Fraser Valley IT Support

What is Spear Phishing and How To Avoid It | Fraser Valley IT Consultants

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You have probably already heard of phishing – after all, it is everywhere, these days - from the good old-fashioned Nigerian prince email all the way through to the CRA phone scam (also known as voice-phishing or vishing). The scammers cast a huge, wide, net as far as they can, and wait to see if anyone bites. However, there is another, more-complex level of phishing, that you may not have heard of, called Spear Phishing.

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Spear phishing is different in that they target a specific person – usually someone in a large company with access to valuable data or finances. Before they are contacted, the scammer will take the time to do some research on their intended victim, mostly online through social media accounts etc.

Using the personal information that they have gathered, they will then contact this intended victim, making their email as personal and legit looking as they can. It may be as an application to a job that they know they are recruiting for, or a faked email from a friend claiming to have a link to a new menu from a favourite restaurant. Of course, this link or document will contain a malware-infected link or document.  Once clicked, the hacker either gains access to company data, or can plant a crypto-locker virus for ransoming.

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Most spear phishing is aimed at mid-tier employees. However, there are a few brave spear-phishers who will sometimes target someone at the top of the company tree, like a CEO, CFO or senior manager. When this happens, it is called whaling.

So, how can you prevent this kind of phishing?

  • Education is a key one here. Making employees aware that this can happen will go a long way! Advise them to keep their social media content as private as possible (after all, that is as much for their own personal benefit as yours!).

  • Make sure all employees know what to look for in fake emails (such as poor spelling and grammar, or checking link addresses before clicking them by hovering the mouse pointer to see a pop-up box of the address. If you get a link claiming to be from a certain bank or company, open a browser window and go to the bank/company website directly and compare their actual address to the one you see on the email.

  • Limit data to the people who need it. If you keep data on shared drives, make sure sensitive data is housed on separate drives (eg a drive for Accounting only, a drive for customer lists only etc) and only give people access to the areas/drives they need to work.

  • Keep all software, anti-virus programs and firewalls up-to-date.

  • Back-up, back-up, back-up!! Back-up your data well and back-up often!!

If you are worried about your company’s potential vulnerabilities, give our team a call at 778-771-0184 or email info@wildfrogsystems.com, and talk to us about scheduling a Tech Health Check-Up.

Office 365 Tips - Translator Tool | Chilliwack Tech Support Specialists

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Thanks to the wonders of modern technology and the internet, the whole world is only a click away. No matter what language you speak, though, most of the planet speaks a different one! So, Microsoft added a translator tool to their main Office 365 Apps – Word, Excel & PowerPoint. (And it’s crazily easy to use!)

When in your document,

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1.  Go to the Review tab at the top.

2.  Select “Translate” from the top menu

3. Then select the option you need, depending on how much of the document you want to translate! It will automatically detect the language and do the translation.

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If you want more control over which languages you are translating from/to, select the bottom option on the Translate drop-down menu (Set Document Translation Language). Then, to the right, you will see an settings box appear, in which you can change the languages you are translating between. Once you have picked, click translate!

That’s it!

Of course, this is AI-powered, so it may not be perfect grammatically, or may struggle with colloquialisms. (We may never have a complete replacement for human interpreters, when you consider how language is affected by cultural differences and occasional breaks in grammar rules etc) However, it goes a long way to bringing the global market a little bit closer.

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!

Improve Your Work-Flow by Using Virtual Desktops in Windows 10 | Chilliwack & Abbotsford Tech Support

Photo by   energepic.com   from   Pexels

Photo by energepic.com from Pexels

Have you ever had a time when you are working on a project, that required multiple apps/windows to be open on your desktop at once, when you needed to do something else completely different… but this is going to make your desktop even more cluttered and confusing? You really don’t want to shut down all the windows you have open, but you need a clean work-space.

This is where the virtual desktop function, on Windows 10, comes to the rescue. For Mac users, this is not something new, but now PC users can take advantage of having multiple desktops to work on as well… and it’s not hard to use either.

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To start a new desktop, simply press the Windows, Ctrl + D keys, on your computer keyboard. (Control + Up on Macs) Voila! You now have a fresh, clean desktop to start your new project on!

To navigate back and forth between your desktops, simply press the Windows + Tab keys on your keyboard to open up your navigation options. (An alternative is Windows + Ctrl and then the left or right arrows to switch between screens).

You can also see a demo of how it works on our YouTube channel…



Top 5 Reasons Why You Need a Disaster Recovery Plan | Fraser Valley Business IT Consultants

Running a business is already a lot of work on a day-to-day basis, so it’s not surprising when we come across businesses who have not had chance to put together a disaster plan. Most have probably thought about it at some point, but the hustle and bustle of getting things going, or keeping the money rolling in, has taken precious time from turning those thoughts into an actual plan.

So, how important is a disaster plan? The answer is VITAL! If your business does not have a plan for these top 5 scenarios, stop now and start getting one sorted before it is too late and very costly.

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1. Natural disaster

We may not be directly on an earthquake Fault-line, (we are kinda close, though) or in the shadow of an active Hawaiian volcano, but there are still plenty of potential natural disasters that could cripple a business either short or long term. It can range from temporary power failure from a wind/ice storm, all the way through to permanent loss from fire. (A particular concern, locally, with our summers yielding increasingly-worse forest fire seasons.) So, from an I.T. perspective, things to consider here definitely include off-site back-ups, as well as power and office-space alternatives.

2. Virus/Crypto-attacks

You hear about them all the time – and you probably see a heap of Spam attempts in your inbox everyday. The internet is a disease-infested stew of malicious pirates on a mission to plunder your ship of its spoils. Attacks are daily (in fact, businesses are targeted approximately every 14 seconds, resulting in a new ransomware victim every 40 seconds!) and is estimated to cost companies somewhere in the region of $11 billion, this year alone. If any of your technology is somehow connected to the world outside your office, you need protection AND data back-ups!

3. Malicious Employees

So, you may work hard to protect against those external attacks, but what about internal ones? It just takes one disgruntled (probably soon-to-be-ex) employee to do all sorts of damage. That damage can be anything, from simply downloading software for personal use (and compromising your legal license agreements) to a full-on data breach with intent to sell to a competitor. Do you have the steps in place to protect your company finances and data? It may be time to look at access policies and your exit procedures for leaving employees.

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4. Accidental Employee Damage

As much as a person may really love their job, and really work hard, they are still human. Humans make mistakes. It could be a spilled coffee, a cleaner unplugging a server, or an innocent click on an emailed resume (coincidentally sent during a recruitment drive) that turned out to actually be a ransomware Trojan virus. The magic words here are back-up, back-up, back-up… oh and good education!

5. Equipment Failure

No matter how good your I.T. crew is, there will come a time when a piece of equipment dies. It can be a tiny little component that wasn’t quite fitted right during the manufacturing process, or something as common and simple as an old-age issue. Regular maintenance and monitoring will help, but back-ups are key, as well as understanding the expected lifespan of your equipment and budgeting for replacements before you reach those dates.

Hopefully, you will never need your disaster plan. But, like home insurance, it is very wise to have it, just in case. If you do not have a good (up-to-date!) IT Disaster Plan in place and would like help, you can give our team of tech experts a call at 778-771-0184 or email help@wildfrogsystems.com. We will happily send one of our knowledgeable tech support consultants to give your business a disaster health check-up, and advise you on the best options to have a water-tight plan in place.

Windows 7 End of Support Announced - What To Do Next! | Chilliwack & Abbotsford Tech Support Experts

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Windows 7 may be close to hitting it’s 10th birthday (that’s about 72 in tech years!), but it still remains a fairly popular operating system. Well, we have some sad news for you, if you own 1 of the almost 40% of PCs still running Windows 7, – its End-of-Life has been announced. January 14, 2020 is the day that Microsoft will cease to update or support Windows 7, and it is now on the “extended support” phase.

So, since the date has been announced and rapidly approaches, now is time to start thinking about upgrading to Windows 10. (And just in case you forget, Microsoft is releasing a Windows 7 update which will give notifications to tell users to upgrade before January!)

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What happens if I don’t upgrade?

Your Windows 7 will carry on working BUT you will no longer receive any security or feature updates, meaning you are VERY vulnerable to attack from new viruses or hacks.

What do I do to upgrade?

Upgrading is easy. If you want to stick with the comfort and ease of staying on a Microsoft platform and upgrading to Windows 10, you just need to buy a copy of Windows 10, download the installation file and run it. If you are an Office 365 Business subscriber, though, the news is even better – you can upgrade all of your licensed devices for free!

 A cheaper option is Windows 8, but that’s not really a smart option when you are going to just run into the same End-of-Life problem in a short while anyway… plus Windows 10 is simply better!

There are other options:

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Linux – Free but does work quite differently, so will come with a bit of a learning curve, plus it will not run your favourite Windows Office apps, like Word. There are Linux alternatives though.

Mac – Apple machines do typically age better than PCs but it is the most expensive way to go. Many of your favourite apps/programs are also available for Macs, but you will have to purchase them again too, thereby upping your budget again.

Whatever route you choose, we STRONGLY recommend backing up all of your files first… even though the Windows 10 upgrade asks if you want to keep your files.  

Will my old computer run Windows 10?

That depends on what is in your computer, of course… and there is a chance that it may not have the spec, in which you case you may need to look at upgrading your machine. According to Microsoft, the minimum requirements for Windows 10 are:

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or System on a Chip (SoC)

  • RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit.

  • Hard disk space: 16 GB for 32-bit OS or 20 GB for 64-bit OS. (And the upcoming new version - 1903 - actually requires this to go up to 32 GB)

  • Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver.

  • Display: 800x600.

Realistically though, if your computer does need a hefty hardware upgrade, by the time you add up the parts and effort, you may want to just consider investing in a new PC.

This sounds scary… I have a whole office of computers that need to upgrade!

Don’t panic… that’s what we are here for! Our skilled IT Support Team can take a look at your current machines, and let you know what options are best for you, along with how much they will cost and how long it will take. Then you can just leave the rest to the pros! Give us a call on 778-771-0184 or email info@wildfrogsystems.com and we will be happy to help.

What are Password Managers and Why You Need One! | Fraser Valley Tech Consultants

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Passwords, passwords, passwords. They are everywhere! With more and more software and platforms transferring to the ease and expanse of the cloud, the number of passwords we need on a daily basis has increased exponentially in the last few years.

Now, if you are following the golden rules of passwords (as you should be!), you should..

  • Never use the same password twice.

  • Use a password at least 8-12 characters long.

  • Use a mix of letters, numbers, uppercase/lowercase and symbols.

  • Do not store the password in your browsers or somewhere obvious like a sticky note.

This is where the average (busy!) human brain can run into some trouble. Bearing in mind that virtually everything we do requires a password – banking, office suite, social media, email, online shopping and so on - AND with the need for every single password to be unique, unpredictable and complicated, keeping track of them can be a bind for even the best memorising geniuses.

This is where having a password manager can be a lifesaver. Then you only need to remember 1 complicated password!

1 password to keep them all? That doesn’t sound safe!

Well, these programs are all about security, so they have to be! They employ techniques like multifactor authentication (meaning you need a password and a random code that it sends to a device of yours when logging in), and all data is encrypted at a local level.

So, what are your options?

There are a number of password managers out there, and you need to pick the one that best suits your needs and budget, but here are a few to get you going…

LASTPASS

LastPass is a great manager and has a number of package options for both business and personal clients, starting with a free version. It works on multiple devices, multiple browsers and has a variety of features such as strong password generators, digital file storage and auto form completing for online shopping.

KEEPER

Keeper is another leading password storage solution. Offers a wide variety of tailored package & feature options for personal (starting at $2.50/mo), family, business (starting at $2.50 per user/mo) or enterprise use. Again, works on multiple browsers and platforms.

DASHLANE

Dashlane also offers a free (but limited) version, as well as more feature-laden packages for business or personal use. This manager also comes with VPN protection and alerts you when a site’s security has been reported as compromised.

1PASSWORD

Popular manager, 1Password, has been protecting passwords for 13 years. No free version, but multiple options again, starting at $2.99/mo for personal or $3.99/mo for teams. Offers applications and extensions across a broad range of platforms and devices, with the usual menu of features on offer, plus a “watchtower” which keeps track of breaches and security issues.

Photo by  bruce mars  from  Pexels

Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

There are more password managers out there, but this is a list of the most popular to start you shopping around. With companies and websites reporting data breaches every single day, the important thing is to get your passwords protected as soon as you can, as best you can… and this step will take you a long way towards a better night’s sleep!