Research Says Crooks Target Users, Not OSs

Posted by admin on Sep 29, 2010

Taken from PCWorld Magazine, August 2010

Who has the safest operating system?  Apple?  Google?  Microsoft?  According to one security expert, what really matters is who’s using the OS.

“Microsoft doesn’t have a monopoly on all the technical vulnerabilities that are out there,” says Zulfikar Ramzan, technical director of Symantec Security Response.  Today’s online criminals are far more likely to target user behaviour. “You don’t need as many technical skills to find one person who might be willing, in a moment of weakness, to open up an attachment that contains malicious content,” says Ramzan.

Currently, only about 3 percent of the malware that Symantec encounters exploits a technical flaw. The other 97 percent is either “piggybacking on that 3 percent” or more likely trying to trick a user through some type of social engineering scheme, according to Ramzan.

No computer or operating system is 100 percent secure, of course.  “People have tried to attack Microsoft’s products because of the [huge] market share,” Ramzan says.  But if Google’s upcoming Chrome OS takes off in the business and consumer markets, it will have a big target on its back too.

Search Giant Is Heading for Your TV

Posted by admin on Sep 22, 2010

Taken from PCWorld Magazine, August 2010

Google has entered a partnership with Intel and Sony to create Google TV, the company recently announced.  As explained at its unveiling, Google TV is an ambitious attempt to bake Google’s Android software into TVs, Blu-ray players and a Google set-top box called Buddy Box.

The plan is clearly a challenge to devices and services like Apple TV, the Boxee Box, and TiVo – and to some extent, to cable itself.  The goal is to fuse the Web with TV sets in a way that other Internet-connected televisions have not.  That is, Google TV is an open platform free of the restructions on other Internet TV sets and powered by hardware that can handle Flash.

Google TV will be available in set-top boxes and televisions this fall, according to the announcement, with Sony and Logitech as hardware partners.

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Five Things You Didn’t Know About Computer Viruses

Posted by admin on Sep 15, 2010

Taken from Exchange Magazine, September 2010

One of the main reasons that computer viruses continue to spread across the internet is because the average comptuer user doesn’t know what to look for or how to avoid them.  Some of the most common misconceptions are based on out-dated knowledge or simple misinformation.  Here are a few things you should know:

Viruses don’t want to kill your computer.  ~ The days of insidious viruses trying to render your computer nothing more than a glorified paper weight have come and gone.  The primary objective now is to separate you from your hard earned money.  To accomplish this, typically it’s in their best interest to leave your computer operational so they can go about their duty collecting your personal information or infecting other computers.

That email you got about “The Worst Virus Ever!!!” is a hoax. ~ It may even cite big corporations, news organizations and other trustworthy sources in in effort to convince you to forward the message on to everyone you know.  But if it really was the worst virus ever, you probably would have heard about it directly from one of those sources, and not an email from your sister’s co-worker’s long lost high-school friend.  While these are not typically the work of viruses or spammers, they can weaken spam filters and confuse the people who forward the message onward.  (ICS Note: If you are unsure of the validity of any email, visit and type in the email subject in their search engine.)

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Microsoft’s Web Apps

Posted by admin on Sep 8, 2010

Taken from PC World Magazine, July 2010

It should come as no great surprise that the initial foray by Microsoft into Web-based Office applications has produced skeptical shadows of the company’s desktop offerings.  Even if you have great bandwidth, the best apps available on the Web can’t really match the rich functionality and speed of Office’s robust and mature desktop programs.

You can, at least, create new Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote documents online, via the Office menu item that appears on your Windows Live home page when the apps launch.  And saving items to SkyDrive, the repository in Windows Live, is a straightforward, one-click affair in the Backstage viewof the 2010 apps.

The new version of Hotmail provides Web-app support, as well: Users will be able to open and view Office-format attachments in the browser (avoiding the download step previsouly required to open the files in a desktop app). You can edit Office XML documents in the browser too; Hotmail offers to convert non-XML docs if you try to edit them.  Of course, you’ll still have the desktop option if you want more functionality.

The other benefit of Microsoft’s Web apps is that they don’t break Office formatting.  Whataver changes you make to a file on the Web, you’re unlikely to be surprised by the results when you bring th file to your desktop. Given the formatting issues that often arise with Office docs in rival Web apps, this is no small achievement.

We at ICS predict that the largest users of Microsoft Office Web Apps is home users who really don’t need all the features in the desktop versions, and do not require the programs enough to purchase them.  We are proud of Microsoft for offering a free version of their previously expensive Office suite.

Breathe New Life Into Your Laptop’s Battery

Posted by admin on Sep 1, 2010

Taken from PC World Magazine, July 2010

Eventually and unavoidable, laptop batteries die.  Proper care can delay the inevitable. With luck, your battery could last until you need to replace your aging notebook (perhaps with a laptop that has a longer battery life).

Don’t Run It Down – Squeezing every drop of juice out of a lithium ion battery strains and weakens it.  Doing this just once or twice won’t kill the battery, but the cumulative effect of frequently emptying your notebook’s battery will be to shorten its life span.  Make sure your battery is fully charged when you head out on the road.

Keep It Cool – Heat breaks down the battery and reduces its overall life.  When you use your laptop, make sure that the vents are unblocked.  Never work with the laptop on pillows or cushions.  If possible, put it on a raised stand that permits plenty of airflow.  Also, clean the vents every so often with a can of compressed air; (ICS Computers has them for sale).

Give It A Rest – If you’re going to be working exclusively on AC power for a week or more, remove the laptop’s battery first.  Otherwise, you’ll wear out the battery – constantly charging and discharging it – at a time when you don’t need to use it at all. You don’t want it to be empty when you take it out. An unused battery loses power over time, and you don’t want all the power to drain away, so make sure that the battery is at least half-charged when you remove it.

If you do find yourself in need of a new battery, give us a call and ask about used or remanufactured batteries that will save you some money, and buy you some time until you invest in a new notebook.