When is a Computer Operating System Upgrade Really Necessary?

By Larry Darnell, FDA Director of Information Systems

The other day, I sat in a room at my doctor’s office waiting for him to appear. Since I am involved in technology, I quickly notice the computer in the room. It would be what I call a thin client computer with a basic computer operating system on it and a small footprint. All of a sudden, the power goes out at this office and as you might imagine, all things electrical shutdown, including this computer. When it boots back up after the power was restored, I am shocked and dismayed. The operating system is Windows XP! It has been five years since Windows XP reached what we call end of life. That means that the maker of the operating system, in this case, Microsoft, would no longer support, provide updates, or encourage you to use it. Perhaps you remember when they pulled Windows XP out of your cold, clutching hands and gave you Windows 7 or Windows 8. You cursed Microsoft like many others. Yet it is still being used five years later? The continued use of Windows XP is ill-advised, illogical and quite possibly illegal (in health care settings).

Well, in January 2020, Microsoft is doing it again. Windows 7 (which replaced Windows XP) will reach its end of life. There also will be a server operating system that has been super-dependable, Windows Server 2008 R2, reaching end of life, too. Here at the Florida Dental Association, we have been using Windows 10 for some time now on our workstation computers (the order goes Windows XP, 7, 8, 10, there was no 9). However, we do have three servers that use Windows 2008 and we’ve had to replace them with a newer server.

So, how do you know what operating system your computer is using? When your computer starts up, it should become clear:

xp
Windows XP = VERY BAD!

7
Windows 7 = Time to upgrade

8-10
Windows 8 or 10 = Ok for now

Understand that in most cases, it is likely possible to upgrade the computer operating system from Windows 7 to Windows 10 without buying a new computer. However, you would need to make sure that all software programs and hardware devices connected also are compatible with Windows 10.

Now is the time to do a checkup on your computer systems. Do not wait. This is not a Y2K-type concern, but it’s still important that you act now. If you have a third party supporting your computer systems, ask them now about this.

If you want more information on this, you can email me at ldarnell@floridadental.org or check Microsoft’s web pages specific to each event:

 

 

 

My Email Has Been Hacked … Now What Do I Do?

By Larry Darnell, FDA Director of Information Systems

First, do not freak out — email hacks are quite common. Determine if it is just your email that has been hacked and not your computer. If the computer you work on the most is not showing any signs of trouble (pop-ups, browser redirects, etc.), then it is likely that only your email account has been hacked.

Log in to your email and change your password immediately and try to update to a two-step (or two-factor) authentication password method. This will keep individuals from seizing your account so easily in the future. I also would recommend that you change any other passwords that are based on your email password. Most people use a variation of one password for life; thus, the name life password. After you have done that, email, text or call your contacts and let them know your email has been hacked and not to open anything from you.

 

My Computer Has a Pop-up That Says it Has a Virus … What Do I Do Now?

By Larry Darnell, FDA Director of Information Systems

Every once in a while, you may get a pop-up on your screen claiming your computer has a virus and to remove it, you must call the number shown immediately. I have come across a number of people who will look at a pop-up like this on their computer and do one of two things:

  1. Ignore it.
  2. Do exactly as it says.

I am mystified that some may do as the pop-up says, but we have been conditioned to this type of behavior. The criminal element realizes that, so they craft malware. Malware, although technically not a virus, is software that pretends to be useful, but is in fact malicious — thus, the name. Most anti-virus programs are built to stop the bad viruses … not so much the malware.

Malware most often is installed  because we choose to do it. It may come in the form of an extra toolbar on our browser, a coupon program or some other seemingly helpful software. We open the door and let it in, and then it takes over. I have known people to blindly call someone and give them access to their computer remotely and even their credit card information based on malware (or, as we call it “scareware” or “ransomware”)! I recommend you take the computer to a professional and get their opinion. If you opt to try and fix it yourself, a couple of programs that are helpful are Malwarebytes and HitmanPro; both can help eliminate your problem.

Please do not choose to ignore it. That will only make it worse, that much I can promise you.