Mark’s Blog

Is your version of Windows 10 up-to-date and still supported?

Since Windows 10’s introduction in July 2015, we have been moving to a newer method of pushing out major updates that are arriving every 6 months. To see what “build” level your Windows 10 version is using, type the command: winver in the “Type here to search” field on the taskbar and double click the Winver app that is found. (Note: Build 1803 corresponds with 2018 and 03=March so you know when that update was written).

If your screen doesn’t have that field, you can right click on the start button (white MSFT flag in the bottom left corner) and select Run and type the same command.

This website shows the above steps with the screen shots:

https://www.howtogeek.com/396873/how-to-check-when-your-windows-10-build-is-expiring/

Your build level corresponds with an associated expiration date.  To see the exact date your build level expires from support, see the Microsoft article:

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/13853/windows-lifecycle-fact-sheet

One of the interesting notes in the Notes section under the list of expiration dates is that some devices may not be able to run all Windows 10 updates.  When you hit this point, it’s now time to update to newer Windows 10 hardware.  Some Windows 7 users may be stretching their hardware to the limit since Windows 10 was a free upgrade for the first year (July 2015-June 2016) and Windows 7’s was removed from the retail shelf after 2012, so some of those Windows 7 PCs are approaching their 10th year.

In that amount of time, Intel has released 20 new CPU generations (6 month life cycle, 2 per year, 10 years…), BIOS has changed from Legacy to UEFI, Memory has changed from DDR2/DDR3 to DDR4 and solid state hard drives and storage has arrived.

At the time of this blog (August 2019) and Back To School and model year changes are occurring for most laptops so there are some good deals out there for upgrading. If you need assistance with this process, contact me at mark@weberscomputers.com

D/FW area is #2 in Ransomware attacks, per Sonic Wall Research report and DMN 2/19/17 article…Let’s talk

The Dallas area is experiencing rapid business growth and due to that growth, many hackers are targeting companies in the area with Ransomware. We’re 2nd in reported attacks, just behind Los Angeles, CA.

For 2017, Ransomware has become the biggest Internet threat, more than viruses and other malicious threats because they reap money faster than other methods.

What is Ransomware? That is software that prevents you from accessing your data unless a ransom is paid to the hackers.

How is Ransomware installed?

  1. Through a malicious email attachment with a link or executable file attached,
  2. Through a user account that had a weak password and administrative permission on a system,
  3. Through a phone call to an unsuspecting victim that can be scared or convinced into letting the caller remote into their computer,
  4. Or through security issues in which patches weren’t installed and the security flaw were then exploited.

What should you do to thwart the Ransomware threat?

  1. Use a top-rated antivirus/malware protection software and use it to scan, defend and protect your data. (No FREE antivirus meets this standard). I often refer to this as your “good fence” and “good dog”, but with a good dog – you’ll need to let it off it’s leash at least once a day (or every other day) to scan the entire yard/computer for issues. Top rated software ratings are on https://www.av-test.org and are refreshed every few months. Currently Bitdefender, TrendMicro, Kaspersky and Norton hold those “top rated” positions.
  2. Actively back up your data daily (Carbonite is an automated backup system that keeps a 30 day history so we can get to files before the problem occurred.  There are additional backup solutions available that do the same process. We’ll discuss when I’m on-site).
  3. If it would be a hardship for your computer to be down for very long, look into Acronis software and a spare external hard drive to store images of your hard drive. Simply boot from the Acronis Disk and store the image on the external hard drive.  When done, reboot, removing the disk and hard drive (to avoid the backup from being encrypted). In case of emergency, we can drop a fresh hard drive in the computer, boot from the Acronis disk and restore the image from the external hard drive. The operating system, applications and data will be back to the state it was in at the time of the Acronis backkup. Any incremental updates could be restored from Carbonite since that date.

How do you know if you have Ransomware?

  1. When you see a screen that tells you that your drive has been encrypted (it may or may not have been) and asking you to call or transfer money.
  2. When you try to start your computer and are prompted for a password for your hard drive and asked to make a call or transfer money to regain access.

What to do before you send them money or call:

  1. Call Weber’s Computer Services and shut off that computer (to avoid replicating the threat or from encryption continuing to run).
  2. The first thing I’m going to ask for, if encryption has occurred, is for your latest backup and recovery media – if this all sounds Greek to you – we need to talk NOW!

The time to develop a recovery plan – and to test it – is not when you’re in the midst of the emergency. It is before – let’s be proactive Dallas!

Mac Users Attacked by Fake Adobe Flash Update – again

Mac Users need to be aware of Fake Adobe Flash Updates (as do PC Users). As I always tell people – go to the source for your updates

Adobe products – go to www.adobe.com to get your updates (you may also receive an Adobe Reader icon in the system tray to update Reader, those are OK, they appear about once a month)

Java – go to www.java.com to get your Java updates (you will get an orange Java icon in the system tray (next to the system time/date)). Those are also OK and appear about once a month or as needed.

For more information about the Mac Fake Adobe Flash Update, see the following Mac blog: https://www.intego.com/mac-security-blog/mac-users-attacked-fake-adobe-update/

2017 Ransomware is king – Beware of random callers and pop-ups asking for remote access to your computer

Attention! I’m getting DAILY calls and emails from customers reporting of scam artists calling them to attempt to get on their computers with stories of “your computer has been flagged with numerous threats”. Even “you have a subscription and we need to log in to clean this up” (from a company they’ve never heard of), and other ploys:

Here are a couple of disreputable company names that may appear on your screen or caller ID to avoid:

From 1/18/17:

  1. PC Experts 365 Tampa, Fl 844-821-xxxx
  2. Online Business Windows Support Center, Boca Raton, FL 844-456-xxxx
  3. Another Report of fraud: “The first bill on 12/28/15 was from Kanagen International LLC CBA Mega Technology online 2620 S. Maryland Pky Las Vegas VC 89109 Phone 855-886-xxxx. then during summer the company was bought out by Mega IT Support, then they changed their name to Geeks. Still same phone but name changed two times” (customer taken for $600 after calling number from pop-up)
  4. Here is another scam that is going around with a complete explanation – basically how accepting some malicious Gmail requests can affect you (and what to do to stay safe): It describes a nasty Gmail phishing attack that has been gaining ground. It is a little complicated to read, but the advice about how to detect the attack in an email is pretty straightforward. https://www.wordfence.com/blog/2017/01/gmail-phishing-data-uri/?utm_source=list&utm_campaign=011817&utm_medium=email

I plan on updating this post with other bad company names as I hear of them. I’ve removed the phone number suffix so no one thinks of calling them – call me instead!

Mark Weber, Weber's Computing

When your Internet browsers don’t work

See if this problem sounds familiar: 

Problem Statement from customer: I don’t know if you’ve encountered this before, but my blog page on my website is not allowing me to click on any of the content to see what is written. Every other page allows me to put the cursor over items that can be opened.

The website designer has tried from her end and has been able to open the content. I deleted cache and browsing history, restarted the computer, etc. nothing has worked. Let me know if you have time and think of anything else I can do??

Solution: Reset the browser – here’s how:

Instructions to reset IE, Chrome and Firefox

1)      IE – in Control Panel, go to Internet Options, click on the Advanced tab and click on the 2 buttons to reset defaults. Restart IE

2)      Google Chrome – Open up Settings (the three lines or three dots in the top right corner of Google Chrome.  Click on Settings, then at the bottom of the Settings page on “Show Advanced Settings”, then scroll to the bottom and select the “Reset Settings” button.

3)      Firefox – see below: To Refresh Firefox:

  1. Open the Troubleshooting Information page using one of these methods:
    • Click the menu button , click help and select Troubleshooting Information. A new tab containing your troubleshooting information should open.
    • If you’re unable to access the Help menu, type about:support in your address bar to bring up the Troubleshooting Information page.
  2. At the top right corner of the page, you should see a button that says “Refresh Firefox” (“Reset Firefox” in older Firefox versions). Click on it.
  3. Firefox will close. After the refresh process is completed, Firefox will show a window with the information that is imported.
  4. Click Finish and Firefox will reopen.

Suggestion #2 was the solution, but I wanted to share all three browser reset solutions

Can’t connect to Internet? Here is the solution

Computer Network and internet communication concept

Many calls that I receive are in regards to not being able to connect to the Internet.  Here is my checklist of top tips in getting this issue resolved:

  1. Are other computers at this site able to connect to the Internet or is this computer specific? If all computers are affected, disconnect power from the Internet Provider’s modem/router.  If another Wireless router is connected to that device, disconnect power from it. Wait 30 seconds and reconnect power to the Wireless Router.  Wait 1 minute, then reconnect power to the Internet Providers modem/router.  Wait 1 minute, then test at the affected computer again.
  2. If a specific computer is unable to connect to the Internet, let’s check it from a command prompt.  Enter “cmd” in the Run or Search field.  When the cmd Command Prompt suggestion is shown in the results, right click and select “Run As Administrator”.  You should get a black box with a prompt like C:\Windows\System32> shown below. That is where we need to be.command-prompt
  3. To test if we can get to the Internet, try pinging the ISP box.  To determine the IP address of that box, type “ipconfig /all” to see a list of adapters and their status.  The Default Gateway is the IP address of the box that is our router.  See if you can ping that IP address.  For example, say the Default Gateway is showing 192.168.1.254, then try pinging that IP address to verify you can get to the default gateway. You should be able to ping that box inside your network with that command.
  4. (Screen shot of pinging the router) ping-router
  5. Next, try pinging a website like “ping weberscomputers.com”.  If you run that command, you will get a result showing how long it took to ping that website and a success message.  It should look like this: Pinging weberscomputers.com [162.249.0.243] with 32 bytes of data:
    Reply from 162.249.0.243: bytes=32 time=54ms TTL=50
    Reply from 162.249.0.243: bytes=32 time=62ms TTL=50
    Reply from 162.249.0.243: bytes=32 time=54ms TTL=50
    Reply from 162.249.0.243: bytes=32 time=54ms TTL=50
  6. (Screen shot of pinging an external website) ping-website
  7. If the request fails, you’re not able to get out of the router. Another trick is to reset the TCP/IP protocol stack.  To do that,we’ll have to type the following command inside the command prompt dialog box: “netsh winsock reset catalog”.  This will run and ask you to reboot your computer when it completes. Restart the computer and retest to see if the problem has been resolved.
  8. (Screen shot of netsh winsock reset catalog) netsh-winsock
  9. Other factors that can keep you from connecting:
    1. Proxy Server settings are turned on. Turn off if you’re a home user. To get to this page, go into Control Panel, select Internet Options, click on the Connections tab, then click on the LAN Settings button
    2. (Screen shot of Proxy settings – be sure everything is unchecked) proxy-settings
    3. Old DNS information.  You can clear DNS cache with the following command at the command prompt: ipconfig /flushdns
    4.  (Screen shot of ipconfig /flushdns)  ipconfig-flushdns
  10. Lately the resetting of TCP/IP protocol (step 7) has been the most important step to do. Remember, you’ll need to restart your computer after that step in order for it to take effect.

Beyond that, give me a call – or if any of these steps are beyond your pay scale.

Best Regards,

Mark Weber

(214) 533-6216

mark@weberscomputers.com

Is your e-mail address ready for business?

I receive many business cards that use @yahoo.com, @gmail.com, @hotmail.com, @sbcglobal.net or some other “free” email address for business.

If your email account is compromised on one of these services, whom do you call? (Beware that a Google search may give you a scammers call center to call into.  Google and Hotmail do not have published call center numbers, they are handled by FAQ and community bulletin boards).

Do you have an alternate email address on file? Do you have 2-stage authentication set up (where it sends a text to your cell phone in order to reset your password or authenticate that it is you that is making the changes?)

I’ve recently run into business users that were compromised by their password being guessed and when they finally got back into the account, their contacts and/or email was missing. And all of their contacts had been spammed, usually with an email saying you’re stuck overseas on travel and to wire you money at some website (this is a scammer’s technique of getting money).

Be sure to set up an alternate email address for any email account that you use for business and 2-stage authentication to send a text to your cell phone for account recovery. Know whom to call when your email service is down.

Another suggestion is to get your own domain name so you have more control of your business email and to give you someone to call when your email  account quits working.  If you need to see if a particular domain name is available, go to GoDaddy.com website and see if your desired domain name is available.  This also separates your personal email account from other businesses and shows you’re more serious about how you run your business.  The rates for domain names are very affordable and I highly recommend having your own specific domain name for business.

You’re only as good as your last backup

One of the biggest threats on the Internet is Ransom-ware.  The other danger for your computer is not having a backup. Here is an easy way to automate the process of having a backup:

I use Carbonite as my backup service. For $59/year, unlimited storage on their server – whenever my computer is idle, it begins backing up any new or changed files and it now has a 60 day history of files that I can restore from. Their tech support is based in Boston, MA and they are very nice to work with.

For more information about backing up your personal PC – click here

If you’re a business, you may wish to subscribe to their business service.  For more information about small business backups – click here

Don’t fall victim to fake Microsoft or Windows remote scammers

If someone claiming to be from “Microsoft” or “Windows” or perhaps “your Internet Service Provider” and they want to remote into your computer because “they’re receiving reports of various infections” and if you let them remote onto your computer – they will help remove that data (yeah, right).  DON’T LET THEM REMOTE INTO YOUR COMPUTER! IMMEDIATELY HANG UP! These are scam artists. More information about them is on Microsoft’s CyberSecurity Website (Click here to go to that site)

If you let them on, they will snoop around, try to password protect your hard drive or encrypt your data in order to lock you out and demand a ransom fee to get back into your data. Again, why would you let them on? (Instead, let’s report them to Microsoft – click here for that page)

Do not fall for these ploys to get on your hard drive – these are criminals that have no good intent and they don’t mind lying about who they are or why they called. If you stay on the phone too long just to mess with them, they may “SWAT” you – sending the police to your address reporting a domestic disturbance or something crime. Just hang up the phone on them and if they keep calling back, report them (see the first paragraph above)

Call me if you did let them on and now you need your computer secured!

Call Now! 214.533.6216