AFScott is pleased to announce the addition of several new clients, including a law firm, an engineering firm and a 250-person publishing company based in New York. Initially hired to assist with the publishing company’s purchasing and projects based on i...
Apple has released a new Macbook Air and will most likely release a new iMac soon, without the usual fanfare. The computers aren’t HUGE upgrades but are definitely faster chips and will hopefully have better battery life. I’m not certain that the Macbook Air will continue after this refersh, as I’ve been reading hints of an 11″ Retina to replace the Air, which would make sense.
Other updates we might see soon include Mac Mini, and Apple TV, as well as the new line of iWatches, possibly in October, and the complete discontinuation of the flagship “Macbook Pro (non-retina).
If you’re interested in more info on the Air, drop me a line…
This morning, Andrew asked me to write about the “Cryptolocker” virus. This is a nasty virus that is infecting windows machines at an alarming rate.
What is it?
Cryptolocker is a type of virus known as “ransomware.” Ransomware offers the person with the virus an option to pay a fee in order to get the virus removed from their computer. In the past, most ransomware viruses were usually fixable using standard Antivirus software like Malwarebytes. Not so with the new generation. Currently there is no fix for this virus.
What does it do?
This ransomware will encrypt certain files using a mixture of RSA & AES encryption. When it has finished encrypting your files, it will display a CryptoLocker payment program that prompts you to send a ransom of either $100 or $300 in order to decrypt the files. This screen will also display a timer stating that you have 72 hours, or 4 days, to pay the ransom or it will delete your encryption key and you will not have any way to decrypt your files. This ransom must be paid using MoneyPak vouchers or Bitcoins. Once you send the payment and it is verified, the program will decrypt the files that it encrypted.
Does paying the ransom work?
So far, yes. We’ve seen machines back up and running in several hours after paying the fee in bitcoins.
How does Cryptolocker infect your computer?
Several targets of the virus have reported opening emails that pose as legitimate communication from shipping companies (UPS, Fedex etc), payroll companies like ADP, banks, Xerox etc. The email contains a zip file, which if opened contains a .exe file. If you click on the .exe file you have the virus.
We’ve also seen at least one computer become infected with OUT receiving one of these emails so we cannot guarantee that simply checking your emails will prevent you from becoming infected.
Below are some known email subject headings for the crpytolocker virus:
|USPS – Your package is available for pickup ( Parcel 173145820507 )||USPS – Missed package delivery (“USPS Express Services” <email@example.com>)|
|USPS – Missed package delivery||FW: Invoice <random number>|
|ADP payroll: Account Charge Alert||ACH Notification (“ADP Payroll” <*@adp.com>)|
|ADP Reference #09903824430||Payroll Received by Intuit|
|Important – attached form||FW: Last Month Remit|
|McAfee Always On Protection Reactivation||Scanned Image from a Xerox WorkCentre|
|Scan from a Xerox WorkCentre||scanned from Xerox|
|Annual Form – Authorization to Use Privately Owned Vehicle on State Business||Fwd: IMG01041_6706015_m.zip|
|My resume||New Voicemail Message|
|Voice Message from Unknown (675-685-3476)||Voice Message from Unknown Caller (344-846-4458)|
|Important – New Outlook Settings||Scan Data|
|FW: Payment Advice – Advice Ref:[GB293037313703] / ACH credits / Customer Ref:[pay run 14/11/13]||Payment Advice – Advice Ref:[GB2198767]|
|New contract agreement.||Important Notice – Incoming Money Transfer|
|Notice of underreported income||Notice of unreported income – Last months reports|
|Payment Overdue – Please respond||FW: Check copy|
|Corporate eFax message from “random phone #” – 8 pages (random phone # & number of pages)||past due invoices|
|FW: Case FH74D23GST58NQS||Symantec Endpoint Protection: Important System Update – requires immediate action|
What to do if you become infected:
If you get the virus on your computer, immediately unplug your network cable and turn off your computer and call your friendly neighborhood IT company. Do NOT try to fix this virus on your own. Leaving your computer plugged in to the network can give the virus a chance to spread to other workstations or even servers.
How do you protect yourself from Cryptolocker?
The only answer here is prevention. Once you are hit with this virus there is no real way to get your information back with out paying the ransom. However, if you are backed up to an external drive you can simply re-format your computer and re-install Windows and all of your data. We highly recommend backing up every file that you consider important. If you need help with this please ask us.
That is the basics of what you need to know regarding the cryptolocker virus.
Please get in touch with any questions you might have as to how you can backup and prevent this virus from encrypting your data!
Good news: We have been nominated for a Business of the Year award!
Right from the press release:
AFScott has been named a finalist in the Business of the Year (1-50 Employees) category in the 2013 NJBIZ Business of the Year awards program. The program honors New Jersey’s most dynamic businesses and business leaders who share a commitment to professional excellence, business growth, and the community.
Award finalists were chosen by an independent panel of judges and selected in six different categories: Corporate Citizen of the Year, Emerging Business of the Year, Executive of the Year, and Business of the Year (1-50 Employees, 51-100 Employees, 101+ Employees). AFScott, based in Bedminster, NJ, was selected as a finalist in the Business of the Year (1-50 Employees) category.
A second-time nominee for NJBIZ Business of the Year (1-50 Employees), AFScott’s founder and CEO Andrew Scott says, “We are honored to be selected for this award.
Our success is a testament to the strengths of the team we’ve assembled and the relationships we’ve grown with our clients over time. We look forward to continuing to help our customers face the rising challenges of technology in the business world.”
Finalists and winners of the NJBIZ Business of the Year program will be recognized and the winner in each category chosen during an awards dinner on December 9, 2013 at the Palace at Somerset Park in Somerset, NJ. NJBIZ, New Jersey’s leading business news publication, will produce the event that is presented by EisnerAmper LLP and sponsored by Comcast Business, K&L Gates, and Sun National Bank. For more information, please visit www.njbiz.com/events or call (732) 246-5737.
Fingers are crossed here, we’ll keep you posted in December…
It sounds unbelievable, but it’s been TWELVE years since Microsoft’s workhorse OS “Windows XP” was released. I remember the day it came out, which is somewhat frightening.
I’m not sure if XP will be remembered as the best OS in the MS line, or if it will just be remembered as being SO much better than it’s predecessor (Windows ME) and it’s successor (Windows Vista). Either way, it was my favorite and I’ve missed it since upgrading to Windows 7 a couple years ago.
A couple weeks ago Microsoft announced that it will finally put the last nail in the coffin of our dear friend XP. They will officially end support for the OS on April 8th, 2014.
What does this mean for you if you still use XP?
The short answer is that you need to update to Windows 7 before then. The long answer is that there will be no more automatic updates, including security updates which will make you more vulnerable to viruses and spyware.
Windows 7 happens to be a great OS. The only problem is that you can’t just upgrade your computer from XP > 7 directly. You have to remove all of your data on to an external drive, upgrade to 7 and then import all of your files and settings back into the machine. It’s complicated, and a pain.
I’ll write another post on the best ways to migrate as we get closer to D-Day. In the meantime, XP users, get yourself mentally prepared for change!
Apple’s new iDevice OS, iOS7 might seem pretty daunting. Unlike the past few OS updates, this one completely changes the way your phone looks AND acts. I think the look is the more terrifying, as it doesn’t really look like any iPhone we’ve seen to date.
I’ve been playing around with the OS for the past few days. So far I’ve found that the good outweighs the bad. Here’s a few reasons that you SHOULD upgrade.
1. Control Center:
When you swipe the up on the touchscreen Control Center appears. Here you can adjust your brightness, turn on the camera flash as a flashlight and go to airplane mode on the fly. This was my one of my favorite old Cydia apps (for Jailbroken phones) and Apple has done a great job implementing it in the new OS.
2. Instagram-like Photo Filters:
You can now filter your photos just like on the Instagram app. If you use Instagram you know what I’m talking about, if you don’t, click on a photo and then “Edit” and go to town…
3. Swipe to Go Back:
This one’s a no-brainer: you can swipe back on your phone to go back to the last page you were on. This works on Mail, Messages and Safari and probably some of the other basic apps as well.
4. FaceTime Audio
This is great for talking to your international friends, or just saving minutes: you can now use FaceTime’s Audio feature to talk on your phone using the internet rather than calling someone. I’m not sure if this works over ATT, Verizon and the rest of the mobile providers but it definitely works over wireless.
5. Smart Search in Safari
The entire top bar of Safari is now combined into the “Unified Smart Search Field.” You can type an address, or search google, just like the “real” Safari on an Apple computer.
6. Automatic App Updating:
You can set the OS to automatically update your apps. Rumor has it that this app was for some reason demanded by Senator John McCain. I’m not sure if I’m buying that but it’s a great feature regardless.
This might be the best feature of all of them: you can now share files between iDevices using wireless or bluetooth with the Airdrop app. This includes pics and videos. This will probably take a while to catch on but I’m sure it will become quite popular.
Don’t be fooled by iOS 7’s new look. It’s a smart, powerful tool that has basically taken some of the best apps and features from the Android OS and Cydia app store and made them it’s own. Give the upgrade a shot and let me know what you think!
It’s that time of the year already: back to school time. I bet some of you are in the market for a new computer for your kids (or for your self!)!
Taking the time to configure your computer correctly before purchasing is very important. I’ve had several clients lately walk into the Apple store and purchase a computer that was sold to them with the previous year’s chip set (the i5). Note to self: All Macs are Not Created Equally. If you buy the wrong machine, the lifespan of your computer could be shortened by literally 2 years! (See below pic).
Please give me a call to discuss various options. I will take the time to figure out which computer fits you or your children’s needs, and help you with the ordering and setup process.
Visit our website to see what services we offer and see how we can help you!
On a day to day basis I see a lot of different computers. For my own needs I have an Apple, and I *usually* recommend them to all of my home clients. Obviously there are times when Apple is not the right fit for someone, but 9 times out of 10 they are better, faster and will last longer than their PC competitors.
Along the way I’ve picked up some tips for making your Mac run faster. Some of these also apply to PCs. I’ll give you a general description of each and tackle some of these more in depth at a later date. Most of these should be easily do-able for the average user. Here we go: