Things to keep in mind this holiday shopping season


Hello Holiday Shoppers!

With Black Friday and the Holidays literally just around the corner I am sure some of you will be doing a little bit of online shopping. Norton put together a list of the top 11 Safety tips for any on-line shopping that we feel is important to share with our clients.

Happy Online Shopping and be safe.

Here are some of our favourites:

1) Shop the Names You Know

When it comes to online shopping, there are some advantages to brand loyalty. Shopping mainly with brands that you know well – the kind that absolutely have to have the highest standards in safety – is one of the best ways to make sure everything will be on the up and up.

2) Always Check for the Lock

Secure sites always let you know that your information is protected. The “lock” icon on most browsers pops up when the site you’re surfing is using high-level encryption. Encryption “scrambles” information you send, making it harder for anyone to intercept it.

3) Keep Private Information Private

If a site asks you a strange question, such as about your Social Security number, back away. Many sophisticated phishing schemes can look very similar to a trusted website, but will try to fool you with an “interstitial” page that pops up and asks for inappropriate information.

4) Double Check Your Billing Statements

One way to stay safe online is to always check your billing statements from your bank or credit card. Issues that you might not even have noticed could slip by unless you check your statements, alerting you to the possibility of fraud.

5) Be Careful With Your Passwords

You should always be extremely careful with your passwords: Don’t save them in your browser, don’t write them down anywhere near your computer, and be sure that you use several different passwords. Ideally, use a different one for each site.

6) Use Mobile Apps

Generally speaking, wireless communications are less safe than wired connections. To make shopping safer, use a company’s dedicated mobile app rather than using the browser on your phone. Also make sure you keep the app updated.

7) Do Your Shopping From Home

All things being equal, your home Internet connection is a lot safer than any connection you might have access to on a public network. Always do all your shopping from home, preferably from a private, hard-wired desktop connection.

8) Think About Identity Theft Protection

There are plenty of services out there that can help protect you from identity theft. Many of these services will run checks on your credit cards and other accounts and set out an alert to companies if unusual activity is detected.

9) Keep Your Web Browser Up to Date

Even your home internet connection can be threatened, especially if you don’t update your software frequently enough. Your browser will usually alert you when updates are available, but don’t forget to actually accept them!

To read the rest of the list please click here

Happy Shopping!

The Windows 8 Experience

The latest and greatest operating system from Microsoft is finally here.

Windows 8 is a bold departure from Windows 7 and Windows XP and it all starts with its vibrant start screen.

Windows now has a ‘Metro’ interface, one that has a fluid and intuitive design. Behind the tiled initial interface of Windows 8 is the rock-solid foundation you’ve come to expect from Windows 7. Everything that was great about Windows 7 is now even better.

Windows 8 has clearly been designed with a touch screen in mind from the start! The ‘Live Tiles’ are a great addition to Windows. The tiles can all be sized and placed according to where you, the user, want them. What’s more is that you can also customize the content that appears within the ‘Live Tiles’. This allows you to see the information that you want to see, before you even launch the App or Program. The result is a Start Page that’s exploding with the information you asked for. The best part is that the ‘Live Tiles’ change and update content in real time so you can see what’s going on, without even the click of a button.

The Start button (Windows Logo in the bottom left corner) has been replaced with ‘The Charm Bar’ in Windows 8. The Charm Bar is a universal toolbar that can be accessed from anywhere, no matter what you’re doing or what application you’re running. The five charms are Search, Share, Start, Devices, and Settings, all allowing a quick and simple way to access more data.

Windows 8 is also cloud-connected. When you sign in using your ‘Live’ account you’re immediately connected to the people, files, and settings that are most important to you. You can connect your favorite services to your Microsoft account as well, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more. This provides you with instant access to your photos, docs, and other files, whether they’re on Microsoft SkyDrive, Facebook, Flickr, or other services.

Final thoughts: Windows 8 might be a little challenging at first, but once you start to use it there’s no turning back! To learn more about Windows 8, contact your account manager at Optimus Tech Solutions.

Why choose a Managed Service Provider?

Small and Medium sized businesses have several options for maintaining their technology:

  1. They can try to do it themselves
  2. Use a friend of a friend or relative
  3. Use an all-purpose “computer guy” to fix things when they break

These are all considered reactive solutions, otherwise known as the “break-fix” model, which springs into action when an issue arises, costing businesses money to fix the problem, not to mention time and productivity while the issue is being fixed.

A managed service provider allows companies to outsource the day-to-day IT management responsibilities as a strategic method for improving overall business operations. A Managed Service Provider (MSP) such as Optimus Tech Solutions offers specialized services and support at affordable, predictable monthly costs and emphasize problem prevention rather than “break-fix”.

Here are some reasons why managed IT services make sense for your business:

  • Consistent IT Spending. As a business owner, you can handle consistent monthly expenses. Where you run into a problem is the surprise one-time cash outlay expense to replace an outdated server or redo your entire IT system. By monitoring business systems for problems before they occur, managed service providers keep expenses predictable, allowing you to confidently budget and plan for them.
  • Do what you do best. Unless you’re a technology firm, IT is a tool you use to help run your business, not the business itself. So why should you spend hours messing around with technology problems when you can leave those matters to skilled technicians and concentrate on your business? Optimus Tech Solutions constantly monitors our clients networks to spot and fix a problem without even having to let the business users know.
  • The onus is on the MSP not the Business. Unlike “break-fix” vendors, who focus on fixing a discrete problem and moving on to the next one, Managed Service Providers have a built-in incentive to look at a business’ bigger IT picture: where its weak points are, where it could use an upgrade, what might prevent a catastrophic failure.
  • Keep up with the technology evolution. IT services are getting simpler to use and more complex to maintain, and that trend is sure to continue as all businesses use technology to try to accomplish more with fewer resources. Bottom line business owners just want IT to work as effectively as possible.

As a Managed Service Provider, Optimus Tech Solutions is dedicated to providing businesses within the Greater Toronto Area with the best managed IT services models possible.

Be Aware of Ransomware

Ransomware is a form of malware which aims to maliciously restrict access to an infected computer by locking the computer, encrypting data or by posing as an authority demanding payment. What makes Ransomware different than other forms of Malware is that the infector demands a ransom to be paid to the creator in order for the restrictions to be lifted.

While some lock users out of their computers or programs, Ransomware is also known to encrypt files on a system’s hard drive – only when the creator of the malicious virus is paid their demands is access granted back to the victim. Scareware is a tactic used in Ransomware to coax victims into giving into the “ransom” demands, by posting false claims about illegal web activity, or re-activation of programs.

The urge is strong to pay the fee to retrieve your valuable data, but do not panic. “These scams are designed to create shock and anxiety so that victims respond by sending money quickly,” says the Government of Canada, Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

A Ransomware virus could make its way into an innocent system through many ways, though the most common is through downloading files thought to be protected.

All the malicious acts of Ransomware and Scareware are all enacted to attempt to extort money from the system’s user, by forcing them to purchase a program to unlock the computer, or decrypt files.

Optimus Tech Solutions performs complete security scans and implements threat management appliances that monitor every component of our client’s networks to prevent this type of action and malicious software from ever gaining access to a secured network. Call us today for a better understanding of the options that we can provide to minimize your exposure to risk and keep your data protected.