Cyber Criminals looking for Ransomware “Kit”

Computer Security Firm Sophos have suggested that cyber criminals might be looking to produce Ransomware kits En Masse.

Ransomware is traditionally a piece of software that will lock down your computer and then charge you money for it to stop. It’s very hard to remove but it can be done by professional computer technicians.

It’s a form of extortion as people who are unaware of the intricacies of their computers will fall prey to this by installing software that they think is something else? An example of this is when people are trying to watch videos online and are prompted to download software to watch the videos.

These websites are malicious and are simply trying to get you download the software any means. Then, once the software is installed, it will take control of your computer and you won’t be able to use it.

They’ll then prompt you to visit a website and buy an anti virus or an unlock code or whatever they want to name it. Until you do this you won’t be able to use your computer.

The good news is that Tek Squad are experts in this type of removal as we’ve demonstrated with the infamous U Kash scam. This is one of the more prominent scams that has been in the news over the years.

These new “Ransomware Kits” are a bad sign then as anyone will be able to get one of these kits and install it on your computer. You’ll need to invest in some antivirus software to make sure you’re protected.

 

Is advancing of technology better or worse for computer repairs

Technology moves at an intimidating speed, and it can be very disconcerting to find that as soon as you’ve become proficient in a kind of standard software, that it’s been updated and you have to learn how to use all of the new features. You can see the speed of development just by thinking about the kind of computer games that were popular 5 years ago compared to now; games are more complex, graphics sharper, images more realistic, and there are systems that can detect your movements and record them as well. Most technology is moving at this speed even if it’s less obvious, including desktop computers and laptops.

Laptops were once baby computers and so whilst they were very mobile they were an additional piece of technology alongside a desktop computer. Mobile technology and internet is one of the fastest developing areas of technology, and so it is for this reason that a laptop is now a fundamental piece of technology, often able to do everything a desktop can. Desktop computers are now able to do more as standard, instead of only carrying out the most basic of functions, with anything more complex only being on the bigger more expensive computers. Processors are faster, memories are bigger, and there is much more choice available, but what does this mean for computer repairs? Does the additional complex nature of computers these days mean that computer repairs are harder and/or more expensive?

Not necessarily, because as computers have advanced, as has the usability; it is much harder to break your computer these days with the press of one button. Computers are designed for everyone these days, and so they are designed to be fool proof. They are also designed to be durable and so they are not nearly as fragile as they once were; screens are tougher and parts more protected, making it harder to break the exterior parts of a computer.

There are also more ways to protect your computer, specifically against viruses. There is free, easy to download virus protection software available on the internet, as well as affordable ones on a disk. You can keep your computer safe much more easily, eliminating the need for a repair to start with.

Computer repairs can be carried out by yourself more, due to the sheer amount of information out there. The internet is full of guides on how to fix simple issues with your computer or laptop, and there are literally hundreds of books as well as loads of short affordable courses.

The more elaborate nature of computers may make you think that repairs will be harder to carry out, but technology also gives you a helping hand.

Windows XP Support will End in April 2014

Windows XP was, in its day, the best operating system out there. It was speedy, safe, productive and seemed such a solid piece of software. In fact, in October almost a third of all computers were still using Windows XP.

As ubiquitous as it was loved, Windows XP has been one of the most popular Windows systems of our generation and will probably go down as one of the most well liked of all time.

When Windows Vista came out, which was meant to be a more advanced version of XP, it just didn’t cut it with Windows fans. Compared to the solidity, speed and security of XP Vista just didn’t work out.

Alas, technology moves on and Windows XP, despite being every inch as dependable and secure as it used to be, was eventually overtaken. It was Windows 7 that eventually took over from XP as the banner bearer of advanced operating systems.

Microsoft repaid their faithful fans with the speedy and responsive Windows 7 after the poor performance of Vista. Windows 7 became very easy to use, with such features as windows that “snap” i.e. fit exactly half of the screen if you move the windows to the left of the right.

It was the success of Windows 7 that really started to drive out Windows XP. With Windows 7 doing so well, less and less updates were released for XP and soon, will cease completely.

On the 8th of April 2014, the eldest member of the Windows Operating system will have it’s support system turned off. That’s not to say that XP will stop working, but support will be dropped for it.

So, if there was a widespread virus affecting XP computers, there would be no update from Microsoft to fix it. You could remove the virus, but your computer will forever remain vulnerable until you upgrade to Windows 7 or 8.

So make sure you upgrade your computer before April.

 

Common Printer Problems and Fix Tips

Despite the popularity of email, online document sharing and the means to send invoices, payments and correspondence online, there are still times when you want or need to print items, which is why a lot of people still have a printer. Printers are more advanced than the first kinds; they combine with faxes and scanners, and the quality of print you can achieve is better than ever. Despite advanced technology involved in printers these days, there are, as with everything, still problem and there are a number of common printer problems, and there are a number of them that you can overcome yourself with some simple fix tips.

 

It sounds so simple but to prevent issues in the first place read, and then hang onto, the instructions! Knowing how it works and how to carry out basic functions will always save you time. There are also usually a number of the most common issues explained at the back of the instructions and having these to hand can save you time. There will also be important information you will need on there.

 

One piece of information is the kind of ink and ink cartridge that your printer needs. The ink will run out at one point and so make sure that you buy the right one. Using the wrong kind of ink is a sure fire way of breaking your printer and once you’ve broken it in this way it needs a professional to fix it; an expense you could do without. Take the make and model with you to the place that you are buying the ink from, or better yet, those instructions with the information on.

 

Paper jams are a classic issue with printers also, and this is where the paper is stuck in the printer, and the pressed nature of the printer will make yanking the paper out a mission as well as potentially breaking the printer even more. To fix a paper jam first turn off the printer. You can then inspect the tray that the the printed paper falls in to. If you can see the paper that is stuck and it is quite far through, it may be possible to manually remove it gently. If not, open the printer door that give you access to the printer ink cartridges or toner and look for the stuck paper and again if the paper is visible then you can manually remove it. Then turn the printer back on. If haven’t been able to see paper, or it is not in an area where it is visible, it might be that your printer is experiencing a hardware problem. Contact the printer manufacturer for more help with repairing it.

 

Problems more complicated than you are able to understand or that you cannot find an answer to should always be referred to a professional computer repair individual or company to ensure that you don’t make any problem worse.  

Ideal computer set up for beginners

It’s true that the number of those that are trained and experienced in using computers is on the rise because of work training as well as the use of technology in schools and further education, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is completely confident with them. When faced with a new computer to set up, a lot of people are overwhelmed and worried about breaking it before even using it and decide to get help or pay for someone to do it. You don’t need to do this with a few simple steps and following the instructions.

First of all you need to make sure that you place your computer where you want it, as it will be harder to move when plugged in and set up. This should be a cool and well-ventilated area to ensure that your computer does not overheat and break. Once you’ve done this you should find your monitor cable. Connect one end of the cable to the monitor port on the back of the computer case, and the other end to the monitor. Tighten the plastic-covered screws on the monitor cable by hand to ensure that it is secure. If a cable won’t fit into a hole don’t force it, it’s clearly the wrong one.

Get out the keyboard to connect it to the computer. If it uses a USB connector, plug it into one of the many USB ports at the back of the computer, or if it uses a PS/2 connector, plug it into the keyboard port on the back of the computer, these are often purple. Then find your mouse, and do the same, except if it uses ad PS/2 connector the port to insert it into is usually green. If you have speakers of headphones, plug them into the audio plug at the back of the computer, which will be signposted.

At this point all you need to do is plug your computer in and start it up. Your computer will then most often give you instructions on how to continue, and any software you wish to install will have step by step installation guides as standard. At this point you will be up and running, and ready to learn how to use your computer.

How to determine if a laptop is stolen

It’s really important to ensure that if you are buying a laptop that is second hand, that it is not stolen. If you buy one and hand over money for it in good faith, if it is traced and found with you, not only could you be in trouble for handling stolen goods, but that laptop does not belong to you and will be returned to its rightful owner, and you will be out of pocket. Even if they find the person that stole it, it is unlikely that you will get all your money back, so whilst it might seem tempting to buy a laptop at a really good price when you have doubts, in the long term you are risking a lot.

There are a number of ways to check if a laptop is stolen or not, and it’s worth taking the time to check where you can. If anyone is pushing you to buy right away and discouraging you to carry out any checks then walk away, it’s a dead giveaway that they have something to find. First of all have a look at the serial number. It can be found on every laptop and is a unique ID for that laptop. They can be used to find out if a laptop has been reported as stolen, and you can do that by either contacting your local police or by visiting the manufacturers’ website. A lot of major laptop companies such as Dell have a database of stolen items which you can check that number against.

A lot of laptops are password protected, and it is possible to get these passwords unlocked by a professional, but if you are buying a laptop where someone doesn’t know the password and is selling it at a good price ‘to compensate the money you would have to spend on getting it unlocked’, don’t do it. If they had bought it from someone they would have got the passwords, and if it was theirs they would know it. There’s no good reason why they wouldn’t so walk away.

Another way is to look and see if there are any files or photos on there, and if so ask them some questions on them. If there’s a load of photos they are vague on or are obviously not a part of, again, walk away.

Precaution measures to take when outsourcing laptop repairs

The modern laptop is a great business tool, as these days you can carry out most of the functions that you can on a desktop computer but with the added bonus of being able to use them on the move. Choosing the right laptop, as with everything, is vital to ensure you can use it for everything you want to, but the effective running of it means regular maintenance. Even if you take all the precautions that you can such as virus prevention software and carry out regular cleaning both inside and out, your laptop will inevitably run into problems at one point and you will need to source a laptop repairs company unless you have someone in house trained to do so. Sourcing a company to fix something you don’t understand, and few people know the inner workings of their beloved laptops, can be intimidating in the same way as buying a car; how do I know if their taking advantage of my ignorance, so there are a few precautions to take when outsourcing laptop repairs:
Ask around for recommendations. Nothing beats first-hand experience and so even if this is your first time outsourcing laptop repairs, you may well know someone who does this already or has done in the past. Ask about companies they have tried, and get an idea of which you should consider and which you should avoid like the plague.

Get the person with the most knowledge of laptops and laptops repairs within your company, or even just someone you know and trust, to talk to companies you are considering. If they are ‘talking the talk’ and clearly understand what is being said, companies will feel much less able to try and full any sort of fast one with you, whether that’s including repairs that aren’t necessary or saying a job will take longer than it will.
Have a company lined up to carry out any laptop repairs in advance instead of waiting for a problem before finding one. This means that you will have more time to find a company you trust and feel comfortable as well as check for references, instead of being in a rush to find someone, anyone, to get your laptop going again; you won’t be held to ransom on time.

Common Computer Repair Tips

Almost everyone owns their own computers these days. As day follows night, the more computers you have, the more likely you are to experience a problem with one of them. A lot of people new to computing and computers can fear the worst as they have little experience with laptops and can think their device beyond repair.

Do not despair though, there are plenty of common computer repairs you can make yourself. These simple tips can help you repair your own laptop computer.

Turn your Computer Off and On again.

This is the oldest and by far the most effective way of applying a quick fix to your computer. If your computer is running slow and applications keep crashing, then restarting your computer could help. Reason being, when you restart your computer you restart everything. So if an application has crashed, causing your computer to run slow, this will also be restarted and your computer will be fine when you load it back up.

Run a Memory Test

A littler trickier to pull off but definitely worth it if you’re running into problems with your computer. Beware though, executing a memory test can take some time so make sure you have a cup of tea handy. To run a memory test open your start menu on Windows and search for “Diagnose Windows Memory Problems”. A window will pop up and you can run a memory test from there. You may need administrator access for this. This will then run tests on your Hard Drive and RAM modules. It should be able to fix most errors but if not then you could need a laptop repair.

If you’ve tried these common computer repair tips and still experiencing issues with your computer or laptop, Get in Touch.

Can you Only Get a Virus on Windows?

Whenever you’re embroiled in a debate about software, hardware, brands or any one of the myriad subjects of computers, there is one point that always seems to crop up.

“I don’t use Windows, I can’t get a virus.”

You might have heard this yourself from one of your friends who uses Linux of uses MacOSX. You might even have used the platforms yourself and it is indeed rare to hear of a machine running one of those pieces of software, encounter a virus.

But is it a virus? Do you need your laptop repaired? Or is it a false alarm and you simply need to restart your computer? Lets explore:

MacOSX

Pretty much all viruses and other malware is designed with Windows in mind. That’s because Windows enjoys a hefty market share, so there are a lot more computers you can infect with your software. As Windows has always retained a pretty straightforward system, before the revolutionary Windows 8, the structure hasn’t changed enough to discourage people who want to design malware from specifically targeting Windows.

In reality however, Macs have a host of security features that stop you from infecting yourself. For example, you will have to manually disable a security feature that stops you downloading suspect software, to download potential viruses. This is most common when downloading pirated material.

The main security feature of Macs is the App Store. Programs are apps just as much as apps are programs. The fact that Apple have added them all to their servers and verified them before letting them be downloaded from the app store ensures that no malicious software actually exists in the app store itself.

Macs also have a feature called Xprotect. This software application is present on macs to specifically monitor viruses and malware. It does this by having access to a constantly updated list of blacklisted software. If any of the software on the blacklist tries to be downloaded, then Xprotect will step in and stop it. A nifty feature.

Despite all these protective measures and the air of invulnerability, Macintosh computers can still get infected on a large scale. Up to 650,000 devices became infected by malware known as flashback. Proving that even if you do have a Mac, you aren’t invulnerable and could need a virus removing from your system.

Ransomware: What is it and how can you protect yourself from it!

malwareIf you are a regular internet user then it is more likely that you have come across this new type of malware which is called ransomware. The name is a big clue, ransomware is basically malicious software which holds you for ransom.

Take the Ukash virus for example, this is a common type of ransomware which has been causing havoc amongst internet users across the globe.

What this does is display a message on your computer which you cannot close stating that you have been looking at suspicious pages on the web such as terrorism activities.

It tries to intimidate users by posing as the FBI and demanding a fee from the user to unlock the computer and compensate from your apparent activities.

Please note that if you ever some across this type of ransomware, do not give any bank details as this is a scam and the FBI or any other authorities will ask you for money over the internet.

As you can probably tell it is malicious software which holds you for ransom, hence the name ransomware.

 

How to protect yourself from ransomware

Ransomware is becoming more and more advanced and this is causing more users to proceed with their goal and that is money.

So basically, ransomware is just a type of virus but with the aim of a lot more damage to the user, so how can we protect ourselves from this terrible activity.

It is vital to keep backing up your files and folders to a place where they cannot be overwritten or deleted. The prime location for this is an external hard drive or cloud storage.

It is important to do this as when infected by ransomware, it will have the ability to encrypted and delete whatever is on your system.

Backing up is the best process to do to prevent any data loss, schedule your backups every other day or when you have stored a lot of work on the system.

As with any other virus is it extremely to have a good anti virus on the system and keep regularly updating it along with browser and operating system updates.

If you do not update these when you should then this will open up gaps and make it easier for ransomware or any other type of malware for that matter to get through and infect you.

If you are not sure on any of the points made above, then do not hesitate to contact one of the technicians at Tek Squad and they will use their expertise to help you with whatever problem you have.