Computer Systems, Service and Repairs

How To Avoid Malware Infections

malware cleaningMalware is a term used to describe a broad category of damaging software that includes viruses, worms, trojan horses, rootkits, spyware, and adware. The effects of malware range from brief annoyance to computer crashes and identity theft. Malware is easier to avoid than it is to remove. Avoiding malware involves a two-part strategy. Follow these guidelines for staying safe.

Prevent Malware With Smart Online Behavior

The single biggest factor in preventing a malware infection on your PC is you. You don’t need expert knowledge or special training. You just need vigilance to avoid downloading and installing anything you do not understand or trust, no matter how tempting, from the following sources:

From a website: If you are unsure, leave the site and research the software you are being asked to install. If it is OK, you can always come back to site and install it. If it is not OK, you will avoid a malware headache.

From e-mail: Do not trust anything associated with a spam e-mail. Approach e-mail from people you know with caution when the message contains links or attachments. If you are suspicious of what you are being asked to view or install, don’t do it.

From physical media: Your friends, family, and associates may unknowingly give you a disc or flash drive with an infected file on it. Don’t blindly accept these files; scan them with security software. If you are still unsure, do not accept the files.

From a pop-up window: Some pop-up windows or boxes will attempt to corner you into downloading software or accepting a free “system scan” of some type. Often these pop-ups will employ scare tactics to make you believe you need what they are offering in order to be safe. Close the pop-up without clicking anything inside it (including the X in the corner). Close the window via Windows Task Manager (press Ctrl-Alt-Delete).

From another piece of software: Some programs attempt to install malware as a part of their own installation process. When installing software, pay close attention to the message boxes before clicking Next, OK, or I Agree. Scan the user agreement for anything that suggests malware may be a part of the installation. If you are unsure, cancel the installation, check up on the program, and run the installation again if you determine it is safe.

From illegal file-sharing services: You’re on your own if you enter this realm. There is little quality control in the world of illegal software, and it is easy for an attacker to name a piece of malware after a popular movie, album, or program to tempt you into downloading it.

 

Our Services

If you happen to miss something and end up with an infected computer, no worries as that is what we are here for. We provide professional virus and malware cleaning service to both home and business clients in the Kingston, Wilkes Barre, Forty Fort, Back Mountain areas and provide the instruction and tools needed to help you avoid the problem in the future so you can keep your own computer clean from that point forward.

We have several packages available when it comes to malware cleanups but we always recommend our SILVER package in which we not only perform the malware cleaning but we do all the security patched, updates and install our malware and system maintenance tools and show you how to use them to prevent future cleanings being required. We try to go the extra mile in teaching you what to do and what not to do so when you leave you have the tools and knowledge to continue the fight against malware on your own.

We also are constantly posting updates to both our website and our Facebook page to inform you of new threats and techniques to avoid them. Visit our Facebook page and don’t forget to LIKE it so you receive all our updates.

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Custom Computers, inc. is the areas leading computer service and repair company with life-long skilled technicians that are fast and efficient and speak of technical matters in an easy to understand way. We service both home and business clients all over the Wyoming Valley including many small to medium business including schools, religious organizations, local mom and pop shops as well as the typical home user. We provide both onsite service in which we come out to your location to service your computers or in our Kingston, PA service center.

Our service areas range from Kingston, Wilkes Barre, Forty Fort, Swoyersville, Exeter, West Pittston, Pittson, Edwardsville, Larksville, Plymouth, Hanover, Scranton, Durea, Moosic and all the surrounding areas. We also do networking, servers, wireless setups, security audits, software installs, remote administration and tech support services.

Create Strong Passwords

Create strong passwords

Passwords are the first line of defense against break-ins to your online accounts and computer, tablet, or phone. Poorly chosen passwords can render your information vulnerable to criminals, so it’s important to make your passwords strong.

To help you create strong passwords, follow the same network security guidelines required of all Microsoft employees:

  • Strong passwords are phrases (or sentences) at least eight characters long—longer is better—that include at least three of the following: uppercase and lowercase letters, numerals, punctuation marks, and symbols.
  • Give passwords the thought they deserve, and make them memorable. One way is to base them on the title of a favorite song or book, or a familiar slogan or other phrase. (Don’t use the examples below!)Example phrases: I love my new Xbox One

    Example passwords: Ilove!mynewxbox1

  • Don’t share passwords with others or store them on the device they’re designed to protect. (Get more tips for protecting your password.)

Once you’ve come up with your password, you can test its strength below.

https://howsecureismypassword.net/

Avoid common password pitfalls

Cybercriminals use sophisticated tools to rapidly crack passwords, but you can help foil their attempts.
DO NOT USE:

  • Personal identity information that could be guessed or easily discovered, like pet names, nicknames, birth date, address, or driver’s license number.
  • Dictionary words in any language (including the word password—the most common password in the English language!).
  • Words spelled backwards, abbreviations, and common misspellings (accommodate, remember).
  • Common letter-to-symbol conversions, such as changing “o” to “0” or “i” to “1” or “!”.
  • Sequences or repeated characters. Examples: 12345678, 222222, abcdefg, or adjacent letters on your keyboard (such as qwerty).

Watch out for fake virus alerts

Know the programs you have on your computer and what they look like so you can more readily spot a fake virus alert. When you already know what programs you have and what they look like then you will have an easier time spotting a fake alert if it does come up because it will look different then the programs you are already used to using.

Watch out for fake virus alerts

Rogue security software, also known as “scareware,” is software that appears to be beneficial from a security perspective but provides limited or no security, generates erroneous or misleading alerts, or attempts to lure users into participating in fraudulent transactions.

How does rogue security software get on my computer?

Rogue security software designers create legitimate looking pop-up windows that advertise security update software. These windows might appear on your screen while you surf the web.

The “updates” or “alerts” in the pop-up windows call for you to take some sort of action, such as clicking to install the software, accept recommended updates, or remove unwanted viruses or spyware. When you click, the rogue security software downloads to your computer.

Rogue security software might also appear in the list of search results when you are searching for trustworthy antispyware software, so it is important to protect your computer.

What does rogue security software do?

Rogue security software might report a virus, even though your computer is actually clean. The software might also fail to report viruses when your computer is infected. Inversely, sometimes, when you download rogue security software, it will install a virus or other malicious software on your computer so that the software has something to detect.

Some rogue security software might also:

  • Lure you into a fraudulent transaction (for example, upgrading to a non-existent paid version of a program).
  • Use social engineering to steal your personal information.
  • Install malware that can go undetected as it steals your data.
  • Launch pop-up windows with false or misleading alerts.
  • Slow your computer or corrupt files.
  • Disable Windows updates or disable updates to legitimate antivirus software.
  • Prevent you from visiting antivirus vendor websites.

Rogue security software might also attempt to spoof the Microsoft security update process. Here’s an example of rogue security software that’s disguised as a Microsoft alert but that doesn’t come from Microsoft.

Example of a warning from a rogue security program known as AntivirusXP

Example of a warning from a rogue security program known as AntivirusXP.

For more information about this threat, including analysis, prevention and recovery, see the Trojan:Win32/Antivirusxp entry in the Microsoft Malware Protection Center encyclopedia.

To help protect yourself from rogue security software:

  • Install a firewall and keep it turned on.
  • Use automatic updating to keep your operating system and software up to date.
  • Install antivirus and antispyware software and keep it updated. Windows 8 includes antivirus protection that’s turned on by default. If your computer isn’t running Windows 8, download Microsoft Security Essentials for free.
  • Use caution when you click links in email or on social networking websites.
  • Use a standard user account instead of an administrator account.
  • Familiarize yourself with common phishing scams.

Avoid tech support phone scams

Avoid tech support phone scams

Cybercriminals don’t just send fraudulent email messages and set up fake websites. They might also call you on the telephone and claim to be from Microsoft. They might offer to help solve your computer problems or sell you a software license. Once they have access to your computer, they can do the following:

  • Trick you into installing malicious software that could capture sensitive data, such as online banking user names and passwords. They might also then charge you to remove this software.
  • Convince you to visit legitimate websites (like www.ammyy.com) to download software that will allow them to take control of your computer remotely and adjust settings to leave your computer vulnerable.
  • Request credit card information so they can bill you for phony services.
  • Direct you to fraudulent websites and ask you to enter credit card and other personal or financial information there.

Neither Microsoft nor our partners make unsolicited phone calls (also known as cold calls) to charge you for computer security or software fixes.

Telephone tech support scams: What you need to know

Cybercriminals often use publicly available phone directories, so they might know your name and other personal information when they call you. They might even guess what operating system you’re using.

Once they’ve gained your trust, they might ask for your user name and password or ask you to go to a legitimate website (such as www.ammyy.com) to install software that will let them access your computer to fix it. Once you do this, your computer and your personal information are vulnerable.

Do not trust unsolicited calls. Do not provide any personal information.

Here are some of the organizations that cybercriminals claim to be from:

  • Windows Helpdesk
  • Windows Service Center
  • Microsoft Tech Support
  • Microsoft Support
  • Windows Technical Department Support Group
  • Microsoft Research and Development Team (Microsoft R & D Team)

Report phone scams

  • Help Microsoft stop cybercriminals by reporting information about your phone scam.
  • In the United States, use the FTC Complaint Assistant form.
  • In Canada, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre can provide support.
  • In the United Kingdom, you can report fraud as well as unsolicited calls.

Whenever you receive a phone call or see a pop-up window on your PC and feel uncertain whether it is from someone at Microsoft, don’t take the risk. Reach out directly to one of our technical support experts dedicated to helping you at theMicrosoft Answer Desk. Or you can simply call us at 1-800-426-9400 or one of our customer service phone numbers for people located around the world.

How to protect yourself from telephone tech support scams

If someone claiming to be from Microsoft tech support calls you:

  • Do not purchase any software or services.
  • Ask if there is a fee or subscription associated with the “service.” If there is, hang up.
  • Never give control of your computer to a third party unless you can confirm that it is a legitimate representative of a computer support team with whom you are already a customer.
  • Take the caller’s information down and immediately report it to your local authorities.
  • Never provide your credit card or financial information to someone claiming to be from Microsoft tech support.

What to do if you already gave information to a tech support person

If you think that you might have downloaded malware from a phone tech support scam website or allowed a cybercriminal to access your computer, take these steps:

  • Change your computer’s password, change the password on your main email account, and change the password for any financial accounts, especially your bank and credit card.
  • Scan your computer with the Microsoft Safety Scanner to find out if you have malware installed on your computer.
  • Install Microsoft Security Essentials. (Microsoft Security Essentials is a free program. If someone calls you to install this product and then charge you for it, this is also a scam.)

    Note: In Windows 8, Windows Defender replaces Microsoft Security Essentials. Windows Defender runs in the background and notifies you when you need to take specific action. However, you can use it anytime to scan for malware if your computer isn’t working properly or you clicked a suspicious link online or in an email message.

    Learn more about Windows Defender

Will Microsoft ever call me?

There are some cases where Microsoft will work with your Internet service provider and call you to fix a malware-infected computer—such as during the recent cleanup effort begun in our botnet takedown actions. These calls will be made by someone with whom you can verify you already are a customer. You will never receive a legitimate call from Microsoft or our partners to charge you for computer fixes.

Tech Support Scams

phone scamTo start it is most important to know that the ONLY company that should ever call you directly about a computer, internet or security issue is your own internet provider. That is whom you pay a monthly fee to for internet access such as Verizon, Frontier, Comcast, Service Electric, etc. Any calls in regards to your computer and it’s security status that come from anyone else is almost always guaranteed to be a scam.

Scam artists are using the phone to try to break into your computer. They call, claiming to be computer techs associated with well-known companies like Microsoft. They say that they’ve detected viruses or other malware on your computer to trick you into giving them remote access or paying for software you don’t need.

These scammers take advantage of your reasonable concerns about viruses and other threats. They know that computer users have heard time and again that it’s important to install security software. But the purpose behind their elaborate scheme isn’t to protect your computer; it’s to make money.

How Tech Support Scams Work

Scammers have been peddling bogus security software for years. They set up fake websites, offer free “security” scans, and send alarming messages to try to convince you that your computer is infected. Then, they try to sell you software to fix the problem. At best, the software is worthless or available elsewhere for free. At worst, it could be malware — software designed to give criminals access to your computer and your personal information.

The latest version of the scam begins with a phone call. Scammers can get your name and other basic information from public directories. They might even guess what computer software you’re using.

Once they have you on the phone, they often try to gain your trust by pretending to be associated with well-known companies or confusing you with a barrage of technical terms. They may ask you to go to your computer and perform a series of complex tasks. Sometimes, they target legitimate computer files and claim that they are viruses. Their tactics are designed to scare you into believing they can help fix your “problem.”

Once they’ve gained your trust, they may:

  • ask you to give them remote access to your computer and then make changes to your settings that could leave your computer vulnerable
  • try to enroll you in a worthless computer maintenance or warranty program
  • ask for credit card information so they can bill you for phony services — or services you could get elsewhere for free
  • trick you into installing malware that could steal sensitive data, like user names and passwords
  • direct you to websites and ask you to enter your credit card number and other personal information

Regardless of the tactics they use, they have one purpose: to make money.

If You Get a Call

If you get a call from someone who claims to be a tech support person, hang up and call the company yourself on a phone number you know to be genuine. A caller who creates a sense of urgency or uses high-pressure tactics is probably a scam artist.

Keep these other tips in mind:

  • Don’t give control of your computer to a third party who calls you out of the blue.
  • Do not rely on caller ID alone to authenticate a caller. Criminals spoof caller ID numbers. They may appear to be calling from a legitimate company or a local number, when they’re not even in the same country as you.
  • Online search results might not be the best way to find technical support or get a company’s contact information. Scammers sometimes place online ads to convince you to call them. They pay to boost their ranking in search results so their websites and phone numbers appear above those of legitimate companies. If you want tech support, look for a company’s contact information on their software package or on your receipt.
  • Never provide your credit card or financial information to someone who calls and claims to be from tech support.
  • If a caller pressures you to buy a computer security product or says there is a subscription fee associated with the call, hang up. If you’re concerned about your computer, call your security software company directly and ask for help.
  • Never give your password on the phone. No legitimate organization calls you and asks for your password.
  • Put your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry, and then report illegal sales calls.

If You’ve Responded to a Scam

If you think you might have downloaded malware from a scam site or allowed a cybercriminal to access your computer, don’t panic. Instead:

  • Get rid of malware. Update or download legitimate security software and scan your computer. Delete anything it identifies as a problem.
  • Change any passwords that you gave out. If you use these passwords for other accounts, change those accounts, too.
  • If you paid for bogus services with a credit card, call your credit card provider and ask to reverse the charges. Check your statements for any other charges you didn’t make, and ask to reverse those, too.
  • If you believe that someone may have accessed your personal or financial information, visit the FTC’s identity theft website. You can minimize your risk of further damage and repair any problems already in place.
  • File a complaint with the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

How to Spot a Refund Scam

If you paid for tech support services, and you later get a call about a refund, don’t give out any personal information, like your credit card or bank account number. The call is almost certainly another trick to take your money.

The refund scam works like this: Several months after the purchase, someone might call to ask if you were happy with the service. When you say you weren’t, the scammer offers a refund.

Or the caller may say that the company is going out of business and providing refunds for “warranties” and other services.

In either case, the scammers eventually ask for a bank or credit card account number. Or they ask you to create a Western Union account. They might even ask for remote access to your computer to help you fill out the necessary forms. But instead of putting money in your account, the scammers withdraw money from your account.

If you get a call like this, hang up, and report it at ftc.gov/complaint.

Computer Service in the Back Mountain – Dallas Area

back mountain computer repair serviceCustom Computers, inc. is now providing service to both residential and commercial clients in the Back Mountain, Dallas, Shavertown and Trucksville areas. With existing clients such as Dominic’s Equipment, Dallas Hardware and Dallas Township in the area we are happy to provide our full range of services such as network setup, troubleshooting, wireless setup, virus and malware cleaning and general troubleshooting to other clients in the area as well.