PCS Blog

PCS has been serving the Knoxville area since 1996, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Tip of the Week: Changing a PDF in Microsoft Word

Tip of the Week: Changing a PDF in Microsoft Word

Did you know that Microsoft Word can actually edit PDF files? Well… the most recent version of it can, anyway. Since Adobe Acrobat can be a considerable investment for each and every one of your employees, you can instead turn to the tried and true Microsoft Word for this purpose. We’ll show you how you can do this (as long as you have the most recent version of MS Word).

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Tip of the Week: How to Transfer Apps to a New Phone

Tip of the Week: How to Transfer Apps to a New Phone

There is little that is more satisfying than obtaining a new phone. However, this sense of satisfaction is often undermined by the need to get your applications and data to ensure that your new device has everything you normally use installed. For this week’s tip, we’ll go over a method of making this process easier on an Android phone.

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Tip of the Week: ‘Secure’ Browsing Doesn’t Mean ‘Private’

Tip of the Week: ‘Secure’ Browsing Doesn’t Mean ‘Private’

Internet browsers, by in large, provide enough security for the average user to come out unscathed. Nowadays, people deal with many more threats than they once did, but by in large, users stay secure when using today’s most popular browsers. Privacy, however, is a whole different matter.

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Tip of the Week: How to Avoid Spam Emails

Tip of the Week: How to Avoid Spam Emails

Would you just give your bank account information to anyone who called you up and asked for it? Probably not. For the same reason, you wouldn’t just download attachments from your email messages without a second thought. This can be a dangerous practice, as some of the most common threats nowadays spread themselves via unwanted email attachments. It’s important that you can identify when it’s the right time to download an attachment, and when it’s best to just leave it be without exposing your business to unnecessary risk.

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Tip of the Week: A Secure 2018 Relies on Powerful Passwords

Tip of the Week: A Secure 2018 Relies on Powerful Passwords

Password security is one of the most important parts of using an online account. It seems that the average user runs into the paradox of password security by using either complex, hard-to-remember passwords, or simple and less-secure passwords that put their accounts at risk. Even if the user is aware of the benefits that come from using a secure password, chances are that they will sideline security in favor of ease of access.

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Tip of the Week: Using Your Smartphone More Effectively in Five Ways

Tip of the Week: Using Your Smartphone More Effectively in Five Ways

It’s getting to the point where most people have a smartphone, even if they shouldn’t necessarily have one. If you go all-in on a device like this to boost your productivity and efficiency, then you know how difficult it can be at times. We’re here to provide you with some tips to help you better take advantage of your smart device.

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Tip of the Week: Give Your Desktop Some TLC

Tip of the Week: Give Your Desktop Some TLC

Maintaining a network of PCs can be a lot of work. We wouldn’t blame you for having trouble keeping your business’ computers up-to-date - especially if you don’t have a dedicated IT department on-site. It doesn’t have to feel impossible, though. With proactive technology maintenance and the following tips, you’ll be sure to stay productive throughout the workday.

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Tip of the Week: Closed A Tab On Accident? Here’s How To Restore It

Tip of the Week: Closed A Tab On Accident? Here’s How To Restore It

Have you ever accidentally closed a tab before you were done with it? It’s a classic case of clicking just a little too close to the X. We’ll walk you through how you can open up Google Chrome tabs, not just on your ordinary desktop web browser, but your Android device as well. It’s a lot easier than searching for the same web pages as before!

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Tip of the Week: Android Oreo Is Double-Stuffed With Features

Tip of the Week: Android Oreo Is Double-Stuffed With Features

Earlier this year, Android released Oreo, version 8.0 of their popular mobile device operating system. Whether you’ve already updated to the latest version of this OS or are still waiting for your update, it has several new or improved features that you’ll want to consider using. Let’s look at five of our (many) favorite additions to the OS.

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Tip of the Week: 10 Technology Practices To Improve Business As Usual

Tip of the Week: 10 Technology Practices To Improve Business As Usual

In a business, some jobs belong to certain people: managers make sure that work is done when it needs to be, human resources make sure the workforce is accounted for, and so on. However, some jobs belong to everyone in the modern workplace who works with technology, For our tip of the week, we’ll go over some of these shared responsibilities.

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Tip of the Week: Resolve a Poor Internet Connection By Following These 3 Steps

Tip of the Week: Resolve a Poor Internet Connection By Following These 3 Steps

When the Internet goes down in the modern office, chaos ensues. The only way to subdue the panicked masses is to provide answers and to resolve the issue, ASAP. If you happen to find yourself in such an Internet-less predicament, then be sure to follow these three troubleshooting tips.

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Tip of the Week: Ways to Be Active and Proactive With Your Network Security

Tip of the Week: Ways to Be Active and Proactive With Your Network Security

Security troubles have many causes, but the only way to protect your business from any of them is to implement a comprehensive enterprise-level security solution. There are two other ways that you can work to protect your business, implementing software patches, and avoiding social engineering attempts.


Applying Software Patches
It should be clear that software patches are designed to fix security problems and improve the functionality of the software, but some organizations simply don’t have time to implement them manually, or they simply don’t understand the purpose for them. Part of the problem is that sometimes the developers aren’t necessarily clear that patches are available, while other times those within your organization may not even know how to administer them. Regardless of the reason, there are usually problems on a network that will go unattended for extended periods of time.

Most hackers only want to take advantage of the issues they can detect. Thus, there could be countless threats out there designed to target countless unpatched vulnerabilities on your network that not even the hackers can know about. It makes sense for a hacker to use just one exploit to target a handful of vulnerabilities. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that all software that you use is updated and patched.

Additionally, your systems shouldn’t be running unused programs. The more software you have, the more ways hackers can take advantage of your organization’s network vulnerabilities. Moreover, you might even be wasting revenue on renewing software licenses that you don’t even need, so it’s best perform a network audit from time to time to get the worthless software off your infrastructure.

Dodging Social Engineering Attempts
Social engineering is broadly categorized as any method that takes advantage of unprepared users or those who are ignorant of solid network security practices. Examples include a phone call or email message claiming that the network has been breached by a foreign entity and that “tech support” needs to remote into the computer and resolve the issue. There are other, more subtle methods as well, such as targeted spear phishing attacks that go after specific users with personal information that convince them that the hacker is someone in authority.

These types of attacks vary in sophistication, but they can range anywhere from an employee receiving a message claiming that they’ve won a prize, to the intruder physically following your employees into the office and stealing sensitive data manually. In instances like these, a little bit of employee training can go a long way. Teach them to look for anything suspicious, and inform them that vigilance is incredibly important in the workplace.

These two security improvements barely scratch the surface of what your organization should be focusing on for network security. If you want to fully protect your business to the best of your ability, give us a call at (865) 273-1960.

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Tip of the Week: Activate These Solutions Now Before You Misplace Your Mobile Device Later

Tip of the Week: Activate These Solutions Now Before You Misplace Your Mobile Device Later

Can’t find your mobile device? If you’ve taken precautions and enabled solutions designed to track the whereabouts of your device, then you’ve got no reason to panic. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, so you’ll want to make sure you activate a phone-finding solution now (while you’ve got your device in your sights).


For an iPhone or Apple Device
If you’re an Apple enthusiast, you can use the Find My iPhone feature to locate any device connected to your Apple account. Log into your iCloud account or download the Find My iPhone app (before you lose your device, of course), which will help you keep track of your devices should you lose them. You can even track where your device is and where it has been. You can even lock the device and send it a message telling whoever finds it how to contact you! 

For an Android Device
Android makes finding your lost device as easy as performing a Google search. If you’re signed into your Google account, and you have your device linked to it, all you have to do is type into the search bar, “Find my Phone.” As long as there’s a device connected to your Google account, you’ll be shown a small map in the search results which shows you where the device is located. You can then proceed to ring the device and find it, if it is turned on and nearby.

For Other Devices
If you lose a more obscure device, you might have a little more trouble locating it. Thanks to a great app called Prey, you can find just about any laptop or smartphone that may be missing. You can install Prey for free on up to three devices, and as long as a thief hasn’t completely wiped your device, you’ll have a decent shot at discovering who has found it. Provided that your device has a Wi-Fi chip, a webcam, and the app installed, Prey can take a picture of whoever has found the device as well as where it is located.

Any devices that have Prey installed on them will automatically issue a report to you every so often, starting at 20 minutes. This can tell you exactly what’s happening with your device. This includes webcam snapshots, desktop captures, program installations, changed files, and so much more. Of course, if you think that maybe someone has just found your device and hasn’t stolen it, you have the option of letting them know how to contact you through various methods. Worst case scenario, you can lock it or remotely wipe it to secure any data located on it.

For more great tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your technology, subscribe to PCS’s blog.

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Tip of the Week: Worried About Identity Theft at Work? Follow These Tips for Peace of Mind

Tip of the Week: Worried About Identity Theft at Work? Follow These Tips for Peace of Mind

The Bureau of Justice estimated that five percent of the entire U.S. population were victimized by identity thieves, a total of 11.7 million people. While the methods of collecting the data that identity thieves need to commit their crime vary from dumpster diving for carelessly discarded documents, to email phishing scams, there is a particular target that can easily supply them with the data they will need: the workplace.


While many businesses must collect a lot of personal data from their clients for billing purposes, their employees are also made vulnerable if some of that data was to be absconded with. After all, in order to properly pay an employee for their work, an employer will need a lot of their personally identifiable information on record. As a result, a workplace becomes a high-value target for someone seeking the data necessary to complete fraudulent actions in someone else’s name and becomes the responsibility of the entire business to safeguard that data, for the sake of their employees and their clients.

To that end, every employee should be educated in the best practices for protecting a company’s trove of sensitive information, and policies need to be implemented and enforced to ensure that these best practices are followed. To get you started with securing your office, make sure these four best practices are followed by everyone associated with your company.

Don’t Leave Workstations Unattended
Computers need to be locked and only accessible by its user’s password. Otherwise, anyone (be it a less-than-trustworthy employee or someone off the street stumbling across an opportunity) could access that workstation and any company documents available to that employee.

Go Paperless
Identity thieves love paper trails. Whether it be copies of sensitive files that make their way to the trash, or even documents that get left lying around the office, the fact of the matter is that having paper copies of sensitive information only increases the risk that this information will get stolen. Going paperless is a way to minimize this risk entirely.

Train Employees to Know What Email Scams Looks Like
Scams targeting email inboxes are some of the top ways that identities are compromised. Therefore, in addition to having a good spam blocking solution in place, you’re going to want to make sure that every worker knows what an email scam looks like so they won’t fall for one. You may know how to spot an obvious email scam, like an unsolicited email requesting sensitive information, but how sure are you that your staff knows what a scam looks like as well?

Implement Enterprise-Level Security Solutions
Without proactive solutions in place to protect your company's sensitive data, it could easily fall into the wrong hands if a hacker breached your network. Every business needs to have security tools in place like antivirus, firewalls, spam-blocking, and content filtering. Thankfully, a solution like a Unified Threat Management tool offers businesses an easy way to get this kind of comprehensive protection in one easy-to-implement package!

Of course, there are many other steps to take to prevent your workplace from becoming an identity thief’s jackpot. PCS can help advise you on the other steps your business needs to take in order to keep the identities it deals with properly protected. Call us today at (865) 273-1960 for more information on the steps you need to take to prevent identity theft.

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Tip of the Week: How to Prevent Windows 10 From Restarting While You’re Working

Tip of the Week: How to Prevent Windows 10 From Restarting While You’re Working

How many times has this happened to you: you’ve walked back to your home or work PC after taking a break, only to find that Windows 10 installed new updates and automatically restarted? Thanks to Windows 10’s notoriously aggressive update behavior, any work that wasn’t saved was lost forever. It can be very frustrating to lose a project that you’ve spent hours on, through no fault of your own. Luckily, there are steps you can take to easily create a restart schedule.


In the fall of 2016, Microsoft issued an Anniversary Update to the Windows 10 OS. With this update, Microsoft included a new feature called “Active Hours.” Active Hours was created to let users specify the times when they’re more likely to be using their computers. In order to set up an Active Hours restart schedule, ensure that your computer has the Anniversary update installed (check your PC settings to see if it has already present). If you need help installing Windows 10 Anniversary, you can download this Update Assistant on Microsoft’s website: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/features.

After Windows 10 Anniversary is properly installed, follow these steps to setup Active Hours on your PC:

 

  1. Click on the Start menu and then the Settings. As a shortcut, you can also use Windows key + i on your keyboard.
  2. Next, select Update & Security.
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  3. Under the Windows Update tab, which will show up automatically, you’ll see a link to Change active hours. Click that.
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  4. From there, you can set your active hours (note: time lengths exceeding 12 hours will be marked as invalid).
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  5. Click Save to confirm your changes.

Now your PC will not install updates during those specified hours. But again, at most, you’re only covered for a 12-hour period. So, what about those times when you need to pull an all-nighter to complete a project? Not only can Windows 10 updates interrupt your productivity, they can also take a long time to install. To further prevent unwanted installations and restarts, you can also adjust your restart settings.

To change your restart settings, you’ll need to stay in the Update & Security section of your PC settings. Next:

 

  1. Click on Restart options, which is located under Change active hours.
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  2. Turn the feature On.
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  3. Next, set the day and time when you’d like Windows to finish installing updates. There is no need to save anything. As long as the switch is set to On, you’re all set.
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If you find that the On/Off switch is grayed out and you aren’t able to adjust it, this means that there are no new updates available at that time. In other words, you won’t have to worry about updates finishing up and forcing your PC to restart. Be sure to keep an eye on your restart options if you are planning to burn the candle at both ends.

There you have it. Windows 10 will no longer be able to bully you into halting your productivity! 

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Tip of the Week: How to Know if You’ve Experienced a Data Breach

Tip of the Week: How to Know if You’ve Experienced a Data Breach

Your data is vital to the success of your business, and as such, it needs to be protected. Can you identify the warning signs that someone has managed to get past your protections to access your data?


According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, or ITRC, there were 781 data breaches in 2015 within the United States alone. This marked the second-highest number since 2005, when the ITRC began to track these occurrences. Of particular interest, the ITRC report noted that, in 2015, the business sector saw the highest percentage of publically reported breaches with almost 40 percent of all reports coming from business organizations. What’s more, motive analysis saw that more and more thieves sought financial gain through accessing sensitive personal data.

Presumably, the report for 2016 should show more of the same.

Business owners should therefore be extremely cautious and prepared when it comes to possible data breaches, not only in terms of preventing them but also in terms of identifying them within their organizations. What follows are some best practices to assist you in determining if a data breach has occurred on your systems.

First, determine what is normal within your systems.
After all, you will need to know what is right to identify if something is going wrong. This can be largely accomplished by familiarizing yourself with the typical goings-on of your employees at different times of day, and with different levels of access.

Keep an eye out for unusual activity.
There are numerous warning signs that a data breach has occurred in your systems. These warnings might be as subtle as a piece of equipment suddenly becoming slower. They may include:

  • Unusual/unapproved programs: If there are suddenly unauthorized programs appearing on the company’s workstations, you may have a breach. You must be diligent in keeping an eye out for such red flags, as well as encouraging employees to do the same by insisting that they report any sudden appearances of new software that were not mandated by the company.
  • Unexplained “employee” activity: Have records suddenly shown users logging on to the system at odd times and from odd locations? Are your accounts being altered without your knowledge or approval? Have employees suddenly had unexplainable difficulties in remembering their passwords? These are also indicators that your system has been breached.
  • Other breach attempts: Have you had to fend off an overt cyber attack recently, such as a Distributed Denial of Service attack? If so, these attempts may have served a secondary purpose as a smokescreen to conceal a more insidious attack. It’s becoming a best practice to assume that an attack isn’t over, even when it’s over (because it may not be).

Educate your employees.
The first and last line of defense against most cyber threats is educated vigilance, including from your end users. Make sure your employees are also aware of the signs of a data breach, as well as other security threats. PCS can help you to keep your systems safe from these attacks as well. To see what we can set up to keep you secure, reach out to us at (865) 273-1960.

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Tip of the Week: Get Rid of Those Pesky Ads on Your Windows 10 Lock Screen

Tip of the Week: Get Rid of Those Pesky Ads on Your Windows 10 Lock Screen

Do you have Windows 10 on your workstation or PC? You’ve probably realized that it’s a pretty sweet operating system. Still, there’s a reason why so many people have been bothered by it, and it’s because of its practically omnipresent attempts to advertise to consumers.


One of the ways that Windows 10 will do this is by displaying ads on your lock screen. This is done through the Windows Spotlight feature found in your Personalization settings. Chances are that if you are using the default settings for your Windows 10 PC, these ads are enabled. Thankfully, it’s very easy to switch them off for good.

To start, open up the Settings app. You can do this through either the Start menu or by typing Settings into the search bar/Cortana at the bottom of your screen. Next, click on Personalization. This opens up several options for your background image, colors for the operating system, themes, and your Start menu. You want to click on Lock screen.

Once you’ve clicked on Lock screen, you’ll see a preview for what your lock screen will look like, as well as options for what Windows will display as your lock screen. You can select the Windows spotlight, which is showing the ads, or if you’d rather have something more personal and ad-free, you can pick Picture or Slideshow.

If you choose Pictures or Slideshow, Microsoft won’t be able to bother you with shameless ad-pushing to your lock screen, which nobody appreciates. When you’re choosing your new background, we recommend that you choose pictures of a sunny, tropic locale that you dream of visiting on your next vacation. Or, better yet, a slideshow of something that you’re particularly passionate about, your family, your children, your beloved pets... the possibilities are endless.

One other feature that you should consider switching off is the Get fun facts, tips, tricks, and more on your lock screen slider. This helps you avoid frustrating and annoying ads that may still find their way to your lock screen. Or, if you don’t mind the ads, you can provide feedback to Microsoft so that they can better serve your interests. Click the top-right icon to inform Microsoft of what you want to see more of, as well as what you don’t want to see.

For more great tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your operating system, read our blog or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.

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