Summer Time Cleanup

Summer Time Cleanup

As we are approaching the end of summer, now is a good time to clean out your computer case of dust bunnies and dirt. When the dust and dirt start to build up inside your computer case, strange things can start to happen. The most common thing I see is random BSOD (Windows infamous Blue Screen Of Death). The messages associated with these can be very misleading, for example, I recently fielded a call from a customer that their terminal had a BSOD and it referenced memory issues. The customers IT department ran multiple memory test scans that showed there was nothing wrong. When they finally called CCS, I had them make sure the terminal was clean on the inside. I advised they pick up some canned air and blow out all the fans, heatsinks, and vents. After this was complete, no more BSOD’s.

Heat is one of the worst things when it comes to computers and can cause malfunctions that will have you chasing your tail. By simply being a little proactive, the frustration will be eliminated.

If you need help with cleaning up your PC tower or terminal, call the CCS Support Department and schedule a time that would work for you.

-Bryan

Having a good backup saved me and could save you too!

I know I have blogged about this before, but I have to again as having a good backup saved me and could save you too

So, the other day I noticed that I needed to update Windows on my work PC. So as usual, I installed them and waited to reboot as I had some projects going on. Once my projects were complete, I rebooted. That’s where the trouble begins. No matter what I did, I could not boot back into Windows, I tried everything I could, looked online for things I may not have tried, made changes to this, to that, run commands in a recovery mode, nothing would work. So as a last resort, I used my last backup from the day before, to restore my system from bare metal.

I am using a Cloud/local backup product from Solarwinds. It is kind of a “set it and forget it” program, although there is not much to do once it is setup, it is still a good idea to check on the status of your backup. Knowing I had a good backup, I started the restore utility and started downloading my backup from the previous day. It did take some time being it was downloading some 400GB+ of data (If I was using an external drive it would have been faster), but when I came into the office Monday morning, the restore operation was complete. I removed the recovery disk and rebooted. Next thing I know, my PC is backup and running. It was very easy, everything worked as before and with the exception of a couple of emails, all my data was there too.

The nice thing about Solarwinds backup is that it can be both local and cloud-based at the same time. As mentioned before, If I had a local external hard drive, the amount of time it would have taken would probably be a third of what it did take, but with the ease of the whole process, I cannot complain. Besides doing a full restore as I did, there is also an option for just restoring 1 file or a whole folder if necessary. The backup can even backup SQL databases (perfect for CPSQL customers).

So, if you are not currently backing up your system to the cloud or otherwise, please look into getting this setup. CCS can get you setup, have a status email sent you daily and help you any way we can.

-Bryan

Are Credit Card Signatures still Required?

Are Credit Card Signatures still Required?

Excerpted from money.cnn.com

As of April 2018, signatures are no longer required by major credit card companies. As Matt Schulz from Credit Cards.com explains “Signatures are no longer considered to be any real deterrent to fraud”, “Most people don’t sign their name in full or take it all that seriously”

The signature requirement has already been going to the wayside, especially for smaller purchases. For example, American Express has not required a signature for transactions under $50 in the US since 2012. More than 80% of Mastercard in-store transactions already did not require a signature Mastercard said in 2017, but many businesses, mostly restaurants, and rental car companies still do.

Schulz says that he expects many merchants to leave the signature requirement in place as “The requirement is built into the credit card terminal, they would need to take steps to eliminate it.”

Credit Card companies have been enhancing card security to help reduce fraud, as you know most card companies have been replacing expired cards or sending new cards that take advantage of the EMV chip capabilities, which is considered more secure than the traditional magnetic stripe.

Schulz expects PIN codes and biometrics to become more common but stresses that you should still do your best to protect your identity. He says “ You are your own best last line of defense on identity theft. It is important you take the time to check your online bank and credit card statements. People need to build regular identity theft checks into their financial routine.

-Bryan

Shimming to Clone the Mag Swipe Data that can be used to commit fraud

Shimming

Everyone has heard of “skimming” when it comes to credit card fraud. But have you ever heard of “shimming”?

Shimming is the new “skimming” in the world of EMV chip cards. Shimming is done by inserting a paper thin card sized shim containing an embedded microchip and flash storage into the credit card slot where it intercepts data from the EMV chip of your credit or debit card. Although the data that is captured cannot be used to clone the chip itself, it can be used to clone the mag swipe data that can be used to commit fraud.

How can you protect yourself from this type of fraud? For starters, you can start using the “contactless” feature of the card if available (NCR Counterpoint 8.5.4.1+ supports this feature). Another way would be to use Apple Pay or Google Pay, or any of the smartphone-related payment apps if the retailer your shopping at supports these payment methods.

Another smart move, that you should already be doing, is checking your bank and credit card statements for any transactions not made by you and report any fraud immediately to your bank or card issuer. Most banks and credit card issuers already have apps that can be setup to alert you via text, email or both if any transaction over a certain dollar occurs.

For more information about the EMV capabilities of NCR Counterpoint or upgrading your system to be able to use EMV and contactless payments, contact the CCS Retail Systems Support Department at 800.672.4806 or email us.

-Bryan

No More Passwords?

No More Passwords?

No one likes those clunky passwords we use at work, home, and online. And most of us tend to forget a lot of them, especially with auto-save features on so many platforms. But now there’s good news for forgetful web users with a new standard that could do away with your old passwords.

The World Wide Web Consortium is the organization that creates internet standards and arbitrates major disputes. They’ve approved a new protocol called “web authentication” which could soon replace traditional passwords online with things like USB keys, smart devices, or biometrics like face I.D. or fingerprints. The Consortium says passwords that are stolen, are too weak, or left as “default” are to blame for 81% of data breaches.

Now, if a site supports the new “web authentication”, you can get in using USB or biometric confirmation, with no need to type in a password, giving us a look at what a password-free world might look like.

Many big companies are already joining up to create new password-free authentication protocols led by Silicon Valley. Google has already replaced most of its password-driven security with a set of physical security keys to access computers, and it’s paying off big, eliminating breaches throughout the company. And experts say the technology has the potential to go even farther, with a set of standards possibly spurring innovation and lowering the cost of the devices to access sites without passwords. “Web authentication” is already enabled system-wide on Chrome OS and Windows 10, and on the most commonly-used web browsers, like FireFox, Chrome, and Safari. So if you’ve been wanting to ditch your passwords, we are almost there.

-Bryan

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

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

Backup, Backup, Backup – Do you have a backup plan?

Backup, Backup, Backup – Do you have a backup plan?

Backups are just as important as any other task related to your business.

Do you know what you would do if your Server crashed and will not boot backup? Do you know how long it will take to be back up and running?

Having a good backup could make this stressful event seem like a “glitch in the matrix”

When CCS sets up your Counterpoint software, we also setup an internal backup of your database. Although this is a backup, it is not a failsafe against a disaster. These backups allow CCS (or your support team) to get Counterpoint back up and running quickly. But what it does not do, is get your Server backup and running. These backups are stored on the hard drive of your system, and if the hard drive is not recoverable, either are your backups. That is why it is a good idea to have full system backups to another device like an external hard drive or even an offsite or cloud service to help with a quick recovery.

CCS has recently been testing a cloud backup service called MSP Backup. It allows for full system backups as well a disaster recovery tools like Bare Metal Recovery, which helps with the restoration of full systems to brand new hard drives.

It also allows for granular recovery of specific files that may have been accidentally deleted or infected.

MSP Backups allow for you, the customer to also manage and start a backup at any time (although not always advisable), restore from a previous backup, download a full backup to keep safe and many other tools and reporting features.

If you are interested in setting up a backup plan, talking about backups or just to see what is available for your system, give the CCS Retail Systems Team a call or email us at support

-Bryan

Quick Chip

Quick Chip.

NCR Counterpoint now supports “Quick Chip”!

What is Quick Chip?

Quick Chip for EMV allows customers to insert (dip) and remove their EMV chip card at checkout in about 2 seconds. They can even do so before the transaction is complete. This is similar to the “Swipe Any Time” feature in NCR Counterpoint.

Quick Chip is also meant to help the payment industry’s transition to EMV chip.

In order to use Quick Chip with NCR Counterpoint, you will need to be running version 8.5.4.1, have an Ingenico ISC250 payment terminal with the required firmware version, and an account setup and configured with NCR Secure Pay.

So if you are already processing EMV chip cards through your NCR Counterpoint software, all that should need to be done is update your software to 8.5.4.1 and update your payment terminal to the required firmware.

With the update to 8.5.4.1, you will also be able to accept Pin Debit transactions using the EMV technology as well. There are some processor specific restrictions for Pin Debit, so be sure to ask CCS about your current configuration.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact the CCS Retail Systems Support Department at 800.672.4806 or email us at support.

-Bryan

Summer Times Blues

Summer Times Blues

Its summer time again, and it is time to check that your PC is nice and clean inside to prevent unwanted shutdowns and possible damage to your PC.

Cleaning out your PC is very easy to do, to begin with, you should purchase a couple of cans of compressed air. These can be purchased at most office supply stores, as well as Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Fred Meyer type stores. Once you have your compressed air, turn off your PC and unplug from the wall. You should remove the side of your case and blow out all of the dust that may be built up inside. Pay close attention to any fans and heat sinks as when the heat sink builds up with dust between the fins, it hampers the ability of it to cool properly causing strange problems to occur with your workstation.

Some symptoms of overheating are:

  • Strange errors/blue screens
  • A random shutdown of the computer
  • Slow or non-responsive actions

If you need help with removing the case or would prefer a professional do the job, contact the CCS Retail Systems Support Department for help.

-Bryan