Easy Tips To Secure Windows 8 Devices

With cybercrime on the rise, even the brand-new Windows 8 can leave a person vulnerable – which means it is important to know how to protect your devices from the moment you get them.

The good news is that this is not difficult if you follow a few simple tips.

You should commit to security from the very beginning; password-protect your new device immediately, connect to a Wi-Fi network you know is secure and register your device.

A number of companies such as NortonLive PC Quick Start will enable you to get your brand-new device up and running, easily and safely.

It is also important to be careful when choosing apps. All apps are allowed a certain level of access to private information, but some may use this in a malicious manner.

Make sure you read the user agreement to prevent giving the manufacturer rights you aren’t comfortable with, such as letting it into your social network and accessing a friend list. All your apps, email, bank accounts and social networks should be protected with complex passwords that you do not share with anyone.

Windows 8 Offers Users Enhanced Security Features

by Jeremy Miller, Technician
Windows has been known as a trustworthy computing platform, a lot of which is due to the ability to secure your operating system without infringing upon availability.

Microsoft has once again improved security across all versions of Windows 8. Just as in earlier releases, this version of Windows improves user and network security.

All versions of Windows will have many new security features such as:

UEFI Secure Boot support which is a large hardware step toward mitigating malware, specifically rootkits and bootkits. Rootkits and bootkits are low-level malware that run as your operating system starts up.

Organizations that deploy Windows 8 will want this feature enabled and prevent users from disabling this feature.

Smart Screen Filter which has already made its debut in Internet Explorer. Microsoft has decided to implement it into the operating system itself.

Smart Screen Filtering has been proven to be the best at blocking socially-engineered malware, which are phishing and pharming attacks such as bad links or redirects to bad or look-a-like sites.

This can aide in the prevention of drive-by downloads as well, which is where you unknowingly download malware by visiting websites.

Integrated anti-malware and Windows Defender is included in all Windows 8 versions. Windows defender will incorporate anti-virus from Microsoft Security Essentials with improved performance and a smaller footprint.

This can all be implemented alongside your current anti-virus provider’s anti-virus and should be implemented as soon as you obtain your computer, this way you are starting from a known-good environment.

Picture Passwords have been added to all versions of Windows 8 as well. Picture Password is a touch-based secure login. You select a picture and then create a gesture-sequence on top of the picture. These can simplify the login process while making it more difficult to hack.

Windows Reader is something completely new to Windows 8. Windows will now be able to read PDF documents without having to install 3rd party software. This can mitigate the popular PDF vulnerabilities. The more software you have installed the more vulnerable you become.

Address Space Layout Randomization was introduced in Windows Vista and has been improved upon since. This can aide in the prevention of the “buffer overflow” attacks that are gaining popularity. They have added integrity checks, and an Enhanced protected mode “Sandbox”

Windows 8 Professional has additional security features to the one listed below such as: Bitlocker and Bitlocker Togo, which are not new but have been improved upon. The same goes for Group Policy Objects.

Windows 8 Enterprise has additional security features such as: Applocker which was introduced in Windows 7 and gives the user the ability to white-list or blacklist applications.

Direct access is an alternative to VPN’s, and finally “Windows to Go”, which allows people to image your computers with a Windows 8 corporate image.

It can be put on a USB and loaded onto any 64-bit PC and can include all of the management features.

If you need assistance or help with any of the new features of Windows 8 please contact us for assistance.

We can even setup your new computers for first-time use and transfer any data from your old computer to your new Windows 8 computer.

Windows 8, A Diamond in the Rough?

Feature article by Tech Experts
So should you be planning to upgrade to Windows 7 or hold off for Windows 8?

If you’re still running Windows XP, Microsoft is saying to not bother waiting for Windows 8 and jump into Windows 7. That being said, from a business point of view should you wait for Windows 8 or go for Windows 7?

Windows 8 was initially released as a developer preview on September 13th of 2011 and since has been pushed very hard by Microsoft and the media alike to many IT professionals.

After Microsoft boasted over the drastic rethinking of Windows 8 and how it has revolutionized Windows as a whole, IT pros everywhere picked every aspect of Windows 8 apart.

Is Change A Good Thing?
Many feel it is not going to make a very good business operating system for end users. The reason for this? Change. Windows 8 brings a vast amount of change to the table, some good, some not so good…

After the release of the Developer preview and several months of time for Microsoft to further polish their new Operating System, they released the current version Windows 8 Consumer Preview build 8250 on February 29th 2012.

Microsoft again touted the newly improved OS citing it has made over 100,000 code changes since its previously released Developer version.

So, just what is Windows 8? Well Windows 8 is Microsoft’s attempt at making an operating system to bridge the hardware gaps between mobile platforms and the widely used PC.

Complete Overhaul
Windows 8 has been completely overhauled to give end users a similar user experience whether they are sitting at their desktop computer, using it on a tablet, or (as some experts believe) using a new Windows phone.

While Microsoft has not officially stated that this OS is going to be released on the Windows phone platform yet, it surely would not take them much to do so and would allow them to have their devices all synced.

Synced? That’s right! The new OS relies heavily on the cloud. The way this operating system has been developed it will allow users to login on any computer (provided they have an internet connection) and have the same application access they had on their computer at home.

With further integration of cloud services users will also have access to all of their documents, pictures, and videos via cloud based storage.

Many of Windows 8 features have a long way to go still before they are developed enough for everyday public use.

Metro Interface
One of the most notable features of Windows 8 is its new “Metro” style interface pictured above

This screen is your start menu now. Yes, Microsoft removed the start button that has been in Windows for more than 20 years… This new way of accessing your icons and applications allows you to click on (or touch if you have a touchscreen monitor or tablet) an icon and instantly be using it.

Load times for applications are very low, at least with the applications that have been released via their app store at this point.

Applications opened from this screen also do not need to be closed according to Microsoft (Again very similar to many mobile operating systems today).

The only problem with not actually closing the applications is for those people that never turn their computer off, everything you ever open will stay open and if you don’t force close the programs they will continue to run and use system resources which over time will make your computer run slow.

Even though Microsoft has removed the start menu they have kept the desktop..somewhat. The desktop is still able to be accessed via the Metro application menu but again is not meant to be used unless you need access to files and folders.

One other new feature Microsoft has added to Windows 8 is the ability to have “Picture Passwords”. A Picture Password allows you to select a picture you want to use as your password, and then draw three gestures on the picture to allow access to the computer or tablet.

This new feature is meant to increase security as it will make it more difficult for hackers to gain access to a user’s computer (At least via a keylogger).

One of the big reasons to steer clear of Windows 8, at least at this point, is numerous bugs within the OS and the apps it uses. Bugs range from minor issues such as lack of support for common email protocols such as IMAP and POP, to more major issues related to hardware not functioning inside Windows 8 due to conflicts.

At this point with Windows 8 still being in Beta it is perfectly normal to have the issues they are having with the operating system but, if the issues continue into the retail release of the software they will have another Windows Vista on their hands.

If Microsoft turns this operating system into a winner, it could mean big things for Microsoft.

One major point is if Windows 8 becomes popular, Windows will make a break into the tablet market which is predominately Android and iOS based. This would also give Windows an edge on other mobile operating systems as they would be able to operate across multiple platforms without any lapse in functionality.

So, is Windows 8 worth waiting for? At this point it makes more sense to go with Windows 7. If you are the kind of person that is into change…a lot of change…then hold off for Windows 8, but at this point Windows 8 is looking rough.


Windows XP: Usage Declining After 10 Years

With Windows XP being released more than 10 years ago its still amazing that it is still on top when it comes to the most widely used operating system. The question still stands however, why?!

Many users have become comfortable with Windows XP and everyone hates change so it is really no surprise that users are holding on to the antiquated operating system. There are however major problems with holding onto old technology.

The first major problem is support. Windows XP is slated to lose its support in early August of 2014. “So why not hold on to Windows XP a little longer, I heard Windows 8 is coming out soon?” While there are many users out there with that mentality, it is bad practice to hold on to an operating system beyond its useful life.

The fact is there is a great alternative to Windows XP that has been out long enough that the bugs have been worked out and is a stable alternative. Windows 7 is the alternative, while many users are nervous about moving on to a new operating system because they don’t like change, Windows 7 is a very intuitive, stable and user friendly operating system.

The second reason you should not be holding on to Windows XP over Windows 7 is the simple fact of security. Windows 7 has been proven to be more than five times as secure as Windows XP.That’s right, all those viruses you get in Windows XP due to its numerous security holes do not exist in Windows 7. While its true there are still some viruses and malware in Windows 7, this is true of any software (Yes even a Mac…).

Many businesses are starting to see these facts as well and are not waiting around for Windows 8. So why are they not waiting?

Well, current reviews of Windows 8 have very mixed opinions on whether or not it will be a good fit for businesses. Much like Vista was to the Windows XP user, Windows 8 is going to be a very different looking and feeling operating system.Many people in the Information Technology field have their doubts as to whether it will fit into businesses well due to the drastic changes that have been made in the users interface.

While Windows 8 is still not released to the general public yet, it still appears that it will be too big of a change for those in the business world that generally are not early adopters of new Windows operating systems (Sound familiar?).

Many businesses are just starting to push into Windows 7 for their primary workstations and the numbers of Windows XP  computers versus the number of Windows 7 computers out are starting to show that. Windows XP has dropped over 10% in the past year which is huge! As a matter of fact Windows 7 gained 15% last year which  means not only is it doing well enough to take those XP users, but it also managed to steal some users from other operating systems.

The long and short is it is time to get that upgrade and stop wasting your time with Windows XP. Windows XP will cost you more to maintain due to the fact that it is more likely to have viruses and other problems. Windows 7 is the way to go don’t wait until Windows XP support finally dies then decide its time.The time is now, save yourself the hassle and plan the upgrade process now rather than waiting till the last minute.

We can get you upgraded to Windows 7 or, if your computer is too old to put the money and time into it to switch to Windows 7, we can get a computer for you with Windows 7 and transfer all of your existing data to it. Just give us a call.


Feature article by:
Tech Experts