What is a Keylogger? Why is it so Dangerous?

All of us have heard about viruses and malware – but not many of us knows exactly what a keylogger is and why you should do everything possible to protect yourself from this.

A keylogger is a piece of software — or a hardware device — that logs every key you press on your keyboard. It can capture personal messages, passwords, credit card numbers, and everything else you type.

Keyloggers are usually installed by malware programs and the idea is to get your personal information and credit card details.

How a Keylogger Would Get On Your Computer

Many times you can get infected when downloading files from the internet. You have heard about so called “free” software – that is actually cracked editions of commercially available software.

When a user downloads cracked or pirated software or music – there is a good chance that the software can include malware that installs itself at the same time in the background without you knowing about it.

How does a Keylogger work?

It runs hidden in the background, making a note of each keystroke you type. It then later scans through the saved file of all the keystrokes for certain types of text — for example, it could look for sequences of numbers that look like credit card numbers or website and email passwords and upload them to a malicious server so they can be abused.

How can you protect yourself?

Keylogging software is just another type of malware. You can avoid keylogging software in the same way you avoid other malware — be careful what you download and install. Never download cracked or pirated software or music.

Make sure that USB flash drives that you use in your computer are not already infected.  Use a solid antivirus program that will give protection against keyloggers.

Why is it so Dangerous?

Keyloggers are one of the more dangerous forms of malware, as you won’t realize they’re running if they’re doing their job well.

They hide in the background and don’t cause any trouble, capturing credit card numbers and passwords for as long as they can evade detection.

See the full article and video here

Think you may have a key logger? We can help!

Black Friday and Cyber Monday

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday both just around the corner. Its a great time to get your hands on new and old technology.

Brace yourself: the Cyber Monday 2019 date is December 2, which is under a month away, and as always, the first Monday after Black Friday. 

What is Cyber Monday?

As you’ve probably guessed from the name, Cyber Monday is a purely online affair, The term was coined by Ellen Davis and Scott Silverman of the US National Retail Federation and Shop.org, and it was a deliberate move to promote online shopping back in 2005 when the Internet was in its infancy.

It was intended to help smaller retailers compete with the big names who were harping on about Black Friday, although of course those big names promptly jumped on the Cyber Monday bandwagon, too.

What is the Difference?

Aside from the dates, the main difference between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is that Black Friday deals can be found online and in physical stores, whereas Cyber Monday is purely dedicated to online discounts. 

Both sales events will have plenty of fantastic tech deals, whether you’re looking for a new laptop or a pair of swish noise-canceling headphones. However, there are some instances where it might be better to wait for December 2 to make your purchases. 

Most retailers offer a continuation of their Black Friday deals into Cyber Monday, occasionally dropping prices even further – whether you wait all depends on how much you’re willing to risk the item selling out completely. 

If you see a fantastic Black Friday deal that ticks all your boxes, we’d recommend going for it – products can sell out in a matter of minutes, and you can usually return the item if you see a better deal on Cyber Monday.

How to Prepare for these awesome deals

Fail to prepare and prepare to fail; if you want to make the most out of Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2019, it’s important to have an idea of what you want to buy, and where you want to buy it from. 

The best way to do this is to make yourself a wish list; it doesn’t have to be retailer-specific – just have an idea of what you’re looking to buy this November. For example, do you need a new soundbar to complement your entertainment system? Are you looking for a budget-friendly work laptop?

Most of the big retailers will publish their Black Friday deals from midnight on November 29, so you may want to stay up on Thursday night to ensure you don’t miss any of the big discounts. 

See the full article here!
Check out Tech Radars 2019 Tech Predictions here!

Why repairing your gadgets is a cost-effective way to reduce your technology costs

Choosing to fix your gadgets rather than replace them can extend the life of your laptop, tablet and phone, saving you money and reducing your carbon footprint.

Technology is an expensive but vital investment, and for businesses and individuals alike it is important to stay ahead of the latest trends so that you can enjoy the benefits of the latest software, apps, and features. 

There are many great ways to reduce your technology spend on both business and personal gadgets so that you can enjoy the best functions at a reduced cost. For those who are undecided about the benefits of repairing your devices, here are some of the key reasons why you should consider fixing your products before you go shopping.

You will be doing your bit for the environment 

Repairing your technology instead of replacing it regularly will extend its life and reduce the amount of technological waste that has to be disposed of. Cell phones, in particular, are dangerous for the environment, as their batteries and cases are made of tough material that does not decompose as easily as other waste products, so reducing the number of phones you throw away every year will benefit the environment for generations to come. Once you do eventually decide to upgrade your technology, you can find many great recycling options so that you dispose of your phone in a safe and environmentally-friendly way. 

Repairs can be made quickly and easily

It can be stressful being without your gadgets for more than a few hours, but with trusted repair experts, you can have your technology back and in working order as quickly as possible. When working with a professional repair company, you can rest assured that your technology will be back repaired before you know it, leaving you free to get back to normal with minimal downtime. 

Is your laptop damaged?

Is your desktop not working?

Find the full article here

SSD vs HDD Tested: What’s the Difference and Which Is Better?

Whether you’re shopping for a new laptop, desktop, external drive, or even building your own PC, you’ll be tasked with a choice: SSD or hard drive (aka hard disk drive / HDD)? Either technology can store your files and software, but they each come with their pros or cons.

In general, we recommend SSDs for performance and HDDs for price. But there are a lot of other differences between these two technologies that could impact your experience and purchasing decision. Let’s clear clear things up with an in-depth look at how your experience using these technologies will differ, plus some testing to illustrate this.

TLDR

  • SSDs are faster than HDDs. An SSD will load data faster than a HDD will. 
  • SSDs are less likely to break than HDDs because HDDs are comprised of moving parts. Empty list
  • SSDs are quieter than hard drives. A PC with a hard drive will be noisier than an SSD and may even send vibrations throughout your desk space if you use an external enclosure. Empty list
  • HDDs are cheaper than SSDs. You’ll get a better price per gigabyte (GB) with HDDs. So if budget or a large amount of files is your top concern, an HDD is worth considering. 
  • In laptops, opting for an SSD can lead to longer battery life. Up to 45 minutes on average compared to HDD-equipped laptops. 

Price

One of the main reasons HDDs have remained relevant has been their price per gigabyte. We’re currently seeing SSDs sell for under $100, or just $0.10 per GB, while HDDs are roughly $0.02-$0.03 per GB.

Therefore, HDDs are appealing to those looking for bulk storage. But their days seem numbered. Considering most people only need up to 500GB to meet their storage needs, HDDs are losing market share faster by the day. Many HDD vendors are now pushing HDDs for NAS applications and selling SSDs.  

Want to upgrade your old HDD to an SSD?

See the full article here

Which Countries Are Hit Hardest By Ransomware?

Ransomware is a rapidly growing and insidious form of digital extortion. Like other malware, it can invade your computer in what looks like a legitimate email or document. You won’t know it’s encrypting your files until it’s done and the demand for payment for decryption arrives.

And ransomware, like all things internet, is certainly not restricted just to the US. Also, it hits individuals and businesses alike; even cities have been targeted. Research company CyberEdge Group found that Saudi Arabia’s businesses have been the hardest hit by this scourge, at 88 percent, followed by Turkey (74 percent) and China (69 percent). The US enters the list at number 9, with 54 percent of businesses reporting a ransomeware attack.

What should you do if your personal account or business is attacked by ransomware? PCMag advises you never to pay ransomeware scammers. Even if you pay up, there’s no guarantee that the perpetrators will follow through and decrypt your files. And unfortunately, even backing up your files religiously won’t necessarily protect you: Some ransomware goes after and encrypts backups too.

We now have tools to help protect against ransomware. One of these may soon become a necessary part of your cybersecurity protection.

Worried about losing your data? Find out how to protect your data!

Find the full article at PC Mag

Identifying The Symptoms of a Hard Drive Failure

A hard drive failure is difficult to detect if you don’t know the symptoms. Your computer or laptop may be doing all sorts of things, e.g., freezing, crashes and looping on reboot, some of which may lead to corruption or loss of data.

Frequent Freezing and Crashing

Programs, software and apps that were installed on a failed sector will most likely not respond, crash or not work at all. You’ll experience total inability to complete any task within the application until the problem has been fixed.

Slow, Laggy Response

In some cases, the app may load but they will be working slower than what’s acceptable. This means that the hard drive will have so many bad sectors that the computer is finding it difficult to retrieve the needed information. If the program constantly freezes, it’s time to check the hard drive’s integrity.

Loud Clicking Noises

When saving, transferring data or installing a program, you’ll sometimes hear audible clicking noises coming from the computer, which means that the head stop is colliding with the write/read heads. Without going into specifics, prolonged clicking can physically damage the hard disk and render it useless in the long run.

Read more about it

Need help with data back up or recovery?

Giving Old Products New Life

The lack of an efficient means for recycling plastic waste on a large scale is a pressing concern that’s starting to take a serious toll on the environment.

According to a 2016 report from the World Economic Forum (WEF), research suggests that by the year 2050, there may be more plastic (by weight) in the ocean than fish. The use of plastics, the WEF notes, “has increased twentyfold in the past half-century, and is expected to double again in the next 20 years.”

Recently, Samsung Newsroom spotlighted eco-friendly initiatives that Samsung Electronics has undertaken as part of its decades-long commitment to sustainable innovation. Here, we’ll outline the company’s efforts to combat e-waste and promote a circular economy by recycling resources safely and efficiently.

A Simple Solution

E-waste recycling is a complicated process that involves disassembling or shredding old devices to recover useful resources. To help simplify the first step of the process, collecting e-waste, in 1998, Samsung Electronics initiated a take-back and recycling program in Korea. Now known as the Re+ Program, this free service, which lets consumers dispose of old smartphones and appliances by dropping them off at Samsung stores and service centers, was up and running in a total of 54 countries.

Once a smartphone has been collected, its battery is removed and processed separately. Rather than burning the battery, as is common when electronic devices are discarded, Samsung will instead dispose of the battery safely and in an eco-friendly manner. The smartphone batteries go through four processing phases in all, which include salting, perforation, drying and fragmentation stages. Any cobalt, nickel or other rare metals that are extracted during processing are set aside for use in new products.

Once an old appliance has been collected and transferred to a recycling facility, it’s put through a preconditioning phase that helps ensure that it’s processed efficiently. Here, any devices that would decrease in value if they were subjected to the first stage of the recycling process, which involves crushing the devices to extract resources such as steel, copper, aluminum and plastic, are separated from the rest.

Making a Difference

As part of its commitment to creating a circular economy, Samsung Electronics has established an increased use of recycled plastic as one of its mid- to long-term goals. The hope is to utilize what amounts to 500,000 tons of recycled plastic by 2030. Since 2009, approximately 220,000 tons of recycled plastic have been used to create new products. Recycled plastic is not only difficult and expensive to process, it’s also known to be hard to use because the quality of the final product varies more widely than with metals.

Find out more

Need help recycling your old hardware?

Windows 7 End of Life: Everything You Need to Know

Microsoft recently announced that it will officially begin the Windows 7 end of life phase on Jan. 14, 2020. On that day, the company will stop supporting Windows 7 on laptops and desktops, and will no longer patch it with security updates.

Of course, that might cause some consternation for consumers and enterprise users alike. Windows 7 is still a wildly popular operating system that, even 10 years after its release, is still relied upon by millions across the globe. And, as hard as Microsoft might try to push folks to Windows 10, it won’t be as easy to do so as the company might hope.

What is Windows 7’s end of life?

End of life is the term that Microsoft uses to identify the period when the company will no longer support an operating system or application. In this case, it means that, as of Jan.14, 2020, Microsoft will move on from Windows 7 and no longer patch security holes in the operating system. And if things go awry and bugs develop, you won’t be able to call on Microsoft to fix the problem.

So, when Microsoft’s end-of-life date hits, any PC, 2-in-1 laptop, tablet or other device you have that’s running on Windows 7 will be on its own when fending off hackers.

What does Windows 7 end of life mean for my security?

Well, this is where things become difficult. One of the nice things about not being in end of life is that the operating system or software package is fully supported and patched. In Windows 7, all of that support will go by the wayside after Jan. 14, 2020.

it’s not uncommon for hackers, knowing when end of life hits, to wait until after that date to find ways to exploit vulnerable systems and wreak havoc. After all, if Microsoft isn’t going to support the operating system and there are still plenty of people using it, why not attack?

The fact is, the sooner people can get away from Windows 7 and switch to Windows 10, the better.

Find out more about Windows 7 end of life here

Need help upgrading from Windows 7?

What Is a VPN, and Why You Need One

What Is a VPN and How Does It Work?

Simply put, a VPN creates a virtual encrypted tunnel between you and a remote server operated by a VPN service. All your internet traffic is routed through this tunnel, so your data is secure from prying eyes. Best of all, your computer appears to have the IP address of the VPN server, masking your identity and location. When your data reaches the VPN server, it exits onto the public internet. If the site you’re heading to uses HTTPS to secure the connection, you’re still secure. But even if it was intercepted, it’s difficult to trace the data back to you, since it appears to be coming from the VPN server.

To understand the value of a VPN, it helps to think of some specific scenarios in which a VPN might be used. Consider the public Wi-Fi network, perhaps at a coffee shop or airport. Normally, you might connect without a second thought. But do you know who might be watching the traffic on that network? Can you even be sure the Wi-Fi network is legit, or might it operated by a thief who’s after your personal data? Think about the passwords, banking data, credit card numbers, and just plain private information that you transmit every time you go online.

For mobile devices, the situation is a little thornier. Most companies offer VPN apps for Android and iOS, which is great because we use these devices to connect to Wi-Fi all the time. However, VPNs don’t always play nice with cellular connections. That said, it takes some serious effort to intercept cellphone data, although law enforcement or intelligence agencies may have an easier time gaining access to this data, or metadata, through connections with mobile carriers or by using specialized equipment.

What a VPN Won’t Do

We should note that there are multiple ways your behavior can be tracked online—even with a VPN, things like cookies allow web services (Amazon, Google, Facebook, and so on) to track your internet usage even after you’ve left their sites (here’s a handy guide to pruning cookies on your browser.)

It’s worth noting that most VPN services are not philanthropic organizations that operate for the public good. While many are involved in progressive causes, they are all still for-profit organizations. That means that they have their own bills to pay, and they have to respond to subpoenas and warrants from law enforcement. They also have to abide by the laws of the country in which they officially reside.

Protect Yourself With a VPN

When the internet was first being pieced together, there wasn’t much thought given to security or privacy. At first it was just a bunch of shared computers at research institutions, and computing power so limited that any encryption could have made things extremely difficult. If anything, the focus was on openness, not defense.

Today, most of have multiple devices that connect to the web that are vastly more powerful than the top computers of the early days. But the internet hasn’t made a lot of fundamental improvements. Consider that it is only in the past few years that HTTPS has become widespread.

This means that, unfortunately, it is up to individuals to protect themselves. Antivirus apps and password managers go a long way toward keeping you safer, but a VPN is a uniquely powerful tool that you should definitely have in your personal security toolkit, especially in today’s connected world. Whether you opt for a free service or even go all-in with an encrypted router, having some way to encrypt your internet traffic is critically important.

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New Windows 10 build merges tablet, desktop experience

Apparently no one used the existing tablet UI.

Microsoft’s trying out a new “tablet” experience for two-in-ones that…looks a lot like today’s desktop interface.

As part of Windows 10 Insider build 18970 (20H1), Microsoft is testing out a new layout for undocked two-in-ones (and presumably tablets, too). The layout provides greater spacing between the various taskbar icons, and it collapses the search bar. A keyboard icon has also been added to the taskbar, to make it easier to enter text. The keyboard will activate automatically when you tap a text field, Microsoft said in a blog post.

Another new feature worth noting is a new Restore option for those privileged with high-speed Internet connections. Normally, when you restore a Windows PC, Windows 10 reloads Windows from a compressed, hidden partition.

A new “cloud download” option does away with this, and merely re-downloads a few gigabytes of Windows data from the cloud. You’ll now see an option to reset from the cloud, or reset locally. (The amount of data Windows will need to download will vary by device and OS, though it required just under 2.9GB in Microsoft’s example.)  Otherwise, the reset operation works normally.

The new build also continues to roll out the revamped Cortana experience Microsoft announced previously.

Learn more about Windows 10 with this read at PC World.

Need help with Windows 10 and other software installations? Give us a call 1300 883 831 to book an onsite visit for assistance today.