Systems and Software Inc
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A new, expensive computer isn’t the only solution for your sluggish office workhorse

Just because your laptop is sluggish doesn’t always mean it must be replaced.   Your office desktop may slow down just because you looked up the weather report while editing a PDF.   

When a computer needs space to ‘spread out’ and work, it requires memory – or RAM – to process your requests.  With so many applications requesting memory, your computer sometimes compensates for a memory shortage by using disk space — which works much slower than RAM.  

Sometimes we confuse the two – memory and disk space.  One has nothing to do with the other – except when memory runs low and disk space is used as a slow substitute.

Good news!  RAM is inexpensive and our team can double or even triple the RAM in your current computer and make it feel new.   Please contact our office or use this handy form to request your upgrade!

 

Security Best Practices

Security Best Practices

Passwords

Tip: Use an 8+ character password with mixed case/numbers/symbols along with 2FA (Two-Factor Authentication)

Passwords are among the first lines of defense to fail. It won’t surprise anyone that the two most commonly used passwords are ‘123456’ and ‘password’. Many of us are afraid to create complex passwords for fear of forgetting them.

The easiest method to harden your password security is to think of at least three 8+ character passwords with mixed case/numbers/symbols. ‘Mentally label’ each of the three passwords as green/yellow/red. Choose the green password for the lowest security sites that have no real personal info — save the red passwords for banking or shopping sites that retain your account numbers and credit cards. As these passwords are used for more and more sites, rotate out your green password and replace it with yellow and red — making them the new green password. Lastly, establish a new red password for your highest security sites.

Even an 8+ character password, though, can be guessed by special hacking computers within 5-6 hours. We must also pair our complex passwords with 2-step verification or 2-factor authentication where a successful login then prompts us to confirm our identity with a code sent to our mobile phone or email address. Google has supported 2-Step-Verification for years and if not already using it for your Google/Gmail accounts, you should enable it immediately.

Any site that holds sensitive information that does not support 2FA, should really be reconsidered as a site you continue using or at least should have a 12 or 15 or 20 character complex password — or better, passphrase such as, “my b1rthplace 1s Cleveland” (include spaces).

Website Security

Tip: Login to websites only if they display a ‘lock’ in the address bar

Websites that require a user to login with an established username and password are responsible for protecting the information they retain — passwords, addresses, credit card info, etc — with a security protocol called SSL. This protocol prevents unauthorized websites to mimic or ‘pose’ as valid sites and also prevents ‘eavesdropping’ of data while traveling between your computer and the site.

You can recognize websites that have established this security certification by looking in the web browser address bar when visiting the site.

 

Make it a policy to check for this security ‘lock’ before logging into any website and entering any personal information.

 

Web Browser

Tip: Use a Standards Compliant Web Browser such as Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

Your continued use of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer may be the cause of your past computer infections. The standards used to deliver web data have been notoriously non-standard when involving Internet Explorer historically. Though recent versions (like Microsoft Edge) have improved, there is little reason to maintain a loyalty to IE. Even if a website recommends its use, consider an alternative website that does NOT require it. Your security may be at risk.

Popular browsers like Chrome, Firefox and Safari allow for plug-ins, or helper programs, to add features and functionality by 3rd party software companies. We recommend adding the HTTPS Everywhere plug-in to your web browser. This plugin enforces the use of SSL or https on websites.

 

VPNs

Tip: Install a browser based or standalone VPN (Virtual Private Network) service for ~$4/month

Although mostly used by computer techies and foreign dissidents speaking out against their censoring governments, the use of VPNs is gaining attention in today’s security addled climate. This PC Magazine article best describes the function of a VPN and the excerpt below offers a brief summary.

We use and recommend KeepSolid’s VPN Unlimited which is reviewed in the article and selected as an Editor’s Choice.

What Is a VPN?
A VPN is a lot more than just something you need for remotely accessing your work files. When you switch on your VPN, it creates an encrypted tunnel between your computer and the VPN server, which can foil hackers or even government snoops trying to eavesdrop on your activities. From the server, your web traffic travels off into the public internet, but your actual IP address remains hidden. Data-hungry website advertisers see the IP address of the VPN server instead of your own. We recommend using a VPN as often as you can, but especially when your PC is connected to a public Wi-Fi network. When you hop on an unsecured network at the airport or coffee shop, you have no way of knowing whether the network is what it claims to be. Instead of a convenience offered to thirsty customers and weary travelers, the network could have been created by a hacker looking to intercept your data.  VPNs can also be used to disguise your actual location, which is why these services are often used by journalists and political activists operating in countries with restrictive internet controls.

Asana Videos

asana

 

Here are a few short videos to get you familiar with Asana.  Cheers!

How we use Asana

asanaWe love to push the boundaries of what Asana can do. From creating meeting agendas to tracking bugs to maintaining snacks in the refrigerator, the Asana product is (unsurprisingly) integral to everything we do at Asana. We find many customers are also pushing the boundaries of Asana to fit their teams’ needs and processes. Since Asana was created to be flexible and powerful enough for every team, nothing makes us more excited than hearing about these unique use cases.

Recently, we invited some of our Bay Area-based customers to our San Francisco HQ to share best practices with one another and hear from our cofounder Justin Rosenstein about the ways we use Asana at Asana. We’re excited to pass on this knowledge through some video highlights from the event. You can watch the entire video here.

Send to Dropbox

Screenshot 2013-10-11 16.24.59

There is a simple, free service that allows users who use Dropbox to send emails where all attachments will be instantly be saved to Dropbox. Simply sign up at sendtodropbox.com and you will be given a customized email address. Any time you send emails to that address, all attachments are instantly saved to an “attachments” folder in Dropbox.

Internet Browser

Google Chrome

Google Chrome is a browser that combines a minimal design with sophisticated technology to make the web faster, safer, and easier.
https://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/browser/

Mozilla Firefox

Our experience has shown that the majority of computer issues we face are attributed to viruses, spyware, and adware contracted through the Internet. The largest contributing factor is the use of a security impaired Microsoft Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer is the most prolific victim of malicious internet scripts and code that often lead to a call to SSI. Mozilla Firefox is quickly becoming the new Browser for Business. Just as fast as IE, more features than IE, easier to use than IE, and most importantly, 100 times more secure then IE. Through independant testing, SSI has discovered almost a 100% reduction in spyware, adware, and unwanted popups when using Firefox as opposed to IE.
http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/

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Show Me What’s Wrong

Systems & Software Inc would like to help you by recording a video of your computer screen with audio from your built-in or plugged-in microphone if present. Please follow this link. (http://showmewhatswrong.com/submit/c6VFrkzI)

Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware

Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware is an anti-malware application that can thoroughly remove even the most advanced malware. It includes a number of features, including a built in protection monitor that blocks malicious processes before they even start. Please view the (silent) video below for steps to run Malwarebytes.

Download here

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Speed Test by Speakeasy

Lets face it, who doesn’t love fast internet speed. Technology has came a long way since the 56k dial up via copper wire. Despite our advancement there are moments when our hi-speed does come to a rush-hour-traffic-jam crawl. To check if there is a problem with your bandwidth we recommend running a simple test with Speakeasy; it checks your upload and download speed. Click on the link below, select your region, and let it run.

http://www.speakeasy.net/speedtest/

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Clear Browser Cache / Temp Files / Cookies

In order to speed up web browsing, web browsers are designed to download web pages and store them locally on your computer’s hard drive in an area called “cache”. The cache contains a kind of travel record of the items you have seen, heard, or downloaded from the Web, including images, sounds, Web pages, even cookies. Typically these items are stored in the Temporary Internet Files folder.

Read the full article at http://www.bnl.gov/itd/webapps/browsercache.asp