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.

Have You Tried Turning It Off and On Again? Why does this work?

Have you tried turning it off and on again?We hear this solution every day and it’s usually one of the most common and effective solutions for a user who’s device has picked up a little bug. This isn’t going to rework your entire system proving that fresh out of the box feel that our [enter service here] does. But any minor glitches or problems you’re having with your computer can usually be fixed with this trick. But why and how does it work? See below for your answers.

First of all, this fix doesn’t apply just to Windows computers either. It also works with Macs, iPads, Smartphone and a host of other electrical devices.

Examples of how this Fix Works:

> Windows/Mac OSX/Android is running slow: Tech Savvy people will be able to open up each operating system’s task manager or equivalent, and examine which processes are misbehaving. Unfortunately not everyone knows what to look for when opening up task manager, so they’re stuck.

> A program is draining memory: This can quite commonly be because of a software or a hardware error. It’s more often than not a piece of software that’s somehow got stuck when writing code or encountered something it didn’t expect. As this piece of software cannot continue it’s functions, memory will continue to be sent to it even though it is stuck. This memory cannot then be used and you have less memory to run your other programs.

> Wifi/Internet is running slow: This is also more often than not a software problem. The internet is a pretty complicated thing and your router has to tackle it head on. Most cases arise because of some kind of conflict/error with the software that causes it to run slow or even stop completely.

These three errors can all be cured by the resetting of each device. This is because each process finds itself reset on a reboot. So for the first example, the OS process would start again and wouldn’t be stuck with and error. This is the same thing for the second issue and with the router, well that’s got it’s own operating system so it’s a fresh start without any current errors on it.

 

Remote IT Support: How to prepare for remote access to your desktop

In the past IT support companies would have to use over the phone contact with clients. This technique only frustrated the clients but also there was more of a risk of them clicking the wrong buttons and a lot of miscommunication occurred.

Those days are dead and buried no more frustration or miscommunication, this is down to remote programs. The most recommended program is TeamViewer.

This remote program is widely used by IT support companies due to it’s user friendly and easy to set up interface. It is also compatible with all desktop operating systems and even on some smart phones.

teamviewer

What do I need to do?

Well customers who wish to gain remote IT support simply have to download the TeamViewer application which is free online first before the other computer or laptop connects. After the software has been downloaded, follow the installer wizard.

This is a simple step by step process if you struggle with this then simply ring the company who is carrying out the support and they will guide you through the installation process. During this you will have to create a username and password to login to TeamViewer.

After this step select next and then the next step will come up asking you to put in the details you have just created, after they have been submitted then you have finished the installation!

Before we authorise any access to your desktop it is crucial that you close down any private or important programs, files, images, basically anything you do not want to be seen by the technician.

Now most probably the technician on the other end will most probably already have the software installed. For the technician to connect to your desktop he will need the ID number and password which will have been given to you on start-up of the program.

Once the technician enters these details on their side, you will then be connected. Ensure you keep your system open if you have a laptop as any power activity on your side could lose connection to the technician.

Here at Tek Squad we use this remote access regularly and it delivers results with a lot more ease and versatility.

Which Anti Virus Should I Use Now that Microsoft Security isn’t Recommended?

Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) has long been at the forefront of computer security, but now Microsoft is recommending you to use a third-party anti-virus software, so which one should you use?

Lets start with looking at why Microsoft Security essentials is no longer recommended. There once was a time when all you needed for your computer to be secure was simply Microsoft Security Essentials. However some of us still had other antivirus’ and malware protection to be double sure. It was an easy to use program, came ready made within windows and had an excellent virus checker, Windows Defender. WD was an excellent tool and scanned for viruses, spyware and malware all in the same search. It was quick, efficient and free!

But it seemed that after a very high score in a virus and malware detection test in 2009, that they sort of stopped development in favour of keeping MSE ticking over. It still performed well, but not as well as the rest of the competition and since then has slipped. Microsofts reasoning against this at first was that it was an “unfair test”, but has since now decided to advise people to procure a third party Antivirus. So which one should you use?

There area number of great third party anti-viruses out there but here are our favourites:

> AVG. One of the best and powerful antivirus’ out there. There is a paid version but you should be ok with the free version.

> Avast! Another antivirus in the same league as AVG. Power, great, free.

> ClamWin. A lesser known anti-virus but can definitely keep you secure.

Any of these can greatly help you out. So will you be using one? If so, which one?

Windows 8.1: What you need to know with the new operating system

If you have not heard the successor to Windows 8 is being rolled out this month. Microsoft announced that the updated version of windows 8 will roll out to windows users for free on the 17th October via windows update. It will be available to purchase in retail the following day.

In all fairness Windows 8 hasn’t been a great success as what windows 7 was hence why Microsoft have made improvements people have been asking for just a year later.

What can we expect from Windows 8.1?

Microsoft found out that many windows users were using family photos as their lock screen so a feature they have included in 8.1 is a picture frame which can be a slide show of images.

windows 8.1

When on the desktop of your system the layout can be customised a lot more to suit your needs. You can choose from a range of tiles and colours to suit what’s best for you and the other users.

Microsoft have introduced this feature due to the amount of difficult people were having with the interface.

The big news of course is that they are bringing back the start button! This has come as great news for frequent windows users as again it became very hard to navigate on the interface due to the fact that the start button has played a big part in windows operating systems for years and years.

The start button and me menu for that fact have both had a new design, more of a modernised look.

Searching on Windows 8.1

Instead of searching in the little box like we did with windows 7, 8.1 now has integrated Bing to power searches not only on the web but also your files and folders on the system ensuring fast and accurate searches.

Summary

Credit to Microsoft they have taken in all the feedback from customers and done their best to go back and develop a more user friendly operating system suitable for everyone.

I still think that this operating system would benefit tablet devices and smart phones more because the layout can be controlled more by touch screen.

Simple Tips: The basic security tools you need for Windows

windowsThis post is all about keeping it simple when keeping your windows system secure. The reason behind this is Windows makes out to be more complex than it actually is and it can put of users.

There are also a number of alternative security tools and software which could have the same effect and putting you at risk if not configured properly

These following tools are all user friendly and will do exactly what they were developed to do and that is keeping your system safe.

The very first thing you need is anti-virus software and that is a must even on Windows (which is known to be the most secure operating system).

You can be compromised with pretty much anything theses days including plugins, add-ons and/or a web browser itself.

I am not saying that every anti-virus is perfect because they are not but it is choosing the correct one and regularly updating it which is key.

Windows has a default anti-virus installed which is included in the Microsoft Security Essentials, this is free and easy to use but does not get the best ratings from many Windows users.

The best anti-virus I would recommend for Windows is Avast, it is light, easy to use and has all of the security essentials to keep you protected.

The best part of it all is that Avast is a free anti-virus so instead of paying hundreds and hundreds of dollars for a paid anti-virus you can get this free one which does just about a better job.

 

Back Ups

Back up software is essential also when owning a system as you need to make regular back ups to prevent loss of data. To be honest you do not need additional software for backing up on Windows as the default tool does the job perfectly.

You use the step by step wizard which is extremely user friendly and back up all your data onto an external hard drive.

The only time you would need to use additional storage is if that you are considering a cloud storage solution such as Dropbox and Google Drive.

Cloud storage can be used for that extra bit of security for your personal files as anybody can misplace an external hard drive or it can become corrupt.

Tips For Beginners: What is CCleaner and what does it do

ccleanerAlmost every Windows user has heard of CCleaner software but if you haven’t don’t worry because here at Tek Squad we are going to tell you everything you need to know!

CCleaner is a utility software for Windows which basically cleans up the windows registry of your system. The software deletes potential unwanted files within your registry which reduces the risk of malicious programs and code from entering the system.

Another clever feature it uses is it also deletes your private data like browsing history and logs of recently opened programs and files which clears up more space.

A good description of CCleaner is that it is basically a more advanced version of Windows very own disk clean up which does the same thing, freeing up hard drive space and improving performance of your laptop or computer.

The only problem with Disk Cleaner is that it has a limit of what browsers it can clear data and cache from. Internet Explorer is the only browser which is fully compatible with all of the disk cleaners features.

If you install new drivers for a HD graphics card for example which takes up a lot of installation space, then it brings a lot of junk files along with it and with these high numbers of third party programs & files windows disk cleaner will not touch these kinds of files or programs, whereas CCleaner will.

Another great feature that comes with CCleaner is that it gives you a lot more range when choosing what files, folders and programs you wish to clean up. In summary CCleaner is the program which has no limit of cleaning your system unlike the default Windows disk cleaner.

 

CCleaner reviews

Having a look at peoples reviews online they are pretty much saying the same thing. CCleaner is a small, fast and an efficient piece of software which is user friendly and does the job it was developed to do.

I couldn’t agree more as I have used this program on a number of occasions and this is exactly the way I would describe it. So if you are thinking about using CCleaner and you have any questions, ring the guys at Tek Squad and they will do there upmost best to assist you with anything you need.

Windows 8 Pros and Cons

windows 8As with any new launch, there were those that loved Windows 8 and those that hated it. Every new release has it’s bugs but most of the time it’s just a matter of getting used to a new system; some of the things that you used to do on autopilot will no longer work in the same way, so you will have to reprogram yourself a little to use the new system.

This aside, what are the pros and cons of Windows 8? Here are some of the pros:

  • Faster – It claims to be the fastest version of Windows yet and certainly lives up to that claim, both in general use and in functions such as boot time. Functions that used to take several minutes can now be carried out in a matter of seconds.
  • Better memory management – Windows 8 has a much better memory management system that benefits apps and the operating system generally. This is especially good news for people with laptops and tablets for apps, and great news for those with desktop computers that want to run more programs.
  • Better recovery options – In case of any problems with it, it is much easier to restore a computer back to its original settings, which is good for those needing to fix their laptop or computer or refurbishing computers.
  • More energy efficient – Windows 8’s improved power efficiency will also see laptops last longer. There is also an additional ‘connected standby’ mode that allows certain applications to receive updates even while it’s is technically ‘asleep’.
  • Consistency for all devices – If you like Windows and want to use it on all devices including tablets it is now possible to use it across the board.
  • Price – Instead of it costing hundreds of pounds they have now made Windows much more affordable with Windows 8.

There are a few cons of Windows 8:

  • No ‘Start’ menu – For those of us that have been using Windows for a while this can make starting up feel very unfamiliar and awkward.
  • Windows 7 will still ‘do.’ – Unless it is mandatory it can be very hard to get motivated to change from what you know. The fact that nearly everything still works on Windows 7 might make people less inclined to make the switch.

Windows XP: The end of the road

windowsThe day is finally here, the end of Windows XP. Microsoft have announced that there popular operating system will no longer be supported by themselves. The main reasons behind this is that it is an old operating system, a decade for that matter and it doesn’t support modern day hardware and is no where near as secure as the up to date operating systems.

Where did Windows XP start?

Microsoft originally released XP in August 2001 and it became available to people 2 months later. 12 years ago, now that is a long time when you see how the technology world has advanced since then. It immediately became popular with computer users and still to this very day people still use XP, which means some people will be sad to see the operating system go.

It’s so called successor Windows Vista didn’t actually succeed as people preferred XP, even though Microsoft stated that it was an upgrade. XP had been the most popular operating system for a good decade and to be fair it has had its run.

What next?

You can still use your Windows XP operating system but it will be insecure and prone to malicious attacks. The best and safest option will be to use Windows 7 or if you are feeling ambitious the recently updated Windows 8. Windows 7 is contracted to be supported by Microsoft until 2020 so that is going nowhere any time soon.

These are the most recent operating systems by Microsoft and in all honesty windows 7 is the most popular operating system out today. It has advanced security measures and most importantly a UAC (User Account Control) which is a facility XP did not have. Which is vital for users to manage different accounts.

Windows is easily accessible to buy from many online retailers such as Amazon although many PC shops do not sell the boxed versions of the operating system.

Overall it is time to stop living in the past and upgrade to the future, unfortunately this is going to be for the foreseeable future. As hardware advances, then so will software to support it.

Browsing the web: How to speed up your web browsing experience

browsing the webIn today’s technological world, we have high speed internet and high speed laptops and computers but sometimes this doesn’t effect the speed in which your browse the internet. We all hate slow processes especially if you are in the place of work or even worse travelling. You can prevent slow internet browsing by adjusting your browser settings.

One of the biggest causes of slow browsing is it having to deal with congested processes. Make sure to keep tabs you need open and tabs you don’t need closed and this could save your system and browser memory and can speed up both.

Also Adobe Acrobat, yes it is a great program to use to read large file sizes but takes up a lot of memory causing your system or browser to crash. The solution to this would be to upload the file to Google Docs or simply to your Gmail address and from these places you can view the file as html so you won’t need Acrobat.

If slow speed of your browser is a consistent problem, then the quick fix would be try and use a different one. Yes the most common are Google Chrome and Firefox but these are not technically the fastest.

Research online for a variety of speed tests which people have carried out on the most popular web browsers and guaranteed the results will shock you. In fact the two fastest web browsers are Opera and Safari.

Another measure you could take is to go through all of your extensions and add-ons and delete the ones you do not use as these use extra memory and processes. One good add on to have is ad blocker and flash block, this infact can speed up your web browsing experience by processing the flash and java script a lot quicker. This will give you a smooth flow of processes to make their job easier.

Another useful tips is to configure your web browsers cache settings. If you wish to keep your cache then you can up the limit of your cache storage which can create more space or the easier option would be deleting all of your web cache and history.

Auto saving and filling are another technique you can use as the browser will do the work for you when filling out contact forms, emails etc… What this does is use the stored cache and recalls the relevant information and this uses less memory and processes than filling it in all yourself!