You go to use your computer like usual. You start it up, log in, and instead of seeing your empty desktop, there’s a pop-up saying that your computer is in immediate danger due to viruses or other kinds of threats. You might try to close the pop-up, but there is no way to do so. You might then notice that the pop-up gives you a phone number to call for tech support. They’ll claim to be Microsoft, Apple, Google, or some other reputable company, and before they can help you with your computer virus needs, they’ll ask for money. They’ll take that money and you will never hear from them again.
It’s called a tech support scam. A particularly popular scam currently because it works. When you’re being told that your expensive piece of technology is in immediate danger and you’re clearly given a phone number to solve your problems, it can be easy to forget that a world of scammers is out to get you at all times. However, it is important to remember that IT support will never contact you that way. Real support messages can always be closed, and companies like Microsoft will never ask you to send them money for help. If you do see such a pop-up, contact the company that manages your device or your IT provider. Also, you should be able to close the pop-up through the task manager which you can access by pressing the control, alt, and delete keys at the same time.
The most important takeaway, as always with scams, is that you should never send money to anyone who petitions you for it on the internet or over the phone. Also, if anyone ever asks you to pay via gift cards or Bitcoin, they’re most certainly a scammer. If you have any questions, or you’re a business owner in need of simple and effective tech support, feel free to contact us here at Nice Guy Technology. We’re here to help.
You’ve won the lottery, they’ll say! Or maybe your computer is virus-ridden they’ll say. Before receiving your funds or your IT support, they might ask you to pay a small sum… with gift cards?
Gift card scams are relatively easy to spot compared to the majority, but it’s still important to discuss them. A gift card scam is a scam where someone will ask you, for any reason, to direct a sum of money their way using gift cards. They might request gift cards for a service they’re promising to render or as a fee before you receive a prize. It works the same way as any other scam, but gift cards are simpler to steal. There’s a world of fraud and financial complexity that a scammer needs to brave when reaching into your wallet, but getting you to hand over the identification number on a simple gift card is a clean and efficient way of stealing from you.
To put it bluntly, no upstanding institution will ever ask you for a gift card. That’s just not how the trading of goods and services works, and if anyone ever does ask you, they are without a doubt a scammer. Just remember: Gift cards are for giving, nothing else! As always, if you’re a business owner and you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us here at Nice Guy Technology. We’re here to help.
Okay, computers are complicated. Everybody knows it, even IT professionals understand how infuriatingly complex computers can be sometimes! Unfortunately, the average computer owner doesn’t know what it takes to make a computer last, and you may have wondered in the past why that factory new performance and speed turns into the unbearably sluggish piece of junk we’ve all dealt with at some point or another. And you can’t be blamed for not knowing either, because a computer’s need for maintenance isn’t talked about and as widely known as a car’s for instance.
Even if you aren’t a big car person, and I am not, we all know about the basic upkeep that a car requires. Topping up the tank, getting an oil change, putting air in the tires are all things we know we have to do, because if left unchecked, they could cause much bigger problems. Computers are exactly the same way! If you don’t at least occasionally pay attention to your computer’s needs, it can cause lasting damages down the road.
Secondly, both need to be cleaned every once in a while. Neglecting a car’s hygiene won’t only make it look bad, it will also make it rust faster which in turn can interfere with its performance. While your computer won’t quite rust over, you have to be on the lookout for dust. I know, I know, the most common indoor annoyance since the existence of particles is difficult to keep at bay but checking the inside of your computer periodically will really go a long way. If you find dust clogging up the inside, use a can of air to blow it loose and a soft cloth to wipe it down. Dusting the inside of a computer can go a long way towards staving off damage down the road.
Thirdly, we like cars to go fast. Not everyone wants to be a speed demon, but at the very least we want to go fast enough to get where we’re going in a reasonable amount of time. Once again, that sounds exactly like what we expect out of our computers. Waiting for something to load on a computer is a comparable experience to sitting in rush hour traffic sometimes. And just like rush hour, you might be dealing with this problem on a regular basis, if not every day. There are a number of both free and not-so-free tips on how to speed up your computer on our video "How To Speed Up Your Computer".
Another huge similarity is the need for safety features and precautions. We care about them a lot on our cars, and for good reason. There’s a good reason that a car’s brakes can always overpower its engine. Turn signals aren’t only there for convenience, they’re there so that you can let nearby drivers and pedestrians what you’re doing, and everyone’s safer for it. Anti-virus works the same way. Sure, your computer’s security may not be a matter of life and death like a car, but it very much is a matter of financial ruin, identity theft, and losing your control of your social media, which is scary for a myriad of reasons. If you’re a business owner, this is especially important. For example, sixty percent of businesses that are hit with ransom-ware attacks go out of business within six months. Being lax on IT security can lead to the loss of your very livelihood. Consult your IT provider to make sure you have more than enough protection.
If you still need your IT secured, give us a call here at Nice Guy Technology. We’re here to help.
Computers are constantly evolving. In a world where technological innovations are moving faster than ever before, your computer’s speed should be no exception. The days of dial-up, and even low-speed Wi-Fi, are largely antiquated and gone. With these advancements in connectivity and hardware, your computer should always run super quickly... right? Unfortunately, we both know that that’s not always the case. Computer manufacturers rarely prioritize speed over everything else, and because of that, we so often find ourselves in the multi-generations old issue of screaming at your computer because it won’t even Google something quickly let alone download a file. Luckily, we have some tips on how you can speed your computer up and stop dealing with those spinning beach balls and blue rings.
Let’s start with some things you can do that are totally free and won’t pose any cost to you: Firstly we recommend deleting unnecessary files from your main hard drive. Whether it be a solid state or a hard disk drive, your computer may be performing slowly due to the clutter of unneeded files. Scanning your computer for viruses also helps, as removing those viruses could and likely will speed up your computer. Also, if you have a lot of programs open at the same time, this can really slow down your computer, so try keeping your opened programs to a minimum, and see if you notice any difference. This is especially likely to be a culprit if you use particularly taxing programs such as video editors. Keeping your operating system up to date can help as well, because using a computer on an outdated foundation will likely cause various performance issues. It’s also very important to never download a program that promises to speed your computer up for you unless you know for certain that it’s legitimate. There are services such as the anti-virus Bitdefender that comes with a package for performance optimization. Choosing a less than reputable program for this, however, could give you viruses or malware.
If those free, less involved options don’t work for you, you may need to go a bit further in how you improve your speed. Namely, your computer’s hardware might need to be upgraded. The number one hardware upgrade that we recommend is from a regular hard drive to a solid-state drive, or SSD. This will make your computer so much faster with loading and opening programs, assets, and any other files you end up storing on that drive. Our second recommendation is to install larger amounts of RAM into your computer. RAM is also commonly referred to as your computer’s memory. Upgrading memory basically makes the computer a better multitasker so that having multiple programs open won’t be such an issue. Of course, sometimes even a hardware upgrade can’t solve an issue if your computer is too old or too beat up. If your goal is to pump some more life into a decade old computer, we recommend having a professional look at first to let you know if it would be a waste of your money.
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us here at Nice Guy Technology. And, if you’re a business owner, there’s no reason that IT should be yet another responsibility for you. Please give us a call, we want to know how we can help make your life a little bit easier.
It is time for students to start the school year, and with different times comes different procedures. Most kids will be studying online, at least for now. With the internet playing an increasingly vital role in children’s lives, we must be vigilant toward the online dangers that could threaten their safety. We have devised these 6 tips to help you and your children understand how to stay safe so that you can focus on giving your child a great education.
You’ve likely heard the term “phishing” before, but what exactly does it mean? Well, phishing refers to when hackers disguise themselves as trusted sources to try to trick you into “taking the bait” so to speak, so that they can steal your sensitive information. These phishing attempts can come in the form of email, text messages or phone calls and often times appear to be legitimate.
Let’s talk about a few tricks you can use to protect yourself from phishing scams:
Never send passwords or personal information via email. Your information is the primary thing that hackers and scammers are looking for, and they’ll use it to access your finances or anything else they can use to make a profit at your expense.
Secondly, don’t click unexpected links or open unexpected attachments. Hackers use these to install viruses on your device, and you likely won’t know the extent of the damage until it’s far too late.
It’s also important to hover your cursor over links to reveal the actual URL. If the real URL is different from the one that appeared to be legitimate, then that’s a huge red flag that something is wrong! You’ll also want to check the URL and the message for misspellings and poor grammar. It’s incredibly unlikely that a legitimate company will be sending out haphazardly written materials, and far more likely that a criminal would do exactly that.
Please, if you receive an email, text, or voice message that seems phishy, check with your IT department or feel free to contact us here, at Nice Guy Technology! We’re here to help.
How to Securely Dispose of Old Computers
Getting new computers for your business is exciting, but what happens to the old ones? Depending on the age, some people sell them, others throw them out. That’s the easy part. The problem is the sensitive data on them. There are passwords, account numbers, license keys, customer details, medical information, tax returns, browser history… the works! Each computer, whether laptop, tablet or desktop, contains a treasure trove of sensitive information that cybercriminals would love to get their hands on.
Unfortunately, hitting delete on your files doesn’t actually make them disappear, nor does waving a strong magnet over the drive. These mistakes have cost businesses millions of dollars over the years.
Most businesses are unaware that specialized data cleanup is necessary, others think calling someone to collect the computers will cover all the bases. A 2016 experiment proved just how dangerous the situation can be when they bought 200 used hard drives and found 67% held unwiped, unencrypted sensitive data, including sales projection spreadsheets, CRM records, and product inventories. Frighteningly, they didn’t need any special hacking skills to get this data, it was all right there and helpfully labelled. It’s also not surprising that with simple data recovery tools, people have also been able to access British NHS medical records and missile data, all waiting patiently on a discarded hard drive.
Why hitting delete doesn’t help
Data on a hard drive works like a book with an index page. Every time data is written, it pops a quick entry into the index so when you need it again, it knows where to look. The index is used for files you create as well as system files you can’t even see. Sensible, right? Except if you delete a file it’s more like changing the index to say nothing is on page 10 and you can write something else there when you’re ready. But if you manually flip to page 10, you’ll find the information is still there - the file still exists until it’s been written over - it’s the index reference that got deleted.
Wiping data before disposal
There are software tools you can get to do it yourself, as well as dedicated security firms, but your best option is to choose an IT business you know and trust. With that in mind, a methodical approach is required to ensure not a single drive is left untreated. You don’t want to leave data behind, or even clues that a motivated person could extrapolate any private information from. The approach might include using checklists to maintain security, or dedicated processes to guide each step in decommissioning. Careful records should also be kept, including who signs off on completion of the retirement, and where the computers are sent afterwards. A proper inventory and auditing process may slow the rollout of the new computers slightly, but it’s always better than having your old data come back to haunt you.
We can migrate any needed data, back up the information to your server or external drive, then wipe or destroy the hard drives for you. We can assess the age of your old computers and either dispose of them for you or point you in the right direction of computer recyclers. Plus, the quicker you dispose of your old computers, the easier the process will be. Recyclers will be able to send less of your equipment to landfill, and you’ll be less likely to forget how valuable the drive contents are.
Upgrading your business computers should be a happy time for you and your employees, so with a little forward planning, you’ll be able to keep everyone smiling and all your data secure.
Need help with your old business hardware? Call us today at 614-233-1648!
Who knows what evil lurks in the dark recesses of the Internet? As the old radio show warned, “Only the Shadow Knows.”
It’s time that you see what hackers already know about your business.
At Nice Guy Technology, we’re so committed to protecting the security of your business that we’re offering you a complimentary Dark Web Scan. This is part of our celebration of adding a Cyber Security Expert to our team and our recent designation as a Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP). As a MSSP we can offer an advanced level of security monitoring and protection for your business. Together, we’re on a mission to keep your business compliant, keep your data secure and keep hackers out!
Only 33% of businesses are taking the proper steps to protect themselves from a cyber attack. In fact, 60% of small companies are out of business within six months of a breach.
Are you doing all you can to prepare your business for the inevitable? Show your business some love and get started with a complimentary dark web scan. ❤️
Business owners, learn from my mistake. Be careful where you try to save money!
Hey there, it's Mary from Nice Guy Technology. I'm going to tell you a little story. So lately I've been trying to watch my personal spending, cut out some things that could save a few dollars here and there. So the last several months I've skipped a few trips to the salon so my bangs have been down in my eyes and you know, gray hair is peeking out a LOT.
So last night I got all fed up with it. I grabbed a drugstore box of hair color (it was half price with a coupon) and some scissors I found in the drawer. Seemed like a great idea at the time. I don't know what color this is but it's not mine. Well then I guess it's mine for a while.
So what I did with my hair is exactly what lots of businesses do with their technology. They slap some antivirus on the computers and hope for the best. Why spend money if you don't have to, right? Think about this though. If all of your company's computers were wiped out today, how long would it take you to become operational again? How quickly can you replace that equipment, your software, your customer data, logins, passwords? How much would that downtime cost your business? Or even worse you experienced a data breach. What's the worst that could happen? You face fines, lawsuits, you lose customers and your great reputation that you've built over the years.
Here's a scary statistic: 60% of the companies that experience a cyber attack are out of business within six months. They don't last six months after that attack! So eventually my bangs will grow out. The color will fade. But here are some lessons I've learned and I hope you do too. Do what you're good at. Hire a skilled professional for everything else. And you get what you pay for. (half price with a coupon)
I'll see you next time.
Why Periodic Security Assessments Should Be Your New Normal
By now you know that building up your cyber security is just as important as building up your cash flow. Both are essential to your success, but while most businesses keep an eye on the financials, they tend to think cybersecurity is something they can set and forget. Unfortunately, cybercriminals are constantly coming up with new methods of attack and the security you had in place yesterday may not be sufficient today.
Instead of reacting to breaches and taking on the costs of downtime, lost files and destroyed trust, a periodic security assessment can identify blind spots that place you at risk. Once you know about these problems, you’re able to proactively setup adequate protection before cybercriminals strike. It’s best to use independent IT experts who can audit your security from an outside perspective, often seeing risks that would otherwise be missed.
Regulations change - Are you affected?
Many businesses are kept to strict government regulations around the way they store, process and protect data. Their operating license depends on staying as secure as possible. All regulations require regular security assessments but they vary in scope and timeframe. As regulations change, so do the security assessment requirements. You can imagine how much stricter they are now compared to just 5 years ago. Our team can ensure your business is meeting the relevant regulations, diving deep to be certain you’re safe.
Security patches and updates are vital
It’s so easy to fall behind on your security patches, after all, it seems like there’s a new update every week and each one takes precious time to apply. What we’re seeing though, is that cybercriminals are targeting any business running late, and it’s basically easy pickings for them. If you’re unpatched where it counts, it’s like inviting them in. When we conduct your security assessment, we take a look at your history and see if your business has a robust patch plan in place and make sure you’re up to date. If there’s an issue that’s placing you at risk now, impacted you in the past, or will in the future, we’ll find it.
Viruses are always evolving
Just like the human variety, computer viruses are nothing to welcome into your workplace. They’re constantly evolving to skip past anti-virus scans and do damage in new and interesting ways. Cybercriminals know people are more aware of the traditional infection methods like downloading an attachment or inserting an infected USB, so they’re getting more and more creative. Your security assessment doesn’t just include ticking that you have the latest anti-virus, it includes identifying where you’ve had the most breach attempts and where your biggest vulnerabilities are. This type of precise awareness has a lasting impact on reducing your risks.
Your business may have changed
As your business has grown over the years (or shorter if you’ve experienced a recent surge), your entire setup has changed. More employees, expanded remote access, additional vendors, supplementary locations... the list really is endless. With each change has come a new risk, particularly if your security has been growing around you. It might be that your password policies haven’t been updated since you began, or that you still have the old voicemail system even though phones are within easy reach of customers. This is perhaps one of the most useful areas a security assessment can help with, as you and your employees are accustomed to the business working in a certain way, whether that way leads to risk or not. Our experts will be able to see things from a different perspective, particularly as we make sure to think the same way a cybercriminal would.
What to do with your assessment results
While many experts might present you with a long list of problems and leave you feeling overwhelmed, our team ensures you have a benchmark for progress. You’ll know exactly what you need to do, how we can help, and perhaps most importantly, which actions take priority. Moving ahead, future security investments will be smarter as you focus on the high-payoff areas. You’ll also know exactly what you’ve done well and where your security strengths lie. Employees will see how much you value security, which helps to create a stable culture, and you’ll be able to report your commitment to customers, confirming they’re making the right choice by staying with you.
Curious how your business is doing with security? Schedule a complimentary Security Assessment with Nice Guy Technology.