Watch out for Tech Support Scammers

Scammers are in just about every kind of industry, and tech support is no different. Often times, you may visit a website and find a pop-up error that includes a phone number to call for support to “fix the issue”. But that is certainly not their intention. With new technology, fraudulent tech support often seems real to those who are inexperienced users, requesting them to download content that allows them access to the users’ computer.

Microsoft released a support post on their blog, saying, “Microsoft does not send unsolicited email messages or make unsolicited phone calls to request personal or financial information, or to provide technical support to fix your computer.” They also add that, “Any communication with Microsoft has to be initiated by you.”Scammers have the ability to make upwards to $500 each phone call that is made. Don’t fall victim to their schemes. You can protect your computer and file reports against scammers to Microsoft. There’s also a list of fraudulent numbers, websites, and other forms of scammers on their website.

Source: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4013405/windows-protect-from-tech-support-scams

New Chromebooks run Linux

Google just announced at their Google I/O event something amazing. Starting immediately, all new Chromebooks will include Linux and ChromeOS.

Even though Chrome OS is based on Linux, it is not a native Linux desktop environment. Chrome OS started as a fork of Ubuntu Linux. Later on Google forked Gentoo Linux and that is their current kernel base.

I thought we had Linux previously?

Last year, Google released a way to run desktop Linux within Chrome OS. There have also been methods for years to run different Linux distros with Crouton in a chroot container. But this is different, Linux will now come pre-installed and ready to launch with any new Chromebook.

What does Linux bring to Chromebooks?

Allowing Chrome OS to natively run Linux applications means more things you can do on your Chromebook. You will be able to run Linux applications directly from Chrome OS. Linux applications will now become like any other Android or Chrome OS application.

Previously, your inexpensive Chromebook that was limited to Web applications, now it can be a full fledged power house laptop. Almost any application available for Windows or MacOS have an equivalent Linux application.

Which Linux distros will be supported?

Google has already said Debian Stretch is going to be the first Linux distro. You can already get a near production version of this out. Subscribe to the Beta or Dev channel release of Chrome OS for the PixelBook and you can play with this new feature.

Google says security will still stay at the forefront of Chrome OS. Chrome OS uses Linux’s kernel based VM. All Linux distros will run in VM sandboxes. This will block Linux applications from accessing or controlling your chromebook. This means you can now use your Chromebook for more serious use like software development or security testing.

The mainstream Chrome OS release channel should support Linux distros by end of July 2019. You can switch to the Beta or Dev release channel if you would like to experience this today. You can expect to be using Linux applications some time soon!

For help with your Chromebook or any other Linux computer issues, call us at 1-800-620-5285.  Karls Technology is a nationwide computer service company with offices in many major cities. This blog post was brought to you from our staff at the Phoenix Computer Repair Service, if you need computer repair in Phoenix, AZ please call the local office at (602) 445-9862.

Maintain Your Laptops’ Battery Life

A standard laptop battery lasts about 2-4 years brand new, or around 1,000 charges depending on a handful of components. And not to mention, they can be a bit expensive, ranging in the $100-$150 range. With advanced software and more powerful batteries, your laptop can, and will, last longer. Educating yourself on these basic tips can help extend the life of your PC battery and keep money in your pocket.

-When you don’t need the internet or any other wireless connections, turn on Airplane Mode.

-Turn off what you are not currently using, including Bluetooth and other apps that may still be open in your background.

-Try out Microsoft Edge. It supports 1080p resolution and was made to be faster and saves your battery life. According to the Microsoft website, “Tests show that when browsing with Microsoft Edge, your battery lasts 36-53% longer per charge” than other browsers.

-Dim your screen by clicking Start and going to Settings, then Display. Under Brightness and Color, slide the brightness to dim it down a bit.

-Check your Battery Overview in the Settings tab as well to see which apps are affecting the life of your battery. You can also turn your Battery Saver on when the battery hits a certain percentage.

(Source: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/20443/windows-10-battery-saving-tips)

Can Your Smartphone Get Hacked?

In short, yes. Many people assume it’s only your computer. However, through fraudulent messaging clients, hackers can access data, location, photos and more from your personal or business mobile phones, invading your privacy. And there are a handful of ways they can get sneaky.

According to EFF.org, “The trojanized apps, including Signal and WhatsApp, function like the legitimate apps and send and receive messages normally. However, the fake apps also allow the attackers to take photos, retrieve location information, capture audio, and more.” (source: https://www.eff.org/press/releases/eff-and-lookout-uncover-new-malware-espionage-campaign-infecting-thousands-around)

Along with fake apps, you can also receive text messages, e-mails, and instant messages with web links from an unknown source. This technique is called phishing messages and can allow hackers to acquire any login information you may have saved on your phone.  

If you notice an open WIFI when choosing a network, you might also be at risk of your phone being hacked. Unsecured WIFI networks can sometimes have snoopers behind the scenes, waiting for users to join and surf the web or log in to highly sensitive (or personal) accounts. This gives them ample opportunity to steal anything they want. Keep an eye out for URLs with unsecured vs secured connections (http: VS https:).

You can protect yourself from these, and other possible risks, by creating strong passwords, using two-factor authentication and setting up security questions for your passwords. Be sure to play it safe with any and all personal information you add to your phone.

Handle Computer Viruses Properly

Computer viruses affect millions of computers each year, with 2018 ranking at over 800 million. In turn, this costed individuals and businesses billions of dollars in the process. This malicious software is created to access sensitive information, causing disastrous issues to your computer and allowing hackers to either collect or destroy data. In turn, this slows the computers functionality and operation or might even crash it all together, making it unusable.

The viruses can be spread through e-mail attachments, scam links, and pop-ups and often times seems legitimate. And while it’s extremely frustrating, you can take the necessary precautions of reducing your computers risk for a virus by avoiding clicking on any advertisements shown on web pages you might visit. You can also download anti-virus software, which can detect and remove harmful trojans or malware, and is beneficial to have even if you’re not concerned about a potential threat. Norton and McAfee are well known anti-virus software subscriptions, available for you to purchase online. Keeping your OS updated to the latest version is helpful as well, as it contains the protection and security needed.

Trust your gut – if it seems fishy, it probably is!

What is Wi-Fi 6?

Wi-Fi 6, originally known as 802.11ax, is an expansion of 802.11ac, which is now called Wi-Fi 5. Are you confused yet? Okay, let’s start by defining how the Wi-Fi Alliance is redefining and more importantly renaming the last twenty years of Wi-Fi naming conventions.

The Wi-Fi Alliance is international organization that define the specifications for the various different wireless standards. They create rules and define how different pieces of wireless equipment can talk to one another so manufacturers can make wireless devices that all speak to one another.

Thus, over the years not everyone has conformed to all the standards and that’s why in years past you had to purchase only Netgear MIMO wireless equipment to work with Netgear routers (or insert any other brand that didn’t want to conform to published standards).

The Wi-Fi Alliance has decided that naming each standard based on their specification policy name within the IEEE’s standards policies was confusing to consumers. So they have decided to rename the new standard from 802.11ax to Wi-Fi 6 and retroactively rename all the previous standards at the same time.

New names for Wi-Fi standards

  • 802.11b launched in 1999 is now called Wi-Fi 1
  • 802.11a launched in 1999 is now called Wi-Fi 2
  • 802.11g launched in 2003 is now called Wi-Fi 3
  • 802.11n launched in 2009 is now called Wi-Fi 4
  • 802.11ac launched in 2013 is now called Wi-Fi 5
  • 802.11ax which was just finalized this year (2019) is the new Wi-Fi 6

How is 802.11b before 802.11a?

So this is a little confusing but essentially both the a and b specification of 802.11 were adopted at the same time. The 802.11a amendment allows for higher speeds and more channel selection but it cost significantly more than 802.11b did back in 1999. 802.11a was the first user of the nice and empty 5.7 GHz band. 802.11b was the first user of the HIGHLY congested 2.4 GHz band (which has held all wireless development back for years).

Both the a and b standards were available to manufactures in 1999 and the b standard was much less expensive to produce, that was the primary standard for years (and the first to market in 1999). 802.11b works at a maximum speed of 11 Mbit/s and had only 3 independent channels (there are 11 total, but all but 3 overlap one another….this is still true today if you are on a 2.4 GHz wireless network).

802.11a works at a maximum speed of 54 Mbit/s and has 12 independent channels (none of which overlap). 802.11a is obviously the superior standard, thus why the Wi-Fi Alliance rebranded it as Wi-Fi 2 even though it was not an evolution of Wi-Fi 1.

What does 802.11ax mean?

For any wireless nerds (like me) the IEEE 802 is the standards dealing with Local and Metropolitan networks. the .11 is the eleventh defined standard which deals with wireless communications. Every amendment to the standard is given a new letter. Initially the first wireless specification to be standardized was 802.11a, the second was 802.11b. After a dozen years of this the IEEE ran out of characters and switched to two character standards with 802.11ac (much like Excel when you pass column Z and the next one is AA). The current standards have defined specifications up through 802.11ay (which is a 60 GHz wave spectrum system).

Will old equipment work on Wi-Fi 6 wireless networks?

Wi-Fi 6 is just like all previous versions of 802.11x wireless networks in regards to backwards standard compatibility. You will be able to use your 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) or previous wireless devices on the new network at the reduced performance level they operate at. Wi-Fi 6 does a better job as isolating older equipment on your wireless network so you will not see as much degradation of your bandwidth using older wireless devices like you have seen in previous versions.

Do I need to get a Wi-Fi 6 router now?

There are only a few routers out that conform to 802.11ax. The Netgear AX8 is probably the best consumer model on the market that we have setup for a client. Expect other brands to start releasing 802.11ax / Wi-Fi 6 routers over the rest of 2019. If you need to replace your router you may as well upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 today since all new wireless equipment will be based on the standard soon.

If you would like to upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 or have any issues with your wireless network and would like to have a professional computer service company consult with you and set it up for you, call us at 1-800-620-5285.  Karls Technology is a nationwide computer service company with offices in many major cities.  This blog post is brought to you from our staff at the Aurora Computer Repair Service, if you need computer repair in Aurora, CO please call the local office at (720) 441-6460.

Dell

Dells vulnerable to remote hijack

A security flaw in the DellSupportAssist that comes preinstalled on all Dell computers could allow a remote hijack of your computer. The attack exposes a vulnerability DellSupportAssist has with remote code execution.

How the remote hijack works

A Dell computer user would have to go to a web page where the attackers would place compromised Javascript. The Javascript can trick the DellSupportAssist into thinking Dell is trying to remote into the computer to fix a problem. The attacker has to be on your same network to then take control of your computer. Attacks on home computers are unlikely (unless other computers are already compromised). Attacks emanating from public wifi (coffee shops, large public venues), hotels and on corporate networks are much more likely.

Proof of concept attack already published

A proof of concept showing how to implement the attack was published on Github several days ago. The attack and vulnerability, called
CVE-2019-3719, is already live and can now be reproduced by anyone.

What Dell Computers are affected?

All recent and old Dell computers that have not disabled the built in DellSupportAssist are vulnerable to this attack. Dell is working on a security patch / update for DellSupportAssist but we would recommend that you disable the DellSupportAssist service for now.

If you have a Dell computer and would like to have a professional computer service company verify your system is secure, call us at 1-800-620-5285.  Karls Technology is a nationwide computer service company with offices in many major cities.  This blog post is brought to you from our staff at the Lakewood Computer Repair Service, if you need computer repair in Lakewood, CO please call the local office at (720) 441-6460.

High CPU Nvidia Bug Fixed

Nvidia has just released Nvidia driver version 430.53 which is a hotfix to resolve a high CPU problem. We have seem several clients complain about desktop videos flickering. The flickering happens in a variety of configurations (moving a video from one monitor to another, when launching a game, on benchmarking) but in all cases we have seen a very high CPU utilization from NVDisplay.Container.exe.

The new Nvidia driver v430.53 will also add Windows 10 May 2019 Update support. NVidia engineers have confirmed in the Nvidia GeForce Forums that they were able to reproduce the issue after driver version 430.39 (although we have seen examples of it for several weeks now). They state this hotfix was made specifically to address the high CPU problem and ensure May 2019 Update compatibility.

If you are experiencing high CPU issues with your Nvidia video card and would like some assistance, please give us a call at 1-800-620-5285.  Karls Technology is a nationwide computer service company with offices in many major cities.  This blog post is brought to you from our staff at the Plano Computer Repair Service, if you need computer repair in Plano, TX please call the local office at (469) 299-9005.

Microsoft kills off some PCs

The new May 2019 Update will expand the list of PCs that will not be able to upgrade beyond their current version of Windows 10. Previously Microsoft removed support for Intel Clover Tail processors (see this TechNet note ). The new update will expand the list of Atom processors and other lower end computers that will not be able to support updates beyond the current one.

Microsoft has moved to software as a service model so if you cannot upgrade your version of Windows it will stop receiving support and updates after 18 months. The problem with this if those computers would have stayed on Windows 8 or 8.1 they would receive support and updates until 2023.

If your computer needs to be upgraded and would like some assistance, please give us a call at 1-800-620-5285.  Karls Technology is a nationwide computer service company with offices in many major cities.  This blog post is brought to you from our staff at the Scottsdale Computer Repair Service, if you need computer repair in Scottsdale, AZ please call the local office at (480) 240-2960 or schedule an appointment at www.scottsdalecomputerrepairservice.net.

Roaming User Profiles will reset

If you are a mobile computer user that uses a Roaming User Profile look out for the new update of Windows 10. Roaming Users that customize your start menu settings or any operating system settings will be reset after updating to May 2019 Update of Windows 10.

Microsoft lays out a work around in a support article ( https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4493782/customized-start-menu-not-persisting-after-upgrade-in-windows-10 ) published today. The work around only works if the Start Menu customizations that are stored locally and have not been deleted due to a group policy.

This update is part of the LCU (latest cumulative update) released today for older versions of Windows 10 (versions 1703, 1709 and 1803).

If you use a Roaming User Profile and would like some assistance, please give us a call at 1-800-620-5285.  Karls Technology is a nationwide computer service company with offices in many major cities.  This blog post is brought to you from our staff at the Frisco Computer Repair Service, if you need computer repair in Frisco, TX please call the local office at (469) 299-9005 or schedule an appointment at www.friscocomputerrepairservice.com.