Blog

22 Feb

Microsoft Doesn’t Want To Talk To You

Don’t take it personally, but they really don’t want you to call.  Who does want you to call are online scammers that are trying to gain access to your computer.

Over the past two weeks, a few of our clients have been duped into “doing the right thing” by responding to a notification they receive on their computers, stating that a “serious problem” has occurred and that they need to call into Microsoft for assistance.

The above image is what a Windows “blue screen of death,” or BSOD, looks like.  When this happens, Windows is having a problem with a program, the computer, or maybe even itself.  Now this image..

.. was captured from a Windows PC that visited a web site and opened up a web page that mocked a BSOD closely, except for one important distinction: this warning wants you to call for help.

Once an end user calls the number displayed on the fake error message, the person on the other end of the line will walk you through the process of allowing them access to your PC and performing one (or more) of the following nefarious acts:

  • Install viruses in the hopes of getting the end-user to purchase either software or services to “clean” the PC
  • Install a trojan that monitors and reports private information back to the bad guys
  • Record user names and passwords in order to gain access to your other online services, such as email or online banking accounts
  • Encrypt and hold your data hostage in the hopes that you will pay a ransom

If you find yourself face to face with this “error,” or anything similar that asks you to call a number for assistance, go through the following steps:

  1. Close all browser windows until the “error” goes away
  2. Reboot your PC

The above steps should remove the “error” from memory and allow you to continue using your system normally.  If the “error” comes back on reboot, then you may have either already been infected or you may have a not-so-reputable program running that should be uninstalled and removed.

It is at this point where you can give US a call at 866-976-9136 for assistance in cleaning up your PC.  We’re not Microsoft and we do want to talk to you!

6 Feb

My Super Bowl Business Lesson

What a game Super Bowl LI turned out to be!

In the past, when it seemed that one team was going to dominate the other, by halftime I would have changed the channel or gone back to the snack table for thirds (Who am I kidding? Fourths and fifths 😉

This time was different, and I took away a huge business lesson from what I saw.

I saw the New England Patriot’s head coach, Bill Belichick, calmly take out a piece of paper and pencil and started taking notes on what he was seeing on the field. I saw the coach kneel in front of players sitting on the bench, talk to them, listen to them and take more notes.

Then after the halftime show, it was a slightly different game.

I say “slightly” different because both teams played great football in the first half. The Atlanta Falcons held the Patriots to a field goal and racked up 21 points with persistent gameplay on both sides of the ball. Unfortunately for the Falcons, Coach Belichick did three things before and after the half that led the Patriots to an overtime victory:

Study, Adjust, and Execute.

Coach Belichick didn’t get flustered that his team wasn’t winning or that his guys weren’t “doing their jobs” properly (because I’ve seen what he looks like when his guys aren’t doing their jobs!). He knew that something had to change in how his team was playing, so he studied what was going on, talked to his team, decided on adjustments that needed to be made and then executed.

Study, Adjust, and Execute.

I decided that when I’m faced with a business process that isn’t as good as it can be, a marketing campaign that isn’t getting the results I’m after or a lackluster sales outlook of my company’s products and services, the best response is to..

Study – Do the homework, observe what the competition is doing, note how the markets respond to my products and services, get with my team and then..

Adjust – Come up with a plan or series of steps to get the results that I’m after, and then..

Execute – Pull the trigger and do the work. Hopefully we will see a noticeable, measurable difference and if we don’t..

Study, Adjust, and Execute, over and over, until we get that sixth Super Bowl ring.

 

18 Dec

Why the Yahoo! Hack is a Big Deal

Last week I published a blog post that advised our friends and clients to ditch their Yahoo! accounts after it was announced that over a billion accounts had been hacked and user information was compromised.

Since this post I have received emails and direct messages asking for more information on how the hack could affect them personally and on a business level.  I thought it would be a good idea to share those questions and my answers with everyone below..

I have a Yahoo! account but I don’t really use it for anything.  Am I okay?

The biggest problem is not what was in the account, but your Yahoo! login credentials.  If you use the same user name and password for all of your online accounts (banking, shopping, social media), then deleting your Yahoo! account isn’t enough.  You need to go to those sites and change your password pronto.  The bad guys may one day use your Yahoo! credentials on other sites and then you’ll have a whole new mess on your hands.

Doesn’t AT&T use Yahoo! for email?

Yes, AT&T sure does.  If you access your email accounts with a web browser, look for a “Powered by Yahoo!” graphic at the top.  If you see that on your email portal, your account with a Yahoo! partner may have been compromised.

Is there anything else I need to do to protect myself?

Outside of changing your passwords on a regular basis, I would also recommend either implementing or changing your two-factor authentication information wherever you can.  2FA is an extra layer of security that requires not only a password and username but also something that only, and only, that user has on them, i.e. a piece of information only they should know.

Using a username and password together with a piece of information that only you know makes it harder for potential intruders to gain access and steal your personal data or identity.

15 Dec

Close Down Your Yahoo! Accounts NOW

Yahoo! just announced another hack on it’s systems where a whopping one billion accounts were hacked and user data was compromised.  Couple this discovery with 500 million Yahoo! accounts being hacked in September and you’ve got more than enough reason to ditch your Yahoo! account as soon as possible.

Following are hints and tips for Yahoo! account owners to ditch their current accounts and secure better methods of email communication…

  1. Before you delete your Yahoo! account, get rid of all the folders, emails and contacts and then delete the account.  As an alternative, you can open up a Gmail account instead or if you use your Yahoo! account for business, PCSDesk can assist with moving you over to a business email account.
    _
  2. Check to see if you have used your Yahoo! password with other sites.  If you have, access those other sites and change the security questions and passwords as soon as possible.  For example, if your Yahoo! email account name is “lastname@yahoo.com” and your bank login information is “lastname,” any hacker with access to your Yahoo! password will use it to log in to your bank account and other sites.
    _
  3. If you used a mobile phone number in association with your Yahoo! account and you still use that number, then SMS phishing (a.k.a. “Smishing“) is something you should be aware of.  Be aware!

If you need assistance in getting away from Yahoo! and onto a more secure emailing service, please drop us a line or give us a call at 866.976.9136 – we’re here to help.

29 Nov

Facebook Cloning Scam and How It Works

There is a new online scam going around and this time, a friend and customer of PCSDesk was targeted.  Please view the video below for more information on the Facebook Cloning Scam making the rounds and what you need to look out for..

3 Aug

Chrome and Firefox False-Positive Warning

It was brought to our attention this morning that Google Chrome and Firefox users who visit the PCSDesk Mail server site at http://mail.mypcsdesk.com are being warned that our mail server is a “deceptive site”..

deceptivesite

 

Both Google and Firefox use the same reputation system, so the warning appears when using either browser.

This is a false-positive on behalf of the reputation system and the matter has been submitted for review and resolution.  Hopefully this condition will resolve itself in the next 24 hours.

In the meantime, feel free to use any of the following work-arounds:

  1. Use Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge browsers
  2. In Chrome, select Details and then select “visit this unsafe site.”
  3. In Firefox, select “Ignore this Warning”

All apologies for the inconvenience and check in on this blog post for further updates.

3 Jun

TeamViewer Potential Hack

tvIn the past 24 hours, users who utilize the remote computer control service TeamViewer have been complaining about their PCs, Macs and servers being taken over by unknown parties.  It appears that miscreants gained control of the victims’ TeamViewer web accounts and used those to connect to computers, seize the end-users web browsers to empty PayPal accounts, access web mail and order items on Amazon and eBay.

What To Do

If you use TeamViewer to access your work or home systems, please perform the following steps in the following order:
Check To See If Your Account Was Accessed

  • Log into the TeamViewer Management Console web site here: https://login.teamviewer.com/nav/home
  • In the upper-right hand corner, click on your user name and select “Edit Profile”
  • Select “Active Logins” to see a listing of recent sessions where your account was accessed

Change Your TeamViewer Password (whether you’ve been compromised or not)

  • From the “Active Logins” selection mentioned above, select the link entitled “General”
  • Select the “Change password” link to change your password

As always, if you need assistance with any of the above, please either give us a call at 866-976-9136 or drop us a line via our web site.  We’re here to help.

24 May

4 Things To Consider Before Upgrading to Windows 10

88aefce8-c6e9-42e2-8b77-e612179319a1Even though PCSDesk can provide assistance in upgrading your personal and business-class systems to Windows 10, there are some who are hesitant to pull the upgrade trigger.  This type of thinking is understandable and they’re not wrong: an upgrade to Windows 10 can change how users work with their systems and how they get things done.

In speaking with clients regarding this subject, we’ve come up with a list of “points to consider” when planning for (or preventing) this upgrade.

  • Question: Will Windows 10 work with my hardware?
    Answer: More than likely, yes
    Long Answer: We won’t know until we try.  The Windows 10 installer does a pretty good job of vetting a system before the upgrade process moves forward; however, there are some older Windows 7 systems where graphic cards and certain CPUs aren’t compatible and an upgrade won’t be possible..
  • Question: I’m running Windows 8/8.1 – should I upgrade?
    Answer: Yes
    Long Answer: Yes.  Windows 10 runs better than Windows 8/8.1 and if you’re used to using Windows 8/8.1, you’ll slide right into using Windows 10.
  • Question: My office uses specialized programs in order to do business. Should I upgrade to Windows 10?
    Answer: Ask your software vendors
    Long Answer: PCSDesk would be happy to investigate and ask your vendors if their software works with Windows 10.  As of this writing, we are seeing a 50/50 split of software vendors that support Windows 10 and others that flat-out reject it.  Keep in mind that these vendors will update their software soon, because Microsoft will drop support for 7/8/8.1 whether the vendors like it or not.  “Microsoft leads those who will, and those who will not, it drags.”
  • Question: My system is less than 2 years old and it came with Windows 7/8/8.1.  Should I upgrade?
    Answer: Yes
    Long Answer: Yes, again.  If you have a newer system with one of these operating systems on it, chances are that your hardware is compatible with Windows 10.  The other thing to consider is that Microsoft will end support for Windows 7 on January 14, 2020.  Does that sound like a ways away?  It’s not – it’s 3 and a half years off! If you’re wanting to get 3 or more years of use out of your current system, upgrade to Windows 10.  If you plan on replacing your system in the next 1-3 years, don’t bother with an upgrade.  Anything new you get after July 29th of this year (when the free upgrade offer expires) will already have Windows 10 on it.

Hopefully the above points help in coming to a decision regarding a move to Windows 10 on your computer and your business network.  As always, if you have questions or need further assistance, we’re ready to help.

22 Apr

Scam Alert – Prince Last Words On Video

Yesterday, news broke that Prince Rogers Nelson was found dead in his home in Minneapolis at age 57. He was found unresponsive in an elevator and was declared dead shortly after. Internet criminals are going to exploit this celebrity death in a number of ways, so be careful with anything related to Price’s death: emails, attachments, any social media (especially Facebook), texts on your phone, anything. There will be a number of scams related to this, so Think Before You Click!

Also, with the recent earthquakes in Ecuador and Japan, there are charity scams sticking up their ugly heads. If you want to make donations, go to your favorite charity by opening your browser and type their link in the address bar. Do not click on any links in emails.

23 Feb

“THE” Hammer Versus “A” Hammer

The idea of technology offering something more than plain functionality infiltrated the office a few years ago. Just over 40 percent of employees say having the latest and greatest technology is very important to them.

Using THE hammer is now more important than using A hammer when it comes to Information Technology in the workplace.  Click here to read more to know more about this trend..