Pay Online Remote Support Hosting Panel Webmail
Menu

What can an IT provider do for Me?

IT providers can offer a wide range of services. Not every provider is going to work for every company. Consider these areas to see which are important to you as you look for your next IT provider.

  1. IT Consulting

This is one of the most important aspects for a business.  IT Consulting is the area where business and IT meet.  An IT consultant will align IT priorities with business needs.  Examples of this may include meeting industry-specific requirements for IT systems, planning for future IT which is customized to your niche and where you want to go with your business, and alerting you of opportunities for IT to advance your business.  A recent example would be how to help you move your business remote when the pandemic hit.

2. Technical Support

This is what most people look for in an IT provider – someone that you can call when you have a problem with your technology.  Problems look different depending on the company but often include fixing broken computers, getting new people set up on computers, and helping individuals with any specific issue they may have with their IT equipment.  A common thing to look at is when is the IT provider available to help and when you need them to be available. 

3. Cybersecurity

When you have your own computer, you are vulnerable to viruses, malware, and hacking.  Most people are familiar with antivirus software for home computers.  In a business, because there is more to lose and more moving pieces, an IT provider will usually put more protections in place.  This includes making sure that there are protections in place on all computers, making sure that employees are using IT systems safely, doing security updates on all systems, and planning systems to avoid problems. 

4. Crisis Planning

Most businesses call their IT provider when there is a problem, as they should.  However, having a plan for what to do when there is a problem will enable you to get back to working sooner.  Planning for problems can help you avoid the problems in the first place and give you more warning about them.  Examples of crisis planning include setting up backups so that you’ll still have your data if your computer dies and what to do when the Internet goes out along with disaster planning recovery as well.

5. IT Architecture

Before you have an IT provider, you make your IT work however you can.  An IT provider, on the other hand, knows all the ways to set up and transform an IT system.  Planning your IT architecture is one of the first tasks a good IT provider will do to make it easier and faster for them to manage your IT systems.  How you collaborate on and share files are things you’ll plan for as well. 

6. IT Administration

IT administration is the day-to-day running of a business IT system.  Making sure that everyone has what they need to do their job on an IT system while keeping the system safe is one of the things that an administrator provides.  IT service providers also plan and execute the changes that are decided to be best for the system in as seamless and painless a way for the company including planning timelines, doing training, and convincing people to be on board.  They will also know who to call if there is a problem and how to talk to them. 

7. IT Asset Management

The longer a company exists, the more technology you will have – and the harder it can be to keep track of.  Some of it may be old and no longer used; what do you do with it?  An IT provider will keep track of all your systems.  They will get rid of old ones for you in a way that protects your data and can help the environment.  They will let you know when systems need upgrades and when to get new equipment and help you source new equipment that fits your needs.

In a company with on-site IT, often these areas are what your IT is doing for you already if you are allowing it.  In a smaller company, your IT provider can fulfill these roles.  IT can span many technologies, and it will depend on the provider what technologies they are able to service (e.g., computers, Internet network, mobile devices, website, phones, printers, etc.). 

If you are currently missing any of these areas from your IT provider or you are in the market for an IT provider for your small business, call Tech Lab at 414-208-4682 to discuss your options of how Tech Lab can work with you.

Scam Emails

Recently, we are seeing some more sophisticated scam e-mails, this is a good time to discuss e-mail safety. 

First, if you’re not sure about an e-mail, contact Tech Lab at 414-208-4682, and we’ll take a look at it for you. 

Now let’s talk about what’s safe and unsafe to do in an e-mail:

It’s safe to open an e-mail.  So if you are freaking out because you opened a scam e-mail, relax because you’re fine. 

It may not be safe to download a file, reply, open or click on a link, or call a phone number, and it’s definitely not safe to do any of these things with a scam e-mail. If you have done this in an e-mail that you’re unsure about, contact Tech Lab. 

Let’s take a look at some sample scam e-mails that we have seen more than usual lately:

1) The fake order

The formula for this e-mail is, “Here’s the receipt for the order you placed,” and it’ll look like a receipt.  Like any other receipt, it will have a way to dispute the order somehow in the e-mail. 

Why this looks like a scam:

  1. Check the e-mail address on an e-mail like this.  Usually the e-mail address is not what you’d expect when you’d place an order. 
  2. There are many typos and things like highlighting to draw your attention that you wouldn’t typically see on a legitimate order. 
  3. While some receipts do come with PDF attachments, most don’t.  Remember, attachments can contain viruses. 

When to worry:

  1. When the receipt looks legitimate and you didn’t order it.  For example, if you have an Amazon account and the e-mail looks like it came from Amazon (e.g., came from auto-confirm@amazon.com).  Check your financial statements and your account.  If it looks like there was activity, you’ll want to kick everyone out of your account, change the password, and consider higher security (like 2-factor authentication) for your account. 
  2. Occasionally, when you open an e-mail like this, the last four digits of your credit card number will be inside.  If they are, check your accounts. 

What to do if you think it might be legitimate. 

  1. Check your financial statements.  If you have paid for anything, that’s how you’ll know.  If something unexpected is showing up on your statements, cancel it through your financial institution and let them know it’s fraud. 
  2. If something is showing up that is unexpected, you’ll need to do some securing of your digital self, so give Tech Lab a call. 

2) Fake e-mail problems

The formula for this e-mail can look a couple of different ways.  The most convincing one I ever saw was, you need to change your password, but the most common I have seen is, you need to verify your account.  I have also seen ones that say, you are running out of space in your e-mail account. 

Why this looks like a scam:

  1. Usually if you have to verify your e-mail address or change your password, it doesn’t come as an e-mail.  It comes before you open any e-mail.  So don’t trust any kind of e-mail like this. 
  2. My e-mail is provided by Tech Lab, so any e-mail I would get about my e-mail should likewise come from an e-mail address ending in techlabhq.com.  (Actually, Tech Lab will call you if there are any issues with your e-mail account.) 
  3. There are many typos and things like bolding that I wouldn’t normally see on a non-spam e-mail. 

When to worry:

  1. If your password or another password that you use is contained in the e-mail, first scan your computer, but then you’ll want to change the password on any account that uses that password.  
  2. If you can’t open any other e-mails or send e-mails, it’s more likely that there is an issue with your e-mail.  Call your e-mail or IT provider. 

What to do if you think it might be legitimate. 

  1. You can log in on the portal page to your e-mail.  In my or our customers’ case, that is mail.techlabhq.com.  In the case of Gmail, this is mail.google.com, and in the case of Outlook or Microsoft, this is outlook.office.com.  If there is an issue with your e-mail, your provider will prompt you when you log in to do whatever. 
  2. You can also call your e-mail provider.  Find a phone number for your e-mail provider that is not in the e-mail, and call it. 
  3. If you’re not sure about your e-mail provider, you can call them, Tech Lab, or your IT provider, and we’ll be able to help you check this.   

I clicked on a link/replied/downloaded the file/called the phone number, and now I think it was a scam… Now what??? 

Call Tech Lab at 414-208-4682. Some actions are riskier than others. Our technicians will help you determine the extent of the damage, and suggest some next steps. They will be able to answer your questions about your situation. 

How to Know When You Need an IT Professional for Your Business

The short answer is, if you are asking this question, you need one. But you may not be sure how to find one and what questions to ask to find out if they are the right fit for you. 

The long answer is, does whoever you are working with meet your needs?  Let’s talk about a few things that go into that: 

  1. Do you have IT hardware?

In this digital age, we all need and have computer(s), so I’m skipping the question we once asked – do you have a computer. Even if you don’t have a computer, pretty much everyone has a smart phone or a tablet, which all falls under IT. Everyone, by the way, includes the people who don’t really know how to use them.

  1. Do you need an IT service?

If you have IT hardware, you bought the hardware from a provider.  Some of these providers will provide repair services, and some of them won’t.  Because you need the hardware, you have to work with some kind of a provider, even if all they do is sell you a new device. 

The question is, is the provider a good fit for your company?  

  1. What services do they provide?  

If we all need someone to purchase our equipment from, as a business it’s also great to have someone who can make the technology work the way it should. Some home customers that we know just buy new and never repair, but this can lose you a lot of data if you haven’t set your IT up right. A good IT service can help you move data from one device to another and help devices talk to each other. Some good home IT services do provide these kinds of services, but a business service definitely will.

Additionally, as businesses get larger, the more devices (e.g., Internet equipment, computers, printers, etc.) your business will accumulate. The more devices, the more things that can go wrong. Residential IT services will involve you in many more decisions than a business IT service will want to do. The business IT service can just take care of IT issues for you but will also consult you as needed along the way. The more parts of this that your IT service provider can you do for you and the more skilled your IT service provider, the more peace of mind that you will have that everything works together in a secure manner.

You’ll also want to make sure that the service provider you choose to work with can cope with your systems.  Some providers don’t handle Ethernet networks.  Some don’t handle Windows computers.  

  1. Can the IT provider you choose fix your problem?

There are some providers who don’t fix the problem you brought the computer in for.  Even if you bring it in multiple times and complain, it still doesn’t get fixed.  That’s an example of an IT service that doesn’t work.  

Bring the same computer into a reputable provider, on the other hand, and he might tell you it can be fixed.  Let the reputable provider take a look at it, and it gets fixed after a few days instead of spending days not working.  As a business grows, you as the business owner understand that time is money.  Getting the computer fixed in an efficient manner allows you to make more money.  

This isn’t to say that everything IT-related can be fixed because it can’t.  Quite a lot can be fixed but sometimes it costs to fix more than you want to pay.  As your business grows, the more crucial the latter (and the prevention of problems) can become.  That’s what a good business IT service can provide you – the choice of the best solution for your business from many options.  

  1. How well do they know you, your system, and your business?  

There are some places you will go, and you get a different person every time.  The bigger your business becomes, the more complicated and idiosyncratic your IT system becomes.  Someone who understands your system has a huge advantage in knowing what went wrong and how to fix it.  They also know how to prioritize the work.  Someone who understands what it means to you when your computer goes down is in a much better position to do what they can to get you going than someone who doesn’t.  

In closing, some residential IT providers can provide good service to micro-businesses in their early days if they are knowledgeable and responsive. However, the quicker you can get a business IT service involved, you will be making smarter IT decisions, and you will have fewer headaches later on. They understand how important it is for you to stay in business and how to get you ready for the growth you want to see.

Call Tech Lab at 414-208-4682 to see if we fit you and your business!

2020 Thank You

As 2020 closes out, Tech Lab would like to thank those businesses and people who have worked with us during the year. Pat Miller, The Idea Coach, helped propel us into a strong start for 2020 and to think big as we strategized. We held our first seminar in February and could not have done it without Claire Lauer with CL Content Marketing and Mike Mitchell and his staff at Celtic MKE. On April 30, Ask the Techsperts webinar series started. This series started thanks to Jennifer Buchholz from Excel & Flourish and her belief in us and has continued to make as lasting impact to all our viewers. Thank you to Rosie Brucker from All About Your Biz who continues to deliver solid graphics for us. Kristina Koslosky from Kreative Solutions, thank you for being a website partner and for regularly speaking on Ask the Techsperts. Joe Fricano with Decided Excellence, Employ Milwaukee, Keystone Click, and Robb Fallon with Pressing On thank you for your continued support of Tech Lab. Finally thank you to Michael Rampolla & Darren Fischer and the staff at Spearity as Tech Lab makes big goals for 2021. Businesses do not take place in a bubble and we are all stronger when we work together.

Scheduling a Zoom meeting

In previous posts, we have talked about how to join a meeting and how to troubleshoot going to the meeting.  In this post, we are going to discuss some basics on how to schedule a meeting. 

You need a Zoom account in order to do this, but it can be a free one.  You also need to be signed into it wherever you are scheduling it:

You can either open the Zoom app and click schedule a meeting. Or you can go to zoom.us and click on My Account on the top right and then click Schedule a Meeting. 

This is the picture from the Zoom app, but the one on the zoom.us page has the same information. 

At the very least, you want to make sure to adjust the time and date for when you want the meeting to be.  This is how participants can verify the meeting time, especially when you have participants from different time zones.  You can see on the above meeting that the time will be in CST because Central Time (US and Canada) is selected.  Then you can hit save, and you’ve scheduled your meeting. 

But let’s go into a little more detail about this screen…

I can select recurring meeting if I am going to have the meeting again. On zoom.us, you have more control over this, and you can select how often it recurs and for how long. There is also the option for no fixed time, which is the default in the app. “No fixed time” means that you can just let people know when it will be. You’ll be able to start it whenever. 

Personal meeting ID vs. generate meeting ID automatically

It’s also possible to use your personal meeting ID or to generate a meeting ID automatically.  Let’s talk a little bit about the differences:

Generating a meeting ID automatically gives you a random meeting ID.  You can customize the password.  Having different meeting IDs for every meeting that you have means that there is no risk of participants bumping into each other.  So this is the method I use for personal meetings. 

Using a personal meeting ID uses the same meeting ID every time you use it.  From meeting to meeting, the meeting ID and password shouldn’t change.*  Having the same meeting ID for multiple meetings means that people from different meetings can bump into each other.  For people who struggle to get into Zoom, keeping the meeting ID and password the same can be easier to get into.  Using a personal meeting ID or a recurring meeting without a fixed time can provide this same functionality.  I’ve often seen people use their personal meeting ID for office hours or for recurring meetings. 

*You can customize your personal meeting ID (e.g., phone number) and password, which can be a good method of branding.  Keep in mind that if you change the password or meeting ID, you will change it for all meetings that use your personal meeting ID.  So if you change the password or meeting ID of your personal meeting room, you’ll have to let people you’ve already scheduled with on that room that you’ve done that.  However, doing so is a good way to get rid of Zoom bombers if your personal meeting room has been hacked. 

If you want custom passcodes for different meeting rooms, I highly recommend setting up the recurring meeting with “no fixed time”. That way, they will not interfere with one another.

Security

Now let’s talk security.  Security requires there to be a passcode on every meeting.  Zoom passcodes will automatically be a series of numbers.  You can customize the passcode to make it easier for people to type.  If you have a personal meeting ID, we don’t recommend changing it from meeting to meeting (see * above for why). 

You can also turn on or off a waiting room. If you are in the meeting room and the waiting room is off, anyone who has the passcode and meeting ID can walk right in. This may be the right atmosphere for an office hour or a large event. However, for most things, for security, I recommend a waiting room, especially if you use your personal meeting ID for all your meetings. Most event organizers will keep the waiting room on to make sure that the participants are who they are supposed to be. This is especially true when ticketing (though some people won’t be named correctly so check). This is also super helpful if you want to wait to let the participants in because you want to chat with e.g., the organizers ahead of time. 

Video and Audio

Having the video on or off can set the tone for the meeting – how much participation you expect from participants.  I tend to set it as on, especially for one-on-one meetings.  However, if you are doing a webinar, you may prefer to set it as off. 

I always select Telephone & Computer Audio.  This provides the most flexibility for participants.  However, if you need people to use their phones or their computers, you can set it accordingly. 

The calendar option only shows up on the app – not on zoom.us.  What it does is shows you where it will put the meeting information.  I usually use zoom.us because I don’t have these set up.  However, this can be a great way of integrating with other software that you use. 

Let’s talk briefly about the Advanced options on the app and Meeting options on zoom.us because they are mostly the same. 

If you let participants to join anytime, they will join the meeting immediately if you don’t have a waiting room and join the waiting room if you do.  For security’s sake, I don’t recommend the first option.  However, the second option can be a good plan in some circumstances.  For a recurring meeting without a fixed time, I usually have this on with a waiting room on.  That way people can join whenever and I can let them in whenever.  If people get confused about timing, keeping this off can be a good way to remind them of when the meeting is. 

Muting participants upon entry is a good way to let people know what the expectations for participation are.  Most people will chitchat when they first get in, unless they are muted.  If people don’t know how to mute themselves, this can be a good way to automate it. 

Requiring authentication to join can be a way of improving security because it requires signing into Zoom.  However, if you have individuals who are not tech-savvy attending, I don’t recommend it because it can mean that they can’t get in.  So I always leave that unchecked. 

You can also automatically record meetings and set an alternative host.  Note that the alternative host must have a Zoom account. 

If you are on the app, you will now have an e-mail or a calendar event.  You can send it. 

If you are on zoom.us, you will now have meeting info.  You can edit it if you typed something wrong.  At this point though, I usually hit “Copy invitation” and send it off to the participants. 

About sending out invitations

Sometimes e-mails go to spam, or people don’t check their e-mails.  If you have someone you really want to be at your meeting, it’s a good idea to confirm with them that they got the e-mail.  It can also be a good idea to offer a Zoom testing session, especially if you are offering a paid session or if someone will struggle with Zoom.  For paid sessions, this is often a group session, but I have done it one-to-one with family members. 

Hopefully you gained more knowledge on the setup of a zoom meeting and what to check and what it all means. If you have questions or need help scheduling zoom meetings, call Tech Lab at 414-208-4682.

How to connect on Zoom

If you want to connect with others using Zoom but haven’t done it before or are looking for easy directions for others, Tech Lab is here for you.

Let’s talk briefly about how to join a meeting. When you create a meeting, a Zoom invitation looks like this:

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84946207497?pwd=YzhRa0ZCRTlJSFpvcmNSUVZWbUlDQT09

Meeting ID: 849 4620 7497

Passcode: 982993

One tap mobile

+13017158592,,84946207497#,,,,,,0#,,982993# US (Germantown)

+13126266799,,84946207497#,,,,,,0#,,982993# US (Chicago)

Dial by your location

        +1 301 715 8592 US (Germantown)

        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)

        +1 929 205 6099 US (New York)

        +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)

        +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)

        +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)

Meeting ID: 849 4620 7497

Passcode: 982993

Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kd0vXh6U1X

The easiest way is to share your meeting is to give all of this information with everyone. Then they click on the link at the top to join: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84946207497?pwd=YzhRa0ZCRTlJSFpvcmNSUVZWbUlDQT09
If you can’t click on it, then you can just copy it into your browser. 

It is also possible to open the Zoom app and click Join. This is often used when you don’t have access to the invitation on a different device or if you have trouble clicking on links. When you click Join, it will ask for the meeting ID and the passcode. Based on this invitation, I would type in 84946207497 as the meeting ID and 982993 as the passcode. Then press Join. 

 You can also dial into meetings. Dialing in does not allow you to use video, but it is a great choice if you don’t have great Internet access. To dial in, choose the location that is closest to you, and dial the phone number. In this case, because I am close to Germantown, I would dial 301-715-8592. Then it will ask for your meeting ID followed by the # key, so I would dial 849-4620-7497#. Then it will ask for a participant ID, which you might not have. I don’t have a participant ID, so I dial #. Finally, it will ask for the passcode if there is one, followed by the # key. I dial 982993#, and I am in the meeting. 

Sometimes, however, the person who invites you will only share the link and the passcode:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84946207497?pwd=YzhRa0ZCRTlJSFpvcmNSUVZWbUlDQT09

Passcode: 982993

It’s still possible to join in all ways from this information.  I’ve highlighted the meeting ID in the URL.  If you have the meeting ID and the passcode, you can join in the Zoom app.  You can take the phone numbers to dial into Zoom from this page or another invitation.  When it asks for meeting ID, input that, and when it asks for passcode, input that.  You won’t have a participant ID, so you’ll dial #. 

If you have Internet issues, it is also possible to have audio through your phone and video through your computer. Some people will join with two different devices to accomplish this, but it is also possible to split the video and audio between two devices. Before joining audio, you can click Phone Call, and it will show you the information you need to dial in. If you’ve already joined with your computer, you will click the ^ next to Mute and then click Switch to Phone Audio… This will bring up the same information. This will give you a participant ID. If you don’t input the participant ID, you will show up as a second person. 

Need help setting up the meeting or getting a computer set up for online video conferencing? At Tech Lab, we have worked with many people to get them a webcam and microphone and learn how to use online video conferencing. We have also helped them check their audio or video settings. Call us at 414-208-4682 to have us help you!

Ways to Conference with Family and Friends

This year, many can’t travel as much as wanted for the holidays, so how can we still stay connected? A lot of people are planning a virtual meet with their family and friends, so let’s talk about ways to do this:

  1. Phone teleconference: 
    • Pros: For older people, this can be a great option, as people know how to answer their phones. For younger people, they can easily be reminded of the meeting by the ringing of their phones. You don’t need to have Internet connection – only telephone service. There is no limit on call length. 
    • Cons: It can take a while to get everyone into the conference if you’re not using traditional teleconferencing software. Cell phone carriers do have limits on the amount of people you can conference in – usually 6 in total is the limit. You are also limited to voice communication, which can make it difficult to involve everyone in the conversation. 
    • How to:
      1. On iPhone, call one person. For every subsequent person you want to add, hit + add call. Dial the person in question, and then hit merge call. Make sure everyone can hear each other, but as long as nothing says hold at the top, you should be good. 
      2. On Android, call one person. For every subsequent person you want to add, hit + add call. Dial the person in question, and then hit merge call. Make sure everyone can hear each other, but as long as nothing says hold at the top, you should be good. 
      3. For other phones, please read the manual as to how to complete this. 
  2. Online teleconferencing:
    • There are a few different options for online teleconferencing. The most popular (and accessible) options are Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Apple FaceTime, and Skype. So let’s talk about the options:
      1. Zoom:
        • Pros: With the proliferation of Zoom for just about everything, many people have Zoom accounts and know how to use them. You can also dial in through the phone to meetings. Zoom is available on all platforms. 
        • Cons: Unless you have a paid account, meetings with three participants or more can only last 40 minutes. With a basic paid account, meetings can be up to 100 participants and as long as you want. For people who don’t know how to use Zoom, it can be difficult to use. 
      2. Google Meet:
        • Pros: Many people have the Google account needed to use Google Meet. Meet is available as an app for mobile devices as well and is automatically loaded on Android devices. You can also dial in through the phone to meetings. You can have up to 100 participants. 
        • Cons: You need to have a Google account in order for the app and the Internet browser to work. Unless you have a paid account, the meeting can only be up to 60 minutes. 
      3. Microsoft Teams:
        • Pros: This app is installed on any computer that has Microsoft 365 installed on it, and it boots automatically unless it’s been turned off. You can keep it on for up to 16 hours with as many as 300 people. You can dial in through the phone to meetings. Teams is available as an app for mobile devices as well. 
        • Cons: Microsoft Teams really does require Microsoft 365 subscription to use. Some people are really familiar with Teams, but some people are not.
      4. FaceTime
        • Pros: This option allows for voice and video, but you also have the option for only audio. Answering it works much like a normal phone call. There is no limit on call length. 
        • Cons: Everyone must have either an iPhone or a Mac computer. You do need to have data or Internet access available. You can have up to 32 people, which is enough for many families. The size of the screen can make it difficult to see everyone.
      5. Skype
        • Pros: Quite a few people have accounts. It also used to be automatically installed with Microsoft Office – and on some devices as well. Skype is free. It works for up to 10 hours and 50 people. It is available on all platforms. You can call phones with your Skype if you have a subscription. 
        • Cons: Skype is clunkier to use than a lot of other online teleconferencing options. You have to be connected with everyone you Skype with. You can only dial into meetings if you have Skype for Business. 

Our recommendation: If everyone is technology-challenged, phone conferencing will be the easiest.  Video calling provides the closest to a real experience and can provide a better experience for some people, as long as the least technologically experienced can dial in to the meeting. 

If everyone in your family is on the same kind of phone (iPhone or Android), using the native app (FaceTime for iPhone and Google Meet for Android) is going to be the easiest. For everyone else, a Zoom call is probably the easiest, especially if someone has a paid Zoom account. However, what you choose will likely depend on the kind of paid accounts people have access to. The person with the paid account is going to have to host the meeting.

While each platform looks slightly different, the procedure is more or less the same. After deciding when you are doing your gathering and what program you will use to connect, the host should create the meeting and share information on how to participate. It’s best to share the entire invitation because while many people can get in with just the link, not everyone enters that way. 

Do you need help setting up the meeting or getting a computer set up for online video conferencing? At Tech Lab, we have worked with many people to get them a webcam and microphone and learn how to use online video conferencing. We would be happy to help you no matter how many people you are trying to connect with. Call us at 414-208-4682.

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month – Ransomware

We’ve talked about scams before – how to recognize them and how to protect yourself from them.  Today Tech Lab wants to highlight ransomware. 

What is ransomware?  Your computer has valuable files on it – files you need and files you don’t want other people to see.  Files that you might pay to get back.  Somehow or another, you get malware on your computer that encrypts all those files.  The hacker has the key to encrypt your files and will unlock your files if you pay the ransom.  That is ransomware. 

The longer you do not pay, the higher the price goes.  You may be able to get it back without paying the ransom if you hire a cybersecurity firm, although this is unlikely.  Even if you pay, you may not get the files back.  Most will though.  If you do pay, whatever you get back may take work to recover.  If you do not pay, your files are deleted for good.  If you do pay, you are more likely to get targeted for this kind of attack in the future. 

Who is a target for ransomware?  Individuals have been targeted by ransomware, but lately businesses have become a prime target.  For businesses, ransomware can be devastating.  For example, governmental offices and healthcare facilities are known to have sensitive data that they need, so they are high-value targets. Small businesses who are attacked may have to close their doors.

What should I do if I am targeted by ransomware?  First, verify that your files have been encrypted.  If you have a plan about what to do, follow that plan.  If you need the files, we recommend paying sooner rather than later.  Know, however, that if you do pay, you are more likely to be targeted for ransomware in the future. Contact your local police. Call your IT provider. If you do not have one, call 414-208-4682 and Tech Lab can help you with your recovery.

How can I protect myself from ransomware?  Make a plan of what you would do if you had this problem. Share this plan with the people who need to know. Purchase cybersecurity insurance to help you cover the costs for when you are attacked. Be very careful about what attachments you open for e-mails.  Be very careful about the links that you open from e-mails.  Make sure the other people at your office do the same. 

Use antivirus software, and scan your computer regularly for viruses.  Use malware blocker software.  Make sure to keep your computer, programs (especially your browser), and apps updated.  Make sure that your e-mail systems have good spam filters, including protections such as SPF, DMARC, and DKIM. 

Back up your computer.  Back it up to a hard drive (and don’t keep the hard drive plugged into the computer), and back it up off-site.  If you have a backup, you may not have to pay the ransom because you will have unencrypted versions of your files. 

If you need help protecting yourself from ransomware, please contact Tech Lab at 414-208-4682. We can provide you with antivirus, malware protection, help create backups, and help you make a plan to be protected.

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month- Hacked Accounts

This week Tech Lab will focus on how to know if you your accounts have been hacked. It is a good idea to have both an antivirus program and a malware program installed on your computer to help keep you safe. If you do not have either of these, call 414-208-4682 and we can set you up with what you need to help keep you protected. The scans will be run for you so you know you are always protected.

Signs your account may have been hacked:

  • You get replies to e-mails you didn’t send.
  • People you know ask if you sent them emails or other messages.
  • Your e-mail says that you sent e-mails that you didn’t send. 
  • You get alerted to activity on your account, and you know it wasn’t you.
  • You are positive you typed the correct password, and you still can’t open your account.
  • You get an e-mail saying that you changed your password when you did not.
  • Others tell you that you have been hacked.
  • Transactions appear on your financial statements that you did not expect.
  • Posts that you didn’t write appear. 

What do I do if I notice these signs?  There are usually security settings on the website where you can see what devices have logged in as you.  Log them out if you know it’s not you. 

Then, change your password to something you have never used as a password before. If you have accounts with the same password, change those as well. 

Facebook and many other large companies have a page, “I think I’ve been hacked.”  Go there, and follow the steps recommended. 

Check the security settings, and see if you want to make them stronger.  If you are not getting notified about logins, you may want to be.  If multi-factor authentication is an option, consider that.  Scan your computer for viruses and malware. 

Have your financial institution send you texts when you are making large purchases.  Also when your contact information or alerting choices have changed. 

If you think you have been hacked and need assistance resetting your accounts, call Tech Lab at 414-208-4682.

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month – Phone Scams

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Tech Lab has a series of blog posts sharing ways to stay protected from cyber criminals.

These are some very common phone call scams Tech Lab has seen:

  1. The IRS calls you.  You owe money on your taxes, and you will go to jail if you do not pay. 
  2. Social Security calls you.  Your identity has been compromised. 
  3. Your utility company calls you.  Your power will be turned off due to non-payment. 

Why this is a scam: The IRS, your utility company, and Social Security do not call you for matters of this nature.  They will send you a physical letter.  There are several letters before you get threatened with problems. 

Hang up immediately with the person who called you!!

How to know this is a scam: Then if you wish you can call the company who claimed to call you with a number that you find on the Internet or in the phonebook or on your billing statements. If you find the number yourself, you will be sure to reach someone at that company who can look up your information. 

What to do: When you have been called, do NOT give your payment information over the phone. Do NOT give any other information to them or verify what they say is correct!

Only when you initiate the call should you give payment information, and be sure that you are calling the number of the company.  If you already gave your payment information over the phone and suspect that it is fraudulent, verify that you did not make a payment to the company expected by calling their number that you have obtained on your own.  Report the transaction to your payment companies as fraudulent, and change your payment information and password.

If you need additional assistance navigating this situation, call Tech Lab at 414-208-4682.