How to avoid getting caught in a scam this holiday season

It may be a little early but its getting close to Thanksgiving so now’s a good time to warn you all about the scams you may come across online searching for that price deal of the year. When buying something off a website check for hidden fees, if a website isn’t going to be upfront with you and is going to nickel and dime you behind your back, you should strongly consider spending your money elsewhere. Be careful of homemade goods sold on Facebook and if you do purchase something in that way get proof you actually exchanged money for a product in the form of an email with a receipt with the sellers name on it. If you plan on making a purchase with a credit card make sure the website is secure, to check this look on the left side of the URL address bar and you should see what looks like a closed padlock click on it and it will tell you if you are on a secure site or not, to learn more go to your banks website and then follow those instructions. Remember the obvious scams such as buying knock off merchandise and such and you will be just fine. Happy (early) Holidays and good luck with the shopping.

How To Make Your Online Presence Even Better

What makes a good online presence?

I am often asked this question and always respond with, “it depends on what you are trying to accomplish”. If you are store that wants to expand their business and grow their name you can use the internet for social media promotions and your website for sharing your companies information in more detail.

I can easily list a handful of companies who have a killer online presence with their website and social media.

It doesn’t matter the size of your company or organization, a good online presence only reaps benefits. Take for example a local gym I frequent, I wrote a good review on their Facebook page and within 10 minutes, during business hours, they responded with a grateful yet humble response, but when I wrote a less than stellar response to a store where I had a rotten experience, they ignored it. You also have to watch what other companies post and keep up with it, if your direct competitors are doing something it might be wise to follow but not imitate them, to keep yourself looking original and unique.

How you act online can be the difference between success and failure for your business and the difference between losing business and getting new / repeat business from the internet user.

You need a company that can help make sure your information is getting out there and is being shared and that when people respond to you online they feel that they are being listened to.

If you would like to know more about how we at afl’s Knights of Technology can make your website and/or social media everything you could dream of and more, call us at 248-425-0009.

We hope you will come to us for all your technology needs!

Car Hacking: Remote Controlled Terror

Im sure you’ve at least heard about it, hackers with the proper connections and software can with a wireless signal connect to certain cars through their internal computers and mess with the car. But now it has gotten worse, Chrysler released a statement saying their cars are susceptible to being hacked! They say the vehicles in danger of this kind of attack are Dodges, Chryslers, and Ram.

 

You can update your car yourself using the software found here  http://www.driveuconnect.com/software-update/

Be sure to get that update if you or someone you know has a vehicle that requires the update

Gone In A Flash: Flash and the Internet’s failing relationship

Flash, one of the Internet’s earliest forms of video production and playing may soon be a thing of the past. In recent weeks information has come out stating that Flash is trouble if used properly by hackers and other cyber criminals. Flaws in the code that make Flash work could allow what are known as “cyber-attacks”. This means online criminals can wreak havoc with your computer through the internet. Mozilla and Google, among other names, even announced this week that their Web browsers will be dropping default support for Adobe Flash in the name of security. The point of all this is, Flash may be heading the way of Dial-Up internet, DOS, big clunky monitors and computer towers, the technology scrapyard! So be safe everyone, use flash sparingly and never let it run freely until its safe.

Are You The Searcher Or The Searched?

Are you searching or being searched? Many websites such as Google, Yahoo and Facebook are performing an action on you called data mining every time you use them. This tracks what you look at, what you search, what results you click on and more. The point of this isn’t for a study sadly. it’s to aim advertisements and products at you. I’m sure you have noticed at one point or another that the advertisements on the side of a website are awfully specific for you or oddly similar to something you searched recently. That’s data mining. I am sure you feel its invasive and in many ways it is. Take the story here (http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2012/02/16/how-target-figured-out-a-teen-girl-was-pregnant-before-her-father-did/) about how target figured out that a teenage girl was pregnant before her father did and the drama it caused! I’m sure you are wondering “how can I stop this from happening?” an easy fix is to disable cookies for websites. That makes it harder for some sites to track you. You may also wish to install a web browser advertising blocker program. One example is Ad Block Plus. There are also some internet browsers that are supposed to help reduce some of these risks, such as Aviator. There are no guarantees though. In the end you need to be aware that if you want to be on the internet, which has many benefits, you are also accepting the fact that others are interested in what you do on the internet any way you try.

Websites On The Go: Mobile Phones and Websites

Im sure you all know of what a smart phone is by now, but did you know in many ways the smart phone industry is stealing some of the thunder from the Macs and PCs? Instead of going their desktop or laptop to look up a website, now people are doing it from their cell phones and tablets. In the old day a website just needed to look good in Internet Explorer and Safari, but now it needs to look good not only on computer browsers but on the screens and displays of all tablets and smart phones. To better understand this id suggest looking at a couple websites on your smart phone, if its hard to work with,read, or follow its not mobile friendly, an example of a mobile friendly site is http://www.alwaysaspergers.com which was custom built to be mobile friendly, screen reader accessible and more, if you would like more information or would like to have a professional web developer look at your website, call 248-425-0009

 

 

It may be time to replace your Windows

Drum Roll Please!!!!

 

On July 29, 2015 Microsoft will be releasing their latest version of Windows, Windows 10.

 

Starting today, you might be seeing a new icon in your task tray (right side of the start bar) that looks like the windows logo (4 rectangular squares).  This is the icon showing that you are eligible for the FREE windows upgrade.  You can click on it and choose to have windows 10 installed as soon as Microsoft releases it.

 

But, at this time you don’t need to rush to do that.  The software will be available for free for 1 year from the July 29th date.  Even though the operating system seems to be functioning well during tests, there are always issue that will appear once the mass market starts to use any new operating system.

 

My suggestion is to wait at least a month before doing the upgrade to give time for the biggest issues to be corrected.

 

In the meantime, if you would like to get to know more about the upgrade, you can right click on the icon and there is an option that will take you to a location that will show you more information about the upgrade and the new operating system.

 

The upgrade is something that you will want to schedule a good time to accomplish where you won’t be inconvenienced by not being able to use the computer while the update is being performed.  It could take an hour or more to complete.  As always, if you would like help with it, you can always contact us and we will be glad to help you with the updating of all of your computers.

 

248-425-0009

Employee Scammers

Another IT person in one of the organizations I am a part of shared this with me today. I felt that it is something that everyone should hear to make sure they are doing what they need to do to protect themselves.

 

I spent the morning talking to one of my best friends (and my ‘car guy’).  His admin/bookkeeper embezzled over $30G in the three years she’s worked there.

 

I’m not looking to get into a discussion about the tech of it, the point is that he is now the THIRD business owner I know who has had this happen to them. Each one has been burned for multiple tens of thousands of Dollars.

 

His story:

* They use Quickbooks and he has a CPA who looks over the books and does the taxes.

* The admin would run daily reports of sales/expenses and show him

* The admin entered payments, then used QB’s bill pay

* She would then either void the online payment, and print a check to herself in that amount, or show it as something like ‘cardmember services’ but pay her own bill, rather than the company card.

*Additionally, she had work from subcontractors for her personal vehicles, billed to the shop as customer invoices and then paid them out of the company checking accounts.

*Finally, she obtained a second company credit card in her name (for a hardware store and a gas station) but since she paid the bills, he didn’t see the statements listing the second card number.

 

This never could have happened, to him or the other two owners, if they would have taken the simple steps of signing all checks themselves and auditing at least some of the bank statements to be sure the amounts and payees matched what was in their accounting system.

 

Quickbooks, as we all know, is made to be easy. It is not, and has never, been a good accounting system. People use it because it allows editing, one sided entries and other poor accounting practices. But, this isn’t really a QB problem, it isn’t a tech problem, it is a management problem.

 

Personally, I absolutely hate paperless banking, it is far too easy for this crap to happen. You simply cannot lay out statements and checks (or at least images of checks) and properly audit things on a screen, or two. It puts ease of use over being thorough (or careful).

 

A couple weeks ago I was privileged to see Frank Abangale speak (the subject of the book and movie ‘Catch Me if you Can’), he spent almost a half-hour just on no-brainers an owner should do to prevent fraud. One, having all company bank statements mailed to your home, rather than business, was something I never thought of. He also showed how laser printed checks could be altered in less than five minutes and ink jet or written ones (except with a special pen, which he gave us) could be washed off of most so-called security paper in less than a day. Protect yourselves with a security inked pen, multiple person accounting process and Positive Pay.

 

My buddy is in his upper 60’s and was starting to think of retiring, now he’ll be working for years just to get back what was taken from him. Please do not let this happen to you. NEVER EVER be too busy, or think yourself too important, that you can’t pull a bank statement and verify every payment on it and NEVER EVER allow the same person who enters the payment information to submit the payment, or sign the check.

Viruses: A Computers Worst Nightmare

There have been computer viruses around for almost as long as we have had email and the internet.  These viruses started as something as simple as playing happy birthday through the computer speaker until you typed in “happy birthday joshi” to those that are attempting to steal information from your computer to destroying / locking up your files and holding them hostage.

Lately, we have been seeing two of these types of viruses.  The crypto type of virus which encrypts (password protects) all of your files on your computer to “Rombertik” which is designed to make your windows computer virtually useless if your antivirus/antimalware software locates it on the computer.  It will basically wipe out your computer.  You can read more about it here:  http://www.infopackets.com/lists/lt.php?id=Z0xRAVdKBQQCHVcJWlZTDw

There are multiple ways to attempt to reduce your chances of acquiring viruses like these which include ideas from securing your computer more to not using your computer on the internet.  But, one of the easiest and best ways to protect yourself from these types of issues and many more is to make sure you are doing backups of all of your information that you can’t afford to lose.  This is not a solution as simple as just copying your files off to an external hard drive.  You need to have a backup that keeps multiple versions of all files and that is offsite to make sure the information can’t be overwritten.

To learn more about how to best protect yourself give us a call.