Pros and Cons of Upgrading to Windows 10

Check out this great article in WSJ, which identifies some pros and cons of upgrading to Windows 10.  Here is a summary of what we found:

  • The “Start Menu” is back!
  • There is no hurry to update.  Windows 10 is free for Windows 7 and Windows 8 users for one year (updating more than a year from now will cost you $120)
  • Upgrading won’t negatively impact your data
  • Gamers need not worry about upgrading, DirectX 12 is included in Windows 10
  • Performance improvements including faster start up time and better battery life for mobile devices
  •  Media Center is no longer supported, and will be removed
  • Microsoft may share some of your usage preference data
  • Microsoft is still working out bugs for some hardware drivers

For those computer users who can wait to upgrade, SAMSA’s advice is to let the dust settle a bit.  For those who are chomping at the bit and can’t wait, just be aware that there may be some bumps in the road initially, although we expect Windows 10 to smooth out in the next 90 days or so.

For our clients in Michigan’s Tri Cities region, SAMSA will be offering free Windows 10 training classes – dates to be announced shortly.

High-tech thieves target keyless entry cars


Your new vehicle’s security may be truly high-tech, but thieves are exploiting a feature that might make you rethink where you’re putting your key fob. Car keys may one day become a thing of the past. More and more car manufacturers are equipping their new rides with keyless entry technology.

Juan Olivarez, who drives a 2014 Chevy Impala, never has to pull his key fob from his pocket.

“Push to start, you know, only way to go,” Olivarez said.

But as technology makes life easier, take note: Thieves are out there to mess life up.

All they need is some tech know-how and a radio amplifier to trick your car into believing they have the fob.

Keyless cars broadcast a low-frequency signal to recognize when the key is nearby, and when it is, the car will unlock and start. But power amplifier devices can amplify the distance the signal searches. So if your car’s outdoors and your key fob is in your home, crooks can break in and take what’s inside.

Saginaw County Undersheriff Phil Hart said it’s happened in Mid-Michigan.

“There was no sign of forced entry. They didn’t know how anybody got in. We checked with the owners. They still had possession of the key itself, the fob, so this is the only way it potentially could have happened,” Hart said.

Power amplifiers can be purchased for as little as $20. Eric Richards is a tech expert who works for SAMSA in Midland and said there’s not much you can do about it.

“The only way to stop that is to shut the device off. There’s no way to shut that off without removing the battery and taking your key fob apart,” Richards said.

So next time you push to start, remember high-tech thieves always have their engines running.

“It’s pretty crazy out there this time and age,” Olivarez said.

Experts add if you’d like an added layer of protection, you can store your key fob in your microwave or refrigerator, and the metal casing typically stops the signal.

But maybe in a more practical note, the undersheriff said just make sure not to leave any valuables in your car at night.


Tech Support Scams

Fake Warning

You’re browsing the web, maybe checking your email or updating Facebook when a message appears: Your computer may be infected. Please call the following number for Technical Support. The exact message can vary, but the end result is the same: scam artists are using scare tactics to convince you to pay for so-called “tech support” to fix your computer. These technicians are usually based in a foreign call center and will assure you that they can fix your computer for a “modest” ($199 and up, usually) fee. At best, these people may only take your money while convincing you that they’ve repaired your computer. At worst, they install background software to spy on your computer while they attempt to steal any and all financial information they can get their hands on.

These scammers make their profits by targeting the not so tech-savvy with tactics meant to confuse and scare. The best way to combat this is with knowledge, so please help spread awareness and you might just save a friend or family member from being scammed out of their hard earned money.

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New IE Vulnerability Threatens Windows Users

Internet Explorer Vulnerability

The first major threat since the XPocalpyse arrived in the form of a new Internet Explorer vulnerability, dubbed CVE-2014-1776. First reported on April 26th by security vendor FireEye, the exploit could be used by malicious websites to give hackers the same user rights as the current user. FireEye also confirmed that the exploit isn’t theoretical- there are already cases of it being found in the wild.

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