Microsoft 2015 Partner Network

June 19th, 2015 by EKG Networking

One must toot one’s own horn occasionally.  Especially when pretty signs arrive in the mail.

Commitment to creating and delivering innovative customer solutions and services based on Microsoft Technologies.

Commitment to creating and delivering innovative customer solutions and services based on Microsoft Technologies.

Microsoft Windows 10 Upgrade – That little white flag in the lower right hand corner that just appeared.

June 9th, 2015 by EKG Networking

As many of you are aware, Microsoft will be releasing Windows 10 on July 29th.  They will make it available for free for all Windows 7 and Windows 8 users to all “non-enterprise” users.  In fact, many of you may have noticed a white Microsoft flag logo appearing near your clock announcing that fact. If you click on the icon, you can sign up for the free upgrade when it is release.  Microsoft will make the free upgrade available for one year.  After that time, you will have to pay for the upgrade.

There are some caveats regarding the release.  First, windows users that use a Domain server are not prompted with the Windows flag.  This is because their upgrades will be managed by their server administrators.  Also, not all versions of Windows 7/8 are eligible for the free upgrade.  Many of our customers have purchased Windows 7/8 via 3rd parties such as Techsoup.  It is unclear whether these licenses are eligible.

Unfortunately, Microsoft has yet to make the Windows 10 release available to its partners.  So, testing has not been done on this new version. So, its compatibility with existing software and its reliability has yet to be determined by EKG Networking.  Also, we cannot test the upgrade process itself. Or, whether the upgrade can be undone.

Our advice regarding the upgrade is to sign up for the free upgrade if you are prompted via the white Microsoft flag logo.  However, do not install it when Windows 10 is released.  Wait.
There is no reason to upgrade right away other than curiosity.  If you upgrade close to release date, you will be one of thousands who might have problems all at the same time.  Also, some of these problems might not have solutions right away.  So, wait.

Many of you use specialty software that may not be compatible with Windows 10 and may never be compatible.  The compatibility of the software you rely upon needs to be confirmed with the manufacture of that software.  You also have to make sure that your specific version of your software is compatible.  Some older versions may never be tested. Some manufactures have already announced which versions of their software they have tested. However, some have not.  If a manufacture has not announced their compatibility with Windows 10, wait to do the upgrade.

EKG Networking will give the all clear when we are comfortable the upgrade will do no harm.  However, we may have to approve the upgrade on a case-by-case basis.  Since we cannot test it, we cannot say for sure at this time.

Remember when we spoke of this? Backing up your computer.

March 3rd, 2015 by EKG Networking

At EKG Networking, we always speak about having two backup plans.  One internal onsite backup and one offsite disaster recovery backup.

Well today’s Wall Street Journal validates one of the companies we use and sing the praises of, Crashplan Pro.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-best-way-to-back-up-your-computer-1425404466?mod=WSJ_hppMIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsSecond

Take a read and give us a call to discuss the best ways to structure your business backup.

 

Winter Storms – To shutdown or not to shutdown your systems that is the question?

January 26th, 2015 by EKG Networking

Welcome to New England, where wait a minute it’s 60 degrees one day and 12 degrees the next.  As we head into a somewhat legendary snow storm, we are being asked “should I shut down my server and unplug it or not?”  For this storm, we are keeping our systems on.  We have battery backups as most of our clients do which will take the hit in the event of power outage and shut down the server safely.  We have one client who is located in the woods and with the amount of wind expected it made sense for them to shut down for the largest part of the storm.

If you  have any questions, please contact us at the office.

Thank you and happy snow storm.

EKG Networking, Inc.

 

 

CryptoWall 2.0 Things you can do to prevent

November 6th, 2014 by EKG Networking

Well another version of CryptoWall has reared it’s ugly head and we do mean ugly.  The only way around this is restoring a backup or paying the ransom.  Please do not pay the ransom, this only encourages this kind of activity.

NOTE:  No NON BUSINESS browsing, please communicate this to your staff.

Our new tech Daniel Grimm updated this post with the help of the awesome people over at Bleepingcomputer.com

As many of you know, there has been a virus known as “Crypto-Ransomware or CryptoWall” that has been spreading throughout people’s computers over the past several months.  It has come to our attention there is a newer version of the virus out.  We are trying to spread awareness in reference to this, and have a list of preventative strategies and methods you can use to protect yourselves and help mitigate the risk of these types of Malware.
1.    Backup your computer every night!  Also create an offsite backup.  We like Crashplan Pro by Code42, or Mozy Pro.
2.    Make sure you have an anti-virus program installed and updated
3.    Become educated on what you should and should not do on the Internet.
4.    Use Software Restriction Policies or CryptoPrevent to make it so the malware files cannot launch

NOTE:  As of this writing, only Maximum settings which is in Beta will possibly prevent the infection from spreading.  Please keep this in mind before installing.

Here is a link to the latest version of CryptoPrevent: http://download.foolishit.com/CryptoPreventSetup.exe
Follow the wizard.  Once completed, it will ask you to launch the program, which you want to do.  It will ask you 2 questions, both of which you should say “No” to.  This is what the program should look like once it is opened.  The proper setting should be set to “Default”, and once that is done then you will need to click the Apply button.  It will ask you a question about whitelists, which you need to click “Yes” to.  The computer will need to be restarted for it to fully take effect.  Upon the restart, it will show you a message saying it was successful!

Hopefully preventing CryptoWall

Hopefully preventing CryptoWall

To read more information about CryptoWall:

http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/t/552103/updated-cryptowall-20-ransomware-released-that-makes-it-harder-to-recover-files/

 

 

 

Microsoft Patches Internet Explorer Vulnerability

May 2nd, 2014 by EKG Networking

Referencing our previous post, Microsoft has made available an update to fix the Internet Explorer vulnerability in all versions including Windows XP.

To apply this update or check if it was applied, please do the following:

Make sure to save and close all open work before beginning.

Windows XP

Start
All Programs
Windows Update
NOTE: It may ask you to install an ActiveX Addon underneath the upper portion of the screen, this is okay to do.
Select Custom

The below should appear:

Microsoft Internet Explorer Update fix

Microsoft Internet Explorer Update fix

If it is already installed, there will be no updates.

Install the update and restart the computer.

Windows 7

Start
All ProgramsWindows Update
Select the Important Update –
Security Update for Internet Explorer 11 for Windows 7 for “xxxxx” based systems

Install and restart the system

Internet Explorer Vulnerability – Best Practices

April 30th, 2014 by EKG Networking

The current Internet Explorer vulnerability allows the information on your computer to be exposed when it connects to a hijacked website.  It is not clear whether or not you actually have to agree to download software to allow this access.

Regardless, it is known that the connection to your computer takes place via the Adobe Flash add-on.  Regardless of whether your system is Windows XP or not, you can bypass this issue by:

1)    Not using Internet Explorer.  Options are:
Chrome
https://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/browser/

Firefox
http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/

2)    Disabling the Adobe Flash within Internet Explorer
a.    Click the Tools menu or the sprocket on the right if you do not have a Tools menu
b.    Select “Manage Add-Ons”
c.    Change Show: from “Currently loaded add-ons” to “All add-ons”
d.    Locate and left-click “Shockwave Flash Object”
e.    Click “Disable” in the lower-right corner
f.    Click Close
g.    If you have a legitimate web site that requires Flash, you can turn it back on by repeating steps a though d and clicking “Enable”.  Just remember to disable again it when done.

 

Microsoft Internet Explorer Tools AddOns

Microsoft Internet Explorer Tools AddOns

The best advice we can give is not to worry about each individual security breach that is reported.  Every company needs to setup best practices with their employees.

Make sure everyone understands business use for the computers.  Using your systems for business use and being diligent all the time will definitely limit your companies exposure to bugs and hacks.

Heartbleed bug – basic facts – what to worry about

April 10th, 2014 by EKG Networking

As the news catches up again reporting things that have been out for a bit, we have clients contacting us.

Our clients are not using the OpenSSL so do not need to worry.

Personally there are things you need to watch and they bring us all back to the basics;

1. Change your passwords often.  A great example, when you come back from vacation change anything you logged into during that time.  (Better yet, unplug and then that will not be necessary).

2. Keep your social media and your other passwords separate and vastly different.

3. Wait five seconds and think before clicking on any pop ups, answering emails that you did not request or giving information to people over the phone.

In some cases this is a hurry up and wait until each website fixes their piece.

Mashable has a great website detailing what you need to worry about and watch with this particular bug:

http://mashable.com/2014/04/09/heartbleed-bug-websites-affected/

As always, everything old is new again and digital.

Think before you click.

Microsoft Windows XP – Microsoft Security Essentials – April 8

April 1st, 2014 by EKG Networking

Windows XP Microsoft Security Essentials

When Microsoft discontinues support of Windows XP on April 8th, they will also be stopping updates to their antivirus software called “Microsoft Security Essentials”. Of course, this will only impact you if you use Microsoft Security Essentials as your antivirus program. If you use a different antivirus program, this does not impact you.

Please read all these instructions first before beginning and provide at least a ½ hour time to run through the instructions.
If you are unsure, look for an icon on the lower right-hand side of your screen (by the clock) that looks like a castle with a flag.  It might be colored green, yellow, or red

You can also click: Start, All Programs and look for “Microsoft Security Essentials” in the list of programs.
If you are indeed using Microsoft Security Essentials, it will need to be uninstalled and a replacement product installed.  We recommend AVG’s free antivirus to replace it.

1) So, step one is get ready by downloading AVG first.  To do so, go here:

http://free.avg.com/us-en/download.prd-afh.line-2013

Your choice is between the 32-bit and 64-bit versions.  You most likely have the 32-bit version. If you are unsure, you can check by right-clicking on “My Computer” and selecting properties.  Look in the “System” section at the top.  If you do not see the text “64-bit”, then you have 32-bit.

Download the appropriate version and save it to your desktop for later.

2) Next, uninstall Microsoft Security Essentials.  To do so, go to your Control Panel, Add/Remove Programs, select Microsoft Security Essentials and click Remove.

3) Install AVG.  Double-click the file you downloaded in step one to run the installation program (if you get a software restriction error, go to the note section below.). Follow the wizard, but select “Custom Install” when asked for the type of installation and
click next.  Uncheck all of the options and click Next to continue.

It will prompt you to enter your email address, this is optional.

Once the installation is finished, reboot the computer. DONE
Note:
If you get an error message during the installation that a software restriction setting is not permitting the installation, you have installed the CryptoPrevent software.  This is software that stops the Crytolocker virus, but can also stop certain programs from installing.  If this happens, do the following

Download the CrytoPrevent software from here:
 http://www.foolishit.com/download/cryptoprevent-installer

If the website gives an error, try it again shortly.  It’s a very busy site.

It will download as a ZIP file, so you will need to extract it.  To do so, right-click on the downloaded file and select “Extract All”.  Follow the wizard.  Once completed there will be a CryptoPrevent folder in which you will find two files.  You want to double-click on the one named “CryptoPrevent”

Click OK at the About screen and then click Undo. If asked to remove any whitelist policies, click “No”.  It will recommend a reboot, but it is not always needed.  So, click “No.”

Try to reinstall AVG.  If it still complains about a Group Policy issue, reboot and try again.
Once AVG is installed you will need to reactivate CrytoPrevent.  Do so by clicking “Apply” within CryptoPrevent.  You will need to reboot when this is done.

 

EKG Networking – Notification – Bad Virus

October 23rd, 2013 by EKG Networking

A new variant of the Cryptolocker virus has arrived. 

If you are not a customer of EKG Networking, Inc. please contact your IT Company before doing anything.

So, we are recommending that all of our clients run the following program on each workstation.

You can download it here. It will download as a zip file, so you will need to exact it to run it.

http://www.foolishit.com/download/cryptoprevent/

If you get an error getting to the page, please try again.  It gets overloaded easily.

It will download as a zip file, so you will need to extract it to run it.

Once extracted, you want to run the file named “CryptoPrevent.exe”

You will see this screen.

 Image

 

Click Block and then reboot.

This tool changes setting that stop executable files (programs) from running when they are located in certain directories on a computer.

As long as a program followed Microsoft standard installation procedures, they will work after this is applied. 

However, it is possible some programs will stop working. 

If this is the case, let use know and we can create exceptions for such programs.

We would normally not do all workstations at once, but test it on one first. 

However, this virus is very bad!!!

Please do all the workstations and let us know that it is done. 

If you have programs that stop working, please let us know and we will get to you as soon as possible.

Thanks,
Ted Dutter
EKG Networking, Inc.