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Ransomeware: What It Is And How You Can Be Protected

 

A recent cyber attack has surfaced a malware called “Ransomeware,” which can completely lock your files on your computer and requires you to pay a certain fee to attain the files that have been compromised. It has been said that this attack occurred through stealing certain tools from the NSA. At the end of the day, these hackers are really holding your files for ransom.

 

These hackers can get into your machine via a variety of methods including SPAM emails, direct hacking, infected websites, or other computers that are infected on your network. This is spread easily by hacking into other computers on a network making it and endless cycle. Also, using outdated software can make you an easy target. Sadly, these hackers are advanced and major companies such as FedEx have even taken a hit from this malware.

 

What steps you need to take to protect you and your devices:

 

The first step you should take, is make backups of all your files. Whatever is important to you on your computer, back it up! So for example, if you have a backup of all your files on your computer and you become a victim of this malware, you can take the machine and wipe it clean and start fresh. Having the backup will simply load your backed up files back on your computer getting rid of the ransomware.

 

Another great asset to have is antivirus software. This software helps to eliminate all virus threats, using helpful tools like pop-up blockers and avoiding suspicious attachments.

 

The good news is, Gamma Tech can help! We do both backups and antivirus protection! If you are a commercial customer who participates in our managed services Gamma Tech Antivirus is included along with our ransomware proof backup. So if any problems are to occur, we can assure that our expert IT technicians will be there to help!  If you’re a residential customer, give us a call so we can ensure your machine is protected from crooks attempting to hold your files ransom.

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The Reason for Blog Silence

If you’re a reader of our blog, let me apologize for the delay in updating it. It hasn’t been for naught though. As you most likely know, we are moving, and the move has been consuming all of our extra time and energy, normally spent on our blog. The list of improvements for the new office include:

1- all new wood flooring throughout
2 – painting of all interior
3 – security cameras covering entire inside and outside
4 – all new electrical outlets and switches
5 – several new doors and beautiful French doors in a couple areas
6 – new furniture and art throughout
7 – wiring throughout
…. And much more…

Needless to say, we are investing heavily in our space in both financial and time resources to make it a more productive and also more inviting environment for our customers to visit us. Although we are still a ways off from the finished product, the results have already been rather impressive. Thanks to our awesome employees and the contractors we employed we have a space that is truly everything we have wanted.

The reality is that we believe this space will continue to propel us forward as we grow the company in size and professional offerings. This year we added our VoIP services and phone systems and have installed far more than we anticipated. We continue to grow our managed services for our commercial clients at a steady 5% per month and the audio video side has continued to add new customers and strategic sources of referrals. And this month we added on a new service with automated window treatments and shades that we are very excited about.

We know all of this growth requires a new space and we believe that this space is exactly that. We are excited to have a location that allows us to better exhibit our service offerings and better present the level of service we provide.

2015 has been an exciting year and we know by the beginning of 2016 that we will have this new office fully ready to go. I hope you’ll drop by and see us, but for now, stay tuned!

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Facebook Newsfeed Explained

If you’ve seen pictures going around or your friends complaining about Facebook “hiding” your posts from your friends, than you’ll be interested in understanding the truth.

First of all, they are right in that your news feed is not a comprehensive list of all your FB friends’ posts. There is an algorithm that FB applies to load your news feed. The exact algorithm is based on logic that no one knows besides the FB programmers, but from what we can figure out is it is as follows:

1. If you have a new friend, their statuses are shown to you on your news feed.
2. If you do not “like” or comment on their statuses than their statuses begin to be hidden from your feed.
3. If a particular post of your friend’s gets more traction or likes, it will be shown on your feed. IE someone getting married or the like.
4. If you do not like these posts or comment on them, FB basically determines you are not interested in their posts and hides all of their posts.

This is all balanced and follows the ebb and flow of your likes, but that is the basic idea.

The pictures that promise to get more friends to see your posts work, sorta. They basically will trick the algorithm to think the post is gaining traction as your friends that normally see your post will hopefully all like and comment. The result is that friends that don’t see your posts normally will see your post…

BUT

There’s a cost. Most likely the friends that FB decides to show the post to will decide that the picture is just a “scam” and may not like post. The result is that FB will determine that those friends truly are not interested in your posts and not show them to those friends at all.

So the moral. Just use FB as you normally would and don’t try to trick it. It will have unintended consequences and they probably won’t be positive. FB pays software engineers thousands to ensure the algorithms are always one step ahead.

In the meantime, if you want to see your friends posts that aren’t showing up on your feed, go to more and then most recent.

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The Internet is Changing

The Internet is changing, and it’s changing for the better.

Gamma.Tech

That’s not a mistake. It’s actually our new web address, and it’s thanks to something called gTLDs. gTLDs were created to freshen up Internet web addresses by providing more endings to web addresses. Instead of .com, for example, we now have literally hundreds of new “endings” or extensions to choose from. And because of this, you may be able to get a new domain you never thought possible.

Take our new Gamma.Tech domain. I’ll admit, it looks a little strange at first, but when you consider that we had no chance of securing www.GammaTech.com, it’s exciting to know we have a domain that’s not as long as www.GammaTechServices.com. Eventually, our email addresses will be “@Gamma.Tech” instead of “@gtmail.us”. That’s exciting to say the least!

But .tech is just one option. The list is so long that I won’t take the time to list it here, but some of our favorites are:

.construction
.company
.cooking
.design
.dental
.engineering
.marketing
.life
.repair
.ninja

Some of these get to be pretty short, and since they are all fairly new—with new ones being released weekly—now is the time to secure your perfect domain name. It will take some time before people get used to them, but when they do, you’ll have an awesome, short domain name that people can easily remember.

Checkout the full list of new gTLDs and visit a domain registrar like GoDaddy.com to register your new gTLDs today. Don’t wait until it’s too late!

Windows-10

Should you wait for Windows 10?

On July 29th, 2015, Microsoft released the latest version of Windows, Windows 10. In the days since its release, we’ve received calls from several customers who are experiencing issues upgrading to Windows 10. As with any new product release, we recommend that you do not upgrade to Windows 10 until all of the initial kinks have been worked out. If you like to live on the cutting edge and can’t wait any longer, make sure you back up all of your data before you upgrade.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: How much does the upgrade cost?
A: If you currently use Windows 7 or 8/8.1, the upgrade to Windows 10 is completely FREE! You have until July 29, 2016 to take advantage of your free upgrade.

Q: Can my computer run Windows 10?
A: If your computer meets the following minimum requirements, you can upgrade to Windows 10:

  • 1 Ghz or faster processor
  • 2 GB RAM for 64-bit; GB RAM for 32-bit machines
  • 20 GB storage for 64-bit; 16 GB storage for 32-bit machines

Q: Is it safe to upgrade to Windows 10?
A: Even though you a free to upgrade to Windows 10 if your system meets the requirements, we strongly encourage our customers to wait until most of the bugs from the initial release have been fixed. As we mentioned before, if you decide to upgrade, always make a backup of your data beforehand.

From now until August 31, 2015, we are running a Windows 10 Preparation Special. For just $150, you will receive:

  • 500 GB external backup hard drive
  • Automatic local backup software, configured to backup all documents, pictures, videos, favorites, and music.
  • Windows 10 compatibility check
  • Windows 10 reservation, if you are eligible to upgrade
  • 15% off Windows 10 installation service at a future date
Windows 10 - Gamma Tech Services

8 Reasons Windows 10 is worth the Upgrade

 

Windows 10 is due here next month and many are asking, “Should I upgrade?”

Like any upgrade we say to wait. The reason has little to do with Microsoft and more to do with the things you use with your computer like your printer, software, websites, and other peripherals. It takes time for the bugs to be worked out with those things and there’s no reason to be the guinea pig.

That in mind, Windows 10 is going to be a very good thing for PC users. Here are 8 things you’ll love about Windows 10

1. It’s optimized for a mouse and keyboard again.
This sounds silly, but Windows 8 tried to push the touch screen idea forward and left the mouse and keyboard users behind. The reality is that mouse and keyboard are here to stay for the foreseeable future. With Windows 10 you no longer have to struggle to bring up a right side menu or wave your mouse in the corner to bring up the start menu. It’s back to the way it should be.

2. The start menu is back
…and it’s better than ever. Need I say more?

3. Virtual Desktops
If you’ve ever used multiple monitors you know the joy that comes from having multiple work screens and configurations. Virtual desktops is like that but it allows you to have a set of windows open that work together and then open another “desktop” that can have a whole new set of windows. Examples would be a “work” desktop with Outlook, calendar, and maybe your common work websites all open and then a “Personal” desktop that just has your Facebook and a YouTube websites open. One click and all your windows that pertain to the personal desktop go away and you’re back to your work desktop, and vice versa. Makes it easy to work and group certain windows together.

4. Oh Snap!
With Windows 10 you can now snap windows into place with snap assist. This allows you to form a grid of sorts and put up to 4 things on the screen without having to resize and move them. If you remember the side snap that was released with Windows 7, it’s like that but taken a step further.

5. It’s Free!
Yes that’s right. For the first year it’s out, you can get a free copy. The key is to reserve your copy. It should show up in your task bar on the bottom right of the screen by the digital time on your current computer. Click on it and follow the steps to reserve your copy via email, but remember to wait to actually make the switch.

6. Cortona is here
Cortina is the Siri of Windows and it’s really quite interesting. Honestly I’m not sure everyone will be talking to their computer, but Cortona is more than that and offers some intelligence to your normal daily tasks and acts as a digital assistant. It should be something that we really learn to enjoy.

7. Speed, Speed, Speed
Windows 10 is one of the lightest Windows versions yet. This means it will run faster than any version before it and since it’s been so well tested via a new beta program that had millions testing it (us included), it will be very stable as well.

8. It’s still Windows
That’s right, it’s still Windows and in the end that means you get to enjoy all the programs that you use without fear of compatibility. If it ran on Windows 7 or 8 it’ll probably run on Windows 10 just as well. That’s great news and should make the transition much smoother for those of us upgrading.

 

Trust Gamma Tech Services for all your computer needs whether personal or work related. If you have any other specific questions regarding Windows 10, don’t hesitate to call us and we’d be happy to help and remember to stay tuned to see when we recommend the update.

“Buy Once, Cry Once”

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“Buy once, cry once.” He said as I stood there waiting for the check.

It was 2006 and I was about 1 year into my business. As a 17 year kid, I was still uncomfortable with the amount of the bill that the customer had to pay for a new computer I had sold him and it was at that moment he told me the saying I’ll never forget. Buy once, cry once.

After he said it, I laughed and said, “What do you mean?” He explained, “It’s ok if I’m paying this much today, but I better have a good, reliable system and you better not come back asking for more money when this doesn’t work.”

I gulped and said “of course.”

To this day, this has always been our strategy in designing our projects and the result has been only glowing customer reviews.

But, not all of our customers understand this methodology in the beginning. In fact, some projects are even lost to our competition because they were willing to cut a corner we simply were not and therefore were able to beat our price significantly.

We call it the Apple effect. Honestly we aren’t big Apple fans over at Gamma Tech Services (ok maybe it’s just me) but they do one thing right. They don’t ever settle or sacrifice what they consider necessities to offer a lower price point. It took some time for them to gain traction but no one can question that their growth has stemmed from this dedication to quality.

Beyond quality, simplicity and ease of use is another area that we at Gamma Tech apply a buy once, cry once methodology. I have customer after customer tell me how they just want simplicity. They want it to just work. But what isn’t commonly understood is that simplicity and ease of use, often comes at a cost. Remote controls that automatically turn on and switch everything to the right input and other items like automatic speaker switchers that prevent you from having to switch from music to TV and vice versa with with multiple devices all add to the cost of the design.

Sure, the result may be a little higher than if you didn’t include that thingy that’ll make the system easy to use, but if you can’t use your system then what did you really save?

If you’re buying from Gamma Tech Services know that although you may cry when you write the check to pay for the system the first time, you’ll be smiling for much longer after. The result will be a system you enjoy, that’s easy to use, and less prone to issues. And we back it up with our 1 Year System Guarantee that means whether it’s parts, labor, or training we will take care of the issue in the first year.

In the end you get to buy once and cry, maybe a little, once.

 

Bible and Computer

Use Scripture to Protect Your Password

 

If you’re like most internet users, you have experienced a hacked email account or some other online account. Most people assume that like credit card fraud your password was stolen in some unknown way, but the actual reason is actually far more simple.

They guessed at your password and got it right.

You’re probably thinking there is no way this can be true but it most definitely is.  The catch is that it wasn’t a person doing the guessing, it was a computer or more specifically a program. The technique is called Brute Force.  By guessing thousands of passwords a minute, it is only a matter of time before they get your password right.

Thankfully, by understanding how this works, you can protect yourself.

Most password generators use statistics to increase their odds of success and one of the ways they do this is by using an English dictionary for their guessing. Other tricks include using all lowercase letters or only the capitalizing the first letter of the word. These are all common items found in passwords and by employing these techniques with the luxury of being able to guess so many in such a short period and it’s not hard to see why so many get hacked.

So how to protect yourself? Well God’s word is always a good place to turn for wisdom and security… So that’s why we argue that using scripture is a great strategy. Read more to find out why.

Before we answer that though, here are the rules for a secure password:

1. At least 1 lowercase letter
2. At least 1 uppercase letter, preferably not the first letter only.
3. At least 1 number.
4. At least 1 special character.
5. Not comprised solely of an English word or combination of English words.
6. At least 12 characters long but preferably even longer. It seems for security that longer is better but some sites will limit you to only 16 characters.
7. Find a way to change up your password so that you aren’t using the same password on multiple sites.

To accomplish this task, we like to use a sentence or phrase and then take the first letter of each word in that sentence and use it for the password. The trick is finding a sentence that meets all of the criteria above. The good news is that almost all of scripture does this!

For example, let’s take a popular Bible verse and give it a try.

Philippians 4:13 – For I can do everything though Christ, who gives me strength.

The password for this would be: P4:13-FIcdetCwgms. Despite looking like complete nonsense, this password is easy to remember and best of all, meets all of the criteria we specified above except number 7.

To accomplish number 7, we recommend adding a letter to the end or beginning of the password that marks the website. For example, if it was for Facebook, it would be letter F. Twitter would be T and so on. Therefore, your Facebook password might be P4:13-FIcdetCwgmsF and your Twitter password would be P4:13-FIcdetCwgmsT.

If you are using passwords that don’t meet this criteria, we recommend you take the time to change them ASAP. It’s a little tedious but worth the time and effort. Focus first on your email accounts as they are the easiest to crack and then move to social media and banking.

In the end, it’ll take some time but you’ll be able to sleep easy knowing your accounts aren’t susceptible to hacking via brute force and maybe even memorize some scripture along the way. It’s a win win!

6 WiFi Secrets You Should Know

If there is one area that Gamma Tech Services leads the market, it is WiFi networking. In fact, several of our competitors have contracted us to install and debug their WiFi networks when it exceeded their abilities. Our expertise was further affirmed by our contract with Summit Broadband in which they relied on our expertise to advise about 1000 Pelican Bay residents in Naples on how to get full WiFi coverage in their homes.

Reality is that there are only a few WiFi “secrets” that need to be known to deploy a powerful WiFi network.

1. WiFi range is ultimately not determined by the router or access point but instead by the FCC. The FCC are the ones who set the power limits of wireless devices including the WiFi in your home. They govern this as there is only so much bandwidth available and they want to prevent your neighbor from creating a WiFi that takes up all of the bandwidth in your area. In the end, it’s a good thing, but the result is that manufacturers are severely limited in the range that they can provide. The lesson? Although there are devices with poor range, the better quality devices will all share a similar range performance and it shouldn’t be a deciding factor in which device you purchase.

2. Routers are for newbies and Wireless Repeaters don’t work. Access Points (APs) are where the real power lies. Without going into too much detail, it’s easiest to explain it this way: It’s only possible to have one router in a network, but there is no limit to the number of access points you can have. “What’s wrong with repeaters?” you ask. A repeater takes a wireless connection and emits another wireless connection while an access point takes a wired connection and emits a wireless connection. In order to use a repeater, it has to have a strong wireless connection to the source, but if you place it too close it will introduce interference and limit the distance it extends. Place it too far away and the receiving signal is too weak and therefore what it emits is a garbage signal. An access point doesn’t suffer from these challenges and instead takes a reliable wired connection and emits a clean wireless signal.

3. There are only 3 channels of 2.4ghz WiFi and even that may be generous. This topic gets messy quick, but the moral of the story is that WiFi has 11 selectable frequencies in the 2.4ghz band allowed by the FCC, but to achieve faster speeds, most WiFi devices use multiple neighboring channels at the same time. The result is that there are only 3 channels (1, 6, and 11) that do not have any overlap. The 5ghz band uses multiple frequencies at the same time too, but it has many more channels to choose from, making the issue far less problematic.

4. WiFi interference is easier to understand when you compare it to sound waves and conversations in a crowded room. The more people you put in a room, the more difficult it becomes to hear and focus on a conversation. At the same time, the closer you are to someone in a crowded room the easier it is to hear them. And finally, it’s very difficult to hear through walls or other solid objects. These principles can and should all be applied when designing a WiFi network. If you attempt to put too many access points in a space, you’ll just cloud up the frequencies with interference but the biggest determining factor of your speed and reliability is your proximity to the closest access point. Therefore, you must balance these two facts. Finally, understand that walls are the antonym of WiFi and that even the most powerful access points won’t go through them and yield 100% connection speeds.

5. WiFi operates mostly in the 2.4ghz band along with your cordless phone, Bluetooth headset, wireless camera, microwave oven, car alarm remote, and plenty of other devices. Needless to say, your WiFi doesn’t just compete with neighbors WiFi or other access points in your own network, but also hundreds of other devices that use the 2.4ghz band. The best way to use this information is to understand that WiFi interference is a very complicated subject and the closer you live to your neighbors, the more this holds true. Plan accordingly and remember, the closest device wins.

6. 5.0ghz is a mixed bag. Yes, it doesn’t suffer from nearly as much interference as 2.4ghz, but it also can’t penetrate objects as well as 2.4ghz. This is combined with the reality that not every device supports 5ghz meaning that even if you use 5ghz, you still must accommodate the 2.4ghz band. In the end, 5ghz makes many promises it simply can’t keep and 2.4ghz will be here to stay for quite some time.

WiFi is a complex topic that can’t be fully explained in a single blog post, but these 6 truths are probably the most influential in how we design our WiFi deployments.

If you’re looking for WiFi in your home or business, trust the professionals at Gamma Tech Services. No space is too large or too challenging for our team of experts.

VoIP: It Rises and Falls on the Network

VoIP is finally making a place in most businesses. It is estimated that over 50% of all businesses have switched to VoIP and that the remaining businesses will switch within the next 5 years. VoIP is a great advancement in voice services. A physical cooper line is no longer required and the ability to have multiple office locations and/or mobile offices is easily possible with the power of the Internet.

But for those that have switched, it’s not all peaches and roses. The reality is that most people do not fully understand that VoIP stands for “Voice over IP” and that the “IP” is your network.

No one understands the importance of the network and networking better than us. After all, it was networking that ultimately has allowed us to have so much success in the Audio Video market. While our competition struggles to understand the network so their customers can control their music, security, TVs, and lighting from their phone, we only seem to excel. The reason is because of our understanding of the power and importance of the network.

And now, we are applying the same expertise to our newly launched VoIP product.

Like the foundation of a home, the network is what everything else runs on top of and VoIP is perhaps the most picky. VoIP is almost like a fine marble floor. It can be gorgeous and of the finest quality but if the foundation is uneven or unstable, it will crack and fall apart. So many might be quick to blame the marble, but the actual cause is the foundation below it.

It is for this reason that we believe GTVoice will be such a reliable product. Our team of network engineers will ensure that a solid network foundation is provided for the VoIP services creating a perfect combo. Our wisest customers will combine our managed services with our GTVoice product for a comprehensive technology solution from a single provider.

Which brings us into the importance of a single provider for your VoIP and networking team. By using separate companies, you are stuck in the middle of two companies pointing fingers and blaming one another for each other’s problems. We have been involved in these environments and the result is anything but fun. In fact, it was part of the reason that we decided to launch GTVoice as we were tired of being involved in that finger pointing game. The customer was being hurt the most, and that goes against our promise for a more productive technological environment.

Reality is that GTVoice is still in its infancy, but we expect to rock the market as we have with audio video by understanding the importance of the network and continuing to provide our excellent level of customer-first, customer service!