Business IT – Formerly Nerd4Rent https://www.nerd4rent.com Local, Trusted, Reliable Technology Support for Your Home, Small Business, Home Office. Computer Setup, Networking, Virus Removal, Backup, Windows and Macs. Wed, 03 Jan 2018 17:36:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://www.nerd4rent.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/cropped-Logo-Cropped-for-Website-32x32.jpg Business IT – Formerly Nerd4Rent https://www.nerd4rent.com 32 32 Protect Yourself From Ransomware Attacks https://www.nerd4rent.com/protect-ransomware-attacks/ Tue, 14 Jun 2016 17:42:14 +0000 https://www.nerd4rent.com/?p=1299 Ransomware is a growing threat! Don’t be a victim. Our client Bill received an email with an invoice attached. He clicked on the invoice to open it and quickly bypassed a couple of warning pop-ups. Immediately, some malicious code contained Continue reading Protect Yourself From Ransomware Attacks

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Ransomware is a growing threat! Don’t be a victim.

Our client Bill received an email with an invoice attached. He clicked on the invoice to open it and quickly bypassed a couple of warning pop-ups. Immediately, some malicious code contained in the invoice file started encrypting all documents, PDF files, music and photos on his computer.

Worse, the code encrypted some files on his company’s server that he had access to, and looked for backup drives, and other computers on the network to attack.

Bill was a victim of ransomware. To see how Bill’s ransomware attack concluded, read on…

What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is malicious software that encrypts files on your computer, backup drives and network. After your files are encrypted with an UNBREAKABLE code, the criminals will ask for payment (ransom) to unlock your files.

The use of ransomware is increasing dramatically, because it’s profitable. There’s no way to know how much money the criminals are taking in, but even published accounts (a very small number of actual incidents), quote tens of millions of dollars of ransom paid in 2015.

According to FBI Cyber Division Assistant Director James Trainor, “There’s no one method or tool that will completely protect you or your organization from a ransomware attack. “But contingency and remediation planning is crucial to … recovery and continuity—and these plans should be tested regularly.”

How does ransomware infect computers?

1. Email attachment: This is the most common method. An email comes in with a legitimate-looking attachment, such as an invoice, fax, or photo. The user is tricked into clicking on the attachment and allowing a program to run.

2. Link to a malicious (or hacked legitimate) website. If your computer is using outdated software, the website will try to install the malicious software without your knowledge, by exploiting a known vulnerability in software like your browser, Java, Flash, etc.

FBI Cyber Division Assistant Director James Trainor, “These criminals have evolved over time and now bypass the need for an individual to click on a link. They do this by seeding legitimate websites with malicious code, taking advantage of unpatched software on end-user computers.”

How can I protect myself from ransomware?

1. The best defense is knowledge. Don’t click on any unverified email attachments.  This alone will stop most ransomware dead in its tracks. Don’t bypass macro security prompts.

2. Backup your files, both locally and online. If the ransomware encrypts your files AND your local backup, you can usually recover from online backup. One of the great features of most online backup services is that they save versions of your files. If the current version is encrypted, you can recover an older, unencrypted version.

3. Keep your operating system and other software updated. Many viruses and ransomware will exploit known vulnerabilities-most of which have been fixed with updated software.

4. Disconnect your backup drives when not is use. If the backup drive is connected when the ransomware hits, it will try to encrypt your backups.

5. Use several layers of malware protection. Anti-virus software alone (especially free versions) is not enough.

6. Use anti-malware software, like MalwareBytes, in conjunction with your anti-virus software.

7. Change your DNS servers. DNS servers like Open DNS will not allow your computer to connect to known malicious websites.

8.  Lock down your computer. Login with a standard user account, and create a password-protected Administrator account that you only use for installing software and administrative tasks. This will prevent most malicious software from installing.

9. Disable macros in documents that come through email or the Internet. Article about disabling macros.

How much money do the criminals demand?
The ransom varies, but we’ve mostly seen $300-$800 demanded.

If I pay the ransom, will I get my files back?
Sometimes. There are many cases where the ransom has been paid and no key is returned. Worse, the criminals require you to pay with untraceable currency, like Bitcoins, which are anonymous and charges can’t be disputed.

What should I do if my files get encrypted?
Try to restore your files from backup
Pay the ransom (not recommended).

According to FBI Cyber Division Assistant Director James Trainor, “The FBI doesn’t support paying a ransom in response to a ransomware attack. Said Trainor, “Paying a ransom doesn’t guarantee an organization that it will get its data back—we’ve seen cases where organizations never got a decryption key after having paid the ransom.

Paying a ransom not only emboldens current cyber criminals to target more organizations, it also offers an incentive for other criminals to get involved in this type of illegal activity. And finally, by paying a ransom, an organization might inadvertently be funding other illicit activity associated with criminals.

So what does the FBI recommend? As ransomware techniques and malware continue to evolve—and because it’s difficult to detect a ransomware compromise before it’s too late—organizations in particular should focus on two main areas:

  • Prevention efforts—both in both in terms of awareness training for employees and robust technical prevention controls; and
  • The creation of a solid business continuity plan in the event of a ransomware attack.

Home computers and Macs are vulnerable to ransomware
if you are a home computer user or a Mac user, all of the above applies to you.

According to FBI’s Trainor “…home computers are just as susceptible to ransomware, and the loss of access to personal and often irreplaceable items—including family photos, videos, and other data—can be devastating for individuals as well

Bill’s story-Continued from above
Bill called us, and we were able to eliminate the malicious code with some virus and anti-malware scans. Luckily for Bill, he had backed up SOME of his files, and we were able to restore them. The files that were not backed up were lost. Bill has since implemented online backup and does not click email attachments.

Resources
FBI Article about ransomware

CERT Article about disabling macros

Open DNS

MalwareBytes

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How To Protect Your Computer And Data From Viruses, Crashes And Other Problems https://www.nerd4rent.com/how-to-protect-your-computer-from-viruses-crashes-and-other-problems/ Fri, 06 Nov 2015 16:37:45 +0000 https://www.nerd4rent.com/?p=1207 Meet Anne. (not her real name). Anne runs a busy accounting office from her home.  She called in a sheer panic one April, because her hard drive died. Unfortunately for Anne, this happened just as tax filing season was near an Continue reading How To Protect Your Computer And Data From Viruses, Crashes And Other Problems

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Meet Anne. (not her real name). Anne runs a busy accounting office from her home.  She called in a sheer panic one April, because her hard drive died. Unfortunately for Anne, this happened just as tax filing season was near an end, and she was working literally around-the-clock to finish returns for her many clients. Luckily for Anne, she had taken our advice and had a USB hard drive with a recent image (clone), of her computer on it. We went to Anne’s home office with a replacement hard drive, and copied the image from her USB hard drive to the replacement hard drive. That took about 1.25 hours. When finished, Anne’s computer had all her files, all her applications, all settings, email, printers, wireless, bookmarks-everything just as before. She didn’t lose a thing!

Having that image saved Anne several hundred dollars in labor, along with many hours of downtime, and untold hours of re-work. To say Anne was happy and relieved would be a gross understatement. She was nearly in tears!

The Problem
Lots of things can happen to damage or break your computer. Whether it be a PC or a Mac, viruses, faulty updates, operating system upgrades (windows 10 upgrade issues anyone?…), electrical issues, even user error, to name just a few. When a serious issue occurs, the remedy is often a reinstallation of your Mac or PC operating system. This process requires several hours, on average, for a technical professional, and of course costs quite a bit of money. In the meantime, you don’t have access to your computer.

Another common issue is data corruption or loss. Your computer could be functional, but lose some or all of your files due to hard drive failure (even new hard drives fail sometimes!). If your computer was to die-right now-do you have a copy of all your important files, music, pictures? The vast majority of you would answer “no” to that question. While you can always replace or repair your computer, many files can’t be replaced-pictures, for example.

The Solution
There is an easy, inexpensive solution to this problem. Use imaging software to backup (clone) not only your files, but also your computer operating system, settings, and applications. Imaging software costs around $50, and a hard drive to backup your computer to costs anywhere from $99-$175 retail (often less).

So how does this solution work? Easy, just purchase Acronis True Image for PC or Mac, and a USB hard drive. Install Acronis and create a backup schedule, and Acronis boot disk. Acronis will copy your entire hard drive to the USB hard drive on schedule. If anything happens to your computer or data, you can simply restore the Acronis image in 30-90 minutes. The restored image will be an exact replica of your computer when you backed it up. You won’t need to setup or reinstall any software, or your files.

We use Acronis in our shop frequently. It has proven very valuable when a client has forgotten that they had some important file saved in an unusual location, and their hard drive had to be wiped clean.

Things to note
1. You can buy Acronis True Image from www.acronis.com, online retailers such as Amazon, or at your local electronics store. USB hard drives are available from online retailers and your local electronics store.
2. Buy a large USB hard drive. The more room you have on the drive, the more copies of your backup you can keep on it. This is helpful because you may not realize a problem has occurred for some time, and your recent backups might carry over the problem. Buy a 1-4 Terabyte hard drive for plenty of extra room.
3. Setting up Acronis is easy, but you must use care to select the correct backup options and schedule. You may want to hire an expert for this.
4. Your computer must be left on, or the backup will not work. Many computers are set to go to power-save (Sleep or Hibernate mode) after a period of inactivity. You may need to adjust or turn off the power-save settings during the backup schedule window.
5. I highly recommend that you create a bootable Acronis DVD. In the event that your computer won’t start, you can use this DVD to restore your computer to the last backup.
6. I always recommend that you have cloud backup in addition to a USB hard drive, to protect you from fire, water damage, theft, etc.

If you need help with your backup solution, please contact us at (925) 283-5666 or support@nerd4rent.com

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Should you upgrade to Windows 10? https://www.nerd4rent.com/should-you-upgrade-to-windows-10/ Thu, 23 Apr 2015 21:33:32 +0000 https://www.nerd4rent.com/?p=1119 Windows 10 is coming this Summer, and it includes some interesting and worthwhile changes. We believe most users should upgrade. Why? 1. The Start Menu is Back! One of the design changes that confused people the most was the elimination Continue reading Should you upgrade to Windows 10?

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Windows 10 is coming this Summer, and it includes some interesting and worthwhile changes. We believe most users should upgrade. Why?

1. The Start Menu is Back!
One of the design changes that confused people the most was the elimination of the Start menu. Microsoft replaced it with application tiles in Windows 8. Windows 10 will feature a Start menu that looks much the same as the one in Windows 7, along with some enhancements like the ability to resize portions of it, the ability to group Apps, and more.

2. The Upgrade is Free for the First Year
Most home and small business users will be able to upgrade from Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 at no cost for the first year. Microsoft is also promising to provide security updates and feature upgrades for the “expected life” of devices. We’re not sure what is meant by this exactly, but it appears that if you upgrade for free during the first year, you may get the next 1 or 2 versions of Windows for free as well.  Top my recollection, Microsoft has never offered free operating system upgrades before, and I doubt they will be offering them for long.

I wonder if this move is the start of subscription-based Windows software?

3. Cortana
You may have seen the ads for Windows Phones that feature Cortana (a software “helper” much like Apple’s Siri). Cortana is designed to help you search for information both on your computer and on the Internet. It goes much further than that though. In the ads, Cortana reminds the user that he should leave now if he is to make it to his appointment on time, and since today is his anniversary, it suggests that he stop along the way for flowers. Presumably, it will locate flower shops along the way and offer to direct him.

4. Spartan
Microsoft is releasing a new Internet browser called Spartan. It has cool new features, like the ability to “write and draw” on web pages, and save and share your comments.

5. Automatic Updates and Feature Enhancements
Microsoft will keep Windows up-to-date with security fixes AND feature enhancements. This will help reduce viruses and identity theft, and make sure Windows 10 users have the most current software.

6. Face and Fingerprint Authentication
Windows 8 will offer the ability to use your fingerprint, or your face instead of typing in a password. This feature, along with 2-factor authentication, could revolutionize security! For example, you could register your computer, phone and tablet (factor 1), then register your face, fingerprint or password, (factor 2). Participating software and websites (think Financial institutions, shopping sites, etc.) could require both factors to authenticate you. So your bank could require that you use a known device and your face, fingerprint or password, before allowing access to your online account. Such a system would really increase our safety and security over the current 1-factor systems in use today.

Disclaimer: The above information is believed to be correct, but is subject to change as Microsoft finalizes Windows 10.

For More Information
You can find out more about Windows 10 at Microsoft’s Windows 10 page
Cnet review of Windows 10

Happy Computing!

Edward Zeidan
CEO, Nerd4Rent

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End of Support for Windows XP and Office 2003 April 8th https://www.nerd4rent.com/end-support-windows-xp-office-2003-april-8th/ Wed, 12 Mar 2014 23:24:29 +0000 https://www.nerd4rent.com/?p=1000 What will you do when Support ends for Windows XP and Office 2003 on April 8th? And why you shouldn’t leave your computer exposed…. If you’re using a computer with Windows XP, we strongly suggest that you replace it by Continue reading End of Support for Windows XP and Office 2003 April 8th

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What will you do when Support ends for Windows XP and Office 2003 on April 8th?

And why you shouldn’t leave your computer exposed….

If you’re using a computer with Windows XP, we strongly suggest that you replace it by April 8th, 2014. Why? Because Microsoft will cease to support Windows XP starting April 9th. What does this mean? There will be no security updates for Windows XP.  There will be no bug fixes or enhancements. Most vendors have, or soon will stop providing support for XP.

Can I still use my Windows XP computer after April 8th? Yes, it will still work, but you are at a much greater risk of viruses and hackers. The biggest vulnerability is going to come from zero-day attacks. Those attacks are vulnerabilities exploited by hackers before your anti-virus software vendor has time to create protection for that attack. Other vulnerabilities that anti-virus software can’t protect against may be exploited and there won’t be any Microsoft updates created to block them.

Can I upgrade my Windows XP computer to Windows 7 or Windows 8? We do not recommend that you upgrade your computer. We suggest purchasing a new computer. Why? There is no direct upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7 or Windows 8. If you decide to upgrade, you have to upgrade to Windows Vista and then upgrade to Windows 7. Alternatively, you could clear all data and programs off your computer (wipe the hard drive) and install windows 7 or Windows 8—if your computer can support those operating systems. Upgrading is a bad idea because you’ll still end up with an older computer that will be more likely to suffer hardware failure as it ages. Most older computers don’t have the resources necessary to run Windows 7 and Windows 8 efficiently. Additionally, the cost to upgrade can cost as much or more than the cost of a new computer.

Support for Office 2003 is also ending on April 8th.  Office 2003 includes programs like Word 2003, Excel 2003, PowerPoint 2003, and Outlook 2003. If you are using Office 2003, we recommend that you upgrade to Office 2013, for the same reasons as above. Be aware that starting with Office 2007, the menus and icons are radically different and will require some time to learn.

We are offering some Windows XP migration specials to help you make the transition to a new computer. Please give us a call to discuss 925-283-5666.

CLICK TO CONTACT US NOW

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How to Replace LogMeIn Remote Computer Service https://www.nerd4rent.com/replace-logmein/ Wed, 22 Jan 2014 18:41:27 +0000 https://www.nerd4rent.com/?p=950 Logmein, a very popular service that allows you to access your computer remotely, has abruptly and without notice, discontinued their free service, leaving users hanging. If you are affected by this change, you can try other free services, such as Continue reading How to Replace LogMeIn Remote Computer Service

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Logmein, a very popular service that allows you to access your computer remotely, has abruptly and without notice, discontinued their free service, leaving users hanging.

If you are affected by this change, you can try other free services, such as Team Viewer. Alternatively, there are paid remote access services available  from gotomypc.com or other vendors.

If you need assistance transitioning to a new remote access service, please contact us.

Nerd4Rent

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Great App for Computers, Phone and Tablet Helps Keep Life in Order https://www.nerd4rent.com/great-app-for-computers-phone-and-tablet-helps-keep-life-in-order/ Mon, 29 Jul 2013 19:33:03 +0000 https://www.nerd4rent.com/?p=784 Great App for Computer, Phone and Tablet:  Evernote:  Nerd Rating: 5 stars Ever wanted a place to store all those little notes that get lost so easily? Let me introduce you to Evernote. Evernote is a free app that organizes all Continue reading Great App for Computers, Phone and Tablet Helps Keep Life in Order

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Great App for Computer, Phone and Tablet:  Evernote:  Nerd Rating: 5 stars

Ever wanted a place to store all those little notes that get lost so easily? Let me introduce you to Evernote. Evernote is a free app that organizes all kinds of information Evernote logointo notes and notebooks. These notes and notebooks are easily searchable. You can even add tags to make finding related notes easy.

Now you have a place for all those little notes, recipes, travel itineraries, to-do lists, and all the things you might jot down on a sticky note or scrap of paper. Better yet, you can search through those notes, and even organize related notes into notebooks. I have found Evernote to be an indispensable app for keeping my life in order.

Ever come across a webpage with information you want to refer to later? Evernote allows you to “clip” (save) webpages for later review. I really love this feature because I can keep a copy of the whole webpage, in many cases including graphics, instead of copying and pasting just part of the page -which often loses its formatting when pasted into another application.

Evernote has versions for your computer, tablet and smartphone. Changes, deletions and new notes are automatically synchronized between all your devices. Evernote offers a totally free basic version, a Premium version for $5 per month or $45 a year, and a business version for $10 per month per user, which is geared towards business collaboration and sharing.

Evernote also has specialized versions for food (Evernote Food), keeping track of people (Evernote Hello), a super people tracker for the NSA (just kidding), downloading online content for later viewing (Evernote Clearly), and studying (Evernote Peek)

Evernote can be installed from the App store, Google Play or www.evernote.com. This is a great app for computers.

About the Author:  Edward Zeidan, MBA, Founder and CEO, Nerd4Rent (ITworks)
Edward grew up in Oakland. He is a graduate of St. Mary’s College in Moraga and University of Phoenix. He started the predecessor to Nerd4Rent in 1984 and has owned and managed several businesses. Edward earned several advanced technical certifications including Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, Certified Technical Trainer and Certified Project Manager.

Edward Zeidan, MBA - Owner Nerd4Rent

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20 Questions To Ask Before Hiring A Computer Support Company https://www.nerd4rent.com/20-questions-to-ask-before-hiring-a-computer-support-company/ Sun, 14 Jul 2013 21:58:50 +0000 https://www.nerd4rent.com/?p=644 Don’t Choose An Inexperienced, Inept or Unscrupulous Computer Technician… Picking the right computer technician or computer support company is more important than many people realize. Not all computer technicians are the same. The best technicians have years of experience, are honest and Continue reading 20 Questions To Ask Before Hiring A Computer Support Company

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Don’t Choose An Inexperienced, Inept or Unscrupulous Computer Technician…

Picking the right computer technician or computer support company is more important than many people realize.

Not all computer technicians are the same. The best technicians have years of experience, are honest and ethical, have industry certifications, great people skills and employ best practices to protect your valuable information.

The wrong technician can lose your documents and pictures, screw up your computer or even commit a crime in your home or business.

20 Questions to Ask Before Hiring Any Computer Technician:
  1. Are you licensed by the California Bureau of Electronics and Appliance Repair?
  2. Do you have a Business License?
  3. Do you have Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
  4. Do you have Liability Insurance?
  5. How long has your company been in business?
  6. What are your future plans for your business?
  7. What’s the likelihood that your company will not be in business in 6 months? 1 year? 2 years? OR 5 years?
  8. How long have your been providing paid technical services full-time?
  9. How many full and part-time employees work for your company?
  10. Are your technicians employees or contractors?
  11. How long has each of your employees been providing paid technical services full-time?
  12. What percentage of your clients ask for re-work or are unhappy with your work?
  13. Do you hold any technical certifications?
  14. Do you offer a 100% no-risk money-back guarantee on all your services?
  15. Do you offer fixed-fee services?
  16. How long does it typically take to get service from you?
  17. Do you offer after-hours and weekend service?
  18. Do you have any references for your work?
  19. Do you screen ALL employees/contractors for criminal backgrounds/illegal drug use/driving history, etc?
  20. Do you have best practices to make sure you will not corrupt or lose my data?

If the company can’t answer ALL these questions call Nerd4Rent.  We offer a 100% no-risk guarantee on all services.  If you’re not satisfied with any service, just let us know within 14 days and we’ll do it over for free. If you’re still not satisfied we will refund your money. We also offer fixed-fee services so you know exactly what your service will cost ahead of time.  https://www.nerd4rent.com

 

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Should you lease computers for your business? https://www.nerd4rent.com/should-you-lease-computers-for-your-business/ Fri, 12 Jul 2013 17:10:46 +0000 https://www.nerd4rent.com/?p=555 If Technology fuels your business it is imperative that you have the most cutting edge equipment, even if you’re in start-up mode or a “fiercely independent entrepreneur” like Gay Gaddis, Founder and CEO of T3. We all know cost is Continue reading Should you lease computers for your business?

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If Technology fuels your business it is imperative that you have the most cutting edge equipment, even if you’re in start-up mode or a “fiercely independent entrepreneur” like Gay Gaddis, Founder and CEO of T3.

We all know cost is a consideration and to avoid any spikes in cash flow requirements you may ant toconsider leasing equipment, so your costs are spread evenly from month to month.

Here is some advice that to consider from Forbes Contributor Gay Gaddis:

Be prepared for a wholesale rollover.
It is best to go all or nothing and do a wholesale rollover. If you piecemeal this it becomes hard to keep up with refreshes. Get everything on the same timeline. At first we rolled the technology every third year, but now because equipment upgrades occur so frequently, we have shortened the terms to two years and found that the price difference is not significant.

Find a flexible leasing partner.
We have had several companies we have worked with since the 90’s, but for the last few years, we found a partner that was willing to offer the flexibility to make mid-lease decisions. This allows us to return or in some cases purchase equipment at a fair market value. This should be on a case by case basis as your needs evolve.

Watch for legal traps.
As in anything, really read and understand the fine print. We have found that there can be many traps in the legalese such as weird and unreasonable notification periods. For example, you can find yourself with only a few days before the lease expires to make a decision on returning or purchasing. But lessors are willing to negotiate on those terms if you request a change up front.

Nerd4Rent can help a business decide what the technology needs are for your individual business and help design an intelligent IT plan and ensure execution and management of business system needs.  We will also help set up computers for your business.

About Nerd4Rent:  We provide technical support to individuals, home offices and businesses in the San Francisco East Bay.  Our staff includes highly qualified trained technicians who are employed by Nerd4Rent, and not contracted.  All services come with our exclusive 100% no-risk money-back satisfaction guarantee.

We are the most trusted mobile support team in the Bay Area since 1984, and have served thousands of local residents and businesses.  We offer on-site and remote support.  Information and on-line appointment at www.nerd4rent.com

Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/gaygaddis/2013/07/11/leasing-your-technology-is-a-big-do/

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