Tag Archive | Security

The Never ..And I mean Never Do List – How To Keep Your Computer Safe

perry hall computer repairWhile it’s true that the internet is full of viral menace, it doesn’t have to feel like an overwhelming or unavoidable thing. There are things that you as a user should do to reduce your chances of contracting a virus on your home computer or laptop – or rather, things that you should not do. For Affordable, Flat Rate Computer Repair in Perry Hall, Maryland contact us Perry Hall Computer Repair

 

When it comes to viruses and malware, you probably already know the basic “Do’s”: do use a reliable anti-virus software, do update your computer and all its software regularly, do take it to a professional if you run into any viruses despite your best efforts. So today, we have a list of “Don’ts” that might help you sleep better at night, knowing that you’re not exposing your computer or devices to unnecessary internet plague.

The Never ..And I mean Never Do List:

  1.  Don’t ever give anyone who contacts you remote access to your computer. I don’t care if it’s a phone call, an email, or the pony express – you should never trust a company who wants remote access to your computer. Remote access allows someone to do just about anything they want on your computer from another location; it can be helpful for people who need to access their office computer from home occasionally, but for most people, it isn’t something they’ll ever need to do. A recent scam we’ve heard about: a person who claims to work at Microsoft calls to tell you that your computer is infected with a virus, and that they need access to save your computer and your files. You panic, give them the information and access they need, and suddenly a stranger has the ability to control your computer, download dangerous malware, and hijack your personal information. Luckily, this scary scenario is easy to avoid: don’t ever let anyone you don’t know access to your computer – remotely or in person!
  2. Don’t open email links your friends share with you until you double-check with them. We all get emails from our friends with funny photos, stories, news articles, or videos. Often you’ll need to click on a link to get to what your friend wants to share – but a little voice in the back of your head wonders, “How do I know this is safe to click on?”  Don’t ignore it! Even if the email is from your best, most trusted friend on the planet, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a trick. Hackers often gain access to an email account, and then email a dangerous link out to all those friends in the address book – disguised as a funny photo or video link. The only way to be sure your friend really sent it is to check with them before you click on it. And if you’re getting spam emails from a friend’s email account, let them know so they can change their password ASAP!
  3. Don’t click on links in emails. This might sound extremebut if you’re a better-safe-than-sorry kind of person, it’s a solid rule to live by in the email world. If you’you’ve kept on top of email scams and spams, then you already know never to click on a link from someone or some business you don’t know. But these days you need to take it a step further. Say you get an email from your bank or your cable provider, and it has a link in it that you want to check out. Better to type the company’s URL into your browser, and navigate to whatever offer or page you wanted to look at from their homepage. Trying to tell a scam email and a legit email apart can be very difficult – scammers have really stepped up their game and can construct an email scam that looks just like a legitimate message from a company you trust, right down to the logo.
  4.  Don’t download files that end in .exe, .vbs, or .lnk. These types of files can open programs or applications on your computer when you download them, and you might never even notice them running. They could be programs that capture your passwords, track your keystrokes to get private information, or even use your computer for their own purposes (most likely not benevolent, I think we can assume). Familiarize yourself with the extensions you are likely to see for common file types: .jpg or .png for images, .doc or .pages for documents, and so on. If you get an email from a friend that says “Look at this great photo I took,” but the attachment ends with .exe and not .jpg, you should steer clear of it.

These are just 4 of the many, many things you should not do on the internet or in your email – but they all boil down to, essentially, erring on the side of caution. We all want to be trusting, open-minded people, but you will be rewarded for being a skeptic on the internet.

Keep these pointers in mind when you browse or use email, and share them with others who might also be losing sleep over their computer’s safety and security.  Computer Repair in Baltimore, Maryland

www.PerryhallComputerrepair.com

 

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Your Worst Computer Nightmare – CryptoLocker

Baltimore PC RepairRansom ware is a variety of malware that, once it infects its host-machine, at least says it’s encrypted the data on or locked its victim’s machine in some other way. The malware then informs the infected user that he or she must pay a ransom in order to unlock their files. Of course, there is never any guarantee whatsoever that paying the ransom will unlock anything. In this case the Cryptolocker really carries out the threat, The virus encrypts files stored on local hard drives and mounted network drives using public-key cryptography, and then displays a message saying that the files will be decrypted by a 2048-bit RSA key pair if a fee is paid through an anonymous payment service by a specified deadline, beyond which decryption is no longer possible.  There is no way to decrypt the key.

US-CERT issued an advisory this week warning businesses and consumers of the risks presented by CryptoLocker, which has been on the radar of security experts since late October. US-CERT said infections are on the rise and urge victims not to pay the ransom, instead report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

How the virus works – What does it steal from you? Who does it Target?

CryptoLocker installs itself to the Documents and Settings folder on your system and then proceeds to search for specific file types like Microsoft Word Docs or Adobe PDFs. It applies an asymmetric encryption which requires both a public and private key to unlock. The public key is stored in the virus itself and is used to encrypt the files. The private key is hosted on the hacker’s server.

We have noticed a high infection rate here in Baltimore County as well as the surrounding metro Baltimore area.  This is serious business for these thugs and for the first time this type of attack is being considered organized crime.

How do I get it?

  • As an email sent to company addresses pretending to be from customer support from FedEx, UPS, DHL, etc. The virus is attached to the email, usually labeled as a tracking number.
  • In PDF documents that are attached to emails.
  • Via hacked websites that can exploit computer vulnerabilities to install the infection.
  • Through Trojans that pretend to be programs you need to download in order to watch videos online.

Some versions of CryptoLocker are reportedly capable of affecting not only local files but also files stored in Removable Media such as USB sticks, external hard drives, network file shares and some cloud storage services that are able to sync local folders with online storage. The US-CERT notification also warns that the malware can jump from machine to machine within a network and advises that infected users remove affected machines from their networks immediately.

Can Baltimore PC Repair remove the virus?

computer-maintenance-services-Baltimore-Perry-Hall-PC-RepairThe techs and engineers here at Perry Hall PC Repair have had success with removing the virus but at this point it is impossible to retrieve the encrypted files so honestly the best practice is to wipe the hard drive and start over.

 IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

  • Beware of attachments – Always look at your attachments. If you get an email with an attachment from any sender you don’t personally know don’t open it. If you get an attachment from people you do know, but it isn’t something they would normally send, don’t open it. For all other attachments, try confirming that the file attached is in fact legitimate by asking the sender.
  • Backup your data – Be sure to always backup your data on a regular basis. If you backup files on a daily or even weekly basis and are infected, you can easily wipe your hard drives and start again without losing much in the way of data.
  • Know what to do if infected – If you are infected the first thing you should do is disconnect from the network to limit the chance of the virus spreading to other systems. If you have backed up your system and data, you can probably revert your system. If not, your best plan of attack would be to contact us to see if we can help, as we may be able to get around the encryption or even delete it

Computer Repair in Baltimore Maryland

Looking For Online Back Up – We Use and Recommend Mevvo

perry hall data back upMevvo protects your precious files by keeping a copy safely online. It’s hassle-free, easy-to-install, completely secure – and backs up your entire PC or Mac, no matter how many files you’ve got! Keep your files safe!

Mevvo works quietly in the background to protect your files as you use your computer. You don’t need any technical knowledge, and it backs up all of your files – no matter how many you’ve got. You can restore your files at any time with one click. View your files anywhere.

Once you’ve backed up your files with Mevvo you can view them from anywhere – from any web browser, or from your mobile and tablet. You can view your photos and documents, and even listen to your music and watch your movies, wherever you are. Complete peace of mind.

With Mevvo you can be sure your files are safe and secure. We keep multiple copies of your files, so you can get to them at any time, and we encrypt them with military-grade encryption, so that they’re completely private. If you need help at any time our outstanding support comes free!

We at Perry Hall PC Repair love the ease of us and the affordable pricing for secure online back up. In fact not only is it in use at our shop backing up our business files, We also use it on our home pc’s to back up the kids school work, and other important documents, Pictures and music files!

 

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DIY Computer Maintenance – Keep Your PC Running

Perry Hall Computer RepairHas your computer stopped working?

Computers require maintenance on a regular basis. Maintaining and repairing your computer ensures it operates error-free instead of making you frustrated. Read these free computer repair tips:

Defragmentation of the computer system is necessary to prevent it from slowing down on performance.  Neglecting this results longer wait times when searching for files and opening programs. Defragmenting also streamlines bits of other programs and files that have been deleted or uninstalled, and that have been distributed randomly in the system, taking up unnecessary memory space.

Installing anti-virus software helps prevent system crashes and theft of private information by online criminals. Many cyber-threats such as viruses, trojans, spyware could cause problems if left unchecked. It’s necessary ensure that antivirus programs are updated to deal with the newest cyber-threats.

Delete unnecessary temporary files and programs from the computer. These junk files waste hard disk space which also slows down performance.  Also remove software programs that you no longer use.

PC physical cleaning keeps the machine free from dirt and dust. Over time tiny particles and dust collect on the machine which cause it to overheat and malfunction. When working on a PC it’s best to keep food and liquids away from it.

Ensure the machine’s programs and software are updated. There are numerous software that can do this automatically. The main thing to remember is that computers need care and attention to work properly. These are some basic but important tips regarding computer repair and maintenance that users ought to keep in mind.

If you are unsure about how to do any of these tasks yourself, don’t risk damaging your computer system.  Consult a professional computer technician. Contact  Perry Hall PC Repair for certified computer technicians to fix any computer problem.

Computer Repair in Baltimore Maryland

Never Get A Virus Again –

Computer Repair BaltimoreInstall a Good Antivirus Software and Keep it Up to Date

If you don’t have antivirus software installed, then you need to get on this right away. I would highly recommend Vipre Anti-Virus If you are looking for a good antivirus. The second part of this is that you need to keep this software up to date and you need to run scans regularly. Most good antivirus software packages will automatically update themselves. However, it is a good idea to check that this is happening. When it comes to scanning, it is a good idea to scan every week or so. By keeping your virus protection software up to date and by scanning often, you can make sure you catch any threats before they can wreak havoc on your PC.

Be Careful When Opening and Clicking Links Within Emails

Opening a bad attachment or directly clicking on a virus in an email are two really common ways to get a virus. There are quite a few ways to avoid this. First, be really careful opening emails that have attachments from people you don’t know. Second, if you open an email, you don’t recognize the sender, and the email itself really doesn’t make sense, then don’t click on any of the links in the email. In this case, it is best to just delete the email and move on. Last, if you are not with a solid email provider like G Mail, Yahoo Mail, etc, then you may want to think about switching. These services do a great job of filtering out any viruses before they even get to your inbox.

Be Careful When Browsing the Internet

Another really common place to get a virus is from a bad website. We have all been there, we have clicked on a link or a result in Google search and we end up at a website that just doesn’t look trustworthy. This site is trying to get you to download stuff, has tons of popups, and won’t even let you go back. In most cases, you are still OK. However, what you do next may determine if you get a virus or not. First, see if you can go back or even see if you can close out the browser window. If it doesn’t let you, you can try to close any popups or notifications using the “X” or the cancel button. If you still can’t get away from the bad site, you can use the task manager by pressing CTRL+ALT+DEL to manually close your browser task. The big key is that whatever you do, don’t allow your browser to download anything. Most browsers today will ask if you are sure that you want to continue with a download. This is where you make your last stand against the virus.

To go along with this, it is best to just avoid certain types of sites. First of all, avoid public torrents and public torrent sites. These are well-known virus farms. You may also want to be careful around any type of adult sites or any low quality streaming sites. I am not talking about YouTube here. I am talking about sites that stream a specific TV show or channel illegally. These types of sites might have malware as well.

One last thing to look out for when browsing is fake “download”, “play now”, “play”, etc buttons. Be really careful around these. Keep an eye out for these on sites that you particularly don’t trust. Also, while on the topic, don’t fall for the “Your computer is infected” ads or popups as well. These are usually a trick to get you to download a virus. If you see one of these and you are unsure, close it, then open up your virus protection software and run a scan. This will tell you if you are truly infected or not.

Be Careful When Downloading Programs or Files

There are many times when you really just need to download a program or file from the Internet. If you do this correctly, then there is no issue. However, the key here is that when you download something, make sure it is from a trusted source. Downloading software directly from the software manufacturers website is one good tip. For example, if you need to download iTunes, download it from Apple itself, not some third party distributor. The only time you should download from a third party site is when the site itself links to the third party site for the download.

Our Exclusive Multi Layered Security Service includes:Perry Hall Computer Repair

  • A Stellar Anti Virus
  • A Proactive Anti Malware Scanner
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By following the tips and advice above, hopefully you will never get a virus again.

 

Affordable Computer Repair in Baltimore Maryland – Connected PC Solutions computer repair in Perry Hall, Maryland

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Don’t Pay For Parental Controls: Introducing Parental Controls Windows 7

Baltimore Computer RepairThere are many programs out there for sale that provide Parental Controls. From standalone applications  to Internet Security Suites that also offer parental controls, but did you know Windows includes parental controls already?

Windows 7 Parental Controls:

To access Parental Controls open the Start Menu and type parental controls into the Search box and hit Enter. When you open Parental Controls, click on the child’s account you want to set up.  Under Parental Controls mark the radio button next to On, enforce current settings. Then you can go through and control their computer time, games, and programs.

Time Limits: Click on Time limits to control when your child has access to the computer. If you want to only allow a few hours each day, it’s easiest to left-click and drag the mouse across all of the time slots to block them. Then allow the time blocks when you want to make the computer available.

Control Programs: If you want to restrict certain programs on the machine, click on Allow and block specified programs then scroll through the list of installed programs and block them.

Control Games: Click on Games to control the type of access your child has to games on the computer. You can completely block all games or select games by ratings and game names. These game ratings are based on the Entertainment Software Rating Board.

You can also select different game rating systems if it’s more appropriate for your location or if you like a certain system better than another. You can also block games based on the type of content it contains.

The Parental Controls feature is easy to use and helps you administer how your children use the computer. Of course nothing is perfect or foolproof and the Parental Controls won’t replace good old fashioned “real parenting” but it makes it easier.

Computer Repair Perry Hall Maryland –  Connected PC Solutions is a Baltimore Maryland based PC repair business

Yes, Internet security suites may offer a few more features in their parental controls, but don’t underestimate the parental control options included with Windows 7.

Why We Do Not Recommend Norton

computer-repair -baltimore-county-pc-crashA lot of people always ask us “What security program do you recommend?” and usually they follow up by saying “I was thinking of getting Norton”. Once upon a time we would have said its easy to use and has great protection, but that was a long, long, long time ago not today!

One reason why we don’t recommend Norton is because it is a jack of all trades and a master of none.

The current Norton program has the ability to do about 20 different things such as parental controls, email protection, and performance alerts.

Just looking at the features that Norton offers it may seem like a good deal but its unfortunately not. Many of the features that Norton offers are not as robust as they need to be and so they are simply attempting to do far to much. All of these extra features are more then the average computer user or business user actually needs, yes to much of a good thing is bad at times.

One of reasons why I don’t recommend Norton: 
It slows down computers way to much, in my opinion Norton has become bloated and has way to many things that in reality most people won’t ever use. What people really need is a good security suite and not a program that does 20 different things.

If you currently use Norton I suggest that you try and see what I’m talking about by removing the program (do not go online without internet security), once the program is removed you will see an incredible boost in speed and even after replacing Norton with another security program you computer will still be much faster.

The even bigger reason why I don’t recommend Norton:
I have seen far to many computers infected with viruses that have Norton protection on them. In fact over 70% of the machines we remove viruses from have Norton or McAfee installed. There is no point in paying $79.99  for  a security program  if you end up having to go and take your computer for a virus removal.

We Recommend a Multi -Layered Approach to system security encompassing of a Solid Anti Virus, a Good Anti Malware, and a dependable Anti-Spyware program combined with custom browser settings

Computer Repair and Virus removal in Baltimore County Maryland

Connected PC Solutions – Providing affordable computer repair since 1999 – http://www.BaltimorePCFix.com