Tag Archives: Consulting

Top Tricks Cybercriminals Use To Hack Your Computer Network

16 Nov 17
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There’s no denying that cybercrime is on the rise. All it takes is a glance at a few big news stories from the past couple years. Equifax gave up the information of over 100 million people, many of them not even users, to a surgical hacker attack. Last May, over 57,000 infections spread from a single ransomware source across 99 separate countries, with damage reaching everything from hospitals and businesses to vital public utilities like the German railway network. And how many high-profile celebrities have had their phone’s picture feeds hacked and had to deal with the scandal of some maliciously leaked photographs, some of which they’d deleted years before?

But it’s not just massive corporations like Equifax or JPMorgan or actresses like Jennifer Lawrence that are being targeted day in and day out. It’s small businesses, many equipped with far less robust security measures in place. In fact, if you’re an entrepreneur, it’s almost a statistical guarantee that hackers will target your business at some point down the road.

In your company’s battle against cybercrime, it’s essential to stay abreast of the rapidly shifting digital landscape. Only the most up-to-date security technology can even hope to protect you from the ever more sophisticated thieves pounding at your digital door.

However, it’s also important to stay informed. Here are a few of the sneakiest and most common tricks thieves use to snatch your vital data:

Social Engineering Hacking, though it can cost you thousands and thousands of dollars and do just as much damage as its digital counterparts, doesn’t require a single line of code. Instead, they find weaknesses in the “human network” of a business. For example, skilled scammers can call your business’s cell phone provider, posing as the CEO’s spouse, and convince the customer service rep to hand over passwords, Social Security numbers, and sensitive personal information. Many IT departments are susceptible to this same scam.

Often, social engineering is used to gather information that will later be used for a different strategy. Such as …

E-mail Phishing, which hijacks (or fabricates) an e-mail account with trusted authority and sends users an e-mail requesting they click a particular link. Maybe the e-mail looks like it’s from the service department of your company’s time-tracking software, seeking to remedy an error. But when the link is clicked, ransomware or other malware spreads like wildfire through the system, and the user is at the mercy of the hackers. Usually, this is used to extort exorbitant sums of money out of small businesses or individuals. Symantec reports that just last year, over 7,000 businesses of all sizes fell prey to some form of phishing scam, costing them more than $740 million in total.

Brute-Force Password Attacks Or Password Guessing are just what they sound like. Either a hacker uses a software that, after putting in some data about the target (for example, the name of their dog or their anniversary), runs through potential keys ad infinitum. With sufficient information about the target, it’s only a matter of time before the software breaks through. Or, more often than you might think, hackers can simply guess the password. Infiltrators have common passwords that use real words or common structures memorized and can run through hundreds before giving up.

Fault Injection is a different story, usually only used by the most dedicated, sophisticated hackers around the world. Cyberthieves will use a complicated software to scan the source code of their internal software or network, noting every potential weak point in the system. Then, by splicing in strings of code, they can penetrate through and steal data, inject a virus, or employ other digital mischief.

How To Protect Yourself Against These Threats

As they say, forewarned is forearmed, but it’s not enough to keep your eye out for common hacker strategies. As the progress of technology marches on, so do the techniques and softwares used by hackers, resulting in an infinite number of permutations of ways they can penetrate your system.

The only way to be truly secure is by utilizing bleeding-edge security solutions to ensure you stay ahead of the breakneck developments in hacker technology. With constantly updating software dedicated to security, along with some know-how, you can rest a lot easier knowing your data is safe.

Backup

Will Your Backups Be There When You Need Them?

06 Jul 16
lverbik
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When the livelihood of your business depends on data stored in your computer network, you simply cannot afford to leave anything to chance. Data preservation and the ability to retrieve it at any point in time is the foundation of business continuity.

Yet the facts about backup failures are shocking:

  • According to the Boston Computing Network, 31% of PC users have lost data due to events “beyond their control.”
  • Analysts at the Hughes Marketing Group found that 40% of businesses that experience a critical IT failure go out of business within one year.
  • In a recent Gartner study, only 35% of backup tests were successful.

Some of the more common reasons for backup failures include unintentional formatting of a hard drive, accidental data deletion, malware or virus attack, firmware corruption, natural disasters, logical errors and continued computer operation when the hard drive is starting to fail.

So how certain are you that your backup system is 100% reliable? Could a false sense of security be preventing you from taking actions that will insure your backups will really be there when you need them?

7 Ways to Avoid Data Disaster Due To Backup Failure

Without proactive measures in place – and Murphy’s Law being what it is – the odds of a successful restoration when you need it most may not be as great as you’d like to think… So what can you do? Here are seven ways to avoid a damaging loss of data due to backup failure.

  1. Insist on regular, remote and redundant processes. A good rule of thumb is 3-2-1. That means three copies of your data stored in two off-site locations, backed up a minimum of one time per day.
  1. Don’t go too cheap on disk drives. Less expensive arrays that save money by doing without features like redundant power supply and hot spare disks may leave your data at risk.
  1. Guard against human error. Make sure people performing backups and restores know exactly what to do – and what not to do. Take people out of the loop and automate wherever possible. And be especially cautious in situations where backups aren’t a part of someone’s regular duties.
  1. Are your backup software settings being checked routinely? When new software or updates are put into service, a change in the way the settings are configured can cause incomplete backups, or backups that fail completely. Do the people who maintain your backups include this on their regular to-do list?
  1. Could some files be getting left out? As resources are added and priorities shift, files and folders can get misplaced or accidentally left off the backup list. Insist on a quarterly or annual meeting with your backup management team to make sure all mission-critical files are included in your organization’s data recovery systems.
  1. Address network issues immediately. Any component in your network that isn’t working properly can introduce another point of failure in your backup process. Every juncture in your network, from a misconfigured switch to a flaky host bus adapter, can hurt your backups.
  1. Ask for help with your data backup and recovery system. You cannot be expected to be an expert in all things. Yet data is the backbone of your business – its protection and recovery should not be left to chance. Why not leverage the knowledge, skill and experience of an expert in the field?

Even with all these measures in place, the best way to keep your organization safe from harm due to data loss is to verify your backup system by performing regular test restores. This will help identify any problems in advance so they can be fixed – allowing you to avoid getting hit with an ugly surprise when you least need it.

The Smart Way To Assure Backup Success

Unless your team has all the time and expertise required to consistently close all open loops in your backup system, your organization may be at risk of serious harm due to data loss.

Contact us today at 317-857-0150 – before disaster strikes.

Do you Have a Good, Trustworthy IT Guy?

13 Jan 16
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Whoever it may be—guy, girl, company—whoever holds the keys to your IT kingdom had better be someone you can trust, and someone who is doing a good job. You just can’t afford to get this wrong.

Your IT guy is the one with the most access to your valuable network—the heart of your business—and thus the most power to wield for good or evil.

Think about it—if this person were to disappear, would you know where all your passwords, software license, disks, etc., are stored? Do you have complete network documentation should you require another person to step in? Scary. Don’t leave yourself vulnerable.

Here are some questions to ask yourself about your IT provider. You should have all YESes. If you answer NO to any of these, you might want to think about finding someone who can do a better job for you.

  • Are they available for live phone consultation? Do they respond in an hour or less when you’ve got emergency tech support issues?
  • Are they keeping your network remotely monitored nonstop, and up to date on security settings, patches and viruses?
  • Are they vigilant about offsite and onsite backup monitoring, or do they not care if you are still using unreliable tape backups?
  • Do they periodically conduct test restores of your backups to make sure they’ll work in the event of a real disaster?
  • Have they give you full documentation of your network, including network passwords, software licenses, and hardware info, or are they the sole keeper of the secrets?
  • Are they always looking for ways to improve your operations, offering suggestions and new ideas? Or are they only there when you have a problem?
  • Are the timely and proactive it responding to your inquiries, providing status reports and progress without you having to hunt them down?
  • Do they explain things in regular people language and not tech talk? Or do they sort of enjoy keeping you in the dark about what they do?
  • Do they bill you at a fixed rate or is it open ended to cover their time and materials?

If you can say NO to any of the above, we’d like to give you a free IT assessment to set your mind at ease. It’s your right and freedom to get the best IT service possible, with someone you trust. We’ll check the “health” of your current operations and look for any places where improvements can be made to help you avoid data loss or other costly errors. Contact Techno Advantage today, and rest easy.

What can hosted workspaces do for your business?

16 Dec 15
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As our culture continually evolves more and more toward mobility and flexibility with the use of tablets, smartphones and notebook computers, business is happening all the time, everywhere, in places we never would have dreamed. Companies are implementing BYOD (bring your own device) policies to make it easy for their employees to maintain a productive pace after they leave the office. And there’s a growing trend emerging to make it work to a company’s advantage.

The concept of a hosted workspace involves a desktop environment situated on a remote server that provides a “virtual office” where employees’ own personal devices can be used to do business seamlessly and relatively safely. Users have easy access from their various devices, from virtually anywhere they may be—inside or outside the office.

It provides a nice little setup giving users a way to interact and work with all of a company’s data, applications and programs just as they would a traditional desktop computer environment—but without the stationary, cumbersome, and costlier machines anchoring them to workstations.

The hosted workspace means that, as a business, you are saving on equipment costs and the constant software upgrades that go along with these conventional setups. Hosted workspaces work and grow with you no matter what the size of your company.

If you fear less security with a mobile environment, your fears are unfounded. The opposite is actually true. Hosted workspaces are proven more secure—providing built in security features, including virus protection and secure cloud server storage for your data. And if you think about what you could lose should your security be breached in a traditional office computer environment, you’re looking at what can be a devastating loss.

So for many businesses, hosted workspaces offer the best advantages that mobile technology has to offer, while keeping your employees nimble and efficient—to do business anywhere. We think that’s a pretty cool idea. Contact us here to find out how TechnoAdvantage can help you craft your own hosted workspace.

Four Rules of Email Etiquette Can Save Your Reputation

25 Nov 15
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You may not think of email as having such power, but just as a great email can bring in the business—so these email mistakes can drive customers away and ruin your reputation. And pretty quickly too, if they’re repeated on a consistent basis.  What business technology can do for you can be rapidly undone if you or your employees ignore these four simple rules of email etiquette:

  1. Always use proper spelling and grammar

You would be surprised at the amount of emails that get sent with misspellings, typos and poor grammar. Now, not everyone is a great writer, but there is a fundamental professional standard you should meet that involves using spell-check on every single business email you write. Send enough poorly written emails and the unspoken message you are sending your customers is that you are unprofessional, you don’t care about details, you’re not a quality company—or worse, you’re not even legit. Spelling matters!

  1. Be careful who you CC

We all use group email to keep the team looped in. But this practice can go horribly wrong when you hit the reply button carelessly. If you’re not alert, you may “reply all” when in fact you don’t want specific team members to receive the email. Or how about forwarding or replying and you’ve written something negative about someone on the email thread?  Get out of the habit of thoughtlessly hitting “reply all”—and make it your habit to select recipients one by one every time before you hit “send.” (And, p.s. it is a good practice to NEVER write a negative email. They never disappear and may end up being forwarded and causing harm.)

  1. Don’t be in a hurry when emailing

Emails written in a hurry are obvious to the recipient. Some of the things that can go wrong with them are: unfinished emails sent, typos, incorrect information.  Then you’re forced to send an awkward follow-up email where you have to explain your mistake. Very unprofessional! Moral: Slow down and give your full attention to each email you compose. People know when you’ve rushed through and it sends the message to them that they are unimportant to you. No matter how short the email or seemingly trivial, take your time to honor your recipient and get it right.

  1. Double-check the recipient before you hit “send”

This is another frequent blunder that happens when we get in a hurry and go on autopilot. The culprit is the autofill function. You think you’ve typed in someone’s name and unbeknownst to you, autofill has populated the “to” line with a different person of similar name or address from your contacts and you’ve hit send. This kind of error can be anywhere from embarrassing to downright dangerous, depending on the type of information you are sending out, e.g. confidential corporate info.

These rules of email etiquette are important enough to share with your employees as we all take on the role of representing our employers. Your reputation is at stake and no matter what you email or whom you email, take time, slow down, give it your best, and make sure it’s right before you hit send.  If you have any tips to add to this list, comment below! For more ideas, contact Techno Advantage today!

Is Cryptovirus back as a worm?

03 Sep 15
lverbik
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19798163_s (2)Just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does—it seems likely there is a new variant to the Cryptolocker virus—that insidious virus known to encrypt all your files and hold them ransom for $300. This new strain may or may not be Crypt, but it was reported recently to have been able to replicate to other workstations and begin encrypting user folders, though many IT peers do not believe that capability exists as yet.

Whether it is possible or not, it’s something to watch out for. The affected business not only was infected across multiple workstations, but also its server by way of mapped drives. The victim in this case saw a web page open at the workstation with a threatening hijack message and links to download the solution that unlocks the user’s data.

Its evil authors no doubt immediately began working on this new poison once researchers from FireEye and Fox-IT were able to reverse-engineer the virus and provide a solution to Cryptolocker’s victims in May of this year. Of course, half a million people had already been affected and 1.3 percent had paid cash to free their files from the criminals—to the tune of $3 million.

Following the forum discussion about this new case reveals that the most likely source of this virus may actually be a flash-based ad on a compromised site that many people in the office could have accessed. It is possible that someone shared a link containing the virus, or perhaps everyone had a program installed already that popped up an embedded ad that was clicked on.

No matter whether the new strain is able to actually replicate to other stations or not, this is a good reminder to take every measure available to safeguard your files. Number one, add this virus’s file names to your file screens: *.aaa and restore_. Two, backup always! Three, get legit anti-virus and monitoring software. Four, patch your workstations. Five, contact the team at Techno Advantage for help selecting the right cloud-based or on-premise backup and storage solutions.

Need more help deciding how to protect your business from a malware attack? Contact a Techno Pro today! And watch this blog for updates on any new malware. We want to keep you informed.

The New Look of Techno Advantage

24 Mar 15
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Have you heard the saying “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.”? Well, we’re growing and we want to share the latest news with you in today’s post.

Like many businesses, our previous website was little more than an outdated placeholder on the World Wide Web.  It wasn’t “working” for us at all.  We knew that the Techno Advantage website needed a makeover if we we’re going to keep pace with our competitors, be found online and continue to provide excellent service to our existing clients.  An informative, optimized and mobile responsive website was a critical next step. This winter, we located a talented design partner and began the planning process.

Since spring has officially arrived in Indianawe’re very excited to announce that the Techno Advantage website has a fresh new look. Everything from the navigation and images to the behind the scenes SEO infrastructure has been updated and improved.  What is SEO you ask….great question, follow this link to read the Wikipedia definition.  One of the main goals of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is to improve your ranking, which was one of the driving factors behind our website remodel. We wanted to ensure that those businesses that need us could find us.  Consider this…there are, on average, ten positions on a typical search results page. The pages that fill those positions are ordered by rank. The higher your page is on the search results page, the better your click-through rate and ability to attract searchers.  Results in positions 1, 2, and 3 receive much more traffic than results down the page, and considerably more than results on deeper pages.

On the new Techno Advantage site, you’ll find well organized and helpful content, as well as blog posts right at your fingertips on a variety of topics, such as: data backup and disaster recovery, cloud computing, VoIP phone systems, and all things Microsoft.  Our blog has a new name – we’re calling it the Techno Forecast.  Get it…?  Lightning bolt logo, weather, technology…forecast.  Genius right?

We hope that you enjoy the new features of the website and promise to continue to provide useful information to help you stay on top of your technology.  You can expect to see new blogs from Techno Advantage twice per month on a variety of IT related topics.

Be sure to friend, follow, circle and link up with Techno Advantage on your favorite social media platforms!

New Video Portal – Office 365

19 Nov 14
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It’s no secret that we are huge fans of Office 365 here at Techno Advantage, so when we heard this “breaking news” from Microsoft, we had to share it right away.

Yesterday, Microsoft announced new tools for using SharePoint.  They are calling these tools NextGen Portals.

The first NextGen Portal being released is Office 365 Video. The premise is that this new tool will provide users with a simple and elegant interface that simplifies the sharing and discovering of videos. Office 365 Video will be powered by Azure Media Services, the same service used during the Olympics (6,000 plus hours of video in 18 days).  The roll-out will begin with first release customers after which Microsoft expects to be fully deployed worldwide by early 2015.

For more information on this new tool please follow the link below.

http://blogs.office.com/2014/11/18/introducing-office-365-video/

Techno Advantage can help you understand all the wonderful tools that Office 365 has to offer.  Contact us now!