How to tell if you have a computer virus

You may be thinking your computer is infected with a computer virus. Maybe your computer is slower than it used to be or you are seeing strange popups. Regardless, you’re concerned and want to know what to do. You’ve come to the right place. This article will give you a quick overview of just what an infection may look like and then how to diagnosis it for yourself.

Symptoms of a computer virus

There are many possible symptoms of a computer virus being on your computer. Here are a list of the most common ones:

  • Your computer is much slower than it used to be
  • There are lots of popup windows, some may even be for pornographic material
  • Your internet connection is very slow or even intermittent
  • Your files may be missing
  • Applications won’t start on your computer
  • Your antivirus software may have been disabled or even uninstalled
  • You see windows or applications using a language different than your own as if they have been changed
  • You lose control over your system and it starts to do things on its own. Sending emails, visiting websites etc.
  • You may receive very specific popup windows telling you that your computer is infected and offering to help you clean it

Steps to diagnose a computer virus

If you have any of the symptoms above and want to find out if you are indeed infected with a computer virus, follow these steps.

  1. Go to the Bitdefender Quickscan online site
  2. Click on the “Start Scanner” button
  3. Select “Scan now”

online-computer-virus-scan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We do not recommend Bitdefender products here. However, the reason we are recommending it for the purpose of diagnosing your computer is that it is one of the few online computer virus scanners that do not require you download anything.  It wills can your computer completely online. Most modern computer viruses would lock files form being downloaded and thus, prevent the scanner from working.

If you find out you do have a computer virus, its best to contact a computer virus specialist. Modern viruses can be very nasty and damaging to remove. h

computer virus

Computer virus forces hospitals to shut down systems and cancel operations

A computer virus attack forced three hospitals to shutdown their computer systems and go completely offline. This caused the cancellation of all routine operations and outpatient appointments.

A “major incident” was reported by both the Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust. The cause was listed as a “computer virus” which infected its electronic systems this pas Sunday, 30 October 2016. To rid themselves of the virus attack, the hospital made the choice to take all of its computer offline. This allowed each computer and server to be cleaned of the virus.

Dr. Karen Dundersale, the chief executive of the Goole NHS Foundation Trust said, ” virus infected our electronic systems [on Sunday] and we have taken the decision, following expert advice, to shut down the majority of our systems so we can isolate and destroy it.” The BBC reports that this led both hospitals to completely cancel all operations. As of now, both hospitals  have yet to restore full operations to all departments.

Because of the attack, all outpatient appointments and diagnostic procedures that were scheduled at the infected hospitals on Monday and Tuesday were forced to be cancelled.  Medical emergencies such as  major trauma and women in high-risk labor were being diverted to neighboring hospitals.

At this time, we don’t have any information on the type of virus or malware that was used in the attack. We also don’t have any information on how it entered the internal systems of the hospitals. However, as the hospitals were both using a shared system, it was possible for both to be infected.

Hospitals becoming targets of virus attacks

This is similar to an incident in March of 2016 where MedStar Health Inc, a large hospital chain in the Washington DC area, was also forced offline. This case was more about ransomware and the hospital was forced to pay the attackers $17,000. But the end result was that attacks were able to force a hospital chain completely offline.They were denied access to their patient charts and couldn’t access anything including lab results, x-rays, or other procedures results.

Hospitals have become hot targets for hackers because they haven’t kept up with the times when it comes to security. While spending on technology has increased, especially in the area of electronic medical records, security has taken a back seat.

Steps to protect your practice or business from virus attacks

These types of attacks show just how vulnerable a hospital or doctor’s office is. When they are knocked offline and are denied access to medical records, that has massive implications. No longer is it just a computer system issue, lost revenues or time, now its people’s lives.

You can greatly reduce the chances of these types of attacks by controlling the main entry points of these types of attacks. They are:

  • Email phishing attacks – can be greatly reduced by educating employees and by using a strong spam filters
  • Infected USB drives – having anti-malware software installed that scans in real time can reduce this risk
  • Browsing unsafe sites or clicking on infected ads – anti-malware software usually also includes web surfing protection. But you can also obtain lists of dangerous sites and configure your firewall to block access to these types of sites or to filter malicious advertisements.

If you need help with any of these options for your own practice or business, please contact Iron Comet at 770-506-4383 or email us at support@ironcomet.com.

 

AT&T to buy Time Warner – what does this mean for you the consumer?

AT&T has been in talks to purchase Time Warner. Last week, they reached a deal that would allow AT&T to purchase the entertainment powerhouse for 85 billion dollars. What does such a massive deal mean to you the consumer? Read on to find what both sides are saying in this massive development that will have far reaching implications.

Is this purchase good or bad for the consumer?

Of course it depends on who you ask. For its part, AT&T released a press release stating that consumers would see a stronger “alternative to cable & other video providers,” better value and more choices.

Jeffrey Chester, executive director for the Center for Digital Democracy, a Washington-area advocacy group for consumers said this, “the deal raises major challenges for consumers, subscribers and competitors.”

This is far from the first time a phone company has bought a media company. Version, AT&T’s chef rival purchased AOL in 2015 and is currently in talks to purchase Yahoo. Cable TV company Comcast purchased NBC in 2013. AT&T itself bought DirecTV in 2015.

The reason these large companies are doing this is two fold. First many are seeing a decline in the number of new phone sales as we all already have smart phones. We are less likely to buy new ones every year. The second reason is to have a larger piece of the consumer pie.

“This is all about tracking and targeting us regardless of whether we use a mobile device, PC or TV,” Chester says. “Through the growing capability of mobile phones to follow and geo-target us everywhere we go — the supermarket, while in a car, or even on the street, these new broadband ISP/mobile/TV giants are extending their powerful digital tentacles further into our lives.”

With that kind of access, AT&T can better target us with advertising. You could see an ad on your phone for certain items at the grocery store as you walk in. Highly targeted ads are the holy grail for companies.

distributed denial of service website

Was your website down? Massive attack against the web

Last Friday morning, October 21, 2016, there was a massive distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack against large parts of the internet. Many websites were unreachable for over two hours Even the website of many large companies like Twitter, Spotify and Netflix. This was a massive, well coordinated attack that had been a long time in the making. Was your website also effected?

What happened? Why was my website down?

Dyn, a company that manages part of the domain name system (DNS), was attacked by an unprecedented level of attacks. DNS is what allows users to type www.Google.com rather than having to remember the IP address of the website. Dym was hit with lots of false web traffic. Think of it that you are having a conversation with someone and then suddenly someone turns on music from 200 radio stations all around you and person you are talking to. The conversation will be drowned out in all of the noise. That’s what happened here. Dyn was no longer able to answer legitimate requests for data and thus, the website of many companies were knocked offline.

 

What is a DDOS attack?

A distributed denial of service attack (DDOS) is when a large network of devices that are scattered all over the web (distributed) send out random noise data to a specific target. The target is no longer able to filter out the noise and eventually gives in to the attacks. In the case of this most recent attack, the network used was composed of over 10 million infected devices that the cyber criminals used to attack Dyn. These devices were mostly Chinese made digital video recorders (DVRs) for security systems, web cams, and smart phones. Dyn was eventually able to filter out the noise and get back online.

 

How can I protect my website?

Unfortunately there really is nothing you can do for these attacks. The hosting service must handle the attacks. The best advice is to make sure your website is hosted at a quality company that is large enough to fend off these types of attacks. Those $5.99 per month hosting companies won’t have the resources to handle attacks of this volume. Choose a large, established hosting company for your company’s website.

 

If you need help with your website or if your company needs a website, give us a call at 770-506-4383 and we would be happy to help you.

Upgrade to Windows 10 – should you upgrade?

If you ask a computer repair company when you should upgrade something, you probably expect them to always say NOW! And while there are good reasons to upgrade and keep current with technology, that doesn’t always match up with the budgets of small businesses. This is especially true with those who wish to  upgrade to Windows 10. When should I upgrade is the question we are hearing a lot now from our customers.

When should you upgrade to Windows 10?

Its been more than a year now since Windows 10 was released. Many of the bugs and issues have been worked out. Like all versions if Windows, its usually best to wait until the first major service pack. Here are some reasons for you to upgrade to Windows 10:

  • You’re still on Windows XP – Windows XP was great in its day, but its long since become obsolete. If you’re still using Windows XP, you’re asking for trouble. Microsoft is no longer issuing security updates for Windows XP so it means your computer would be very vulnerable to attacks.
  • You’re still on Windows 7 – a case can be made to keep using Windows 7 (see below) but Windows 7 is  also getting a little but long in the tooth.
  • You’re ready to upgrade your computer – if you’re ready to purchase a new computer, then it’s the perfect time to upgrade to Windows 10
  • You need the cutting edge software – some software requires the latest operating system. If this is you, then now is the time for Windows 10

Here are some reasons that you should NOT upgrade to Windows 10, at least for now.

  • Your current system doesn’t have the specifications to be able to handle Windows 10 – If your computer’s processor isn’t fast enough, or you don’t have enough memory or hard drive space, then now isn’t the best time to upgrade. It would be a larger investment for you to upgrade all of your hardware just to get to Windows 10.
  • Windows 7 (or gasp, 8) is working just fine for you – If its not broken, don’t fix it. If you don’t have a really compelling reason to upgrade, then you may want to hold back.
  • You don’t want to be trapped into a cycle of forced updates – Updates and patches are good for Windows. But that doesn’t mean you always want to update to all of them as soon as they are available. There have been cases when an update was installed that it caused other unintended problems. With all versions of Windows, you have the choice of whether or not you will install them. But with Windows 10, you no longer get that choice.
  • Privacy is important to you – Windows 10 has several things that should be a concern to most computer users. First, it shows ads in the start menu. It also collects a lot of information about how you use your computer and sends it to Microsoft. It also uses your computer in its network to help distribute updates to other users. This means Microsoft will download an update to your computer and then use your internet connection to help send that update to others. Why?  So Microsoft doesn’t have to pay the internet bill.

 

So there you have it. You have the good information and the some reasons why and some reasons why maybe not to upgrade to Windows 10.

Here is some additional information about Windows 10 from Microsoft:

cleaning your computer

Cleaning your computer can maximize its lifespan

Most people would like to get the most use from an expensive item like a computer. cleaning your computer can go a long way to protecting the investment you have made. Where going to show you some tips you can give your computer a good cleaning.

Why cleaning your computer is so important

Over time, dust and debris will collect in your computer. When a computer gets dirty like this, it will cause parts such as fans to stop working. Fans are critical to keep your computer cool and not overheating. In addition, once layers of dust collect on other parts, it acts as an insulating blanket on the component causing it to overheat and fail. That’s why cleaning your computer is an important part of maintaining it.

Dust and other things can collect inside our keyboards causing them to fail as well. So it’s a good idea to keep them clean as well. You would be surprised what you find when you clean out your keyboard.  Remember that lunch at your desk and a bit of egg salad that slid down between the T and Y keys? How about the Doritos’ cheese power? And that one time you spilled a bit of coffee. We all do these things so as long as you are cleaning your computer once in a while, you should be good.

Get the right tools for cleaning your computer

You’re going to need a few items to get your cleaning done. We recommend the following items:

  • a can of compressed air
  • cotton swabs
  • a clean rag
  • window cleaner such as Windex that is ammonia free
  • a set of screw drivers

We will discuss each of these items throughout the article below.

Now its time to get started. First you will need to shutdown your computer. If you’re using Microsoft Windows, go to the Start button and select Shutdown. Once your computer is shut down, go ahead and remove the power plug from the back of the computer.

Pull the power plug

Pull the power plug

Pull the power plug

 

Once you have removed the power, use the can of compressed air to blow out the vent of the power supply. This is the most common place for dust and debris to enter the computer and collect. There is nothing in the power supply that you can damage easily so go ahead and use the compressed air to give it a good cleaning.

Once you have done that, use your screwdrivers to unscrew the side panel of your computer. Many neweer computers will have large thumb screws that may not require screw drivers. v

cleaning your computer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you have removed the side panel from the computer, use the compressed air on the parts onside. Be sure not to use the air too close, maybe blow the inside from about six inches away. Make sure all of the dust and debris is removed especially from the fan that sits on top of your processor. That will be the large fan you see on the motherboard. Be careful not to touch anything inside the computer itself. Just use the air to clean everything out.

Once you are done with that, put the panel back on the computer.

Take your keyboard and turn it upside down and gently shake it to remove some of the debris. After that, you can use the compressed air to blow out anything stuck between the keys. You can also use the Q-tips here to get a little deeper.

Once you are done with the keyboard, its time to focus on the monitor. You can use Windex to clean your CRT or LCD monitors as long as it is ammonia free. Ammonia can damage screens so be sure not to use that on any CRT or LCD screen.

Once you have completed wiping down the monitor, then you have finished cleaning your computer. Sit back and and enjoy a job well done.

If you need any help on cleaning your computers, please contact us at 770-506-4383 and we would be happy to setup a time to have all of your computers cleaned.

 

buy a new computer

Buy a new computer – when is the best time?

We often get asked this question from customers as to when its time to buy a new computer or similar device such as tablets. Most expect a computer company to say, buy a new computer every year! But of course this isn’t correct for a number of reasons. This article will give you the information you need when you’re are looking to buy a new computer or similar device.

The first thing to consider is this. Is your current computer completing the tasks that you need it to do? Is there something you need the computer to do that it is currently not? Can that be solved by just upgrading software or upgrading a piece of hardware? Is the computer running too slow?

Here are some common issues that you may have and other solutions other than to buy a new computer.

Computer is running too slow

This can be a great many things. Many of which can be resolved little cost or even for free.

  • Your computer simply has too many programs installed – try going through and removing any programs you are no longer using.
  • Too many programs starting up with Windows can really slow down a computer – use the MSCONFIG utility to remove unnecessary programs from starting up with Windows
  • Running out of hard drive space – install a second hard drive very inexpensively
  • Virus or other kinds of malware – get the viruses cleaned out and you will see a big improvement
  • Time to format and reinstall Windows – this also called purging by fire, reinstalling everything from scratch is a last solution but often is a very good one

 

Computer won’t run programs that I need

  • Is there an upgrade of the program? Do you need more hardware specs such as memory?
  • Can you add more memory or hard drive space? These are both very inexpensive ways to upgrade your computer
  • Do you need to upgrade your operating system? Still using Windows XP? Maybe you only need to upgrade your operating system and that can often be done without buying a new computer.

 

General guidelines on best time to buy a new computer

Is your computer more than 3 years old?

Are your main programs no longer supported on your operating system?

Can your current computer not handle upgrading to a new operating system?

these are the best indicators of when its time to buy a new computer. If you’re not in any of these situations, then are cheaper alternatives to purchasing.

 

If you need help determining if you should purchase a new computer, please contact us at 770-506-4383 and we can give you a free assessment. We are good at squeezing more life out of older computers. We can find the most effective way to get more use for you. Give us a call and we can help.

 

 

 

 

 

 

computer virus

Viruses in online advertising

hhhThis is an ongoing trend that we really want to make our customers aware of. Yes, we make money from cleaning out commuters infected with viruses. but we want to do whats best for our customers. Teaching you how to keep yourself from getting infected in the first place is the just good customer service. This article will show you this new trend in drive by virus infections. We will show you how to keep from getting infected from these viruses that don’t even require you do anything to get infected.

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Save money on office IT – ways to refuse old equipment

It never fails. Almost as soon as you purchase computer related equipment for your office, its already obsolete. And if you want to stay on the cutting edge, you have to pay the high process to do so. That leaves you with an ever growing pile of office equipment that seems unusable in the modern business. We have put together a list of ways you can save money by re-purposing and reusing this old equipment.

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