Ransomware is Scary Stuff. Pay Attention!

Reading this post could potentially save you thousands of dollar or lost memories and work. I have every intention to scare you because it can happen to you or your business.

By now you've probably heard of "Ransomware" in one form or another. On the news, through this page or through friends.  If not, a brief summary would be that if you get infected by it, it encrypts your files and forces you to pay to get them back. In some cases it permanently deletes files to ensure prompt payment.  If this happens there is NO WAY OF GETTING YOUR DATA BACK without either paying the ransom (anywhere between $150-$10,000 worth of Bitcoin, it varies greatly) or recovering from backups.

These viruses are getting worse and far more frequent as time goes on and becoming harder to detect through normal means. No anti-virus protection is bullet proof, you have to be vigilant in protecting yourself.

Here are some steps to help you.

1. If you're not expecting it, don't open it. Email seems to be the main source of this virus. It comes in disguised as an invoice or resume most often. I've frequently seen in come in as a .zip file but even Microsoft Word and Excel documents can contain the virus as well so you need to be extra careful. If you weren't expecting the file, call the person who sent it to you BEFORE trying to open it.

2. If you open it anyway (see step 1) and it looks like nothing is happening, shut down your computer immediately. Encryption isn't immediate. You'll lose some files here and there but by shutting down your computer you prevent the program from encrypting most of your files. Give us a call and we can back up your files without having to turn the computer back on again.

3. Have backups!!! I can't stress this enough. An external hard drive, a USB flash drive, a cloud drive (Google drive, Dropbox), or an online service like Backblaze (easiest thing to set up). It's an up-front cost you may not want to pay, but believe me when I say you'll wish you had.

Again, I really am trying to scare you because I've seen individuals and businesses get hit by this. Some people have lost tens of thousands of pictures, videos, and precious memories. Some businesses have had to pay over $1000 to get their files back and were down for half a week waiting for the Bitcoin transfer to go through. Don't let this happen to you!

If you have questions about this feel free to call us. We can answer any questions you have about this. We can arrange to see if your current backups are adequate and provide solutions if not.

Stay safe on the internet!

Upgrading to Windows 10 Might Be Less of a Headache

It looks like Microsoft is absolutely determined to install Windows 10 on every computer it can. It is definitely a change from Windows 7 and 8 but it may be a worth while one to just go through with the install. It's become a recommended update which means the upgrade might start happening to you automatically. If the install to Windows 10 starts when you're mid-way through a project, cancelling it might prevent your computer from booting so let it do its work if you find yourself in this situation.

Eventually you ARE going to have to get used to it, just like you had to get used to the jump from Windows XP to Windows 7, so what better time to take the plunge than when it's free?

We have done the upgrade for countless people already without any issues so we can do the work for you. We back up your data for you, install and test the new operating system and make sure all your applications are still working for you as well.

You can also attempt to do the install yourself. If you decide to take it on yourself I recommend a few things first.

1. Back up your data! (You should be doing this anyway) - If you don't have one get an external hard drive or a bunch of USB flash drives and make copies of your important data onto it before continuing. We have both of these available in-store.

2. After the install, when asked to make a Microsoft Account, write down the address and password you used and store it in a location you'll remember. This is important for recovering your data in the future if things do go wrong.

3. Be prepared for a different look! It may be intimidating at first but it's not drastically different on how you navigate. There's still a web browser, favorites, documents, pictures, music folders. It's all still there. It's just a more modern interface.

4. Remember we're here to help. Sometimes things go wrong, you may feel like you're the only one computer problems happen to but believe me that you're not alone. If your install goes bad, we can get you up and running again. No need to schedule an appointment, just bring your system in and we'll get your computer fixed up.

Friendly Scam Reminder

Those "Microsoft Support" scammers are calling the Sault and surrounding areas again.

This is your friendly reminder that Microsoft WILL NEVER CALL YOU. The callers may be persistent with numerous phone calls but do not let them scare you. Hang up the phone and do not give them access to your computer.

Please share this information again as a reminder to everyone on your friends list, and call or email people that don't use Facebook to let them know. I see far too many people either lose hundreds of dollars or they lose access to their computer.

Windows 10 is a hit!

Windows 10 seems to be a hit!  Bringing back the old start menu was a good idea on Microsoft's part but I'm incredibly impressed with how smoothly the upgrade process is going for most people.

Just like with everything (yes, even Apple) there have been a few screw ups here and there with the upgrade and a few people have needed service. For the most part, though, it's been great! I've upgraded all my home computers without a hitch. One of our office computers didn't take the update the first time but it corrected itself after a reboot and went back to Windows 7. On the second attempt, the update took and it's running smoothly.

So... I'd say it's safe to try the update yourself if you were curious about Windows 10! If you're still scared of doing the update yourself bring the computer into the office and we'll do it for you so you won't have to worry.

Here's a video showing off the basics of what's changed in the new version as well and how to navigate it. I recommend watching it regardless if you're new to Windows or not.


Windows 10 free upgrade is really soon. July 29th.  Anyone with Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 would have received notification of it.

Once again I'm recommending holding off on the upgrade for at least a month while some of the kinks are worked out of the process. Millions of people have already opted-in for it and if I know anything about how computers and software updates work, there's going to be numerous problems.

During the first two to four weeks after this roll-out, there might be delays in computer repairs no matter where you live. I just want people to be prepared.

Let's clear something up about a product we sell!

There seems to be a common misconception about the off-lease computers we sell

We get numerous calls every day asking about our refurbished computers but we don't sell refurbished computers. Refurbished implies that the computers have had a major flaw, have been repaired and are worthy of resale. This is not the case with off-lease computers.

Off-lease computers come from a business or organization where the they have been running smoothly for the duration of that lease. When that's up, they're picked up and resold. We thoroughly inspect, clean, and reinstall Windows on each one and send back any with even the slightest problem. No repairs, just systems that have been proven to be reliable.

Happy computing!

Now accepting resumes for the role of computer technician

Please read the job description below before submitting your resumes to mark@abcssm.com

POSITION SUMMARY: This position is full time. Responsible for superior customer service in a retail environment. Support will be in person, in-home, in-business, and by phone. This includes troubleshooting software, hardware, network and other issues for consumers and business clients. This role requires the ability to clearly communicate technical solutions in a user-friendly, professional manner.

· Communication: Deliver exceptional customer service including a passion to go above and beyond client expectations. Communicate effectively with clients gathering necessary information to resolve and/or facilitate resolution of a wide range of IT issues.
· In-Store Support: Greet customers and check in computer equipment for service. Ensure customer satisfaction, including taking ownership of open tickets and ensuring all service requests are repaired to the highest standard.
· Specific issues will be operating system upgrades, cleaning infected computers, hardware upgrades and general computer repair. The candidate will also assist in the sales of new computers and peripheral hardware.
· Business Support: Troubleshooting network problems and performing network upgrades, meeting or exceeding defined service levels while providing quality solutions.
· Retail: Responsible for ordering parts for repair and inventory for retail

· Minimum 2 year certificate or diploma in the field of Computers/Information Technology
· Experience in an IT environment or computer retail environment 1+ years.
· Strong understanding of technology basics, specifically:
Microsoft Operating Systems, Microsoft Server Software, Microsoft Office Suites, LAN/WAN, Printing.

· Exceptional communication skills (verbal and written)
· Customer-focused and results-oriented · Strong interpersonal skills including the ability to effectively collaborate with a wide range of personalities
· Demonstrated ability to multi-task, probe, analyze and problem-solve complex issues
· Easily manage multiple conflicting priorities (a sense of urgency)
· Adaptable and flexible in a complex and continually changing environment
· Able to manage personal stress and know own limits (i.e. ask for help when needed)
· Ability to maintain information in confidence and exercise good judgment
· Ability to work independently

OTHER JOB ATTRIBUTES: · Valid Ontario Driver’s license
· Successful applicant will submit to a criminal record check, as required by several of our clients · Honesty, integrity, responsibility and loyalty to the company and teammates

Yet another scam alert! (They're getting worse, folks!)

These people call you up pretending to be your bank(!) and they’ll tell you that someone has been using your account. Here’s the scary part… at least for one person, these scammers were already on his computer loading up a website with what looked like his banking information. We’re not sure at the moment but it was most likely a site faked to look like his bank’s website but they seemed to have some of his transaction information.

He was then told to call his bank to confirm but they provided this customer with a number. This number was different from his actual bank’s fraud department. The scammers were expecting him to not look up the bank’s number in the phone book because they provided a number to him. Once the scam alert was put into his actual bank the scammers locked his computer with a password. In 95% of cases, that password can be bypassed to get people up and running again but that’s not always the case. Following all that, financials need to be closely monitored too and passwords all need to be changed.

From this point on, I’d like to say if you get a call for anyone or any organization that in some way will involve money and/or someone wanting access to your computer, immediately hang up the phone and call and institution to verify. If it’s a bank, hang up and call the phone number on the back of your debit or credit card, NOT one the people on the phone provide you. If they claim they’re Microsoft or some computer related organization, call a local computer shop like us (1-800-565-8222) to get a second opinion on what’s going on. Don’t be scared to ask. It’s better to be safe than lose out on hundreds of dollars to these scammers.

SCAM ALERT - This time for tax payers

A scam email has been making its rounds to everyone's inbox claiming to be the CRA. The website it links you to looks legit and all but this one is scarier still as it asks you to enter your SIN number. I don't know how many people have fallen to it already but a few people have come close.

Here are some helpful tips to point out why this is a scam.

-If they had your email address they wouldn't be referring to you as "Dear TaxPayer". They would at least have your first name.
-If you clicked on the address, it wouldn't actually lead you to the website it shows on the screen.
-The subject line indicates that you have been sent money but the Action Required is telling you to deposit money.
-CRA won't use INTERAC e-Transfer for ANY of their transactions. That would be for personal transfers only.

Stay safe on the internet, share this post with your friends and family, and happy surfing.