Recent Spectre Updates Can Slow Your PC Down

There have been reports of possible performance issues.

Microsoft has been transparent about the recent discovery two major CPU security flaws.  Last week, in a effort to fix the issue windows released an update.  Windows 10 pushed the update automatically and if you are on a newer computer, most likely,  you will not notice any difference in performance.  If you are on windows 7 or 8 there will be some noticeable performance changes.   Also you might need to check for updates to install the latest updates.

Impacts:

  • Windows 10 running on Skylake, Kaby Lake or newer CPU show benchmarks show “single-digit slowdowns”, but most users shouldn’t expect to see noticeable slowdowns
  • Windows 10 running on Haswell or older CPUs “show more significant slowdowns” and “some users will notice a decrease in system performance”
  • Windows 7 or Windows 8 running on Haswell or older CPUs means “most users will notice a decrease in system performance

If you are on windows 7 or 8 and experiencing slowdowns consider upgrading for increased security and speed.  I love windows 10 and have not experienced a slowdown with this update. If you have questions about upgrading to Windows 1o or are unhappy navigating Windows 10 give us a call. We have lots of tips and tricks to make your user experience betting in Windows 10.

Storm’s a-brewing, how to evacuate with your data

Does Hurricane Matthew have you tossing and turning in regards to your business’ data? Read how to include your server in your evacuation and/or disaster mitigation plan.

WSAV: Hurricane Matthew is on its way to the Coastal Empire.

Do you want the peace of mind knowing you have EVERYTHING? Want to reduce potential downtime related to a rebuild? You can likely simply grab your device and take it with you!

Most of our clients use on-site servers and on-site backups. MarKel often sets up external backups, but some of our clients prefer not to have wandering or off-site data.

Take a look at the following photos to learn what you can do to simply take your server/data out of the office with you.

A photo of two servers
Highlighted in red: 1. Power Buttons 2. External Backup Drive. Highlighted in yellow: Internal drive bays

In the photo on the left you can see two servers, a monitor, and an external USB backup. In the upper left, highlighted in red, is a USB backup drive which holds a “Full-Metal” Backup. It contains a copy of a server that can be used to restore the whole thing, or just individual files.

Ideally, one should already be swapping external drives as a form of backup to prevent against building troubles– fire, robbery, hurricane. In this instance you can simply grab the drive and go.

Some of our clients only have files on their backup drive and not a full metal backup. This is OK – it just means that a disaster recovery is a little more involved, but no data should be lost so long as you have your data with you (or you know you have an off-site backup).

Highlighted in yellow are the drive bays. These drives can be pulled and taken with you — just turn off the server, unplug the power (see below for photos) and pull the drives. Make note of what order they’re in (write on it with a felt-tip marker), so they go back in the same order!

The back of two servers
Highlighted in red is a server’s Power Supply – most servers have two of these – both need to be unplugged.

To the right, all of these wires must be unplugged to bring the server with you. Before pulling internal drives, be sure to disconnect both power supplies.

For fastest recovery, make note of what’s plugged in. Most servers have two network cards – yet only have one in use. The network cord, when re-attached, will need to go back into the port it was in, else your server won’t get online (easy enough to troubleshoot, but easier just to note where it was originally!)

 

two network ports
Two network ports on the back of a server, the bottom is plugged in.

MarKel uses several off-site backup vendors, but we do not back up our client’s data to our business. In most instances we’ve setup automatic backups, have an employee of our client familiar with the backup process, and have multiple types of backup in place for each business. We monitor backups for issues – so if you’re already swapping drives, you’re ahead of the game.

But for ultimate efficiency, your server / internal drives can simply be taken with you. This will prevent the ‘domain’ side of your business from having to be rebuilt – if your external backup doesn’t contain a full-metal backup. Just shut it down, unplug it and put it in your car.

Keep in mind:
Lightening damage: It’s best to unplug everything if you don’t have a full-surge protection– from your network cables to your DVR. If your building is grounded through piping and that piping conducts a lightening strike, you’re toast!

Flood Damage: If your server is on the ground, even a 1/2 inch of water can be disastrous.

 

 

If you have any questions, are unsure of your backup situation or want to confirm anything, give us a call!

-Oliver

Java updating further, Firefox won’t be viable

For the past year, if your business utilizes java online, you’ve had to hop around to different browsers to find one which had the right extensibility and features to run your site.

Old code and legacy webapps are to blame – as security tightens online, old features are identified as risks and locked down, rendering related functions inoperable.

For now, FireFox the web browser offers a lower level of security and a higher level of usefulness when compared to other browsers – though that carries a higher risk.

Java, while used to allow you to submit and interact with data, is a framework which allows actors including computer hackers, to interact with your computer.

Oracle, the company behind Java, is finalizing a push to remove this framework from the web, advising  that modern browsers and webapps move to “the plugin-free Java Web Start technology”.

 

Read more here http://gadgets.ndtv.com/apps/news/oracle-says-it-is-killing-the-java-plugin-795547

and here: https://blogs.oracle.com/java-platform-group/entry/moving_to_a_plugin_free

Don’t rely on autocomplete

In browser, or in your email’s “TO” field – autocomplete is a handy feature, but very transient.

outlook_autocomplete
Outlook’s Autocomplete.

In Outlook especially, you should create and save contacts for things you want to keep. When you save or create a CONTACT, that data is easily backed up and migrates with you. When you rely on autocomplete, that list may become full and push other entries off,  it doesn’t migrate with you without setup and if it becomes corrupt, must be rebuilt. That means downtime.

Instead, use a data management solution for web browsing, and not rely on saving passwords to your browser, because if the system must be cleaned, or you change computers, that data will not move with you in most circumstances and must be rebuilt.

Ask us how we can help protect your investment in field data & security today!

Security Threat: Cryptolocker

Cryptolocker is a virus which often masqurades as a zip, excel or word document, attached to an email. In actuality is an .exe or program and in our experience, comes through as an email making demands or offering severe consequences like “you’re party in a law suit, please see the attached for more info” or “IRS requesting more information, please fill out the attached PDF.”

It utilizes built in windows features to encrypt whatever data it can touch and often gets away with this with whatever privileges a user holds – meaning without administrator privileges!

With privileges, cryptolocker will destroy multiple types of backups, remove access and take over your network, infecting things like phone systems, copiers or other smart devices.  The fix then being a wipe and complete retooling of your business network.

The most effective prevention is knowledge. Users should be aware from whom they are opening attachments.

MarKel makes attempts at preemptively stopping this, but as with many successful viruses, new versions are released often, circumventing the fixes which stopped the virus previously.

If you have a questionable email or something which seems funkey please save us all hours of work and headache by simply calling us and asking. I promise, we’ll be appreciative.

Windows key + L Locks your computer

If you need to step away from your computer, LOCK IT!

As Shannon will attest, leaving your computer unlocked can have security implications, like having your background changed to photoshopped images of yourself. Or more dramatically, confidential data viewed or copied off.

If you look at your keyboard, you’ll notice a Start Button key, also known as the windows key. This key frequently has the MS Windows logo on it and occupies the space between control and alt.

This button is the master key to any number of windows functions – not simply opening your start menu!

For example,

Windows key + L will lock the machine and NOT log you out. This will requireyou to enter your password when you get back.

Windows Key + D, will minimize everything and show your desktop

Windows Key + Arrows will move the window in focus around so that it affixes itself to the side of your monitor (left & right arrow keys) , minimizes or maximizes (up and down arrow keys)

For a more detailed list of shortcuts, check out (and perhaps print!) the photo found HERE

Windows 10 Update Tip

If you run any sort of Practice works software like Dentrix or Sage make sure to check with your software provider that it is compatible with Windows 10 before you upgrade.  If you are unsure, give us a call and we can help!