New MacDefender Virus puts the ‘Mac = No virus’ Myth to Rest

Security experts have recently discovered a new threat to Mac OS X systems. Called the ‘MacDefender’, this malware is designed to fool users into downloading a fake anti-virus program, which informs users that the system is ‘infected’, and then tries to dupe or bully them into buying another fake anti-virus program. It is a widely held belief that one of the reasons Macs are superior to other systems is because of their ‘invulnerability’ to viruses, malware, and similar threats. All well and good, except for the fact that a recent rogue anti-virus malware that specifically attack Mac OS X systems has been discovered. So much for the ‘Mac = no virus’ myth. Called the ‘MacDefender’ and also known as Mac Security and Mac Protector, this malware tricks users by having them think that their system is under attack. It begins when users visit a malicious website where the program automatically downloads itself to the computer. If you have the “Open safe files after downloading” option selected, it automatically installs itself onto the system. The original installation package is then also automatically deleted. Next, a new menu item appears on the Mac OS X menubar. You’ll see a small orange shield that becomes red, which supposedly means that there are viruses in your system. You’ll then be prompted to “register” – which involves giving out your credit card information – to a website to clean the virus. If you don’t, the malware will then direct your browser to porn sites to ‘encourage’ you to register and pay up. To know more about how MacDefender works, check out this video . While Macs are certainly targeted less than Windows systems, the threat of getting infected by viruses and malware is very real, especially if myths like Macs being impervious to viruses persist. To know more about protecting yourself from threats like these, please contact us so we can draw up a plan to keep your system safe and secure.

Google Wallet: Google’s New e-Wallet Service

Google may soon find itself going head to head with services like PayPal as it debuts a new service called Google Wallet, which enables users to transform their smartphones into virtual credit cards. Simply swipe over a participating outlet’s cashier to pay for your bills and earn loyalty points and coupons at the same time. Smartphone technology has grown by leaps and bounds these past few years, and having a smartphone these days is almost synonymous to being online all the time. Software giant Google has decided to tap into this phenomenon with a new service called “Google Wallet”, which enables users to make purchases and payments from their smartphones. Partnering with Mastercard, Macy’s, Subway, American Eagle, Citibank, and Sprint, Google assures users that their e-wallet service is safe. The service requires that smartphones have a special chip that allows the user to simply “tap” or “swipe” the phone at participating stores to pay for merchandise or services. When you swipe your smartphone’s e-wallet, you also earn coupons and points for rewards. The technology is also designed so that the user can turn the chip off when Google Wallet is not being used, making it safe from hackers. If the smartphone is lost, the data can also be wiped remotely. A similar system to Google Wallet has been operational in some countries including Japan for some time now, but its use is limited to only certain areas and stores there. While the concept of Google Wallet has great potential, there are still several limitations to the system as Google continues to look for more partners for the enterprise before its official launch, which is slated for within a month or two.

Modify the Page Margins in Excel While in Print Preview

Have you ever struggled with fitting the contents of your Excel spreadsheet on one page? There are several ways to get around this, one of which is to use the Print Preview option in Excel. While in Print Preview mode, click the Margins button or tick the Show Margins checkbox to display the margins in Excel. You can now drag the right, left, top, and bottom margins just the way you want to be able fit the data onto the page.

Simple Tips to Prevent Identity Theft While Online

It’s important these days to protect your data and personal information as more and more people become victims of identity theft. Don’t let yourself become the next victim. All it takes is following some simple steps to ensure a safer and more secure online experience. Security experts are seeing a rise in the incidence of cyber-crime these days as more and more people use the web for their day-to-day needs. No one is spared – both businesses and private individuals have become victims of opportunistic cyber-criminals who take advantage of loopholes in security systems and a lack of foresight and alertness on the part of users. One common cyber-crime is identity theft, in which hackers steal and assume the identity and personal information of someone else. Under the guise of the usually unknowing victim, these unscrupulous individuals commit fraud or other crimes. While there is no 100% guaranteed way to be safe from identity theft when online, there are a number of steps you can take to protect your identity and your data. Have the right security software. One of the keys to keeping your identity and data secure is having the proper security software in place to protect your system. Also make sure to update the software regularly. Know the modus operandi. It’s also important to be aware of the different scams and techniques hackers use, such as phishing, which involves duping the user into clicking a legitimate-looking (but fake) link that has the victim enter personal information or download a file that introduces malware into the system. The rule of thumb is that if an email is unsolicited, there is a high probability of it being a scam or phishing email. Be stingy with your personal information. Be sure to only fill out personal information on sites that are legitimate and that you trust, and even then, only if you absolutely need to. Check and double check things like the URL or the company’s tag line to know if a site is what it says it is and whether it is secure. Phishing sites also look legit – but a careful look should be enough to tip you off that something’s amiss. Create unique passwords. The more complicated your passwords are, the harder they are to guess or hack. So don’t pick generic passwords like “password” or “12345″ or things like your birthday or wedding anniversary. The best passwords are alphanumeric – a combination of both letters and numbers. Secure wireless networks. It’s important to allow only the right people to have access to your wireless networks. Besides saving bandwidth, this also prevents leechers and hackers from using your connection to tap into your system or use it for unscrupulous activities. To know more about keeping your identity and data secure, please give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss a custom security solution that meets your specific needs.

Change the Default Download Location for Mozilla Firefox

Want to change the default download location for Mozilla Firefox? Perhaps you want to have it default to your desktop, or a special folder on your hard drive? To do so, go to the Options menu in Firefox, then under the General tab look for the Downloads section. Browse to a location in the “Save files to” option screen, then click on OK and you should be good to go. Alternatively, you can have Firefox prompt you for a location for every download by choosing the option “Always ask me where to save files” instead.

Eight Actions You Can Take to Guard Against Data Loss

Data loss disasters come in many forms, ranging from simple human errors to “acts of God” that cannot be controlled. However, you can control how you prepare for such occurrences – and the steps may be easier than you think. What would happen to your business if you had a major data loss? The possibility is definitely there; this can’t be denied. Data loss disasters come in many forms, ranging from simple human errors to “acts of God” that cannot be controlled. However, you can control how you prepare for them. Here are eight questions you can ask yourself to test your disaster preparedness. First: Do we back up our data? It’s amazing how many small businesses do not have a backup system in place. It’s so easy to assume disaster won’t strike you. But data loss doesn’t always come from huge, cinema-worthy disasters. They can result from simple everyday errors – yet have huge disastrous results. Don’t let this be you. Do we back up all of our account information? Many small businesses tend to keep their accounts data on one employee’s PC, instead of the network which is on their backup schedule. But what if you lose your customer database? Be sure it’s included in the files to be backed up. Do we back up our email files? Ever wish you had that one email from a few months back, in which a customer gave you the “go ahead” – but now they’re refusing to pay for your work? These days, email is increasingly used as legal evidence of agreements or notices to proceed. If they’re included in your backup, you can easily pull up even deleted emails – received or sent. Is our Calendar and Contact information backed up? What if you came to work one morning and your online calendar and address book was gone? What appointments and communications would you miss, and at what cost? Most of the time, by default your Outlook Contact and Calendar files are stored on the individual PCs. Make sure these files are included in your backup set. Do we back up folders and files from each computer? In addition to important information that is stored in shared networks, think about the files that each of your employees create and use on their own hard drives. Spreadsheets, letters, memos, databases – wouldn’t it be a shame to lose all that work? Are we always saving our files to an area that will be backed up? Consider where each and every file your work on is being saved. Will it be included in your backups? Develop policies and educate your employees on where to save their work so it’s included in your backup schedule. Do we back up data frequently enough? This answer to this question is – how much work are you willing to risk? Say you complete an important contract on Tuesday morning, and an employee accidentally deletes it that afternoon. But you only run backups on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Bye-bye contract! A more frequent backup schedule would have saved the day. Do we know where our backups are and how to use them? If you use USB drives, external hard drives, or backup tapes for your backups, are you storing them offsite in a safe place? Even if your files are backed up to the cloud, do you know how to recover them in case of an emergency? Knowing your backup system and keeping it safe will ensure you can get back to business quickly and efficiently. Even if you already have a backup system in place, take a few moments to think about your specific business. If the unthinkable happened, exactly what data would you need to get back up and running? What could you not operate without? Once you identify these things, simply make sure they are included in your backup. Need help? We’re experts in guiding small businesses in setting up a backup system that meets their unique needs. Give us a call today to discuss the options available to keep your business data safe and sound.

Recover Disk Space by Changing the Default Recycle Bin Size

On some computers with really large drives, the Recycle Bin’s default size setting (10% of your hard drive space) can be too much and may be an inefficient use of space. Over time, you may need to recover this extra space, and it’s easy to do so. Just right-click on the Recycle Bin and move the slider to the left to reduce its allocated disk space. Click on OK, and you might be surprised at just how much space you were able to recover.

Measuring ROI (The ROI Series—Part 4)

Calculating the ROI of a Technology Investment, The ROI Series—Part 4: Cost savings are usually important to small businesses even in the best of times. New technology solutions may be necessary for survival and growth, however — and they may not be as expensive as you think when you consider their return on investment (ROI). In this four-part series, we’ll explain what ROI is, help you understand indirect ROI, and provide guidelines for predicting and measuring the ROI of a technology investment. Part 4: Measuring ROI If you’ve been following this series, you’ve already learned what ROI is and how you can use it to make sure your technology implementations are profitable. But the process doesn’t stop there: it’s important, once you’ve implemented a new technology solution, to track its benefits. There are many direct and indirect benefits of implementing new technology, as we’ve described — but in most cases, companies don’t know what they are. In many cases, what you measure is clear. Consider a service company that implements customer service software designed to help phone representatives more quickly resolve customer issues. To determine ROI, the company simply measures the number of calls per employee before and after implementing the software. In other cases, companies don’t measure what we call the relevant “value drivers.” Some companies don’t know what to measure; others know what to measure but don’t know how to do it. The end result: only 17 percent of CFOs measure ROI for outsourcing projects, according to Hewitt Associates. As an example of how this could happen, consider a manufacturing company that implements software designed to reduce errors in a product line, thereby improving quality. While the company may be tracking the increase in quality (in the form of fewer returned goods, for example), it may not be considering other value drivers. How about waste? We can assume that quality has improved, fewer products have been scrapped — but the company doesn’t have a business process in place that can track costs incurred from waste. How do you identify value drivers? Follow the workflow. IT will always impact your business processes in some way. For example, it might eliminate, create, or change a business process. So to identify value drivers, look at the results you hope to achieve from these business process changes. As an example, consider the service company we referenced previously. As a result of its new customer service software, the company might reduce its customer service employees from five to four. This change in business process shows that one value driver is the reduction in labor costs due to increased efficiency, resulting in a direct ROI. Another value driver might be improved customer service, resulting in an indirect ROI. As another example, consider a company that implements software to track employee performance against objectives. In the past, it has paid bonuses randomly; now it has a methodology. This change in business process shows that one value driver is the savings in bonuses not paid due to non-performance, resulting in a direct ROI. Another value driver might be improved employee morale and effort, resulting in an indirect ROI. Generally, a year of data collection should be sufficient to determine the changes in costs and revenues that will drive both direct and indirect ROI, providing you with solid data to determine just how effective your IT investment has been.

SMBs More at Risk from Cyber-Attacks

An alarming trend in cyber-crime is becoming more and more prevalent these days – the increased number of SMBs targeted by hackers and cyber-thieves. Security experts point toward the weaker security protocols many such companies have, making them much easier targets for cyber-attacks. There is a misconception among many SMBs that they are small targets for would-be cyber-attacks. “We’re too small a company to be of any worth” is the mindset of many. However, there is an ongoing trend in which smaller companies actually find themselves victims of the most elaborate and vicious cyber-attacks. Why? Security experts are discovering that SMBs tend to have less or inferior security protocols in place to counter cyber-attacks. While this was of little consequence in the past, cyber criminals are now starting to take notice of the fact, and are exploiting it to their advantage. And it’s profitable too – an attack on one SMB might not amount to as much as a larger organization, but given the greater ease through which hackers can attack smaller businesses, they more than make up for the difference in the volume of companies they target. According to several news reports, these cyber-thieves can make off with as much as $70 million. The more unfortunate fact is that smaller companies are less able to counteract the effects of losses from cyber-attacks. This is why you should stay one step ahead of cyber-thieves by updating your security systems. Short term or long term, it’s a practical solution to keep information and data safe, and your operations stable. Give us a call today – we can help.

Use Google Chrome as Your Default PDF Viewer

Many users download Adobe Acrobat Reader to open PDF Documents, but it can be slow to start up and load a file. However, you can use Chrome as your default PDF viewer. It’s really fast and unlike other free PDF viewers it’s a breeze to set up and use. Simply open Google Chrome and type chrome://plugins in the address field. Make sure “Chrome PDF Viewer” is enabled in the list of plugins. Next, right-click on any PDF file and choose “Open With” and navigate to the “Choose Program” link. Select Google Chrome in the list of applications provided, making sure to check the “Always use the selected program to open this kind of file” checkbox. Finally, click on Open. The next time you open a PDF document it will open in Google Chrome.