Great Plains Communications Residential Blog

Keeping Your Family Connected

Category: High-Speed Internet (page 1 of 18)

Stay Secure this Cyber Monday

People often associate chaos and risk with Black Friday and not so much Cyber Monday. Rather than mobs running through aisles, they picture themselves safe on their couch with a blanket and cup of coffee. What people don’t understand is that all Cyber Monday has done is take the craziness of Black Friday and opened it up to the World Wide Web. Great Plains Communications wants to provide tips to protect yourself when shopping online.

The three tips we will cover are:

  • How to spot fake shopping websites
  • Keep your software updated
  • A credit card is safer to use than a debit card

 

Fake Websites

With targeted ads and pop-ups, it can seem as if the best deals are right in front of our faces. But even a secure looking ad or link could take you to a fake shopping website. From there, your computer could either be infected the moment you arrive or by malicious links within. However, where you want to be the most careful is during the checkout process. Below we have listed some giveaways that will help spot a fake website.

  • Is it a strange URL like the one in the graphic above?
  • Are they selling an odd selection of products? For example, you went to the website for the dress you saw in the ad but see they also sell computer parts.
  • Does the copy have an abundance of grammar and spelling errors? Most companies will have a copywriter whose job is to expertly write intros and product descriptions.
  • Is the customer service contact email a little off? For example, it would not be ebaysupport@support.com but support@ebay.com. Don’t get tricked by familiar terms.
  • Are the prices too good to be true? Is the website trying to sell an iPhone X for $100? It is probably a scam.

 

Software Updates

Having out-of-date versions or unpatched software is like having a target for malware, leaving you vulnerable to exploit kits. At the least, make sure to have your browser updated when shopping online. This will ensure your cookies and cache are more secure against data leaks.

We are all guilty of rolling our eyes at the little update bubble. It’s time consuming and most of the time the changes are behind the scenes so we write them off as insignificant. But it is the information behind the scenes that is keeping your data protected.

 

Credit Card vs. Debit Card

The main advantage to using a credit card versus a debit card is that a credit card has better consumer protection. In the case that someone did obtain your information, you wouldn’t be liable for fraudulent transactions. With a debit card, depending on when you report the missing card or fraudulent transactions, you could be on the hook for the entire amount. No matter what kind of card you use, it is always smart to monitor your accounts after online shopping.

Internet Search Tips

Not sure of the capital of Portugal? Can’t remember who played Chunk in The Goonies? What’s the weather going to be like Friday night? Google it.

The internet is full of more information than we could imagine or even retain. While this is an exciting fact, it can also make for long tiresome searches as you wade through pages of results. Great Plains Communications has a few tips to help streamline your search.

  1. To help with a more specific search, try using the AROUND feature. It allows you to find articles with two key words not only on the same page, but inside a specific number of words apart. For example, if you wanted to search for articles on Selena Gomez and lipstick within 8 words of each other, it would look like the following:

“Selena Gomez” AROUND(8) “Lipstick”

  1. Instead of including an additional topic in your search, maybe you want to find results excluding a topic. For that you would use the minus sign. For example, if you wanted to search for washers and dryers but didn’t want the stacked option, it would look like:

“washer and dryer -stacked”

  1. You have found an article you like, but it is long. Do a quick search of the article for a key word or phrase by pressing Control + F (Windows) or Command + F (Mac).
  2. You have been working hard and finally found the information you have been looking for, but you accidentally close the tab. In most modern browsers, just press Control + Shift + T (Windows) or Command + Shift + T (Mac) and it will come right back up.

Last Chance for Back-to-School Special!

Don’t miss our Back-to-School Special, as it comes to a close next week! Not only can you save money by bundling services, but right now you can also receive up to a $100 bill credit.

Great Plains Communications is excited to celebrate the launch of NEW services and NEW options in your area, along with NEW tools on our website.

 

NEW Bundle Offer

Combine services and save up to 37%

$100 Bill Credit for new customers who bundle all three services*

$50 Bill Credit for new customers who bundle two services

$50 Bill Credit for existing customers who add one or more service

FREE Installation

 

NEW Bundle

Streaming Bundle**
Access your favorite prime time entertainment and news in real-time with our Basic Cable package, while streaming additional content on your Smart TV or tablet utilizing a high-speed Internet connection.

 

NEW Tools

Visit our newly updated, forward thinking website, complete with interactive tools to help you determine the best service options for your home with the “What Speed Do You Need?” and “Build a Bundle” tools.

 

If you have questions over what services we offer in your area, or would like to sign up, please call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483.

* $100 BILL CREDIT ONLY AVAILABLE WHERE VOICE, CABLE TV, AND INTERNET ARE AVAILABLE.
** STREAMING BUNDLE AVAILABLE IN SELECT CABLE TV COMMUNITIES ONLY.

New Services and Great Deals

The school year is in full swing and our back-to-school promotion is just about over. Don’t miss out on not only bundling your services and saving 37%, but right now you could also receive up to a $100 Bill Credit!

Great Plains Communications is excited to celebrate the launch of NEW services and NEW options in your area, along with NEW tools on our website.

 

NEW Bundle Offer

Combine services and save up to 37%

$100 Bill Credit for new customers who bundle all three services*

$50 Bill Credit for new customers who bundle two services

$50 Bill Credit for existing customers who add one or more service

FREE Installation

 

NEW Bundle

Streaming Bundle**
Access your favorite prime time entertainment and news in real-time with our Basic Cable package, while streaming additional content on your Smart TV or tablet utilizing a high-speed Internet connection.

 

NEW Tools

Visit our newly updated, forward thinking website, complete with interactive tools to help you determine the best service options for your home with the “What Speed Do You Need?” and “Build a Bundle” tools.

 

If you have questions over what services we offer in your area, or would like to sign up, please call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483.

* $100 BILL CREDIT ONLY AVAILABLE WHERE VOICE, CABLE TV, AND INTERNET ARE AVAILABLE.
** STREAMING BUNDLE AVAILABLE IN SELECT CABLE TV COMMUNITIES ONLY.

New School Year and New Service Options

What used to be a time of burying noses into books and handouts has turned into hours online; reading, researching, and working through digital activities. High-speed Internet is no longer a luxury in education, but a necessity to succeed. We understands how essential a fast connection is and would like to make sure you are getting the speeds you need as the kids head back to school.

Great Plains Communications is excited to celebrate the launch of NEW services and NEW options in your area, along with NEW tools on our website.

 

NEW Bundle Offer

Combine services and save up to 37%

$100 Bill Credit for new customers who bundle all three services*

$50 Bill Credit for new customers who bundle two services

$50 Bill Credit for existing customers who add one or more service

FREE Installation

 

NEW Bundle

Streaming Bundle**
Access your favorite prime time entertainment and news in real-time with our Basic Cable package, while streaming additional content on your Smart TV or tablet utilizing a high-speed Internet connection.

 

NEW Tools

Visit our newly updated, forward thinking website, complete with interactive tools to help you determine the best service options for your home with the “What Speed Do You Need?” and “Build a Bundle” tools.

 

If you have questions over what services we offer in your area, or would like to sign up, please call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483.

* $100 bill credit only available where Voice, Cable TV, and Internet are available.
** Streaming Bundle available in select Cable TV communities only.

 

Facebook Tips You Might Have Missed

As you have probably noticed, social media sites are constantly updating with new features and layouts. This can be great, but it can also lead to users missing out on certain features, due to not even knowing they were added. Great Plains Communications wants to highlight a couple Facebook tips to look out for next time you are browsing through your newsfeed.

 

Following a Post

Have you ever come across a post in your newsfeed or swap group, that you want to keep track of? There is no need to comment, “following” or really comment anything at all. All you need to do is go to the small arrow in the top right corner of the post and choose the option “Turn on notifications for this post”. From there, you will get a notification each time somebody comments on the post, or if the original creator changes something. To later turn off notifications for the post, you will follow the same steps, however it will read “Turn off notifications for this post.”

 

Checking Your Apps

We have all taken the quiz to find out what flavor ice cream we are or clicked the article heading that Facebook clearly targeted to our interests. If not that, you have probably logged-in to something and when asked if you wanted to log-in using your Facebook, you were grateful for the convenience. While these types of things are just that, convenient, they can also be risky. By not reading the pop-ups as you click through these posts, you can miss things like allowing them to “access your contacts and information.” This can lead to giving a company or even scammers access to your Facebook page or personal information. To check who you have given access to, you can check your App Settings. To do this, follow the directions below:

 

Go to Settings from the drop-down arrow in the top right.

 

Go to Apps in the column on the left.

 

You will find all the Apps you have given access to. Delete any that are unnecessary or are not familiar.

Don’t Get Caught in a Scam this Summer

While you may be ready to get away and relax this summer, credit card thieves are still working diligently to create convincing scams. Great Plains Communications wants to be sure that you enjoy your vacation to the fullest, without having to worry about scammers.

Pop-Ups

As you search through a multitude of websites, mapping out the best vacation for your family, beware of pop-ups. Some may look like they are from a recognizable source, with statements such as “Update Flash Player” or “Your AppleCare® needs updating” and “Call the number below.” DO NOT call a phone number on any pop-up. Be wary of any tech support unexpectedly contacting you, as many scammers will try to offer a “free security scan” – attempting to gain access to your computer by convincing you it is infected. If you are worried about the software on your computer, contact the company directly by opening a new window and going to their technical support. This way you will truly know you are speaking to someone from the company.

Email Scams

You have booked the hotels, picked your excursions, and now you wait for the confirmation emails. Your inbox feels overloaded with the price quotes that didn’t make the trip and hotels without a pool. This is the time to be extra careful when clicking through emails. We have included five steps to avoid taking the bait of a phishing scam, below.

What is the WannaCry Ransomware Attack?

You may have seen the terms WannaCry, WanaCry, WCry, or Wanna Decrypt weaved throughout the news the past few days. This is referring to the most recent global ransomware attack. Initiating in Europe on Friday, per White House Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert in Monday’s midday White House briefing, it has spread to over 300,000 computers in over 150 countries. So what does this all mean and what can you do to protect yourself from ransomware?

What Does It Mean?

Ransomware: malware planted illegally in a computer or mobile device that disables its operation or access to its data until the owner or operator pays to regain control or access.

Malware: software intended to damage a computer, mobile device, computer system, or computer network, or to take partial control over its operation

Ransomware isn’t a new idea, but if you haven’t heard of it before this outbreak, the simple explanation is that if a computer gets infected, certain common files (such as JPG and PNG pictures, DOCX Word documents and PDF files) get encrypted with a secret key that only the attacker holds. In order to get those files back in one piece, the attacker requires a payment (in WannaCry’s case $300-$1200) to get the key in order to decrypt the files.

What Can You Do to Protect Your Devices?

A patch for this attack was released by Microsoft, which fixed the vulnerabilities on all modern-supported OSes (Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10 and XP is even included).

Other prevention advice offered by No More Ransom!:

  • Back up your computer and store the safety version in the cloud or on a drive that is not connected to your computer.
  • Use robust antivirus software.
  • Keep all the software on your computer up-to-date. Enable automatic updates.
  • Never open attachments in emails from someone you don’t know. And remember that any account can be compromised.
  • Enable the “Show file extensions” option in the Windows settings on your computer. This will make it much easier to spot potentially malicious files. Stay away from file extensions like “.exe,” “.vbs” and “.scr.”

If you find a problem, disconnect your machine immediately from the Internet or other network connections (such as home Wi-Fi).

 

For more detailed information on the WannaCry ransomware attack, check out the following publications:

http://www.ntca.org/images/stories/Documents/Communications/flash_wannacry_final.pdf

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/05/15/528451534/wannacry-ransomware-what-we-know-monday

Troubleshooting At Home

Having problems with your Internet connection can be frustrating and confusing. After your first 12 tries at the refresh button, you restart the device. All that does is gives you a few minutes to contemplate just how frustrated you are. It still doesn’t work. Great Plains Communications wants to give you a few tips on how to troubleshoot the problem to either solve the issue, or provide you with helpful information for tech support in assisting you further.

 

First off, what are you having an issue with?

 

Email

When having problems with your email, ask yourself the following questions before panicking and continuously hitting resend.

 

  • Did you go over your quota in your mailbox?
  • Is it not sending to a certain email or to all email accounts?
  • If you send group emails, are you getting an error stating you sent too much mail? If so, are you registered for mass email agreement with Great Plains Communications?

 

Modem & Router

If you don’t have an Internet connection reaching any of your devices, it might be your modem that is causing the problem. Your modem is what allows data to travel over a phone line from your device to the Internet. The router then connects all other devices to the modem. So if the only problem seems to be the connection to your tablet or laptop, the issue is more likely in the router.

 

  • Is your ADSL or DSL light flashing? This means the modem is not connected
  • Is there a red Internet light on? This means your DSL modem is not getting an IP to connect.
  • Is your Ethernet light on or off? This will determine if the connected device is online.

 

Specific Website

If you are having problems with a specific website that will not load or is continuously giving you an error, the first step you could take is entering the link into “Down For Everyone Or Just For Me.” This site will help you determine if the problem is with your device. If it comes back that the problem is with your device, there are numerous things it could be, from something in your computer stopping the stream of data reaching the Internet to really anything along the way.

These are just three of the many common problems users may experience with their home networks. If troubleshooting the problem on your own does not work, follow these last few steps in contacting our tech support and they will be happy to help you.

 

  • Make sure you have your account number ready.
  • Be sure to be in front of your computer, to enable you to walk through tech suggestions step by step.
  • Expect to be on the phone for a minimum of 20 minutes, as it can take some time for a tech to pinpoint the exact issue.
  • Have all your findings from doing your own troubleshooting ready.
  • Call 1-855-853-1483, Option 1

Don’t Forget About Spring Cleaning Your Electronics!

It is officially spring, which doesn’t just mean cleaning the carpets and landscaping the yard. Great Plains Communications wants to remind you that your electronics could probably use some cleaning as well.

Has your documents folder become the junk drawer of your computer? Or worse yet, is it your desktop that is cluttered with untouched files circa 2015? You don’t notice until your once fleeting load time has become more of a bathroom break between tasks. We have some specific steps and programs to consider when starting the process of spring cleaning your computer or tablet.

 

Erase Unwanted Files

Get rid of those research papers from college, articles you were meaning to read a year ago, and any pictures you could keep on a USB flash drive. By deleting files, you clear up storage space, making it easier and faster for your computer to find information.

 

Update Software

By not keeping your software up-to-date, you aren’t allowing it to be the best version of itself. Skipping multiple updates will cause your loading times to increase rapidly. Make sure to keep not only your software updated, but also your virus protection. For computers with built-in virus protection, sit back and relax while your software update does all the work for you.

 

Defrag Hard Drive

Defragmentation is simply speeding up read times on the hard drive, by moving sequential data physically close together so that it doesn’t have to search the entire drive to find specific data. One way to do this is with Great Plains Communications’ Tech Home. With Tech Home, you are provided with world-class security for all devices, home and on the go, while also having access to 24/7 “Live” tech support. If you would like to find more information on the Tech Home services, go to https://www.gpcom.com/residential/internet/techhome or call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483.

 

There are multiple ways to increase performance speeds on your computer, but take the time this season to find which ways work best for you.

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