Fraudulent Tech Support and Software Phone Scams

 

Editor's Note -- With the recent major security breaches and credit card hacks at Target Stores and Neiman Marcus, we've noted an signficant uptick in attempted phone scams involving individuals computers.  Even Computing Center staff members have received these phone calls.  This article is Microsoft centric, but can apply to ANY call you may receive from "tech support". Always verify who is calling.

 

Cybercriminals don't just send fraudulent email messages and set up fake websites. They might also call you on the telephone and claim to be from Microsoft. They might offer to help solve your computer problems or sell you a software license. Once they have access to your computer, they can do the following:

  • Trick you into installing malicious software that could capture sensitive data, such as online banking user names and passwords. They might also then charge you to remove this software.
  • Take control of your computer remotely and adjust settings to leave your computer vulnerable.
  • Request credit card information so they can bill you for phony services.
  • Direct you to fraudulent websites and ask you to enter credit card and other personal or financial information there.

Neither Microsoft nor our partners (including The Computing Center) make unsolicited phone calls (also known as cold calls) to charge you for computer security or software fixes.

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Windows XP Support coming to an End

 

One of the most popular and longest lived Microsoft operating systems that we all know and love, Windows XP, has almost run its course. The clock is ticking… And on April 8, 2014, Windows XP will officially be “dead”, with no more extended support, and—more importantly—no more security patches. Hopefully, this news does not come as a surprise, as Microsoft has foretold the fate of XP since its release back in 2001.

Microsoft will no longer support Windows XP and Small Business Server 2003, so it’s time to make the change to ensure you remain on supported versions of Windows and Office.

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Computer safety needs to be active

 When we are young, we are taught to brush our teeth in order to develop healthy and preventative habits. Hopefully by the time we reach adulthood, the act of brushing every morning has become second nature. Yet, when we go online, we don’t always take the same preventative measures with our personal information. Perhaps it’s because we haven’t placed enough importance on developing this healthy habit?

Microsoft released the US results of the third Microsoft Computing Safety Index (MCSI). Designed to gauge consumer online safety habits and behaviors, the Index reveals that the US score has decreased year-after-year since it was first launched in 2011.

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The XP era draws to a close

At one time or another, we’ve all have had that worn out, but oh-so-comfortable pair of shoes. That over-stuffed chair with the protruding springs. That rusted-out car that no longer runs like a charm, but carries so many great memories.
 
However attached we become to these and other personal items, there comes a time when they really must be replaced. The same goes for software. If you don’t regularly upgrade your business software, you’ll inevitably pay a steep price in the form of escalating maintenance and support costs, slow performance, lowered productivity, and dangerous virus- and other security-related issues. And let’s face it—reminiscing about old software programs twenty or so years from now won’t bring about nearly half as many warm memories as that 1967 Pontiac Firebird of your youth.
 
You could say that updating business software is akin to changing your toothbrush after it’s seen better days. Can you imagine running Windows 98 on your home PC? Then why would you fight tooth and nail, stubbornly looking into a variety of contingency plans and options to hold onto Windows XP?  Yes, it’s still as functional as an old pair of shoes and it’s done your business well, but the fact of the matter is that its shelf life is nearing its expiration date.
 
The XP era draws to a close
Microsoft will stop supporting the popular third-generation technology on April 8, 2014, spelling an end to updates, fixes and other related services. These are only a few of the drawbacks to hanging on. Others include:

  • Missing out on powerful new features included with such programs as Windows 7, Windows 8 and Office 365
  • Wasting exponentially higher amounts of time and money on custom Microsoft or third-party service and support for a system that doesn’t enable you to perform your job faster, easier or better than its replacement
  • Leaving your aging, unpatched systems at the mercy of opportunistic hackers conspiring to bring your business down for fun or profit

If it’s any consolation, you’re in good company. Windows XP, currently running on about 38 percent of the world's 1.5 billion computers, remains the world’s second most popular operating system [1]. That aside, the need to regularly upgrade all business software simply makes good business sense. Not only does the practice maximize business efficiency and individual worker productivity; it’s an essential element from a security perspective.

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Microsoft Outlook Calendar Tips for Daily Usage

 
Like most people at my company, I use Outlook Calendar to remind myself and everyone else (who cares to know) when I am and am not available. Outlook Calendar is an invaluable tool if you’re in the habit of checking if someone is available first before you call them or send them a meeting invite.

What are the basics of Outlook Calendar? What do you need to know to show if you’re free during that task reminder or busy during that two-hour webinar? Can you add your own reminders for personal events? If I can do it – so can you!

Let’s look at your calendar

To view your own calendar, open up Outlook and click Calendar on the Navigation Pane on the left side.

If your Navigation Pane is minimized, click on the Calendar icon.

If you can’t find the Navigation Pane, go to View on the Ribbon. In the Layout group, selectNavigation Pane and then Normal or Minimized.

Add an event

To add an event to your calendar, you can

  • Double-click on the Calendar. For example, double-clicking on 11am on Monday will automatically create an event for that time.
  • On the Ribbon, click on New Appointment.

You’ll now have a new window to create the appointment.

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