Tag Archives: anti-virus

New ad blocker technology means faster page loads—but what about us?

06 Apr 16
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If you’re doing business online, then you probably know about ad blockers and have accepted the fact that they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. And, as if there aren’t enough obstacles to selling online, there’s a new beast on the horizon that takes ad blocking to another level: It’s called Polaris and it’s a new ad blocking technology embedded in its own Opera browser.

Unlike what we’ve faced in the past with ad blocking extensions in Chrome, Firefox and other popular browsers, Opera’s new ad blocking technology is native—at the web engine level—meaning that it’s more powerful and insidious to get around. Developed by techxperts at Harvard, the technology maps out a sequence for downloading a web page’s info bits, resulting in fewer network trips for the browser, and thus, faster page load times. For businesses that advertise online, it is a little worrisome.

Why is this happening, why!? It’s about improvements to page loading speed. We all know there’s nothing more exasperating than waiting for a page to load. We will sit patiently for about 2 seconds and if it goes beyond that, we’re freaking out and writing complaint letters to the technology companies—or cussing out the computer and getting up to grab a sandwich so we don’t have to deal with watching the spinning “page loading” icon.

Even more than that, people are sick of the bloated online ads that not only suck up bandwidth to load up, but oftentimes obstruct the content you’re reading and refuse to close down when you X them out. Or the ads with the unsavory DOWNLOAD buttons that, if clicked, could send you a virus. Tracking and privacy are also concerns.

So you can’t blame the world if it wants to block ads. Remarked one spokesperson for Opera: “Ad-blocking technology is an opportunity and a wake-up call to the advertising industry to pay attention to what consumers are actually saying.” This means that it might be time for businesses to create better ads—relevant, engaging, non-annoying ads. They might be the only ads that get through if the future of ad blocking is anything like Polaris.

Opera boasts that, with its Polaris ad blocker, their browser runs, on average, 45 percent faster than Google Chrome with Ad Block Plus extension, and 21 percent speedier than Firefox. That makes it enticing enough to worry about.

You probably don’t need to worry about Opera blocking your ads yet since it is a relatively unknown and unused browser compared to Chrome and the other top names. But as it is the way things are going to increase internet speeds, one should take heed and begin to look at the types of ads you’re creating—making them sleeker and smoother and more unobtrusive. And possibly at other avenues that don’t rely so much on ads, such as inbound marketing.

PCWorld has a more detailed techy explanation on the story…

Is Cryptovirus back as a worm?

03 Sep 15
lverbik
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19798163_s (2)Just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does—it seems likely there is a new variant to the Cryptolocker virus—that insidious virus known to encrypt all your files and hold them ransom for $300. This new strain may or may not be Crypt, but it was reported recently to have been able to replicate to other workstations and begin encrypting user folders, though many IT peers do not believe that capability exists as yet.

Whether it is possible or not, it’s something to watch out for. The affected business not only was infected across multiple workstations, but also its server by way of mapped drives. The victim in this case saw a web page open at the workstation with a threatening hijack message and links to download the solution that unlocks the user’s data.

Its evil authors no doubt immediately began working on this new poison once researchers from FireEye and Fox-IT were able to reverse-engineer the virus and provide a solution to Cryptolocker’s victims in May of this year. Of course, half a million people had already been affected and 1.3 percent had paid cash to free their files from the criminals—to the tune of $3 million.

Following the forum discussion about this new case reveals that the most likely source of this virus may actually be a flash-based ad on a compromised site that many people in the office could have accessed. It is possible that someone shared a link containing the virus, or perhaps everyone had a program installed already that popped up an embedded ad that was clicked on.

No matter whether the new strain is able to actually replicate to other stations or not, this is a good reminder to take every measure available to safeguard your files. Number one, add this virus’s file names to your file screens: *.aaa and restore_. Two, backup always! Three, get legit anti-virus and monitoring software. Four, patch your workstations. Five, contact the team at Techno Advantage for help selecting the right cloud-based or on-premise backup and storage solutions.

Need more help deciding how to protect your business from a malware attack? Contact a Techno Pro today! And watch this blog for updates on any new malware. We want to keep you informed.

Viruses in your Social Network

03 Nov 14
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Computer users are smarter today than they used to be, but so are the internet bad guys trying to access your information. The online world is changing and social media has added a new layer to the level of awareness and diligence the average user must employ to stay safe.  Malware authors are becoming more and more creative and are frequently invading our favorite social networking sites with viruses, spam links, spyware and more.  In short, some of your favorite sites are being used against you.  The good news is that these threats can be avoided, but you need to know what to look for.

Most social networking viruses are triggered by users who are tricked into clicking on a link or downloading some software.  Twitter was recently hit with a virus that redirected users who clicked on shortened goo.gl links to a rogue antivirus site. After a quick scan, it incorrectly warned users their computers were infected with a virus and urged them to pay to download a phony software solution to get rid of the virus.

A little common sense goes a long way…but if you’re still not sure what’s safe, consider these tips:

  1. Be extra vigilant about any links you even think about clicking on while browsing your favorite social networking sites. Make sure you know which site you will be redirected to before you click the link. If you can, right-click the link, copy it and paste it into a Word document to see your likely destination. If it is not a site you know or trust, avoid it.
  2. Social networking viruses are often linked to sensationalist posts about celebrities or current news events, so be suspicious of links that boast over-the-top or unrealistic claims.
  3. Avoid third-party plugins that only let you view the information they advertise if you install their app. This is often a gateway to spreading a virus to all your friends and followers.
  4. Ensure that you have a good antivirus software solution that is up to date and running frequent scans on your computer. This is undoubtedly the best defense you can have against viruses on social networking sites. Products like these are the quickest way to detect and remove any viruses you may encounter accidentally.

Social networking sites are just as focused on eradicating this malware as anyone else, and most have their own security centers that are dedicated to finding and removing such threats. However, given the nature of these viruses, users have to accept some of the responsibility because the virus is only activated when someone clicks on it.

So, should you avoid social networking sites? No, but it is important to exercise caution while using them, and to make sure that you have a good antivirus solution on hand in case the worst happens.

Is your business beginning to use social media more in marketing efforts?

Contact us to learn more about antivirus solutions and how you and your employees can stay safe.

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Protecting Your Data – Is your password strong enough?

18 Aug 14
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Information security is an ongoing process, not something you do once and then forget about, right?

Right!  If you’re still keeping all your original passwords in a small dusty notebook on the corner of your desk…it’s time to rethink.

 

You’ll be relieved to know there are some really good online password management solutions you can use.  Passwordbox.com, Lastpass.com and Dash

The single best way to reduce the risk that hackers have zeroed in on your online credentials is to change passwords on a regular basis. As an extra precaution, you could create a distinct password for each website.  This lessens the chances that a crook could tap into all of a person’s web-based accounts, especially bank accounts.  Consumers could for example, preface an easy to remember password with the name of the store, such as “amazon_Zulu58!”lane.com can help computer users develop stronger passwords that are kept in a virtual vault, of sorts.  That way unencrypted data doesn’t stay in the user’s browser cache.  Some sites also have a repository for credit card numbers.

“Proceed with Caution”  is a good general rule of thumb to remember whenever you’re opening attachments, making purchases or logging in to a site.  Some local Indiana banks and businesses have been breached when the hacker sends an e-mail to an employee that contains a malicious attachment.  A single careless click installs key-logging software that harvests passwords.  Clever hackers may even go so far as figuring out a professional organization to which an employee belongs and creating custom e-mails to entice the reader to open and click.

While some online retail sites appear slick and compelling for consumers – often times they are traps for stealing consumer data.  Be cautious of sites that lack basics such as a phone number or office address on the site.  Also, look for whether it is a member of the Better Business Bureau or whether it has been reviewed or recognized by industry publications that might attest to the site’s authenticity.  When placing online orders, consumers also should watch that the URL on the browser indicates that the data is encrypted, such as displaying https: rather than http:.

Much of the earlier hacking focused on financial companies. But as those systems have been strengthened, hackers are turning to less robust systems operated by hospitals, small retailers and other industries.

Here are six keys to help keep your information secure:

1)      Use a different password for every website you visit.  We know it seems like password overload but it is a lot less work than dealing with getting hacked.

2)      Use a combination of upper case, lower case, numbers and symbols.  The more original you are the better.

3)      Change your passwords every three months.

4)      If it’s hard to remember all your passwords, try a password manager.  With most password managers, you have to put in a master password every time you want to use it, so it keeps hackers out.

5)      Make sure your computer has an anti-virus program.  Several companies such as Avast, McAfee, Webroot and Kaspersky offer suites of protection.

6)      Set-up two step log-ins.  Two step authentication asks you to sign in with your password, and then add a second sign-in – a numeric code sent by text, e-mail or a phone call.  Think of it as a double password.

 

Have questions?  Jay and his team at Techno Advantage want to help you ensure that you’re protected.  Click here to contact a Techno Pro!

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