enter it every time you visit the site. Many users use this function to keep from forgetting passwords or just to make their lives that much easier.

Have you ever thought about who might have access to the passwords you store? Particularly for Chrome and Firefox users, anyone with local access to your machine also has easy access to all of your stored passwords.

Tim Scheisser, of TechSpot, reveals that in two of the most common browsers, stored passwords are not hidden behind encryption or any type of master password. Instead, they are available to anyone using the computer.

Chrome representatives say the omission of any type of security around your stored passwords was intentional. Rather than leading you to believe your passwords are safe because of encryption or other measures, they want you to understand that if anyone gains local access to your computer, all of your information is compromised.

While it’s true that someone who has access to your physical machine is hard to stop, many users would prefer more protection than Chrome and Firefox supply. Internet Explorer and Safari both provide a master password lock before granting access to stored passwords. This is certainly breakable, but at least takes some effort.

Client side protection has never been, nor will it ever be the main focus of a browser. To maximize your security, consider not using the store password function. You’ll also want to call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335 and have the latest security software loaded onto your machine. With the right tools in place, you avoid devastating losses of data.

Avoid Identity Theft With These Tips

August 6th, 2013

ID Theft

There are about 12-million people who are the victims of identity theft each year. In the US alone, identity theft costs about $18-billion. What can you do to avoid having your identity stolen?

As Abigail Wang, of PC Mag, points out, the key to staying safe is taking precautions offline, as well as online.

Shredding documents, especially mail like bank or credit card statements, that contain personal identifiable information is vital in keeping your identity safe. Even address labels that include your name could be harmful. Before you throw out junk mail, be sure to shred it. When mailing checks, drop them off at the post-office instead of leaving them for the mailman.

Online, it gets trickier to make sure you’re safe. Installing robust antivirus software is a necessary precaution and goes a long way to protect your security. You’ll need to keep that software up to date at all times.

In your email, trust your spam filter. If an email looks suspicious, don’t click any links contained in it and avoid opening at all if possible. Deleting old emails containing account information is also a good idea in case a hacker gains access to your inbox.

On social media, use privacy controls so that people you don’t know can’t see your personal information. It’s amazing how much someone with some expertise can do with just your birthday and hometown.

To keep your email and computer safe, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We install state of the art security software that locks out hackers. Every three seconds, someone’s identity is stolen. Don’t let yourself be a victim.

 

How To Use Virtualization To Help Your Business

August 5th, 2013

Virtual icon

There are many common problems in the day-to-day operations of a business that can be solved by implementing virtualization. Paul Mah, of CIO, has a list of some of these issues.

Virtualization has become such a buzzword, it’s definition and capabilities have expanded recently. At its most basic level, virtualization is creating a virtual version of a device or resource. For many companies, that means creating a virtual copy of servers and storage devices to create more resources without multiplying costs. When you consider the implications of creating virtual, working versions of actual devices, the possibilities are nearly endless.

  • Extend an apps life- Most businesses use some sort of niche application, which easily becomes obsolete and unusable without regular updates or maintenance. The company that made the app may no longer be in business, or may have just stopped offering support for that software. Either way, the application is useless if the machine running it stops working. If you virtualize the entire machine, you not only extend the life of the machine indefinitely, but you also allow access to the app from nearly anywhere.
  • Back-up your data-  Much like the application of cloud services previously discussed here, virtual machines are a great way to back-up important data. By making a copy of a server or storage unit, you’ll have a restore point in the event of a disaster.
  • Provide mobile access- Your workforce is more mobile than ever before and virtualization makes it easy for them to access vital information and applications when they’re away from their desks. Creating a virtual machine that hosts any programs they may need to access makes it easy for anyone to conduct business from practically anywhere.
  • Beef up security- An alarming number of SMBs can’t survive the cost and data loss associated with a large-scale cyber attack. With virtualization, minimize the risks by segmenting your employees activities. Create a virtual machine used only for web browsing so hackers can’t access any vital data.

This is only a short glimpse at the capabilities of virtualization. To learn how to implement it in your business, call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. 

 

Malware Infects You From Unlikely Places

August 2nd, 2013

Sneaky businessman

You may think it’s easy to avoid malware. Sketchy looking emails, not-so-subtle internet ads and downloading too good to be true files all lead to likely infections of your computer. Those are thinly veiled attempts to put malware on your machine and most internet users have learned how to stay safe. But what if those malware attempts weren’t so thinly veiled?

Jaikumar Vijayan, of ComputerWorld, reports that malware is being distributed more often from legitimate cloud services like Google Docs or Dropbox, which makes them difficult to avoid. In the past, malware usually stemmed from a site created by a hacker. That made it easy to seek out those sites and blacklist them. Naturally, hackers’ methods evolved to try to stay one step ahead.

Because the malware stems from a usually trustworthy source, the malicious files are more likely to slip past any security defenses in place. No longer can you blindly trust files simply based on where you found them.

Evidence of malware has been found in a number of online cloud services. These services allow registration without requiring much information, which means cyber criminals are able to register with fake information.

To stay safe from infection, you’ll need to be more intelligent in your web activities and have the latest security measures in place. To be sure you’re prepared for the latest malware attack, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. They clean your machine to rid it of any existing malware, and give you the tools to keep it clean.

 

Cloud Computing Is Your Solution For Disaster Recovery

August 1st, 2013

Lightning

One of the most popular buzz words of 2013 is the cloud. While everyone is talking about it, many businesses are unsure of how and where to implement it. Cloud computing is a dynamic solution to a number of issues, but it is best suited for disaster recovery.

Disaster comes in many forms, but the cloud handles all of them with minimal effort on your part. Whether your data is wiped out from an attack, a virus or a natural disaster, the cloud has you covered.

John Dix, of CIO, recently spoke with IBM Distinguished Engineer Richard Cocchiara about the ways cloud computing helps in disaster relief. Cocchiara had one particularly good note for small to medium business owners. Cloud computing levels the field between them and their larger counterparts. While big corporations have the budget for off-site servers that constantly back-up data, smaller companies didn’t have the same luxury. Now, the cloud makes that solution affordable.

Let’s say your company experiences a catastrophic loss of data. Companies that don’t back-up their data, or back-up onsite might be in real trouble. Companies utilizing the cloud to back-up their data will experience a quick restoration of the vital data.

What if your servers fail, or need to go down for maintenance? Cloud computing offers the ability to failover, which means the down server’s functions are assumed by a working machine. It also offers restore points far enough back to overcome the failure.

Finally, there’s the dreaded natural disaster. Floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, fire or just a glitch in your sprinkler system will knock out your onsite data storage. Even if you have offsite back-up, a regional disaster, like an earthquake, hurricane or tornado with a large range of damage, could wreak havoc on your data. When your data is in the cloud, you’ll be able to access it when you need it.

Cloud computing is a dynamic, flexible and reliable solution for disaster recovery, which is a worst case scenario. Having a plan in place helps your business overcome disaster, rather than struggling with it. Geek Rescue puts a plan in place for you. We are experts in cloud computing and help you plan ahead for disasters. Call Geek Rescue today at 918-369-4335.

How To Fix or Overcome A Slow Internet Connection

July 31st, 2013

Slow Internet Snail

We’ve become so spoiled by regularly fast internet speeds that any load time we encounter is almost unbearable. Occasionally, even your fast, usually reliable internet connection becomes a slow frustration. Lifehacker has suggestions on what to check if you find yourself not-so-patiently waiting for websites to load.

If it’s not a sudden change, but rather a continuous problem that your internet is maddeningly slow, you may be getting what you pay for. Check with your provider for how fast the internet on your plan is, then use a site like speedtest.net to see if you’re getting the speeds you were promised.

If your connection is slower than it should be, try the tried and true method of turning off hardware then restarting. You can reset your modem, router and computer to try to fix the problem. You may discover that your wireless signal is too weak if you’re on WiFi. It could be as easy as moving your router to a different spot in the house, but there are a number of possible fixes to boost your signal.

Your internet speed can be significantly slowed down by programs or plug-ins that use a large amount of bandwidth. For example, if you’re using a download manager to download multiple large files, your speed in your browser is going to suffer. There are also tools that block elements on web pages that can use up your bandwidth, but that won’t speed up your connection, only help you get the most out of it.

It’s possible that the DNS server, which your computer uses to look-up websites, is having problems. There are ways to find the fastest DNS available, but if your DNS isn’t actually encountering issues, you won’t see much improvement.

In some cases, a slow internet is just the reality you have to deal with. If there are no easy fixes available, you can choose to load versions of websites with fewer design elements so they’ll load faster.

There are plenty of ways to try to maximize your internet speed, but sometimes it’s just time to find a new provider. Be sure to do your homework before making the switch so you know you’re getting the best option for you in your area.

To learn about all of your options in fixing a slow internet connection, consult the experts at Geek Rescue. Whether there’s a problem with your computer, router, modem or another source, Geek Rescue finds it and fixes it quickly. Come by or call us at 918-369-4335.