Protecting Yourself from Computer Viruses, Malware, Ransomware

Computer hackers are everywhere these days – literally. These engineers can implant a “virus” in your computer that can wreak havoc on your personal information. From your program files to your bank account, viruses can infiltrate nearly every aspect of your computer. Hackers are almost always looking for ways to penetrate your security. People often disregard their device’s defenses, realizing their importance after it’s too late.

A computer virus is a code embedded into a legitimate program data file or boot sector of a hard drive created with the ability to self-replicate, infecting other applications. Intended to spread from one “host” to another, these computer-targeted viruses come from e-mail attachments, file downloads, software installations, unsecured links, and more. But what do the hackers gain from accessing your computer? Your personal data is typically most valuable, such as passwords, social media accounts, online banking, and even deleting all your data. So, what are some different virus expressions?

Malware: Short for malicious software, this could harm a computer system, interfere with user data, or make the computer perform actions remotely.

Ransomware: A type of malware that holds entire computers or mobile devices hostage, requesting a ransom payment in exchange for returning access, or decrypting your files.

Worm: A standalone piece of software, this malicious program duplicates itself and circulates to other computers. Vulnerable computer networks are usually most susceptible.

Trojan Horse: This type of malware uses a specific code to install software that appears okay but is hidden to create an alternative entry into a system. Data theft or loss is usually the goal.

Spyware: The main goal of this virus is to gather information about you, your organization, family, or more. Running inconspicuously, it can monitor and log any activity on a target system such as keystrokes, credit card information, and more.

Adware: To generate revenue for its author/publisher, this software causes pop-ups, banner advertisements, and more. Free programs often utilize Adware, but not in a cruel way. If it is used with a destructive intention, it is instead classified as spyware or malware.

To protect yourself from computer viruses, avoid clicking on suspicious or lengthy links, pop-ups, or unfamiliar websites. Scan all e-mail attachments, download a pop-up blocker for your browser, and install an anti-virus program.

Have you been hacked? Do you need assistance preparing your computer for virus prevention? Prevention is the best policy! Contact the computer virus experts at CPS today to strategically remove, prevent, and protect your computer from viruses.

Founded in 1994, Creative Programs and Systems provides professional results for all computer needs. We design, create, and code an array of custom software programs and websites; offer top-notch digital marketing services including enhanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and paid advertising; repair and provide support for computers of both residential and professional nature; build custom systems and servers, and offer secure data backups. Need assistance or want to learn more? Call us at 810-224-5252 or e-mail info@cpsmi.com.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

Microsoft Will End Support for Windows 10

Microsoft is ending support for Windows 10 by October 2025. The phasing out includes the Home, Pro, Pro Education, and Pro for Workstations. The last day for support will be on October 14, 2025. After ten years, the operating system will run without help or updates from Microsoft.

Microsoft’s latest version (21H1) of Windows 10 was released in May 2021. Microsoft had previously stated that Windows was supposed to be the last version; however, the company has recently announced an event called “What’s Next for Windows.” Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, calls the update the “Next Generation of Windows.”

A new Windows will be announced on June 24 during a virtual event. Microsoft will probably keep the Windows name alive, but the numbering system could be dropped. Much like Apple uses for their operating systems, Microsoft could transition to a naming convention. Apple refers to their macOS 12 as Monterey, for example.

Windows is the most common operating system for desktops, with more than 1.3 billion active computers running it. State-of-the-art features such as touch input, a voice-based virtual assistant, face login, improved security against antiviruses and malware, and mixed reality tools accompany more handheld activities such as screenshots, arranging windows, and receiving notifications.

Feeling nervous without support? We’re here for you! Contact the Windows 10 experts at Creative Programs and Systems today for help with your Microsoft system.

Founded in 1994, Creative Programs and Systems provides professional results for all computer needs. We design, create, and code an array of custom software programs and websites; offer top-notch digital marketing services including enhanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and paid advertising; repair and provide support for computers of both residential and professional nature; build custom systems and servers, and offer secure data backups. Need assistance or want to learn more? Call us at 810-224-5252 or e-mail info@cpsmi.com.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

The Internet Just Got a Speed Boost

The Internet Just Got a Speed Boost

Quic is a general-purpose protocol that transmits data between computers, improves speed and security on the Internet, and can replace Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), a standard that has been in place since 1974 when the Internet began. The group that sets criteria for the global network, dubbed the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), recently published Quic as a standard. For years, web browsers and online services have been testing Quic, but the IETF’s new regulation is a sign the industry is mature enough to fully embrace the technology.

Data transmission is a fundamental aspect of the Internet; countless devices, programs, and services are built to use earlier infrastructure, which has lasted for decades. Since Google first announced Quic in 2013, it has been an experimental addition to the Chrome browser and has been in public development.

The Internet needs updates to keep worldwide communication and commerce buzzing, which is why engineers spend time developing transitions such as Quic. This colossal upgrade cuts the wait for web search results by as much as eight percent on computers and four percent on phones. Video buffering dropped to eighteen percent for computer users and fifteen percent on mobile.

Jana Iyengar, an engineer who helped lead Quic standardization at Fastly, said, “The internet transport ecosystem has just been ossified for decades now. Quic is poised to lead the charge on the next generation of internet innovations.”

Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) is one of the main protocols of the Internet that oversees how data is sent from one device to another. TCP and Quic work together with Internet Protocol (IP) to function properly. TCP regulates how data is distributed into segments individually addressed, sent across the Internet, then reassembled at the other end. TCP has many jobs, but managing established connections and recovering lost data packets is of utmost importance.

Quic was created to do similar tasks in a more efficient manner. It can quickly set up encrypted connections and handle network changes with ease.

Founded in 1994, Creative Programs and Systems provides professional results for all computer needs. We design, create, and code an array of custom software programs and websites; offer top-notch digital marketing services including enhanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and online advertising; repair and provide support for computers of both residential and professional nature; build custom systems and servers, and offer secure data backups. Need assistance or want to learn more? Call us at 810-224-5252 or e-mail info@cpsmi.com.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

Cyber Hacking Group “DarkSide” Halts Top US Gas Pipeline

Colonial Pipeline, operator of a pipeline stretching 5,500 miles, was forced to shut down after a ransomware attack in early May. In a disturbing example of the vulnerability of the United States’ energy infrastructure, 45 percent of the East Coast’s fuel supplies were suddenly halted in an effort to contain the assault.

Since the early 1960s, the vital pipeline has provided gasoline and jet fuel to customers across the East Coast. About 2.5 million barrels of gasoline, diesel fuel, and jet fuel are transferred each day through the pipeline. The hack showcases the vulnerability of the aging infrastructure which is connected to the internet.

Ransomware attacks have soared recently, shutting down the District of Columbia police department, hospitals treating COVID-19 patients, and nearly crippling water treatment plants. Cybersecurity experts expect a rise in ransomware or hacker-backed virtual attacks since they can implement automation and utilize cryptocurrency, making it harder to target the perpetrators.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Energy Department, and the White House were immediately briefed on the hacking details. Corporate computers were targeted by ransomware, which means that criminals hold data until the victim turns over a payment. The FBI focused its attention on the hacking group DarkSide, who they hold responsible for the ransomware incident. Colonial Pipeline ended up paying the hackers roughly 75 bitcoin ($5 million) to get the gas flowing again.

Coincidentally, DarkSide reported they are shutting down due to “pressure” from the United States. According to the New York Times, “A statement written in Russian and provided to The New York Times on Friday [May 14] by the cybersecurity firm Intel 471, DarkSide said it had lost access to the public-facing portion of its online system, including its blog and payment server, as well as funds that it said had been withdrawn to an unknown account. It said the group’s main web page and other public-facing resources would go offline within 48 hours.”

Cybersecurity experts warned the statement could be a hoax, allowing the members to deflect negative attention. If they did, in fact, shut down, the threat from ransomware is not over. These hacker groups often disband, regroup, and rebrand themselves in an effort to thwart law enforcement.

Ransomware isn’t just for big companies – hackers can target you, too.

Contact the virus experts at CPS today if you suspect your computer has been compromised.

Founded in 1994, Creative Programs and Systems provides professional results for all computer needs. We design, create, and code an array of custom software programs and websites; offer top-notch digital marketing services including enhanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and paid advertising; repair and provide support for computers of both residential and professional nature; build custom systems and servers, and offer secure data backups. Need assistance or want to learn more? Call us at 810-224-5252 or e-mail info@cpsmi.com.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

Yahoo Answers Is Gone Forever

Yahoo published a press release explaining that their “Answers” service is permanently shut down. “Once a key part of Yahoo’s products and services, it has declined in popularity over the years as the needs of our members have changed,” said the release. The site is no longer accessible as of May 4, 2021, but those who have interacted previously can download their Yahoo Answers data until June 30.

Yahoo Answers was an enigma. Launched in 2005, the question-and-answer platform was meant to be “a place where people can ask each other questions on any topic, and get answers by sharing facts, opinions, and personal experiences.” Initially, it was created to help boost Yahoo Search results. Back then, Yahoo was a massive company with a humungous social community, e-mail address hosting, directories, and the biggest search engine worldwide.

“Long term, Answers has the potential to attract incremental users, increase time spent on the Yahoo! Platform, and create monetization opportunities through additional sponsored links and page views,” Douglas Anmuth told Forbes in 2005.

Truth be told, Yahoo Answers had a legacy, but not the one it was intended for. The answers were never really relevant; instead, the questions were more popular. As seen on YouTube, comedians and podcasters made light of the interesting Yahoo Answers community.

The ridiculous questions people asked gave way to its popularity. Despite the off-the-wall jokes, the platform did have some formidable queries such as household repairs and awkward questions from teens too shy to ask their parents.

An internal ranking system helped create a sense of community though it didn’t mean much. Those who asked questions could choose the best answer, giving them points and leveling them up. This sense of community made the platform engaging. In 2005, Facebook and Reddit were infants, and Twitter was seen in the distance. Yahoo Answers didn’t compete with those social media platforms, but they did fulfill similar needs throughout their user base. As chat rooms began to shift to social media, Yahoo Answers was a half-step between the two.

After May 4th, Yahoo Answers will be lost to the depths of the Internet the way of GeoCities, MySpace, and Adobe Flash. The good news is, a large portion of Yahoo Answers will be available on the WaybackMachine, an Internet archive.

Founded in 1994, Creative Programs and Systems provides professional results for all computer needs. We design, create, and code an array of custom software programs and websites; offer top-notch digital marketing services including enhanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and paid advertising; repair and provide support for computers of both residential and professional nature; build custom systems and servers, and offer secure data backups. Need assistance or want to learn more? Call us at 810-224-5252 or e-mail info@cpsmi.com.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

Why You Should Consider Using a Password Manager

Password managers are an essential tool in 2021. Most websites require a username and password to log in or use their services. The human brain cannot possibly keep up with dozens of different combinations. To sidestep this issue, some people use basic passwords like “123456789” or “thisismypassword” or even integrate pet, family member names, or birthdates. Using simple, generic, or easy-to-guess passwords can easily lead to identity theft.

That’s where password managers come in: they store, generate, and manage passwords for you. All you have to remember is a single master password for your account, which is used to encrypt the contents of your password vault. It is imperative that you remember this password (maybe jot it down somewhere safe) because it is likely unrecoverable if you forget it.

Additionally, you can set up two-factor authentication to secure your password manager account. The best password managers support authentication through hardware keys or authentication apps.

Ensure the password manager you are considering supports each device platform you use. Several browser extensions rely on a local desktop component, which might not support all operating systems. The best password managers have browser extensions that function independently wherever you install them.

Complete support for mobile platforms is usually required for most modern password managers. Smartphones are typically used to access secure sites and apps. A majority of password managers translate to mobile platforms without issues. However, automatically generated passwords such as “5^3iojs#0%1@” can be challenging to input on their tiny smartphone keyboard. Thankfully, password manager apps offer fingerprint or facial recognition to fill in app credentials automatically.

Most Internet browsers have an integrated toolbar menu of saved logins and other website credentials. When users log into a secure site, the browser offers to save their credentials. When they return to that same site, those credentials are automatically filled in. This includes first and last name, e-mail address, phone number, credit cards, passport numbers, etc.

When creating new or updating weak passwords, don’t strain your brain to develop something different and solid. Password managers can handle that; you don’t have to remember it, after all. Automatically generated passwords should be at least 20 characters long and include major character types (uppercase, lowercase, symbols, numbers).

Overall, password managers are almost necessary for 2021. With various features, options, and security measures, they are much easier to use and ensure you’ll never forget a password again.

Founded in 1994, Creative Programs and Systems provides professional results for all computer needs. We design, create, and code an array of custom software programs and websites; offer top-notch digital marketing services including enhanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and paid advertising; repair and provide support for computers of both residential and professional nature; build custom systems and servers, and offer secure data backups. Need assistance or want to learn more? Call us at 810-224-5252 or e-mail info@cpsmi.com.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

What Is 5G and How Does It Differ from Wi-Fi

What Is 5G and How Does It Differ from Wi-Fi

After nearly a decade in the making, 5G is now a reality. Select cities throughout the United States received 5G mobile internet access a few years ago, and now, it’s readily available depending on your phone plan. The fifth generation of mobile broadband, 5G, will eventually replace the 4G connection. The time it takes for devices to communicate with wireless networks (latency) will be dramatically faster. These new networks are also much more efficient, handling more connections per cell tower and faster speeds per user.

Cellular/mobile networks rely on licensed spectrum bands, which are auctioned off to the highest bidder. Verizon, AT&T, and other carriers have to pay in order to use those bands. For coverage, they must build a network of intertwined base stations capable of sending out a strong enough signal for the network to withstand thousands of people at once. Carriers expect consumers to recuperate their investment and further expand network infrastructure.

On the other hand, Wi-Fi is an unlicensed spectrum that is free for anyone to use but offers a somewhat weak signal. Consumers pay an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to connect the internet to their infrastructure, and then a router is used to fill the building with Wi-Fi. In densely populated areas with limited bandwidth, using the same Wi-Fi frequency band between more than one building can be disruptive. Wi-Fi uses two frequencies: 2.4GHz and 5GHz. The frequency with a more extended range but lower top speed potential is 2.4GHz, while 5GHz can deliver faster speeds but not penetrate walls as easily.

Wi-Fi is used at home, in the office, or public areas such as coffee shops or restaurants. Mobile networks are used when Wi-Fi is not available. The most crucial factor is to have a good connection at all times.

Several elements play into the actual 5G connection speed, including location, network, device, and how many other people connect. To achieve a maximum download speed of 50Mbps and a low latency of 10ms, this will represent a massive improvement over the average speed most consumers are receiving now. 

Wi-Fi has had a troublesome history of naming confusion throughout its lifespan. The Wi-Fi Alliance has accepted the need for less-perplexing nomenclature, so the next standard is going to be marketed as Wi-Fi 6. This standard will offer faster speeds and many improvements in efficiency and capacity, designed to cope with the growing number of internet-connected wireless devices.

Both 5G and Wi-Fi 6 are readily – and widely – available. With expansions set for both, upgrades will be necessary to support the new standards. Most newer smartphones support both 5G and Wi-Fi 6; eventually all phones will support both.

Founded in 1994, Creative Programs and Systems provides professional results for all computer needs. We design, create, and code an array of custom software programs and websites; offer top-notch digital marketing services including enhanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and online paid advertising; repair and provide support for computers of both residential and professional nature; build custom systems and servers, and offer secure data backups. Need assistance or want to learn more? Call us at 810-224-5252 or e-mail info@cpsmi.com

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

CPS Wins the 2021 Best of Brighton Award for Computer Repair Service

Creative Programs and Systems has won the Best of Brighton Award in the Computer Repair Service category for the tenth year in a row! The award program was created to honor and generate public recognition of the achievements and positive contributions of businesses and organizations in and around Brighton, Michigan.

The mission is to raise the profile of exemplary companies and entrepreneurs among the press, the business community, and the general public. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

Annually, the Brighton Award Program identifies companies they believe to have best achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business categories. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small businesses through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Brighton area a great place to work, live, and play.

The Brighton Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. The organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations, and other business advertising and marketing groups. Their goal is to recognize the small business community’s contributions to the United States economy.

For all of your computer needs, contact the professionals at Creative Programs & Systems today.                         

Founded in 1994, Creative Programs and Systems provides professional results for all computer needs. We design, create, and code an array of custom software programs and websites; implement internet marketing strategies for enhanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) results; repair and provide support for computers of both residential and professional nature; build custom systems and servers, and offer secure data backups. Need assistance or want to learn more? Call us at 810-224-5252 or e-mail info@cpsmi.com.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

How to Use Microsoft Office for Free

Microsoft Office is usually a necessity for most people, yet the suite isn’t exactly considered budget-friendly. Subscriptions are between $7 a month or $70 annually, and stand-alone versions of the set start at $150. Despite the fee, there are (thankfully) ways to use the software for free.

Without using the professional version that has all of the bells and whistles and latest features, there are plenty of ways to save your wallet.

Use The App: There’s a free online Microsoft app store where you can sign in (or signup) and use the functionality with other apps as well. Follow the on-screen instructions to use Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Calendar, and other Office suite apps. A few less-popular apps are available too, such as Sway, an interactive report/presentation app; People, an advanced contact list; and OneDrive, a cloud storage service allowing you to save and access files effortlessly. These apps are limited to basic functionality but are still useful. To use the apps, you will need to be connected to the Internet.

The School Advantage: If you are a student, faculty, or staff member at an educational organization, you are eligible to use Office for free. As long as your school is signed up for the program, you can reap the benefits of using the Office suite (Word, PowerPoint, Excel) along with other apps such as Microsoft Teams, Access, and Publisher. If you are a recent graduate, you can obtain the programs at a low cost. The alumni discount program enables post-grads to use Microsoft 365 Personal for only $1 per month for 12 months.

Use that 30-day Trial: For a month, you can use Microsoft Office for free, no strings attached. Up to six users can be added across Windows, Mac, and smartphones. One TB of OneDrive cloud storage is included, which boasts the latest versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and more. When your trial expires, Microsoft will automatically charge you for the full version, as they require your credit card information before you can sign up initially.

Get an Evaluation: For $30, Microsoft’s Evaluation Center program lets you test certain Office apps. This is essentially another free trial, but it provides specific, full-featured software for Office 365 ProPlus. It’s not ideal as a long-term solution, but it is a great temporary option. Since this is a test service used by Microsoft developers, you might encounter a few glitches.

Valid Alternatives: There are plenty of free alternatives that work well and transfer features over to Office seamlessly.

For all your computer needs, contact the experts at Creative Programs and Systems today.

Founded in 1994, Creative Programs and Systems provides professional results for all computer needs. We design, create, and code an array of custom software programs and websites; implement internet marketing strategies for enhanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) results; repair and provide support for computers of both residential and professional nature; build custom systems and servers, and offer secure data backups. Need assistance or want to learn more? Call us at 810-224-5252 or e-mail info@cpsmi.com.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

Data Shows Information Technology Jobs Grow, Showing Recovery

In January, the United States economy struggled, adding only 49,000 jobs overall. Despite the low number of total jobs, the past two months saw 55,000 new Information Technology (IT) employment, revised from the 18,000, which was initially reported according to research from Janco Associates, Inc.

Compared to January 2020, total U.S. IT jobs have decreased by 35,800, or about one percent. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, over 100,000 IT employees were furloughed, representing roughly three percent of the entire workforce.

According to CompTIA’s press release, the IT sector saw growth of 11,500 new hires and an estimated 40,000 total new technology employees. CompTIA calculates technical and non-technical positions, whereas Janco analyzes IT positions, including software developers in all industries.

Tim Hebert, executive vice president for research and market intelligence at CompTIA, said, “With net job gains of 33,500 positions through the first two months of 2020, this is the best start to the year for the tech sector since 2017. However, we must acknowledge the possibility of a hiring lull due to the uncertainty many employers are facing.”

CompTIA calculated that an estimated 78,000 IT-related jobs were added in January across the industry sectors, including sales positions. The unemployment rate of 2.4 percent was down from three percent in December 2020. In all job areas, the U.S. unemployment rate fell from 6.7 percent to 6.3 percent. The number of IT-related job listings also grew in January to nearly 26,000, surpassing 232,000.

Janco CEO M. Victor Janulaitis expects eleven percent growth in U.S. IT jobs over the coming decade. He said, “Most of the growth in the IT job market will be with software developers, quality assurance, and testers. This will be driven by [work from home] as it is will be embraced by more enterprises in normal operations and internet-centric applications are developed and deployed. The projected growth for that sector alone will be almost 18 percent,” he said.

According to CompTIA, the states with the most IT job openings in January included California, Texas, Virginia, New York, and Florida. The most substantial month-over-month growth in job postings took place in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Alabama.

The top three industries for IT were scientific and technical services (51,278 job postings), finance and insurance (23,566 job postings), and manufacturing (20,581 job postings.)

Founded in 1994, Creative Programs and Systems provides professional results for all computer needs. We design, create, and code an array of custom software programs and websites; implement internet marketing strategies for enhanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) results; repair and provide support for computers of both residential and professional nature; build custom systems and servers, and offer secure data backups. Need assistance or want to learn more? Call us at 810-224-5252 or e-mail info@cpsmi.com.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.