Cryptolocker- What You Need To Know

Within the last month, Internet security companies have discovered a new type of “ransomware” named Cryptolocker.

Ransomware has been around for a while. You may have seen those fake popup windows that show up on some websites saying “Your Computer is Infected! Click here to clean it!” Once you click, you’re prompted to run some shady software, and then that software keeps throwing up “Pay me or these screens will keep popping up” warnings.

Rogue antivirus software is the most common type of ransomware, but Cryptolocker puts a new twist on holding your computer hostage…and it’s both genius and a scary at the damage it can do. Unlike rogue antivirus software (which pretty much just keeps generating pop-up windows), Cryptolocker searches out all of your documents, photos, music files…anything you hold dear on your computer, and then proceeds to encrypt them with military-grade encryption. After it does this, a countdown screen appears and you have until the timer runs out to pay $300 (US) to obtain the key. As mentioned this is military grade encryption, meaning it has one key to unlock your files, and if that key is lost not even the NSA can get your files back. Read more of this post

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Happy 11th Birthday Windows XP – Not Quite Dead Yet

Today Microsoft is in New York starting its festivities for Windows 8, its latest operating system that promises to merge tablet and PC computing into a brand new environment. However, in the back room Windows XP is quietly celebrating its 11th birthday. October 25th, 2001 was the day Windows XP was unleashed, becoming the most successful operating system in history.

I’m sure Microsoft hopes to have the same success with Windows 8, but its track-record has been hit and miss…history shows the “odd” number releases are usually the good ones. We’ll have to see if Windows 8 breaks that mold.

Windows XP was so successful because it solved a lot of pain-points for PC users at the time. Hardware installation, file limitations, memory management…all of these issues made computers more of a complicated tool rather than the appliance-like device it is seen as today. Windows XP is the product that made that possible. Its so well made that even 11 years after its introduction, XP is still used 41% of the world’s personal computers as of September 2012. Only the much newer Windows 7 has a larger share, and it didn’t surpass Windows XP until August! Read more of this post

If your technology isn’t transparent, it’s not working.

I was driving home from the office the other day and felt the urge to blast some tunes. Without even looking, I hit the power button on the radio, hit the scan button several times, and adjusted the volume just loud enough to blast away all thoughts of the TPS reports and stapler requisition forms due the next day. If you think about it, a car radio is a perfect example of “transparent technology.” They are all designed to fit the car’s environment, the controls are easy to use, and they work without having to put much thought into it…the radio is a part of the car rather than its own special-needs device. All technology should work this same way. Its whole purpose is to make lives easier and more efficient, not complicated and expensive. Many tech-curmudgeons will say “All modern technology is complicated!”, and that’s a true statement. The trick is to make sure you’re using appropriate technology. Read more of this post

Technology Integration: It’s OK to ask for help

We all know the old joke about men and maps. We always get lost, and we’ll never stop and ask for directions because we like to think we’re always in control and know what we’re doing. This joke isn’t as relevant anymore because of the advent of GPS devices, so the new joke is about the guy that can’t program a GPS to give him directions and won’t call technical support because he likes to think he’s always in control and knows what he’s doing. We’re stubborn on a multi-generational level. Read more of this post

The New IT Department – Focused, Smaller, and Possibly Non-Existent

Are IT Departments Needed Anymore?IT Professionals aren’t as comfortable as they used to be.

During the technology boom of the mid-90’s, those working in IT were looked upon as the top of the food chain. They were amazing! They were miracle workers! They could accomplish anything using little more than their pocket protectors and some magic DOS commands.

Times are a changin’. PC’s are as user friendly as ever, cloud computing is replacing complicated office network setups, most hardware is to the point where you plug it in and it works…a lot of IT workers are starting to look like the Maytag Repairman. As a result, many small and medium businesses are focusing their computer staff on development, putting them on a contract basis, or getting rid of internal IT staffing all together. This is a great money saving idea in theory, but there is a flaw in the logic — with nobody running maintenance on the hardware, problems inevitably creep up and costly repairs can result. Read more of this post

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