Windows XP – fast becoming a liability

RIP XP, October 25th 2001 – April 8th 2014

Windows-XP becomes a security riskIn a life that’s seen 2 US Presidents, 3 UK Prime Ministers and 3 Popes Microsoft is finally stopping support for Windows XP on April 8th 2014.

According to a survey conducted by Net Applications more than 30% of computers around the world are still running Windows XP. This is mainly simply because “it works” and for many there’s been no compelling reason to change.

However, that time is NOW and it’s because since 2001 Microsoft have been constantly working away

After April 8th this service ceases so when the hackers find a security hole that will enable them to take over your Windows XP PC, without your knowledge they’ll be able to monitor your activity, read your emails, learn your online banking security codes and be “you” if they want to. behind the scenes to deliver patches that resolve reliability issues and fix security holes.

You may never notice until your bank accounts have been emptied, payment demands for loans that you never took out start dropping through your door, or the anti-piracy police come storming in because your computer has been hosting pirated software, films or something much worse.

Windows XP - RIP April 2014Anti-Virus software will protect you from many risks but they’re powerless in this scenario.

So, if you’re using Windows XP and are more than a little concerned about your security it’s time to start thinking about moving on – and it may not simply be a case of buying and installing Windows 8.

  • What about all those programs that you use, will they run on your upgraded operating system?
  • Is your hardware of a sufficiently high specification to support the new version of Windows?
  • What happens if it all goes wrong?
  • Do you have a Disaster Recovery plan in place that’s more substantial than simply backing up your data?

All of these reasons, and more, mean that the time to start planning is NOW. Check your businesses to see which desktops and laptops are still running Windows XP – we know there are loads out there – our web Analytics shows that more than 25% of visitors to our website are still using Windows XP.

We can help with your migration,

  • we’ll talk to you to understand your IT requirements,
  • audit your XP PCs to see which ones can be upgraded and which ones will need to be replaced.
  • audit your software to ensure that there are suitable versions that will run on a more up to date version of Windows
  • help you implement and manage the whole process to ensure that it goes as smoothly as possible.

So, if you are more than a little concerned about your IT security then drop me an email to or give me a call on 01793 238020  to start the ball rolling and to ensure that your network is secure in 2014 and beyond.

Are you being held to ransom by your computer?

There’s a new strain of Windows malware that’s doing the rounds and it’s pretty nasty.

Ransomware has been around for a while now, the concept is that you are convinced to click on a link in an email which ends up with the installation of a piece of software on your machine that stops you from working unless you hand over some money.

A Ransomware Scree

The most common variant flashes a message on your screen from the Metropolitan Police warning you that illegal activity has been detected and that your computer is now locked – until you pay the “fine”.

Although worrying to see, these types of attacks are relatively easy to cure. However there’s a new kid in town, it’s far more malicious and cannot be easily solved – it’s called CryptoLocker and its bad news.

You get the infection by either clicking on a link in a phishing email or by visiting an infected website. Either way, the CryptoLocker software is installed on your PC without your knowledge. Some of the phishing emails reported so far look as if they’ve come from Companies House or as a supposed customer complaint.

CryptoLocker ScreenOnce it’s been installed it starts to encrypt your data using an almost unbreakable form of encryption. If you back up your data across a network or to an external hard drive and it’s connected then CryptoLocker will also encrypt your back-up.

Once it’s finished your PC will flash up a ransom message on your screen demanding a payment of $300 within 3-4 days with payment to be made through one of the anonymous cash services such as MoneyPak, Ukash or through the BitCoin digital currency.

If you fail to pay up the de-cryption key is destroyed immediately and your data is lost!

Although the software itself can be removed fairly easily from your computers your data remains encrypted so there’s no way to get your data back without paying the ransom and hoping that the criminal minds behind this scheme are good enough to share the decryption key with you – without actually demanding more money.

Even experienced anti-virus company, Sophos, have been unable to find a way to decrypt the files without the decryption key.

So, how do you protect yourself?

  1. Make sure that your anti-virus software is always up to date, all of the good ones will do this automatically provided nobody has disabled it in the hope that it will make their computer run a little faster.
  2. Be highly suspicious of any hyperlinks in emails – hover your mouse over the link before clicking to see the actual web address the link goes to and if it bears no resemblance to what it should be then don’t click.
  3. And just use common sense when browsing the internet.

If you’re not sure about any of this, please don’t hesitate to give me a call on 01793 238020 or email me

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What do the new domain name options mean?

Are new domains worth it for businesses?

More than 1,000 new domain names could soon be available.

New domain names up for grabs

New domain names up for grabs

I was watching TV the other night when up popped an advert for a large and well know web hosting company advertising the forthcoming availability of more than 700 new domain name extensions, known as gTLDs or global Top Level Domains.

Most of us are familiar with the likes of .com, and, you’re probably familiar with .info, .net and .eu but ICAAN, the association charged with managing domain names, is currently evaluating over 1,000 new options - how does .accountant, .book or even .zip strike you? They are just 3 under consideration – have a look at the complete list over on my website.

When visiting websites it will mean that we will all have to pay more attention to domain extensions to make sure we get to the sites we want, the search engines will face a challenge to deal with this potential explosion in domain extensions whilst domain registration agencies, ruthless marketing companies, consultancies and cybersquatters may feel that their .ship is about to sail in because it’s unlikely that these new gTLDs will be policed.

Very few are – for example .org was always meant to be used by charities and not-for-profit organisations but was quickly hijacked by businesses when the more common .com and options had already been registered although .ltd or .gov can only be registered if you are a Limited company or a genuine government department but these controlled domains are in the minority.

Businesses may be sold more domains than they actually need by being told they need to protect their brand and to prevent cybersquatting whilst cybersquatters may jump on the opportunity to make a quick buck by registering the domain names of well-known companies in the hope of holding them to ransom, expecting a large payoff to sell the domains on to them.

Although legislation was passed to outlaw some of the more ruthless scams it’s not actively policed and this explosion in new domains may make Cybersquatting too tempting to resist and could bring the Cybersquatters back in droves as they look to capitalise on these new opportunities and confusion.

To protect your business against cybersquatting you need to make sure your company name is properly registered and trademarked. This will mean that you can use the law to claim what is yours should you fall victim to cybersquatting but it still leaves one question unanswered – which domain names should you register?

Simply put and .com are the ones uppermost in people minds so you should always register these and then choose carefully from the new ones and only register those that are really relevant to your business and sector that you trade in.

If you want to talk more help with domain names, websites and online marketing in more detail please email me, or give me a call on 01793 238020