Great Plains Communications Residential Blog

Keeping Your Family Connected

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

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.

How to Make Calls Over the Internet

We have all been there, when we accidentally drop our cell phone in a sink of water or on a hard surface that the case just can’t win against. Due to different circumstances, it can take days or weeks to come by a backup phone and being without access to a phone can be very inconvenient. Great Plains Communications wants to share a few of our favorite ways to make phone calls using the Internet!

In the instance of not having a working phone, using the following programs would allow you to either call computer to phone or computer to another computer.

Google Voice

Unlike other programs that require you to have an app, Google Voice allows users to make calls to actual phone numbers from their computer and it is free for calls within the United States and to Canada. Google Voice will give you a free phone number and also has SMS, conference call and voice mail services. Note that calls through Google Voice are limited to three hours, however you are not restricted from calling the number back after the time limit.

Poptox

Poptox is another way to make free phone calls from your computer to mobile and landline phones. While calling mobile numbers in the United States are free, you can also call internationally for a small charge per call. All you do is simply go onto their website, dial the number you wish to call, and hit the call button.

IMPORTANT: These Internet calling programs can help you make calls; though they are not able to make 911 or similar emergency calls. If you need to call 911, you will need to use a land-line, mobile phone, or a VoIP telephone service that’s approved for 911 use.

While these programs are convenient when in a bind, the only way of getting a truly 100% reliable phone connection is through a corded phone plugged into a wall-mounted phone jack. If you would like the stability of always having a landline phone connection and would like to learn more about Great Plains Communications phone services, check out our website or call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483 today.

Last Chance for the Tech the Halls Promotion!

The holidays are over, but there are still a couple more days until the end of the Great Plains Communications Tech the Halls promotion. Did you get a new laptop for Christmas? Did the kids each get their own smart phone? With each device comes more need for higher bandwidth. If you sign up for our Tech the Halls promotion, you will receive the following FREE gifts:

  • Sign up for any new Internet, cable, or phone service and receive FREE installation.
  • Sign up for 15, 30, or 50 mbps and receive a FREE month of Internet service.
  • Existing customers who upgrade to our higher speeds will receive their first month of Internet upgrade charge FREE.

Call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483, to sign-up today!  You can also visit our website at https://www.gpcom.com/techthehalls to learn more about the promotion.

Our Top Picks for Santa Trackers

It is just about that time, for the big man in red to load up his sleigh. The reindeer will be anxious to be on their way. With the help of technology, you can track his route with a Santa Tracker. Great Plains Communications has included some of our favorite websites to help your family track him together on Christmas Eve.

Official NORAD Santa Tracker

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is a “United States Canada bi-national organization charged with the missions of aerospace warning, aerospace control, and maritime warning for North America”. Their NORAD Tracks Santa® (NTS) program has been around since 1955. Enjoy not only watching as Santa makes his way around the world, but also fun games, music and movies on their website: http://www.noradsanta.org/

 

Google Santa Tracker

Another great Santa Tracker for the whole family to enjoy is the Google Santa Tracker. It again has much more than just his route through the sky, but also learning games and activities for the kids to enjoy all through December. https://santatracker.google.com/intl/en/village.html

 

Looking for something other than just tracking?

You can have your children check if they are on the naughty or nice list by answering a few questions here: http://emailsanta.com/naughty_nice.asp.

You could also create a free personalized video from Santa to your child here: http://emailsanta.com/naughty_nice.asp.

Microsoft® Error Update

Last week, you may have received the error, “Invalid IP Configuration”. It was brought to our attention that a large number of Microsoft® 8 and 10 users were receiving this message when attempting to connect to the Internet. Great Plains Communications would like to shed some light on the Microsoft error and share steps they have advised to fix it.

This past Friday, Microsoft released an update that has appeared to fix the error for most users. However, please take notice that if you disabled your Windows® Updates from applying on their own, you will need to go in and manually accept the update. If you are still experiencing issues, the following steps have been provided.

Recommended Steps from Microsoft:

  1. Go to Start
  2. Click the Power button and choose Restart (not Shut Down)
  3. Once the Internet is restored, run Windows Updates

If you have ensured that all Windows Updates have been applied, you have tried restarting your computer and you are still experiencing issues connecting to the Internet, please call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483 and a representative would be happy to assist you.

 

Microsoft and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.

Tech the Halls Social Giveaway

As part of our Tech the Halls promotion, Great Plains Communications is excited to give away an extra gift this holiday season. For a chance to qualify to win a 32 GB Apple iPad Mini 2 with Wi-Fi, all you have to do is like our Facebook page, like the giveaway post, and comment what your favorite Christmas movie is. Whether it is a classic like White Christmas, something animated such as The Polar Express, or even a TV movie such as Runaway Sleigh on the Hallmark Channel, we want to hear from you.

 

If you are looking for even more good deals this holiday, find the gift that’s right for you:

  • Sign up now for any new Internet, cable, or phone service and receive FREE installation.
  • Sign up for 15, 30, or 50 mbps and receive a FREE month of Internet service.
  • Existing customers who upgrade to our higher speeds will receive their first month of Internet upgrade charge FREE.

Call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483, today to sign up for these amazing offers and Tech the Halls with Great Plains Communications.

 

Speeds and availability vary by location. Certain restrictions and limitations apply. Free installation for any new service. Free month of Internet service available to new customers only who sign up for 15, 30, or 50 mbps. Existing customers must upgrade to 15, 30, or 50 mbps to receive a free month upgrade charge. Offer ends January 6, 2017. Offer codes CPC1609, CPC1610, CPC1611, CPC1612.

Tech the Halls Promotion 2016

 

front no crop

Looking for a new tablet this holiday? The kids begging for their own cell phones? Make sure all of your devices are working efficiently this season with high-speed Internet from Great Plains Communications. With each new device comes an increased need for greater bandwidth, and we have just what you need to support all of your new techy gadgets. Plus, when you add or upgrade to one of our qualifying speeds, you’ll unwrap additional free gifts!

 

Find the Gift That’s Right for You

Sign up now for any new Internet, cable, or phone service and receive FREE installation.

Sign up for 15, 30, or 50 mbps, and receive a FREE month of Internet service.

Existing customers who upgrade to our higher speeds will receive their first month of Internet upgrade charge FREE.

 

If you have any questions or are interested in taking advantage of this offer, please call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483 and Tech the Halls with Great Plains Communications this season.

 

Speeds and availability vary by location. Certain restrictions and limitations apply. Free installation for any new service. Free month of Internet service available to new customers only who sign up for 15, 30, or 50 mbps. Existing customers must upgrade to 15, 30, or 50 mbps to receive a free month upgrade charge. Offer ends January 6, 2017. Offer codes CPC1609, CPC1610, CPC1611, CPC1612.

Business Appreciation – Do Space

 

Great Plains Communications is proud to highlight another one of our business customers, Do Space in Omaha, NE.

What can you do at Do Space? You can enroll in a class to develop tech skills, work on a creative project using design software, prototype a product with a 3D printer, register a child in a robotics club, use a meeting room with high-end touchscreen technology, get assistance troubleshooting a new tablet and much more.

Empowering a Diverse Membership

Do Space is all about empowering the community through access to technology and innovative learning experiences. Located at 72nd and Dodge next to Crossroads Mall and near the University of Nebraska Omaha campus, Do Space is in the heart of Omaha. It’s also on the bus line to make it available to more people.

Rebecca Stavick, Executive Director at Do Space, says, “We currently have more than 34,000 members. Our memberships are free — similar to getting a library card — and are designed so everyone can get one. There are no residency requirements; you could be a visitor to Omaha and get a Do Space membership.”

Stavick adds, “I’m continually impressed by the diversity of our members. They’re of all different ages and backgrounds from all over the city. At Do Space, you’ll see little kids, seniors and every age in between. We offer learning opportunities for all levels of expertise, from a beginners class on the Internet to advanced programming.”

Tech Tools and Training

Members have access to a wide variety of popular and emerging tech tools as well as technology classes, workshops and events hosted at Do Space. Most services at Do Space are offered free of charge to members, but there is a nominal cost for printed materials.

Do Space is many things in one place:

  • A technology equalizer – giving people from all walks of life access to technology.
  • A technology enabler – empowering everyone with the tools and guidance needed to learn, create, explore and invent with technology.
  • A technology educator – creating a new path for technology literacy and understanding its potential while providing opportunities for advanced learning.
  • A technology innovator – changing the shape of technology education and actively playing a role in technology advancement and creation.

Members of Do Space can get their hands on exceptional hardware. There are more than 50 public access PCs and Macs, 60 laptops, 12 iPad Air and 80 Kindle Fire HD tablets. In addition, both a full-color scanner/copier/printer and a wide-format printer are available for printing even the most complex documents, and the 3D Lab has 3D printers, a 3D scanner and a laser cutter.

Software for business and home use is also at your fingertips at Do Space. Computers are loaded with current business productivity programs such as Microsoft Office along with various creative programs for audio, video and image editing. Other options include advanced design tools, accessibility software and specialized communications apps.

Gigabit Internet From Great Plains Communications

Keeping all this hardware and software running at peak performance is Great Plains Communications’ 1 Gigabit Internet service including Wi-Fi. This super-fast connection enables Do Space members to take technology to the next level. “Do Space is knocking down tech barriers like the slow, terrible Internet connections people may have at home. Some software needs advanced speed, and Do Space has it. We’re the only community organization that offers 1 Gigabit Internet for free in Omaha,” Stavick explains.

Stavick appreciates Great Plains Communications and the reliability of their Internet service, noting, “We don’t ever worry about our Internet going down or lagging in the afternoon during high-traffic periods. We can have hundreds of people online inside Do Space and it doesn’t impact our Internet performance. I’ve always found Great Plains Communications to be incredible with customer service and a great partner for Do Space.”

Older posts