Last week we talked about what a computer virus is, where they come from, and why they exist. This week we’ll take a brief look at some of the different types of computer viruses.
As cold and flu season wraps up, most of us are pretty well acquainted with the fact that many different types of viruses can attack our bodies and interrupt our overall wellness. A different sort of “virus” can negatively impact the health of our computers. That said, we can easily see how it’s probably a good idea to understand and know a little about the ones that can invade our computers.
Boot sector Virus
As the name implies, this infects the boot sectors on the hard and removable drives. Rummaging through these sectors destroying the data needed to boot your computer or operate the removable hardware, rendering the computer unbootable. Boot Sector viruses are usually spread through your removable hardware. Typically, the most common way to remove a boot sector virus is a complete system format and re-install of the operating system.
Multipartite or “hybrid” Virus
This one can be pretty sneaky, it can waltz into your computer pretending to be an executable, or even by being part of a boot sector virus. From there it will spread quickly, altering or destroying your data. Multipartite Viruses use this two-pronged attack making them fairly hard to remove. Even if you use an antivirus program to remove it, this bug might still be hiding in your boot sector, from which it can reproduce and spread all over again. A vicious circle that never seems to end.
Direct Action Virus
This is a very common type of virus. Unlike it’s cousins, it doesn’t install by itself on the hard drive, delete files, hinder system performance, or remain hidden on the computer’s memory. Basically, this tricky virus only executes when someone clicks a button to install a program or web link. After that it hunts down and infects other similar files. Direct Action Viruses are easily removed with by a typical antivirus program.
This is possibly the most common type of virus infection. Like the Direct Action Viruses, they execute when someone clicks the file or link they are attached to. Unfortunately, they do install on your computer, which allows them to continue to work even when the original source of the virus has been removed. They make themselves so at home on your computer they can even disable your antivirus, leaving them free to run amok in your computer unhindered.
A rather frustrating virus, because it deletes the files it infects. Spread mainly through emails, it can infect both entire programs or stand-alone files, such as an Excel spreadsheet or Excel itself. The low visibility of the Overwrite Virus makes it extremely difficult for most anti-virus programs to detect.
While most viruses find files and data to infect, Spacefiller or “Cavity” viruses makes its home in the empty space in the files themselves. This stealthy one has been relatively rare until recently, with the rise in the use of Windows Portable Executables seeming to bring it back to life.
This brief post is by no means a complete list of all the types of viruses that can infect your computer. New viruses are being concocted on a daily basis.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, the battle against the computer virus can be won. Next week we’ll take a look at what you can do to protect yourself from these, and other types of computer viruses.
In the meantime, if you have any questions computer viruses, give DME Computer Services in Omaha a call. We’re always happy to help.
They’re all over the news these days, those sneaky little germs that invade our computers. Just like a real germ that makes its home in our bodies, a virus’s main purpose is to make more of itself. Which can wreak havoc to our software, data, and/or bank accounts. Unlike most bugs that invade our bodies, a computer virus can’t be worked out of the system with a fistful of pills, some soup, and lots of sleep.
Viruses are generally used to perform some type of harmful activity on infected computers. From spamming e-mail contacts to accessing private information. Displaying political or humorous messages on the computer’s screen, or logging all the user’s keystrokes. Perhaps even rendering the computer useless, or completely corrupting the data.
A brief history
“I must confess I find it difficult to believe in a disease of machinery.” Westworld, Michael Creighton 1973
Hungarian scientist John von Neumann, wrote in 1949 about his theory of the possibility of self-replicating programs. This remained just a theory until the early 1960’s when developers created the game Core Wars that could replicate itself. This “game” also lead to the frantic development of the first anti-virus known as Reeper. In the early 1970’s, Bob Thomas wrote the first intentional computer virus, ARPANET. Of course, these little germs didn’t really get too out of control, or start affecting – or infecting – us until the coming of the personal computer in the early 1980’s. Thus, began the evolution of these man-made “organisms.”
Why do they even exist?
The first internet viruses were designed basically for fun. Over time however, they developed into something much more malicious. The computer virus has several purposes now, mainly the following:
If you have any questions about computer viruses, or if you think your computer might be infected, call the experts at DME Computer Service now!
Stay tuned for part 2, in which we will talk about some of the different types of computer viruses.
Last week we talked about how to keep your laptop cool. This week we’ll take a look at the “elephant in the room”; cooling that monstrous desktop computer.
Being quite a bit larger than your laptop, moving parts, such as fans and hard drives, have a lot more room in the tower of your desktop PC. This larger size also means that it could (depending on circumstances) take a bit longer for you to notice the effects of unseen heat damage. Unfortunately, these types of computer hiccups usually happen at the most inopportune moments.
Here are some simple tips to keep your desktop computer nice and cool, just like your laptop.
1. Keep it clean
The desktop computer does have more space between parts than it’s laptop counterpart, but in the end it is still electrical components in an enclosed space; dust, dirt, and animal hair, still collect inside the case, potentially fouling up the works. Keeping this gunk blown out with compressed air, and off those many fans, can do a lot toward keeping your computer running smoothly and cool.
It’s a good idea to note here that you never, never, NEVER want to use a vacuum to clean out your computer. The nozzles of vacuum hoses are known to generate static electricity which can absolutely destroy sensitive electric components inside your computer.
2. Don’t over crowd
Try to keep the area around your PC clear of bric-a-brac and clutter to keep air circulation flowing freely. When things are standing, lying, or sitting on the tower you are more quickly to raise the internal temperatures, as well as a nice little dust bunny farm. The side front and back of your computer has vents to allow that wind tunnel wind effect.
It’s also worth it to note that putting your tower inside on and enclosed area, such as a hutch or tight shelf isn’t a good idea either, as that will also severely constrict air-flow.
As we said in part one, if you have an old mechanical hard drive, replacing it with a shiny new SDD will help pull those core temperatures down. Plus, on your desktop, you’ll probably want all that extra storage! There is also the option of changing the case or CPU fans, or even adding some more. Healthy fans and awesome air-flow, equal healthy computer hardware.
Of course, as always DME Computer Service in Omaha has your back. We’re here should you have any questions at all about keeping your computer clean, upgrading old equipment, or any other computer related questions that you can think of. We’re always more than happy to help.
Imagine it: Late one night, while you’re chilling on the couch with your laptop in your lap – where, given the name “laptop” you would think it belongs – watching the latest season of “Supernatural” and you begin to think to yourself that the special effects in this episode are more realistic than normal, because just as the Winchester Brothers light up the latest corpse it seems that you can actually feel the heat on your legs. Unfortunately, that is not Netflix setting your lap on fire, that is your computer overheating.
Overheating is one of the main reasons that people end up losing the use of their laptop and Netflix buddy. I will say this as gently as possible: Fellas, if you let an overheating laptop sit on your lap too long, studies have shown that it can cause infertility also.
Fortunately for us engineers are working on a way to prevent this overheating issue through nanoelectronics. Unfortunately for us, this breakthrough is a few years away.
Luckily, there are a few simple ways that you can keep your laptop from setting your pants on fire:
1) Keep it clean
Inside your lap top is a huge PC tower slimmed down and shoved into a tiny area. Dust, dirt, and worst of all animal hair collect inside and have no way out. Get this gunk cleaned out on a regular basis can do a lot toward keeping it cool.
If you’re using an older laptop odds are that it has an old mechanical hard drive (HDD). Replacing it with a Solid State Drive (SDD) can help bring those temperatures down a bit. Less moving parts means less heat generation. To find out if this option is right for you check out our blog post.
3) Cooling Pad
These are nifty little devices that lift up your computer for better air circulation, some even come with fans to help move the air along. There are many different varieties of cooling pads available, all for about what you’d pay going out to dinner and a movie.
Don’t get burned, if you have any questions, your friends at DME Computer Services in Omaha are here to help you (and your laptop) stay cool.
No matter how careful we like to think we are, this can happen to any of us. It only takes a split second to make this catastrophe happen. SPLASH! That mug of coffee, cup of water, or glass of wine is all over your beloved laptop.
Here’s what to do if you find yourself in this mess:
First, take a deep breath, now is not the time to panic, every second really does count.
Next, if your laptop is on, turn it off, unplug it, and remove the power cord.
Now, if you can, detach the battery. If your model doesn’t allow for removal of the battery you can skip this step.
Then, in a well-ventilated room, tent the laptop over a towel or some absorbent surface, like a microfiber cloth, or stack of paper towels or napkins. This allows any liquid that managed to find its way into your laptop to drain out.
Now begin removing all peripherals: mouse dongle, external hard drives, flash drives, if you have an external wireless card take that little fella out too. Basically, if you plugged it in to your laptop, remove it.
It is important that you not remove your laptop from this tent position for at least 48, preferably 72 hours.
(Warning: Turning a laptop on before it has had a chance to completely dry increases the chances of shorting the components inside. Also, while it might seem a good idea at the time, do not use a blow dryer to try and dry your laptop out faster. This dry heat can severely damage some of the internal components.)
Okay, now you can panic… Just kidding. There really is no need.
DME Computer Services has seen this a thousand times, and can get you set straight in no time at all.
If you’ve spilled something on your laptop, follow these simple steps, then give us a call.
Eeny meeny miny moe. Pick a Hardrive by the… Toe?
Ladies and gentlemen, a new era in storage drives has arrived: The Solid-State drive (SSD). Is it time to upgrade, or can we stay with our favorite sixty-year-old technology? Should we even upgrade our storage? Let’s take a look at these different types of drives to see if we can answer those questions:
Hard Disk Drive (HDD) aka “Mechanical Drive”
First introduced in 1956, this hard drive was the size of two refrigerators standing side by side and stored around a whopping 5 mb of data. Over the next sixty years as the computer became more personal the size has shrunk down to 3.5 inches and can store up to 12 TB of data. HDD uses what is called “Magnetic Storage” writing, gathering, and searching for your data with a mechanical arm and several other moving parts, roving over several disks stacked inside the unit. The twitching parts of the HDD make it more susceptible to damage and loss of data if dropped, thrown or hit with a hammer. Due to those many automotive parts of the Hard Disk Drive, it is difficult to make them any smaller.
If you are not worried about speed, are on a budget, or need lots of storage space this may be the choice for you.
SDD (Solid State Drive)
Making a premier in the late 2000s as primary drives in netbooks, SDD has no moving parts and can be made as small of ¼ inch. The no moving parts makes the retrieval and writing of data much faster because the data is stored on microchips. While the basic size of most Solid-State Drive is the same size as the HDD, this technology can be found in memory sticks and data chips. With no jiggling parts, a SDD is safer around the butteriest of butterfingers. Sadly, these beautiful speed daemons are still more expensive than their mechanical brethren, and do not have quite the storage space of the HDD… For now.
Those in professions that that cause you to be on the run or in situations that can cause the occasional fumble; you may want to spend the few extra dollars for the stability of a SDD. The speed is great for content creators like musicians, you-tubers, and graphic artists.
Pick the very best one
If you want lots of space to save lots of memes, have very little money and aren’t prone to gravity; a good ol’ HDD is ideal for you.
If you need things done now, are a bit clumsy or earthquake prone, go for the SDD.
If you need help making the right decision, feel free to reach out to the experts at DME Computer Services in Omaha!
Wait… Do Drives have toes?
You’d be hard-pressed to miss last week’s biggest headline, the WannaCry cyber-attack sent shockwaves around the globe. Businesses of all sizes and even police departments found themselves crippled without warning.
Among the most prominent victims were many NHS hospitals in the UK, affecting up to 70,000 individual devices such as essential MRI scanners and blood-storage refrigerators. But by the time it hit the news, it was too late – either your system was protected, or it was infected. Here’s how it all went so wrong.
What is WannaCry?
The WannaCry cyber-attack was a type of malware (the collective name for computer viruses & bad juju) called ‘ransomware’. Just like the name suggests, it’s actually a demand for money. Like all ransomware attacks, WannaCry encrypts your files and holds them hostage until you pay. In this case, the price was set at $300, payable with internet currency Bitcoin, and you had 3 days to pay before it doubled. If you didn’t pay, the ransomware threatened to delete your files permanently. It’s yet unknown how much money the WannaCry hackers have earned with their latest attack, but you can be sure plenty of people have paid the ransom. Even the FBI recommends paying the ransom, especially if the ransomed files are of a sensitive nature or weren’t backed up.
How It Spread So Fast
It seems WannaCry may be a ‘computer worm’ that self-replicates and spreads, rather than a phishing attack that needs to be activated with a click. So far, no common trigger has been identified, as is normally the case with phishing links. WannaCry moved rapidly from system to system, spreading out through the entire network, including all connected backups and storage devices. At the same time, it spread out to infect other networks, who then spread it further, and so on. Given the nature of the internet, it was everywhere within hours.
Why Some Businesses Were Safe
WannaCry could ONLY infect systems that have fallen 2 months behind in their Windows updates. This is because it was created to take advantage of a specific vulnerability in Windows, one which Microsoft patched months ago. Without that patch, the ransomware could waltz right past the firewall, past the anti-virus and directly into the system (the NHS were reportedly running Windows XP – no longer supported). Those running Windows 10 or a fully patched, recent version of Windows were completely unaffected – the virus literally had no way in
It just goes to show the importance of staying up to date. We haven’t seen a second spike in WannaCry attacks yet, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be one. A quick update could protect your business from weeks of downtime and lost revenue, making attacks like this a non-issue.
With our managed services, we can make sure you stay up to date – and protected. Give us a call today at 402-650-8407
5 Ways Managed Services Can Grow Your Business
Managed Service Providers (MSPs) help businesses take a proactive approach to managing their technology without the expensive step of hiring an in-house team. Your MSP is essentially a collection of niche technology experts working behind the scenes to keep your data safe, generate solutions to IT problems and keep your software updated. Even larger businesses who already have an IT person will often call in an MSP when daily support becomes overwhelming or a specific certification is required.
Let’s explore 5 specific business breakthroughs an MSP can give you:
1. It’s extremely cost-effective: There’s only so much in the budget for IT and responding to events on a break/fix basis will quickly exhaust your accounts.
An MSP works by getting ahead of problems before they occur – making equipment last longer, defending against costly security breaches and keeping the business up and running. Instead of calling for a repair at a high hourly rate, you get a wide array of expert services for one predictable monthly fee.
2. You have access to multiple experts: Businesses usually end up adding extra tasks to an unqualified but enthusiastic employee’s workload, resulting in costly problems. With MSPs, you have access to many people who are experts in very specific areas, and your existing staff can focus on tasks within their job description.
3. Speedy problem resolution: Downtime and business don’t mix, so your MSP will provide a reliable expert on call (usually with 24/7 options) to troubleshoot and resolve any problems. Much of the time, you can also skip the delay of an on-site repair with rapid remote support available in just moments.
4. Fewer problems: A large part of your MSPs service is fixing problems before they happen. While fixing things as they break isn’t the worst approach to IT management, it generally means you’re also suffering productivity losses, downtime and losing money by the second.
Your MSPs primary goal is to ensure these problems are avoided completely, through system monitoring and robust security measures. They’ll also make sure every important software update and security patch is applied immediately, closing breach points and keeping your business safe.
5. Shared responsibilities: As your business grows, so will your IT systems. A good MSP is on top of what your future needs will look like and knows which products and infrastructure are suitable to help you get there. Your MSP doesn’t just monitor your system and repair as required; they share responsibility for your system. This means measuring, reporting, analyzing and optimizing, working with you to introduce new technologies and processes.
Depending on your level of contracted services, your MSP can actually become a catalyst for growth.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? With managed services, your business always has the maximum security against threats, downtime and productivity drops. But for the savvy business owner, it’s also a way you can afford to leverage cutting-edge technologies, with complete peace of mind and ongoing support.
Boost your business with managed services. Call us now at 402-650-8407
How to Stay Safe While Being Social
Whether its children accidentally straying into the dark parts of the internet or adults willingly giving away their information online, this month is all about staying safe online.
People happily share their private information online, building robust libraries that can easily become a one-stop goldmine for fraudsters.
It’s not exactly the intention everyone has when they sign up, as the whole point of Facebook is to share your life with your friends. It hooks us into a global community and the experience does depend on us making certain privacy sacrifices.
So how do you balance being social with staying safe?
On Facebook alone, the average person shares 13 pieces of personal information ranging from a fairly innocent name/email combo, all the way to mothers maiden name and home address.
It doesn’t sound like a lot, but those 13 pieces have the power to unravel your life within minutes.
Even checking in at home has become the norm, helping to create a multi-dimensional online identity. The details are available to anyone who cares to look, whether they’re a friend keeping in the loop, or a someone with a much darker agenda.
The problem is, you just don’t know who’s looking at your profile or why.
For example, someone could try accessing your email account by clicking the ‘Forgot password’ link. The email service follows its security rules and asks identifying questions like ‘which high school did you go to? What is your pet’s name?’ Unfortunately, the most common identifying checks and answers are probably available on Facebook.
Once your email address is has been breached, hackers can use that to break into other services and go through, clicking ‘Reset Password’ on site after site, account after account – they have full access to your email, so there’s nothing stopping them from emptying your bank accounts – or worse.
7 Ways To Secure Your Facebook Without Missing Out on the Fun
6 Quick Security Tips To Keep Your Business Safe
Every employee shares one inescapable flaw that is putting your business at risk.
59% of data breaches can be traced back to something an employee did (or didn’t do), which invited a cyber-attack.
To lock hackers out, build security awareness and respect into your company culture, so that maintaining digital security becomes as routine as making coffee.
1. Use complex passwords: Every employee, including management, needs to use an alphanumeric password that they haven’t used before. Password managers can assist with making sure they’re never forgotten.
2. Verify unknown identities: Not familiar with ‘Jenny from Accounting’ who has called to ask for sensitive information? Double check caller identity and access permissions before releasing any information. Hackers love to play on our desire to be helpful.
3. Encrypt by default: People regularly transfer data to a laptop or smartphone so they can work more efficiently. Unfortunately, this equipment can be easily stolen. Set operating systems to encrypt data by default, so that it becomes useless in the wrong hands.
4. Protect portable devices: Laptops and mobile phones should always require a password and be set to auto-lock after a short period of time. Never leave them unattended in cars, buses, restrooms etc, and take them as carry-on luggage.
5. Set personal usage rules: While you may have blocked productivity-vacuums such as Facebook, what are the rules regarding games, video streaming or shopping? Can they install their own software? When business computers are used for personal usage, security vigilance tends to slide, resulting in unintentional malware installation.
6. Educate often: Digital security threats change regularly, and people become comfortable with a certain level of danger, thinking ‘it will never happen to me’. A 5-minute discussion once a month may be the barrier that keeps hackers out.