Sometimes it’s obvious. That message from a Nigerian prince requesting you wire $2,000? Ok, probably not going to fall for that one. If the CEO of your company asks for your credit card information via email? Something is definitely off. But often phishing is harder to spot.
Phishing is a common scheme in which someone poses as a trusted party (like a bank or government employee) in an attempt to steal personal information, such as credit card numbers, usernames, and email addresses.
You might get an email that appears to be from Netflix, asking you to log in or your account will be terminated. It could come as a text from Best Buy offering you a gift card if you enter your account information. When it looks too good to be true, it probably is and if something just feels off—it’s worth taking a closer look.
How can you avoid phishing?
Phishing attempts will often include a false story meant to lure you into entering your sensitive information.
Some common forms:
Things to watch out for
High sense of urgency
Hackers will often create a sense of urgency like threatening you with the loss of service. For instance, a phishing email from someone posing as a bank or another financial institution might ask for you to “confirm your account” and re-submit your payment information or else your account will be terminated. Don’t panic. If something seems strange or alarming, it’s worth taking a pause to investigate.
Since cyber criminals often send hundreds of emails at a time, another clue that it may be a fake email is the lack of a personalized greeting. Proceed with caution if the email doesn’t include your name or username, or addresses you simply as “Customer” or “Account Holder.”
One quick way to tell the difference between an official communication from a service you use and a phishing scam is the use of misspelled words and poor grammar in the body of the email.
Actions you can take
Check the sender’s email address
Cyber criminals will often create an email account that closely resembles a company’s official email address. For instance, a phishing email address from Amazon might look like “firstname.lastname@example.org”. Notice the “A” in “Amazon” is not included in the email address.
Hover your mouse over any link in an email
Before clicking make sure the address looks right. When in doubt, do not click the link or open any attachments.
If you think a website might be fake, check the URL and confirm it includes “https://”
Similar to phishing emails, the URL of a fake website may look nearly identical to a legitimate website. Make sure to look out for any misspellings, unusual words or special characters before or after the company’s name. Look for “https://” not “http://” at the beginning of the address URL. Any legitimate entity asking for your payment info will have a secured website.
To test whether you can spot a phishing scam, check out Google’s quiz.
Working away from the office is fast becoming the norm for many businesses, and there are tonnes of benefits for employees. But, like anything in the cyber world, there are some considerable risks you and your colleagues should be looking out for. Many companies are asking their employees to work remotely in an effort to slow down the spread of coronavirus and preserve the health and safety of their people.
Here’s what you need to keep in mind so that both you and the company stay protected.
working in the office and working at home are two different kettles of fish (or indeed phish). And not only because the office has a working atmosphere, whereas at home you just want to lie on the couch and pet the dog.
The real issue — at least for cybersecurity, if not productivity — is that in the office, companies thoroughly protect networks and devices. Meanwhile, unless you’re the CEO, sysadmins are probably not going to come around to your apartment or house and set everything up in line with corporate standards. If a confidential document gets leaked from your home computer, the buck stops with you.
Follow these ten simple tips when working remotely to avoid such a mishap.
1. Protect devices with a good antivirus solution.
Companies generally undertake a range of measures to protect computers from malware. They install powerful security solutions, prohibit employees from installing applications, restrict online access from unauthorized devices, and so on. At home, it is trickier to provide that level of protection, but leaving a computer vulnerable when work documents are stored there is also a no-no because if they get stolen or destroyed, it’ll be your neck on the chopping block.
To prevent anything like that from happening, it is vital that you install a reliable security solution on all devices that handle corporate data. If money’s too tight, install a free antivirus. Even one at no cost will significantly reduce the risk of getting infected — and landing in big trouble with the boss.
2. Update programs and operating systems.
New vulnerabilities are forever being found in applications and operating systems. And cybercriminals can’t resist exploiting them to infiltrate other people’s devices. Often, they rely on people being too lazy to update software, because in the latest versions of programs vulnerabilities are usually patched. So it’s important to regularly update everything installed on any device that you use for work purposes.
3. Connect to a secure internet especially on a Wi-Fi connection.
Protecting the computer won’t help if an attacker connects to your Wi-Fi or takes up residence inside your router. Anyone who does that can intercept everything you send or enter online, including passwords for remote access to an office-based computer or corporate mail. Therefore, it is imperative to configure your network connection correctly.
First, make sure that the connection is private and encrypted to keep information safe from prying eyes. If your Wi-Fi asks anyone connecting to it for a password, the connection is encrypted (and Joe Blow will not be able to spy on your work). If you share your Wi-Fi with other unknown people, your connection is not secure. For example, coffee shops like Starbucks, restaurants like fast food places, or basically any public location with public Wi-Fi.
Never ever enter a password or log in with your credentials while on a public Wi-Fi, you can never tell if someone that shares your connection is tapping, scanning or phishing for your user, password, or any personal and corporate info.
4. Lock your device before walking away
Someone can catch a glimpse of your work correspondence even when you’re just having a cup of tea or taking a bathroom break. Therefore, it’s important to lock the screen whenever you get up. Consider the small hassle a tiny price to pay for keeping corporate secrets safe.
Even if you’re working at home and outsiders have no access to the room, it’s still worth locking your device. You probably don’t want your child to accidentally send your boss a smiley-laden text. Or your cat to walk across the keyboard and mail an unfinished message to the board of directors. If you’re about to go somewhere else, lock the screen. And it should go without saying that your computer needs password-protection.
5. Use corporate services for e-mail, messaging, and all other work
Your company most likely has a set of IT services that employees use, such as Microsoft Office 365, a corporate messenger like Slack or Microsoft Team and at the very least corporate e-mail. Those tools are configured by your company’s IT service, and IT is responsible for setting them upright.
But IT is not responsible for the access settings of, say, your personal Google Drive. Are you absolutely sure that your colleague — and no one else — will see the file that you sent a link to? If the file is accessible to anyone who has the link, then search engines can index it. And if someone googles something on the topic of your document, it might appear in the search results and catch the eye of someone who should not even know of its existence.
Therefore, stick to corporate resources when exchanging documents and other information. Those cloud drives, but configured for business, are generally far more reliable than the free user versions. Corporate mail usually has less spam and none of your personal correspondence, which adds up to less risk of missing an important e-mail or forwarding something to the wrong address — and colleagues will know for sure that it’s you, not someone pretending to be you.
6. Stay vigilant
Alas, sometimes a malicious — and highly convincing — a message can sneak into corporate mail. This is especially relevant to remote workers because the amount of digital communications increases sharply with telecommuting. Therefore, read messages carefully and don’t rush to respond to them. If someone urgently needs an important document or demands immediate payment of an invoice, double-check the someone is who they claim to be. Don’t be afraid to call the other party for clarification, or confirm the action one more time with your boss.
Be particularly suspicious of e-mails with links. If a link to a supposed document does not point to a corporate resource, better to ignore it. If everything looks fine, and the link opens a site that resembles, say, OneDrive, do not enter your credentials on it. Better to manually type in the OneDrive address in the browser, log in, and try to open the file again.
7. Keep your passwords to yourself.
You wouldn’t type in your ATM pin for all the world to see, so why should you treat your password any different? With a growing trend of “shoulder surfing” (spying on someone's device to obtain login credentials/ company data - often in a public area such as a train), employees need to take extra care when using devices in busy areas.
It may sound like common sense, but covering your screen is the easiest way to stop shoulder surfers from stealing your credentials and accessing your accounts.
Here are a few tips to keep your password safe:
8. Be careful when using your personal computer
If you're using your personal computer to remote into the business environment, please follow some useful tips in order to keep your personal computer truly personal:
The immensely popular social networking site Facebook has a user base of over 1.19 billion, which also makes it a popular medium for scammers. It is important to be able to identify a threat before it hits you because the consequences that follow one “quick click” may leave your bank account empty and your identity stolen.
53% of scams target social media users
Bitdefender conducted a survey on Facebook and Twitter by befriending 1,900 people. They then sent the users three links leading to malware. Based on the results, they discovered:
“97 percent of respondents on Facebook and Twitter blindly click on links without checking for malware.”
It’s therefore not surprising that scam makers are successful in tricking Facebook users. In fact, during a two year Bitdefender study involving 850,000 different Facebook scams, it was discovered what the top five most prevalent scams are and the collective percentage of users that fall for each. Here are the top 5 scams you need to keep an eye out for:
#5) Atrocity videos: animal cruelty, suffering people and other dark videos (0.93%)
Atrocity video scams prey on a users darker side. Cybercriminals use horrendous images involving maimed animals, murder, suffering children, and tortured women to draw a user in. Although still relatively small compared to other scams (less than 1%), this type of scam is growing at a steady rate, with thousands of victims with every new campaign. According to the report:
“Children and teenagers are the most exposed to atrocity video scams, and we expect their number to intensify in the future.”
Cybercriminals use atrocity videos as a way to serve users with links to fraudulent web sites that prompt you to complete surveys and offers before watching the video. Cybercriminals hope to earn a commission for every survey completed. Malware is also distributed in this way.
In order to combat this type of scam, you must avoid falling victim to your own curiosity and fight the urge to click “play”. Stay vigil and use common sense. Check the domain name of any seemingly suspicious links to videos and images provided before clicking on it. Cyber criminals have no shame and even use tragic events as airline disasters to lure people into clicking. Steer clear from viewing atrocious content on Facebook and get your news from major news websites instead.
#4) Celebrity scams: celebrity scandals and death hoaxes (7.5%)
The fourth most popular type of Facebook scam preys on a users desire to keep up with the latest news and gossip on favorite celebrities such as Rihanna or Justin Bieber. The videos are often shocking news, such as the death of a celebrity or adult content. The primary goal of this scam is to trick you into clicking a link that will then ask you to update your video player or redirect you to an external source prompting you to download something to watch the video.
This scam appeals to a users sense of curiosity and amplifies it by using enticing trigger words and popular celebrities. While some videos lead to Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs) such as adware, others are more serious and lead to data stealing malware that can turn your computer into a zombie as part of a botnet.
In order to combat this scam, users must use caution and common sense. In order to stay up to date on your favorite celebrities, use a legitimate and verified news and video source. Think before you act, remember if something seems so shocking that it is unreal, it probably is. Avoid watching adult content based videos on social media sites.
#3) Freebies and giveaways: Free -enter any company name- gift card! (16.5%)
Giveaway scams are the third most popular Facebook scam that preys on the human instinct of greed. A few examples of this scam are – winning free trips to Disneyland, receiving free gift cards, vouchers and free electronic items such as an iPad. A well known saying is “nothing in life is free”, especially if something sounds too good to be true. If somebody on Facebook tells a company is giving away vouchers or gift cards if only you invite your friends to the offer or click on a link—don’t believe it. If you do, you’ll end up spamming all your contacts with bogus messages about the fake offer.
If a user falls for a “free giveaway” or “freebie” scam, they are at risk of downloading a potential malware infection. Before qualifying for a free promotion, you must complete several “special” or “reward” bonus offers. The bonus offers are provided at the users expense costing real money. Cybercriminals receive a commission off each survey and receive a treasure chest full of confidential information such as your username, E-Mail, and phone number.
In order to combat, users must keep a mindset that almost all of the free offers encountered online are bogus. Always think before you click and if an offer does seem suspicious, contact the company to verify the promotion’s authenticity or check the company’s Facebook page. Never enter your most sensitive credentials on any free surveys and promotional offers that seem too good to be true.
#2) Facebook functionality enhancements (29.5%)
The second most popular Facebook scam is one that supposedly extends Facebook functionality. Users are seemingly presented with options to add a dislike button or embellish their profile with different colors or features, such as this one. This scam centers around a users desire to improve their overall social networking experience. Once a user decides to take advantage of the supposed enhanced Facebook features, cybercriminals can access and steal a user’s most sensitive data and spread malware by use of fake online survey pages. Never enter your data in seemingly suspicious forms or surveys on social media sites.
In order to combat this scam, Facebook users need to help raise user awareness. Also, never click on links leading to pages that offer the ability to change your background and profile color as Facebook does not offer such an option.
#1) Who viewed my profile? (45.5%)
By far the most popular, widespread Facebook scam that users will encounter (almost 46%) preys on the aspect of human curiosity. User’s want to see exactly who, what, and how many views their page is getting. The “profile viewer” message is customized to each person, touching users on a personal level. A lot of users want to see if they are still searched for by a person for whom they may still have feelings for, such as an ex.
In order to combat this type of attack, users must be made aware that finding a legitimate application which reveals high profile details such as how many views or how many viewers you have is highly unlikely. Don’t click on suspicious links to pages that you don’t know where they are taking you and don’t add applications to your Facebook that have not been checked and confirmed to be safe by Facebook’s developers.
General human dispositions cause users to fall for these tricks
The report delves into psychological explanations as to why users fall for the traps. The conclusion:
“The biggest vulnerabilities appear because of general human dispositions that may hit any user at one point in his life,” Bitdefender Behavior Analyst Nansi Lungu said. “It’s hard for us to acknowledge our irrational behaviors, or that we’re blindly indulging in impulses we typically attribute to the less educated.”
People are seemingly their own worst enemies. We don’t think before we act, and react before we think. This irrationality leads to cyber criminals having a motive to steal sensitive data and distribute malware as a means to make money. Cybercriminals take advantage of the fact that many users are not aware of online dangers and therefore aim to target this vulnerability. User awareness and caution is the key.
Tips to stay safe on Facebook.
Have a great (scam-free) day!
Microsoft made a commitment to provide 10 years of product support for Windows 7 when it was released on October 22, 2009. When this 10-year period ends, Microsoft will discontinue Windows 7 support so that we can focus our investment on supporting newer technologies and great new experiences. The specific end of support day for Windows 7 will be January 14, 2020. After that, technical assistance and software updates from Windows Update that help protect your PC will no longer be available for the product. Microsoft strongly recommends that you move to Windows 10 sometime before January 2020 to avoid a situation where you need service or support that is no longer available.
What does end of support mean for me?
After January 14, 2020, if your PC is running Windows 7, it will no longer receive security updates. Therefore, it's important that you upgrade to a modern operating system such as Windows 10, which can provide the latest security updates to help keep you and your data safer. In addition, Microsoft customer service will no longer be available to provide Windows 7 technical support.
Can I upgrade my existing PC to Windows 10?
Yes in most cases, your Windows 7 license key can be compatible with Windows 10
How can I upgrade to Windows 10 for free?
The Windows 10 free upgrade offer ended on July 29, 2016. To get Windows 10 you will need to either purchase a new device or, if you have a compatible PC, purchase a full version of the software to upgrade your existing device.
What happens if I continue to use Windows 7?
If you continue to use Windows 7 after support has ended, your PC will still work, but it will become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses. Your PC will continue to start and run, but you will no longer receive software updates, including security updates, from Microsoft.
Can Windows 7 still be activated after January 14, 2020?
Windows 7 can still be installed and activated after end of support; however, it will be more vulnerable to security risks and viruses due to the lack of security updates. After January 14, 2020, Microsoft strongly recommends that you use Windows 10 instead of Windows 7.
Will Internet Explorer still be supported on Windows 7?
Support for Internet Explorer on a Windows 7 device will also be discontinued on January 14, 2020. As a component of Windows, Internet Explorer follows the support lifecycle of the Windows operating system it’s installed on.
What if I'm running Windows 7 Enterprise?
If you are using Windows as part of a work environment, we recommend you check first with your IT department or see Windows 10 deployment support to learn more.
What about Windows 7 Embedded?
Windows for embedded devices such as ATMs or gas pumps have lifecycle dates that sometimes differ from versions of Windows that are used on PC devices.
Can I move my existing programs to a new Windows 10 PC?
For the best possible experience, we recommend doing a fresh installation of your programs and apps on your new Windows 10 PC. Microsoft Store has a variety of third-party apps that can be easily downloaded and installed.
But an upgrade of your existing Windows 7 is possible but some programs will need to be removed if not compatible.
How will Windows 7 end of support affect my Microsoft Office apps?
Your experience may be different depending on the Office version you're running. To learn more, see Windows 7 end of support and Office. It's important to note that Windows 7 itself will no longer receive security updates, leaving your device vulnerable to security threats. As such, if you're running Microsoft Office on a Windows 7 PC, we recommend you move to a new Windows 10 PC.
What should I do?
You can come over for a free consultation and estimate, please make an appointment:
Click here to schedule an appointment
CompuBC Information Technology Services Ltd
1 - Stop Screwing Up Your Computer!
I'm not here to judge. Really, I'm not. I have, however, been fixing computers, in one capacity or another, for well over two decades, and I see the same thing over and over....
People are constantly screwing up their own computers!
Some computer problems are due to hardware failures or lemons, exactly how your microwave or dishwasher might fail due to age, wear, or maybe a factory defect. While there are things you can do to identify and even help prevent these sorts of problems, I would never say you've screwed something up just because you have some bad luck.
Beyond that, though, is almost every other problem: the ones we cause ourselves, mostly by ignorance, which hopefully I can solve for you here.
Sometimes, however, procrastination is the enemy. We put off a computer maintenance task because we don't have time, or tell ourselves that we'll back up our stuff next week instead.
Regardless of where you sit on the ignorant-to-procrastinating scale, let the following 13 slides remind you of some of the most important things you can do to stop screwing up your computer!
I even rate your screw up from 1 to 10. You're welcome!
2- You're Not Backing Up Continuously
One big way to screw up your computer, and by extension yourself, is to back up in some way that's not continuous.
This is a LEVEL 10 SCREW UP!
Yes, you should be backing up your data continuously, as in virtually nonstop... all the time... at least once per minute. It sounds excessive, but it's true.
This is one of the biggest way you're screwing up your computer (and your smartphone, and your iPad, etc.).
Your data is the most important stuff you own. They're your irreplaceable photos and videos, your expensive music, your school paper you've invested hours and hours in, etc., etc., etc.
While it's possible to use traditional backup software to back up continuously to an external hard drive or a network drive, it's easier to get started with, and safer on several levels, to back up continuously with an online backup service.
CompuBC On-line Backup is a perfect online backup solution that automates data backup to secure cloud storage.
The application combines easy to use interface with a powerful functionality making a disaster recovery plan simple, reliable and affordable.
• Keep backups in remote location
• Restore backups anytime from any place where you have internet connection
• Setup suitable schedule for backups or backup every changed or new file immediately with Continuous Data Protection
• Protect backups by encrypting your data
• Compress backups to reduce the size of required cloud storage.
Backup Schedule - Automate backups by setting up suitable time and frequency.
Real-Time Backup - Backup everything automatically. CompuBC On-line Backup runs as Windows Service and tracks folders for new or changed files to backup them immediately.
Encryption - Protect your data from unauthorized access by choosing an encryption algorithm and setting a unique encryption key. CompuBC On-line Backup encrypts all your data before uploads it to a storage.
Compression - Reduces the size of your backups to save time and money spent on data recovery plan. CompuBC On-line Backup compresses data prior to transfer.
Intelligent Bandwidth Scheduler - Control the bandwidth throttling in real-time to set, for instance, the backup to consume all available bandwidth during the off hours and on the weekends while consume only 10% of bandwidth during the working hours.
Virtual Disk - Expose cloud storage as a local disk on your computer and access your data.
Local Backup - Set up local backup if you want to send only subset of your data to the cloud and keep the rest on your local backup storage.
Block Level Backup - Backup only changed parts of the file. CompuBC On-line Backup detects these parts and automatically uploads it to the remote storage.
So stop screwing up your computer and start continuously backing up to the cloud! Most smartphones have built-in auto-backup capabilities, so be sure to turn those on too!
(Wait, you're not backing up at all? Here's your chance to get started, and do so the right way from the get-go.) https://www.compubc.com/online-backup.html
3 - You're Not Updating Your Antivirus Software
Another "good" way to screw up your computer is to not keep updated that antivirus program you took the time to install.
This is a LEVEL 10 SCREW UP!
Those nefarious malware authors out there make new viruses every day, change how they work, and find new ways of avoiding antivirus software. In response, antivirus software has to respond just as quickly.
In other words, your antivirus software only worked 100% the day you installed it. Kind of depressing, isn't it?
Most antivirus software, even free antivirus programs (of which there are plenty), automatically update their definitions, the term used to describe the set of instructions the programs use to identify and remove viruses and other malware.
But most free antivirus program will not give you the full protection you need.
CompuBC use Award winning antivirus platforms and we will know if you got infected, alert you & help with the removal
Managed Antivirus can help your system proactively stay ahead of all malware threats, both known and emerging.
Managed Antivirus not only keeps your network’s security up-to-date with protection against the latest known threats by using traditional signature-based protection, but it also protects against new viruses by using sophisticated exploratory checks and behavioral scans of your system.
Our Award winning antivirus platform applies the following real-time protection layers:
That said, there are sometimes pop-up messages that ask you to do this manually or notices that appear on screen about needing to update the core program before definition updating can continue.
Unfortunately, I see people screw up all the time by closing these... without reading them at all! A message that shows up over and over is usually a good indication that's it's important.
So stop screwing up your computer's ability to fight the bad guys and make sure that you have a good antivirus program and it is updated!
(You don't even have an antivirus program installed? CALL US RIGHT NOW!) https://www.compubc.com/managed-it-services.html
4 - You're Not Patching Software Right Away
Similar to the not-updating-your-antivirus mistake from the last slide, putting off those software updates, especially the operating system ones, is a great way to screw up your computer.
This is a LEVEL 10 SCREW UP!
(I know, three Level 10 screw ups in a row! I'm getting most of the really important stuff out of the way first.)
The majority of software patches these days, especially the ones Microsoft pushes for Windows on Patch Tuesday, correct "security" issues, meaning issues that have been discovered that could allow someone to remotely access your computer!
Once these vulnerabilities in Windows have been discovered, a patch has to be created by the developer (Microsoft) and then installed (by you) on your computer, all before the bad guys figure out how to exploit said vulnerability and start doing damage.
Microsoft's part of this process takes long enough so the worst thing you can do is extend that window of opportunity any longer by procrastinating on installing these fixes once provided.
Windows Update is probably installing these updates for you automatically but you can check for this, and change the behavior, any time you want.
It's the exact same situation with your Mac or Linux computer, your tablet, and your smartphone... just different details. However you're notified that an update is available to iOS, your smartphone software, or your Linux kernel: promptly apply the update!
Other software and app updates are important too and for similar reasons. If your Microsoft Office software, iPad apps, Adobe programs, (etc., etc., etc.) ever ask you to update, just do it.
(You've never installed updates to Windows? Like I said above, they may be installing without your knowledge, but you should check to be sure. See our managed services that will force windows updates.) https://www.compubc.com/managed-it-services.html
5 - You're Not Using Strong Passwords
We all use passwords. Most of the devices and services we use require that we do.
What they don't (usually) require is that the passwords not suck. A "strong" password, in case you didn't know, is a password that doesn't suck... in some specific ways.
Hopefully you know that passwords that include your name, simple words, 1234, etc., are all "bad" passwords. Information security experts call these types of passwords weak passwords.
Weak passwords are easy to "crack" with special software. Very weak passwords are even easy enough to guess. Yikes.
This is a LEVEL 9 SCREW UP!
I've written about guessing your own simple passwords and even hacking in to your own computer, both things you may be happy to have the ability to do when needed but that every other expert computer user can also do.
search "What Makes a Password Weak or Strong" if you're not quite sure how great, or not-so-great, your passwords are. If they don't meet that "strong" criteria, here's How to Make a Strong Password:
Do yourself one better and use a password manager to store your hard-to-remember passwords, leaving you with just a single, strong password to memorize. There are plenty of free password manager apps, programs, and web services out there like LastPass.
(Logging in to Windows or some other service without a password at all? Set one. Please!)
6 - You're Still Running Windows XP
Windows XP was probably Microsoft's most successful product of all time, certainly its most successful and popular operating system.
Unfortunately, in April of 2014, Microsoft ended pretty much all support for it, meaning that those important security holes that are patched every month on Patch Tuesday are not being created for Windows XP! and will end Windows 7 support soon!
This is a LEVEL 8 SCREW UP!
If you're still using Windows XP then your computer is still vulnerable to all of the security issues that have been found, and corrected in later versions of Windows, since May of 2014!
This is a Level 8 screw up and not a Level 10 because there are a few ways you can keep yourself relatively safe and still use Windows XP.
7 - You Still Haven't Updated Windows XP, 7, 8 to 10
One easy to way to screw up your Windows computer, especially if you did update Windows XP, 7, 8 to Windows 10.
"Hu?" It's confusing, I know... I'll explain below.
This is a LEVEL 8 SCREW UP!
8 - You're Downloading the Wrong Stuff
Another very common way to screw up your computer is to download the wrong types of software, filling your computer up with stuff you never wanted, including malware and adware.
This is a LEVEL 7 SCREW UP!
As you probably know, there are tens of thousands, maybe more, completely free software programs and apps out there.
What you may not know is that there are different levels of free software. Some are completely free, often called freeware, while others are only "sort of" free, like trialware programs and shareware programs.
Some sites trick users by advertising that the download is free when in reality the only thing they're saying is that the actual download process is free. (Well duh!)
What all of this confusion does is help you end up with something other than what you thought you were getting. It's frustrating, I know.
9 - You've Left Junk Installed... and Probably Running!
A pretty easy way to screw up your computer is by installing, or leaving already-installed, junk software on your computer, the worst of which is the kind that runs in the background all the time.
This is a LEVEL 7 SCREW UP!
The bulk of the blame for this one is with your computer maker. Seriously.
Part of the reason some companies can sell their computers at such a low cost is by taking money from software makers to include trial versions of their programs on your brand new computer.
Unfortunately, most people have little to no use for these programs. What the majority of new computer users will do, at most, is just delete the shortcuts to these programs. Out of sight, out of mind.
What some people don't realize is that these programs are still installed and wasting space, just hidden from your daily view. Worse yet, some of these programs start up in the background when your computer starts, wasting your system resources and slowing down your computer.
In fact, preinstalled, always-on software is one of the biggest reasons for a sluggish overall computer experience.
Fortunately this problem is easy to fix, at least in Windows. Head to Control Panel, then to the Programs & Features applet, and promptly uninstall anything you know you don't use. Search online for more information about any programs you're not sure about.
10 - You're Letting Needless Files Fill Up the Hard Drive
No, it's certainly not the most important thing you can screw up, but letting needless stuff fill up your hard drive, especially with today's smaller solid state drives, can impact how quickly some parts of your computer work.
This is a LEVEL 5 SCREW UP!
In general, having "stuff" on your computer that doesn't do anything but take up space is not anything to worry about it. When it can be an issue is when the free space on the drive gets too low.
The operating system, Windows for example, needs a certain amount of "working" room so it can temporarily grow if need be. System Restore comes to mind as a feature that you'll be happy to have in an emergency but that won't work if there's not enough free space.
To avoid problems, I recommend keeping 15% of your main drive's total capacity free.
Having hundreds or thousands of extra files also makes it harder for your antivirus program to scan your computer and makes defragmenting of old mechanical hard drives more difficult.
In Windows, a really handy included tool called Disk Cleanup will take care of most of this for you. Just search for that in Windows or execute cleanmgr from Run or Command Prompt.
If you want something that does even more of a detailed job, CCleaner is excellent. It's also completely free.
Oh, and don't worry, it's usually by no fault of your own that these files accumulate over time. It's just part of how Windows, and other software, works.
11 - You're Not Defragging On a Regular Basis
To defragment or not to defragment... not usually a question. While it's true that you don't need to defrag if you have an solid state hard drive, defragging a traditional hard drive is a must.
This is a LEVEL 4 SCREW UP!
Fragmentation happens naturally as your computer's hard drive writes data all over the place. Having a bit here, and a bit there, makes it harder to read that data later, slowing down how quickly your computer can do a lot of things.
No, your computer isn't going to crash or explode if you never defrag but doing it on a regular basis can most certainly speed up pretty much every aspect of your computer use, especially non-Internet related tasks.
Windows has a built-in defragmentation tool but this is one area where other developers have gone the extra mile, making easier-to-use and more effective tools.
My recommendation is to move to an SSD technology and clone your drive to a new SSD drive where NO defragging is needed.
12 - You're Not [Physically] Cleaning Your Computer
First of all, don't dunk any part of your computer in a sink full of soapy water! That image is for illustration purposes only!
Not properly cleaning your computer, however, especially a desktop computer, is an often overlooked maintenance task that could eventually screw up your computer something severe.
This is a LEVEL 4 SCREW UP!
Here's what happens:
In other words, a dirty computer is a hot computer and hot computers fail.
If you're lucky, your operating system will warn you that certain pieces of hardware are overheating or you'll hear a beeping sound. Most of the time you won't be lucky and instead your computer will start to power off by itself and eventually never come on again.
It's easy to clean a computer fan. Just go buy a can of compressed air and use it to clean the dust from any fan in your computer. Amazon has tons of compressed air choices, some as cheap as a few dollars a can.
In desktops, be sure not to miss the ones in the power supply and in the case. Increasingly and video cards.
Tablets and laptops usually have fans too so be sure to give them a few puffs of canned air to keep them running smooth.
Yes, keyboards and mice need cleaning too, but dirty versions of those devices usually don't cause serious problems, unless bacteria is your enemy, then read this post.
Do be careful cleaning that flat screen monitor, though, as there are household cleaning chemicals that can permanently damage it.
13 - You're Not Asking for Help When You Need It
Last, but certainly not least, and very much related to the last big screw up you just read about, is not asking for help when you need it.
This is probably THE BIGGEST SCREW UP EVER!
Don't feel bad! This is something just about everyone screws up on.
If you think you might be able to fix a problem that pops up yourself, you run to your favorite search engine for help.
Maybe you ask a friend on Facebook. Or Twitter. Maybe your 12 year old is a wiz and fixes everything for you.
All of those things are great. Consider yourself lucky that they worked out, ask the professionals.
Avoid trying to open your case and "fix" your hardware or tempering with your operating system.
Just pickup the phone and call your computer tech support go-to guy. Well...that's us.
Like its predecessor, the T1, the T2 is designed to shift responsibility for security-critical aspects of Mac hardware out of the hands of the Mac CPU and traditional computing components—where they can be subject to hacks and malfeasance—into a “secure enclave,” a separate environment inaccessible to hacks, malware, and even hardware-based security risks. Even if macOS were somehow completely “pwned” by a security flaw or attacker, the critical functions and data handled by the T2 would be completely unaffected.
These days, it’s safe to say most technology users are interested in more security, rather than less, so the benefits of the T2 seem clear, if decidedly nerdy. But that doesn’t mean a T2-equipped Mac is the right choice for every Mac user right now—even those who want to be as secure as possible.
Why Does Apple Need Security Chips?
It’s no secret Apple’s hardware group has been on a roll for the last several years: it currently makes five processor lines (the A, H, S, T and W chips) that power everything from iPhones and iPads to the Apple Watch and AirPods. So it’s not surprising Apple would bring its own silicon to the Mac to enable Apple-exclusive features.
The company introduced the T1 in late 2016 to handle the fingerprint processing for Touch ID sensors in the first Touch Bar-equipped MacBook Pros, and it also helped lock down sensitive components like the built-in microphones and cameras. Further, the T1 took over the System Management Controller (SMC), which is responsible for heat and power management, battery charging, and sleeping and waking the Mac. Finally, the T1 determines if macOS is running on actual Apple hardware.
The T2 picks up from there, with four major capabilities:
What Does The T2 Do For You?
Apple has published an overview of the T2 chip spelling out some of its technical details, but here are the main points:
Downsides of the T2
For most Mac users, the benefits of the T2 are clear, particularly for notebook users who take their Macs with them wherever they go. If your new MacBook Air is stolen, the T2 offers decent assurance that sensitive data—like email, passwords, credit card numbers, social media accounts, super-secret projects, or those pictures—won’t fall into the wrong hands.
The T2 isn’t without trade-offs, however:
So What’s With These Audio Problems?
Since the introduction of the iMac Pro—and continuing with newer T2-equipped Macs—users have reported occasional audio glitches: little clicks, pops, or bursts of noise that seem to happen at irregular intervals. They occur with both audio playback and audio recording, and can happen using any app, whether listening to Apple Music, watching a video on YouTube, playing a game, or—uh oh!—playing a hot DJ set at a party or recording a live symphony orchestra.
The problem seems most common with USB-connected audio devices—whether consumer-grade headsets, podcaster-level microphones, or professional audio gear—but the glitches also happen with built-in speakers and microphones as well as audio devices connected via Thunderbolt. How often do they happen? Hard to say. Some users see a few every hour, others maybe only one per day.
Many Mac users won’t care. If there’s a little pop while streaming “Baby Shark” for the thirty-first time, it’s not the end of the world, am I right? OK, maybe I’m right?
However, for others, these glitches are literally showstoppers. If you’re using your Mac to process live audio—maybe you’re a DJ, or a musician using your Mac to run software instruments with programs like Ableton Live or Apple’s MainStage—blasting your audience with random pops, clicks, and bursts of sound is a Very Bad Thing. If you are recording music—whether in your bedroom using GarageBand or burning through hundreds of dollars per hour in a professional studio—those glitches will inevitably happen during critical moments, often destroying your recording. Imagine telling a legendary performer: “Hey, that was great, but the Mac glitched. Let’s go again, maybe it’ll record OK this time!” It’s a quick way to end a career. For musicians and audio professionals, this problem makes T2 Macs unreliable and untrustworthy—an irony, since many of these people use Macs to avoid the famous undependability of audio setups under Windows.
For professional recording studios, the T2 chip isn’t yet much of a problem. (No joke: plenty of Mac-based recording studios are still using decade-old Mac Pro towers.) But a tremendous amount of amateur, enthusiast, and professional audio work—whether music, podcasts, mixing, or DJing—doesn’t happen in professional studios: it happens on notebooks and in small Mac-based project studios. Plenty of musicians take their Macs on stage with them to perform in real time. The T2 is spreading across ever-greater swaths of Apple’s Mac lineup, which makes choosing a new Mac difficult.
What to do? The T2 audio problems have been known for well over a year, and Apple has been utterly silent about them save for a vague claim that macOS Mojave 10.14.4 “improves the reliability” of USB audio devices used with T2-equipped Macs. Some audio developers (like Germany’s RME) have reported improvements with USB audio, but my limited testing with a T2-equipped MacBook Pro found no discernible improvement using 10.14.4 with USB or Thunderbolt audio devices.
Some T2 users have been able to reduce the frequency of glitches by killing the built-in timed process (which synchronizes the Mac clock with a time server) and/or locationd (which tries to determine a Mac’s location for Location Services). Some folks have had good luck with these workarounds; others still experience problems. Unfortunately, stopping these background processes is non-trivial and requires disabling macOS’s System Integrity Protection. In other words, not recommended.
Is A T2 Mac Right For You?
For most Mac users, the T2 chip offers clear benefits: not only does it power spiffy fingerprint detection on the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, but it also provides fully encrypted storage and hardens the Mac against a range of sophisticated attacks—including the sorts of things that a government might carry out if one were to seize a computer.
But the T2 also highlights how fragile the Mac world can be. Users who don’t have easy access to an Apple Store or authorized repair shop may encounter real problems getting a T2 Mac fixed. Users who don’t have a good backup strategy probably won’t be able to recover any data at all if the T2 chip fails—even if they turn to data recovery experts. And developers who want to run anything but macOS or Windows 10 natively are basically out of luck. So if your Mac has a T2 chip, figure out in advance where you’ll get it repaired if necessary, make sure you’re backing up regularly to multiple locations, and stick with virtualization for guest operating systems.
All that said, if you rely on your Mac for audio—whether recording podcasts, DJing parties, or as a professional engineer or musician—I recommend avoiding T2-equipped Macs until audio issues have been verifiably resolved for quite some time. If you need a new Mac before that happens, consider one of the few remaining models without a T2 chip, or perhaps an older pre-T2 Mac—sometimes Apple offers a good deal on refurbished and clearance models.
Remember how zippy your Mac was when you first got it? How it booted up in a snap, and switched fast between apps? At iFixit, we live for breathing new life into broken devices—but what if your Mac is just wheezing and slow? After all you’ve been through together, you don’t want to just throw it away. Should you sell it? Leave it unplugged in a drawer for a few more years (until you feel less guilty about throwing it away)?
Answer: none of the above. Upgrading your Mac is an amazingly effective option, and it’s cheaper than you might expect. With a brand-new SSD and high-capacity RAM, your aging Mac will be running good as new—no, make that better than new.
First things first: an SSD upgrade is, hands down, the best way to speed up your computer.
There’s lots of information on the benefits of SSDs versus HDDs, but here’s the short version:
Unlike an old-fashioned hard disk drive (HDD), which stores the computer’s info on a spinning metal platter, a solid-state drive (SSD) stores the information in silicon chips.
Because there are no moving parts in an SSD, they can read and write information up to 10 times faster than a traditional HDD.
This means that boot times, application launch times, and data retrieval get much, much faster when you use an SSD as the primary storage for your computer.
Moreover, SSDs are more resistant to shock, vibration, and movement—making them particularly suited to laptops and other devices that are subject to sudden knocks and bumps.
So if you’ve got a need for speed—or if you’re just trying to add more storage to your device—open up Activity Monitor and click the Disk Usage Table to see what size SSD you need.
Look at how much space you are using on your current hard drive and round it up to the nearest SSD size (or go higher if you want to future-proof your machine).
SSD come in 240/250 GB, 480/500 GB, and 960/1 TB drive sizes for every Intel-powered Mac that can accommodate a SATA Drive. And they work in both 2.5″ formats (for laptops, Mac Minis, and some iMacs), as well as in 3.5″ drive bays (like those found in larger and older iMacs) through the use of an included adapter.
Max out your memory
If you find yourself staring at OS X’s spinning beach ball more often than you’d like, then RAM is the answer.
RAM is your Mac’s short-term memory—meaning every time the system opens a program or process, it loads it into RAM.
If the system needs to juggle more applications than the RAM can hold, it has to offload some of them to a temporary storage area on the hard drive (called the swap file), This eats resources, slowing everything down to a crawl.
Not too long ago, many Macs shipped with 2 (or fewer) GB of RAM—an amount that would quickly fill up with today’s resource-hungry software.
But as the software companies continue to add new features and make the digital lives cooler and fancier, the old RAM-limited hardware increasingly struggles to keep up.
Fortunately, in most cases, this is an easy fix.
One important caveat about RAM upgrades is that the amount of RAM your Mac can utilize is limited by the rest of the hardware in the computer.
Not all computers can handle 16 GB of RAM, and figuring out which computers can handle which RAM configuration can be tricky sometimes. If you’d rather not, simply call us for assistance. You can rest easy knowing that you’re getting the ultimate RAM experience for your machine.
To know if a RAM upgrade is right for you, open OS X’s Activity Monitor and click on the System Memory. If the chart indicates that most of your RAM is “Active” or “Wired,” you’re likely going to experience system slowdowns. While you’re there, check out how much RAM you have installed.
Fed up with IT issues? Here are the top signs you need a MSP (Managed Services Provider) to get your business back in shape!
IT management is the base of all business operations. No matter what time of the year it is, or season, your IT systems need to give you the best performance 24/7. However, management of IT systems can be difficult and expensive. It can also get you to lose focus from core business activities, if something in your IT systems goes terribly wrong, for example a server downtime.
It’s one of those processes that require consistent planning, research, and analytics to keep your online business healthy, avoid problems while also optimizing your business performance. Due to the depth of it, business owners often state IT management to be the sole cause of their delays and distraction in key business operations. So, what are the signs that you may be ready to outsource your IT management and need a managed services provider?
Sign 1: IT Problems Just Keep on Coming – Advancements in IT industry are bringing in changing technologies and new methods to master, but you are struggling to keep up with the daily workload and sorting out issues one after the other.
Effect: By hiring a Managed Service Provider you will relieve the burden on your IT staff and achieve more efficient operations.
Sign 2: Your IT Team Can’t Meet the Service Demands – Your IT staff with generalized technology is having a hard time coping with service demands that require specialized IT skills.
Effect: When the need of support solutions goes beyond the skill sets of your staff, managed services from CompuBC are necessary to keep your systems at top functionality under added demand.
Sign 3: You Deal with Critical & Sensitive Information – Your business stores, accesses, or transmits critical data and you are unsure whether you will be able prevent sensitive data leaks, hacks, fraudulent attempts.
Effect: Managed services from CompuBC ensure that critical data such as personal and financial information, and medical records are protected all the times while also employing strategic protocols to deal with theft and intrusion attempts.
Sign 4: You Are Unable to Predict Your IT Budget – You find your IT costs vary widely each month preventing you from making a proper budget plan. Whenever something goes wrong you must pay high troubleshooting charges.
Effect: You hire a managed service provider for a fixed fee, even when you need emergency support you won’t have to pay sky high charges. This allows you to create and stick to a predictable budget.
Sign 5: You Don't Have an IT Support on Your Payroll – You can't afford to have a full-time IT support in your business and you don't have the budget for an IT service contract.
Effect: With a Managed Service Plan from CompuBC, you don't need to break the bank, CompuBC can provide a cost-effective monitoring solutions & a break/fix service as needed.
If your business is experiencing any or all of these signs, it is time to call the IT professionals at CompuBC to become your technology partner.
As Internet lines become faster and servers more affordable, online data backup is not a sweet concept any more but a modern service you can really count on when backing up your files.
There are many advantages of online data backup over making copies on CDs, external hard drives or USB flash sticks. Some of these advantages are quite obvious, others might not have crossed your mind.
Making copies to a USB thumb drive has little value, if it is damaged or lost, as is your computer. There are so many risks, like fire, computer viruses, theft, flooding and hardware failure when you are storing backup copy in a remote place, away from your computer. When your main drive burns in fire or is stolen, you may still recover all your data from online backup copy and you will not loose any valuable files.
Backup Solution Is Fully Automated
It is advisable to create your own procedures, like making weekly backup to an external hard drive or DVDs; however, it takes some effort every time you need to copy some files.
There is always a danger of forgetting a file or two or just becoming careless and skipping making backups on some week. Luckily, CompuBC online data backup software offer fully automated solutions, which are scheduled to make backups regularly.
Recovery from Online Backup Is Easier
When a crisis hits, the value of a decent backup strategy becomes apparent. Best data backup solutions enable to recover lost data fast, without disturbing your workflow.
CompuBC online data backup software offers fast and easy way to recover all files you need in a very short time and from any ware and to any computer.
Keeping Earlier Copies, Data Versioning
There are things you really can't do with manual data backup solutions by yourself. Versioning is one of them. CompuBC online data backup solutions preserve sequential copies of your data, and you can search and recover your data from earlier copies as well. It offers true value, if you are working with data files which are regularly updated and you need to recover some data that was accidentally overwritten or deleted.
Sync Your Data on Different Devices
Obviously, synchronization is another handy feature you can not do with old backup systems. Luckily, you can sync your data with our online data backup software easily.
Imagine how much easier it makes your work, if you can start with file on your desktop, then work with it on laptop and then present results in your tablet. You may be amazed, how much more you can achieve with decent productivity tools.
Saving Costs and Time
Buying all the drives and backup media by yourself may prove quite expensive, because they also need upgrading, maintenance and your time to operate. Many our clients admitted that saving time with online data backup solution was the biggest argument for them. For small and medium sized companies, outsourcing data backup solutions from online backup providers may save big bucks.
Online Data Backup Gives Peace of Mind
It is hard to measure the value of peace of mind. One thing is sure – by using our online data backup solutions you will worry less about losing your data. Let us do the hard work and you will save a lot of your time and mind, you will feel that your life quality is better, and you will enjoy many things more if you have less things to worry about.
You seem to be interested in this service? Do you think your friends would like to have their data kept safe, too? Please take a second and share!
Facebook was hacked, and now everyone is scrambling to understand why it happened, who was responsible, and most importantly, what it means for the potentially 90 million affected users. What’s become clear is that Facebook’s unprecedented access to user data across at least 8 million websites—via the ever-present Login With Facebook option—puts each of Facebook’s 2 billion-plus users at risk.
To understand why the Login With Facebook option is a bad idea, we’re sharing three facts you might not know about the problems associated with using a centralized service connected to your social profile as a way to manage logins for many accounts.
Fact #1: Facebook collects a surprisingly large amount of data on people to power its advertising engine.
Facebook is often referred to as a social media company or a social media app. But that’s not a business model. It would be far more accurate to think of Facebook as the second largest data-collection and advertising agency in the history of mankind, behind Google—we’ll get to them soon. In 2017, 98% of Facebook’s global revenue was generated through its advertising business. It’s no wonder Facebook does everything in its power to collect every ounce of data about everyone they can, whether they have a Facebook account or not. That phone number you gave Facebook to help secure your account? The company used it to serve you and your friends ads. The list of data points they collect is practically endless.
Armed with this data, you could say that Facebook knows more about you than even you know about you. And one of the primary ways Facebook collects this data was just revealed to be vulnerable.
Fact #2: The Facebook hack exposed Login With Facebook, which connects users with third-party services like Airbnb, Spotify, and Uber.
It’s hard to find a service nowadays that isn’t connected to Facebook in some way. For many of those services, users don’t even need to create an account—they simply use Login With Facebook to gain access. In theory, using Facebook as a way to manage logins for third-party accounts is beneficial to all parties: Users get an easy, one-click login, services get new, verified users without the responsibility of securing login data, and Facebook gets access to the user data associated with those services.
However, the recent Facebook hack exposed the dangers of using Facebook as a way to manage your logins for many accounts.
It’s unclear what data, if any, was stolen in the hack. However, a paper published by computer scientist Jason Polakis in August 2018 analyzed the different ways hackers could exploit Login With Facbeook, as well as other types of social logins (e.g. signing in with Google) to infiltrate third-party accounts.
In controlled experiments, authors of the paper were able to:
You can see which third-party apps are connected to your Facebook profile here.
Fact #3: You can start to take back control of your private data by using a password manager instead of Facebook to log in.
Password managers remember all your different passwords, personal details, and payment info and intelligently fill in that information on your desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile device. They have all the convenience of using Login With Facebook, but they’re more secure. And while they don’t protect you from 100% of the risks associated with using Facebook, they are the best alternative to allowing Facebook to manage access to all your accounts.
You’re probably wondering, How’s a password manager more secure than using Login With Facebook? It sounds like I’m still putting all my eggs in one basket.
There is one crucial difference: Facebook was and remains a single point of failure for all 2 billion-plus users—a Facebook vulnerability could mean access to millions of users and their associated third-party accounts. In contrast, a password manager prevents this same “one-to-many” hack, because it requires a unique key—your master password, which is never stored online and is known only by you—to unlock your personal data. A password manager is designed to keep each of your accounts separate, so if one account becomes compromised, your other accounts remain secure.
So, while you’re keeping all your eggs in one basket, imagine that basket is locked inside a safe which is locked inside a larger vault. Even if someone manages to open the vault, your safe is protected by your unique master password.
All the problems associated with using a centralized service like Facebook exist with any type of social login, including Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Yahoo. In fact, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Yahoohave already been hacked, and Google recently revealed a breach for hundreds of thousands of users. The common thread? Each of these businesses generates revenue primarily through ad sales.
And the truth is, these data privacy issues shouldn’t have to be solved by users. Legislation around data privacy is underway in the U.S., and will continue to evolve to protect citizens. Facebook could take a big step in the right direction by allowing users to opt-in or out of allowing Facebook to connect their accounts with third-party services. That way, users are in control of where and how their data is shared, not Facebook.
But until that becomes a reality, stop entrusting your data to companies whose primary goal is to sell you ads. A security-focused password manager, like Dashlane, puts you in control of your private data and provides the same convenience of instant logins across all your accounts.
Thank to Eitan Katz from Dashlane