Technology Advisor Blog

Did I really reboot my computer?

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 6/20/14 10:56 AM


Restart Computer 400Every day we review security patch compliance for all our clients with managed services coverage with us.  Often, we see systems with security patches pending reboots.  Many security patches require a reboot to install, and some security patches are sequential, so the next one won't install before the previous patch is complete.  This can result in a system that isn't fully protected.

Server reboots are handled on a scheduled basis, but with desktop reboots, often we leave it to the user to reboot at their convenience to reduce the risk of disruption or lost files that aren't saved.  As a general rule, we ask users to reboot (at least) weekly.

One thing we've noticed recently, is that many users think they're rebooting, but they're not. To clarify, here are the steps (in Windows 7).  

  • Click on the "Start Button" (Windows colorful flag in the lower left hand corner).
  • Click on the arrow next to "Shut Down", and select "Restart" from the list. This closes all programs, shuts down Windows, and then restarts Windows again
If you see a yellow icon on the "Shutdown" button, then you need to select this option instead of "Restart", to completely power off your system.  Keep in mind that you will need to manually restart the system with the power button with this option.  If you're leaving for the day and want to remote in later, or you have a backup that runs over night, it's important to remember to power on your system again. 
You'll also see many different choices - "Switch User", "Log off", "Lock", "Sleep", and "Hibernate".  None of these is a reboot.  A common mistake for laptop users is to always put the laptop to "sleep" by closing the lid and never rebooting.  Some users mistakenly believe they did a reboot because they need to enter a password to log in again.
Remember to reboot your computer at least weekly!  If you'd like us to set up an automated schedule for reboots, we can implement that for you, but keep in mind that all users need to get in the habit of not leaving files open and unsaved.

Tags: Reboot, security patches

Example of an email you should NOT open!

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 6/19/14 2:38 PM

In our last post, we talked about suspicious emails that don't look so suspicious on the surface.  Here is an example of an email to show you what to look for.  In this case, a fake payroll report is being sent.   A busy, distracted person may open this by mistake, or an opportunistic employee may try to open it to sneak a peek at confidential information.  SLOW DOWN and check your mail carefully.  Even with up to date antivirus protection and spam filtering, some emails CAN get through because they are engineered to get through.  This can be a phishing email (trying to get confidential information) or a dangerous virus such as Cryptocker.   Don't open the door!  

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  1. Multiple random email addresses are listed including some mispellings
  2. The subject line doesn't match what is actually used by this vendor (but this is tough to catch)
  3. The dates don't match - report date vs email "sent" date
  4. The instructions call for the user to download the file from Dropbox and this vendor would never transmit this type of information with consumer file sharing application
  5. The instructions mention Dropbox, but the link says Cubby (a different brand of file sharing)
  6. The link includes a .zip extension which is often used to hide executable files.
  7. There is no corporate email signature or information at the end of the email.
Many things to watch out for, and we thought it would be helpful to point them out.  Please help spread the word by including this in your employee security training. You can click on the image to view a larger version which is easier to read.

Tags: eMail, spam, cryptolocker, Virus

Don't open these (un)suspicious emails!

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 6/13/14 9:03 AM

Stop!We've all heard that we shouldn't open suspicious emails.  They can be phishing scams (attempts to get personal information such as username, password, and account number), or contain viruses.  The problem is, the "bad guys" know we're on the lookout, and the real danger lies in emails that are disguised to not look suspicious.  

There's another round of Cryptolocker going around and this is just about the worst virus you can get.  The virus attacks your files including any files you have on a networked device, and holds them for ransom.   The virus often spreads through emails with very normal (and sometimes enticing) subject lines. 

Here are some of the email subject lines to be on the lookout for: 

  • Scan from a Xerox WorkCentre
  • USPS - Missed package delivery
  • ACH Notification ("ADP Payroll")
  • Voice Message from Unknown Caller
  • Corporate eFax message from "random phone #" - 8 pages
  • Important - New Outlook Settings
  • Dun & Bradstreet Case Number

In some cases the emails look very routine such as a fax or a scan and you can see how easy it would be for someone to open the email on "autopilot".  In other cases, they are designed to entice someone to open something they normally shouldn't have access to like a (fake) payroll report.  

We've covered theses threats in our on-line training, newsletters, blog posts, social media feeds, but it's worth repeating - stay alert when opening email!  When you slow down, you'll see the emails are always a bit off, or they may contain a "zip" attachment.  If something is a bit off, STAY AWAY! It may be a criminal knocking on your door.

Tags: eMail, cryptolocker, Virus

Removing entries from your Outlook email "nickname" cache

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 6/5/14 9:29 AM

Outlook AutocompleteOutlook has a time saving "autocomplete" feature that's a big help most of the time, but can sometimes cause issues.  When you compose a new email message in Outlook, as you start to type in the first few letters of the recipient's email address, you'll see that Outlook will have suggestions for you based on who you have emailed before.  This is a great time saver, and over time your list will grow.  An important thing to know, is that it's not actually your address book, it's a cached list of anyone you have emailed in the past.

The downside is that sometimes the list will contain an outdated or invalid address.  If you ever email someone new and have a typo in the address, it will be saved and clutter your list for next time, which can cause you to make the same mistake over and over again.

Outlook Delete AutocompleteTo get rid of the bad address, scroll down the list, highlight it, and hit delete.  

The file that stores all these addresses is called a "Nickname" file and has an extension of .nk2.  If you get a new computer, and copy your mail and address book, your nickname file will initially be blank.  Many users call us and report that their address book is missing.  It's actually the .nk2 file, which can be migrated to the new system, but you may also choose to rebuild it fresh to decrease your "clutter".

Tags: Outlook, autocomplete, nickname, .nk2

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