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The Messenger

Excalibur IT Solutions provides onsite and remote IT Support Services to homes and businesses in: Berowra, Mount Kuring-Gai, across the Hornsby Shire and North Shore of Sydney. Our Blog, The Messenger, is a value-add service for current and prospective customers and the broader community. With The Messenger we aim to keep you up to date with industry news, security threats, and bring you hints, tips and tricks on how to get the best out of your Computer.

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Windows 7: The End of the Road

It's the end of an era as Microsoft finally lowered the support curtain on Windows 7, from January 14 2020.   As Operating Systems go, Windows 7 had a very good innings notching up 11 years of service but the baton has now been handed to Windows 10. Still Running Windows 7 ​ - W hat does this mean? The world is not goi...
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When Updates Go Bad - A Halloween Story


With Halloween just around the corner, a few days ago Microsoft released the Windows 10 October Update (1809) which promised some great new features but turned into a bit of a nightmare for some users.   Where did it all go wrong? Numerous reports are circulating on-line and in the media of people losing their personal data, includin...
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All Greek To Me - A Seniors Guide to Getting Started with Technology


When it comes to technology, a common complaint from many of my senior customers is that they find computers scary.  Logizomechanophobia, the fear of computers, is quite common when technology did not play a significant part in peoples working lives, but with a little time and some basic training, it can be cured. The New Reality The reality i...
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Technical Support Scams


Technical Support Scams are a multi-million-dollar industry and show no signs of going away. Each day innocent people are tricked into spending hundreds / thousands of dollars on non-existent computer problems by these scammers.  ​The scams are often initiated by a Phone call, or via websites where popup or flashing adverts, or in some cases a...
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Mum...a Monster Ate My Laptop


We've all been there…the kids come home from school and there is something wrong with their laptop, something bad, and you just know this is going to be expensive. Nothing Is Forever The family budget is often stretched significantly wh en parents purchase a laptop for school, and you do so on the understanding that it will last…at least for a whil...
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Avoid the Summer Meltdown


Summer is very much a double-edged sword.  Everyone enjoys the longer nights, the warmer weather but when it comes to your computer the summer season can cause havoc. Boiling Point One of the biggest enemies of computers is heat. During the warmer months in Sydney, with temperatures regularly hitting or exceeding the high thirties / or breakin...
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WannaCry? Get Serious About Security

WannaCry? Get Serious About Security
Wanna Cry? You might do if you get this nasty Ransomware which spread globally at an unprecedented rate over the weekend.Within a very short space of time the NHS in the UK was brought to its knees; along with a large number of Russian, Chinese and US private and public institutions causing them to be crippled most of the day. This partic...
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STOP Living in the Past

STOP Living in the Past
Support for Windows XP officially ended in April 2014 and Windows Vista ends support in April 2017 but surprisingly there are still many people clinging to the past and running these outdated operating systems. February 2017 Statistics on netmarketshare.com indicate that globally a little over 9% of computers are still running one of these older op...
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Case Study: Invoice or Ransom?

Case Study: Invoice or Ransom?
What Crypt0l0cker looks like

Invoice scams are on the rise and with them the deadly threat of Ransomware infection, read on to find out how to spot the fakers and avoid very painful consequences.  The Situation  Last week a local business gave us a call after one of their computers was locked down with Crypt0l0cker ransomware.  The business owner had received an...
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Go GOOGLE Yourself: Managing your Online Reputation

Go GOOGLE Yourself: Managing your Online Reputation
Many of you will be familiar with Pandora and her infamous box. But for those not in the know, in Greek Mythology, Pandora opens a jar releasing death and unspeakable evil into the world. She endeavors to re-seal the container, but the contents have already escaped leaving one thing behind at the bottom of the jar – hope.  In many ways, managi...
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Stand and Deliver: The Ransomware Dilemma

Stand and Deliver:  The Ransomware Dilemma
Locky Ransomware Example
Ransomware Example2

The last few weeks have marked a particularly aggressive push by cyber-criminals with several high-profile instances of large-scale ransomware attacks.

What is Ransomware?

As the name suggests, this type of computer virus exists to extort money from unsuspecting individuals and corporations. It is a pernicious form of malicious software (Malware) which, when activated, targets and encrypts your important data-files (documents, photos, spreadsheets, etc.) both on the local computer, and any attached drives (USB thumb-drives and hard disks, Network Drives etc.); effectively locking and encrypting them until you pay a hefty ransom to secure a decryption key.

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Conquer your e-Waste...before it buries You

Conquer your e-Waste...before it buries You

Sitting on a mountain of old technology and consumables that you’re not sure what to do with? Read On.

When it comes to disposal of electrical waste and computers, people generally fit into three camps:

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Get Ready for Windows 10 - Part 2

Get Ready for Windows 10 - Part 2
Windows 10 Reserve Icon
Windows 10 Reservation Icon
Check Compatibility
Windows 10 Machine Compatible

In my last Windows 10 post I talked about the reasons that you should make the switch, but with Windows 10 now just around the corner I want to talk a little bit about getting your PC ready to make the switch. 

How to Reserve Windows 10

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NBN is Coming...What it means for you

NBN is Coming...What it means for you
NBN Scale

According to myNBN.info it would appear that the NBN is finally heading to: Berowra, Berowra Heights, Brooklyn, Cowan, Dangar Island, Mount Kuring-Gai which is great for those that have been suffering from sub-standard speeds for some quite time now.  That's the good news.  The bad news is that it is still some way off with the current plans showing the build commencing in Q2, 2016 and Ready For Service in Q1, 2017. 

Speed and PerformanceADSL vs ADSL2+ 

When it comes to the performance of your Internet connection, download and upload Speeds are the two main factors that people tend to consider, with download being all important for most consumers who download / stream: movies, TV shows, music etc. or want to play online games.

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Stay Safe Online: 10 Tips to Minimise the Risk of Malware

Stay Safe Online: 10 Tips to Minimise the Risk of Malware

Yesterday I sat in on a Bitdefender seminar in Sydney where it was reported that according to AV-Test.org (The independent IT Security institute) in 2009 there were approximately 32,000 unique malware programs registered globally every day, which is huge, but nothing compared to the 400,000 unique malware programs being registered every day in 2015.

One thing is clear, Malware infections are growing at an unprecedented rate.

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Gimme 10: Get ready for Windows 10

Gimme 10: Get ready for Windows 10
Worldwide Operating System Usage
The Start Menu is Back
Check Compatibility

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you will have heard that Microsoft is preparing to release its latest, and final, version of its flagship Windows operating system – Windows 10. From this point forward Microsoft intends to treat Windows as a Service the idea being that there will be no new major releases of Windows, and instead the platform will evolve over time through system updates.

The current lay of the land

According to netmarketshare.com, worldwide more than 90% of Desktop and Laptop Operating Systems are running Windows, with the balance spread between Mac OSX and Linux.

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About that new Smart Watch

About that new Smart Watch

With the Apple Watch being released on April 24th, 2015 and pre-orders already well underway I headed to my local Apple Store (Hornsby) to take a peek. I rocked up yesterday, fully expecting to have to battle throngs of drooling fan-boys, and the rest of the high-end tech obsessed, but what greeted me was quite the opposite.

The store itself was buzzing as usual, but the Watch counter was totally deserted. Now, to be fair, it was a Monday lunchtime...but still I expected at least some visible signs of interest in this new holy grail of tech wizardry. I was in-store somewhere between 10-15 minutes and not one person came close to take a look.  As Apple have apparently pre-sold in excess of one million units, I was somewhat surprised that no-one wanted a sticky beak.

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Is your Data Safe?

Do you have a Reliable Backup?

March 31st is World Backup Day and according to www.worldbackupday.com some 83% of us own a computer, yet alarmingly 30% of people have never backed up; and only 1 in 4 of us make regular backups. 

Disclaimer:

Before we get cracking with this week’s blog, I want to state up front that Excalibur IT Solutions is in no way affiliated with www.worldbackupday.com and that www.worldbackupday.com do not support or endorse any products or services of Excalibur IT Solutions (and vice versa).

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Website Owners Change is Coming

Website Owners Change is Coming

By way of a heads up to our Business Customers, and if you haven't heard already, On February 26th Google announced that they will be making changes to their Search Algorithms starting on April 21, 2015 that expand the use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.

In Google's own words:

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Heartbleed Fallout - Do I Still Need to Change Passwords?

Heartbleed Bug

In the wake of the Heartbleed bug / SSL vulnerability that was widely publicized, one of my customers asked me the other day whether they still needed to change their passwords as they had heard the problem had been fixed.  In short, the answer is YES.  

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NEWSFLASH: Microsoft issues Security Advisory for Internet Explorer

b2ap3_thumbnail_Hacker.jpg

Microsoft issued a Security Advisory on April 26, 2014 relating to a vulnerability in Internet Explorer 6, Internet Explorer 7, Internet Explorer 8, Internet Explorer 9, Internet Explorer 10, and Internet Explorer 11 for the majority of current Windows Operating Systems including: Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 2003 Server, Windows 2008 Server, Windows 2012 Server, Windows RT, Windows RT 8.1.  

"The vulnerability may corrupt memory in a way that allow an attacker to execute code" under the active user account.  Full details of the advisory can be found by reviewing Microsoft Security Advisory 2963983, along with suggested actions to reduce the risk whilst Microsoft continues their investigation and remediation efforts.

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Stay Safe On-Line

Hacker
Spyware
Bitdefender Internet Security
Bitdefender Total Security

A Malicious Software (Malware) infection is easy to contract and can be difficult to shake off.  Infections are typically contracted after downloading and installing an application from the internet, opening an infected Email attachment or clicking a bad link on a Website or in an Email.

 I have a regular stream of customers approaching me about a nasty Malware infections and asking for help to get rid of the infection.  In each case, the problem revealed itself when the customers started being bombarded with annoying popups when browsing the internet, asking them to: complete surveys, telling them they have won an iPad, or their PC has a raft of errors and to click on a link download and to fix it.  

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Cryptolocker is Back

Cryptolocker, that nasty piece of ransom-ware, is back.  In the last two days I have had two separate customers reach out to me for assistance after their PC was infected.

Cryptolocker is an insidious piece of malicious software that works by encrypting your personal files and making them inaccessible unless you pay a ransom to the crooks that deployed it.  The folks are indiscriminate and the reality is that, even if you pay the ransom (which is NOT recommended) there is absolutely no guarantee that your files will be unlocked.  This could mean that your critical business data, or treasured family memories (photographs, videos etc)  are gone for good.

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Case Study: PC Hijack - Scam

Are Scammers / Hackers inside your PC?
Registry Encryption Scam
Spyware may be installed
Hacker
 So it appears that in recent months an old, and rather nasty, scam has risen its ugly head again. Not sure that it ever really went away, however a new customer came to me this week after being hit by the scam.  As such, I want to raise the issue to ensure that my customers, business partners, family and friends are aware of these bottom- dwellers, and don't get stung.

The scam begins with a phone call or email from someone pretending to be from Microsoft Support (or similar) and saying that you have a major problem with your computer, and providing you with contact details for a 3rd party support company in the US or India who can assist. When you contact these people they will request remote access to your computer, and if you grant that request this is where the real pain begins.

 

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Windows XP: The End of the Road

If you haven't already heard, Microsoft will end support for Windows XP on April 8 2014.

What does this mean to me?

For those that continue to use Windows XP beyond this date, your computer will still work however there may be an increased risk of security problems such as viruses, malware, spyware etc.  You may also find that many software / hardware vendors will also stop supporting Windows XP which means that new software: applications, games etc, or hardware: graphics cards, printers etc may no longer be compatible with Windows XP.

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About Excalibur

We are your local IT professionals providing computer support and IT Consulting services across the Hornsby Shire and Sydney's Upper North Shore.

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