Author Archive for CSH – Page 2

Why You Need 2-Factor Authentication

Why you need 2-Factor Authentication

You hear about hacks all the time, whether its major websites who have had data leaks containing email and passwords, or computers getting infected and login details for bank accounts and credit cards being obtained. In the worst cases, identity theft occurs because it is an easy crime to commit with a high reward.

Why Passwords are Not Enough Anymore

In 2018, the passwords you used to trust to keep the bad guys out of your accounts, are simply not enough anymore. Cyber attackers now use methods such as ‘phishing’ (pretending to be trustworthy), ‘pharming’ (redirecting to a fake website), and keylogging (monitoring keyboard strokes) to steal your password. Some have the power to test billions of password combinations.

If you’re like the majority of people, you use the same password for several websites. That means anybody who has figured out that password has access to everything you’ve logged into with it. In a time when it is extremely easy to look up what a person named their first pet or high school mascot thanks to social media, such security questions aren’t much help.

Consider how a jewellery store operates. They don’t simply keep their valuables locked away with one key. There are alarms ready to be triggered, motion detectors, and sometimes even bars on the windows. Your data is valuable, just like jewellery. You need more than one line of defence to protect it.

What is 2-Factor Authentication?

In the computer world, your second line of defence after your username and password combination is called “2-factor authentication.” 2-factor authentication is a way to double check a person’s identity by sending a text or email code to confirm that the person logging in, is the genuine person. No code – no login.

It is sometimes referred to as ‘multiple-step’ or ‘multi-factor’ verification, depending on the company using it.

This can be enabled every time a person logs in or just under certain circumstances. For example, signing in from a new device or different country might trigger 2-factor authentication.

Many of the services you may already use, such as Facebook, Gmail, and more, have 2-factor authentication options already. If your bank has ever sent you a special code through text or email to enter before logging in, you’ve already used a type of 2-factor authentication. They can also be in the form of a smartphone app or a physical electronic dongle.

2-factor authentication is absolutely crucial for online banking, email, and online shopping such as Amazon or PayPal. It’s also a must-have for cloud storage accounts (like Dropbox or Sync), password managers, communications apps, and productivity apps. This is especially true if you frequently use the same passwords for different websites and apps.

When should I use it?

Clearly, as much as possible. Some may consider 2-factor authentication unnecessary for social networks, but these are actually very important to keep safe. For ease, a lot of websites and apps allow you to sign up through your Facebook or Twitter account so you need to keep these networks safe, so that somebody with your password can’t suddenly get into every account you have linked.

The point of using 2-factor authentication is to make hackers’ lives harder and prevent them from getting into your accounts. If they have captured your login username and password, they still need a second device to get in, especially when the computer or phone they are using has never logged into your account before. This makes it significantly more difficult for anybody to breach your account.

Plus, if you receive a notification with a special code to enter for logging in, and you weren’t trying to log into that account, you have a good signal that somebody else was trying to get in. That means it’s time to change that password and be grateful you had 2-factor authentication.

It’s unfortunate that there is currently an abundance of skilled hackers ready to take advantage of those unprepared. Luckily, you can still stop them -even if they have your login information at hand. 2-factor authentication is one of the easiest methods to keep your accounts safe.

If you want help in securing your accounts, give us a call on 01455 209505.

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.

6 Clear Reasons to Switch Your Business to Cloud

Switch your Business to the Cloud

Has your business embraced the cloud yet? Yes, it’s another piece of techie jargon that you hear every now and again but it really can help businesses – big and small. As we move closer to 2019, it’s estimated that approximately 83% of business traffic will involve cloud applications – a trend driven largely by smart decision making.

When cloud applications first came out, nobody really understood what the cloud was or how it could help their business, but as the technology improved, so did the secure and flexible solutions available to you. Some of the most common cloud applications are accounting software such as Quickbooks, as well as the Microsoft Office 365 package.

Instead of being seen as alternative options, cloud applications are now clearly viewed as the next logical step. Here’s why:-

Your data is safer

While it can give you a sense of comfort to hear your storage drives whirring away, the risks are less appealing. External hard drives, Network drives and Servers all have a vulnerability – they could crash, drives become corrupted, or a breach could see your data held hostage under a ransomware attack. Of course, there’s always the standard fire/theft/flood scenario to consider too.

With cloud applications, your data is safely tucked away in ‘Fort Knox’-style data centres, complete with robust backup replacement systems in case anything goes wrong. As part of their service guarantees (usually 99.9% uptime), your cloud solution will have technicians on-site whose sole job is to make sure that when you need to use the application, it works.

We can help you choose the safest, most robust solution with the best performance.

You’re always updated

Gone are the days of trying to work out compatibility between program versions and accidentally corrupting files. Cloud applications are updated automatically on all devices, and unlike when you run an update on a local computer, the process is almost instant. This is because the update is actually running on their end, at the data centre and not on your machine, slowing it down. With this advantage, you’re always up to date with the latest features and security patches, no matter how busy you are.

You’re free to move around

One of the best ways to increase efficiency is to remove restrictions around when your employees can do their job. With your new cloud application, they won’t have to wait until they get back into the office to send an invoice, follow up with a customer or even make a record-breaking sale – they can do it wherever, whenever.

This flexibility opens up a world of possibility and can literally hand you a competitive edge. All your employees need is an internet enabled smart phone, tablet or laptop, so you’re even saving money on tech. There are tons of ideas on how your business can take advantage of this freedom.

Collaboration is easy

Since all the data is held in one place, your employees can collaborate with ease. Nobody gets locked out of files because someone else is using it and changes appear in real-time for multiple users. By having a single version of a file, ideas can flow faster, results become more valuable. It may sound like a simple benefit, but we know how frustrating it can be for staff to collaborate without the right tools to support them.

All you need is internet

Considering how fast modern internet speeds are, this is usually a non-issue. It simply needs to be stable and meet a standard speed. If you’re concerned, we can run checks to make sure it will be a smooth transition for you. Because it’s internet based, the cloud application works with your established network, whether it’s wired, wi-fi or cellular (or a hybrid).

Some businesses also choose to have mobile 4G set up in case the internet goes down, that way the connection automatically switches over and downtime is completely avoided.

Business size doesn’t matter

Cloud applications are a great option for both Small AND Big businesses. Smaller businesses only need to subscribe to single user licenses, while larger businesses enjoy the multi-user license savings. Skipping the cost of per-computer installations and choosing between per-user, per-site or per-use options.

We can help you choose the application and cost-saving model that suits your business best.

Talk to us about your cloud options and lock in the advantages! Call us on 01455 209505.

Windows 10 Updates and Avoiding Problems

Windows 10 logo

On our travels visiting customers, we find that Windows 10 Updates can cause a lot of aggravation and some severe problems. Here is some information that may help to reduce issues.

Window Updates has had a chequered history, with most people finding that whilst Updates are a ‘necessary evil’, they can also be a pain in the neck. Whether the computer decides to update itself at the wrong (usually the worst) time, breaks something when you reboot or just doesn’t reboot at all, Windows Updates can be very frustrating.

The problem is that they are needed and Windows 10 now forces you to have them.

What you can and cannot do with Updates

Windows Updates in Windows 10 can also be a pain, although updates in 10 are treated very differently from previous versions – such as the fact that you cannot switch Updates off, as in previous versions of Windows. Although in Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise versions, you can delay the updates, you cannot stop them. (Go to Settings > Update and Security > Windows Update > Advanced Options to delay Updates).

(Yes there are hacks found on the internet which may stop them for a period of time, but it is not recommended).

What you can control about Updates

Have you had a Windows Update interrupt you whilst you are working? A welcome change in later versions of Windows 10 is that there is now a setting which allows you to tell the computer when it must not interrupt with an update. (Go to Settings > Update and Security > Windows Update and set your ‘active hours’).

Why are Updates different in Windows 10?

Windows 10 is classed as ‘Windows as a service’. Amongst other things, this means that the traditional “new” version of Windows no longer happens, so don’t expect Windows 11 any time soon.

What Microsoft has done is to add and change features in Windows 10, but essentially keep it as Windows 10. This means that instead of brand new versions of Windows, Windows 10 itself will be updated to the latest version, (much like Apple updates its devices) – and it’s this feature update that is causing the most issues, particularly on older computers.

Also, individual updates are now bundled into what is called cumulative updates – in other words, it’s all or nothing.

What can be done to minimise Update problems?

Much of what you can do is common sense, but you’d be surprised at the number of people who either put things off or just do not do it.

Back up! Back up your important files – Photos, Documents, whatever – you need to protect them.

Power – if you are using a laptop, make sure that it is plugged in at the wall and that the lid is left open. Much of the time, battery power alone is not enough to provide power through an update and the battery running out will have the same effect as switching it off part way through the Update.

Never, ever interrupt the Update– when the computer screen says “do not switch off” it means it. If an Update is interrupted it can cause significant damage to Windows, as Updates deal with important system files.

Be patient – updates can take a long time (hours in many cases). For example, if you have left the computer on overnight for the update to take place, but when you go back to it there is nothing on the screen and you cannot do anything with it, don’t switch it off, call a technician for advice.

Windows Updates are here to stay and hopefully you will not be in the situation where an Update has ‘broken’ something.

If you do need help with a Windows Update issue, give us a call on 01455 209505.

What’s That Weird Noise Coming from Your Computer?

Listen out for computer noise

New computers are whisper quiet compared to older models as they generally have quieter components, but after a while computers can start making some pretty weird noises. Clicks, clunks, and about-to-take-off jet noises are the most common, but when should you be concerned?

Your computer has a number of moving parts and even some stationary parts that can make noises. If you’re listening, your computer might be telling you about its current health and how you can help it run smoother, for longer.

When you hear a clicking noise:

This could be normal if it’s more like a soft tick. Mechanical hard drives work a bit like a record player with a needle arm and platter, although in this case, the ‘needle’ arm never touches the platter, it just reads it. So you might simply be hearing it spin up and move the needle arm around.

When it starts sounding like a loud click it’s usually not good news. If your hard drive has started making alarming noises, you should bring it in as soon as possible. Just like a record player, scratches that ruin your data are possible, and if ignored for long enough, it doesn’t just skip and have trouble reading the drive, the whole thing can become unusable.

Our technicians can copy the files onto a new drive before it gets to that point, but retrieving data from a destroyed hard drive is rarely achieved without CSI-level expenses. It’s easier and much cheaper to replace the hard drive at the first sign of failure.

When you hear a clunking noise:

Unsurprisingly, this one causes certain alarm. Computers aren’t meant to go clunk! It may be a simple matter of a cable having shifted into the path of a fan and getting clipped during the spin. Remember when you pegged a card between your bicycle spokes? It might sound a little like that, skipping every now and then as it’s pushed away and drops back again.

If that’s the case, our technicians will quickly secure the cable back where it belongs.

When you hear a jet-engine noise:

Most computers and laptops have fans to keep them cool. The fans have to spin to move the air around, and the faster they’re spinning, the more noise they make. We start to worry when the jet-engine noise gets out of hand and especially when it’s not just while you’re playing a resource-intensive game or doing some video editing.

Constant jet-engine noise indicates your computer is struggling to cool itself down, perhaps because the fan vents are clogged with dust, your computer is in a poorly ventilated space, or the fan itself is worn. Each fan has ball bearings inside that wear out over time, making extra noise while it does the best it can.

Our technicians can replace individual fans and give your system a checkup to make sure nothing else has been affected.

When it’s beep time:

Most computers have a friendly beep as you switch it on but these beeps actually have multiple meanings. The single beep you normally hear indicates that it’s run a self-test and everything is fine. When your computer is unwell, you might hear more beeps than usual. This is because each beep combination is a code to technicians, letting us know what’s gone wrong.

Certain beep combinations mean the memory is loose or damaged, others that the video adapter has a problem, etc. If your computer has started beeping differently, let our technicians know so we can decode it and repair the problem for you.

Some noises your computer makes will be normal, others a sign of deeper issues. Even if your computer seems to be operating correctly, a sudden onset of weird noises could mean failure is just around the corner or at the very least, something needs investigating. Taking early action ensures problems don’t escalate, costs are kept low, and your files remain where they belong.

Got some weird noises coming from your computer? Give us a call today on 01455 209505.

Is it Time to Retire That Program? Here’s How to Tell

Is it Time to Retire That Program?

Most businesses have been using the same set of applications for some time, sometimes since the business started. This also applies to most Homes too, although with businesses the need to upgrade can be essential to business efficiency.

While you’ve been replacing computers and devices regularly to maintain your advantage, the standard installation has remained largely the same. The programs do the job and everyone knows how to use them, so why upgrade? In some cases, it’s completely fine to keep that legacy program.

However, all users of older programs should consider these aspects:

Support Available

Occasionally, and more frequently with software from smaller developers, the author has moved on from supporting the program, such as what happened with an old DOS program used by a Fleckney business. Their very old program was vital but the author of the program was no longer involved with it and it was running on an old, failing Windows XP machine. It needed to be transferred to a new computer.

Luckily we were able to get the old program running on a new PC, inside a ‘Virtual Machine’ (a computer running in software within another computer), which extended the programs life and also gave that business a bit longer to find a replacement program. The point is that it could have gone the other way and the author was not there to help.

Perhaps the author has closed the business, sold it, or changed directions completely. Either way, they’re no longer interested in helping you get the best from the program. Every time your employees come up against a problem they have nowhere to turn and productivity takes a hit as they try and come up with a workaround.

Meanwhile, you run the risk that an older program could suddenly stop working after a Windows update, begin clashing with other essential software, or even create gaping holes in your security. As you are aware, even the bigger companies like Microsoft stop supporting software after a while, as they have with earlier versions of Windows. Having support available to both assist and protect is a huge asset to your business.

Hardware Compatibility

Imagine picking up a brand-new computer and trying to insert a 5 ¼ floppy disk – that’s the 1980s retro square ones bigger than your hand – it doesn’t matter how effective that program will be, modern technology simply has no idea what to do with it. Thanks to the rapid advancement of computer hardware, you may find a simple component refresh leaves your legacy program completely incompatible or inaccessible.

The latest CPU (computer processor) that’s supposed to speed things up, suddenly brings an entire business to a standstill, purely because it’s too advanced. Many owners work around this by keeping some older systems running exclusively for that program, but as the classic hardware fails, you may find yourself struggling to find replacement parts or technicians able to install them.

Security Vulnerabilities

Broadly speaking, the longer a program has been around, the longer hackers have had to discover its weaknesses. It could be a flaw in the program itself, or in the operating system that runs it. For example, the application may only run on Windows XP, but Windows XP is one of the earlier versions that Microsoft has stopped supporting. As the older operating systems and programs aren’t being patched, cyber criminals pour more energy into finding flaws they can exploit.

It’s how hospitals across the UK found themselves infected with ransomware last year, simply because they were running programs with known weaknesses.

As it’s not always feasible to replace a program immediately, we can help you run it on a virtual machine as explained earlier. You’ll have increased security, an element of support and a strong backup system while you work to find a replacement program.

These types of solutions are very specialized and resource hungry though, so let us know if you need help.

The other option is to migrate to a new program that does what you want, and is supported, hardware compatible and secure. If you’ve been running the old program for some time, this may feel quite daunting at first. Before you rule it out, keep in mind you’ll also be gaining the benefits of faster software, more integrated processes and a highly flexible system.

Need to talk through your options? Give us a call on 01455 209505.

New Computers – Buying and Setting Up

New Computers - Buying and Setting Up

Shopping for a new Computer?

It’s a decision that comes with equal doses of excitement and anxiety – unlike popping out to the shops for a new toaster, choosing the right computer comes with so many questions, most of which are usually asked in some sort of alien language. Helpful sales people offering RAM as it were a side of fries, measuring CPU speeds in ‘cores’, and listing specifications that mean nothing to you or what you want to do, can sometimes get in the way of helping you make the right choice.

That’s where we start. Not with tricky language that only makes sense to other computer geeks, we simply find out what you plan to use your computer for, then help you do it. Depending on your needs, we’ll make sure that you do not overspend on specifications you don’t need, after all, it’s nice to have a Porsche but you don’t need to pay for one to just go to a supermarket!

New computer – what next?

Once you’ve got that new machine home and out of the box, you’ve inhaled that new tech smell and taken plenty of selfies to remember the moment forever, the anxiety can come flying back in. Which cord goes where? It doesn’t work like your old one! Why is it doing that?! How to put programs back on? Does it come with security already loaded?

If you’ve had your old computer for a few years, you know you’re in for a bit of inconvenience, no matter how shiny the replacement is. We can assist you and make it all so much easier.

If you buy the computer elsewhere, we can set it up for you and deal with any issues that may happen.

If you have bought the computer from us, installation is already included in the price, so you don’t have to worry.

Transfer your old files for you.

One thing most people forget during their new computer bliss-phase is how to get information off your old computer and onto your new one. If your old computer is too broken to boot up, this can be a real problem. We can either turn the old hard drive into an external drive for you or copy the data onto storage media such as a USB stick.

If the computer does boot up normally, we can copy your files and transfer them to the same place on your new computer, for example Documents, Emails, Photos, etc. You’ll be able to pick out the files you need and continue what you were doing.

If you’d prefer, we can often install the old hard drive inside your new desktop so it’s always there and you have extra storage as a bonus.

Setting up your email.

It’s no secret, setting up email can cause headaches even for a tech person. Getting the settings right can sometimes be more error than success. The most common problem we see is email that can receive, but not send. It’s a frustrating problem, especially when you’re sending important emails. We can set your email up successfully and ensure it both sends and receives, as well as add in any additional accounts you’d like to manage from the same app.

Save your favourites.

All those bookmarks you’ve made and carefully sorted (or not) are important. You may even have different collections of favourites in different browsers and the last thing you want to do is go find those pages again. We can retrieve your old favourites and put them onto your new computer, making your browser experience look and feel exactly as it did before, only faster.

Setting up your software.

A common misconception is that many people believe that you can copy a program from one computer to a new one, but the fact is that there is no reliable way of doing that.

So if you are using, say, Microsoft Office that you’ve had for years, but no longer have the CD or activation code, then you will need to replace it. We can advise on what is best to replace programs and not all replacements need to be purchased again.

We can help you re-download your programs and set up the licenses good as new. As technicians, we also tend to go one step beyond and make sure the new software is optimized, updated and working well. While we’re doing that, we can make sure that your anti-virus is up-to-date and you’re as secure as possible against threats.

Connect extra devices

Sometimes it’s a matter of knowing what cord goes where or getting the right adapter, but sometimes new devices can present software problems. Printers, webcams, game controllers, etc all have unique drivers that need to be installed before they can work properly. Windows 10 is great at picking most of these up automatically, but if they’re not playing nice or your new computer is suddenly missing the correct plug, we can help get you moving again.

Whether you buy the computer from us or somewhere else, we can set all of this up and get you running on your new computer. Call us today on 01455 209505.

Should You Pay for a Ransomware Attack?

Getting hit with a ransomware attack is never fun, your files get encrypted by cybercriminals and you can no longer access them, so you’re left having to decide: should we pay to get them back? It’s a scene that’s played out across the world with 70% of businesses saying ‘yes’ in 2016 alone.

Here’s what you should consider if you’re ever in this situation.

Do you trust them?

Besides the fact that they’re criminals holding your data hostage, how confident are you that they’ll send the decryption key or that it will even work? Most attackers demand you send the payment via untraceable Bitcoin, so you have no recourse if they take it and run. You’re also equally trapped if they decide they asked too little and come back with increasingly higher demands.

If they do send the decryption key and you successfully decrypt your files, be aware they still have access to your systems and can hit you again at any time until your network is disinfected by experts. Businesses don’t exactly want their breach publicized either, so many don’t admit to paying the ransom, whether it went to plan or otherwise.

Can you manage the impact of a Ransomware attack?

Best case scenario, you can wipe the affected drives and restore from a clean backup without paying the ransom. You might even decide the encrypted files aren’t that important and simply let them go, or even wipe a whole laptop or workstation.

On the other hand, if your data management comes under any special regulations, like health or legal, you may find the attack has a much wider, more intense impact.

The attacker will usually give you a countdown to motivate a payment, with a threat of deletion when it hits zero. If the data isn’t that valuable, or you have confirmed backups, this urgency has no effect.

There are also new types of ransomware like KillDisk which can permanently wipe your entire hard drive.

How much do they want?

Cybercriminals rarely send out global attacks with set amounts, instead, they prefer to customize the ransom based on how much they think you can pay. Large corporations and hospitals (remember the NHS Ransomware incident not too long ago) are hit with very high demands, while small business demands are more modest. They may be criminals, but they’re smart people who know your financial limits.

They’ll also consider how much similar businesses have paid and how quickly, then expect you to follow suit.

Are your backups good?

Many businesses are discovering too late that their backup systems aren’t robust enough to withstand this type of attack. Either they’ve become infected too, they weren’t up-to-date or they backed up the wrong data.

It’s worth doing some quick checks on your backup processes as even if you have to take the system down for a day as you recover, you’re still light years ahead of those without them.

Can you prevent Ransomware attacks in the first place?

There may have been a time when you didn’t have to consider ransomware as an issue and just had to have some form of basic antivirus service running on your computer – but unfortunately this is no longer the case. You need a good security system in place that includes some form of ransomware protection.

Ransomware is constantly evolving and security is always playing catch-up, so go for the best performing security system – not necessarily the cheapest.

Reduce routes of infection

Ransomware is showing no signs of slowing down. As more businesses keep them funded the cybercriminals are steadily launching new attacks and making it their full-time job. Most attacks come via phishing emails – those emails that trick employees into clicking a link – and they can be extremely convincing. While training helps people spot them, it’s no guarantee.

We recommend using business-class spam filters to catch these types of emails before they land in your employee inboxes so that triggering a ransomware attack becomes something that happens to other businesses, not yours.

Secure your data systems now, we can help! Call us on 01455 209505.