Garin Livingstone Promoted to Director of Operations

Bryley Systems Inc. is pleased to announce Garin A. Livingstone as Director of Operations. Mr. Livingstone will be responsible for business leadership and vision as well as the day-to-day operations and performance of the company.

“We are team-oriented at Bryley Systems,” said Livingstone, “and I look forward to continue working within a collaborative environment, providing excellent services to our clients, as we strategically plan for the future growth of the company.”

In 2008, Mr. Livingstone joined Bryley Systems as part of the technical-services team and has held the positions of senior technician, project manager and director of technical services.

Virginia Livingstone Promoted to Director of Technical Services

Bryley Systems Inc. is pleased to announce Virginia Livingstone as Director of Technical Services.

“Ms. Livingstone will lead our technical-services team,” states Gavin Livingstone, Bryley’s President, “while expanding and providing the highest-level of service quality and client care.”

Early 2017, Virginia joined Bryley Systems, bringing with her over 20 years’ experience troubleshooting and diagnosing client issues. She is experienced in team leadership, well-versed in server database and network support tools, and possesses strong debugging skills.

Prior to Bryley Systems, Virginia was an IT Automation Engineer for Intel Corporation in Hudson, MA. She holds a degree in Computer Science from Clark University.

“Our Technical Services Department is dedicated every day to answering questions and assisting with our client’s IT needs.” Said Ms. Livingstone. “I am extremely proud and excited to assume this leadership role and pursue future successes.”

National Battery Day 2019

National Battery Day is observed on February 18, 2019.

Think on that day about the usefulness of the batteries – and charging some up again, if you like. Recognize, just how important the simple battery is to our way of life. In electricity, a battery is a device consisting of one or more electrochemical cells that convert stored chemical energy into electrical energy. Batteries have become a common power source for many household and industrial applications.

There are two types of batteries: primary batteries (disposable batteries), which are designed to be used once and discarded, and secondary batteries (rechargeable batteries), which are designed to be recharged and used multiple times. Batteries come in many sizes, from miniature cells used to power hearing aids and wristwatches to battery banks the size of rooms that provide standby power for telephone exchanges and computer data centers.

As much as we depend on batteries to help power our daily lives, it’s also our responsibility to recycle them when they reach their end-of-life.

Battery recycling not only prevents potentially hazardous materials in batteries from harming the environment, it can protect against potential fires by keeping batteries out of the garbage and helps conserve our natural resources.

It’s easy and convenient – click here to find a drop-off location near you.  Be sure to review guidelines on how to safely prepare your batteries here.  Help us lead the charge on battery recycling today and every day!

Safer Internet Day!

Tuesday, February 5th is Safer Internet Day.  Being observed on the first Tuesday in February, what started out as a campaign to raise awareness about Internet safety is now celebrated in over 100 countries worldwide.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, many of us will go online for gifts such as flowers, candy, cute stuffed animals, a book, perhaps a gift card to a store or restaurant – whatever the choice may be, will you be shopping securely?  Online shopping is very convenient.

You can click here and there and order whatever product you desire and have it delivered to your front door.  You can compare pricing, look for deals, compare products, and it all can be done quickly and in the convenience of your own home, any time, night or day.  The downfall?  Wherever there is money and users to be found, there are malicious hackers roaming around.

Use familiar web sites.  You need to be aware of the safer online shops, like Amazon.  One tactic favored by malicious hackers is to set up their own fake shopping websites. Fake websites can either infect you the moment you arrive on them by way of malicious code. However, the most dangerous aspect you should be concerned about is the checkout process. Completing a checkout process will give cybercriminals your most important information: credit card data (including security number), name, and address. This opens you up to credit card fraud or social engineering attacks.

What are some key things to be aware of as you’re shopping?  Sticking with popular brands is as good as any advice when shopping online. Not only do you know what you’re getting by way of quality and price, but you also feel more confident that these well-established names have in place robust security measures.”1

 A few things to be aware of: 

  • Leery URL’s such as “coach-at-awesome-price.com” or “the-bestonlineshoppingintheworld.com”
  • A strange selection of brands – as an example, the website claims to be specialized in clothes but also sells car parts or construction materials
  • Strange contact information. If the email for customer service is “amazonsupport@gmail.com” instead of “support@amazon.com” then you should be suspicious that online shop is fake
  • Are prices ridiculously low?  An online shop that has an iPhone 7 at $75 is most likely trying to scam you

The old adage “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is,” rings true in this case, and it’s best to steer clear of these sites.

Use Secure Connections.  Wi-Fi has some serious limitations in terms of security. Unsecured connections allow hackers to intercept your traffic and see everything you are doing on an online shop.  This includes checkout information, passwords, emails, addresses, etc.

Before You Buy Online…

  1. If the connection is open and doesn’t have a password, don’t use it.
  2. If the router is in an exposed location, allowing people to tamper with it, it can be hacked by a cybercriminal. Stay away.
  3. If you are in a densely-crowded bar with dozens of devices connected to the same Wi-Fi hotspot, this can be a prime target for an enterprising cybercriminal who wants to blend in and go unnoticed. Continue to socialize, don’t shop.

Access secure shopping sites that protect your information. If you want to purchase from a website, make sure it has SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed. The site should start with https:// and you should notice the lock symbol is in the address bar at the top.

Update your browser, antivirus and operating system.  One of the more frequent causes of malware is unpatched software.  Online shoppers are most at risk due to the sensitive information involved. At a minimum, make sure you have an updated browser when you are purchasing online. This will help secure your cookies and cache, while preventing a data leakage.  You’ll probably fuss over having to constantly update your software because it can be a time consuming operation, but remember the benefits.

Always be aware of your bank statement.  Malicious hackers are typically looking for credit card data, and online shops are the best place for them to get their hands on such information.  Often times, companies get hacked and their information falls into the hands of cybercriminals.

For this reason, it’s a good habit to review your bank account and check up on any suspicious activity.

“Don’t wait for your bill to come at the end of the month. Go online regularly and look at electronic statements for your credit card, debit card, and checking accounts. Make sure you don’t see any fraudulent charges, even originating from sites like PayPal. If you do see something wrong, pick up the phone to address the matter quickly. In the case of credit cards, pay the bill only once you know all your charges are accurate. You have 30 days to notify the bank or card issuer of problems.”2

Using a credit card vs. a debit card is safer.  Credit cards have additional legal defenses built in that make them safer to purchase online compared to debit cards.  With credit cards, you aren’t liable if you are a victim of a fraudulent transaction, so long as you report the fraud in a timely manner. Secondly, credit cards give you leverage when it comes to disputing transactions with a seller. If you pay with a debit card, you can’t get your money back unless the seller agrees to it. With credit cards, the money you paid for a product isn’t counted against you until due process is complete, debit card holders however can only get their money back after this step.  Ultimately, banks are much more protective of credit cards since it’s their money on the line, not yours.

Additional tips for safety:

  • Never let someone see your credit card number – it may seem obvious, but never keep your PIN number in the same spot as your credit card
  • Destroy and delete any statements you have read
  • Notify your credit card issuer of any address change. Doing so will prevent them from sending sensitive files to the previous address
  • Keep confirmation numbers and emails for any online purchases you may have done
  • Immediately call your credit card company and close your account if you have lost or misplaced a credit card

Use antivirus protection.  The most frequent tip on how to be safe online is to use a good antivirus tool. It will keep you safe against known malware.  ”Before you begin shopping, outfit your phone or tablet with mobile security software. Look for a product that scans apps for viruses and spyware, blocks shady websites, provides lost-device protection and offers automatic updates.”3

Do not purchase from spam or phishing emails.  A phishing email with a fake offer for a desirable product is a hard thing to resist for many shoppers, so they make an impulsive decision and click on the “Order Product” or “Buy Now”, and that’s when the malware attack starts.  A phishing email is not like a standard email. The cybercriminal simply wants your click, and nothing else. The Unsubscribe button won’t stop the email spam.  The best solution in these cases is for you to simply mark the email as spam, this will remove the mail from your inbox and block the sender from sending more spam.

Keep a record of your transactions.  If you are a frequent online shopper, it may be difficult to remember from which site you bought a certain product.  So, write it down: what you bought, when and from what website.  Compare your spending details with the banking records from your online banking account, keep track of which websites you use for shopping and buying stuff online.

Hold on to your receipts and destroy them when you no longer need them.  Keep the receipt for your purchase, just in case you need to confirm it again, as well as for warranty and return issues.  If you want to get rid of receipt, make sure to destroy it completely, so that any possible identity thief won’t be able to find any information about you.

Don’t give out more private information than you need to.  ”In order to shop online you need to provide two types of information: payment information, such as credit card data, and shipping location, which is usually your home or work address. Be suspicious of online shops that ask for information such as: date of birth, social security number or any other similar information. They don’t need it in order to sell you things.”4

Don’t keep too much information on your smartphone.  These days, everybody stores a lot of important personal information on their phone, and most of us rarely take the time to secure them.  These devices are now much less about calling people, and more about photos, social media, etc.  Increasingly, people shop online using their smartphone, but this carries its own risks. Fake online shops can infect your smartphone with malware, and then have access to information such as phone numbers, notes, photos, and even app contents.  Be careful what information you store on your smartphone.

“Safer Internet Day is a great reminder that Internet security is something that needs constant vigilance. It’s also a great reminder that a lot of bad things can happen on the Internet if you don’t properly take precautions against them. With that in mind, be sure to have a safe and happy Safer Internet Day.”5

References:

1 https://www.welivesecurity.com – ESET Security Forum
2 https://www.pcmag.com
3 http://www.trendmicro.co.uk/home/internet-safety-for-kids/smart-mobile-tips-for-online-shopping/ – TrendMicro
4
https://bettermoneyhabits.bankofamerica.com/
5 http://www.holidayscalendar.com/event/safer-internet-day/

https://staysafeonline.org – Powered by National Cyber Security Alliance
https://www.americanbar.org – American Bar Association
https://www.foxnews.com
https://www.usatoday.com

Cryptojacking: Are you funding cybercrime without even knowing?

In 2017 we saw cybercriminals adopt a whole new approach to generating value from malware. Rather than stealing information or encrypting a victim’s files and demanding a ransom, cybercriminals started discretely hijacking computer systems and using them to generate cryptocurrency. In 2018, cryptojacking became one of the most prevalent forms of malware on the internet. The question to ask yourself in 2019 is “can I spot such an attack and, if I can, what do I do about it?”

Tips to Troubleshoot Common, but Annoying Computer Problems

Just about everything requires a computer these days.  When your computer works, it’s great.  When a problem arises, the first thing to do is try not to panic.

There are many different things that could cause a problem with your computer. No matter what’s causing the issue, troubleshooting will always be a process of trial and error.  You may find yourself trying a few different approaches before you can find a solution.  Some issues are easy to fix and others may require the help from a professional, but if you decide to try to tackle it on your own here are a few tips.

  1. Write down your steps. Once you start troubleshooting, you may want to write down each step you take. This way, you’ll be able to remember exactly what you’ve done and can avoid repeating the tasks. If you end up asking other people for help, it will be much easier if they know exactly what you’ve tried already.
  2. Take notes about error messages. If your computer gives you an error message, be sure to write down as much information as possible. You may be able to use this information later to find out if other people are having the same error.
  3. Always check the cables.  It’s very easy to accidentally knock a cable out of connection, so if you’re having trouble with a specific piece of computer hardware, such as your monitor or keyboard, an easy first step is to check all related cables to make sure they’re properly connected.
  4. Restart the computer. When all else fails, restarting the computer is a good thing to try. This can solve a lot of basic issues you may experience with your computer.

Process of Elimination.  If you’re having an issue with your computer, you may be able to find out what’s wrong using the process of elimination. This means you’ll make a list of things that could be causing the problem and then test them out one by one to eliminate them. Once you’ve identified the source of your computer issue, it will be easier to find a solution.

This is just one example of an issue you might encounter while using a computer. You are trying to print, but the printer won’t print.  You have some ideas about what could be causing this, so you go through them one by one to see if you can eliminate any possible causes.

  1. First, you check the printer to see that it’s turned on and plugged in to the surge protector. It is, so that’s not the issue. Next, you check to make sure the printer’s ink cartridge still has ink and that there is paper loaded in the paper tray. If things look good in both cases, so you know the issue has nothing to do with ink or paper.
  2. Make sure the printer and computer are communicating correctly. If you recently downloaded an update to your operating system, it might interfere with the printer. But you know there haven’t been any recent updates and the printer was working yesterday, so you’ll have to look elsewhere.
  3. You check the printer’s USB cord and find that it’s not plugged in. You must have unplugged it accidentally when you plugged something else into the computer earlier. Once you plug in the USB cord, the printer starts working again. It looks like this printer issue is solved!

Simple solutions to common problems.

Sometimes, problems can be fixed using simple troubleshooting techniques, like closing and reopening the program. It’s important to try these techniques before resorting to more extreme measures. If the problem still isn’t fixed, you can try other troubleshooting methods.

Power button will not start computer.

  1. If your computer does not start, begin by checking the power cord to confirm that it is plugged securely into the back of the computer case and the power outlet.
  2. If it is plugged into an outlet, make sure it is a working outlet. To check your outlet, you can plug in another electrical device, such as a lamp.
  3. If the computer is plugged in to a surge protector, verify that it is turned on. You may have to reset the surge protector by turning it off and then back on. You can also plug a lamp or other device into the surge protector to verify that it’s working correctly.
  4. If you are using a laptop, the battery may not be charged. Plug the AC adapter into the wall, then try to turn on the laptop. If it still doesn’t start up, you may need to wait a few minutes and try again.

An application is running slowly.

  1. Close and reopen the application.
  2. Update the application. To do this, click the Help menu and look for an option to check for Updates. If you don’t find this option, another idea is to run an online search for application updates.

An application is frozen.

Sometimes an application may become frozen. When this happens, you won’t be able to close the window or click any buttons within the application.

  1. Force quit the application. On a PC, you can press (and hold) Ctrl+Alt+Delete (the Control, Alt, and Delete keys) on your keyboard to open the Task Manager. On a Mac, press and hold Command+Option+Esc. You can then select the unresponsive application and click End task (or Force Quit on a Mac) to close it.

  1. Restart the computer. If you are unable to force quit an application, restarting your computer will close all open apps.

Slow Performance.

  1. Empty your recycle bin by right-clicking on the Recycle Bin icon (usually on the desktop) and choosing the “Empty Recycle Bin” option.
  2. Check your mail files. Remove any large attachments and delete unused mail. Images and videos take up a lot of space, so consider moving those to an external drive.
  3. Remove temporary files from your internet browser
  4. Perform a disk cleanup

Virus.

A virus is a malicious computer program that is designed to interfere with the operation of a computer program or destroy computer programs. They occur in various forms and they normally attack computers from various sources such as infected external memory modules, fake software, or the internet.

  1. Installing anti-virus software is the best way to eliminate malware and other forms of malicious computer software. However, it is important to ensure that you install an antivirus software that is compatible with your operating system and computer specifications.
  2. It is also important to routinely check for software updates. It is worth noting that the best remedy for this problem would be to avoid using infected secondary storage devices with your computer and avoid visiting websites that are likely to have viruses. This due to the fact that sometimes, the anti-virus software may degrade the performance of the computer.

The computer is frozen.

Sometimes your computer may become completely unresponsive, or frozen. When this happens, you won’t be able to click anywhere on the screen, open or close applications, or access shut-down options.

  1. (Windows only): Restart Windows Explorer. To do this, press and hold Ctrl+Alt+Delete on your keyboard to open the Task Manager. Next, locate and select Windows Explorer from the Processes tab and click Restart. You may need to click More Details at the bottom of the window to see the Processes tab.   Run a virus check when the computer goes back to its normal working condition.
  2. (Mac only): Restart Finder. To do this, press and hold Command+Option+Esc on your keyboard to open the Force Quit Applications dialog box. Next, locate and select Finder, then click Relaunch.
  3. Press and hold the Power button. The Power button is usually located on the front or side of the computer, typically indicated by the power symbol. Press and hold the Power button for 5 to 10 seconds to force the computer to shut down.
  4. If the computer still won’t shut down, you can unplug the power cable from the electrical outlet. If you’re using a laptop, you may be able to remove the battery to force the computer to turn off. Note: This solution should be your last resort after trying the other suggestions above.

Mouse or Keyboard Stops Working.

  1. If you’re using a wired mouse or keyboard, make sure it’s correctly plugged into the computer. Be sure the cord is not damaged.  If it is, replace it.
  2. If you’re using a wireless mouse or keyboard, make sure it’s turned on and that the batteries are charged.
  3. Clean the bottom of your mouse, and use compressed air to clean the keyboard.

Blue Screen of Death (BSOD).

This is a very common computer problem especially if you have installed sketchy or buggy software. The most important question to ask yourself is what did I just do before the device stopped working? If you installed a new piece of software, plugged in to new hardware, downloaded custom drivers, installed a Windows update, or changed settings, this could be the cause.  Depending on what you just did, the repair may depend on that change.

  1. If your computer is unusually hot, it could be due to running high-performance settings.  This may be the cause of BSOD.
  2. If this is the first time you’ve encountered a Blue Screen of Death on your computer, you can run your PC’s Blue Screen troubleshooter to try to diagnose the issue:
    • Open Start
    • Click Settings
    • Click Update & Security
    • Click the Troubleshoot tab
    • Click Blue Screen
    • Click Run the troubleshooter
    • Review the solutions and follow any on-screen instructions
  3. Remove any unnecessary hardware. Things like USB flash drives, Ethernet or HDMI cables, controllers, printer cables, SD cards, and so on can be removed from your computer without impacting the computer’s performance. Furthermore, flaws in hardware items such as these can trigger a BSOD and continue to trigger it until they are removed.
  4. Wait for your computer to restart. Once BSOD appears, Windows will diagnose the problem, attempt to fix whatever the issue is, and then restart. If your computer restarts like usual and doesn’t run into a Blue Screen error again, you can make some changes right from your desktop.  If the BSOD appears again while your computer is attempting to restart, check its error code. If the error code is 0x000000EF, you should immediately skip ahead to the next part. If not, try rebooting in Safe Mode.
  5. Run a virus scan. While rare, sometimes viruses can trick your computer into thinking that it’s malfunctioning, which can in turn cause the BSOD crash.  If the virus scan comes up with any malicious software, remove it immediately.
  6. If the virus scan sends software settings suggestions (e.g., battery life) to you during the scan, try implementing them. A flawed setting may cause the BSOD to appear.

No Sound.

  1. Check the volume level. Click the audio button in the top-right or bottom-right corner of the screen to make sure the sound is turned on and that the volume is up.
  2. Check the audio player controls. Many audio and video players will have their own separate audio controls. Make sure the sound is turned on and that the volume is turned up in the player.
  3. Check the cables. Make sure external speakers are plugged in, turned on, and connected to the correct audio port or a USB port. If your computer has color-coded ports, the audio output port will usually be green.
  4. Connect headphones to the computer to find out if you can hear sound through the headphones.

Blank Screen.

  1. The computer may be in Sleep mode. Click the mouse or press any key on the keyboard to wake it.
  2. Make sure the monitor is plugged in and turned on.
  3. Make sure the computer is plugged in and turned on.
  4. If you’re using a desktop, make sure the monitor cable is properly connected to the computer tower and the monitor.

If you don’t find a solution to your problem, you may need to ask a family member or friend for assistance.  You can always search the Web, look for a YouTube video or a chat line.  Keep in mind that some computer problems have simple solutions, although it may take some time to find them.

For more complex problems, more in-depth solutions may be required, such as reformatting your hard drive or reinstalling your operating system.  Call us at 978-562-6077, or email us at ITExperts@Bryley.com.  We are here to help.

Holiday Party 2018

It was the night before Christmas and we were all here
Checking e-mails, closing tickets and wishing each other good cheer
Festivities full of food and presents to swap
Here for our clients because “Bryley Rocks!”

Bryley Systems Participates in Workforce Training Program

Since being chosen as the recipient of a grant from the Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund Program (WTFP), Bryley Systems has been working closely with Dave Clough from mPOWER Associates and Sandra Kearney from GROWTHco to provide valuable training to Bryley’s staff members.

We are excited about the opportunity this training creates for Bryley systems.  So far the focus has been on effective communication and leadership skills.  As we move further into 2019, the training program shall become more targeted, focusing on individual departments and the unique skill sets required by Bryley personnel to be effective in their specific roles.

The WTFP is a state program, financed by Massachusetts businesses, designed to provide training to the Massachusetts workforce by enabling employers across the State with essential resources. The fund prioritizes projects focusing on job growth, job retention, increased skills, improved productivity and those companies that demonstrate a significant private investment in employee training.

In 2017, companies completing grants added jobs at a rate of 8.2%, as opposed to the statewide average 3.1%, and the New England average 2.7%.

This project is funded by a Workforce Training Fund grant from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.  The grant program is administered by Commonwealth Corporation.

Bryley Systems – A Recognized and Trusted Technology Partner Among CPA Firms

The Management of an Accounting Practice (MAP) Committee (MSCPA) recently conducted a survey about technology use at CPA firms. The survey was originated by the MSCPA for the purpose of helping firms to benchmark best practices.  Bryley Systems is featured as a recommended outsourced IT provider among CPAs, and we are proud to be a technology advocate for the CPA community.

According to the survey, 34.5% of respondents indicated that they envision their firm being in the cloud within five years.  More and more CPA firms are investing in IT and software – in fact, over 20% of those surveyed, reported that over 8% of a firm’s revenue is being spent on IT.

Bryley Systems has over 30 years of experience taking the worry off of our clients’ shoulders and effectively managing IT environments at a predictable cost.  For more information about Bryley’s full array of Managed IT Services, please contact us at 978.562.6077 or by email at ITExperts@Bryley.com. We are here to help.

Tis The Season for Porch Pirates – Don’t Let a “Would Be” Thief Ruin Your Holiday

Technology has made it very convenient to purchase just about anything and have it delivered at our doorstep. Online buying and package delivery has really become the norm for retail shopping. However, especially during the holiday season, there’s an unfortunate piece of news – “porch pirates” – those modern day thieves who steal packages from doorsteps. In a report from Package Guard, it claims that 11 million US homeowners have had packages stolen from their front door or porch in 2017, and those numbers are due to be higher by the end of this year.