Blog Posts

Protecting Your Business

Protecting Your Business

Hopefully, the severe weather is over for this winter, but severe weather conditions can happen during any time of the year. Excessive winds, rain, fires, flooding—all can cause power outages that can affect your computer systems and your business. Also, other unexpected events, like theft, can impact your business. Knowing what to do, in advance, can protect you from losses that could have been prevented.

Your first line of defense should be your attention to backing up your system, consistently, and storing that information in a safe place. In that way, if the unexpected does happen, everything can be restored once the event is over.

Recently, a friend of mine who owns and operates a small engineering business had his building broken into one night. The thieves took a laptop computer on which a large number of his engineering designs were stored. The thieves were caught, and the computer was recovered, but the files were overwritten with computer games. Unfortunately, the files had not been backed up, so much valuable information was lost.

Don’t wait for a disaster like this to happen, or for weather conditions to damage your system. If you need help with your backup setup, or if you need to restore files from your backups, we’re here to assist you. We can be reached at 425-672-4806 or you can email us.

Be safe. Plan now.

Marlene

NCR Counterpoint Supports Windows 10

NCR Counterpoint Supports Windows 10.

It is getting harder and harder to find and install the tried and true Windows 7 operating system. And like Windows XP before it, it will soon be obsolete and unsupported. In comes Windows 10, which I see as a kind of mash between the best of Windows 7 with a feel of Windows 8. NCR Counterpoint versions 8.5.2 and above are certified for use with Windows 10. As with all changes, there is a little learning curve to Windows 10, and like the previous version of the Windows OS, there’s usually more than one way to accomplish the same task. Windows 10 aims to be more user-friendly by giving the user more of an On/Off or Yes/No type options depending on where you are making changes. There is still the old Control Panel as before, but Windows 10 has added the “PC Settings” which gives you more of an explanation of what you are trying to change and an option to search for a specific setting unlike the regular control panel. There are many other helpful and useful features in Windows 10 which can be found on the Internet. Before upgrading or replacing any equipment to run Windows 10, be sure to check your other hardware (i.e. printers, network cards, devices) that they are compatible or that the manufacturer has updated drivers that will work.

As mentioned NCR Counterpoint is Windows 10 ready, and NCR is now offering both the XR7 and XR5 all in one terminal with Windows 10 preinstalled.

For any question about running Windows 10 in your NCR Counterpoint environment, please call the CCS Retail Systems Support Department at 800.672.4806 or email us.

-Bryan

Tech Support Scams

Tech Support Scams

Lately, I have been receiving lots of pop-up messages on my computer that tell me that something needs to be “fixed” on my computer. The message may say that my computer is running too slow because it has registry errors or someone can “see” my information. Sometimes it tells me that a virus or malware has been detected on my computer. Often, a free “security” scan is offered, or a website is shown that I can access as a way to correct my computer’s “ills.”

The messages usually come from what looks like a legitimate company, complete with the appropriate logo, like Microsoft or Apple. Sometimes free software is offered that I can download, guaranteed to make my computer run faster and better.

Unfortunately, most of these pop-ups are from scammers. They want to convince me that I have computer problems so that they can sell me worthless software, try to enroll me in cheap computer maintenance or warranty programs, or trick me into giving them access to my computer so they can steal sensitive data, like usernames and passwords.

How do I know this? I already have my computer loaded with security protection from trustworthy companies. Some of it is free and some I purchased. I use these software programs regularly to keep my computer safe.

So how do you cope with these malicious pop-ups? Don’t click on messages that look questionable. Never go to an unknown website that is suggested in one of these pop-ups, or call a phone number that claims to be “tech support.” Make sure you are using appropriate, legitimate anti-virus software on a regular basis. And most of all, think before you act when it comes to anything unsolicited that pops up on your computer screen.

If you need help or advice on computer security, we can help you. Our number is 425-672-4806, or you can email us. Be safe, not sorry.

Marlene

Some good reasons to keep your software subscriptions current

Some good reasons to keep your software subscriptions current

  1. License key validation – Most software subscriptions are issued with an annual license that requires a renewal in order to be either installed as either a new installation or re-installed as of the current date.

As examples:

  • The currently installed application software is only supported running on the currently installed operating system. If you want to move the installation to a newer server or workstation operating system environment, you’ll need to have a current license key in order to physically move or update the software.
  • Passport will not let you either re-install software or install new software using an old expired license. This means that you are required to renew your subscription first.
  1. The application software environment becomes corrupted over time – This requires re-installing the software or a service pack which may require downloading software. – Many software applications now have huge installation files, this can be true whether or not you plan on doing a full installation or simply installing an incremental service pack.

For example:

  • If your NCR CounterPoint Subscription license isn’t current, you will not be able to download any software, or access NCR’s customer support website. Considering that it is common for downloads to be several gigabytes in size, it can take hours just to do the downloads prior to any installation attempt even being made. Not having this as of a specific deadline date, can mean having to reschedule a critical installation or cause you and your organization some unwanted hardship or downtime. Inability to access the website can mean not being able to download installation and configuration manuals or updated training manuals.
  1. Some of your software applications stop working – If a license expires, it may take time to get it renewed.

For example:

  • Your ShipRush or StarShip shipping software and interface to NCR CounterPoint expires. Until the license is renewed, you will not be able to use the shipping software or the software interface for NCR Counterpoint.

Please contact the CCS Support department if you have any questions or for assistance with updating your software subscriptions.

– John

PC Cleaners/Registry Cleaners

PC Cleaners/Registry Cleaners

Although I do not advise using these software’s regularly, there are times when they are useful. Over the years I have found that these registry and PC cleaners sometimes cause more harm than good. For example, I have run into systems where these tools are run regularly and have problems installing or re-installing software, some of these programs even boast about cleaning or completely uninstalling software, only to find out it has left the main directory in place preventing the re-installation, or it has left the Windows service installed causing the same thing.

Depending on what you are trying to accomplish with these “cleaning” programs, I have never seen one speed up my PC. The times I do use these cleaning programs is usually after either an infection or failed hardware. But some manual cleaning is always required.

If your PC needs “cleaning” I would recommend using the built-in or downloadable tools from the programs manufacture to clean a program up. Most hard to uninstall software has a “clean up” tool available from the makers to make your uninstallation easier and actually clean your PC.

If you have any support questions or concerns, please contact the CCS Retail Systems support department @800.672.4806 or email us at support

-Bryan

Securing Your Network

Securing Your Network

One of the things that you should do in securing your network, is to limit internet access to only the sites that a particular station needs. For example, a Point-Of-Sale workstation usually only needs to be able to access the internet in order to validate credit and debit transactions. When that is the case, then your firewall should be configured to only let those stations through to the sites they need for authorization.

By limiting the access of those stations to only the card processor site, it prevents users from randomly browsing web sites during slow times. Thus, they cannot be checking their personal email or checking out the latest funny videos. This is not to punish them, but rather to eliminate those common vectors of attack. It prevents those viruses and malware-bearing emails from being read, and their payload potentially being unleashed on your workstations. It also prevents those drive-by downloads from malicious sites, from doing the same.

Obviously, there will be stations that need to access additional sites. However, if these sites can reasonably be limited to just those sites that need to be accessed, they should similarly be limited. It may be possible to limit those stations to only your company email, vendor sites, your store web site, etc. Additionally, those stations should be restricted to use by only those users that need to be accessing the sites that the stations are being allowed access to. Those users should also be trained on what to be aware of when accessing outside sites. In particular, the user or users that are accessing the company email should be trained on how to recognize potential phishing, or other malware, type emails.

Limiting the avenues that expose your network to outside contact, can go a long way towards preventing the network from being compromised. Such limits are often evaluated from the perspective of limiting outside access in. Access restrictions should be evaluated, and restrictions imposed from your network out, as well.

Dave.

New Twists Ransomware and Spear Phishing Attacks

New Twists on Ransomware Spear-phishing Attacks

In recent years we have seen an increase both the number of spear phishing campaigns, and increased ingenuity as to the ways that scammers try to assist you in getting your systems infected, or attempt to fleece you out of money.

In the past, this may have been something sent via emails that used official-looking emails complete with a financial institution’s corporate logo, or they could get phone calls from a fake bank account executive. The email or caller could tailor an email to the customer with personalized information they downloaded, making it seem like it was a legitimate email.

The fake bank account executive or emailer would then indicate there is an urgent problem with the customer’s account, and then ask for birthdates, Social Security numbers or passwords. The virtual trap could also be set by the official-looking email asking customers to click on a link embedded in the email to, say, update their account information. However, the link takes the unsuspecting victim to a fake but legitimate-looking website, where the customer is then tricked into listing passwords, bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, user ID’s, access codes, and PIN’s.

Some recent twists on the above are:

An email that spoofs your email account in the emails “sent from” field. The body of the scammer’s email claims that they have already hacked into your system via a porn or adult dating website that you “supposedly” recently visited. The email indicates a direct threat to email explicit photos or videos to all of the contacts in your email system, specifically to your employer, and/or the police, if you don’t send money to a specific destination as of a specific date and time.

One or both of the following may be included:

  • Instructions on where to go to pay the ransom.
  • Clickable links that direct you to site to pay a ransom, and/or a link that actually infects your system with encryption malware, which subsequently locks you out of your system, with another ransom demand in order to get a key to un-encrypt your drive(s).

Typically, the best thing to doing in these situations is to immediately delete the email, and clear it out of your mail deleted mail folder and the follow-up with staff on how to be diligent about recognizing and handling these sorts of threats.

– John

Tech Support Scams

Tech Support Scams

Lately, I have been receiving lots of pop-up messages on my computer that tell me that something needs to be “fixed” on my computer. The message may say that my computer is running too slow because it has registry errors or someone can “see” my information. Sometimes it tells me that a virus or malware has been detected on my computer. Often, a free “security” scan is offered, or a website is shown that I can access as a way to correct my computer’s “ills.”

The messages usually come from what looks like a legitimate company, complete with the appropriate logo, like Microsoft or Apple. Sometimes free software is offered that I can download, guaranteed to make my computer run faster and better.

Unfortunately, most of these pop-ups are from scammers. They want to convince me that I have computer problems so that they can sell me worthless software, try to enroll me in cheap computer maintenance or warranty programs, or trick me into giving them access to my computer so they can steal sensitive data, like usernames and passwords.

How do I know this? I already have my computer loaded with security protection from trustworthy companies. Some of it is free and some I purchased. I use these software programs on a regular basis to keep my computer safe.

So how do you cope with these malicious pop-ups? Don’t click on messages that look questionable. Never go to an unknown website that is suggested in one of these pop-ups, or call a phone number that claims to be “tech support.” Make sure you are using appropriate, legitimate anti-virus software on a regular basis. And most of all, think before you act when it comes to anything unsolicited that pops up on your computer screen.

If you need help or advice on computer security, we can help you. Our number is 425-672-4806, or you can email us. Be safe, not sorry.

Marlene

‘Tis the Season to be Careful!

‘Tis the Season to be Careful!

‘Tis the season to be jolly, right? That’s what the song tells us, but the holidays will not seem so jolly if you are victimized by a hacker! Although it may not be possible to eliminate all of the hazards, there are precautions that you can take to minimize dangers to your devices and your life! It begins with the recognition of where intruders are most likely to invade.

Cell phones and laptops are frequently lost, especially when people are traveling. Airports, hotels, restaurants, taxi companies—all report hundreds of unclaimed mobile devices that have been left behind. Being extremely cautious with your devices, and perhaps registering them with services that can locate, recover, and kill lost or stolen devices, will keep you safer.

Email greetings are sent in abundance during the holiday season. Not all email greetings, however, are what they seem! Cybercriminals have been known to disguise viruses and spyware into what seems like an innocent greeting from friends or relatives. Open attachments with great care!

Using social networking is a very popular way to reconnect with friends during the holidays, but these sites are frequently targeted for phishing attacks. Be careful what you click on—that new “friend” may not be a friend at all.

USB thumb drives, like cell phones and laptops, are often lost when people are traveling. USB drives are so small, making them easy to misplace or leave plugged into public PC’s; creating a hazard if those removable drives are not protected.

New gift devices, like smartphones and computers, are many times put into operation before security measures like anti-virus software are installed. Recipients are so anxious to use the new tools that they don’t take time in advance for necessary precautions. The lack of precautions makes the devices vulnerable to a host of problems.

Downloading games and free apps can expose users to malware. Be sure to examine carefully before installing them, and be wary of unsigned apps from unknown developers.

We hope your holidays are happy and safe. If the unthinkable happens, however, we’re here to help you. Just give us a call at 425-672-4806 or email us.

Marlene

Preparing for the Holidays

Preparing for the Holidays

The weather is turning colder, the clock has returned to Standard Time, and the holiday season looms before us. Already I am seeing candy canes on display in supermarkets! This makes me wonder if you are doing the necessary preparations in your business to make sure this holiday season is well-organized and profitable.

What can you be doing right now to get ready? Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Make sure your inventory is stocked sufficiently and numbers are accurate. Eliminate errors now that could cost you sales later!
  • See those products on display are all labeled. Customers find it annoying when prices aren’t readily available.
  • Add needed information on your receipts, like return policy.
  • Clean up the store and arrange displays for best customer visibility. Polish that glass front door.
  • Make sure you have on hand sufficient gift cards; these are always a favorite for holiday gift-giving!
  • Update/prepare to use your customer information to send flyers and emails to advertise holiday sales.
  • Install newer, faster hardware, like printers or scanners. Waiting until the last minute to take care of your business “tools” could become a real hassle once the season begins.
  • Make sure that your security system is up to date. Remember, this is prime time for unscrupulous scamming.
  • Arrange for new employees’ training now to avoid problems later.
  • Consistently back up all of your files in case of the unexpected, like power outages from winter storms, or malicious ransomware attacks.

We can help you with many of these preparations, (but we don’t do windows!). All it takes is a quick call to 485-672-4806, or you can email us. We’re here to help you have a great holiday season!

Marlene