The Wired Office Blog

 

why is some software free?

freesoftware

I get asked all the time, why is it free? Is it any good? There are thousands of free programs out there, some you can download without joining up or logging in. The most obvious answer to the why is it free question is because it is crap software that no one would pay to download, or it is software deployed as deception to download the real payload by stealth, such as spyware, registry cleaners, or general junkware otherwise known as potentially unwanted programs or PUP’s.

But there are some excellent and really useful free programs such as display¬†fusion’s free version of the multiple monitor software. In this case you can see there is a pro version and the free version is the upgrade path. The internet’s version of the two dollar shoes out front of the shoe shop. This is also true of many antivirus or malware programs. Some software is free because it falls into the realm of economically nonviable. It might be ok and kind of useful but these days it would need to be very essential for someone to splurge yet another computing expense. The biggest ever rort is paying for an antivirus when Windows 10 has the free Defender built in. None of them work all the time for various strains of malware as we have seen with cryptolocker and ransonware criminal theftware.

My advice, and I do practice everything I preach, is to keep third party software to an absolute minimum. The more programs you have running the more chance you will have of outdated software or drivers ruining your day, hogging your system with little to show for all the effort. System cleaners, registry cleaners and the like are examples of this. They might clear out the files you need later for a clean uninstall, or clear out files your system looks for in the future.

 
 
 

is your gmail hacked? How to get access again.

google_mobile_apps

emails accounts like gmail are used by small business and professionals as a quick and easy (free) email service but there’s a catch. If you get hacked there’s no one to call, you are out in the cold and left to your own resources.

Hacking is mostly not really about hacking, but guessing your password. We see passwords all the time that look like this:

abc1234

password

and so on. If you are running a business off this free email system you should be prepared for a disaster or you might never see your email again.

To mitigate the risk:

  1. associate a mobile phone number with your account
  2. if you are trying to regain access to a lost or hacked account it seems you should be doing this from the same computer you usually log in with, otherwise flags are raised and it will be more difficult.
  3. setup a secondary email address in your account, though if your account is hacked this might be changed.
  4. set up strong passwords, not the name of your cat you talk about on your social profiles.

You can also setup gmail to use offline so if you do get hacked you will have access to old emails. Follow the steps in this support article.

https://support.google.com/mail/answer/1306849?hl=en

 

 
 
 

How to keep backups safe from malware

img_5327

The worst of malware doing the rounds is so-called ransomare, locky, cryptolocker, rogue or fake antivirus, with new variations popping up often. It is installed covertly on the machine and may first attack your antivirus programs to avoid detection. The likelihood of detection is reduced due to the malware’s attack vectors and its sophistication. Modern antivirus programs are often found on computers with this type of active malware.

We are seeing more recent variations of this virus which bypass the ransom payload,  its purpose can also be to steal banking information, credit card details, or identity. The ransomware version may lock (encrypt) your files or even attack the MFT (master file table) which locks you out of your drive. This is the point where you can say goodbye to your data.

img_5328

 

Protecting your backup from nasty malware.

If you are backing up your files to any medium that backup will be at risk of the same data encryption described above. If you are a small business, a home office, or just a home user with precious family photos, you need to make sure you are using best practice to prevent the cryptolocker virus from infecting your backup. We now offer this service by safe, remote login to your computer.

Call today to get industry best practice backup mitigation for home or small office, small business.

 

 
 
 

Removing Browser redirect hijacks (solved!)

 

redirect-hijack

example of a browser hijack with spyware

You will know it if you have a browser redirect virus, also known as the google redirect virus or malware. The various iterations of the dreaded browser hijack or redirect removal solution is a mystery to many on internet forums. It’s nasty and resists every attempt at removal. It is invisble, undetectable by all the malware scanners and antivirus programs including Norton’s Powerful Eraser tool, bitdefender speciality tools, eset’s usually very efficient scanner in ramdisk, in fact just about everything.

We had a business client with this infection and after struggling to remove it, we decided to persevere until we found the mechanism and methods to remove it. Unfortunately, it seems each variant or type of this infection has it own methods to provide a successful removal. There is no single access point to remove it.

But good news! We offer an online (remote access) service to remove this, along with all the other bugs on your computer. If you are anywhere in Australia call or email to arrange a good time for us to log in for you.

wiredoffice.com.au has been providing trusted service for over 15 years and is a Microsoft registered partner, and a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP).

 
 
 

What to do when you have a lock screen or ransomware

fake lock screen

example of fake lockscreen

Tech support scams and ransomware lockout screens can be delivered by fake emails (phishing emails), hijacked ads on display networks, downloads of programs with names like free antivirus, speed up my computer, and so on. Ransomware can encrypt your files with 128bit encryption.

Any files and folders that are encrypted are gone, at least until computer science find a way to decrypt any time soon. This is not likely because the malware uses standard encryption methods.

If you have the lock screen in place furious clicking to try to remove it will be in vain and make matters worse.

fake Windows screen ransomware

fake Windows alert screen

If you are in our local area in northern beaches of Perth bring your PC or laptop in to us.

  1. remove any ethernet (the blue network cable) cable to disconnect from the internet
  2. do a hard shutdown by holding the start button down fully for several seconds or until the machine shuts down completely.
  3. bring your machine in to our Duncraig workshop
  4. if you are located elsewhere in Australia we can log in remotely to disable the lockscreen and remove the infection.

Every attempt you make to remove the lock screen or scan for the bug will further embed the virus. This particular malware type is also able to install stealth keyloggers to search for passwords, identity and financial information. It can hide in your system and relaunch at a later date if not removed now.

Call us for a remote support session or call to bring your machine in.

 

 
 
 

internet for three storey homes or outbuildings

av1200

Larger homes or buildings can have a problem getting the wifi or ethernet to reach, upstairs, downstairs, around corners, into a purpose built office in the garage. There has been a couple of solutions around now for a very long time, but all of them have a high potential for problems. One of them is the range extender devices which seem to cause people the most grief, ok when running well but dropouts and lost connections are common. Another solution that has been around since the year 2000 is power over ethernet (POE). †A common problem with these devices was they were not very well made and white noise over the power lines caused frequent dropouts or lost connections.

A new model POE from TP Link, the AV1200, claims to have resolved the noise issues and deliver blistering speed – dependant on your existing connection speeds. For the technically minded or sparkys here are some interesting specs.

  • Perfect for Bandwidth Demanding Activities
  • Line-Neutral/Line-Ground 2 x 2 MIMO with Beamforming
  • Gigabit Port for Ultra-fast Datasheet Transfer
  • Plug and Play,No Configuration Required

For our Perth northern beaches customers we offer an onsite service to set these up for you, or order a set and DIY.

 
 
 

itunes assembly error after Windows 10 upgrade

itunes-error

 

Microsoft is certainly pushing out Windows 10 with zeal and good thing too because now new development can standardise for the new OS. But the problems we are seeing walk in the door are not the problems of Microsoft, but users who do not understand that systems should be prepared for a major OS upgrade.

One of these problems is the itunes installer will not work on some older laptops or desktop computers. Fear not, as always we have the answers and offer this as a service via online remote access, bring it in for same day/overnight service, or we can visit you in Western Australia.

Call us for all your online computer help issues.

 
 
 

How to Backup ipad and iphone photos and avoid the storage dramas

qnap

The hot topic at the moment is how to backup my ipad or iphone photos. There’s limited storage on ipads and iphones and those photos and family videos can grow out of control in no time. You can back them up to a PC of course but these days not everyone has a PC at home, preferring to use tablets and ipads. Also it is an inconvenience to plug your ipad into the laptop, open itunes and configure what you want synced to itunes and what you want stored. This is not a safe backup for irreplacable family photos because a drive in a PC or laptop offers no redundancy. It is also something people get into the habit of putting off, until the day you find you have 5% space left on the ipad and it’s time to panic. Are you relying on icloud to backup your photos? Remember icloud is a photo streaming service with limitations. It only backs up the last 1000 photos, these days people have much more. Videos are not backed up in icloud. icloud also states in its disclaimers that photos in photo stream will be deleted after a given time. If you want a reliable, safe backup you will need more than icloud.

Qnap and The Internet of Things (IOT)

internet-of-things

Qnap is a network attached storage solution for home and SOHO users. This NAS system has many functions as part of its commitment to the coming IOT environment. It offers a range of apps in android or IOs to backup IOs device photos and store them in a protected RAID array on the NAS (if one of the multiple drives fail it will alert you and you simply replace the failing drive), there is an app for viewing your photos via direct streaming, keeping your ipad free of space hogs like photos and music. As part of the IOT you can run security cameras, upload to an FTP server to keep security images safe. You can use the device as an entertainment center on your TV.

No PC or laptop at home? The QManager app lets control the device from your ipad or iphone. The Qnap range has too many features to mention here and is one of our preferred NAS solutions. Call or email today for pricing and answers to your questions.

 
 
 

10mbharddrive

 

Among the first drives and printers we started selling back in the day was the impressive 10mb capacity hard drive. Imagine, you can store about 20 photos from your digital camera or about 200 Word docs.

Before drives were produced for the mass global market they were outrageously expensive. Solid state drives have been notoriously expensive but certain mass produced brands have dropped considerably in recent years making the transition to SSD a worthwhile thing to do for the sake of performance, fast startup, and smooth seamless interaction.

When you have used a SSD on your computer or laptop you would never go back to the dinosaur age of drives. On our new desktop computer builds we use good quality and low price point, value for money SSD’s, integrated with new technology storage to keep your important stuff away from the SSD.

For a new desktop computer with performance that makes computing a joy again (instead of a drag), or to upgrade your laptop drive to SSD, give us a call today in Perth WA.

 
 
 

Fake Tech support Scams in 2016 and How to Deal with them

fake

 

Fake tech support or online technical support scams is something we are going to be seeing a lot more of in 2016. Why? Because they have just about mastered the art of fake online technical support. Here’s how they work and here’s how they fool everyday computer users and small business into believing they are legit.

A friend was on her home computer when she got a pop up alert, like the one seen above. She rang me and said it looks so real. What also helps with this illusion is the 1800 number which is also fake. When you ring this number it diverts to another number, usually offshore in places like India. You will be sceptical when they claim to be from Telstra, or Microsoft, or an agency that deals with tech support for well known firms. You might ask, “how do I know you are for real?”, and this is where it gets clever and very effective. Rather than use their own fake business names like they did in 2015, they will be using the business names of real firms doing real IT work. This is at least one variation of this type of fake scam. They will send you to that firms website to confirm who they are. You are with them on the line and it’s likely you will not phone that firm because you (a) on the phone with them or (b) that firm is in somewhere a long way off like Canada.

Microsoft support technician credentials or other Microsoft competencies is highly regarded in IT support so the scammer of late is sending the sceptical customer to the Microsoft Pinpoint site to check on the credentials of the firm whose name they are borrowing. Your every objection is covered so far except that something about Joe brown from India doesn’t smell kosher. Trust your instinct.

Exposing fakes and how would you know?

Google is littered with fakes for just about everything, such as fake phone numbers and websites for computer and printer vendors. You might think you are talking to HP while the tech person accesses your PC to install “troubleshooting software” but when they fail to fix the issue and start asking for money for their annual support plan and you realise you are being jipped it’s too late. They’ve installed the hidden software to later steal your ID and launch malware from a remote server. Now you are going to need a real IT support tech with sound experience and credentials to clean your computer up.

As you can see it’s getting harder to spot the fakes but keep these tips in mind:

  1. if you get a pop up alert on your computer warning you about malware, with a number to call, this will be fake. No such thing exists in Windows. Do not call the number.
  2. if someone calls you just hang up. The more you goad them the more likely you are to become distressed when they threaten to send someone local around to your residence.
  3. beware of fake antivirus programs alerts, such as the well documented Norton fake antivirus alert and providing a number to call for urgent online tech support. The fake alert could even be for the antivirus program you have installed.
  4. if in doubt seek help by calling a professional IT guy with Microsoft credentials in your area.

Real Online Tech Support.

The proliferation of†fake tech support scams is growing from the real world popularity and convenience of having an online computer technician fix or maintain your computer remotely.

In late 2015 we launched our own version of online tech support within Australia at wiredoffice.com.au†partly in response to the fake services and to meet the local demand. Our pricing is capped at 2 hours regardless of how long we spend on your computer. Call us for more advice on checking our credentials which we cannot post online.