Understanding Technology

How to Switch Off Unwanted Background Apps in Windows | Fraser Valley Tech Support

If you’ve ever had to open your Task Manager to close a program, you’ll notice that there a lot more programs & processes running than the ones you may be using on the screen. There is nothing unusual or bad about background apps running in Windows 10. After all, many of them are making Windows work for you the way it does. However, to get the best performance out of your machine, there may be a few that you can actually turn off. (Please note… be very carefully when picking which to close!)

Here is how you do it…

1.      Click on the Start button (Windows icon in bottom left-hand corner)

2.      Click the Settings icon (the cog)

3.      Click Privacy to open up the settings window

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4.      In left-hand list, find and click the Background apps option.

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5.      Now you should see a list of applications running in the background of Windows 10!

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Now, many of these you will want to keep on, depending on how you use your computer. E.G. If you use Skype, leave that on so people can call you! If not, turn it off.

On my PC, I was surprised to see some games running that I had no idea I even had on my computer – they had just been installed at the factory level and left there, or came as part of an update.

When you are done, you can just close the window. You may want to re-check it though, after any updates… just in case!

Is Tech Fraud Getting Worse? | Abbotsford & Chilliwack Tech Security Consultants

email fraud stats

Tech Fraud IS on the rise and no-one is safe! A quarterly report was recently released that looked at who tech scams are targeting… and the results were both interesting and a little scary.

Overall, the summer saw a 25% rise in the number of email fraud attacks on targeted companies, but what is scarier is that also meant a whopping rise of 85% on the same quarter last year!

DANGEROUS EMAILS ON THE RISE

The amount of malicious emails, appearing in inboxes rose by 36% on the previous quarter. Among all that nasty stuff, 11% were ransomware emails.

WHAT IS RANSOMWARE?

It is a particularly devious scheme where you will be sent an innocent looking email containing a link or file. That file, when clicked, releases a virus that locks you out of all your data. You then receive an email demanding payment for your data’s release – often in bitcoin or other electronic funds. The ransom amount can vary, but typically costs a company thousands of dollars.

fake tech support stats

TECH SUPPORT FRAUD IS GROWING FAST

One of the most famous forms of tech fraud, is (surprisingly) now also the biggest growing one – the good ‘ole Technical Support Fraud! (The one where you receive a call from a thick-accented individual in a noisy call-centre, claiming to be something like Microsoft Windows). Given the amount of publicity and public education that this form of fraud has attracted (not to mention a slew of YouTube videos with people winding up these scammers), it is surprising to see it is still growing, but it is. This quarter’s attacks jumped by 36%... which gives an astounding 400% increase on the same period a year ago!!

social media fraud security stats

SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT SAFE

The report also showed that attacks are now coming from more directions than just email and your phone. Social media is gaining its fair share, with the most popular being from “angler phishing”. This is where fraudsters create fake accounts that mimic famous brands. Then when someone has a legitimate customer service requests, they swoop in and pretend to be that brand in order to gather the customer’s information.

Overall, all types of fraud were on the increase, with no discrimination in who they targeted (all career levels) or where they targeted (all industries and all company sizes, with retail and government hit hardest).

HOW CAN WE PROTECT OURSELVES AGAINST TECH FRAUD?

The burning question is how can you protect both yourself and your staff? Preparation is your biggest weapon! Here are a few things to help to get you started…

  • TRAINING - Knowing what to look for and educating all of your staff on what to spot, is the best plan. You can check out one of previous blog posts to see what the telltale signs of a scam email are.

  • BLOCKERS – up-to-date spam filters and virus software can help filter out most of the threats before ever reaching your inboxes.

  • BACK-UPS – a regular back-up of all your data means far less downtime (if any) and huge cost savings in the case of a ransomware attack. You don’t have to buy back that information if you already have another copy somewhere else!

You can see the rest of the report, including more stats on the different targeted departments and industries, here. If you would like more information on how to protect your company’s systems, whether it is a good virus software and back-up solutions or staff awareness training, you can contact us at Wild Frog Systems, and we will be happy to help! Email info@wildfrogsystems.com or call 778-771-0184.

Understanding Automation - How WE Leverage Automated Services

automation

The strategic use of automation allows us to protect your business from harm.

Business technology is the bane of the modern worker. No matter how well-intentioned the members of your staff are, when they have computer troubles, it complicates everything they are trying to accomplish. This, in turn, complicates every goal you are trying to accomplish.

The automation of IT service delivery gives you a direct line to a stronger business by streamlining the services that your customers rely on. This is accomplished by removing downtime from the equation, while also securing your data and protecting your infrastructure. Since we only automate repeatable and routine tasks, it makes it so we can provide a comprehensive IT management service for an affordable monthly rate.

What Can We Automate?

Many of the services we are responsible for can be automated, and many of them, in our opinion, work better as automated tasks. By taking the human element out of the equation, the time-consuming tasks that humans could conceivably mess up are replaced with repeated perfection. So the first step for the company in search of leveraging automation for IT management, and for the right managed services provider, is to determine what tasks absolutely need to be automated in order to save capital. We will assess what kind of management your organization needs, and customize our powerful solutions to protect your business.

Some of the most common automated tasks include:

  • Patch management

  • Backup management

  • Mobile device management

  • New hire management

The key to our automation is our enterprise-level Management software. This includes pre-built automations and customizable options to build more services. In some cases, it’s as simple as clicking the options in a menu, but you have to know what systems you want control of, and what maintenance is required to keep those systems working efficiently. With tools being managed by knowledgeable technicians, you will see a precipitous increase in IT availability, which will immediately decrease the amount of downtime your organization sees.

How You See Value From Automation?

When your technology breaks, you have to fix it. That much is understood. What many business owners don't understand is that the costs that are really hurting their business are the ones that come from employee downtime. These costs add up quickly and can, depending on the problem, be a major reason your organization’s profitability wanes.

We use automation to ensure that your hardware is up and running properly, that your network is free of process-hindering threats, and that your software is current. These processes, if done manually, would cost you (and us) a fortune in man-hours. We have done the legwork to ensure your IT is stable and running efficiently, which leads to a stable and efficient business.

Wild Frog Systems’ services are the solution your business needs to eliminate downtime. If you would like more information about automation, remote monitoring, or any of our other managed IT services, call us today at 778-771-0184.

Retail IT | Fraser Valley Tech Support for Business

IT Solutions for Retail Businesses

retail it

New technologies have begun to grey that line where the traditional brick and mortar storefront ends and the dynamic online storefront begins... changing the industry substantially. If your company is searching for an IT provider that can help you develop both ends of your organization’s retail , Wild Frog Systems is your answer.

Point of Sale

Ease of use defines Wild Frog Systems’ POS solutions.

The moment of truth for any retailer is when the customer pays for their goods. Successful commerce depends on a fast, secure, and reliable point of sale system. At Wild Frog Systems, we can help you design and install the point of sale system that is right for your company. Our expert technicians will perform an assessment, and help you determine what kind of system fits your needs. We’ll then get to work installing the system to your specifications to provide you and your staff the front of house point of sale solution.

Hosted Utility Computing in the Cloud

Hosting, inventory, and supply chain management in the cloud.

Today’s retail company has to concern themselves on two fronts - offline and online. The “brick” and “click” aspects of your business have to support each other. With cloud computing, all of your employees can have access to the software they need to get their jobs done. Many retail organizations lean heavily on a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution, as it help manage all aspects of their business. Many of today’s best CRMs are available as a cloud service, making it easier for regional managers and other “roving” employees to access the numbers they need to access, in the office or on the road.

Digital Security Cameras

We prioritize security, and so should you!

Security is crucial to the modern retailer. Our technicians understand how important security is for your company, and will work to design, procure, and install a security system that not only protect your physical assets, but also provide an efficient return by curtailing the amount of theft your company has to endure. We have the experience and the knowledge to deploy and maintain the powerful security solutions you need to keep your business safe.

For retailers, there are a lot of technologies that you can choose to leverage to help build, support, and secure your business. At Wild Frog Systems, we provide dedicated managed IT services, 24/7/365 technology support, as well as the technical knowledge to deploy any technology you would need for your business. To learn more about how we can benefit your retail business, call us today at 778-771-0184.

Understanding Shadow IT - Threats of Unauthorized Software

understanding shadow it

Unauthorized software can be a major pain for network administrators.

When a business sets out to add to their IT, they often choose the solutions based on their immediate needs. This is because when trying to look to the future, an organization cannot know what obstacles will pop up. For this reason your organization’s IT department, whether you have in-house IT technicians or you utilize managed IT services from Wild Frog Systems, has to be the ones that handle the implementation and management of your crucial IT.

With so many malignant situations to navigate and threats to squelch, having a dedicated software deployment strategy for all of your company’s needs is important. Many of today’s workers have a layman’s understanding of IT, and a decent understanding of the computers they use day-in and day-out, as they often use similar products outside of the office. As a result, today it is not uncommon for an employee to have several pieces of software on their workstation or device that hasn’t been approved for use by the organization. This is what is known as Shadow IT, and there are significant threats that every business owner, network administrator, and end-user will need to acknowledge in order to keep your organization safe.

Reasons for Shadow IT

In the continuous race that is business, sometimes end-users will find solutions that may do more harm than good.

Many times, workers will have everything they need to do their stated jobs. This includes hardware and software solutions. Typically, a business will buy licensed software that has need vetted by the IT department as secure and reliable for the production needs of a business. Any other software on the company-owned-and-managed workstation, tablet, or smartphone is Shadow IT. This can be simple titles such as third-party weather or traffic applications or games, but more often than not, they are applications users have downloaded deliberately to help them stay productive.

Shadow IT is often present in the software development world, where developers are constantly searching for software that can produce higher efficiencies in the management process, as well as the testing of new applications. This extraordinarily complex and time consuming construct isn’t the only place you can find Shadow IT, however. In many organizations, where there is no true uniformity to a software deployment strategy, and department heads decide what software works best for their departments, an organization’s IT administrators are often mistakenly kept out of the loop.

The Detriments of Unauthorized Software

Can an organization’s data and network security really be tested by unapproved applications?

For years, the manner in which companies deployed solutions necessitated them buying software titles and subsequently purchasing licenses for that software as needed to fill organizational demand. This model has been used for decades. With the introduction of Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings, it made available strong software titles that are often less expensive, service-based, or completely free-to-use. Since the average computer user today has access to more powerful computing apparati outside of their office, many users don’t see the harm in trying to improve their productivity by integrating applications they use outside of the office. Simply put, workers look on gains in productivity as a benefit for their business, not a detriment.

Of course, this user-implementation can have some pretty serious side effects. These Shadow IT applications are almost definitely set up outside the security solutions that protect your network, making them ripe for infiltration by nefarious entities. Any organizational data loss prevention strategy will certainly be breached by the implementation of any foreign application, as it wasn’t a core application identified by your IT administrators. Shadow IT is serious business to your IT support team. Consider that they are the guards attempting to protect the gates of a giant, self sustained castle, only to have the people that work inside the castle order resources from outside the castle walls. Sure, most of the time the Shadow IT applications, and the data created with them, will be fine, but what happens the one time they aren’t?

Suggested Solutions

Keep your company from experiencing the detriments associated with Shadow IT

To keep Shadow IT from putting your organization’s network and data at risk, we suggest that your IT administrator consider these four practices:

  • Consolidate applications when you can - Nearly all businesses need solutions in which to draft documents, inventory equipment, and manage finances. If you can find a solution to handle multiple issues, such as Microsoft Office 365 or Google Apps, it makes your software (and the data it produces) significantly easier to manage.

  • Monitor user activity - By assessing what your employees upload, download, and share, you will be able to ascertain if you have all of your bases covered. You can also begin to enforce policies to block risky app activity by eliminating the “share” or “upload” features within applications, if those functions aren’t core to the success of the application’s organizational use.

  • Research applications - Applications themselves will often tell you what you need to know about where they fit for your business. Your administrators should try to ascertain the possible risks an application could have, and choose white-listed applications diligently. If there are several applications that fill similar roles, choosing the one that is most reliable can actually save your organization time and money.

  • Educate your users - Your organization will definitely want to have an understanding of every possible task you will ask of your employees. That way you can find and integrate solutions that make sense for both users and the network. Then educate your staff about Shadow IT and their responsibility to clear any outside applications with their IT administrator. Tell them about the risks of using software that is outside of the management capabilities of the organization and the risks associated with deploying client information.

With all the known threats out there, understanding which software works best, but also mitigates the most risk is becoming essential for the modern business. If you are concerned that your staff is running amok with outside software, the professional IT technicians at Wild Frog Systems can help. Call us at 778-771-0184 to set up your comprehensive IT consultation, today.

Understanding Your Virtual Identity: Securing Your Online Security

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Protect yourself from online identity thieves.

We often talk about threats to business infrastructures, but the point stands that these same threats make advances on individuals as well. If enough personally identifiable information is stolen, a hacker could completely lift the identity of a user to take out loans, hijack credit card numbers, and even infiltrate social media accounts to further spread their influence. The result could be a ruined credit score and a damaged reputation--a major problem for anyone, not just the business owner.

One thing to keep in mind is that a general best practice is to keep sensitive information as far away from the Internet as possible, and to only input such information into secured, verified sources. However, it’s not always this simple. We’ll discuss some of the most common ways that individuals can protect themselves against threats like identity theft.

Personally Identifiable Information

Social Security numbers, dates of birth, home addresses, and more.

This should go without saying, but information like Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, and other sensitive information that identifies directly with the user, should be used with discretion while on the Internet. Sometimes users might receive phishing emails from what appear to be banks or government agencies that request a “verification” of sensitive information. You should know that requests like these will never be sent via email or phone call, and will almost certainly be found in your home address mailbox.

Financial Credentials

Credit card numbers, PINs, CSCs, etc.

Financial information is in high demand for hackers. If they don’t want to use your personal finances for their own purposes, they can sell your credit card credentials on the black market to make money that way. Either way, hackers will resolutely pursue your credentials, and it’s your responsibility to keep them away. Never store your financial credentials locally on your PC, and make sure that any site you’re plugging them into is secured with encryption and a security certificate. You can check by looking for a green padlock icon, or https, in the browser’s address bar.

Other Sensitive Data

Passwords, usernames, and more.

Login credentials are common targets for hackers, and they’ll use every trick in the book to get their hands on them. Passwords and usernames are required for logging into accounts. In particular, hackers could access your email, social media account, online shopping accounts like Amazon, and so much more, with the intention of stealing your identity or sensitive data. Using complex passwords and usernames is a great first step toward protecting yourself online, and using a consumer-grade password manager like LastPass can help you use complex passwords without the need to remember them.

Secure Your Identity Today

Don’t let hackers get their way.

It can be daunting to keep all of this sensitive information away from hackers, but it’s crucial that you take steps to protect yourself online. To learn more about how you can protect your identity from online threats, reach out to us at 778-771-0184.