Archive for the ‘Tech News’ Category

Zeus Virus Popup

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

So the time has come again to talk about these popup’s that tell you that you have a virus and you must call this number. Well, as we have said and always tell people, this is a scam. They want you to call the phone number or they will disable your computer. This is just not true. In most cases, if you can end the task using CTRL + ALT + DEL (in this case the browser “Google Chrome”, “Firefox”, “Internet Explorer”, “Edge”, “Safari” or possibly another one), then this issue will go away. Just make sure when you open the browser back up, do not restore the previous session. If you are able to close it out using the CTRL + ALT + DEL task manager, it is easier on your computer. If you are not able to figure that out, or it does not work – we have suggested to just hold the power button in as well until the computer shuts off. When you turn the computer back on, it should be good to go again.

At this point, as long as it is gone when you open the browser back up, you should be good to go. If the popup comes up again right away, the it might be a good idea to get the computer cleaned up.

When this popup comes up, you cannot do anything on the internet as it forces you to click OK, and then it comes right back again – which is why we need to end that task.

I have now received this virus scam and was able to record it.

Password Security

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

Password SecurityMost everyone is always asking themselves, why should I have a different password for each site I go to? We all know very well it is nearly impossible to keep track of all your usernames and passwords for all of your sites, unless you use the same one. It is definitely a security issue by using the same password for all of the websites you go to.  Most people try to use the same username for all the sites they go to, which means if someone does get your password for one site, then they could probably guess your codes for another site.

Ok, so why should it be complicated? Well, if it is someone you know they might guess your password because of the things you like. Otherwise, if a website or your computer is hacked there are different attacks out there such as brute force attacks, dictionary attacks and more. This software can try hundreds or thousands of passwords in a very short time until it finds the correct password and gets logged in.  Well, now they know that password and your username.  Even very secure sites can be hacked.

You can slow down, or eliminate the chances of your password being hacked by following a few simple steps:

  1. Use at least 8 characters (the more the better)
  2. Use at least 1 Uppercase letter
  3. Use at least 1 lowercase letter
  4. Use numbers
  5. Use symbols (ex: !@#$%^&*)
    1. Be aware that some sites may not allow all symbols, and many have hints on what to use for their passwords strengths.

Of course, there is no 100% way to keep your passwords secure with all the new technology and the time some of the hackers have on their hands.  It is also a good idea to change your passwords every month or two as well. This way if someone does figure out your password in that time, they will have to figure it out again – and as long as you are using complicated passwords, they would have a harder time guessing it.  If you are not sure what to use for a password, I really like this site http://passwordsgenerator.net. You can let it come up with a secure password and copy/paste it to where you want it, but you probably are not going to memorize those passwords. You could write them down in an address book, recipe cards or something – just be certain to keep them in a safe place so no-one else has access to them.

Couple of other suggestions

  • Do
    • Use complicated passwords
    • Use a different password for each site
    • Use different usernames for each site
  • Don’t
    • Write the password on your desk (if you write it down, put it in a safe)
    • Keep the password in your wallet
    • Let the browser memorize your password
    • Use simple passwords such as your name, “password”, “abc123”, etc

Final reminder on things as well related to security: Never give your password or social security number out in any emails or on the phone – even if they are asking for your password they will never call you. Microsoft, IRS, etc will never call you, so if someone calls asking for that information don’t give it out on the phone.

Talking Pop-ups In Your Browser

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

Hello, Readers!

Today, I would like to talk about misleading internet pop-ups. You know the ones. The advertisement pops up, tells you that you have a virus, even talks to you (spooky)! You may panic and try to close the ad, but to no avail. It may even tell you to call the number you see on your screen (it is advised that you do not call that number). Well, there is light at the end of this tunnel!

delete_hard_drive_popupWe recommend that you power your computer off, but not in the normal way. Hold your power button down until the computer turns off (anywhere from 5 to 15 seconds). Afterwards, wait about 10 seconds, and turn the computer back on. Now, you should be able to use your computer normally. If that does not work, feel free to give us a call to determine if the issue is more serious.

This weeks Tech Tip: In most web browsers, if you accidentally close a tab, press Ctrl+Shift+T, and that browser tab will come back, and if you keep pressing that key combo the others will also come back as long as there is a history.

Thank you for reading, and stay tuned for more technology briefs and Tech Tips from Cold Snap Technology!

 

 

Windows Key Shortcuts

Friday, April 1st, 2016

Do you dislike having to move your hand to the mouse to do certain tasks such as saving your document? Here is a list of some of the most common keyboard shortcuts that we use on a daily basis.

Here is a list of some of the most common windows keyboard shortcuts. These shortcuts will work with most Microsoft applications.

CTRL A – Select all
CTRL B – Bold
CTRL C – Copy highlighted text
CTRL F – Find
CTRL H – Search and replace
CTRL I – Italic
CTRL O – Open file
CTRL P – Print
CTRL R – Hard Refresh (most browsers)
CTRL S – Save
CTRL U – Underline
CTRL V – Paste chipped text
CTRL X – Cut highlighted text
CTRL Z – Undo

CTRL + Shift + Arrow Key – Highlights full words left and right, or the lines above and below the current line [does include a little of current line depending on cursor location]
Shift + Arrow Key (left or right) – Highlights 1 letter at a time in the direction you chose. The up & down arrows depend on where the cursor is located
CTRL + Arrow Key (left or right) – Moves cursor to the next word in direction chosen

F1 – Help menu
F2 – Rename
F3 – Find next
F5 – Refresh

Windows R – Open run dialog

CTRL + Alt + Delete – Bring ups a way to get to the task manager if a program is not responding, you could lock your computer, switch users and more

If you are interested in shortcuts for specific programs, please leave us comments and we will see what we can do about writing an article about keyboard shortcuts for some programs. It will have to be a more common program for us to do this.

Failing Hard Drives & Data Backups

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

Your hard drive is where all your documents, pictures, videos and all the files on your computer is stored.  What would happen if your hard drive failed or you get a virus that encrypts your data?  Remember, even if you have a MAC, they have now had a virus that encrypts your data recently. Do you have a backup of your data? Can you afford to potentially lose all your files?

There are many methods for backing up your data. You could get a flash drive and manually back up your data, save the info on CD/DVDs, or use cloud backup.

Flash drive backups are a great inexpensive way to make backups. They do involve copying the files across each time you want to make a backup though and that takes your time.  If your files don’t change often, then this method would be the best method for you.

CD/DVD backups require you to burn your data to the disk.  Once burned, you can’t edit these disks again.  This is probably the most time consuming and expensive backup of these three. Of course, you can burn to the same CD-r/DVD-r, but I highly recommend against that and will personally not purchase those type of discs.

We offer a cloud backup to our customers. We install the software and the each night if will run.  The initial setup can take quite sometime to upload all your data, depending on what you want backed up. Once the initial backup is done, it is usually pretty quick at making your incremental backups after that.  Then if your computer crashes, you have a fire or water damage and the hard drive is destroyed, you still have your backup.

How you backup your data is a decision you will have to make, or are you willing to possibly lose all your data?  If you are interested in our cloud service, give us a call and we can help you with it and get it setup for you.

If you have already had a hard drive start to fail, give us a call, we can sometimes recover data from falling hard drives.  If your computer does not start, we still have the ability to recover your files so if you need your files, give us a call at 218-744-1210 before you write over your documents. Of course, there is no guarantee to the recovery of the data, but we have a fairly successful track record.

A couple ways you might be able to tell your hard drive is failing is if you start hear a ticking sound or if your computer all the sudden slows way down.  If it slows way down very quickly, it could be hard drive sectors starting to fail, malware/virus or many things, but it is always a good idea to get your hard drive tested to make sure.

WordPress update 4.2.2

Monday, May 18th, 2015

Earlier this month, WordPress released version 4.2.2, which would otherwise be unremarkable were it not that the release contained another critical security update to the software. Last month, WordPress released version 4.2.1, which was also classified as a critical security update. These last two updates address specific vulnerabilities called cross-site scripting vulnerabilities, by which a user may compromise a website via submitting scripting code through the site’s front end. With WordPress, this is oftentimes achieved by submitting a comment through the site’s commenting functionality.

Nothing to worry about here in the least, although the prior update, 4.2.1, reportedly addressed a long-standing vulnerability that had gone unnoticed. It was urgent enough that the update was issued automatically within hours of taking action to all installations of the software to ensure universal compliance.

All client sites built on the WordPress framework are updated to the current version upon release. And there will always be big bad wolves online, but we’re committed to WordPress because it’s a deep, mature, robust platform for creating and managing online content with a huge community of competent good guys looking to make it and the internet a better place.

In Response to the Mobile Web- Responsive Web Design

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

Responsive web design is a direct result of the emergence and widespread adoption of mobile devices for personal computing. Traditionally, the web designer sought to optimize a design for viewing on desktop computers, and that tended be a more straightforward process since desktop computer monitors didn’t drastically vary in width and height. The rise of smartphones and tablets brought with it a much wider variety of screen sizes and resolutions, which today’s web designer has to account for. Somehow a web page has to look relatively coherent, text and images have to be viewable, on a screen that may be 1,920 (or more) pixels wide on a large high-definition desktop monitor or a mere 320 pixels wide on an iPhone.

Simply allowing a layout designed for desktops to scale down to smartphone size tends not to look very good. Generally there are two problems. One is that everything is too small/zoomed in too close. Two is that desktop monitors are oriented horizontally and smartphones (tablets less so) are usually initially oriented vertically. Web pages are designed vertically, in a way, to be scrolled up and down like pages of a book, but most smartphones’ screen heights are more severe relative to their width, so either the page, again, is rendered too small/zoomed in if proportions are kept the same or else it’s scrunched together.

The overwhelmingly popular and successful solution has been to tailor the design to the device. There are a number of approaches to achieve this, but they are all referred to as responsive approaches to web design- that the design forms or responds to the hardware used to view it. Elements on a web page may scale down and rearrange themselves appropriately to preserve a harmony among all the elements on the page. Text size may be increased if it is otherwise uncomfortable to read, larger images and unnecessary items may be replaced with stripped-down versions, or replaced altogether to improve performance. By now a lot of that is common knowledge and is regularly observed by us all on a daily basis. Facebook on a mobile browser doesn’t look like it looks on a larger monitor. A lot of the styling is the same, but elements are rearranged to co-exist with one another in the limited space and remain accessible.

 

 responsive_image

 

Another popular solution has been the native application solution, apps run directly from the device apart from a web browser, which Facebook and other larger organizations that have the resources to develop them have moved towards. And those can look different still. There are typically different technologies involved in developing native apps, though, and they don’t involve a website’s styling rules changing to suit the user’s device in the same way. Usually a native app is made to work with specific devices in mind running specific mobile operating systems. Also, native apps are meant not so much to stand in place of a mobile web experience but rather to supplement it. In no case is it advisable to forgo a design optimized for viewing in mobile browsers.

There is an elegance to responsive web design that is unmistakable. There is a respect for the perspective of the user when it’s done well. In the end, responsive web design is a response to a changing technological landscape. Web designers have had to account for users’ preference for viewing content online using hardware with much smaller screens. Those that haven’t accounted for it risk losing traffic and potential business because unoptimized sites are just harder to navigate.

It’s something that Cold Snap has had to account for as well. We currently develop fully responsive websites and collaborate with businesses to build a contemporary web presence and showcase their content on any device. The mobile era certainly presents its demands, but it’s an exciting and rewarding time to be in web development for the same reasons.

Heartbleed

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Heartbleed is a term you may have heard thrown around recently. This article is geared on what you need to know about the issue.

Heartbleed is dangerous.

The infamous logo of this bug.

Firstly, Heartbleed is not a virus. It does not infect your computer – but it does affect you. While Heartbleed doesn’t cause your computer any usual virus symptoms, like crashing, data loss, or being locked out. What Heartbleed does do can be just as bad though. Heartbleed is a bug that affects websites and is formally known as CVE-2014-0160.

Getting a little more technical, Heartbleed is a vulnerability in the security software employed by most of the Internet’s websites, called OpenSSL where a normally private mathematical key assigned to your identity can be taken. The Transport Layer Security protocol within the SSL software, also known as TLS is what protects your login information when you send it to a website, for example like logging into Facebook, Twitter, or your email or bank’s website. Using this vulnerability, a hacker who knows what they’re doing can extract your key, and match it with your public key which is always available – and then sign in as you.

On April 7th, an improved version of OpenSSL was released for website administrators to upgrade to, which should prevent Heartbleed from being able to be used. However, not all websites have updated yet, and if your technical information has been attained from Heartbleed, you’re still affected. At first, websites were advising to change your password for their site, but wait until the hole is patched because with the private key being hijacked, no password matters.

At this point in time, for most major websites, it is now safe to change your password; and changing your password is extremely recommended. Heartbleed is undetectable on who it affects and how deeply you are affected. If you use the same password for multiple websites and just one of those websites where your password may have been stolen from could allow the person into all of your other accounts as well. For as many online services as you use (to name a few: Amazon, Facebook, online banking websites like wellsfargo.com, Twitter, Youtube [or any Google services], any online mail service like Yahoo, Google, or Outlook.com, eBay, Etsy, Pintrest… and so on) each one should have their password changed.

If your computer is acting up and slowing down or locking up, or you have lots of pop-ups, none of that has to do with Heartbleed – though you should still bring your computer into us for a cleanup.

Watch your online accounts. Your banking info, your email, and your Facebook or other social medias. If you notice anything suspicious or your friends inform you that you might be ‘hacked’, feel free to call us at 218-744-1210, visit our website, send us an email or stop by the shop for advice on what to do. It’s a good idea to regularly change your passwords, but because of Heartbleed you should change your passwords for everything now. This vulnerability is so severe that no user of any website is safe with their old passwords.

Cloud Computing: A Greener Option for Business

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

Online DataCloud computing has garnered a lot of attention in recent years as a green solution for business. The market for global cloud computing will be around $180 billion by the end of 2015, according to a Gartner study. This May, the 9th International Conference on Green, Pervasive and Cloud Computing is being held in China to further examine environmentally sustainable computing and how it can benefit both individuals and big business. The current business benefits of cloud computing include:

Energy Savings

Cloud computing reduces the amount of energy needed to conduct business. A 2010 study conducted by Accenture, Microsoft and WSP Environment and Energy found that businesses using cloud computing reduced their energy consumption by 30 percent for large companies and 90 percent for small businesses. Companies no longer need massive amounts of energy to power their servers and physical hardware.

Going Paperless

Cloud computing is helping businesses go paperless. Putting data on the cloud alleviates the need to leave a paper trail and can save money in printing costs, storage space and supplies. A study done by iDatix showed that a business with eight employees could save $10,000 per year, while a business with 370 employees could save up to $1 million annually.

Shared Data

Telecommuting isn’t just for 20-somethings and work-from-home moms anymore, according to the New York Times. As the U.S. workforce increasingly goes mobile and Internet access expands and speeds up, working from home has become an viable option for many. Telecommuting reduces costs for businesses by requiring less computer equipment, office space, supplies and power usage. It also helps reduce the carbon footprint by reducing the number of people commuting to work each day. Employees can collaborate on projects, share information and increase production speeds while telecommuting, making it a win-win situation for employees and employers alike.

Data Access and Security

Cloud computing increases ease of access to information, making it easier to expand globally. On the cloud, data is transferred seamlessly, cloud backup costs less and disaster recovery is simplified.

One of the main concerns that has prevented businesses from adopting cloud technology is the security risk. Know who has access to your data and limit that access based on user needs. Other smart ways to protect your cloud data include protecting devices with virus scans and password protection and adding a layer of advanced security intelligence analytics. This provides visibility into the data center and infrastructure of the cloud, according to the Guardian. When you have numerous users accessing the cloud from different places, you have to take the right precautions to ensure security.

If you are interested in online backups, contact Cold Snap Technology at 218-744-1210 and ask us about the CST Cloud.

3 Security Concerns with Employee’s Personal Smartphones

Monday, December 30th, 2013

Man using a mobile phone on sofa, indoorNielsen’s recent research study on smartphone penetration reveals that 61 percent of cellphones in the U.S. are smartphones. With a smartphone in the majority’s pocket, there’s a good chance at least some of your employees are using theirs during work hours. This brings a number of troubling questions to light. Security issues abound with personal mobile devices, whether or not you allow the employees to access the network.

Virus Threats

Arconis found that more than 80 percent of employees aren’t aware of the threats to their personal devices, or the issues that using a personal device on a business network brings to their employer. If an employee device is not properly protected with anti-virus software and connects to the company network, it’s possible for viruses to attack. Training employees in the best practices of mobile security helps mitigate this problem. Create awareness to help protect the company. Another way to help avoid these issues is through mobile device management. These applications allow system administrators to monitor and manage the devices on the business network, heading off any problems as they may occur. Some MDM applications, such as the one offered by BlackBerry, also provide virtualization features so the work functions take place on apps and virtual desktops entirely separate from the main device. Blackberry’s MDM solution also covers cross-platform devices so you can offer a BYOD plan that will fit any employee’s wants or needs.

Legal Risks

It’s not simply viruses you need to worry about when employees bring their devices into the workplace. Wired reports that many legal issues stem from BYOD. If you suspect that an employee is taking pictures of prototype products, you may want to go through the phone’s gallery and the user’s personal data to determine whether or not they took unauthorized photos. However, this may run afoul of privacy laws in your area, opening you up to a major lawsuit. Consult with a lawyer about the risks and liability that surround personal device usage before taking that type of action against an employee. You should then set up a all-encompassing contract that all employees need to agree to and sign before participating in your BYOD program.

Data Theft

Some employees may want to sell off trade secrets, leak product announcements, and otherwise damage your business — especially if they are let go. In the past, this was made more difficult by having to sneak in cameras or thumb drives. These days, a smartphone can instantly upload a picture to social networks or cloud storage, giving you limited ways to deal with the problem. Keep strict policies in place over what happens in the event of data theft, whether you wish to include them in with BYOD policies or as part of your overall work environment policies. Make sure these rules apply if a device is lost or stolen as well. For high security areas, have smartphone checks where you hold all smartphones before someone enters the area.