How to avoid a Ransomware attack!

Chances are you know someone, or some company, that has been a victim of a ransomware attack. Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system or data until a sum of money is paid.  If you haven’t been hit by ransomware personally, you’re very lucky. Here are some proactive steps to protect your computers and files. If you do get infected with ransomware, unless you’ve got back-ups, you’re left with either paying or losing your locked up files forever.

  1. Back up your files regularly and keep a recent backup off-site.

The only backup you’ll ever regret is one you left for another day. The single biggest thing that you against ransomware is having a regularly updated backup.

  1. Be very cautious about opening unsolicited attachments.

Most Windows ransomware is embedded in documents spread as email attachments.

  1. Don’t give yourself more login power than needed.

Don’t stay logged in as an administrator any longer than necessary. Avoid browsing, opening documents or other regular work activities while working as administrator.

  1. Update your system.

When you apply security patches, you give the cyber criminals less possibilities of compromising your system with ransomware.

  1. Use a trustworthy security suite.

It is always good to have both anti-malware software and a software firewall to help you identify threats or suspicious behavior.

  1. Segment the company network.

Isolate functional zones with a firewall, e.g., the client and server networks, so systems and services can only be accessed if really needed.

  1. Disconnect from Wi-Fi or unplug from the network immediately.

If you open a file that you suspect may be ransomware, but you have not yet seen the typical ransomware screen, if you move extremely fast you might be able to stop the communication with the server before your files are completely encrypted.

  1. Use System Restore to get back to a known-clean state.

If you have System Restore enabled on your Windows machine, you might be able to take your system back to a known-clean state.

Google Chrome Scam

Tech support scams are an everyday thing nowadays, and a new one is on the wild which uses an exploit in the Google Chrome browser to slow down the user machine to a level it makes it almost inoperative, then the scammers will present the affected users an offer of ‘tech support’ to “fix” the problem. The exploit is a long-term bug in Google Chrome which permits a huge amount of URLs to be inserted into the browser history, swamping the victim’s PC down. The scam functions via a fake website which notifies that your ‘system has been infected’ while overloading the user computer, and then presents a phone number for the user to call, which of course is operated by the scammers who will afterwards try to defraud you in one way or another for the ‘fix’.

All you need to do to resolve the problem is shut down Google Chrome by opening Task Manager (Ctrl+Alt+Delete together) and terminating the browser process (clicking on End Task after the Google Chrome process has been selected). If the computer is completely unresponsive, you will have to hard reset the computer by holding the power button for more than 5 seconds.

This scam has been spotted in the wild, and has already been reported to Google, so an update to address this bug should be on the way. In the meantime, in case this happens to you please never call a “support” number that magically appears on your computer screen or click on anything with the following keywords “update”, “fix”, “clean”, “speed-up”, “boost”, etc. By doing so you could really infest your computer or even worse, allow someone to login remotely into your computer and do all kind of nasty things with your data. Never allow an unknown person to login remotely into your computer, instead contact us and we will gladly help you. Don’t put your data at risk, think smart.

Need a router? Here’s what to look for!

netgear

With so many connected products, smartphones, smart TV’s, and many other mobile devices, it is more important than ever to have in your home or business a wireless router that can handle the constantly increasing demand for Wi-Fi connectivity. Coverage area, the number of clients, and the types of devices that are going to be connecting to the router.

Some routers can only communicate over a single radio band, 2.4GHz frequency, single band models are usually the least expensive ones. These devices are perfectly adequate for things like web surfing and connecting to social media services.

For more demanding tasks like video streaming or connecting to online gaming services a dual band router will deliver a more desirable performance. Dual band routers use the traditional band and also the 5GHz band which is typically not as crowded, it offers more throughput and with minimal signal interference it is ideal for tasks that demand more bandwidth.

For even more demanding environments there are tri-band routers. They are much more expensive but capable of handling households or businesses that experience heavy network traffic via lots of video streaming, file transfers, and online gaming.

When choosing a new router it is wise to avoid devices that use older protocols and go with the most widely used Wi-Fi protocol, 802.11n or with the newest Wi-Fi protocol, 802.11ac, which brings several improvements over previous protocols. The biggest downside of the newer 802.11ac routers is price but if cost is not an issue getting a router with the newest protocol will provide a solid performance and it will be future proof.

Last but not least, don’t get a router with less than four Gigabit Ethernet ports. At least one USB port makes it easy to plug in a printer or a USB drive and share it across the network. Get a router with removable antennas if you need to extend your wireless range, which you will be able to accomplish with high-gain antennas. If what you need is control over your router, make sure your new router has parental controls, Quality of Service options and a guest-network feature.

Fast throughput speeds, good range, easy set up and manageability, a solid feature set, and, of course, fair pricing is what make a top router, choose wisely!

How to protect your digital data from natural disasters!

hurricane
In an emergency situation it might be hard to decide which data is more important and worth saving, therefore it’s always good to be prepared for the worst. Prioritize what is considered as “high importance data” first, e.g family photos, tax and legal documents, work projects, school assignments, creative work, or maybe even an important music collection.
Keep Important Data On The Cloud
One very good strategy is to upload your data to cloud-based services, that way you will have a copy of all your data on a remote secured location. However, it’s not recommended to upload sensitive data like tax forms with social security numbers to the cloud without the data being encrypted prior to being uploaded. Google Drive, icloud, and Dropbox are today’s best free cloud services. Depending on how much data you need to backup and the value of the data it would be better to pay for it. Carbonite is an excellent automatic cloud backup solution, it offers different price plans and all their server facilities are in the United States.
Use External Hard Drives
If uploading sensitive data (even if it’s encrypted) to the cloud is not an option, external hard drives are excellent solutions. External hard drives offer great portability and big capacities for a good price. If you think you might have to deal with flooded areas, consider getting a few dry bags and use them to store the most important electronic devices like cellphones, external hard drives, etc. Dry blags will float and keep electronic devices dry during a short time underwater.

Are you in the market for a computer?

Are you in the market for a computer? Purchasing a computer is no easy task and with the price of many of the devices out on the market today, you want to make sure you’re making the right acquisition. Not all computers are made the same, and unless you’re pretty familiar with computer hardware you might have a hard time determining just how unequal they are and what parts are pushing up the price. This guide will help you get a better understanding of all the necessary components that you should prioritize before you make that next computer purchase.

Desktop or Laptop?

This one is really easy, If you plan on having a steady workstation and don’t need to run around with your for-all-purposes device, consider getting a desktop and saving yourself some money. Additionally, it’s easier to change out parts and upgrade components in a desktop. If you often need your computer on the go, the choice is simple to purchase a laptop.

Know your CPU!

The simplest way to explain the processor is that it’s the brain of the computer. If you want a fast computer that boots up programs in a flash, completes tasks as soon as you start them, and doesn’t keep you waiting, then you need a strong processor. The short and simple of processors is on the number of cores and the speed (labeled in GHz) of the processor. The speed of the chip will tell you how much data it can process in how much time, so the bigger the number, the better.

Ram, the more the better

Just as the number of processor cores in a computer affects its speed and ability to multitask, the amount of Random Access Memory, or RAM, in a computer can affect just how much multitasking it can handle and how fast it will be. Nowadays most RAM is measured in gigabytes, and as is often the case, the more, the merrier. By having more RAM, your computer is able to keep more data close at hand, rather than having to go digging around through the slower hard drive for the information it needs. For basic usage on today’s standards, at least 4GB is recommended.

Hard Drive

If you plan to just have your computer and no peripherals(external hard drive,etc), you may want to opt for the biggest hard drive you can afford, since all of your files and programs will be stored on the computer. If you don’t plan to have many applications on your computer, and won’t store media on it, then you can opt for a smaller hard drive and save yourself some money. If you can handle a small hard drive but want to it be extra fast and you have the cash, consider going for a solid-state drive.

The Operating System (Mac or Windows)

The short and simple of it is that you should probably stick with what you’re familiar with, as it can be hard to adjust to a new operating system unless you’re ready to put in the work.

Apple Ends Quicktime Support For Windows

quick time

Yesterday I received an email from a friend with the subject line “Urgent: Apple ends QuickTime Support for Windows” and at first I completely disregarded it as nothing important. However from the standpoint of our customers this is very important news as most QuickTime users rely on it for anything from looking at pictures to watching videos. With the threat of cyber security already high for personal computers, this decision by Apple could be harmful to any computer containing important personal documents or business information. Our advice is simple, uninstall it unless you completely need it. If you choose to keep it, your computer is prone to be compromised even if you have an antivirus installed. An excellent
alternative to QuickTime, is VLC Media Player and it can be installed from it’s website www.videolan.org.

 

Backup Solutions Pros & Cons

pros and cons

You might not realize how vulnerable your midterm thesis or your vacation photos are until your computer crashes, gets hacked, or infested with a serious malware and they’re wiped from your machine. Fortunately, there’s a simple step to preventing this–store your files in multiple locations. Backing up data regularly ensures that personal documents, photos, and other important files are secure in the event of a technology meltdown. Here are some backup solutions pros and cons:

MAKING A LOCAL BACKUP

Transfers data to a separate type of media, such as a CD/DVD, external hard drive, USB Flash drive, or Windows Home Server. For people who like backups of backups, especially for financial data, this provides a way to store the data off site at another location or in a bank safety deposit box.

ADVANTAGE – Backups and restores are fast and accessible. Copies can be placed off site for complete peace of mind.

DISADVANTAGE – Cost of media or server can be expensive. Even though the media might be very resilient, it is still susceptible to physical failure.

USING AN ONLINE “CLOUD” BACKUP

These backups are stored online and can be accessed from anywhere and often by multiple computers. The data is often stored in a secure online location that is accessible with a password you create.

ADVANTAGE – The most secure method and can be accessed anywhere. Backups can be setup to automatically happen in real time.

DISADVANTAGE – Usually requires a subscription cost and regular online access.

Random Pop-Ups Annoying You?

java script

If you are seeing random pop-up ads asking to update Adobe Flash Player or Java within Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google Chrome, then your computer is infected with an adware or a potentially unwanted program. These update pop-ups are not from the developers Adobe Flash Player or Java. These pop-ups are annoying and they’re used by cyber criminals to spread adware and browser hijackers on every user’s computer. The fake update Flash Player or Java pop-up ads are caused by an ad-supported extension for Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome, which is distributed through various monetization platforms during installation. This malicious browser extension is typically added when you install another free software (video recording, download-managers or PDF creators) that had bundled into their installation this adware program. When this malicious extension is installed and you browse the Internet, an ad with a fake request to update Adobe Flash Player or Java will randomly pop-up. The malicious web page will display a pop-up box stating that you need to updated or install Flash Player or Java to view a video. If you click on the “Download”, “Run Update” or “Click to install now” button, instead of installing an update for Adobe Flash Player or Java, you’ll agree to download an adware or a malicious programs onto your computer.

When infected with this malicious program, other common symptoms include:

Advertising banners are injected with the web pages that you are visiting. Random web page text is turned into hyperlinks. Browser popups appear which recommend fake updates or other software. Other unwanted adware programs might get installed without the user’s knowledge.

You should always pay attention when installing software because often, a software installer includes optional installs, such as this fake update Flash Player or Java adware. Be very careful what you agree to install. Always opt for the custom installation and deselect anything that is not familiar, especially optional software that you never wanted to download and install in the first place. It goes without saying that you should not install software that you don’t trust.

 

Signs My Computer Has A Virus?

virus removal

NuAge PC has been getting plenty of phone calls lately from concerned customers who are wondering why their computer is acting very unusual. The truth is 99% of the time this means your computer has been infected by a virus or malware. With this “Signs my Computer has a virus” post, NuAge PC is using our platform to give our customers a basic idea as to the warning signs that your computer may have a virus.  Listed below are some of the most common signs…


​​1. Slowdown: Does it take longer than usual for your operating system to boot up? Are you waiting too long for some of your programs to start? It’s a known fact that malware has the tendency to slow down your operating system, your Internet speed or the speed of your applications.

2. Pop Ups: One of the most annoying signs of malware is represented by the unwanted pop-up windows. Unexpected pop-ups which appear on the system are a typical sign of a spyware infection.

3. Crashes: If your programs or your system regularly crash or the infamous BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) appears regularly, it’s a clear warning that your system is not working properly and you should look into it.

​​4. Running out of hard drive space: Regarding the hard drive, you also need to check if your physical storage space has been increasing lately or if some of your files disappeared or had their names changed.

5. New Browser home page, new tool bars and/or your browser opens unwanted websites: Did you notice your home page has been changed and you don’t seem to know why? A new toolbar seems to be placed at top of your web browser? Have you tried to access your favorite blog, but you were sent to a different address?This usually happens when you visit a website and you accidentally click an online link or a pop-up window. This action triggers the download and install of a secondary software, which is not only annoying, but also malicious.

​6. Unusual messages or programs starting automatically:​ ​If, all of a sudden, you see programs opening and closing automatically, your Windows operating system shutting down without reason or you have strange windows in the booting process and Windows lets you know that you lost access to some of your drives, this is something you should worry about.

7. Your security solution is disabled: Your antivirus solution doesn’t seem to work anymore or the Update module seems to be disabled.

8. Your friends say they receive strange messages or e-mails from you: Are your friends telling you that they received suspicious e-mails from you or instant messages from your social media account containing attachments or links? 


Disregarding these warning signs can be very harmful to any computer especially if the computer contains valuable information. We’ve hear stories from some of our customers about them losing all of their business payroll information or other important personal documents because of viruses corrupting their computer. If your computer has any of the symptoms listed above contact us today at (305) 421 -7264 or schedule an appointment with one of our technicians on our website, www.nuagepc.com. With your computer it’s always better to be proactive rather than reactive later.