Managed Services

 

Managed Services is the practice of outsourcing day-to-day IT management and computer network technical support as a cost-effective method for improving business operations, instead of having a full-time on-staff IT personnel. A company like Starkville Computers / Mainstream Technologies, that provides such services are called Managed Services Providers (MSP).

 

You are an ideal client for Managed Services if:

· You rely on your computer network, e-mail, database applications, and Internet access to properly support your clients and daily business processes

· Do not have sufficient staff or time to formally deal with proper computer network maintenance, updates and repairs

· Want to pay one monthly flat fee for services to maintain your computer network environment

 

Benefits of Managed IT
 

Money Savings: our Managed IT Services program saves you money by helping minimize expensive network disasters and keep your computer environment running smoothly

Proactive Solutions: Our clients experience better performance, fewer glitches, and practically zero downtime. The managed services program helps detect these problems early thus prevent them from escalating into more expensive repairs and downtime

Access to Professional IT Staff: clients can feel as though they have an in-house IT staff — without the full-time employee costs. As a Managed Service client, you will have access to a knowledgeable of support staff that can be reached immediately if you have any kind of computer problem or question

Predictable Spending: Managed Service clients receive substantial discounts on IT services. Under this program, clients pay one flat affordable rate and get all of the technical support needed, provided your hardware is under warranty.

Faster Response Time: Our clients receive faster response time support. Through our enterprise class monitoring and remote management systems, we have the ability to access and repair most network problems right from our NOC. If we cannot fix it from our NOC, in most cases we dispatch a technician to your office the same day.

Vendor Management: We deal with the hardware and software vendors and “speak geek” on your behalf

Peace of Mind: As a Managed Service client, you gain incredible peace of mind, having the knowledge that Mainstream Technologies is making sure everything pertaining to your network security and reliability is handled properly, so you don’t have to worry about it.
Your job is to keep your business up and running, leave your computer environment up to us!

New SPAM wave of Locky Malware

Yet another variant of malware to encrypt the files on your computer, making them inaccessible until you pay the hackers a ransom for the decryptor.  This recently discovered variant of theLocky uses Encrypted JScript files to avoid detection by firewalls and anti-malware/antivirus programs.

 

 

 

The Malware encrypts the victims files with a strong RSA 2048 encryption algorithm until the victim pays a large fee to get them back.

 

Our network security appliances and periodic maintenance plans can prevent this type of costly interruption to your business.

Contact us today for a free evaluation and estimate!

3 Facebook scams spreading like widlfire!

What online site lets crooks, hucksters, and scammers potentially reach more than a billion people with a single post? You guessed it, Facebook. Right now, three specific Facebook scams are rampant. If my News Feed is any indication, normally “smart” people are falling for them. Don’t be one of those people.
1. "SECRET SISTERS" HOLIDAY GIFT SCAM
Here's a fantastic deal: Buy a $10 holiday gift and send it to one person. In return, you'll get up to 36 gifts back. Who wouldn't want to get 36 gifts, especially if they're these must-have tech gifts?
This generous offer is courtesy of something called the "secret sisters gift exchange." There's also a similar post going around focused on a book exchange for kids, but the basic premise is the same.
The instructions clearly detail a classic two-deep pyramid scheme. You begin by sending a gift to the first secret sister. Then, move the second secret sister to the first position, send the instructions to six other ladies, and on and on. At the end, you’re promised gifts in about two weeks. Well, how lucky are you!
Stop right there. With each level, you need more people to keep it going. By the time you hit the 11th level, you need the entire population of the United States participating to make it work. Even at the 4th or 5th level, the odds of getting even one gift back after you send one are very slim.
 Then there's the fact that pyramid schemes are illegal and might get you fined or imprisoned. The federal government and many states also have laws against these kinds of schemes.
How to avoid this scam:
Keep in mind that anyone offering a huge return on any investment is probably trying to fool you.
You don’t get something for nothing. Of course, if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

2. LOTTERY SCAM
If you get a message from a Facebook friend saying that they've won a $30,000 lottery on Facebook, watch out. That's exactly what happened to a woman in Nevada, and to plenty of other people around the country.
In the case of the woman from Nevada, someone on Facebook named Theresa Paddock contacted her to tell her she won the lottery. To get her money, however, she'd have to wire $150 to cover "insurance" and other fees. She did, but didn't get her winnings. Instead, an unknown man started reaching out to her to try and get more money from her.
The same scam also happened to an Indiana woman. In the case of the Indiana woman, she wired $850, and then got asked to wire more to get an even bigger prize. Of course, in her case hackers had taken over a friend's Facebook page and were using that relationship to trick her. In both cases, the victims aren't going to see their money again.
How to avoid this scam:
If a friend tells you they won something and you can too, call or email them and make sure you're actually talking to them.
Don't send money to someone with the promise of getting money or a prize back. It's called an "Advanced fee" scam, and it never ends well.
Never wire money to anyone, whether it's through Western Union, MoneyGram or another service. Once you wire money, it's gone forever.
Watch out for other versions of the lottery scam targeting Powerball and Mega Millions players, like this one.

3. AIRLINE TICKET SCAM
If you're in the mood for travel, you might be tempted with the news that British Airways is giving away free flights for a year. You just have to share the photo, like the page and comment to win. It's even coming from the "British Air" Facebook page, so it must be legitimate, right? Nope. It's also a scam.
Sadly, this is a common scam, often using Delta. The two latest "Delta" scams tricked 65,000 and 22,000 people respectively. "Virgin Airlines" was also offering free tickets for a year if you liked its page. "Qantas" had a similar thing happen back in March. That scam got 100,000 people to share it.
How to avoid this scam:
Your first clue this isn't a legitimate offer is that British Airways' real name is "British Airways." If you see "British Air," "British Airway" or some other variation on Facebook, you're looking at a fake.
The real airline page will have a blue checkmark next to the name indicating it's a verified profile. You can see an example over at my Facebook page. Just be sure to hover your mouse over the checkmark. It should pop up a little box that says "Verified Page." If it doesn't, then it's part of the background image and you're on a fake page.
Very few companies run contests exclusively using Facebook. If a company posts about a contest, you usually need to click a link to visit a contest sign-up page, like my annual Great Giveaway where I'm giving away trips, tablets, gift cards and more.
Even if a Facebook post has a link to a standalone contest page, still check that it's really a contest from that company by finding the contest through the company's home page. It could just be a more elaborate scam designed to get your information.

Bonus: Another ticket scam
The scam above isn't the only airline ticket scam. Occasionally people will post on Facebook groups saying that they have a $200 (or another amount) voucher for an airline that they can't use before it expires. It's your lucky day because they're willing to sell it to someone for half price!
Of course, if you do send the person the money (often requested as a wire transfer), you'll never get the voucher.


Copyright © 2015 komando.com. All Rights Reserved.

Businesses, STOP Buying Computers From Big Box Stores!

#4 is the kicker folks!  We are BOOMING by replacing hard drives and motherboards in $299 computers bought at big box stores!  The consumer has the machine for 3 months, and comes to us with failing hardware (because the 60-90 day warranty is long expired allowing them to return it to the store).  I know... we shouldn't have any mercy for them, but do the best we can to help, discounting labor and hardware, but they still end up spending over $200 to get the 'new' machine operational again... and bear in mind that it is STILL a sub-standard computer with obsolete parts!  At least come see us for some free advice, and take a look at our selection of business-class computers, even if you just need a simple computer for surfing the web and checking email at home!  You will come out much better in the long run!

https://cwl.cc/2012/11/businesses-stop-buying-computers-from-big-box-stores.html

 

Stop targeted ads

If you browse the Internet at all, you've definitely run into targeted ads. For example, you'll be looking at a product on one site, and then see an ad for it right away on another site. We've seen situations where a YouTube video will play an ad for the site you just opened in another browser tab. Creepy! Let's look at how it works and how you can stop it.

How it works
Most websites get their ads from ad networks. Each ad network puts a bit of code called a "cookie" on your computer. When you visit one of the member sites, the site recognizes the cookie and lets the ad network know where you are so it can send you personalized ads.

Even worse, the member sites share what you do on their sites to build a database of what you like and don't like, or even specific items you looked at. This makes it easier for the ad network to send you ads that it thinks you'll click on.

Where it really gets scary is when you add Facebook into the ad network. Most websites have to figure out what you're thinking based on what you do. On Facebook, you tell it exactly what you're thinking.

Every "like," news story click, status update and photo caption you put in Facebook is a bit of information that advertisers would love to add to your file. And you'd be surprised how much money it can make them.

In 2013, online tracking and targeted advertising practice helped Internet advertisers rake in a staggering $42.8 billion. And for 2014, that climbed to $49.45 billion, or a 15% jump.

Naturally, you don't see a penny of it. You're just concerned with what happens to your information if a shady employee or hacker gets a hold of it. Or you just don't like the idea of being tracked.

How to stop the tracking
I've told you in the past about how to opt out of Facebook's tracking and targeted ads though the ad network it's a part of, the Digital Advertising Alliance. However, Facebook has now added this feature to its own settings.

To opt out of Facebook showing you targeted ads from other sites, or from seeing Facebook's ads on other sites, open your Facebook page and click the upside-down triangle in the upper right corner. Select "Settings" and then in the left-hand column select "Ads."

You'll see the new "Ads based on my use of websites and apps" setting. Click the "Edit" link, and then click the "Choose Setting" button and select "Off." You only have to do this once and it will apply to every gadget where you sign in with the same Facebook username.

Now, this won't stop Facebook from showing you targeted ads based on information it collects about you. However, it won't get any of your information from its partners, and it shouldn't send any of your information to advertisers.

While you're in the ad settings area, you'll also want to change "Ads with my social actions" to "No one" so Facebook can't use your name in advertising. You can also change your preferences to control what kind of ads Facebook shows you.

While this is good for dealing with targeted ads on Facebook, however, it doesn't stop the rest of the 120 companies in the Digital Advertising Alliance from collecting your information and showing you targeted ads.

To make that stop, click here to visit the Digital Advertising Alliance's tracking opt-out tool. The tool will scan your computer to see what companies are already customizing ads to target you. It can also tell if you've opted out of any online tracking for those companies in the past.

It's simple to choose a few companies and sites, like Facebook, where you don't want to see targeted ads. Or you can click the "Choose all companies" button at the bottom to opt out of targeted ads for every participating network member. Simple!

Now, opting out also doesn't stop these sites from collecting some information about you, but it does mean they won't share it with other companies. So, you won't see ads in Facebook for things you've looked for on Amazon or eBay. It also limits what any one company potentially knows about you, and keeps a single ad company from building up a detailed profile.

Because tracking is cookie-based, so is opting out. The site will put a cookie in your browser saying you don't want to be tracked. This means you'll need to run the tool in every browser you use so they're all covered.

There are still many companies online that don't participate in the Digital Advertising Alliance, so opting out won't change the way they behave. 

Your browser isn't the only way advertisers can track you on your mobile gadget. There are also ads in apps.

You shouldn't only be worried about what advertisers and Facebook can see about you.

Strangers could find out more about you than you think if you have the wrong Facebook security settings.
-Komando 10/4/15

Come visit our store or contact us on our contact page for issues with personal computers... give us a  call to schedule an onsite service call for your business!

Data stealing trojan found in the wild

We have received reports of a Trojan which leaves no trace behind and steals information from the infected system which is spreading in the wild.  The Trojan is described as an application in Chinese, named Aspirate.

It replicates, creates auto-start items in your computer's registry, AND disables your System Restore feature.  It executes commands to delete any current system backups, then tries to steal information saved on your computer and encrypts it before sending it to their servers.

MainStream Technologies can quickly implement an Antivirus and Intrusion Prevention strategy which provides protection against this and other threats, new and old.

Call us today for a free evaluation and quote!

(866) 808-6907

 

Windows 10 Upgrade Warning

Although we have tested Windows 10, and haven't seen any MAJOR problems with the operating system itself (from a clean installation)... we do have one machine in the shop now that has experienced major data loss due to the customer's attempt to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10.  So, before you attempt to do an 'in place upgrade'... if you have data you do not want to potentially lose (pictures, documents, email, etc.)... BACKUP-BACKUP-BACKUP before attempting the free upgrade!!!  If you do not know how to backup all your data, or are unsure, we have backup and imaging services and/or can perform your upgrade for you to ensure you have no catastrophic data loss - and to ensure your computer is working smoothly with Windows 10!  Call or contact us today for more information!

Microsoft themselves state that with Windows 10, not all 64-bit CPUs will work as expected!

15 Jul 2015 at 10:37, Stuart Burns

Throughout my career I have seen many Windows releases with minimum requirements that were a little bit deceiving. Sure, the machines would boot, but you would sometimes have enough time to brew a fresh pot of coffee before the computer was in a usable state.

That usable state excluded any applications you wanted to run on top of the OS. Around the Windows 95 and 98 era, this experience wasn’t pleasant if the hardware was close to the minimum requirements.

You quickly found out how patient your users were if you didn’t give them a PC that worked at a reasonable speed. In current times, with even the most lowly machines having multiple cores and running at multiple gigahertz, it shouldn’t be a problem... right?

So with Windows 10 round the corner, and Microsoft doling it out as a free (for now) upgrade to users of Windows 7 and 8, everyone should be able to upgrade to Windows 10 with no problems... right?

Setting aside the actual usability of Windows 10 itself, the answer to the question from the hardware perspective at least is: “Probably, with caveats.” What can you, as the administrator, do before Windows 10 lands to make sure you and your company are prepared?

Even machines four or five years old will meet the minimum specs. The hardware minimums are:

1. 1GHz CPU

2. 1GB for 32 bit version, 2GB for 64 bit

3. 16GB free disk space

4. DirectX 9 driver that is WDDM approved

Microsoft has defined the minimum specifications for Windows 10 on their website. Alongside the minimum requirements is a statement that any machine running Windows 8.1 should be capable of running Windows 10. That is quite a bold statement to make. Only time will tell if this statement turns out to be true.

To those people who, by choice or need, are still running Windows 7, no such guarantee or statement has been made. As long as the machine – or machines – in question meet the minimum specifications, it will be the long-used “suck it and see” approach. If the upgrade doesn’t go as planned, however, Microsoft has provided a roll back mechanism. It should prove useful for those machines that don’t work as expected or for users who decide Windows 10 is not for them.

Hello there Windows 10
The new look for your Windows 7 PC?
One problem that I suspect a lot of Windows 7 upgraders may face is the fact that the hardware or peripherals that were purchased when Windows 7 came out almost six years ago will have little to no chance of having the correct Windows 10 drivers available, given the speed with which add-on hardware becomes obsolete. Sure, some Windows 8 drivers may work but even then it would be touch-and-go as to whether they work as expected.

Please contact us for more information on upgrading or purchasing a computers with Windows 10!

Windows Server 2003 End of Life - will your data be vulnerable?!

The Windows Server 2003 end of life is just days away. Microsoft will officially end support on July 14. Yet, despite the fact that Server 2003 is 13 years old, 61 percent of businesses are still running at least one instance of it within their networks.

The small businesses still running it need to understand that while their computers are not going to suddenly stop working on July 15, by continuing to run Server 2003, they’re leaving their businesses vulnerable to a myriad of threats. The implications of failing to migrate WILL compromise your data (possibly to include customer/client data that you are responsible for keeping secured), Starkville Computers and MainStream Technologies, Inc. can help you make it through this change with relative ease.  Please contact us for a free consultation regarding if/how this change may impact your business.