Technology Advisor Blog

Don't Let Cyber Crime ruin your holiday!

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 11/27/17 3:29 PM

CyberMonday_Hacker.jpgToday is Cyber Monday, and that means that billions of transactions will occur on line.  That also means, as TransUnion puts it, "what's convenient for shoppers can also be a huge opportunity for savvy identity thieves, who steal information provided on Internet transactions for their own monetary gain."  

Here are a few quick tips to help keep you safe:

  • Don't click on links from retailer emails.  Hackers like to prey on busy shoppers and create "phishing" emails that look like they're from brands you trust.  Go straight to the web site through a browser instead.
  • Don't shop on public WIFI.  Sophisticated hackers can intercept traffic on these networks.  Use your data plan instead.  
  • Don't use a debit card for online shopping.  Debit cards are tied directly to your checking account.  Credit cards have better financial protections.
  • Don't save your credit card on shopping sites.  If they store it, it may be hacked.  Better to re-enter the information next time you shop.  Use a separate card for online and offline shopping.
  • Keep your security updates up to date.  You can never be 100% secure on line, but keeping all your security updates current can greatly decrease your risk.
  • Check your statements.  Often small purchases are made to test a card before bigger theft occurs.  Check your statement frequently and keep track of every purchase.
  • Change your passwords.  Too many people use the same password or a slight variation for multiple accounts.  This makes it way too easy for cybercriminals to get access to your accounts.
  • Shop secure sites.  Look for the "s" in Https:// before the site name.  Hackers still have ways to get through, but this helps.

Cybercrime is at its highest during the holiday season.  Find out how we can help protect your business and your personal identities during an identity theft blizzard.  Call us to schedule a free consultation today!



Tags: cybersecurity

Internet Outages Across the Country Yesterday - What Happened?

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 11/7/17 8:36 AM

Comcast Outage - 11-6-2017 - 400.jpgYesterday afternoon users across the country lost Internet access for about two hours.  Some users had intermittent outages and slow downs, and some lost connectivity altogether.  All our clients with Comcast Internet were affected and we were on the phone non-stop talking to businesses who were disrupted by the outage.  The map above from shows the impact was nationwide.

Comcast Outage - Time Graph.jpgThe disruption lasted a little under two hours, but for businesses that rely heavily on the Internet for email and other mission critical business applications, that was a LONG two hours.  The outage started around 1pm and was mostly resolved a little after 3pm.  

What caused the problem? A misconfiguration at Level 3, an internet backbone company - and enterprise Internet Service Provider (ISP) - that underpins other big networks.   In our area, the affected users were all on the Comcast network, but the routing issue at Level 3 created a ripple effect, causing problems for companies like Spectrum, Verizon, Cox, and RCN, in addition to Comcast across the country.

Internet outages like this have occurred occasionally and consistently throughout the decades, but no system is fault proof.  To learn more about the details, has an excellent summary of more of the technical details.

Monday's outage shows how precarious connectivity is in our highly connected world.  When the outage first occurs, getting accurate information is challenging, and its important to know if the problem is inside or outside of your network.   

What can you do?  A secondary Internet connection can help in most cases.  Advanced business class firewalls can support two connections, and fail over as needed.  Also, you can use your phone for email and web access through your wireless carrier.  An outage like this is a good reminder to put a solid disaster recovery plan in place.  


Tags: disaster recovery, Internet Outage, Comcast

Tech Tip: How to easily document computer steps

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 11/1/17 10:51 AM

Here's an awesome Microsoft Windows feature you probably didn't know about.  The Windows Steps Recorder can be used to record your screens and document the steps taken for a specific computer task. With this feature, you can create how-to documents or document problems for you or someone else to refer to later.  If you're trying to help someone solve a computer problem, this is also an easy way for them to show you what they're having trouble with - identifying the exact steps.  What a great tool!

Windows PSR.jpgFrom the Start Menu (lower left corner of your screen), click in the search bar and type “psr,” then press Enter.

You will see this program open, and all you have to do is click record. From there, you can go ahead and work through your task, and this application will record all of the steps taken. It’s for sure a true hidden gem for Windows!






Hit "Stop Record" when you're done.  

PSR - Control Panel.jpgPSR - Sample - Microsoft Paint.jpg

You'll be able to review all your steps when you're done, and you'll have the option to save your recording.  The sample below shows the first steps taken as the image for the application was created in Microsoft Paint for this blog post.  Step 1 shows an exact time stamp for when the step was completed, and a detailed description of what was done ("User left click on "Shapes (tool bar)"...)

Next time you need to create a "How To" guide, or show a problem to your tech support, use the Steps Recorder to get an accurate step by step record without wasting time on "Cut and Paste" and potentially missing a step.

We hope you found this tip helpful.  If so, please share with a friend or colleague.  

Tags: Computer Tip, Windows Steps Recorder

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