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Our blog is geared towards the super technically inclined, as well as the ‘not so’ technically inclined. Please feel free to leave a comment on any of our articles!

Ransomware – Cryto-Viruses

Posted by on 3:47 pm in Business, Data, Virus and Malware | Comments Off

As you have probably heard in the news recently, there have been several instances across the global of crypto-viruses affecting tens-of-thousands of machines worldwide. What’s scary about these crypto-viruses is that they execute without anti-virus software detection and they will encrypt all of your personal data (Pictures, Documents, Spreadsheets, etc.) on your hard drive. If you have any external drives connected or if you have any network shared drives connected, the virus will often encrypt the data in those locations as well.

Once the data is encrypted, it is impossible to decrypt unless you pay a ransom to the person (or organization) that created the virus. Of course, paying the ransom doesn’t guarantee that they will provide you with the key to unlock your data. Chances are, the data is gone.

A new variant of the crypto-viruses recently release is called ‘Petya’. What is especially concerning about this crypto-virus variant is that it also encrypts a portion of your hard drive that Windows looks at in order to boot up! So if this virus gets executed on your system, your computer won’t even boot up normally AND your data will be encrypted. As you can imagine, this has created an absolute nightmare for IT professionals, businesses and end-users worldwide.

So the question becomes, how do I protect myself and my business from getting these types of viruses? Well, it’s fairly simple and the steps are outlined below:

  1. Windows Updates: Ensure that ALL workstations AND servers are up-to-date with the latest version of Windows updates. Many of these viruses take advantage of holes in Windows that Microsoft has recently patched. By having your systems up-to-date, will ensure a less-likely possibility of being infected by one of these bugs. Having an up-to-date system also ensures that no other bugs can affect you either.

    Cross Island Computers can ensure that all of your systems are up-to-date with our advanced management software.

     

  2. Back up: This should go without saying, but ensuring that you have a proper back-up in place for all workstations and servers is absolutely crucial. This isn’t only to help in the event you get one of these bugs, but also in the event of a hardware failure or some other disaster. It is absolutely imperative that you have local and off-site backup.

    Cross island Computer can assist you with ensuring you have the correct backup systems in place.

     

  3. Anti-virus/anti-malware: This is another one that should go without saying. You need to ensure that you have at minimum, the Microsoft anti-virus installed and enabled on your PC. There are many stronger antivirus applications out there as well that will also suffice. Having anti-malware software is also an absolute must as anti-malware software will protect against bugs that the antivirus software may not detect.

    Cross Island Computers can ensure that you have proper antivirus and anti-malware installed across all of your systems. Our advanced management package will install these applications and ensure they are up-to-date and running properly.

     

  4. Remaining Vigilant: This is where 90% of the problems occur and can easily be stopped. By ensuring that you are NOT download or opening attachments or programs from emails or the internet that you are unsure of, will stop 90% of these attacks. The majority of these bugs are spread via email attachments that hide themselves as Adobe PDF’s. They typically appear as an invoice, or a document that comes from FedEx or UPS. If you are unsure of the sender or the attachment simply DO NOT OPEN IT! Simply delete the email/attachment in question and move on. If you are browsing the web and receive a pop-up about a virus, close the browser and be sure to run an antivirus and anti-malware scan to confirm nothing was installed on your machine.

    Cross Island Computers can assist in analyzing emails and attachments to determine if they are in fact legitimate, or if they are possibly deadly. We can also help in user training to spot emails that may be fraudulent.

     

While these bugs are certainly quite scary, by following the above steps and contacting Cross Island Computers, will ensure that you are properly protected and your business will continue to operate in the event a bug like this gets installed. Please contact us today for more information!

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Remote Management and Monitoring

Posted by on 4:12 pm in Business | Comments Off

Cross Island Computers is proud to announce that we are offering Remote Management and Monitoring for businesses of any size. Here are the benefits of Remote Monitoring and Management:

  • Allows us to proactively monitor servers for any events that may cause an issue. These include predictive failure of hard drives, as well as Windows errors.
  • Ensure Servers and Workstations are up-to-date with the latest Windows Updates which ensure your system is secure.
  • Monitor Servers and Workstations for any performance related issues.
  • Full versions of MalwareBytes Professional and WebRoot antivirus for all workstations and servers.
  • Log Me In Pro for all workstations and servers; this enables you or your staff to remotely access their office workstations in a SECURE manner that doesn’t require a VPN connection. This enables them to work remotely when needed.
  • 24/7 Monitoring by remote help desk technicians.
  • 24/7 Help Desk support for afterhours/overnight support*
  • Network Monitoring*

*Requires the Elite Package.

We are offering these services for a very reasonable monthly fee. These services will ensure that your business will continue to operate smoothly and that any hiccups can be addressed in a timely and efficient manner – before it’s too late and hours are lost on troubleshooting. Think of this as cheap insurance to ensure minimal impacts to your business operations and workflow.

Please Contact Us today to find out more and to get a quote for your business!

 

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To the Cloud!

Posted by on 10:34 pm in Business, Cloud Computing, Office 365, Technology, Websites | Comments Off

To the Cloud!

We have all heard about the ‘cloud’; we all use ‘the cloud’ every single day with our cell phones, email platforms, hell, even Facebook uses ‘the cloud’. But what is the cloud and how can you use it to improve your business productivity, efficiency and maintain your bottom line? Simple, I’ll tell you how.

First, we need to know: What is the cloud? Well, essentially, the cloud is a collection of strategically placed datacenters that house hundreds if not thousands of servers that store all types of information from emails, to browsing history, to credit card data to everything in between. By using the power of these massive data centers, many large companies and developers are able to build applications and store data that have direct impact on our lives. Gone are the days of a company having a headquartered building with a basement full of servers; that if the internet went down or the power went out, customers were unable to access that company’s website, banking resources or email systems. Now, information is stored across these datacenters so that if a datacenter in one region is inaccessible, another datacenter in a different region will provide access to the resource that is requested. As a result of this scalability, resources such as email, data storage, websites and apps are available at an extremely low cost and with nearly 100% uptime/availability.

Ok, so what does this mean for me and my business? Well, chances are if you use Gmail, Facebook, a banking platform, hell even the web based version of Quickbooks, you are interacting with the cloud. This is all fine and dandy, but if your business utilizes any type of IT related infrastructure, such as a website, email or data storage or even Quickbooks, then it may be time to take advantage of the power and cost savings of the cloud.

If you are using an in-house email solution such as an on-premises Microsoft Exchange Server, Lotus, or any other in-house email platform; or, if you are using an email platform provided by your web hosting company, then it is time to move over to a platform that actually works. The 2 biggest providers are Google and Microsoft. The Google platform is very good, as is Microsoft Office 365. However, with Microsoft’s solution, you are getting fully featured Microsoft Exchange IN THE CLOUD. If you use Microsoft Exchange now, you know how powerful it is. There are a plethora of reasons why I prefer Microsoft to Google, but both options are far superior to anything that you have in-house, or that you use with some other provider.

Having email in the cloud ensures that customer can reach you at any time of the day, without any issues due to an internet or power outage in your office building. Storage capacity is also typically a non-issue with cloud services as you can scale up to whatever capacity your business needs. Furthermore, many of the web hosting providers that offer an email system, have a system that is incredibly antiquated, has several limitations, and often times, causes many emails to get bounced, marked as spam, or end up simply not being delivered to you, or your customer. How in the world is a business supposed to operate under those conditions?! Simple, migrate to a cloud based email system.

Email is probably the biggest business tool that you should switch to the cloud today. However, it may be a good idea to consider moving some of your data (especially shared data) to the cloud. Just like with email, there are several providers out there. Some of the biggest are DropBox, Google and of course Microsoft. If you presently have an on-premises solution, like a large ‘shared’ drive on a server; or if you only have a few workstations and you want to share data with others in your organization as well as outside of your organization, then moving the data to a cloud-provider may be a better option for you.

Each of the cloud storage providers allow you to share data, set permissions on folders and files so only specific people can access that information, as well as provide 24/7 access to your data. No longer will you need to use a VPN or other remote connection to access your server or computer in the office. Simply open up whichever provider’s application, or login to their website and you will have full access to everything you need. Another benefit to this option is the data is stored across several servers and datacenters which means that data loss due to a hard drive or other physical hardware failure is almost non-existent. Of course, this is no replacement for a good backup solution.

These are only a few of the IT related infrastructure items that can be moved to the cloud. There are several others such as phone systems, banking platforms, proprietary apps, you name. But in many cases, your business will benefit greatly from moving these aforementioned items to the cloud sooner than later. You will see your IT related costs decrease dramatically, and you will more than likely have fewer ‘sleepless nights’ not worrying about whether your email server was backed up or if the hard drive in your primary file server is about to kick the can.

Here at Cross Island Computers, we can determine how to best utilize these cloud solutions for your specific business needs. We have over 6 years of experience in dealing with various aspects of the cloud, as well as managing all IT related components for any size business. Call, email or even text us today to find out more about how Cross Island Computers can improve your IT infrastructure and business efficiency today!

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Hold Off on Windows 8

Posted by on 6:09 pm in Technology, Windows | 0 comments

Microsoft recently announced that it is preparing to release (to developers of course) Windows 10. This new version of Windows has many new features that seems to ‘marry’ the beloved features of Windows 7, with the ‘nifty’ features of Windows 8. If you or your business is in the market for a new computer, but it isn’t necessarily an emergency, I would wait until Windows 10 is out. Sadly, there is no ETA as to when Windows 10 will be release to the public, but I would imagine by Spring.

I would recommend sticking with Windows 7, at least until 10 comes out. Windows 7 is tried and true and will carry its weight until 10 is fully released and ready to be deployed. If you are in the market for a new PC, I would definitely try to get it with Windows 7 installed. Unfortunately, many of the hardware companies are forcing Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 onto new devices. There are a few that still allow you to configure a PC with Windows 7. If you are unable to find a computer with Windows 7, then I would recommend letting us know as we may be able to downgrade you to Windows 7 (if your computer supports it).

Windows 8.1 isn’t the worst thing in the world, but based on what I have seen with Windows 10, it may be best to just wait until it is released to the public.

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The Importance of Data Backup

Posted by on 6:13 pm in Apple, Data, Windows | 0 comments

Let’s face it; we store our entire digital lives on our computers. Gone are the days of using 35mm film to capture life’s moments – now we point, shoot, upload, copy and ultimately store those moments in time on our computer (can you even remember the last time you actually printed out a photo?!). Alongside our photos are thousands of hours of our favorite tunes, videos that have been collected over the years and don’t forget your college essay’s (or your children’s homework assignments). All of these files create our digital collection of personal items that if we were to lose, would create sheer pandemonium and of course, probably make you cry.
Here’s a question, where do you keep your Social Security card? What about your birth certificate? If you like to keep a stash o’ cash, where do you have that?

Exactly.

You don’t leave it out, unprotected (if you do, well I am sorry to hear that, but maybe you want to re-think where you keep some of the most important documents one could ever posses!). Chances are, you have a safe, a safe-deposit box at a bank, or some other ‘vault’ to store these items. These items are protected from fire, theft or any other form of destruction; but what about your digital collection of personal items?
You know where I am going with this.

Chances are you haven’t backed up anything. There’s a device in your computer called a hard drive. This is the device that holds all of your valuable information. This device is like a ticking time bomb, just sitting there, spinning away, creating all sorts of heat and noise until one day ‘click click – click click – click click’ and NOTHING! It either refuses to power on, or it spins up but makes god-awful clicking sounds (or some other sounds) and your computer doesn’t turn on and basically, everything that was stored on it is gone, damaged, or incredibly difficult to recover.
How do you avoid this conundrum?

Back up your data, silly!

It really isn’t that difficult, nor is it expensive! There are myriad of free programs/apps out there that will do the job and all you need is an external hard drive which can be purchased very inexpensively, or a large capacity USB stick. The years of photos, music, documents and other data truly are priceless in this digital world, so why risk losing them for good?

If you’re on a Mac and you aren’t using Time Machine, well then, you are just silly!

Here at Cross Island Computers, we can easily ensure that all of the data on your personal PC, Mac or server is properly backed up through a multitude of methods and programs. It doesn’t matter if you are a residential user with one or 5 computers that you want backed up; or if you’re a small business with servers, and workstations that need to be backed-up – we can help!

So before you risk losing all of your personal digital collection, please let us help make sure your data is safe and you can get it back in the event of complete catastrophe!

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Windows XP is no more

Posted by on 2:10 am in Windows | 0 comments

EDIT: 4/29/2014 Microsoft announced over the weekend that ALL VERSIONS OF INTERNET EXPLORER have a MAJOR security flaw that will allow an attacker to fully gain access and take control of your computer. While the attacks are primarily targeted at government and financial agencies, any user of Internet Explorer (the Blue ‘E’), will be susceptible to this attack. What’s worse, Microsoft IS NOT going to release a patch for users of Windows XP. This further exemplifies the need to get away from Windows XP and move towards Windows 7 or Windows 8. If you still need to use Windows XP, then it is highly recommended that you use another web browser such as Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, or Opera. Cross Island Computers can certainly help you with anything pertaining to Windows XP or security issue.

As of April 8th, 2014 Microsoft has stopped supporting Windows XP. What does this mean for you? Well, your computer will no longer receive updates from Microsoft. This could potentially open your computer up to attacks from hackers and other creeps on the internet. When a ‘hole’ is found in the operating system, Microsoft will no longer fix it leaving your computer vulnerable to anything out there in the wild west of the web.

Cross Island Computers can help your Long Island or New York based business upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7 or even Windows 8. We can build custom Windows images that are tailored to the needs of your business and deploy this image to any number of machines that you may have. We can also assist with upgrading any software to ensure that it will function with the newer versions of Windows.

Not a business but worried about your personal/home computer being attacked? Not a problem! We can help you with purchasing a new computer or if possible, upgrading your current computer to Windows 7 or Windows 8.

Cross Island Computers highly recommends that you make this upgrade sooner rather than later. The world isn’t going to come to an end on April 8th, but I wouldn’t go for more than a few months at most without making the change.
Call us today, 631-894-7450 and we will help guide you through saying goodbye to Windows XP.

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Welcome

Posted by on 1:38 am in Websites | 0 comments

Welcome to our re-designed website! You will find more information about the services that we provide here. We will also be posting blogs periodically relating to technology and how it can improve your life and your business. If you have any comments, please shoot us an email through our contact page!

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