How to Make Windows 10 Look Like Windows 7

The old adage, “The more things change, the more they stay the same” is rarely found in the world of information technology. One of the great aspects of technology however, is that the field is constantly coming up with exciting new innovations. On the other hand, while new developments may introduce features ranging from the critical to some interesting new bells and whistles, it can be frustrating for employers who feel they have to constantly re-train their staff to do the same tasks in a different way, every time a new operating system or some other type of technology comes to the market.

Since change is inevitable, especially with operating systems, one of the ways to make a transition as easy as possible is to find ways to make a new operating system have at least some of the look and functionality of the previous operating system. In this post, we will outline several tips on how to help a Windows 7 user cross over to the newer Windows 10 OS.

Start at the Beginning

Of course, it helps if everything begins at the Start Menu and Windows 10 does just that. Windows 7 users will note that Microsoft attempted to blend the best of both worlds, with some of the features of the old Windows 7 Start Menu, along with new “tiles” which work very similar to app icons found on smartphones. For those who really want their Windows 10 Start Menu to function in the same manner as Windows 7’s, the Open Shell program found here, does a great job in replicating the Windows 7 Start Menu.

File Explorer

Windows 7 users will be relieved to find the Windows 10 File Explorer remains essentially unchanged from Windows 7, although there are some minor differences. Windows 7 users who want to replicate their past working environment as much as possible, might want to consider making the following change:

  1. Open the File Explorer.
  2. From the File Menu in the upper left corner, click on “Options”. 
  3. On the “General” tab, change “Open File Explorer to:” dropdown option to “This PC”.
  4. Click on the “Apply” button to apply the changes, then click on “Ok” to close the window.

The Taskbar 

The default taskbar in Windows 10 might seem a bit cluttered to a Windows 7 user. To create a cleaner look on the taskbar, simply right-click on the taskbar and uncheck items such as “show Cortana button” or “show Task View button”. The Microsoft Store icon can also be removed by right-clicking on it, then selecting “Unpin from Taskbar”.

The Wallpaper

Some people want to feel really at home on their computer screen and don’t want to give up even their Windows 7 wallpaper. Luckily, they don’t have to. Simply select one of the familiar Windows 7 wallpapers from the official site, here, save it, then right-click on the saved file image to set it as the wallpaper background. 

The Overall Color Scheme

Last but not least, some Windows 7 users want their Windows 10 color scheme to reflect their old Windows 7 colors. To make this happen, perform the following steps:

  1. Right-click on a blank space anywhere on the Desktop.
  2. Click “Personalize”, then select “Colors” on the left side of the menu.
  3. Scroll down the right side of the screen that pops up and choose the colors from “Windows colors” that look familiar.
  4. Scroll even further to see options to change areas such as “the Start, taskbar and action center” along with the “Title bars and window borders” boxes. 

Play around with all the various colors and options to find all the familiar color components. If you would like to know more about how to smooth the transition from using Windows 7 to Windows 10, please contact us.

The RobbinHood Attack Could Cost of Baltimore $18 Million

the-robbinhood-attack-could-cost-of-baltimore-18-million

In May 2019, the city of Baltimore found itself in major IT trouble.

A crippling ransomware attack took down systems in almost every department of the government. Files were encrypted and couldn’t be recovered. The perpetrators demanded 13 Bitcoin — about $76,000 — to restore the files.

To its credit, the city refused to pay the criminals. To its discredit, the city’s IT management was in such bad shape that fixing the damage cost the city millions. It was completely unprepared for any large-scale data disaster. Other IT operations should learn from Baltimore’s example and avoid its mistakes.

The Attack

The ransomware that hit Baltimore goes by the name of RobbinHood. It’s an aggressive piece of malware that attacks Windows computers. It starts by stopping services that could interfere with encryption, including security software. It disables Windows automatic repair. Only then does it encrypt the documents on the computer and display a message demanding payment.

Currently there’s no known way to recover the files without paying.

The attack on Baltimore’s systems disabled email and other services. Large numbers of important records were lost. The city’s emergency services, including the police and fire departments, withstood the attack apart from losing email access. Few other systems did as well.

Email and payment processing systems remained down for weeks. People were unable to pay taxes and fines. Lack of access to data held up real estate transactions.

According to current estimates, recovery has cost the city $18.2 million, including lost revenue. It could be even more. Money was diverted from services to pay the costs, and taxpayers will certainly feel the pain. The good news is that it will pay for major improvements in IT security.

Baltimore’s Mistakes

No network on the Internet is 100% immune to ransomware. It’s necessary to be prepared for the worst. Baltimore’s IT setup wasn’t prepared at all. Some of the problems were so plain that city councilors called them “mind-boggling.” Critical data was stored on desktop machines, with no systematic backup.

The city had no IT disaster recovery plan. It had no insurance against data disasters. Ransomware insurance is a growing business, but the city of Baltimore hadn’t taken advantage of it.

Computers weren’t regularly patched to remove Windows vulnerabilities. The systems were full of weaknesses just waiting to be exploited.

The blame fell on the city’s CIO, who has been suspended from his job. He faced criticism for poor communication after the attack. He had taken measures to improve security after a 2018 ransomware incident, but they proved to be insufficient.

How to Avoid a Ransomware Disaster

Every IT department should assume a ransomware attack can happen. Being prepared requires two things. The first is to make the systems as resistant to harm as possible. The second is to be able to recover quickly and without permanent data loss.

All important data needs to be kept on well-protected servers and backed up. Desktop machines are highly exposed to the Internet and run all kinds of software. Their users mostly aren’t skilled in data management. Entrusting important data to those machines is an invitation to disaster.

Cloud storage is the best choice in many cases. It’s stored off the premises, and it’s professionally managed for the best protection against failure of all kinds.

A network should have a disaster recovery plan in place. It protects not only against ransomware but against natural disasters and physical theft. Disaster recovery requires offsite backup and a way to get systems running again quickly. The plan should be periodically tested to make sure it works.

Is Your Security Up to Par?

Security plans need to be multi-layered and regularly updated. You can’t just throw something together and hope it’s good enough. Bluwater understands ransomware, hardware failure, human error, and other threats to data. We can provide assistance ranging from consultation to full security management.

Contact us to learn how we can help you to avoid scenarios like the one Baltimore faced.

Your Employees are the Biggest Threat to Your IT Infrastructure

Your Employees are the Biggest Threat to Your IT Infrastructure

One of the biggest threats to any company’s IT infrastructure, albeit an unintentional threat, is that company’s employees. It isn’t all that uncommon for a company’s employees to end up accidentally helping out criminals or compromising the company’s IT security just by doing what they consider to be completely normal activities.

When employees use their devices to access a company network so they can check their email, download files, etc. then their device may end up getting infected by a virus or malware or get hacked. When this happens then the company’s data can end up getting compromised in addition to just that employee’s personal data. Of course, there is also the risk that they may lose these devices and hackers or other criminals will then have access to that employee’s credentials which they can then use to break into your network.

What Can You Do About It?

  • Provide your employees with additional training so that they are capable of identifying potential security risks and acting accordingly.
  • Make sure that you have established a clear and consistent set of policies that relate to password management, use of personal devices, data sharing and internet access.
  • If you don’t have a clear reason to allow it, then it may be in your best interests to ban the use of personal devices on your business’s network in order to minimize this risk.
  • Install a wide variety of different security mechanisms, both hardware, and software, to ensure that you are more easily able to identify when your network is being accessed and to confirm that the person accessing it is authorized so that you can identify and address potential security breaches before they become a problem.

IT security is a critical portion of any business and when you let employees access your network, you are trusting them to be responsible with the data they can access. If you are going to give them access to this data then perhaps you should first make sure they are responsible enough to handle it.

For more information about securing your IT infrastructure, contact us today!

Welcome to the World of the New 5G Phones

Small Business

Welcome to the world of the new 5G phones, expected to greet the masses in the United States by 2023. 5G phones, also known as fifth generation cell phones, aim to raise the quality of service as well as expand the range of service by 2023.

5G technology will improve data and communication speeds for both the average consumer and automated services. The new and exciting 5G technology will also increase accessibility with affordable prices and an expanded service range. 

Welcome to the World of the New 5G Phones

The 3rd Generation Partnership project that organized the third generation (3G) roll-out in 1998 is developing the industry standards for the fifth generation, which are outlined in a document known as Release 15, or REL-15. These standards will allow vendors and companies to conduct complex tests with more advanced equipment. 

These changes will also bring about far faster data and communication services. Users can expect reduced lag time for cloud data as well as video streaming, such as Netflix. However, these improved speeds aren’t solely for the benefit of consumers. Software services, such as automated text messages, are another driving force behind these upgraded rates. 

5G will have three various service classes, tailored to specific business and consumer needs.

  1. Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) will provide service speeds of close to 1GBps in densely populated areas, such as cities and metropolitan areas. 
  2. Massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC) will encourage the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine-to-machine (M2M) applications, without clogging up servers for the everyday consumer. 
  3. Ultra Reliable and Low Latency Communications (URLLC) edge-to-edge computing and critical computing where bandwidth is not as much of a concern. This is crucial in vehicles on the road, where delayed reaction times could lead to severe injuries or death in an accident. 

The new and exciting world of 5G phones will improve speeds, expand the range of these services, and implement three specific service classes tailored for the needs of different users and areas.

The future is just around the corner, with a third of the United States predicted to have fifth generation cellular technology in their purses and pockets by 2023. 

Get IT Tips, stay up to date with the latest technology, and more all over on our blog. To learn more information about Bluwater Technologies and our services please contact us

The Internet: More Than Meets the Eye

The Internet: More Than Meets the Eye

The Internet as we know it today has revolutionized the way people interact with one another and how society gets along. Most people by this point cannot imagine life without having some form of internet access. Whether it be recreational, social interactions or business/work-related activity, the internet is an integral part of most persons’ lives.  

However, there’s more than meets the eye to this vast database of information that we call the internet. Some may or may not have heard of the “deep internet” or “dark internet”. 

Whatever the case, there are three primary parts of the internet. The”clear internet”, which is comprised of websites and data that can be found via search engines such as Yahoo, Google, or Bing, is the most common part of the internet. The “deep internet” is composed of all data and websites not residing on the clear internet. The last and third part of the internet is called the “dark internet”, which is actually a subset of the deep internet.

Out of the internet as a whole, this third domain is where most of the illegal activity of the entire internet takes place, although not all activity done through the dark internet is illegal. Use of the special software is required for accessing this third part of the internet. 

Within the clear internet, for the average internet user, most if not all tasks required to have an internet connection can be done. Since the early days of the internet, moving into the advent of search engines such as Google, internet users have grown to be more dependent on the internet in general in which the internet has proven to be extremely effective for getting day-to-day tasks done.

Although the deep internet does not require special software to use all of it, it can be advantageous knowing the differences between the three primary parts of the internet, and how to use them.

Please contact us if consulting is needed in use of the internet.