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New ‘KRACK’ Wi-Fi Security Issue: This Affects All of Us

The invention of Wi-Fi has been a science fiction dream come true. We can use our laptops anywhere in the house, our phones are using home internet instead of sucking down our cellular data, and our gadgets are all communicating. It’s essentially the backbone of the smart tech boom for home and business alike. Most networks are password-protected with an encryption called “WPA2” and this has been safe and secure, until now.

Recently, a security flaw called KRACK was discovered that allows hackers to break into Wi-Fi networks – even the secured ones. Your laptop, mobile phone, gaming console and even your smart fridge are possibly vulnerable as a result.

How KRACK works: The Key Reinstallation AttaCK isn’t a problem with your device or how it was set up. It’s a problem with the Wi-Fi technology itself. The attack gets between your device and the access point (eg router) to reset the encryption key so hackers can view all network traffic in plain text. Since we rely on Wi-Fi so much, this might mean hackers have a front row seat to your credit card numbers, passwords, chat messages, emails, photos and more.

NOTE: The hacker must be in physical range of your Wi-fi to exploit this flaw, it doesn’t work remotely like other attacks we’ve seen recently. Given most Wi-Fi ranges extend well past your own home/business, this is small comfort, but important to know.

How to protect yourself

Run your updates: Software updates are being released which fix the flaw. Microsoft has already released one for Windows, Apple has one coming in a few weeks. Take a few minutes to make sure you’re up to date with all your patches on any device that uses Wi-Fi (your smartphones, laptops, tablets, PCs, game consoles, etc). Unfortunately, some devices may be slow to get an update, or if they’re older, may not get an update to fix this issue at all. If possible, consider using a cabled connection on those older devices or upgrade to one with support.

Be very careful with public Wi-Fi: While your local business center, library or school campus has expert IT professionals keeping guard over your security, it’s a very different matter at your local coffee shop. It’s unlikely small locations such as this will be on top of security patches. Remember, a hacker exploiting this flaw only needs to be in the same Wi-Fi area as you, so be careful you don’t give them a dollop of private information with their coffee.

Check your browser security: Before sending anything secure over the internet, check you’re using a HTTPS site. You’ll know these by the little padlock you see next to the URL, and the address specifically begins with HTTPS. Major sites like Facebook, Gmail and financial institutions already use HTTPS.

If you need help updating your devices, or want us to check if you’re safe, give us a call at 570-779-4018.

Windows Vista End-of-Life: What This Means For You

The countdown is on for Windows Vista users. On 11th April 2017, Microsoft will cease all support and security patching, just like they did with previous Windows versions. Naturally, you’re rather attached to your current operating system and not exactly leaping for joy at this news!

Unfortunately, the longer your computer goes without an upgrade, the higher the chance of a complete system breach. While you’re watching the count-down and thinking about scheduling an upgrade sometime soon, cyber-criminals are making plans of their own. As time progresses, they’ll actively target out-of-date systems and search for vulnerabilities.

Even the most stalwart Vista user must finally upgrade, as continuing to use it will expose your computer to some pretty confronting risks, including:

Security risks: While Microsoft may have patched the gaps exploited during the Vista lifetime, there are many more just waiting to be discovered. It gets worse: your antivirus program is unlikely to intercept these attacks. Hackers are extremely fast to exploit newly-discovered vulnerabilities and without Microsoft working just as fast to close them, the risk increases exponentially every time you turn the computer on.

Compliance risks: For business users, this is a big one. Many businesses are subject to conditions that require them to run an operating system that’s regularly patched. For those working with sensitive, legal or private data, this is even more important. Continuing to use an unsupported OS places not just the system security at risk, but also the entire business.

Software incompatibility: New applications are created exclusively for current operating systems. This means you can’t upgrade past the software you now have, and will soon be phased out of new updates and options across all application types.

No support: Vista mainstream support was stopped back in 2012 but there were always avenues if you were really stuck with something. A quick Google search, an expert on call or even sympathetic support staff at Microsoft helpdesk willing to bend the rules; as of 11 April though, that all stops. The only support available will be outdated pieces you can locate with Google, solutions which may send you in circles with no resolution.

Windows Vista End-of-Life: What This Means For You

The solution is quite simple: upgrade your computers to Windows 10 well before the April 11 deadline.

Windows 10 is the latest release and will give your upgrade investment the most value over time, as well as the best security Windows users have ever seen. Vista will continue to work after April 11, but every day you use it puts your system at increasingly higher levels of risk.

Get in contact by calling us at 570-779-4018 to upgrade your Windows.

Cyber Security Review

Do you need a cyber security review? The simple answer is yes.cyber security


Bussiness of all sizes need to worry about cyber security. You have a responsibility to your employees and customers to protect their data. Beyond that, your business can be liable if you haven’t taken reasonable steps to secure your employees and customers data. If you haven’t already taken notice, insurance companies are now offering cyber security insurance to protect your company. Even these programs tend to have base security requirements that you need to meet and buying insurance isn’t all you should do.


These are some top cyber security points that you should be concerned about:

  • Keep all your software and systems updated
  • Update and monitor malware protection software on PCs, servers, and firewalls
  • Create an Internet access policy for your employees
  • Use strong passwords
  • Limit administrative access
  • Use VPNs for mobile access
  • Data encryption
  • Secure your static and mobile devices
  • Multi-location full system backups
  • Secure mobile connections
  • Network and wireless security
  • Cyber security insurance


Cyber security is a multi-tiered complex issue. You don’t have to figure it all out on your own. Contact us for help.

Is it a time for a new PC?

How old is your PC? Is it time to upgrade? Microsoft, Intel, Dell, Lenovo and HP think so. They will be releasing a joint ad campaign October 19th to try and convince you it is time to upgrade if your PC is older than four years.

I think they are right. People seem to think that their phones and tablets are somehow faster than their desktop or laptop PC. This simply is not true. Even the new iPad Pro doesn’t match up to a mobile core laptop PC let alone a full-fledged desktop PC. Part of the problem is people are comparing their ancient PC to the phone they just purchased yesterday.

Do you need a new PC?Obviously some people do not need a PC. They are also hard to carry around in your pocket. However, if you use your PC for business or play and it is older than four years, you are missing out. A new Intel 6th generation chip, an SSD, a modern graphics card, and good monitor will blow your socks off. You will wonder why you held on to that old PC for so long.

And this doesn’t come up in the articles that I read but doesn’t anyone care about typing? I mean I can hit 50 words a minute without even trying. Sure you can get a Bluetooth keyboard for your tablet or phone but it just isn’t the same, and then you have a less portable slow device.

But do you need to upgrade? Yes! Well, maybe “need” is stretching it. After all, your computer still works. It could work better, though. Better than your phone or your tablet.

The question is, will the advertising push work? Obviously I am a little biased. Do people really need a computer on their desk? What do you think?

Did you install Windows 10 yet?

Did you install Windows 10 yet? My personal view is that it is the best Microsft OS (Operating System) so far. I had been warning people to wait for a few months since a new OS release is usually rocky. That does not seem to be the case this time. Sure Microsoft just released a patch, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t working. I did have an issue with Google Chrome, but disabling hardware acceleration in the Chrome settings cleared that up. Everything else has been running smoothly. It does appear that some things run a bit slower, but I am blaming that on driver issues. I do not feel there is a strong case not to upgrade.

File Copy window | windows 10
Windows 10 File Copy Dialog

Windows 10 includes some the best of Windows 7 and Windows 8 (yes there were good things about Windows 8). One of my favorite features is the file copy dialog. You can pause and resume the copy at will. The new task manager is much better than Windows 7.  The interface in feels clean. Touch is taken into account in Windows 10 as well. Windows 7 and touch screens never worked very well or at least I didn’t like it. Windows 8 was much better, but you had to deal with metro and other Windows 8 oddities. Another great thing is the way that Windows 10 deals with multiple screens and multiple windows. It is really an upgrade from 7 and 8, works much smoother and allows for multiple desktops as well as multiple screens.  Very nice if you like that sort of thing. Don’t get me wrong, I still think windows 7 is still a great OS. I just think Microsoft did it right this time.  It is almost like they listened to me and decided to celebrate the power of the PC desktop instead of hiding it.

There are some things I don’t like. I am not a fan of Edge. It seems to work fine and it is fast, but I need my browser plugins to function the way I want to. The windows 10 apps work ok, but I feel most of the apps I want are redundant. Either there is already a program I use instead of the app or I directly connect to the company via a web browser.  I am sure the apps are much more useful on phones and tablets.  I do like how the apps function on the desktop 100 times better than window 8.

For those of you that worry about privacy on your smartphone, you should worry about it on windows 10 as well. Most of the privacy settings are out in the open, but a few are down deep in the applications. Here is a very good link about configuring a number of them: http://ht.ly/QO7Mx

If you are interested in upgrading your PC to windows 10, but you don’t know where to start, give us a call!  We can help!

Do you have enough ram for Windows 10?

ram for windows 10In the Microsoft system requirements, it states you need 2 GB (64-bit systems) of ram for Windows 10. Is this enough? From our research and testing, it seems that 2GB will just barely function. Add some background programs and start to open other programs and the system will start to struggle. Forget about opening a modern web browser with a few tabs. This will just chew up any reserve memory you might have had. We recommend 4GB at a minimum if you plan on upgrading on or after this July 29th (P.S. not everyone will get windows 10 July 29th even if you reserved a copy). Please let us know if you need help determining if you have enough ram for Windows 10 or checking to see if you meet the other system requirements.

Microsoft 2003 Server is Expiring

Microsoft 2003 Server is ExpiringDo you still have Microsoft 2003 server in your business?

Windows Server 2003 support is ending July 14, 2015. No more security updates. No more software support. Security software vendors will stop supporting Windows 2003 Server.

It is time to migrate to something else. There are benefits to making the move. Right off the top, you will be looking at new server hardware, so your processing power will increase. You probably don’t realize how tired your old server is. There are also security benefits. Microsoft Server 2012 R2 is much more secure than 2003 and it will continue to receive security updates until 1/10/2023. If you are interested in cloud services, Server 2012 R2 is much more cloud-friendly than 2003 server. Sharing files and integrating with services can be accomplished with less setup time. There are a number of other technical reasons to upgrade that would bore you, but the basic premise of all of them is efficiency and then end goal is to save time and money.

There are a number of upgrade options available but if you are using Microsoft now, you probably want to stay Microsoft. If that is not the case, there are some Linux alternatives that may make your pocketbook happy.  Regardless, we can help you through the migration process. Contact us and our system consultants will set up an appointment to review your current system so we can help you make a migration plan. Some of our customers have chose to replace their Microsoft Exchange Servers with some form of hosted Exchange.  Others have decided to virtualize and keep their own Exchange Server. Businesses that do not use the full features of Exchange server have opted to switch to a different service which allows almost a direct conversion to Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials. Each of these options has their own advantages and disadvantages. Let us help you make the decision on what type of solution is best for you.

We, at Herstek & Associates, know it is always a big expense to upgrade server systems, but it will be a bigger expense later if you do not upgrade your Microsoft 2003 Servers now.