PCT News

April 2016

Windows 10 - Should I or Shouldn't I?

By now if you haven't already upgraded to Windows 10, you have certainly been bombarded by Microsoft's pop-ups and ads encouring you to jump on board. We thought we’d pass on a little information, as well as a few of our thoughts on who should upgrade and who should wait.

Windows 10 is free for most people and offers plenty of new features and apps.
If you’re still running Windows 7 and avoided Windows 8 because of the bad reviews, or you just didn't get around to upgrading, Windows 10 is your chance to benefit from a host of improvements.  For many people, Windows 10 is a great release that goes beyond just bringing back the Start menu including a lot of security improvements that businesses will welcome.  For starters, it will improve performance on many systems. Windows itself takes up a little less disk space but what you'll notice if you're coming from Windows 7 is faster boot times and longer battery life (the gains over Windows 8.1 are less impressive).  Other improvements include more tools in File Explorer and Task Manager, the simple refresh and reset tools that make it easier to fix your PC, and having settings automatically sync to other PCs that you use with the same Microsoft account.   Click here for more Windows 10 information from Microsoft.

Like any new version of Windows, there are advantages and disadvantages and Windows 10 is no exception – except that the free upgrade for the first year makes it more tempting to go for it without necessarily thinking things through.

One possible concern for those moving up to Windows 10, especially from older versions of Windows, is whether their important applications will work on the new OS.  For most major software releases, this will almost certainly be a smooth upgrade, but it’s worth checking with the software provider, as they may still be working on a new version.  You don’t want to upgrade and suddenly find you can’t do your normal work on your PC. The same holds true for peripherals such as printers and scanners, which may require the downloading of new drivers to ensure they work properly on the new platform.

There are also considerations on whether or not your system meets (and preferably beats) the minimum hardware requirements for Windows 10.  Although the Microsoft compatibility check (before the Windows 10 download) attempts to correctly determine compatibility, occasionally it gets it wrong.  In that case, the system can be reverted back to the original operating system (in theory).  We’ve seen quite a number of system’s where the revert process has failed, so no guarantees.  In the event that the revert fails, the only option is to re-install your original operating system which will result in the loss of your data (documents and pictures etc.). As a precaution, be sure to have current backups of your important data before attempting the upgrade.

So, the bottom line is really subjective and depends on a number of conditions.   In the end, you’ll have to weigh out the pros and cons, whether or not you’ll attempt the upgrade yourself, or whether you’ll bring it in and let us take care of the process for you.  Click here for more information on our Windows 10 upgrade service.

Email Security Threats Are on the Rise


Spam is the scourge of e-mail around the world. At times, it makes up as much as 95 percent of all e-mail on the Internet! Spammers get e-mail addresses from newsgroups, unscrupulous Web site operators who sell e-mail addresses to them, and malware that harvests e-mail addresses from hacked e-mail accounts. Spammers also guess e-mail addresses and sometimes just get lucky.
Spam causes a number of issues, including network congestion, distraction and clutter and Malware.

  • The best protection against spam (other than not using e-mail at all) is to use a spam filter. Of course, this may not be an option on your home network (although some Internet service providers offer spam filtering as an additional service). If you don’t have a spam filter, you should also use any junk mail filtering options available in your e-mail software.
    Never, ever, unsubscribe or reply to a spam e-mail. This only confirms to the spammer that your e-mail address is real. You should only unsubscribe from spam that you know you’ve subscribed to before (such as a newsletter or department store e-mail list).

Email Spoofing

E-mail spoofing occurs when an attacker sends you an e-mail pretending to be someone you know. Spoofing is analogous to sending a letter to someone and forging the return address on the envelope. Unfortunately, e-mail spoofing is easy to do, and very difficult to trace to its real sender.
You should always be leery of any e-mail you receive asking for money or sensitive information, even if it appears to be from someone you know and trust.

Email Phishing

Phishing (pronounced like fishing) e-mails have become a favorite weapon of identity thieves, and they are becoming increasingly difficult to spot.

Phishing attacks are more rampant than ever before, rising by more than 162 percent from 2010 to 2014. They cost organizations around the globe $4.5 billion every year and over half of internet users get at least one phishing email per day.

Phishing e-mails appear very authentic, and often include graphics and logos that are actually from your bank or other well known company.   There may even be a link that actually takes you to that web site.  They can also appear as if they are from someone that you know and trust by simply “spoofing” someone elses email name.  But buried somewhere in that e-mail, is a link that takes you to a malicious web site or prompts you to open a fake attachment.  Even if you don’t enter any personal information, clicking the link or attachment can infect your computer with data-stealing malware.

Unfortunately, no matter what anti-virus application you use, or how strict your email filters are,  some phishing emails will always make it to the inbox. And those messages are extremely effective—97% of people around the globe cannot identify a sophisticated phishing email. That’s where customer education comes in.

Here are 10 tips on how to identify a phishing or spoofing email

Tip 1: Don’t trust the display name
A favorite phishing tactic among cybercriminals is to spoof the display name of an email. An analysis from more than 760,000 email threats targeting 40 of the world’s largest brands, found that nearly half of all email threats spoofed the brand in the display name. 
Here’s how it works: If a fraudster wanted to spoof the hypothetical brand “My Bank,” the email may look something like:

Fake Email Header

Since My Bank doesn’t own the domain “secure.com,” an email anti-virus scanner will not block this email on My Bank’s behalf.   This fraudulent email, once delivered, appears legitimate because most user inboxes only present the display name. Don’t trust the display name. Check the email address in the header from—if looks suspicious, don’t open the email.

Tip 2: Look but don’t click
Hover your mouse over any links embedded in the body of the email. If the link address looks weird, don’t click on it.

Tip 3: Check for spelling mistakes
Brands are pretty serious about email. Legitimate messages usually do not have major spelling mistakes or poor grammar. Read your emails carefully and report anything that seems suspicious.

Tip 4: Analyze the salutation
Is the email addressed to a vague “Valued Customer?" If so, watch out—legitimate businesses will often use a personal salutation with your first and last name.

Tip 5: Don’t give up personal information
Legitimate banks and most other companies will never ask for personal credentials via email. Don’t give them up.

Tip 6: Beware of urgent or threatening language in the subject line
Invoking a sense of urgency or fear is a common phishing tactic. Beware of subject lines that claim your “account has been suspended” or your account had an “unauthorized login attempt.”

Tip 7: Review the signature
Lack of details about the signer or how you can contact a company strongly suggests a phish. Legitimate businesses always provide contact details.

Tip 8: Don’t click on attachments
Including malicious attachments that contain viruses and malware is a common phishing tactic. An example would be a simple email that claims to be from “Accounting Dept” with an attachment called “Invoice”.  Out of curiosity, the user opens the attachment and is instantly infected.  The malware can damage files on your computer, steal your passwords or spy on you without your knowledge. Don’t open any email attachments you weren’t expecting.

Tip 9: Don’t trust the header from email address
Fraudsters not only spoof brands in the display name, but also spoof brands in the header from email address. Nearly 30% of more than 760,000 email threats spoofed brands somewhere in the header from email address with more than two thirds spoofing the brand in the email domain alone.

Tip 10: Don’t believe everything you see
Phishers are extremely good at what they do. Just because an email has convincing brand logos, language, and a seemingly valid email address, does not mean that it’s legitimate. Be skeptical when it comes to your email messages—if it looks even remotely suspicious, don’t open it.

Our Recommended Antivirus
https://www.avira.com/en/personal Avira Antvirus Pro $44.99

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