Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Facebook's Recent Malware Flare-up

Koobface Rears Its Ugly Head ... Again

As one of the most popular social networking sites on the Internet, Facebook has attracted its fair share of attention from hackers and malware programmers. Hackers are pretty practical people, after all, so they target high-traffic sites where they'll have the biggest opportunity to do the most damage. That's why it's particularly important to be on your guard whenever you see strange-looking comments or links on your Facebook page -- chances are pretty good that you should avoid them or risk infection.


The latest worm to hit Facebook is called "Koobface," and it's the resurgence of a worm that originally made headlines in July. This piece of malware spreads itself through messages sent to friends of infected users. These messages direct the reader to look at a video, and when the user clicks the link to the video, they're told they need to update their version of Flash. If they click the link to download the update, they don't get a new version of Flash -- they install a worm that looks at your search queries and directs you to bogus sites.


Since Koobface surfaced about a week ago, Facebook has been working diligently to correct the problem: "We're working quickly to update our security systems to minimize any further impact, including resetting passwords on infected accounts, removing the spam messages and coordinating with third parties to remove redirects to malicious content elsewhere on the Web," a spokesman said in an email.


Facebook keeps a security blog that's worth reading -- it contains updates on new threats and valuable security advice. If you've been infected by the Koobface worm, they recommend doing an antivirus scan and resetting your Facebook password.  As ever, the most important thing you can do to combat malware is resist clicking on suspicious-looking links in the future.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Doing Mass Mailings in a Snap


Master the Mail Merge and Save Time This Holiday Season

It's a well-known fact that December is by far the busiest month for the US Postal Services -- and chances are it's your business's biggest month for mailings, too. Whether it's seasonal greetings, end-of-the-year reports, or just the usual old invoices, your mailings can really get big this time of year. If you're tired of addressing envelopes by hand or going through your own labor-intensive workarounds in order to avoid the intimidating Mail Merge feature in Microsoft Word, now is the time to figure it out once and for all. Once you've mastered it (and it's a lot easier now, thanks to the Mail Merge wizard in Word), you'll save untold amounts of time, and you'll have the opportunity to review, update, and organize your business contacts at the same time.


The ins and outs of Mail Merge are far too extensive to cover in a single QuickTip, so instead we'll give you a basic overview and pointers on where to find more information.


Plainly put, a mail merge pulls data from a source such as Outlook, Access, or even an Excel spreadsheet, and it plugs that data into a defined format such as mailing labels or form letters with personalized salutations. So the trick is mainly in assigning the proper fields and making sure that you've got your end destination (usually in Word) looking for the right information in the right place.


If you use Outlook as your data source, you can create contact categories and then sort by those categories. Individual contacts can belong to several categories at once, so if you want a customer to get your monthly print newsletter plus your holiday card, you can create categories called "Newsletter" and "Holiday Card" and then assign both to that customer. Here's how to create a new category in Outlook 2003.


Here's the full Microsoft tutorial detailing how to do a mail merge. It takes 40-50 minutes to complete the tutorial, but that could still be a lot less time than you could spend trying to figure it out yourself!


Here's another good Microsoft resource that walks you through a mail merge in Word 2003 and 2002.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

How Help Desk Services Can Reduce User Support Issues and Keep Your IT Staff Happy

What Can A Help Desk Do For Your Company?

What is a help desk?


A help desk is a staff of customer support engineers who are available to answer end-user questions and remotely resolve common IT problems. A help desk acts as a natural complement to existing IT staff by taking frequent user issues off their plate so that they can concentrate fully on more pressing problems.


In other words, a help desk reduces the burden of everyday user problems on your in-house staff, provides end-user support to employees, logs the calls for you, and escalates the issues they can’t resolve alone. Your technical staff can focus on projects and tasks that deliver more value to the business. 


How does a help desk work?


A good help desk works on both an inbound and an outbound basis. In other words, they aren’t just taking service calls – they’re actively reaching out to you to resolve issues.


PC users may frequently interrupt an in-house tech with issues the help desk could address. In this situation, the in-house tech can contact the help desk and ask them to reach out to the user. The help desk creates a ticket in their service desk management software and calls the user. That way it’s fully tracked and logged, but you don’t have to devote valuable time to resolving it.


What frequent user problems can a help desk address?

The CMIT Help Desk assists with tasks such as:

  • New email user setup
  • Network connection problems
  • Printer connection and setting problems
  • Software and new hardware configuration
  • Active Directory setup on servers

What’s the number one reason I might need a help desk?


Because a smart business manages its time – and its personnel – well. A help desk lets you make better use of your time while keeping your users supported, efficient, and productive.