Windows 10 is here! But should you upgrade?

by

Windows 10 logo

I am sure by now you have received the little notification to upgrade to Windows 10, either on the bottom right corner of your taskbar or a big pop up on your screen to download it now. The question you might ask yourself is “Do I need to upgrade?”  The answer to that will differ per person and how comfortable they will be with using the new operating system.

 

Here are a couple of questions that you should ask yourself before going to Windows 10:
Does my hardware of my computer meet the requirements to run windows 10?
Will my older programs work for it?
Will all my files work for the new operating system?
 

There has been many already who made the transition over to the Windows 10 and had some issues they came across when doing so. Some older programs didn’t work, files open up with different programs than its original, certain drivers of the system were not compatible and needed to upgrade. Some are minor issues, but most can be avoided if a little research is done before changing over.

Windows 10 is not a bad operating system. You just need to be prepared before any changes happen. Making a back-up of your files before doing the update would be the best thing you can do if you decide to move forward. The free update to windows 10 will end on July 29th. If you need any assistance or just have questions about the process feel free to contact us and we will gladly answer your questions.

 

 

Windows XP Support Ending April 2014

by

What is end of support?

After 12 years, support for Windows XP will end on April 8, 2014. There will be no more security updates or technical support for the Windows XP operating system. It is very important that customers and partners migrate to a modern operating system such as Windows 8.1. Customers moving to a modern operating system will benefit from dramatically enhanced security, broad device choice for a mobile workforce, higher user productivity, and a lower total cost of ownership through improved management capabilities.

Support for Office 2003 also ends on April 8, 2014.

What does this mean?

It means you should take action. After April 8, 2014, Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or technical support for Windows XP. Security updates patch vulnerabilities that may be exploited by malware and help keep users and their data safer. PCs running Windows XP after April 8, 2014, should not be considered to be protected, and it is important that you migrate to a current supported operating system – such as Windows 8.1 – so you can receive regular security updates to protect their computer from malicious attacks.

Read the Windows lifecycle fact sheet to learn more.

How do I migrate off Windows XP?

Enterprise Customers:

Microsoft offers large organizations (500+ employees) in-depth technical resources, tools, and expert guidance to ease the deployment and management of Windows, Office and Internet Explorer products and technologies. To learn more about migration and deployment programs, please contact your Microsoft sales representative or Certified Microsoft Partner. Learn how to pilot and deploy a modern desktop yourself by visiting the Windows 8.1 Springboard Series.

Small to Medium Business:

There are many options for small and medium businesses considering moving to a modern PC with the latest productivity and collaboration tools. Small to mid-size organizations (<500 employees) should locate a Microsoft Certified Partner to understand the best options to meet their business needs. If your current PC meets the system requirements for Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, you can buy Windows 7 Professional or Windows 8.1 Pro from a local retailer or Microsoft Certified Partner. If your PC does not meet system requirements, consider purchasing a new business PC with Windows 8.1 Pro.

Potential risks of staying with Windows XP

Running Windows XP SP3 in your environment after April 8, 2104 may expose you to potential risks, such as:

Security:

Without critical Windows XP security updates, your PC may become vulnerable to harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software which can steal or damage your business data and information. Anti-virus software will also not be able to fully protect you once Windows XP itself is unsupported.

Compliance:

Businesses that are governed by regulatory obligations such as HIPAA may find that they are no longer able to satisfy compliance requirements. More information on HHS’s view on the security requirements for information systems that contain electronic protected health information (e-PHI) can be found here (HHS HIPAA FAQ – Security Rule).

Lack of Independent Software Vendor (ISV) Support:

Many software vendors will no longer support their products running on Windows XP as they are unable to receive Windows XP updates. For example, the new Office takes advantage of the modern Windows and will not run on Windows XP.

Hardware Manufacturer support:

Most PC hardware manufacturers will stop supporting Windows XP on existing and new hardware. This will also mean that drivers required to run Windows XP on new hardware may not be available.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Windows XP still be activated after April 8, 2014?

Windows XP can still be installed and activated after end of support. Computers running Windows XP will still work but they won’t receive any Microsoft Updates or be able to leverage technical support. Activations will still be required for retail installations of Windows XP after this date as well.

Can Windows XP Mode in Windows 7 still be used in Windows XP?

Windows XP Mode follows the same support lifecycle as Windows XP, extended support will end April 8, 2014.

Will MED-V be supported after April 8, 2014?

MED-V follows the same support lifecycle as Windows XP, extended support will end April 8, 2014.

Will Microsoft Security Essentials be supported after April 8, 2014?

Microsoft Security Essentials will not be available for download on Windows XP after April 8, 2014. If you already have Microsoft Security Essentials installed, you will continue to receive anti-malware signature updates through July 14, 2015. However, please note that PCs running Windows XP after April 8, 2014 should not be considered protected.

Will Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool be supported after April 8, 2014?

Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool is aligned with the company’s anti-malware engines and signatures, and as such the removal tool will continue to be provided for Windows XP through July 14, 2015. However, any PC running Windows XP after April 8, 2014 should not be considered protected as there will be no security updates for the Windows XP operating system.

Will System Center, Windows Intune, and Microsoft Deployment Toolkit still support Windows XP?

While customers may continue to use System Center, Windows Intune, and the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit to manage and deploy Windows XP past April 8, 2014, those products will no longer support Windows XP, and any technical issues which may arise will not be addressed.

What about Windows XP Embedded?

See the Windows Embedded product lifecycle page and Microsoft Support for more information on Windows XP Embedded lifecycles.

Will existing updates still be available via Windows Update after April 8, 2014?

Yes, all existing Windows XP updates and fixes will still be available via Windows Update and WSUS.

Will Internet Explorer 8 still be supported on Windows XP?

As a component of Windows, Internet Explorer follows the support lifecycle of the Windows operating system on which it is installed on. More information is available at Microsoft Support.

Disaster Strikes Team Nerds

by

Disaster1 (Small)

On Sunday May 19th 2013 I received a call about 10:00am that our office was flooded. It was determined that a water supply line in another unit broke free and was running the entire weekend.  All of our computers and servers and phone system were unaffected by this disaster because all of the equipment was off the floor.

Upon arriving at our office we discovered that the carpet was soaked and there were puddles of water emerging as we walked on the carpet.  The landlord called a plumber who immediately fixed the problem then drained out the water from our unit with their equipment.  Then a water restoration specialist was called in to do remediation.  The carpet and padding was torn out and holes drilled in the walls to prevent mold from forming.

After this was completed they brought in 8 commercial blowers and 1 dehumidifier to dry out our offices.  With all this equipment running it made it impossible to run our business from the office.  Also as a result of all this equipment running day and night we had electrical circuits blowing in the middle of the night several times which caused our systems to go on standby power and notify us of a power outage and put our system on batteries.

This process went on for 2 weeks but, luckily, with our business being in “the cloud” we were able to continue our business operation from outside the office.  Our technicians received their jobs through the internet and processed payments in the field.  They communicated through phone texts and emails for office follow up.

Unfortunately other businesses in our office complex were not so lucky.  One business had 3 computers on the floor and an UPS (Uninterruptible Power Source) on the floor.  Two of the computers had water in them and were able to dry them out and get them running again.  Two of the UPS power backups had to be replaced entirely.  The Network Server was up on a table so they were able to continue their operation after a few days.

Are you prepared in the event of a disaster such as this?

Wedding-Inspired Spam Leads to Kuluoz Infection

by

avatar1 (Small)

Weddings, no doubt, are always special. It is celebrated in more ways than one, depending on the culture, country, religious affiliation and tradition a couple belongs or wish to adhere to. However it is practiced, one thing is certain: the preparations and plannings behind it have been grueling, stressful and time consuming.

Thanks to technology and human ingenuity, wedding preparation is more manageable and a lot quicker to pull off than before. For one thing, there are services available online that cater to the soon-to-be-wedded who opt for the modern way of sending out wedding invitations in the form of e-cards.

Our researchers in the AV Labs captured a malicious spam appearing to be a wedding invitation purportedly from White Wedding Agency, a business entity in Prague:

image002 (Small)

Malicious wedding invitation spam                                                               click to enlarge

From: {random email address}
Subject/s:

Wedding Invite
Wedding Invitation

Message body:
You are Cordially Invited to Celebrate

the Our Wedding

On Tuesday March the 29 at Four O’clock

Followed by a Reception

Get Full Invitation Text

Clicking the link at the bottom of the message downloads a ZIP-compressed file. The file looks like this once decompressed:

image003 (Small)

Postal-Receipt.exe                                                                                               click to enlarge

Notice that the file uses an icon that mimics the look of a Microsoft Word document file, an attempt to mask its true file type (which is an executable). As we have seen before, this method is most effective especially if the user did not set the option to view file extensions by default.

We also found out that the malicious file is hosted on legitimate but compromised websites. It has the following URL format:

{compromised domain}/components/.{random alphanumeric characters}.php?receipt=ss00_323

Below are the determinations of the malware as per our ThreatAnalyzer results:

image004 (Small)

Malware Determinations for “Postal-Receipt.exe”                              click to enlarge

If users execute the file, it drops and opens the text file, Postal-Receipt.txt, as a way to distract users from noticing activities being done by the malware in the background. Below is a screenshot of the said file:

image005 (Small)

Profile-Receipt.txt             click to enlarge

Apple finally admits Macs can get viruses…well, almost admits it

by

Apple has long touted security of its Mac operating system, contrasting it with what it portrays as security-hole-ridden Windows. Now Apple is finally admitting that Macs can get viruses, too…well, it doesn’t go quite that far, but almost admits it.

Apple has changed the marketing on its Web site touting the Mac’s virus invulnerability. Before the change, Apple boasted in part:

It doesn’t get PC viruses.
A Mac isn’t susceptible to the thousands of viruses plaguing Windows-based computers. That’s thanks to built-in defenses in Mac OS X that keep you safe, without any work on your part.

The text now reads:

It’s built to be safe.

Built-in defenses in OS X keep you safe from unknowingly downloading malicious software on your Mac.

That marketing change may not strike you as substantial, but coming from Apple, it’s a big deal. Apple has long denied any security problems with the Mac, detailed evidence to the contrary. The Flashback trojan attack shows that the Mac is vulnerable, even though Apple doesn’t like to admit it. And Eugene Kaspersky of the Kaspersky security company says that Apple is ten years behind Microsoft when it comes to security. Apple doesn’t take malware attacks seriously, he says, which will “mean disaster for Apple.”

Does the change in marketing mean that Apple is starting to take security more seriously? It’s too soon to tell. But clearly the company recognizes that it’s got to own up to at least some security vulnerabilities, and that’s a first step.