Protect Your Computers from Viruses, Hackers

In April, printers using older RIPs and equipment running on the Windows XP operating system were opened to new attacks from viruses, hackers and computer issues. Microsoft ended its support of Windows XP and Microsoft Security Essentials on Windows XP at the same time leaving the computers more vulnerable to security risks and viruses.

Microsoft stopped selling the operating system in January 2009, but printing companies tend to hold on to equipment as long as possible so there are a number of companies still using Windows XP. Users can continue to use Windows XP after support ends, but they could encounter a greater numbers of applications and devices no longer supporting the operating system.

Users who already have Microsoft Security Essentials installed will continue to receive anti-malware signature updates for a limited time, but the PC will be no longer get security updates. Microsoft has announced that Monthly Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT), which aligned with Microsoft’s anti-malware engines, will still be available until July 14, 2015. XP users will have to download the software from its website manually.

If you do have a computer using Windows XP, Microsoft recommends you download and run the Windows Upgrade Assistant to check to see if your PC meets the Windows 8.1 system requirements and then upgrade your computer. If it isn’t compatible, your only alternative may be to purchase a new computer or upgrade to the older Windows 7 operating system.

Since many printers need to continue to run Windows XP because of specialized software that has not been upgraded for newer versions of Windows, experts are recommending these steps:

Switch your internet browser from Internet Explorer to third-party browsers such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. Both browsers will support XP, and continue to receive patches, beyond April. It will make it harder for viruses to attack your system.

Switch from Outlook Express to another email client Outlook Express such as Mozilla Thunderbird email client or shifting all email to a Web-based service, such as Gmail or Microsoft’s Outlook.com.

Install a third-party anti-virus software. Most anti-virus software makers will support XP until 2016.

Users could also check with their vendors for older RIPS and devices to see if the software would work with a free operating system such as Ubuntun Linux. Linux applications can open most old Windows files.

Printers who are required to use the older Windows XP because of hardware requirements should evaluate whether replacing that equipment will increase productivity. A lot has changed in the five years since Microsoft quit selling Windows XP and the new hardware’s cost could be made up in new features and increased productivity.

The end of the Windows XP era also reminds us that any time you work through a major transition from one operating system to another, you can uncover another problem you aren’t prepared for—where are my serial numbers and keycodes and what are my passwords? We all know that daily computer backups are critical to protect a company’s digital assets, but think of how much time and productivity is lost by having to search for serial numbers and passwords.

 

Passcodes and Serial Numbers

Printing companies should update their records for serial numbers and passwords every few months. They should maintain a paper record as well as a digital record and keep the information in a safe place. Employees leaving, computer crashes and corrupt files are just a few of the situations that may require you to reinstall software or search for passwords. Most of the major applications information may be easier to find, but small single use applications from smaller developers may disrupt production schedules if they lock a user out of a function.

There are several software solutions to help recover lost information. Free product key finders such as Belarc Advisor, Product Key Finder, and WinKeyFinder can search your computer’s registry and retrieve the information you need to keep running. Mac users can use Mac Product Key Finder to retrieve their information.

 

John Giles is a consultant and the technology director for CPrint International (www.cprint.com). He is the author of 12 Secrets for Digital Success and The DTP PriceList. He can be reached at 954-224-1942 or john@cprint.com. You can also find John on Twitter.com at @JohnG247 and Linkedin.com. His blogs can be found at http://johngilesiii.blogspot.com/ and at www.quickprinting.com. To order John’s books, visit www.crouser.com.

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