Tag Archives: virus

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

06 Apr 16
lverbik
, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
No Comments

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…

Warn your people about this “Microsoft” phone scam!

11 Nov 15
lverbik
, , , , , , , , ,
No Comments

The call sounds very official. A representative from Microsoft’s technical support team is on the line and they have found an error in your computer system. But don’t worry—they can fix it for you. They just need access to your machine; if you can provide the login credentials they can get to work.

At this point, you may or may not be aware that this is a scam. If, like many people, you provide your login password, the “Microsoft rep”—with your help—will establish a connection into your computer. Next, they may tell you they have found a virus on your system that can cause your data to be destroyed unless you pay a “one-time charge” to have the virus removed. You can send the money via MoneyPak, a prepaid card. At that point, you’d be too afraid to NOT do it. Because who wants to risk losing their data? That kind of loss can be devastating.

What can you do to guard against these kinds of scams?

  1. Be alert and avoid them in the first place. This is your best defense. Fact is, Microsoft or other companies like them will NEVER call you out of the blue to report a problem with your computer. Most major companies just don’t do business that way. You’d have to initiate the service request, create a case, and follow their support plan.
  2. Red flag! A Money-Pak card for payment is just not legit. Most companies will only use major credit cards for service transactions. At the very least they’d have an account number attached to your service plan. MoneyPak is untraceable; these criminals know what they’re doing.
  3. Do not give anyone access to your machine who you do not know and have an established, trusted business or personal relationship with. Again, be sure you verify you are speaking with a member of a verifiable support team with a company you are already doing business with. If you haven’t initiated the service call, then you should hang up.

If you should get in a situation where in your gut you feel you may have been duped, take action immediately.  Power off your computer and cut off the connection between your machine and this scammer as quickly as possible. If you gave them credit card info, then you need to call your credit card provider, and report it as stolen immediately.  They will start running up bills as soon as they get the numbers. Call an IT service provider you trust—if TechnoAdvantage is that provider, we would be honored to help.

Visit Microsoft’s Safety & Security center for information on avoiding scams and how to report them when they do occur.

Let’s keep each other safe out there.

Protecting Against Ransomware Threats

16 Dec 14
lverbik
, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
No Comments

In case you aren’t familiar with that term, ransomware refers to programs that hold your computer or hard drive hostage, demanding that you pay a ransom fee (hence the name) if you want to get your information back.

Once users become infected, they see an error screen that tells them they have a fixed amount of time, usually 100 hours, to send money to the virus developer before all information on the drive will be unavailable, deleted or encrypted.

Obviously, that can put anyone in a tough position. So, let’s look at what we know about one of the best known types of ransomware called a crypto virus, what you can do if it infects your computer, and the steps you can take to avoid it.

Like many other computer viruses, the crypto virus spreads through email attachments, infected programs and compromised websites.  Typically, these are disguised as PDF or Word files, hiding in official-looking emails.

Once you open the message, and the accompanying attachment, the virus hijacks your computer, and only the ransom screen will be shown.

Attackers may use one of several different approaches to extort money from their victims:

  • After a victim discovers he cannot open a file, he receives an email ransom note demanding a relatively small amount of money in exchange for a private key. The attacker warns that if the ransom is not paid by a certain date, the private key will be destroyed and the data will be lost forever.
  • The victim is duped into believing he is the subject of a police inquiry. After being informed that unlicensed software or illegal web content has been found on his computer, the victim is given instructions for how to pay an electronic fine.
  • The malware surreptitiously encrypts the victim’s data but does nothing else. In this approach, the data kidnapper anticipates that the victim will look on the Internet for how to fix the problem and makes money by selling anti-ransomware software on legitimate websites.

To protect against data kidnapping, Techno Advantage urges all users to backup data on a regular basis. If an attack occurs, do not pay a ransom. Instead, wipe the hard drive clean and restore data from the backup.

What To Do If Your Computer Becomes Infected With the Crypto Virus

The first thing to do, if you detect that one of your computers has become infected with the crypto virus, is to disconnect it from the network. Also, avoid connecting the computer to any external drives or storage devices. It is possible for connected computers, or entire networks, to become infected from a single workstation that’s sharing information.

Next, speak with a Techno Advantage IT professional immediately.

If you have a reliable backup and data recovery system in place, your IT professional can probably restore your files and computer back to a previous save point within an hour or two.

Here are 6 additional tips to help keep you, your business and your equipment safe.

  • Keep regular backups of your important files.
  • Use an anti-virus, and keep it up to date.
  • Keep your operating system and software up to date with patches.
  • Review the access control settings on any network drives you have.
  • Don’t give administrative privileges to your user accounts.

Don’t let the crypto virus keep you up at night…just be prepared with a solid backup solution and a trusted Techno Pro to guide you.  Contact us today for a consultation!

Viruses in your Social Network

03 Nov 14
lverbik
, , , , , , , , , , ,
No Comments

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.

Like what you’ve read?  Use our social media buttons to share this information.