Request an Appointment!


How did you hear of us:
I am not a robot:
Priority:

Category Archives: Uncategorized

Can Your Smart Home Be Hacked?

With all of the news stories recently about hacks of smart home devices (like wireless cameras & doorbells) in order to utilize them like a robot army [June 2016, Oct 2016, March 2017], we’ve been fielding questions from our clients lately about home security and how IoT devices can be deployed safely.  Even the FTC has issued a challenge to award a $25K prize for creating a tool that addresses vulnerabilities caused by out-of-date software in IoT devices. With hackers finding ways to sneak into our lives via Nest cameras, Rings, pet cams and more each day, what is the best way to protect yourself and your data whether you’re “safe” at home or away?

Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 12.10.35 PM

Some companies are rushing to bring streamlined, stripped-down versions of firewalls to market in enclosures with an eye towards aesthetic design and marketing language incorporating all of the latest popular smart home gadgets.

Cujo and other “smart home protection” products by new manufacturers, one-off’s, or first-to-market companies are not recommended because the device is first in the chain of all data going into and out of your home network. This means it is potentially reporting all of your data back to their servers which may or may not be in the U.S.  This company is taking its time to bring to market what could be a great product (according to trusted experts in the field), but are ensuring it works well before releasing.  

The bottom line, as Harry Shearer illustrates frequently in “News of Smart Homes” (a segment on his radio program LeShow), is that there are simply too many devices made by unknown parties that we’re connecting to our WiFi networks.

No matter which way you cut it, the best and most reliable way to keep your data and network secure is to hard wire everything and don’t put any devices you don’t absolutely trust on your WiFi network.  Keeping complex WiFi, router, and device passwords is a must for anything connecting to your network – and never leave the default password set.

Cutting the Cord: Can it be done?

We have been waiting for DirecTV to release their streaming service, as AT&T announced upon their acquisition of the company that they would be moving away from roof-mounted satellite dishes entirely.  We had hoped this new entrant into the streaming world would be the “end-all, be-all” of services finally allowing us to cut the cord…however we’re still not quite there yet.

DirecTV NOW allows you to stream over 100 live TV channels without a satellite dish (for about $30 per month), thus taking aim at cable companies by delivering your coveted TV show over the Internet. While folks have been excited about the arrival of this new way to watch television, after our initial trial of this we’ve found it to be a bit clunky early out of the gate.  There are still a lot of glitches to be worked out, whether you’re watching via their app on AppleTV, or their website.  Frequently pages don’t load or the website / App needs to be refreshed. Apps for SmartTVs (like Samsung, possibly LG) are coming soon according to DirecTV.

We can’t forget about the Playstation Vue. This streaming platform is offered on several devices such as Roku, PlayStation 3 and 4 consoles, Apple TV devices, Amazon Fire TV and Google Chromecast – just to name a few. In a nutshell, for about $50 a month, you get more channels than what is offered at present by DirecTV Now, however the navigation is confusing for live TV and has been found to be difficult to browse or search through their interface. Not ideal.

As we head into 2017 we want to issue a challenge because we find it crazy that no one has created one over-the-top content (OTT) box “that rules them all.”  So far, there is not a single subscription service or OTT device (whether AppleTV, Amazon FireTV, Chromecast, Roku, or smartTVs) that will offer you all of the myriad streaming apps & platforms available (Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Video, YouTube, Vudu, etc…the list goes on and will continue to grow).  You’ll still have to get online to see where a particular show is streaming, and then hope you have the right compatible OTT or TV set to view it – all the while switching between inputs and apps.

For this reason, we still say the best way to truly cut the cord is to connect your laptop into your TV via HDMI cable, and simply pull up the shows you want on the sites you want, which will then display on your TV.  Even this requires a bit of patience and tech-savviness, so it’s not for everyone.  

As audiences grow and evolve, we expect to see the cord-cutting offerings and trends to continue to grow as well – perhaps even with an a-la-carte pricing option for channel streaming. Let’s see a business get it together and create a one-stop spot for viewer indulging.

Is that too much to ask for Santa’s wish list for next year?  We hope not!

IMPORTANT RANSOMWARE ANNOUNCEMENT

We’ve had a rash of customers attacked by ransomware recently. Particularly the Locky ransomware, and previously the Cryptolocker attack.

tablet-626093_1920

We want to urge all of you to have a backup plan in place and make sure you contact us if you need any help developing one. You can also make use of cloud backup services like Crashplan or the Dropbox Pro edition. Services like these offer recovery of previous versions of your files, so even if the ransomware overwrites ALL of  your files stored in the cloud – which we HAVE seen –  you can revert them back up to 30 days.  

Local backups like Time Machine or Windows Backup, where you backup data to an external hard drive or USB drive, can also become encrypted by ransomware if the backup drives are left connected to the computer all the time. This renders them useless as a restore-source-point for saving or getting back your files.

Please note: We have even seen cases where PAYING the ransom (often 1 Bitcoin, which currently = over $700 USD) does NOT release the ransomed data. They just take the money and disappear.

Our partner Drivesavers offers to negotiate ransom payments and does not charge you unless they recover/unlock your data.

Be alert, vigilant and have a plan – it will save you and your data in the long run!

Posted by admin in Uncategorized Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

Do you know about: Boomerang?

Do you know about Boomerang? This tool is one we use here at computersWTF and also one we highly recommend to our clients. It’s very easy to use, and well worth the Pro paid upgrade. It’s been available for use with Gmail for years and now it’s also available for Outlook. It works with any Office 365 or Outlook.com (including live.com and Hotmail) accounts – OR Outlook 2013 or 2016 on PC.

Why do we love Boomerang? It lets you schedule an email to be sent – or to return to your inbox – at a later time, so you take full control of when you send and receive messages. To us, in this digital “must do now” world, it’s like a breath of fresh air to hit pause.

screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-3-00-17-pm

Here’s an example: it’s 3 PM on Friday and you’ve just finished a report that you need to email a co-worker, but you don’t want it lost in weekend emails. Boomerang your email: Write it on Friday and schedule it for 9 AM Monday. Conversely, maybe you’re about to  leave work and a message arrives that you’d prefer to look at in the morning – just Boomerang it. You can also set conversations to Boomerang only if no one responds so that tracked items don’t get forgotten. Leave it up to Boomerang and relax knowing you’re taken care of.

Don’t just take our word for it, try it out. It’s available for iOS and Android, too. If you use Microsoft Office, or Gmail, you can download this free add-in as soon as… now.

Let Boomerang help you organize your email – trust us, you won’t regret it!

Tips for Traveling with your Laptop

These days when we travel, we’re not just taking a suitcase and our passport. We’re loaded down with our smartphones, iPads and tablets, laptops and more. Did you know that when you travel with your laptop you should actually shut it down fully before leaving your house? It’s true! In fact, we have some suggestions we want to share with you to help make travel with your devices a much safer and saner ordeal.

technology-1106438

We always recommend backing up, but we mean it when you’re about to leave your home and travel! Having your computer crash while on the road can be devastating and stressful, but not being able to access those files you or your boss need or the guest list for your holiday get together can be exasperating when you have nothing to refer back on. Leave the backup drive somewhere safe while you’re gone and if you’re doing a lot of work while away, purchase a second backup drive, like this solid state drive, and bring it with you for nightly backups.

It’s also important to know the difference between a “hard drive” (hard disk drive, or HDD) and a solid-state drive (or SSD).  SSDs, while newer technology, have no moving parts (better suited for travel) and the information is stored on a series of microchips, as in most smartphones and tablets. A traditional HDD contains metal plates on a spindle read by a mechanical arm, and are inside almost all desktop and most laptop computers (save for extra-thin laptops like MacBook Air).  HDDs are time-tested and are much less expensive than SSDs (by about 50%).

hard-drive-249412_1920

If your laptop has an HDD, we highly recommend you fully shut it down fully before you put it through the “travel wringer” subjecting it to a lot of range of motion. You can harm your computer if it’s powered on or even asleep when it’s being jostled about as you run through the airport, go through security, even when you’re putting baggage in your overhead compartment.  Simply closing the lid without a Shut Down will make it sleep / hibernate, but it’s still actually on – which can compromise the invaluable data on the hard drive.

One other point, regardless of whether you have a computer or backup drive that is HDD or SSD: we always recommend disconnecting your backup drive when not in the process of running a backup. We’ve seen external drives fried along with the computer to which they were connected from lightning strikes near houses.  We’ve also seen viruses move right from a computer to a connected hard drive – so best to minimize risk and keep them separate except while backing up.

Taking these precautions will ensure that you, and your laptop, will have safe travels.

airplane-1209752

The Newest iPhone: Hello to the iPhone7

It’s the news the tech world has been buzzing about, but is it worth the hype? apple-iphone-7-release-date

Check out the newest addition to the iPhone family, via our friends at The Telegraph. Water-resistant, two new finishes, new camera…

Thoughts? Share in the comments!

Introducing Department I.T.

Let Department I.T. become your on-call acting I.T. department for your business – small or large! We take care of ALL your tech needs and let you concentrate on running your business.

Schedule your free consult today – follow the link to get to learn more: www.deptit.com

13507188_1064174250341150_3057961612402864697_n


Copyright © 2017 computersWTF, Inc.  All rights reserved. SITE MAP


'Why The Fuss', 'Worldwide Tech Facilitators', 'We Trade Fistbumps', 'World Taekwondo Federation', 'Wisdom, Tenacity and Focus', 'Welcome To Fun', 'Way To Fight', 'Wheres The Fire'