Security is an important issue for many business owners and managers. Many work with their IT department or an IT partner to ensure their network and systems are secure from threats. But what about your email, social media and bank accounts? The weakest link of these online accounts is your password, hackers know this and that's what they target. Do you take steps to ensure that you have a strong password?
If you want to minimize the chances of your password being hacked, here are five things you should NOT do.
1. Don't pick short passwords
While short passwords are easier to remember, they are also easier and quicker to hack. The most common way to hack passwords is by using brute force: Developing a list of every possible password, then trying this list with a username.
Using a mid-range computer like the one many have on their desk, with a normal Internet connection, you can develop a list of all potential passwords astonishingly quickly. For example it would take 11.9 seconds to generate a list of all possible passwords using five lowercase characters (a,b,c,d,etc.) only. It will take about 2.15 hours to develop a list of all possible passwords using five of any computer character. Once a hacker has the list, they just have to try every potential password with your user name.
On the other hand, a list of all 8 character passwords with at least one special character (!,@,%,etc.) and one capital letter would take this computer 2.14 centuries to develop. In other words, the longer the password, the harder it will be to hack. That being said, longer passwords aren't impossible to hack, they just take more time. So, most hackers will usually go after the shorter passwords first.
2. Don't use the same password
The way most hackers work is that they assume users have the same password for different accounts. If they can get one password, it's as simple as looking through that account's information for any related accounts and trying the original password with the other accounts. If one of these happens to be your email where you have kept bank information, you will likely see your bank account drained.
It's therefore important to use a different password for every online account. They key here is to try and use a password that's as different as possible. Don't just add a number or character onto the end of a word. If you have trouble remembering all of your passwords, try using a password manager like LastPass.
3. Don't use words from the dictionary or all numbers
This article published last year on ZDnet highlights the 25 most popular passwords. Notice that more than 15 contain words from the dictionary, and most of the rest are strings of common numbers. To have a secure password, most security experts agree that you should not use words from the dictionary or number combinations that are beside each other (e.g., 1234).
4. Don't use standard number substitutions
Some users have passwords where they replace letters with a number that looks similar, for example: h31lo (hello). Most new password hacking tools actually have combinations like this built in and will try a normal word, followed by replacing letters with similar numbers. It’s best to avoid this.
5. Don't use available information as a password
What we mean by this is using information that can be easily found on the Internet. For example, doing a quick search for your name will likely return your email address and social media profiles. If you have pictures of your kids, spouse, pets, family, their dates of birth, etc. on your Facebook profile and have put their names in captions, it's possible for a hacker to see this (assuming the pictures are shared with the public).You can bet that they will try these names as your password. You would be surprised with the amount of personal information on the web. We suggest searching for yourself using your email address(s), social media profile names, etc. and seeing what information can be found. If your passwords are close to what you find, it would be a good idea to change them immediately.
There are numerous things you can do to minimize the chance that your passwords are stolen and accounts hacked.
When it comes to the environment, almost every company takes steps to 'do their part' and try to do what they can to conserve, recycle or give back. Any steps taken to help the environment, or reduce a company's environmental impact are seen as good in the eyes of stakeholders. The problem is, it can be hard to figure out how to start, or do more. One solution may be smartphone apps.
Here are four great apps that can help you and your employees make your company a little more green.
GoodGuide is an app that can help you find out more about products. Utilizing a barcode scanner, it can provide you with information like where the product comes from, whether it's safe and if it's green.
With over 170,000 ranked products in the app's database, it's a great way to start learning about sustainable and environmentally friendly products. The only downside of this app is that it currently focuses on the US only, and there is no word as to when, or if, service will expand. You can download it to your Apple and Android device for free.
While we are currently living in a digital age, we still get a lot of paper-based junk mail. This is incredibly wasteful, as most people just throw it away. PaperKarma is an app that aims to reduce or eliminate waste paper.
How it works is you take a picture of unwanted mail, the developers will then contact the distributor and ask that they stop sending mail to you. This app could go a long way in helping reduce the amount of paper your office uses, which will mean lower costs for you and less trees felled. It's really a win-win. You can download it to your iPhone or Android device for free.
An important part of any green initiative is recycling. The problem is, it can be hard to find out what, how and where to recycle. iRecycle is an app that aims to set this straight. It provides information on how to recycle almost everything and the nearest recycle points to you.
If your company has a fleet of vehicles, you are probably always on the lookout for ways to make them more efficient. Whether it be switching tires used, driving at slower speeds to conserve gas or carpooling, finding a way to cut costs is important. greenMeter is an app that could help. What it does is use your iPhone's accelerometer and manually entered data to assess your vehicle's power and gas usage.
While driving, this app provides real-time feedback on how efficient your driving is and how much gas you are using. This will help you conserve fuel (as you can see when you are burning more than usual) which will reduce operating costs and negative environmental impact. It's available for the iPhone and costs USD$5.99.
These are just four apps that can help your company go green. What other CSR initiatives do you take in your company? Let us know! And if you would like more tips on how technology can help you reduce your environmental impact, let us know, we can help.
The iPad is widely considered to be the most popular tablet, even for business. A common reason for this is because it allows business users to be more productive and take the office with them when they leave. A downside of the iPad, and indeed most tablets, is the keyboard, which can often hinder productivity. There is a feature that helps negate this factor however.
Here's a tip on how you can improve typing on your iPad through the use of keyboard shortcuts.
What are they? Keyboard shortcuts are a built-in feature of iOS that allow you to type in a few letters and have your iPad input full sentences or words. This is similar to a Web browser's autocomplete feature which will fill in forms when you enter a few letters or even a word.
How it works Keyboard shortcuts require manual setup, you will have to set a phrase, sentence, word, etc. as well as the letters that will input the phrase. For example you can set the letters 'beml' to be a shortcut for your business email; when you type 'beml', your iPad will input your email address.
These shortcuts could be quite useful, especially if you find yourself continually entering the same word or sentence. This will make you more productive and, as long as you have the correct information, will ensure that there are no typos in important words or phrases. How to set it keyboard shortcuts Taking the business email example from above, here's how you can set keyboard shortcuts. Note: These instructions relate to iOS 6.1 (the latest version of the operating system.)
- Open the Settings app (gray box with three cogs).
- Select General followed by Keyboard.
- Scroll down and select Add New Shortcut.
- Enter the full word/phrase/sentence in the Phrase section. In this case you would enter your full email address.
- Enter the shortcut letters that will be related to the Phrase. In this case you would enter beml.
- Tap Save in the top-right of the window.
How to edit keyboard shortcuts You may notice that when you navigate to the Keyboard section in the Settings app, there is a number of existing shortcuts. You can edit these by:
- Opening the Settings app (gray box with three cogs).
- Selecting General followed by Keyboard.
- Tapping Edit and selecting the shortcut to edit from the Shortcuts box.
- Editing the phrase and shortcut associated to it in the window that opens.
- Pressing Save in the top-right of the window.
If you are looking to learn more about the iPad, or how using one can help improve your productivity at work, please contact us today.
One of the keys to a successful PowerPoint presentation is to have a solid outline from which to build your slides off of. A good outline provides you with a direction and a clear idea on the information you will present. The thing with PowerPoint is that it can be a bit tough to actually create an efficient outline. No need to worry however, as you can create it in Word first and then import it to PowerPoint, which will then automatically create the slides for you.
Here's how to use Word to create a PowerPoint presentation.
How does this work?
The idea here is to use Word to establish the outline and basic text of a PowerPoint presentation. This outline can then be opened in PowerPoint and converted into slides. The way the program does this is through the use of heading styles in Word. Assigning a different heading style (we'll explain how below) will create the outline of your presentation. For example, Heading 1 will be the title of each slide, while Heading 2 becomes the text.
There are two ways you can create an outline. Here's both:
Using Outline view
- Open a new Word document.
- Click on View in the menu bar and select Outline.
- Type your outline - enter the title of each slide, hit Enter to create a new entry. You can also enter the text in the slide under each title.
- Select each line and hit either Promote or Demote (they look like the indent text buttons, and are located in the Outline menu bar).
- Click on File and Save As when you have finished the outline.
- Name the file and under the Format section select Rich Text Format (.rtf). You can also just save the document as a normal Word File, but saving as a .rtf file will ensure that PowerPoint can read the outline properly.
Using Heading styles
- Open a new Word document.
- Enter your outline. The best way to do this is to enter the slide title, hit enter and insert the body/bullet points. Don't leave empty spaces as these may be read as empty slides.
- Highlight the first title and look at the main ribbon for the Styles section. Press the down arrow beside the box that says body and select Heading 1.
- Highlight the related body text (if any) and press Heading 2. This should be just below the Heading 1 option above.
- Repeat for the rest of the slides.
- Click on File and Save As when you have finished the outline.
- Name the file and under the Format section select Rich Text Format (.rtf). You can also just save the document as a normal Word File, but saving as a .rtf file will ensure that PowerPoint can read the outline properly.
Creating the presentation
When you are ready to create the presentation you can:
- Open a new PowerPoint presentation.
- Create the title slide and in the navigation bar (left side of the window), click on it.
- Click on the gray arrow beside New Slide which is located in the Home bar, under the Slides section.
- Select Insert Slides from Outline.
- Locate the outline file you saved and double click on it.
The slides should automatically be created below the title slide. If you didn't apply any formatting to the text, it will likely show up in a slide on the left-hand side with no spacing. You will have to go in and edit it.
By creating an outline in Word first, you can cut down the time needed to format and edit slides in PowerPoint. Of course you will have to edit the slides and add color, themes, images, etc. But, this should help you create more professional presentations.
If you are looking for more tips on PowerPoint, Word or any of the other Office programs please contact us today.
When it comes to technology there are so many different components, ideas, concepts, etc. that it can be hard to keep track of them all. It's not made any easier by the fact that many of the acronyms and terms thrown around are confusing. A common term you may have heard and wondered about is overclocking. Do you know what it is?
Here's a brief overview of overclocking.
Definition: Overclocking When it comes to most tech based devices, the processor (or CPU) is the integral component that functions as the brain of the device; it runs the show. The job of the CPU is to take instructions and input from all the other devices and components and execute them. For example, double-click on a program on your desktop and the CPU computes what to do with the mouse click (open the program), and runs the related code, which is shown as the program opening.
One thing many computer sales people talk about is processor or CPU speed. This is the number of instructions it can run in one second. These instructions are grouped together into one cycle, and one cycle per second equates to a Hertz. You may see computers that have 2Ghz processors, this means 2 Gigahertz or 2,000,000,000 cycles in one second.
Now, when manufacturers release a new CPU they design it to run at a standard, or optimal speed, and will generally limit it. This is done to preserve the life of the components, however there are often ways to break this speed limiter. When you raise the maximum clock speed, beyond the intended clock speed, you are overclocking it.
Why overclock? The main reason users overclock a processor is to make their computer or device run faster. By overclocking, programs will often run or open faster and the general operation will seem smoother. In other words, you can get more out of existing technology without paying to upgrade.
Are there any drawbacks? While overclocking will give you more power and speed, there are some serious drawbacks that make this option risky. The biggest being heat. As you probably have noticed, when you use some devices (say a laptop on your lap) for an extended period of time, they get warm. That's because the components of computers create heat, lots of heat. When you overclock, the processor works harder, thereby generating more heat.
Computers are designed to operate at certain temperatures and if this level is surpassed, the components can wear out more quickly or in extreme cases melt. This means that overclocking will cause your computer's parts to wear out quicker and will decrease the life of the device.
Should we overclock our devices? Did you know that you can overclock nearly anything with a processor? The most common are computers and new smartphones, especially Android devices. When you hear people talking about overclocking their device, they are almost always talking about personal devices.
While it's true, you will get a speed boost in the short run, overclocking will increase your IT budget in the future, because you will have to replace parts more often than is usual. Because most businesses tend to use their technology longer than personal users, any action that causes tech to wear out more quickly is not a good idea.
That being said, you can also do the opposite of overclocking. Underclocking is telling a computer's processor to run slower than it's designed speed. This will increase component life but decrease processing power, and could be beneficial for companies that have new computers and don't need intensive computing resources.
Before you take any actions however, it is best to talk to us, as we may have a better solution for you and one that will cost less.
While being one of the most useful business tools ever invented, email can also be a hinderance. Because of its generally open nature, when anyone can get an email address, criminals have taken their operations online in the form of email frauds or scams. This can be a big issue for business owners, and knowing how to determine if an email is legitimate or not is important.
Here's five tips to help you spot email frauds or scams.
Look at the email address One of the easiest ways to spot a fraudulent email or scam is by looking at the email address of the sender. Many credit card application scams use third party email services like Gmail or Yahoo. Some scammers go so far as to set up accounts in the name of the company e.g., AMEX_121@gmail.com.
Sophisticated scammers will actually try to copy the legitimate company's email account - a practice called spoofing. They will usually have a few changes like a missing letter from the address, or an extra . added.
The easiest thing you can do is look for the sender's site on the Internet. For example: You get an email from AMEX OPEN (American Express's small business credit card) and notice that the sender's email address just doesn't look right. Go to Google and search for amex fraud. You'll likely find the fraud page which tells you exactly how the company sends emails. If the sender is a smaller company, most of these will have email contact addresses right on the site, take a look and compare the two. If they are different, the email is likely a scam.
Look at the sender's website If you think an email is fraudulent, try looking up the website associated with the sender. Should you be unable to find the site, it's likely a scam.
If you find a website, click through some pages to see if there is anything that looks out of place. For example a website selling a new financial service has pages with Coming Soon or you get errors when you try to load the page. If it looks fishy, it likely is - delete the email.
It would also be a good idea to go to archive.org's Wayback Machine, copy and paste the website's URL into the The Wayback Machine Search bar and hit Take me back. This will bring up previous versions of the website. If you see that the site in question was something completely different a few months to a year ago (e.g., it is a financial services page now, but six months ago it was a page selling prescription drugs), chances are high it's a fraud.
Call them Many scammers will put phone numbers into emails to make them look more legitimate. If you are unsure about whether this email is legitimate or not, why not try calling the number? Many scammers run more than one fraud operating at the same time and may answer the phone with another name, or not at all.
Similarly, if you call a local number of a supposedly small business and get routed directly to voicemail, it's likely fraud.
Look carefully at the body of the message The body of the email can also be a great way to suss out email scammers and potential fraud. Because many fraudulent emails originate outside of the major English speaking countries, there will often be language that just sounds different from the way people write in your area. One great example of this would be a line like 'We wish to sell you a great product.'
You should also look for spelling errors, grammar mistakes or inconsistencies. While some fraudulent emails will have minor spelling inconsistencies, others will spell common words wrong. If you see mistakes like 'our product are a great deals', this should raise a warning flag.
Spelling and grammar errors are a part of business communication, so don't expect a perfect email from all companies, especially if you see that the company is located overseas. It's the emails with mistakes supposedly coming from companies in your area that should really raise alarm.
The sender asks for money or passwords It's kind of an unwritten rule that when sending out emails you never ask for a person's credit card number or account passwords. Banks, large companies and many social networks will never ask you for passwords or account information, credit card numbers, pin codes, etc of any kind over email. If you notice that an email selling something asks for you to reply with a credit card details so you can make a purchase, it's best to delete the email as it's likely a fraud.
Email fraud is a big deal, and unfortunately it will likely become even more common in the near future. This means you should be able to spot potentially fraudulent emails. If you think an email is a scam, it's best to just delete it immediately. Don't respond or forward it to colleagues or employees. If you need to let people know, write another email that describes the suspected email but has no links. You can also forward a screenshot to your colleagues or friends to illustrate the scam.
Looking for more ways you can protect your company? Contact us today. We can work with you to develop a security system that will meet your needs.
When looking to purchase new technology for a business, many business owners or managers will take their time to shop around and look for the best option available. Nowadays, most of this research is done over the Internet. As you probably know, everyone has an opinion on the Internet, and this can make it harder to figure out which tech is actually good, and what isn't. This is especially true for Microsoft's new tablet, the Surface Pro.
Here's a brief overview of the four main pros and cons of the Microsoft Surface Pro.
1. Windows 8
The Surface Pro comes with Windows 8 Pro installed. This is the full version - all the functionality of the desktop is on the tablet. For businesses this means that almost any program you use on your Windows 8 desktop will also be useable on the Surface Pro; you can truly take the office with you.
If you don't use Windows 8 at the office, but use an older version of Windows, most programs will still work because Windows 8 supports many legacy Windows programs (Windows 7, Vista and some XP programs).
2. You can connect almost anything
Unlike similar tablet devices, the Surface Pro comes with a full USB port which can accommodate almost any USB device, including external hard drives. There is also a mini DisplayPort which, with an adapter, you will be able to connect an external monitor or projector to.
Beyond that, the Surface Pro also has a MiniSD card slot which allows for up to 64GB of extra storage space. There is also an attachable keyboard case which connects to the tablet by magnets, and gives users a full laptop style keyboard and mouse trackpad.
3. The screen is gorgeous
The 10.6 inch screen of the Surface Pro has a resolution of 1920X1080 pixels, which means the display is full HD. When comparing it to the screen of the iPad 4, most users will not notice much of a difference. For the visual experts among you, the resolution translates to a 16:9 ratio, which means the device is widescreen, much like modern laptop monitors.
4. It's powerful
The Surface Pro has a third generation Intel i5 processor and 4GB of RAM. This is similar to many mid-range laptops currently on the market and is miles ahead of any other business tablet currently available. What this means for most business users is that they will be able to run almost all of their business programs without a problem.
1. Battery life
Most 10-inch tablets will have between 6 and 10 hours of battery life under normal use conditions - some Web browsing, email, Wi-Fi on, movie playing and screen on a normal level of brightness. The Surface Pro will get around four hours, or less if you are working with programs that require more computing resources.
The reason for the lower than average battery life is largely due to the bigger, faster processor and the HD screen. On the other hand, the battery life is good when compared to similar laptops.
2. Mobility is limited
This device is meant to be held in landscape method (think of an open book). This is evident with the kickstand on the back of the device and the fact that the attachable keyboard cover is only useable in landscape mode.
What's more, the device is quite heavy for a tablet, many users won't be able to hold it for long periods. User reviews have also shown that with the keyboard cover attached, the device won't sit on a lap, only on a flat surface.
In other words, if you plan to move around a lot, or work with the tablet on your lap, you're going to have a tough time of it. It will be even harder if you have peripherals attached.
3. Storage space is limited
Looking at the Surface Pro website, you can see that it comes with two hard drive options - 64GB and 128GB. It's important to note that these numbers are the size of the hard drive before Windows 8 is installed. After the OS is installed, users will have a paltry 23GB and 83GB respectively. Want to install Microsoft Office 2013? Take off another 8GB.
On the plus side, there is a MicroSD slot which can support a card with up to 64GB of space, and the USB port allows you to connect an external hard drive, but that is hardly ideal especially if you are looking for a mobile solution.
4. The price
The Surface Pro is by no means cheap. The 64GB version costs USD$899 while the 128GB version costs USD$999. Want the keyboard cover? The soft version (Surface Touch Cover) costs an extra USD$119 while the hard version (Surface Type Cover) costs USD$129. Add in the cost of an extra hard drive, and this device could cost over USD$1,000. A laptop from a reputable manufacturer with similar hardware could cost as low as USD$500.
Should I buy it for my business?
While the price alone will put many prospective business owners off purchasing this device as a tablet, it is a viable solution that could, in theory, replace a laptop. If you are interested in purchasing a Surface Pro, or would like to know more about how it could fit into your business, please contact us today.
There are numerous ways a business can build a brand and ultimately grow. One of the most popular tools to help with this is social media, of which there are numerous services. The newest social media service is Pinterest which is dedicated to the sharing of images. Pinterest has recently been updated with a new layout and features that businesses with profiles will benefit from.
Here's a brief overview of the new features introduced with Pinterest's recent layout changes.
How to get the new layout
Before you can use these features, it would be a good idea to upgrade to the new layout. While, like other social media services, this will be happening automatically over time. Unlike other platforms, the new layout is available for all users to switch to when they feel ready, however when you switch to the new layout, you will not be able to go back to the old one. Here's how you can switch:
- Log in to Pinterest.
- Hover your mouse over your profile/business name at the top-right of your profile.
- Click Switch to the New Look.
- Select Get it Now. Note: If you press this, you likely won't be able to switch back to the old layout.
- Press Okay from the Welcome to your new look! pop-up window.
When the new layout loads, you'll notice that the pins are bigger, the category button has been moved to the left side of the profile beside the Search bar. You'll also notice that the comment button has been moved from the pins, you can access it by clicking on the image. On top of cosmetic changes, two useful functions that businesses will find beneficial.
Now, when you look at an individual pin (click on the image), you will notice a number of changes.
- You can see all pins on the same board.
- You'll also see pins from the same website. For example if you pin something from a restaurant, you'll now see similar pins from the same website.
- Most importantly, you'll now be able to see what other people have pinned along with the same image.
This will make it easier for users to discover what other people are pinning. For your business this means potentially higher exposure. Think of this as something similar to the way Facebook works: If a person likes you, the chances of this like showing on their friend's profile, and that friend visiting your Page is higher. It's kind of like easy brand exposure.
Arguably the most useful feature added recently is Pinterest Analytics, which allows you to see if your pins are being clicked on or shared, and the general success of your activities. This will go a long way in helping you determine the overall success of your Pinterest oriented efforts.
The main caveat with this is that your profile/business's website needs to be verified and connected with your profile. If you have an unofficial Pinterest account, you can change it to a business one by:
- Logging into your Pinterest account and going to business.pinterest.com.
- Pressing Convert your existing account and choose your type of business.
- Entering the relevant account information like the name of your business, address and website.
- Agreeing to the new Terms of Service.
If you would like to have a new username or account simply go to http://business.pinterest.com/ and press Join as a Business. You will be asked to set your account information, username, etc. You will need to verify your account which will involve you having to download a file and upload it to the server that hosts your website. We, or your web hoster can help you with that.
After your account is verified, you will notice that if you hover your mouse over your account name a drop-down list should pop up with Analytics being about half way down. Click on that to be taken to the section.
This section will display a bunch of graphs including:
- The number of daily pins and pinners on your site.
- The number of re-pins you have done.
- How many times your content has been repinned.
- The number of clicks and website visits.
- The most clicked and repinned pins.
- The number of times your pins have been seen.
Overall, Analytics is a useful tool that will give you a clear picture of what is working and what isn't. If you pinned a picture of a dog and noticed that it got zero pins while another got hundreds, it may be a good idea to create/look for more similar content.
If you are looking to integrate Pinterest into your business's social media strategy or would like or learn more about how to use the service, please contact us today.
If you were to ask business owners or managers the number one program they use on a regular basis, many would probably say the spreadsheet. This versatile program helps managers and owners keep track of various information but some spreadsheets can reach such massive sizes that they become unwieldy. Excel has a function that can help you easily pull data from a large spreadsheet - the pivot table. While useful, the pivot table isn't perfect and will usually require a some formatting.
Here's four ways you can modify Excel 2013 for Office 365's pivot tables to meet your needs.
Make your tables look good
When you first create a new pivot table you may notice that the numbers aren't formatted properly, or the table didn't pull the format from the base spreadsheet. They may have too many decimal places, or are lacking currency figures. You can make edit this by:
- Selecting any of the numbers in the Value field.
- Clicking on the Analyze tab from the tabs above the table.
- Pressing on Field Settings in the Active Field group.
This will open the Field Settings panel and allow you to edit the whole Value field, which means that if you change numbers, location, etc, the formatting will stick. Pressing Number Format will bring up the Format Cell window where you can apply numbers, currencies, decimal places, etc. Pressing Ok will apply the formatting you have selected to the whole field.
You can also apply color schemes or styles by pressing the Design tab and selecting the theme that looks good to you. This will not usually change the layout, just the color and style.
Change the name of the table and fields
If you are going to be sending the table to clients or colleagues, you may want to change the name of the table and fields to something a little more user-friendly. You can change the names by:
- Clicking on the cell/name you would like to change.
- Pressing on the Analyze tab.
- Looking at the Active Field area of the Analyze tab and double clicking on the cell's name. You can also click on the box beside Pivot Table Name if you want to change the table's name.
- Entering a new name.
Add gridlines for easier viewing
If you need to separate the information in the cell, the easiest thing to do is to add gridlines. This can be done by:
- Clicking on a cell in the table
- Selecting the Design tab and choosing any style aside from the first one.
- Looking at the PivotTable Style Gallery and ticking the box that says Banded Rows.
Change blanks to 0s
There may be an issue where the data that's used to create the table leave blank spaces when they should be 0s. This isn't a big deal, but it would be a good idea to ensure that, for consistency, blank cells are represented as a 0, especially if other related cells are numbers. You can force Excel to fill blank cells with a 0 by:
- Right clicking on the table.
- Selecting Options followed by Layout & Format in the pop-up window.
- Entering 0 beside the box that says For empty cells show
- Pressing Ok.
Excel and the pivot table bring some excellent functionality to the spreadsheet, and having a properly formatted pivot table could go a long way in ensuring the information shown is easier to read. If you would like to learn more about how Excel or any of the other Office 365 programs can help, please contact us today.
Myths have always been a part of human culture, and can be found in nearly every aspect of life, including the computer. One of the larger computer-based myths revolves around malware, more specifically the virus. Many users are familiar with the concept but have a tough time distinguishing between what is true and what isn't. Are you one of them?
Here are five common myths about viruses that confuse people, and the truths associated with them. Before we delve deeper it would be a good idea to explain what a virus is.
A virus is a computer program that infects a computer and can generally copy itself and infect other computers. Most viruses aim to cause havoc by either deleting important files or rendering a computer inoperable. Most viruses have to be installed by the user, and usually come hidden as programs, browser plugins, etc.
You may hear the term malware used interchangeably with virus. Malware is short for malicious software and is more of an umbrella term that covers any software that aims to cause harm. A virus is simply a type of malware.
Myth 1: Error messages = virus A common thought many have when their computer shows an error message is that they must have a virus. In truth, bugs in the software, a faulty hard drive, memory or even issues with your virus scanner are more likely the cause. The same goes with if your computer crashes, it likely could be because of something other than a virus.
When you do see error messages, or your computer crashes while trying to run a program or open a file, you should scan for viruses, just to rule it out.
Myth 2: Computers can infect themselves It's not uncommon to have clients bring their computers to a techie exclaiming that a virus has magically appeared on the system all by itself. Despite what some may believe, viruses cannot infect computers by themselves. Users have to physically open an infected program, or visit a site that hosts the virus and download it.
To minimize the chance of being infected you should steer clear of any adult oriented sites - they are often loaded with viruses, torrent sites, etc. A good rule of thumb is: If the site has illegal or 'adult' content, it likely has viruses that can and will infect your system if visited, or files downloaded from there.
Myth 3: Only PCs can get viruses If you read the news, you likely know that many of the big viruses and malware infect mostly systems running Windows. This has led users to believe that other systems like Apple's OS X are virus free.
The truth of the matter is: All systems could be infected by a virus, it's just that the vast majority of them are written to target Windows machines. This is because most computers run Windows. That being said, there is an increasing number of threats to OS X and Linux, as these systems are becoming more popular. If this trend keeps up, we will see an exponential rise in the number of viruses infecting these systems.
Myth 4: If I reinstall Windows and copy all my old files over, I'll be ok Some believe that if their system has been infected, they can simply copy their files onto a hard drive, or backup solution, reinstall Windows and then copy their files back and the virus will be gone.
To be honest, wiping your hard drive and reinstalling Windows will normally get rid of any viruses. However, if the virus is in the files you backed up, your computer will be infected when you move the files back and open them. The key here is that if your system is infected, you need to scan the files and remove the virus before you put them back onto your system.
Myth 5: Firewalls protect networks from viruses Windows comes with a firewall built into the OS, and many users have been somewhat misled as to what it actually does, and that firewalls can protect from viruses. That's actually a half truth. Firewalls are actually for network traffic, their main job is to keep networks and computers connected to the network secure; they don't scan for viruses.
Where they could help is if a virus is sending data to a computer outside of your network. In theory, a firewall will pick up this traffic and alert you to it, or stop the flow of data outright. Some of the bigger viruses actually turn off the firewall, rendering your whole network open to malware attacks.
What can I do? There are many things you can do to minimize the chances of infection. The most important is to install a virus scanner on all of your systems, keep it up to date and run it regularly. But a defensive strategy like this isn't enough, you need to be proactive by:
- Not installing programs from sources you don't know or trust
- Being weary of any program that asks you for your password
- Not installing any browser add-ons or plugins suggested by websites. Instead, download them from the browser's app store, or the developer's website.