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Ransomware is a type of malicious software used by criminals in which they kidnap data from your computer, often locking you out of your computer, and holding it for ransom. While ransomware can be a hard thing to get rid of, it’s much easier to learn what steps to take to avoid it. Below are only some of the ways to help keep your computer, and your wallet, safe from hackers.

  • Be careful of bad links

Links in spam emails or unknown websites do not always go where they advertise. Avoid clicking on any suspicious links. If you are unsure of a link, you can hover you mouse over it and the actual link will appear. A long string with numbers and letters is often a malicious link that could download malware or a virus if clicked.

  • Do not open untrusted email attachments

Just like bad links, malware and viruses can get into your computer when you open a bad email attachment. Do not open email attachments from senders you don’t know. Never open an attachment that asks you to enable macros. If it is infected, enabling macros will allow the malicious software to gain control of your computer.

  • Only download from sites you trust

When downloading software or media files it’s best to go to a verified site, not a random google link because they said it was free. Most reputable websites will have identity verification. A padlock, shield, or https in the address bar are common ways to identify if a site is secure. 

  • Person data is personal

if you receive a call, text, or email from unknown source that asks for personal data, don’t give it out. A lot of personal data is already out there and scammers will use it to try and lure you into a false sense of security in order to gain more information. If you’re unsure but think it might be real, verify the person is who they say they are. Legitimate business will understand, scammers will try to assure you its not necessary. 

  • Keep your system updated

Keep your software, including security software, and operating system up to date.

  • Use security software

As technology become more advanced, so does cybercrime. Security software is essential to protect your computer from ransomware and other malicious attacks. We partner with AVG/AVAST to provide complete security coverage.

  • Backup your data

Should you experience a ransomware attack, having a backup of your data will ensure you don’t lose information. The backup will need to be an external drive, not plugged in at the time of ransom, or cloud storage. Click here to find out about our remote backup options.

If you do become a victim of ransomware, the first thing to do is turn off your computer and disconnect it from any networks and internet. Never pay the ransomSometimes, paying the ransom might seem like the simplest and fasted way to get your data returned to you; however, there have been many instances in which the hacker didn’t return the data and disappeared. Once you have turned off and disconnected your computer, contact us and we will do our best to return your data to you.

Email scams are but one of many ways hackers steal confidential information from you. Most people going about their day-to-day life will likely fall victim to these types of scams. Hackers are evolving and their methods are changing constantly. Most of these emails use templates and logos and appear to come from a legitimate source even though hiding behind the “Click Here” or “Apply Now” is a disaster waiting to happen. A good practice is to always confirm the email address of the sender and to check the Website’s Address.

Remember, Microsoft or other service providers normally never email you that your password needs to be reset or is expired unless you initiate the password reset request first.

Here are a few things to check before clicking links or opening attachments:

  • Hover your mouse over the link to reveal the URL you can almost immediately tell if the email and links are from the correct source.
  • It’s very important to confirm the sender’s email address as most times they will spoof a company or person’s name to trick you into believing it’s legitimate.
  • If you accidentally click the link you can check your browser’s address bar to confirm the site. If the link is for but opens then it’s 100% a scam. Promptly close the site. It may also be a good idea to run an Anti-Virus Scan or contact your IT department/company to have them check your device.
  • Anti-Virus Services may offer True Site functionality. This will normally notify you or block access to the site if it’s found to be dangerous.
  • What to do if you suspect your password was compromised?

Prompt action is critical. Change the password for any account that used the same password. Contact your IT department/company to have them reset passwords you do not have access to change. 

It’s important to have different passwords for all of your important accounts, if possible. We also recommend using 2FA (multi-factor authentication) for an added layer of security.

  • How do I stop getting these emails?

Unfortunately there is no way to 100% eliminate these emails from getting to your inbox. Spam filters have come a long way, but sometimes setting the levels too high can cause the filters to start blocking legitimate emails. Setting them too low will open the floodgates. The most effective method is to have a combination of spam filters and user education.

  • I keep getting emails requesting wire transfers that show my boss/co-worker’s name; but they said they didn’t send the email. How is this possible?

This is a simple name spoofing tactic used by hackers to steal money. They’re sending the email using the name and not using your boss/co-worker’s email account. You can confirm this by checking the email address. Click the sender’s name to show the email address.

  • How did hackers find out who works at our organization?

Most times, the information like name, title, or phone number is listed on most organization’s websites. Some organizations have strict requirements for making this information available and it can’t be changed.

The most common reason for a slow computer system is software you don’t want on your computer using up all your processing power. These programs, called  malware spyware, or  viruses, can download and run without your knowledge, in the background of your computer’s normal operation. To improve your computer performance, regularly scan for these unwanted programs using a malware removal tool such as Microsoft’s Malware Scan, or   another  online scanner. Removing excessive malware from a computer can be daunting and may take a long time. We offer quick and easy malware removal and PC cleanup, and we can do this process for you.

But before you call for professional help, try some self-checks first.  

    1. Spyware & Viruses (Malware). This is the most frequent culprit of slow computers. Verify that your antivirus and antispyware is up to date       and running properly; and scan regularly. Note that some viruses require manual removal techniques and involve considerable effort and expertise. If this seems daunting, bring it in! We offer a basic virus/spyware cleanup that is very affordable.

    2. Excess Data. Clean up excess files. Run the Disk Cleanup tool located in Start->All Programs->Accessories->System Tools

    3. Data Fragmentation. Defragment your hard disk drive. After years of use, files are broken into many pieces and spread all across your hard drive degrading performance. Try out   Defraggler, a free tool by the creators of  CCleaner.

    4. Memory (RAM). Upgrading your memory can be one of the quickest ways to increase the speed of your computer. Years ago, 256MB-512MB of RAM was more than enough for Windows XP to run well. Unfortunately, Windows 10 requires more memory and additional programs installed and upgraded. The amount of memory required is now considerably larger, causing your computer to outgrow it’s memory. We recommend no less than 4GB of RAM, preferably 8GB, for Windows 10. To find out how much memory you have, click on  My Computer (or Computer) and choose properties. There you’ll see the amount of RAM listed. If you have less then 4GB (1,000MB) of RAM, you should consider upgrading your RAM. The cost of adding 4GB of RAM is dependent upon the RAM type required by your system, but can be as low as $35 and seldom exceeds $75.

To keep your PC up to date with the latest drivers and other system updates, you once had to go online and look for the updates appropriate for your PC. No more. Windows includes a free, built-in service called Windows Update. This service helps you keep your PC more secure and reliable as well as compatible with devices. Windows updates also provides new features that may enhance your Windows experience. You can set Windows Update to automatically download and install essential updates or you can review the updates before they’re installed. The service is as automatic as you’d like it to be.

Below are some instructions on how to set up updates for you computer.

For many of of the changes and issues you will face with your business or home technology, you can find a solution online. By using software tutorials, like the ones at GCF Global, you can answer a lot of you own questions yourself!

Need help? That’s why we’re here!