Computer & PC Help

Ransomware09 Apr

I recently had the pleasure of attending an emergency response seminar about ransomware.  There were a few hospitals represented as well as government employees too.   Everyone represented Palm Beach County. What I realized is everyone talks about what to do if the systems are down but no one talks about prevention.

First let me preface by saying that nothing is 100% You can have all the security software in place, firewalls etc. but as soon as someone either opens a link they shouldn’t or clicks on something on the internet they shouldn’t it’s over. An example of software is proofpoint – it is a good tool, it disables all downloads as well as checks the site, but the user has the option to exit the software and it only works with email links. Most companies are now putting a header on emails from an external source and even some a limiting outside email access.  From experience I can tell you that ransomware spreads fast.  It shuts down everything and it targets your backups first. 

But this is all reactive, not proactive.

Why doesn’t anyone take the time to educate users on what to look for?  I’ve heard all the excuses. “I get so much email, I don’t have the time to look at everything” “I was just looking for something and suddenly things just popped up”… It goes on and on.  Users need to pay attention to what they are doing.  Most companies have an orientation when they hire new employees, why not make this part of the orientation?

Here’s an example of what a user may see:

Notice the email address –

Ace Department <>

Notice the to address:

Then is says Congratulations and there’s a link to click for a confirmation. To the trained eye it screams fraud.  However, to someone not thinking, they will click on that and who knows that happens next.  But, if you show the user what to look for, then perhaps they will discard the email in this case.  Same with the internet, things pop up unexpectedly telling you that if you click this then you’ve won.  But it’s the same thing.  You click on the link and then you’re infected.  In my private business I’ve had many users who call me up telling me they clicked on something and now they can’t get to their bank.  This is called a hijack.  The page gets hijacked, and you can’t get to your site. Every time you click on your site, you get the same redirect page, and you can’t get to where you want to be.  You must go in and clear the cache, but that’s if you’re lucky.  The other option is you clicked on a link and now your PC shuts down and everything is lost.

Let me also say that I was shocked to find out that most places do not lock down their internet or perhaps administrators don’t know how…  Personally, I lock down my internet.  I only allow users access to what they need, not what they think they need or want.  Ransomware is expensive.  It takes out all systems it hits by encrypting everything, rendering it useless.  I would hope that companies don’t pay the ransom, although someone did say why not pay.  I said pay?  That’s like someone robbing your home and calling you to pay to get your stuff back.  And in addition, who’s to say that you will get that encryption key to unlock your systems?  Also, if they got you once, chances are they will get you again because they will try again.

So what is the answer?  In my opinion companies need to take the time to educate their users, lock down internet access and use as many tools as they can.  But it all starts with the user.  Show them how to look at the senders’ email address.  Show them that they did not win the contest they didn’t enter.  Show them that they need to be aware of what they are doing on the internet and most importantly, hold drills.  Meaning send out test emails to see what they do.  Maybe send them to a site and see if they are tempted to click on that link.  AND HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE!!  No one gets held accountable.  I’m not suggesting you fire the employee; I’m suggesting you hold them accountable by having them take a review on what to do.  If companies do not try to prevent the infections from Ransomware or other viruses, then they are vulnerable.  Virus protection will not protect you either.  Virus protection is only as good as it’s last update.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good tool but it will not prevent something new.

For the home users, you need to think before you click.  Ask yourself, did I order anything from FedEx, Do I even have an Amazon account that is locked and If I do have an amazon account that is locked, then why would they send me an email? Try to login to your Amazon account if you want to make sure that is wrong.  Did you even order anything as the email says you did..  You must use your head to realize that things are traps.  People will try to steal your data, identity, even your money if you are not careful.  Personally, I almost fell for the Zelle scam before I realized that it was impossible because I wasn’t expecting any money from someone I didn’t know.  This is the best way to keep your information safe.  If something doesn’t look right, it’s probably not right.  Close your browser and start again.  Delete that email and if it’s real I’m sure the company will find you.  CHECK THE ADDRESS OF THE SENDER! isn’t real. Stop, look and THINK… 

Computer & PC Help

How to Troubleshoot your Home Internet12 Dec

Often times people email me some good information. I’d like to share this link with you

Computer & PC Help

Getting Ready for Windows 1106 Sep

Microsoft is getting read to release Windows 11 to the public sometime in October this year. Before you just go and download the new operating system there are a few things to consider.

Microsoft has a few requirements for this new operating system and here they are:

Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with 2 or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or System on a Chip (SoC)
RAM: 4 gigabyte (GB)
Storage: 64 Gigs
System firmware: UEFI, Secure Boot capable
TPM: Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0
Graphics card: Compatible with DirectX 12 or later with WDDM 2.0 driver
Display: High definition (720p) display that is greater than 9” diagonally, 8 bits per color channel
Internet connection and Microsoft accounts: Windows 11 Home edition requires internet connectivity and a Microsoft account to complete device setup on first use.
Switching a device out of Windows 11 Home in S mode also requires internet connectivity. Learn more about S mode from Microsofts webste

For all Windows 11 editions, internet access is required to perform updates and to download and take advantage of some features. A Microsoft account is required for some features.

These are just the minimum requirements – lets explore what you will need to do in order to upgrade to Windows 11.

Processor – Most of use have more than a 1 Ghz Processor in our machines. I recommend and Intel or an AMD at least an i5 or more and most of today’s machines have 2 cores. The processor controls the machine – it’s responsible for carrying out all tasks. The stronger the processor the faster the tasks complete. The gigahertz, or GHz represents how many calculations the processor can make each second. The Cores represents how quickly the CPU (Processor) can process data. Each core is basically a CPU in itself, and many programs are written so that multiple cores can work on processing the data the program requires at the same time – vastly increasing how quickly that program can run. For the home use 2 cores is plenty and most home PCs have 2.

RAM – Random Access Memory represents the super-fast and temporary data storage space that a computer needs to access right now or in the next few moments. The more RAM the faster things are processed. Basically, it’s your machines short term memory. Things like applications and data get held there temporarily and are released when you go on to the next thing. Again, the more memory the faster things process. I usually recommend 8 to 16 gigs of ram for today’s users

Storage – Is your hard drive that stores all your information. Microsoft recommends 64 gigs of storage space as a minimum. Today I believe the smallest storage is 500 gigs. Side note – what I do recommend is users have an external device like a USB or an external USB hard drive to store anything they can’t afford to lose in case your machine dies. This will help you basically recover from a disaster. Some people use cloud storage, which is fine but you pay for it. Purchasing a USB drive or an external hard drive is a one-time fee. That choice is yours

System Firmware – There are two types of firmware that can be serviced via Windows: system firmware and device firmware. System firmware is responsible for providing critical boot and runtime services to the system as a whole, and device firmware is associated with a particular device integrated into a system. Such device firmware typically works together with a device driver, allowing the OS (Operating System – Windows) to expose the device to OS-level services and applications.
UEFI-updatable device firmware is what Microsoft is requiring:
This device firmware can be updated using a device driver package from the Manufacturer (basically a BIOS update which you can download from the website of the vendor) leveraging the same mechanism as system firmware. A device firmware update is distributed as a firmware update package. After the firmware update package is on the end-user’s system, Windows will use the UEFI UpdateCapsule function to hand-off the device firmware payload to the platform firmware for processing. This process is virtually identical to how Windows hands off system firmware update payload, and is discussed below.

This sounds complicated but actually it’s just a setting in your systems BIOS (BIOS – just a set of instructions that controls input and output operations on your machine) if you know how you can adjust these setting to meet these requirements– I’ll explain that later

TPM – Trusted Platform Module can be turned on in the BIOS. TPM is a computer chip (microcontroller) that can securely store artifacts used to authenticate the platform (your PC or laptop). … These artifacts can include passwords, certificates, or encryption keys.

The rest of this is pretty standard on all machines.

Next How do I know if I have this in my system? Most newer machines have all these setting in their system BIOS and the latest machines have them turn on.

How can you check – Each machines manufacturer has a specific way of getting into the BIOS. You can easily look that up on line. For my purposes and this explanation, I will show you how to check or change these setting in Dell’s BIOS.

When you turn on your Dell Machine tap F12 this will bring up a menu. You must start tapping F12 as soon as your turn on the machine.
Notice I already have UEFI set and I want to go to the BIOS setup – Use the down arrow key to get there

This will allow me to enter the BIOS just hit enter on your keyboard.

Once you open the BIOS you will see:
You will need to scroll down to secure boot

Click on Secure Boot and open it and click on Enabled if it’s disabled. And make sure you save the settings. The next piece is Security and TPM Security.

Scroll up to Security and then down to TPM Security: Make sure the boxes are check as you see them here. The minimum is TPM security. Make sure you save the changes. Exit and reboot.

You are now ready for Windows 11
Different Machine from different vendors do this differently. Follow these links for both HP and Dell for further instructions on the BIOS. If you feel you can’t do it then call you IT professional and have them set it up for you.

This gives you many different ways to get to the BIOS in Dell:

This is for HP and maybe a little older – I suggest you find the exact model of your machine before you try this:

Computer & PC Help

Internet Tips for Seniors25 Apr

I want to share a story about on-line scams. Recently, I had someone contact me about a parent who’d be scammed out of about $200.00 and this person’s PC was Hi-Jacked. There was a message telling my client it would cost $10.00 for my client to use her machine. The person that contacted me was able to get on the machine but wasn’t sure if that nightmare was over. Enter me… I’ve been in business for over 20 years I actually work as a Network Administrator/System Administrator/Manager full time. I do the my personal business on the weekends because my work schedule is full. This isn’t a commercial for my business; It just makes me angry when seniors are taken advantage of.
First things first…No one, absolutely, no one knows what you are doing on line – what this means it yes you are being tracked by advertisers which is why when you open social media, you’ll suddenly see ads for things you’ve looked at. Sites like Amazon are very good at that. They target what you view and then the email you recommendations for purchases. It’s not just Amazon that does this; it’s any site you visit to view or purchase goods from. This isn’t necessarily dangerous, although it could be if you’re not careful. Scammers take advantage of this stuff too. You may get an email with a link saying you’ve just be picked to …. The link usually looks strange it can look something like and it will be what’s referred to a hyperlink. Meaning you will click on it and it will take you to a site that the scammer has set up. The site may install a virus, ransomware, etc. This can cause you much “pain”. It can steal your personal information, especially if you do your banking on your computer, your social security information and anything else related to what you do on line; even your pictures. It can take control of your email accounts, and even lock you out of your computer by changing your password too.
My point is you need to be aware of what you are doing. SLOW DOWN and read everything carefully. I always tell people Microsoft, IRS, Social Security, FED EX, USPS etc. will never, ever send you an email if you didn’t initiate it. So, if you suddenly receive a text or an email out of the blue, it’s a scam – delete it immediately.
Next, if you are surfing the internet and you suddenly come upon a page that says something like WARNING – YOU ARE INFECTED WITH A VIRUS!!! – CALL XXX-XXX-XXXX. This too is a scam. Just close your browser (Google Chrome, Firefox, Edge or Internet Explorer). It will go away and chances are you are not infected. This site is just trying to get you to call so the scammers can gain access to your computer. Again, stealing your information and even holding it hostage by charging you to clean it up. Please don’t fall for this.
Also, NEVER, NEVER allow ANYONE access to your computer UNLESS YOU KNOW WHO THEY ARE!! That’s how my client got scammed. They told her that they were from Microsoft and she was infected with a virus and for $200.00 they’d clean it up. NO!!! Wrong. No one knows you’re infected with anything unless you tell them or you’ve fallen victim of a scam. This person installed TeamViewer (a software that allows remote access to a machine) and they made this person pay. I told this person – “That’s like me calling you up and telling you your oven is on. How could I possibly know that?” I hope this person understood. I did manage to take the PC home with me, remove TeamViewer and clean out the virus that was installed on the machine. And this PC did have virus protection too! However, virus protection is only as good as it’s last update so if someone is able to disable or outsmart that virus protection, it’s worthless. You need to be smarter than the people doing this. So, think about it before you act. Its so easy to be fooled especially when you think you have been infected. Most of the time you’re not. Believe me you will know if you have a problem. Suddenly, popups will appear when you open your browser, your machine may get really slow or even crash. Depends upon the virus and what it does. If you are the victim of ransomware – then basically it’s over. Ransomware encrypts everything and makes it unusable unless you pay to get the encryption key. That’s the equivalent of someone changing the locks at you home and not allowing you in unless you pay them.
So be careful, so down, take your time and READ everything. If something doesn’t appear right, it’s not! Fortunately, for my client it wasn’t that bad in terms of infection but it still cost her $200.00 and I’m sure my client could have used that money for something else. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, be suspicious of everything you do an see on line. Don’t be a victim.
What can you do? Well again, the best thing is to think before you act. Ask yourself how can this person know that I’m infected, who are they, what do they really want… There are things you can install inside your browser to help protect you from being hijacked on line. IT will alert you when a link isn’t good. These things are free. Ghostry, AdGuard Adblocker, Facebook container, Ublock Origin – these are all FREE and can easily be installed on any browser. Just look them up and install them. This will help and it’s what I did for my client after I cleaned it up.

Moral of the story is YOU are the only know that will be able to prevent yourself from being scammed. PAY ATTENTION.

Computer & PC Help

Companies and responses to ransomware25 Dec

Well, it finally happened… It took long enough but FINALLY companies are taking the initiative to educate their users on spam mail and it’s affects. I guess it took millions of dollars in company losses to finally get IT departments to wake up. This is too little too late, the damage has been done and millions have been lost. And this was so unnecessary too. It’s truly unfortunate that IT departments are reactive instead of being pro-active, which I guess it a commentary on society too. No one has the time to do anything. There are companies that hire people to do a job and those individuals simply hire contractors to do what they were hired for. How this makes sense is beyond my comprehension. If you hire a skilled IT person, they should have the tools to do what you need otherwise why do you need that person. Don’t get me wrong, everyone needs help and it is necessary to have support contracts on some essential things for the business. Personally, I like to be involved in every project on my watch, but sometimes it doesn’t always happen, so I have to get involved by myself. I’m the type of Network Admin who likes to have their hands in on everything and learn as much as I can and depend upon no one else to get the job done. Of course, it doesn’t always work out that way, but for the most part I get it done.

How an owner of a company can just sign checks and in a sense not know where his or her money is going again is something I just can’t wrap my head around. In fact, most IT people I know depend upon contractors to get them though. In all fairness I know some that don’t too.

Anyway, let me get back on track. Now what companies are doing is sending their own spam mail to see what user will simply click on the link and cause issues. If the user does click on that link they must go for education. Really? Why wasn’t this part of orientation? I often hear especially from HR that they haven’t got the time to go though and read every email they encounter. But on the other hand, the result of that is viruses and ransomware. Everyone needs to MAKE the TIME to examine any emails that come into their inbox. Education goes a long way to prevent disaster. And its simple things too, like misspellings, and phony email addresses that if the use just took the 3 seconds to look, they’d see for themselves. The same applies for the home users.

No employee of any company should be allowed to have open internet and access to check their personal mail on a company computer. NO one.

I’ve said it many times; you can have all the security money can buy, firewalls, software, virus scan etc. It takes one user to just click on a link and it’s over.

Recently, I had a client with a pretty nice size operation. One of the admins working from home was logged into the office one evening and decided to check their own mail on the company laptop. The first mistake was allowing that Admin to even do that. This company decided to have something called split DNS in their firewall which allows a remote user to not only be connected to the company servers, but the outside ones too. That shouldn’t be allowed. I tried to convince the owner not to do that, but that owner wouldn’t listen. It took all of 30 seconds before the entire place was getting encrypted. In fact, they didn’t even know until the next day. This happened on a Sunday evening. Everything was lost, everything including backups. Luckily, I was smart enough to store some of the critical information on Tape, but the client was against that because it was too old school. Old school saved this clients business. I had to basically rebuild everything and that admin is no more. I recommended that admin be terminated for basically being stupid. Now, after the cleanup, that owner decided to have education to all the employees of the business. I’ve devised a phony email to see if the employees will fall for it and if they do, they must take a course on what not to do.

Other companies are doing the same. This is an example of something you might find in your in box.

If you look at the yellow highlight, you can see its not even spelled correctly. But when a user is not paying attention, they will not see that they will click on this link and try to follow what they believe is a company directive.

There are many companies doing the same thing. Here’s a link to an article about Go-Daddy offering a bonus:
“GoDaddy sent an email to employees announcing a surprise holiday bonus. It was really a phishing email test, and those who failed were invited to get more security training”

So, my question is why did it take millions of dollars in lost revenue to do something so simple? Its not like no one knew about it. How do you think that terrible Hacking occurred at SolarWinds and the Government? A user got an email disgusted as a Microsoft email didn’t think about it and just clicked on the link that infected everything.
Check out this article:

If you are a Network Administrator, I offer this to you. Fight the fight, don’t allow things like split DNS on your VPN accounts. Don’t allow open access to internet, personal email, Facebook, twitter, etc. Unless your job depends upon these things, there’s no reason for anyone to have access to that. If the CEO is demanding access simply remind that person of what can happen if they are not careful and hopefully you can persuade them to list to reason. There are tools out there, iron mail, Proofpoint etc. but again sometimes they slow down the process. But all and all NOTHING beats the 10 mins or even 30 minutes of education to all employees regardless if it’s an orientation or a required on-line learning that you create.

We as the “guards” must make sure our environment is safe for everyone and things like Ransomware are stopped. I will say it again, you can spend millions of dollars on all the security in the world, however, it takes just one use to click on a link and your business can be demolished.

Computer & PC Help

Ransomware06 Oct

I want to spend a few minutes talking about ransomware from an inside perspective. Recently, a company I’m involved with was hit with a massive outage from RYKU ransomware.  No one knows exactly how and when it started but there are theories.  First let me just say that you should NEVER pay the ransom, why? Well because you’re only encouraging them to do it again and secondly, you don’t know if you do pay you’re actually going to get the decryption key.

What ransomware does, is it takes all your files, regardless of what they are and encrypts them making them unusable. There’s no fix and there’s no way to undo the damage. Think of it like this. You left you house in the morning to go to work. You come back in the afternoon and someone has changed all the locks and put walls around your home so you can’t get in and the only way to access you house is to pay someone to take down the walls and open the locks. You can take the time to break down the walls, call a lock smith or rebuild you home but the time and money to do that is crazy. That’s an extreme example but you get the point.

Probably what happened, and I do not know this to be fact so let just say I’m guessing, someone probably working from home, again not a fact a theory, was either surfing the net or received an email with either an attachment or a link and opened it.  This set off a chain of events.  Now again this is theory not fact, the user either didn’t realize what they did or just simply ignored it.

First things first… If the user didn’t realize what he or she did then the network security team fail miserably. Now yes as an administrator you can only put so many things in place to try to prevent these things but the bottom line is that is up to the user to understand and be educated about these things.  Most companies have orientation for new users and this should be part of that.  Someone from IT should take the time to speak with new users about these things.  You can put up as many red flags on emails as you wish but the fact remains when users don’t comprehend what they are doing, they just go and this leads to total infection and total loss of data.  In my opinion as a network administrator, users no matter who they are, should never be allow to access their personal data on a company laptop or desktop.  There’s no reason for any user to have access to personal email, open internet, such as shopping sites, real estate, Facebook, twitter, etc.  UNLESS their job description has to do with it. For example, a marking person, needs access to things like Facebook, Twitter etc. where as a department supervisor, or director does not. A real estate agent needs access to real estate listings but not personal email.

Here’s what I do know, virus protection while ok is only as good as that moment allows. It will not stop ransomware because ransomware varies so much the virus protection can’t keep up.  Virus scan is only as good as the update it has.  Does that mean you shouldn’t use it…NO.  But keep in mind regardless if you are a personal user or a business user you MUST use your head and take the time to really look at what you are doing. So many times, I’ve heard the excuse, “I have so many emails I don’t have time to really look at them all” Well, this could be the result of that.

Again, being involved in this, it’s a total loss of any locally saved data including backups because if they are not off site or on tape, they are vulnerable too.

Most companies, if not all are NOT proactive, they are reactive.  Why?  Money, but I offer this.  How much is your data worth and what can you do to protect that data?  In my case there were so many things put in place, virus protection, scanning, firewalls, encryption of hard drive etc.  All failed due to user error.

Currently, because of Covid-19 many, many people are working from home.  Most companies offer VPN.  Well some of them have what’s known as split tunnel – a computer networking concept which allows a user to access dissimilar security domains like a public network (e.g., the Internet) and a local LAN or WAN at the same time, using the same or different network connections)  In my opinion this is a NO NO!  A disadvantage is that when split tunneling is enabled, users bypass gateway level security that might be in place within the company infrastructure. For example, if web or content filtering is in place, this is something usually controlled at a gateway level, not the client PC.

ISPs that implement DNS hijacking break name resolution of private addresses with a split tunnel.

Why do I think this is a bad idea, well, if a user is in your network via VPN then that’s all he or she needs, there’s no reason to have access to a public network while connected to a VPN.  Perhaps in this case, the user was checking their personal email on a company laptop while connected to the VPN with split tunnel or perhaps that user was surfing the net and came upon something an opened it up?  I don’t know. 

Bottom line.  How much is your data worth?  You need to do everything you can to protect that data and that starts with backups.  And those backups must be complete.  Yes, it’s expensive but again how much is your data worth and what can you live without?  You must, must have a way to take your backups off site or keep that data totally separate from everything after it’s backed up.   

The pain of having to literally reconstruct and entire network is incredible and what’s worse, is everything must be completely wiped out and reinstalled.  You can’t do that over the network so you have to do it with either USB drives, or CDs.  That takes so much time.  But it must be done because if one machine is missed, your entire network is infected again.

Network teams, and again this is reactive, shut down the administrative shares not allowing an administrator to do what’s known as a C$ share to stop ransomware from spreading after the fact, however, this setups and entirely set of new problems for the techs because it stops them from delivering software, and that means they have to go to each an ever machine regardless if it’s remotely or physically to install software.  No more things like bat files and PS Exec to install software and if you have a big company with lots of machines this becomes extremely time consuming for the techs. Also, a user should never had administrative privileges to install software on their company machines either and lots of places to that for convenience In my opinion bad for security because that gives the user a free pass to install anything they please.

I truly believe that you can prepare for these things however you need to hire someone with enough experience and knowledge to prevent this.  You can’t rely on out sourcing for this.  You need to have protections in place, regardless if it’s routing to stop the spread of infection, hollow root domains, or simply not allowing open internet access regardless of what the CEO demands.  It needs to be explained that if this happens the cost of rebuilding is much worse than simply not being allow to access personal mail or surf the internet.

So what’s you data worth?

Computer & PC Help

Can You Increase Your Download Speeds Without Increasing Your Bill?21 Dec

This is an article written by Johnathan Blakley
There’s some good information in this…

Fast internet has become a necessity. Whether you go online to run a business, shop, listen to music or watch TV, you can’t do much in today’s world without a speedy connection.
Unfortunately, though, most internet service providers know this, and with a lot of people now switching away from cable, these big businesses are making up for lost revenue by charging more for what we really need.

However, the last thing any one of us wants to do is spend more money on the internet. It’s already expensive and upgrading your service can tack on a hefty amount onto your monthly bill.
But you don’t always need to increase your bill to get better download speeds. There are other options. Here’s a few to get you started.

Begin with a Test

The first thing you should do before making some changes, though, is to test your current connection. If you don’t, then you’ll never really know if you’ve improved. You can do this by simply typing “run speed test” into Google. The first hit will take you a site where you can check speeds for free.

You may want to do this a few times, largely because internet speeds tend to vary according to the time of day. But doing this first will give a benchmark to work from, which will help tell you if the tricks we’re about to discuss are actually doing something to increase your internet speed.

Get a New/Additional Router

One of the first things you need to realize about your internet connection is that the speed delivered through your modem and your router may be different. The modem is what connects you to your ISP’s lines, whereas the router is what delivers the connection to your devices.
Routers have limits as to the connection speeds they can emit, and this usually correlates to when they were manufactured. So, if you bought your router five years ago, then it’s likely it can only handle top speeds from that time, which are much slower than what you get now.
This can create a situation where you’re paying for 100 Mbps but only getting 30. Consider upgrading your router to something that can handle the connection you’re paying for, and this should help increase speeds.

Another thing to consider is where your router is in your home. If the signal has to travel through several walls to get to where you’re connecting to the internet, then it’s likely you’ll get a bad connection.
The solution here is to either move your router closer to where you use the internet. Or, you could get an additional router that delivers a stronger connection to other parts of your home.

You can also buy a range extender, which will do the same thing but may cost a bit less than another router.
Plug in Using an Ethernet Cord

WIFI has come a long way, but it can still sometimes struggle to deliver the highest possible speeds. As a result, if you’re interested in boosting speeds without raising your bill, then consider plugging into your router the old-fashioned way using an Ethernet cord.
Of course, you can only do this with computers and smart devices such as TVs. But this could be a good move because it will free up your WiFi airwaves for other devices, helping to deliver a faster connection all around.

Obviously, we all love the convenience of wireless internet, but going back to a corded connection can provide a real speed boost, and it won’t cost you more than a few bucks, assuming you don’t already have an Ethernet cord hanging around.

Change Providers

Increased competition in the ISP marketplace has generally been a good thing for consumers. However, telecommunication companies are notoriously tricky. They like to lure people in with promotional deals, and then after a year or two, they will jack up the price you pay for the same service you’ve always gotten.

This is annoying because these promotional deals are usually quite good. Companies know it takes a lot for people to switch service providers, so they like to throw things at you to encourage action.
But if you’re an existing customer, then you probably can’t take advantage of these great deals. It’s one of the great paradoxes in internet and cable service: you’re charged more for being a loyal customer.

The solution? Change providers. Get on the phone with a competitor and get a quote. You can take this number back to your ISP and let them know that if they don’t match the offer you’ve received from another company then you’ll cancel service.

A lot of times they will match, as they’re deathly afraid of losing customers. But if they won’t, then go ahead and switch. Most ISPs will waive installation fees for new customers, so it’s quite possible that changing providers will get you better speeds without costing you a dime.

Limit Devices and Apps

Real versus actual internet speeds depend on a thing called bandwidth. So, while you may be paying for 100 Mbps of speed, you might never get this on any one device because the bandwidth is clogged. A good analogy is a water pipe. The speed at which water travels through the pipe never changes, but a bigger pipe allows more water to flow through it.
Increasing bandwidth (installing a bigger pipe) will indeed bump up your bill, but there’s another way to increase speeds without spending more money. Just pay attention to how many devices you have hooked up at once. If you have a Smart TV, consider disconnecting it when you’re not using it.
Also, make sure none of your devices are using up bandwidth in the background. Close out apps and shut down programs when you’re not using it. This will help ensure that more bandwidth is available to you on the device you’re using, which means a faster connection.

Give Yourself a Boost

See, getting faster internet speeds doesn’t need to cost you more money. These small changes are easy and cheap, and while they may only provide a small boost in connection speed, this can often be enough to turn your web browsing from a frustrating experience to something far more pleasurable.

Computer & PC Help


There seems to be a theme today with robocalling and scams. There are many different types of phone scams.


  • Apple Cloud one
  •  IRS
  • Social Security
  • Particularly to target the Elderly, there’s a call from a supposed grand child in trouble and needs money.

Regardless of these calls, there are ways to protect yourself.
First things first. There are many apps for cell phones that you can download for free. Once such app is Call Protect from AT&T. This app actually lets you know when the call is a scam or a fake. It sometimes automatically blocks calls and it also allows the user to block calls. Verizon has it, Sprint has it and I’m sure the rest of the cell phone companies have them to. You just need to search for the app either in Google Play, if you are an Android user or the app store if you are an Apple user. These apps are free and they do work. If nothing else it will help identify when something isn’t right.

For those of you that have landlines, you’re not as lucky, there’s no apps for your landline. However, use common sense and really listen to what they are saying. If you do, you’ll know it’s a fake. The most common calls are about your Apple ID or I-Cloud account. I can assure you with 100% certainty that Apple Tech Support will NEVER call you. They don’t even know you exist unless you initiate the call. Apple or anyone else for that matter will NEVER know your account has been hacked.  They do not scan everyone’s accounts, it’s IMPOSSIBLE. But, these scammers try to make you believe they do.

The other common calls are the Social Security Scams, and the IRS scams – these too if you think about it are also just a way to get information from you. Social Security NEVER contacts you by phone. Its usually a letter in the mail and why would Social Security be asking you about your social security number in the first place? If they called you then they should already have that information and there’s no need to give it to them. The same can be said for the IRS. They will never call you to tell you that you owe them money or your taxes are due. You’ll get a letter in the mail, if the IRS is calling you then why are they asking you for information? They called you therefore they should already have that information. NEVER give out your information over the phone to someone that calls you.

The scam that targets the elderly, is about a “child” who calls grandma to tell her he’s in trouble and needs money wired to him. OK if you’re elderly, call your son or daughter and ask them if this is the case. Of course, the person on the other end is going to tell you not to tell mom or dad, but you need to be smarter than that. Tell them you’ll call them back. If it truly is your grandchild then you know the phone number and if they give you some story about their phone, then ask for the number where they are at and then call the parents. Again, common sense. And yes, I understand this is a pressure call, because they are hoping to sound desperate enough so you’ll drop everything and get them money.

This is holiday time so the scammers are out in full force trying to steal information from you. It’s a constant fight. As soon as one scam is discovered, another one isn’t far behind.

Today, the NY Post reported that 60% of Americans have been victims of robocall scams. That’s sad. But that’s what these scammers are hoping for. NEVER GIVE OUT INFORMATION, NEVER. If you make the call that’s different, you know who you’re calling but if someone is calling you, they should already have that information.

This is the article published in the New York Post:
This is an easy fix. Just listen to what’s being said and believe me you’ll outsmart them.

The same applies for on-line too. Emails are the easiest form of scams. You click something you get a virus and your information is stolen. Its that simple. I have various articles one how to spot a fake email please look them over so you can protect yourself.

Its truly unfortunate that today we live in a world where people want to steal your identity, your money and anything else they can but this is the world today and you have to be smarter than that. These calls are designed to make you panic and scared so that you will not think and let them just have what they want. Don’t do it, be smarter than that. Stop, take a breath, and think! If you do that you will NOT be fooled

I came across this today and I thought it was important to include in this post. Please don’t be fooled:

Computer & PC Help

What is bandwidth/Internet Speed and how much do I really need30 Jun

A reader wrote to me and asked me to post some more information about bandwidth.  I thought it was a great idea so please check this out:

It’s pretty informative and easy to understand.  Please have a look

The definition of bandwidth means the amount of data that can be sent from one point to another in a certain amount of time. It is measured as a bit rate expressed in bits per second (bits/s) or multiples of it (kbit/s Mbit/s etc.) For example, internet companies will sell you 5 mbits, 25 mbits, 50 mbits and even 100 mbits and 1000 or gigabit.

Obviously, the more megabits you buy the faster your internet speed will be. Please note the amount of internet speed is separate from the speed of your computer. You can have a fast computer but slow internet speed or a slow computer but fast internet speed.

Download speed is defined by the amount of speed it takes for you to resolve an internet page, or the amount of speed which gets transferred from the internet to your computer. This is mostly what you pay for.

Upload speed is defined by the amount of speed it takes for you to send data to the internet. Or how fast you send data from you to others. Uploading is necessary for sending big files via email, or in using video-chat to talk to someone else online (since you have to send your video feed to them). Most companies set the download speed faster than the upload speed. Upload speed is usually about 11 mbits. Where as download speed varies.

How Much Speed Do I Really Need?
Here are some general download speed requirements based on everyday online activities:
Check email and browse the web: 1-5 Mbps minimum
Stream HD content: 15-25 Mbps minimum
Stream 4K content and play competitive online games: 40-100 Mbps minimum
Stream 4K content, play online games, and download very large files: 200+ Mbps minimum

Wireless is different, that speed depends upon the router you are using. New routers, modems, etc have both 5 Ghz and 2.4 Ghz. Newer devices run on 5 Ghz however, older devices run on 2.4 Ghz making them seem slower.
Wireless is pretty fast and you can stream from it too. That speed will depend upon how much you’ve purchased from your service provider and how many devices are connected. If you try to stream with 1-5 mbps you’ll notice what’s called buffering or simply the video will stop and start. 15-25 mbps will be ok however, but depending upon how many people are connected will determine how fast or slow your connection will be.

Every device shares the total amount of speed you purchase. So, one device will get the full speed, 2 devices will split and the more devices the less speed for each device. I wouldn’t put 10 devices on a 1-5 mbps bandwidth, you will be crawling on the internet. Most homes will be ok with 15-25 mbps. Business generally need more speed because they have numerous devices. They usually purchase 100 to 1000 gbs of speed and sometimes more depending upon the business needs.

I suggest, if you are going to cut the cord as they say, you up the internet speed. You will also need to consider how many devices will be connected at the same time because this will determine how good your internet streaming is. The more you have, the more devices you’ll be able to connect and the faster you’ll stream.

There are many places to check internet speed here are some examples:
This one is for your mobile devices:

Here are some for your home:

Knowing your speed matters because it will give you an idea of what you’re capable of doing on line and what you are paying for. Don’t let any company determine what you need because they will sell you the top of the line and most of us do not need that type of speed.

I hope this explains what you need and what you should have.

Computer & PC Help

Don’t be A Victim!02 Dec

I want to share a true story that happened to a client of mine. I know this is a bit long but please read this though!

Let this be a lesson and a warning to everyone.

I received a call from a client of mine, he left me a voice mail stating that his internet was blocked and he didn’t know what happened.  I called him back upon hearing the voice mail but he didn’t answer the phone.  This started my wheels turning because I was thinking “How in the world could his internet be blocked?”  So, I called him again and left him a message.  Still, in the back of my mind I’m thinking something just isn’t right, but I guess he will call me when he gets a chance.

A few hours later my phone rings and it’s my client.  He proceeds to tell me that he’s not sure what happened but he was trying to get on the internet and he got a message that his internet was blocked and he needed to call a phone number.  In addition, he received that same message on his iPhone, so he decided to call the phone number.  The person he called, gave him his name and gave him a case number so he thought this was truly Apple support. He kept telling me how professional this guy was and he truly believed this was the right thing. Again, to me red flag, Apple doesn’t have anything to do with internet or Microsoft.  He told me he was on the phone with this tech support person for hours and they were on his machine installing a firewall.  I asked him who was on his machine installing a firewall.  He told he spoke to a gentleman named Kevin and he, Kevin was on his machine via Team Viewer, a remote access client, checking his machine and running some tests.  I told him that I didn’t understand how a company knew his internet service was cut off.  So, he explained this to me again.  Still confused, I told him that this didn’t sound right and I’d call him back.  I then called his Internet Service Provider and asked them if they monitored or cut off internet due to a virus. They told me no.  I called him back and told him this isn’t right. Stop this and get your money back.  He insisted this was legit.  I asked him how would anyone from apple support know you had a virus or how would anyone know your internet was blocked?  I explained that in order to know that your service was blocked someone would have to monitor every device you own, and Apple simply does not do that and the only people that can cut off your internet was your internet service provider.  I told him I was on my way over there and he should cancel this immediately and get his money back.  He told me he paid this alleged company with ITUNES cards?  I asked him how much, he told me $300.00.  I then said you paid them in iTunes cards?  What company accepts that for payment?  He said Apple. I told him no way this is right.


When I arrived at my client’s house, I observed that someone was on his PC running a program that looked to me like it was tracing his internet.  It’s called a packet tracer, in other words this program was going to monitor my client’s internet access.  This program would trace his every move on the internet, my client made, record his keystrokes, meaning all passwords. So that if and when he decided to go to his bank account this program would record his user name and password so that whoever this was could gain access to his banking, credit cards and even his identity.  I called the so-called tech support tech “Kevin”.  Now Kevin had a very heavy Indian accent, probably from India or maybe Pakistan, I’m not sure. I asked him who he was and what company he was from.  All he would tell me is that he was Network Support.  I again asked him what was the name of his company and he told me Network Support. I asked to speak to his supervisor, and he told me no.  This was finally becoming clear to my client that this indeed was a scam.  I cut off the remote access immediately.


My suspicion was correct. This so-called company was doing exactly that; recording his keystrokes.  I know this because upon doing  a virus scan, my client uses Viper, it revealed that whoever was on his machine had installed Trojan horse. A Trojan horse can do a lot of damage.  It can record your every keystroke on your computer.  For example, when you access your bank account on the internet, the trojan horse will record your user name and password thereby giving whoever is recording your information access to your bank account, credit card information and even your identity.


I cleaned up the virus and told my client to change is email password and his computer password.  He did that.  I rebooted his machine and the damage was done!  The PC had crashed and would not come back.  I explained to my client that this probably was a result of him letting whoever this was into his PC.  About 2 hours later I got his PC up and running and got his data back.


Moral of the story…

This cost this man $300.00 in iTunes cards plus what he paid me.  And unfortunately, he’s not going to get that money back.  Upon speaking further to my client to try to figure out exactly how this happened I found out the following:

He was expecting a package from Fed Ex which was delayed.  He received what he thought was an email from Fed Ex about his package.  He clicked on the link and this started this entire scam in motion.  What happened is when he clicked on that link it installed what is know as a redirect in his browser to emulate a problem.  In this case it directed him to a page which told him his internet was blocked and he needed to call a number to have the problem resolved.  What he failed to realize is that by calling this number and allowing this criminal on to his machine that this was the scam.  He has his phone service though his Internet company and I asked him if his phone was down.  He said no.  I told him that his internet was never down in the first place and this was all a set up.  His pride was a bit damaged but I explained that this could happen to anyone.


Don’t let this be you!

First thing to understand that the only people that can cut off your internet service is your internet service provider.  The first call you need to make is to them to find out if there is a problem.  Second thing to know is that NO how, NO way, does anyone, Apple, Microsoft or any internet service provider monitor your internet.  Meaning they will NEVER know if you’re infected with a virus.  You have to initiate that call.  Third thing and MOST IMPORTANTLY; NEVER, NEVER allow anyone on to your machine via remote service that you don’t know.  If you call tech support and they want to get on your machine then that’s fine but remember you MUST initiate that call and it should be to either your Internet Service Provider your maybe your own tech support person, No one else.  Any reputable company will never take iTunes cards as payment for anything and any reputable company, if you cancel a service will never give you a problem.

Lastly and I can’t stress this enough, when you go though your email especially when you get something from Fed Ex or USPS, or any company, check the return address on the email.  That will tell you who it’s really from so you don’t get scammed.

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