Archive for August 2018

Telephone Fraudsters are Back in the Area

Due to a sharp rise in the number of calls we are getting about telephone fraud, where criminals pretend to be broadband companies in order to connect to peoples computers, we thought a reminder would be useful – and hopefully you will not be caught out.

A few years ago, TalkTalk made the news after admitting that they had been hacked and large amounts of customer private data had been accessed illegally. At that time there were a number of scammers pretending to be from TalkTalk, phoning people trying to get remote access to their computer by saying that they were infected or their emails had been hacked.

Unfortunately, the scam continues and the same scammers can pretend to be from BT, Microsoft or any other well-known and well-used company. The idea is to convince people into allowing them to access their computers to either create a problem (to pretend to fix), to syphon details to be used later in ID and bank fraud, or just to scare the customer into handing over money.

Scammers are back

We are currently seeing an increasing number of cases where scammers are using the BT excuse. They call out of the blue, say something like your broadband router has a problem or that your computer has a virus or other issue. In many cases they are so believable that they may accidentally mention something that may actually be true, for example that you have had issues with your email.

Once they have connected to your computer, unknown to you they actually cause the damage that they are pretending to help you with, and/or put something on your computer that seems to support what they are saying.

Big companies like BT and Talk Talk have hundreds of thousands of customers, so the criminals doing this scam can pretty much guarantee that they will get an actual customer if they ring enough people.

How to identify its a fraudulent call

Remember that legitimate companies would never call you to ask for passwords or any other personal information. They will not contact you out of the blue to ask to remotely access your computer for any reason.

If you have an actual broadband problem for example, no broadband company will call you first – its up to you to report it.

Similarly, no-one can tell if you have a computer virus, so if someone calls saying that, you know that they are fake.

What to do if they call

If you do get a call from someone saying that they are from BT, TalkTalk or any other company, no matter how believable they are, do not let them access your computer under any circumstances.

They can do this in a number of ways, for example getting you to download something or getting you to go to a specific website, where they can initiate a download without you knowing.

Go to the genuine company website, get contact details and call them, to make sure that the person you are talking to is genuine. Never click on a link or go to an address that they give you – always use the genuine website address yourself.

Also, remember that remote connections can be used legitimately too and you should not be put off using it – just be especially careful who you allow to connect remotely to your computer.

One of the worst things we see is that having been conned, many people cannot believe that they have fallen for it. If you have been conned by these people, do not be too hard on yourself about it. They have had plenty of practice and can be extremely believable, with people from all backgrounds falling for the scam.

If you think that you may have already been scammed or want help, give us a call on 01455 209505.

The Best Way to Buy New Computers

Best Way to Buy New Computers

You’ve decided to buy a new computer and whether it’s for your home or your business, you can almost taste the excitement as you think about those sleek new machines and how much faster things will be. There’s just one thing left to do: actually choose which one. That’s where it gets tricky.

Most people pop out to their local superstore and look at the display models, then get overwhelmed when the salesperson starts throwing jargon words like “CPU” and “RAM” around. Unfortunately, that scenario can end up with you (or your business) having the wrong computer.

Here’s why, and what you can do instead.

Most retail salespeople are minimally trained:

Unsurprisingly, salespeople are trained to sell! They may (or may not) have an interest in computers and they’re certainly great at reading the marketing to you, but primarily most are there to shift boxes. Their goal is to make the sale, earn the commission and go home happy. You getting the computer you (or your business) needs and that 100% suits your purpose, isn’t necessarily so high on their priority list.

They’re also not equipped to understand the way you or your business works, nor do they have the time to find out. You’re also more likely to be upsold extras you don’t need but will rapidly drain your budget.

Compatibility can be a problem:

While you probably know having both Mac and PC together can lead to compatibility issues, did you know even switching brands within your PC network can sometimes cause issues? Salespeople don’t know what your current setup is at your home or business but they may still make recommendations based on assumptions and hopeful guesswork. Even the number and types of ports available on retail computers may cause a problem once you’re setting up.

The last thing you want to do is end up with a collection of wobbly adapter plugs as you attempt to course-correct and make-do if something presents a problem. Any time you (or your employees) create workarounds, efficiency is guaranteed to take a dramatic hit.

It’s best to skip the drama and get the right computer first time around.

Buying through an IT provider instead need not be more expensive:

A good IT provider will go to your home or office and make sure that the equipment you get is the right one for you and your needs. This means that not only will potential issues be minimized (such as printers or other devices no longer working with a newer computer) but it also ensures that you are not paying for computer equipment that you do not need. After all it’s nice to have the latest ‘super-speedy go-faster super PC’, but why spend the extra money if you will never ever use half of its power?

For example, as we are not commission driven, we make the effort to find out what you need and give a no-obligation quote based on the best price available from distributors. Prices can literally go down overnight, which is why we can keep prices down as we do not keep stock which may have been bought at a higher cost.

An IT provider will also be able to set the new computers up, ready to go with the exact software you need. They can strip out all the bloatware (unnecessary programs and trial software that come pre-installed) and configure your new computers to work correctly from day 1.

You (and if a business, your employees) will be able to enjoy their new systems and take full advantage of the productivity boosts you paid for. That means internet working, internal network connected, programs playing nice with each other, and yes, even printing without problems!

If you would like help with your next purchase – give us a call on 01455 209505.

Why a Business Website needs to be HTTPS

Why Business websites need to be HTTPS

You may have noticed many business websites now have a green padlock in the address bar next to the letters ‘https’. Until recently, you’d only see that on shopping or banking sites, but it’s now become the expected norm for all business websites – even if you don’t ask people to log in or enter credit cards.

Simply put, the ‘s’ in https stands for ‘secure’ and means any data sent and received by the website visitor is encrypted. It’s an essential feature for e-commerce sites, but why have all the info-only websites started using https too?

The New Google Rule

As of July 2018, Google will mark your page as insecure unless you’re using https. It’s a movement they started a few years ago to make the internet a more secure place by default. Since Google pretty much rule internet search and increasing security is always a good idea, businesses have been gradually switching over.

Without https protection, someone with access to your internet connection, whether from digital eavesdropping or hacking, could intercept the information. They could also place malware onto otherwise legitimate sites and infect innocent visitors. That’s why eighty-one of the top 100 sites online have already switched to https and a strong majority of the web is following suit.

The Browser Bar Says It All

In the same way a green padlock in the browser bar indicates a trustworthy site, you can expect non-https sites to be marked with a “not secure” warning. Previously, users had to click an information symbol to actively investigate non-secure sites. The shift to plain sight markers will be most noticeable on Chrome, however it’s expected that other browser developers will follow suit.

Visitors may be concerned when landing on your site and seeing that the connection isn’t secure. The fact that you may not be asking them to log in, enter personal details or payment is irrelevant. You may not be asking them to enter anything at all, but perceptions matter.

Eventually that warning will be changed to an alarming red as Google declares war on unsecure sites. As the common understanding is that a warning = bad, you may get more visitors bouncing away within seconds or even contacting you to report that your site has a problem.

SEO Boosts for Secure Sites

Google is taking its commitment to safe web browsing further by favouring https. That means that their search algorithm is taking your site security into account, preferring to display results that it knows will protect users from hackers. Since https status gets the nod, you may find yourself climbing in the ranking while other businesses scramble to catch up. It really is a win-win situation.

What to Do Next

In an ideal world, your site would have a secret switch on the back-end that you could flick over and suddenly be https, but it’s a little more complicated than that. In fact, you may have already noticed some sites experiencing trouble with the migration. When the setup goes wrong, users don’t see your website with a little warning in the corner, they’re blocked by a full page error and offered a return to ‘safety’ (away from your site).

The easiest way to make the move to https is to contact your IT technician or web developer, as they’ll be able to make sure you’re keeping Google happy and displaying that green icon.

Need help migrating your site to https? Call us on 01455 209505.