May 23, 2014 Tom Williams Technology
In case you have not already heard, it has been discovered that eBay was quietly broken into by some hackers a couple of months ago and successfully stole a database full of user information. eBay is now strongly urging all of their customers to change their passwords.
Even though the passwords were encrypted and eBay claims that the likelihood of decrypting the passwords is very low, they still recommend all customers login and change their passwords. In addition to the passwords, hackers also stole customer’s names, email addresses, physical addresses, phone numbers, and dates of birth. The company did state that no financial information was stolen for any of the users.
In my opinion, I would recommend that you take a minute and change your password. I have created another blog post here that will provide details on how to do so.
Another aspect of the security breach is that hackers now have personal information they can use to try to trick people into giving out important financial information. Keep that in mind when you receive any unsolicited emails or phone calls where the other party is trying to get you to provide them with information they don’t have. Just because they have your phone number and your email address does not mean they are legitimate.
For more details you can find answers to Frequently Asked Questions by eBay here.
Tom Williams Technology
After the recent security breach at eBay, here are the steps you need to take to change your password.
1. Sign into your eBay account from Ebay’s home page.
2. After logged in, hover on the down arrow at the top of the page next to your name. Choose the option for Account Settings from the drop down menu that displays.
3. This takes you to Your Account page. On the left side, under my eBay Views, click on the link for Personal Information.
4. On the Personal Information page, the top section is called Account Information and there is a setting for password. Click on the Edit link to the far right of the word Password.
5. eBay will then prompt you to enter your email address or user ID. Choose either one and then click Continue.
6. eBay then asks you how you want to reset your password. You can choose either a text message or email.
7. For the text message option, a form will be displayed that will ask for a PIN number. They will text you the PIN number. Type the PIN number in the appropriate field and this will take you to the page to change your password.
8. For the email option, eBay will send you a Reset Your Password message. Click the link in the email and that will take you to a page where you can enter a new password.
9. Choose a new password and enter it in the form. eBay will then prompt you to log in again with your new password.
May 16, 2014 Tom Williams Technology
When buying a computer for work, you can choose between a consumer model and a computer specifically designed for business purposes. Most computer companies design the same computer model for the home as well as business, but there are certain differences worth mentioning so you can purchase the most appropriate computer for your home or office.
First, you must determine how often you will use the computer for business and how often you will use it for personal purposes. For instance, if you rarely telecommute, a consumer class PC is good for you as long as it has the required applications and resources for your work. Similarly, if the computer is largely meant for entertainment purposes and work usage is estimated at 10 percent of the time, then a consumer computer would be appropriate
A major advantage of consumer computers is their cheap cost compared to business computers. And, they are readily available in stores, such as Best Buy and Walmart.
If the computer is meant for work purposes, it is advisable to invest in a business class computer. Business PCs offer greater value in the long run than personal computers. They are built to last and include higher quality components that have gone through rigorous testing. In addition, while consumer computers may have parts that are generic or cheap, business computers are made from high-grade materials and brand-name parts. The emphasis on durability makes business class laptops and desktops more valuable long term.
The main difference between business and personal computers lies in their features. For business PCs these features include fingerprint readers, encryption tools and remote desktop control software. In addition, their operating system is better suited for professional purposes than a home PC. For instance, Windows 8 Professional, which is installed on business PCs, has additional features that are not included in the Windows 8 Home and Starter editions, including corporate network capabilities. In addition, the software that is usually pre-installed on consumer PCs is excluded from business PCs.
Support and warranty
The default warranty for business PCs is generally longer than that of consumer models. Business users also tend to receive prioritized support through a dedicated support line and in certain cases quick parts replacement as opposed to having to send in your computer for repair and waiting for weeks to have it returned.
Business-class PCs reflect and support a company’s critical performance and reliability needs. As such, choosing one that best fits your professional needs is a worthwhile investment.
May 6, 2014 Tom Williams Technology
Many internet users may not have heard about the Heartbleed bug which is a security bug that have been around for about two years. Few weeks ago, security researchers announced that OpenSSL had a security flaw that allowed hackers to extract massive amounts of data from some of the most common internet services. These are the services we often assume to be secure, including Facebook and Gmail. The bug makes the machines powering online services and typically transmitting secure information vulnerable.
What is it?
The Heartbleed bug is a flaw that exists in OpenSSL, which is the open-source encryption standard used by most websites to transmit secure and private users’ data. The encryption allows a secure line of data transmission by making it nonsensical to anyone except the intended recipient.
What does it do?
Randomly, for security purposes, a computer confirms that there’s actually another computer at the other end of the secure connection. It therefore sends out what is referred to as a Heartbeat, a small data packet requesting a response. Due to a programming flaw in the OpenSSL implementation, researchers found that hackers could send a similar packet, but what it really does is to trick the computer on the other end into sending data stored in its memory.
What’s the risk?
The flaw has been in OpenSSL for about 2 years using a code that does not leave a trace. The data at risk is the kind of information stored in the active memory of web servers. This includes, usernames, passwords, content that users upload to different services, and credit card numbers.
Am I affected?
The problem goes beyond your personal devices to the software powering the services you are using; therefore, you may be directly or indirectly affected since OpenSSL is used to encrypt most internet traffic, such as social media websites and government services sites.
What should I do?
To protect yourself, assume your accounts may have been compromised and change your online passwords, particularly for high-impact services such as your email and banking logins.
Please note that in some instances, some websites have yet to upgrade to software that is bug free, so changing your passwords may not solve the issue at this point, however, OpenSSL developers were made aware of the flaw beforehand and the vulnerability was fixed before the public announcement. As such, the heartbleed bug may no longer be as prevalent as major service providers should already have updated their websites.
April 4, 2014 Tom Williams Technology
I am often faced with my customers thinking that their computer is not working well because they have too many pictures on their computer or too many programs installed. I have found that most customers are confused as to what makes their computer run good or bad. Here is an easy way to understand how your computer works and what affects the overall performance.
When evaluating how a computer performs, there are three primary components to consider. The three components are hard drive, RAM (often referred to as memory), and the processor. The easiest way to understand how these components work together is with a cooking analogy.
To understand how a computer performs, let us consider what it takes to cook a meal. The first thing that you need when cooking a meal are cooking utensils and ingredients. The location of those cooking utensils and ingredients are found in cupboards. It would not really affect how fast you could cook your meal whether your cupboards were full or mostly empty
This is also true in a computer. The cupboards in your kitchen are just like the hard drive in your computer. It does not really matter when the hard drive is mostly full or empty when looking at the overall performance of your computer.
The next thing we need to cook our meal is a counter top. If we only have a tiny counter top and have to put pans away before getting other pans out, this is going to really slow down how quickly we can prepare our meal. If we have plenty of countertop space and can lay everything out at once, this will greatly speed up how quickly we can prepare our meal. The countertop space is similar to the RAM in your computer. The more RAM (or memory) you have installed in your computer, the more things you can have open at once and it allows everything to run faster.
Finally, after we have prepared the meal, it is time to put it in the oven. In this analogy, the higher the temperature the oven goes to, the faster the meal would cook. The oven is similar to processors. The better the processor you buy, the faster your computer will run. If your computer is performing slowly, it is most likely that you either don’t have enough RAM or your processor is not fast enough. There are many times that additional RAM can be added to greatly improve the overall performance of your computer, while upgrading your processor is almost never possible. This is one of the reasons it is so important to make sure that you buy the computer that is right for you.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of how your computer works. Just like when you remodel your kitchen, you consult with experts to make sure that you get the right cupboards, countertops, and stove, it is also important to consult with experts to make sure you get the right components with your computer. By buying the right computer, you can literally save thousands of dollars in productivity that could be lost otherwise.
Email us at email@example.com or call us today at (330)456-5418 if your computers are running slow or you are considering buying a new computer and we will help make sure you get what is best for you.
Tom Williams Technology
The first thing to consider is the security risks you will be facing if you continue to use Windows XP once support by Microsoft has ended. Microsoft will not be releasing any more patches for Windows XP unless you pay them to do it. As further vulnerabilities are found in Windows XP, those security holes will not be fixed. To put this into context, there have been thousands of patches released for XP over the last 12 years. There will continue to be many more holes discovered but there will be no patch to fix it.
This also extends over into the antivirus vendor world as well. Most vendors stop supporting operating systems when the manufacturer ends support. This means that most likely within the next year, even if you have an antivirus program, that the vendors will stop providing support for XP and leave you even more vulnerable.
In addition, 3rd party hardware providers will stop supporting XP which will affect everything from printers and scanners to phones and any other new device you may want to purchase. It does not mean that your current devices will stop working but as new devices are manufactured, compatibility will quickly become an issue with XP.
There are also productivity concerns to consider if you still have Windows XP. In a report commissioned by Microsoft, the International Data Corporation (IDC) found that base IR and end-user labor costs associated with Windows XP are about five times as much as those for Windows 7. Microsoft’s Erwin Visser wrote in a blog post, “IDC found the longer you wait, the pricier supporting Windows XP gets: IT labor costs go up 25 percent in the fourth year of continuing to run Windows XP past deadline, and user productivity suffers as well, with an increased cost of 23 percent.”
If you are still using Windows XP and you are unsure about what to do, we can help. Not only can we make sure you purchase a computer best suited to your needs, but we can also make sure that all your important data gets moved over and the transition is seamless.
Let us help, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 330-456-5418.