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Why Ordinary Antivirus Fails To Protect Your PC

What antivirus software “protects” your computer?

Some of the common ones I see on client computers are:

  • Norton
  • McAfee
  • Trend Micro
  • BitDefender
  • VIPRE
  • AVG
  • Avast
  • Avira
  • Microsoft Security Essentials or Windows Defender
  • ESET NOD32

Bad news, my friend.

I’ve got bad news if you’re using one of these products – your PC ISN’T as safe from viruses and malware as you believe.

Older isn’t better in this case

All of these antivirus programs use 25-year-old technology to block viruses and malware.  It’s called virus definitions.

Multiple times every day, these software manufacturers push updated virus definitions to your computer.  It’s basically a list of known bad threats they have discovered that shouldn’t be allowed on your PC.

Two Flaws

I’m sure you can see the two major flaws with this.

First, it’s impossible to keep the list on your computer up-to-date. 

Cybercriminals are always writing new scripts to attack computers. 

It’s only after these new viruses are released on the Internet and have done their damage that antivirus vendors know they exist, reverse engineer how they work, and add them to the “bad list.” 

This process can take days or even weeks – leaving your computer completely unprotected.

Second, it’s easy to bypass the list.

Hackers know how these lists scan incoming files to determine whether it is good or bad, whether it should be allowed or blocked. 

So they modify their code just enough so your antivirus software doesn’t recognize it as being malicious – simply because it’s not on “the list” in the virus definitions database.

Think of it as using a fake ID.

Use Technology To Fight Technology

What’s the solution?

Fortunately, there is a new antivirus software that utilizes the latest technology to combat against all types of virus and malware infections without using a list.

This antivirus protection stops any threat – known or unknown – from damaging your computer. 

How?

It uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to determine if the actions a particular file or program is performing are normal or malicious.  If it’s malicious, it immediately shuts it down.

There are no outdated virus definition lists and no days or weeks of your computer being vulnerable.

I’ve Seen It Work

I installed this new protection on a client’s computer in late October.  On New Year’s Eve, while I was vacationing in Arizona, I received an email alert that the Cybersecurity Antivirus had stopped a hidden, malicious file stored in the computer’s recycle bin from encrypting all her files and rendering her computer inoperable.

The report showed exactly where the file was located and specifically what files on the computer it was trying to modify.

Because it immediately quarantined it, this client didn’t experience any problems.  And more importantly, she didn’t have to shell out any money for a virus removal.

You Decide

Antivirus software MUST be installed on your computer.  Anything is better than nothing.

But is it smart to use antiquated technology that doesn’t really protect your computer from the latest threats? 

You spend between $0 and $100 for antivirus “protection,” but end up having to spend $100-$200 more to clean up your PC when that “protection” fails you (and it will).

 Alternatively, the Cybersecurity Antivirus protection can keep your computer safe and keep money in your pocket for less than $150 a year.
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7 Common PC Problems – And How To Fix Them (Part 2)

Benjamin Franklin wisely wrote, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

This holds true in all areas of life, including with your technological gadgets.  My clients who observe good computing habits year-round typically don’t experience many problems between their regularly scheduled PC Tune-Up appointments.

In my last column, I shared with you the first three of seven common PC problems that I and my techs deal with daily.  Today, I’d like to share with you the final four and offer helpful tips in how to avoid them.

 

Forgetting to Install Windows Updates

Cybercriminals and hackers attack your computer by taking advantage of security holes in your PC’s operating system. 

The two latest ransomware infections – Petya and WannaCry – rendered hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide inoperable.

Those computers wouldn’t have been affected had those PCs been kept up-to-date with the latest Windows Updates.

PREVENTION TIP:  Regularly install Windows Updates on your computer or set your computer to automatically do so. 

 

Forgetting to Install Updates for Software Programs

Just as important as installing Windows Updates is installing updates for common software programs.

The critical ones to keep current are Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, Adobe Shockwave, and Java.  Most of these programs run in the background when you’re browsing various websites, so you may not even know about them.

If you don’t keep these updated, your computer is highly exposed to viruses and malware – because hackers commonly exploit these programs.

PREVENTION TIP:  Regularly install updates for Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, Adobe Shockwave, and Java.  Be warned, tho, some pop-ups you receive prompting you to update these programs may be fake.  It’s best to go to www.adobe.com and www.java.com to manually update these programs.

 

Downloading Programs From Unreliable Sources

You desire to use your PC for fun and games.  A quick Internet search reveals an exciting new game you can download for free.  So you do.

Moments later, your computer becomes infected with all sorts of extra programs and new toolbars fill the top of your web browser window.  Your PC begins running slower.  You’re greeted with pop-ups every time you try to access the Internet.

It’s extremely important to only download and install programs from reputable websites.  Many websites offering free software contain malware, which can range from annoying to causing serious computer problems.

PREVENTION TIP:  Only download software from websites you know and trust.  Carefully read each screen during the installation process to make sure you’re not installing any unwanted or malicious add-ons.

 

Using Unsecured Wifi Connections

Unsecured wifi connections allow you to connect your laptop, mobile phone, or tablet without requiring a password. 

While it makes accessing the Internet easy, it also exposes your personal information and files to others who are connected to the same wifi connection. 

If it’s your own home wireless network that doesn’t require a password, you’re allowing anyone who’s near your home the ability to access your Internet connection and even your files.  You could be held legally liable if they conduct illicit activity while connected to your Internet.

PREVENTION TIP:  Secure your home wireless network with a password.  Use caution when connecting to public wireless networks; avoid accessing banking and other personal websites on these connections.

When you apply these recommendations, I guarantee you’ll see your PC doctor less often.

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7 Common PC Problems – And How to Fix Them (Part 1)

Early this spring, I visited Dr. Kocher for my annual physical.

“It looks like you’ve lost some weight,” he smiles, noting that I dropped to 154 pounds this year from 178 last year.

“Yea,” I cheerfully reply.  “I’ve been regularly working out at the gym since January.  I’m feeling a lot better.”

He listened to my heart and lungs, tapped on each knee, and asked a handful of other questions.  Then he sent me out the door with well wishes till I visit again next spring.

I remain mostly healthy throughout the year – by exercising and eating (mostly) right.  Which is why I only need to visit Dr. Kocher for my annual checkup.

The story is similar for 37 of my clients with their computers.

They bring their PC in twice a year for a Comprehensive PC Tune-Up Service.  This allows us to perform the thorough diagnostics, deep cleaning and optimizations designed to detect and prevent major computer problems.

Because these clients also observe good computing habits year-round, they typically don’t experience any problems between appointments.

In this two-part series, I’ll share with you seven common PC problems I see affecting many of my clients’ computers and give you helpful tips in how to avoid them.

Relying on Free (or No) Antivirus Protection

Of all the virus-infected computers clients bring into Calibre, I’d estimate 90 percent of them are “protected” by a free antivirus program – like AVG, Avast, Avira, or Microsoft Security Essentials.  Sadly, some don’t even have antivirus protection at all.

Hackers and cybercriminals use viruses and malware to break into your computer, steal your personal information, and damage your files.

Malicious attacks, such as the WannaCry ransomware outbreak in May, are becoming more and more prevalent and destructive.

Purchasing and installing a strong antivirus program designed to protect against the newest type of viruses and malware is one step in avoiding major, costly PC problems.

 

Neglecting to Back Up Important Files

Early Monday morning, a business client called seeking assistance in restoring a critical spreadsheet an employee had mistakenly deleted overnight.

Because they wisely implemented our data backup solution two years ago, I restored the Excel document in less than five minutes.

But most PC owners – home and businesses – neglect this essential protection for their computers.  Many assume nothing bad will ever happen to the files stored on their PCs.

Yet, hard drives fail, viruses infect, people delete, and natural disasters happen.  All of which can cause all your pictures, documents, and music to be forever lost.

You can back up your files in many different ways.  Some are better than others.  But if you don’t have a back-up system in place, you need to get one today.

 

Using the Same Weak Passwords

 

Think about your most common password.

Is it a really easy one – maybe using an ordinary word followed by some numbers?

Do you use that same password for multiple websites?

Weak and predictable passwords make it incredibly simple for hackers to gain access to your email and online banking accounts.  Using the same password for everything opens your entire online world to unscrupulous people.

Two steps you should take:

1) Create stronger passwords.  Choose one with a variety of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.

2)  Safely store your passwords in a password management program, like LastPass (www.lastpass.com).  This allows you to easily retrieve and remember them.

Join me next time for the remaining four common PC problems and how to avoid them.

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Vista & Office 2007 Users: The End Is Near

Windows Vista

“Change is inevitable.  Change is constant,” wrote former British Prime Minister and author Benjamin Disraeli.

No where is it more true than in the world of technology, where changes occur over months rather than years.

Only two years ago, I issued the “final notice” about the death of Windows XP. 

Today, I’m alerting you to the upcoming end of life for the Windows Vista operating system and the 2007 versions of Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.).

Microsoft will no longer support or issue updates for Vista machines after April 11, 2017.  The same will happen for the 2007 versions of Microsoft Office on October 10, 2017.

Simply put, you do not want to use your computer – especially on the Internet – after those dates.  Doing so will leave you extremely vulnerable to virus infections and hackers looking to steal your personal information.  Repair options will become limited as well.

Many new software programs and hardware devices, such as printers and scanners, won’t work on these older computers.

 

Google’s Pulling the Plug Early

Internet Explorer 9 is the latest version of that browser available for Windows Vista.  Many websites do not display properly in Internet Explorer 9, as you may have already discovered.

A common workaround has been to use Google Chrome, my recommended web browser.  However, Google has decided to end its support for Google Chrome on Vista PCs this month – one full year before Microsoft puts Vista to sleep for good.

Continuing to use Chrome on a Vista computer after this month will make your PC more susceptible to viruses and hackers.

You could switch to using the Mozilla Firefox browser on your Vista computer.  But that’s not my best recommendation.

So read on…

 

How To Know If Your PC Runs Vista

First, you need to determine if your computer’s operating system is Windows Vista.

To do this, simply open your web browser and go to http://www.WhatsMyOS.com.  This website will detect and display the operating system installed on your PC.

 

What Version of Microsoft Office Are You Using?

No matter what operating system you’re using, you also need to know if your version of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint or Outlook needs to be upgraded.

To check what version of Microsoft Office is installed on your computer:

  1. Click on the start button in the bottom left corner of your screen.
  2. In the right column, click on Control Panel.
  3. Click on “Programs and Features” in the window that opens.
  4. Scroll through the list until you find one that says “Microsoft Office” with the year following it.
  5. If the year reads 2007, read the next section.

 

What Actions You Need To Take

Is your computer either running Windows Vista or are you using a 2007 version of Microsoft Office?

Better start planning and budgeting for upgrades.

Most Vista computers cannot be cost-effectively upgraded to a newer version of Windows.  You need to plan on purchasing a new or recertified computer.

I strongly discourage you from buying a computer with Windows 8 or Windows 10.  These operating systems still have major problems and privacy concerns – which will cause you headaches and cost you lots of dollars to repair.

Although the big box stores can’t sell you a computer with Windows 7, Calibre Computer Solutions can.  You’ll be much happier with a stable, working computer that won’t break down nor cost you a fortune in repairs. 

Older versions of Microsoft Word and Excel can be easily upgraded to a new version of Microsoft Office.  Or you may be able to convert to the free OpenOffice software that does basically the same thing.

Your best option is to call us today to schedule a consultation so we can guide you through the upgrade or replacement option best suited to your individual needs.