Tech Talk

Tech News, User Tips, and Answers to Common Questions. 

4/21/17: Online Streaming 

Online streaming has become great option for those who wish to cut the cord with the local cable or satellite TV Company. The three things you need to stream online entertainment are:

1. A device to do the streaming to your television.

There are several devices you can get to stream, such as a Smart TV, a Roku box, a Droid box, an Amazon Fire stick, or an Apple TV box. Streaming devices work much like smart phones in that they contain apps that give you access to services like Netflix and Hulu. Some streaming devices are virtually unlimited as to what Apps you can put on them, thus making the variety of online media endless, while others are a bit more restricted and limited in what online media is available. If you need assistance choosing a streaming device, contact me and I can help you choose the right one for your specific needs. Once you have your device of choice you need to get a VPN service to gain access to all the online content that is geo-restricted.

2. Access to online content.

A VPN service masks your physical location by sending all your internet traffic through a secure server in the U.S. thus giving access to online media that is restricted for viewers only in the US. A VPN service does several things in addition to bypassing geo-restricted content.   A VPN encrypts your internet traffic to secure your personal information that you transmit and receive over the internet. A VPN also circumvents throttling which is a method that Internet Service Providers use to control the amount of bandwidth a customer gets during peak usage times. The average cost of VPN service is $80 USD per year. In addition to the cost of a VPN service, a VPN router is also required, which piggybacks on your existing home router. For more information about VPN services and to get a VPN router setup, contact me.

3. A stable high speed internet service.

Last but not least is a good high speed internet service. A rule of thumb for streaming is that it takes 3-5 Megs per second download speed to stream a 1080p HD program without buffering interruptions. Because streaming media has become so popular, especially in the evenings, your speeds may vary greatly throughout the day. As noted above, a VPN service helps circumvent internet speed throttling, but it won’t help if your Internet Service Provider is overselling its bandwidth which is a common practice. You can check your internet speed by using a free ping service such as http://www.speedtest.net/ .

 

1/13/17:  Ransomware

A new type of computer security threat has emerged recently called Ransomware.  Ransomware is a type of Malware (malicious software) that can inadvertently be placed on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, which essentially holds your personal data hostage.  How it works is the end-user will receive an official looking email or social media message that has a link to a website or an attachment within it.  The email or message will instruct the end-user to open the link or attachment, which then automatically installs the ransomware on your device.  The ransomware then encrypts your data so you no longer have access to it unless you have an encryption key.  To get that key, you must purchase it from the person who put the ransomware on your computer.  The best way to avoid becoming a victim of ransomware is:

  • Avoid suspicious emails and messages on social media, and if you get a suspicious email, do not click on any links or download any of the attachments.  A few minutes of due diligence can save you hours of frustration and preserve your personal data, so call the alleged company before you do anything the email instructs you to do and verify the email is valid.  If you think or find that the email is malicious, you should mark it as spam and delete it from your inbox.
  • If your device does become infected wth ransomware or any malware for that matter, the only way to rid your system of it is by having a full system backup on an external device such as an external hard drive or flash drive that you can do a full system restore from.   Without a full system backup, the only option is to wipe the hard drive, thus losing all your personal data, and reinstall the operating system, any updates the base operating system needs, and reinstall all your programs and/or apps.  The whole recovery of your device can easily take many hours to complete.


Below are some sample screenshots of an actual email and social media message that contained ransomware:

 

ransomware

Below are some sample screen shots of what the end-user might see once their device is infected with ransomware:

ransomware

ransomware

If you think your operating system has been infected with Malware and need assistance with a full system restore or re-installation of your operating system, contact me for an appointment.