Tag Archives: security

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.

Warn your people about this “Microsoft” phone scam!

11 Nov 15
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The call sounds very official. A representative from Microsoft’s technical support team is on the line and they have found an error in your computer system. But don’t worry—they can fix it for you. They just need access to your machine; if you can provide the login credentials they can get to work.

At this point, you may or may not be aware that this is a scam. If, like many people, you provide your login password, the “Microsoft rep”—with your help—will establish a connection into your computer. Next, they may tell you they have found a virus on your system that can cause your data to be destroyed unless you pay a “one-time charge” to have the virus removed. You can send the money via MoneyPak, a prepaid card. At that point, you’d be too afraid to NOT do it. Because who wants to risk losing their data? That kind of loss can be devastating.

What can you do to guard against these kinds of scams?

  1. Be alert and avoid them in the first place. This is your best defense. Fact is, Microsoft or other companies like them will NEVER call you out of the blue to report a problem with your computer. Most major companies just don’t do business that way. You’d have to initiate the service request, create a case, and follow their support plan.
  2. Red flag! A Money-Pak card for payment is just not legit. Most companies will only use major credit cards for service transactions. At the very least they’d have an account number attached to your service plan. MoneyPak is untraceable; these criminals know what they’re doing.
  3. Do not give anyone access to your machine who you do not know and have an established, trusted business or personal relationship with. Again, be sure you verify you are speaking with a member of a verifiable support team with a company you are already doing business with. If you haven’t initiated the service call, then you should hang up.

If you should get in a situation where in your gut you feel you may have been duped, take action immediately.  Power off your computer and cut off the connection between your machine and this scammer as quickly as possible. If you gave them credit card info, then you need to call your credit card provider, and report it as stolen immediately.  They will start running up bills as soon as they get the numbers. Call an IT service provider you trust—if TechnoAdvantage is that provider, we would be honored to help.

Visit Microsoft’s Safety & Security center for information on avoiding scams and how to report them when they do occur.

Let’s keep each other safe out there.

Is Cryptovirus back as a worm?

03 Sep 15
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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.

Looking Forward into New Technology in 2015

28 Dec 14
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Technology changes quickly. Just when you think you have the latest technology solution for your business, something newer and better is being touted as the “next big thing.” As 2014 draws to an end, we wanted to share 4 trends that are expected to affect small business technology in 2015.

The Cloud

Cloud computing is becoming more and more attractive due to its affordable computing capability, storage and apps available on-demand and to everyone in an organization. Businesses buy only the capacity they need and receive updates with minimal hassle. However, this tool also comes with many questions: What’s the right cloud structure? Should we host our own cloud? Should we invest in the infrastructure? In many cases, a cloud solution may be more affordable, but there are some concerns about control and security. There can also be questions about migrating across competing ecosystems, such as Microsoft Office and Google apps. Read our other posts about the Cloud here:

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)

Since most individuals only want to accommodate one smartphone at a time, these devices ushered in the era of BYOD. Saying no to personal devices can be a productivity buster that can be tough to enforce. However, there are still many issues with which many small businesses are wrestling. These include making sure that a phone or tablet isn’t an easy access point to disrupting the network while keeping employees data safe and separate.

Device Crossover

Once, the roles of devices were clearly defined–the desktop for stationary productivity and more demanding processing tasks, laptops for mobile productivity, and smartphone for nomadic connectivity. However, the entrance of new operating systems such as iOS and Chrome OS have made choosing the right equipment a lot more difficult; this issue is of course interwoven with that of BYOD. Small businesses can now tap into low-cost Chromebooks as well as Windows notebooks and even affordable two-in-ones that can work as a laptop or tablet.

Security Management

It seems that every day we hear about data breaches at large companies such as Target, Home Depot, JP Morgan Chase and, most recently and infamously, Sony Pictures. The bread and butter of antivirus is still important, but even small businesses must be concerned with the integrity of customer data. There are lots of options in the marketplace that can help with this. We want to help you and your business stay secure. Check out these previous posts about security:

 

While there may be many questions around where small business IT will go in 2015, it seems clear that there are more choices than ever to best match a small business’s needs.

Techno Advantage is here to help you explore the technology solutions that are right for you. CONTACT US

 

The Team at Techno Advantage Wishes You A Productive, Safe and Prosperous New Year!

The Cloud Explained Part III – A Marketing Tool

07 Oct 14
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Now that cloud computing technology has already gone past the infancy stages, many industries are realizing the benefits it provides, and are adopting and integrating the technology to fit their businesses. One major sector that stands to benefit a lot from the cloud is marketing, as it has the ability to change the ways in which they reach and engage their audience, particularly with regard to distributing and storing mission-critical data.the benefits it provides, and are adopting and integrating the technology to fit their businesses. One major sector that stands to benefit a lot from the cloud is marketing, as it has the ability to change the ways in which they reach and engage their audience, particularly with regard to distributing and storing mission-critical data.

The most recent technology forecasts released by Forbes, Cisco, Forrester, and Gartner all reveal that there is widespread adoption of cloud computing going on worldwide. The forecasts have been unanimous in their predictions, with over one third of digital content in the world estimated to be stored in the cloud by 2016.

As for storage, it is estimated that the average data storage consumed per household will grow from 464 gigabytes in 2011 to 3.3 terabytes in 2016. Not every household will have large enough storage devices to accommodate that much data, so majority of it will be hosted on the cloud. This will result in an increase in spending towards the cloud, with the studies estimating that the global market for cloud computing will see an increase from $40.7B in 2011 to more than $241 billion in 2020.

According to Forrester’s research, majority of users in 2020 will be abandoning installed programs in favor of web-based applications. The move is not purely motivated by personal preferences as the companies themselves are pushing for migration to the cloud due to the cost savings.

One of the key effects of the cloud that will benefit digital marketing is that it has provided marketers with more venues from which to approach potential customers.  It has also allowed more individuals to become potential customers. For instance, a person who is watching TV and texting on the couch used to be out of reach of digital marketers. Now, the cloud has made it possible for the same person to access his data through his phone and his TV without even leaving the couch. There’s no need for complicated user interfaces or servers. The person is also more likely to access the Internet simply because it is now possible, making him more accessible to digital marketers.

Here are 3 reasons why marketers are migrating to the cloud:

  1. Multi-device support – with the cloud, marketers no longer need to worry about hard drives or other local storages as their files can be accessed and shared over the Internet using any internet-capable device they have on hand.
  2. Security – Security is no longer an issue with the cloud, as large and established companies have started entering the market, bringing with them their expertise and skills with regard to safeguarding the security of their customers. Additionally, marketers, no longer have to worry about losing data to a hard drive crash or acts of god, as cloud service providers have off-site backups, which means it’s almost impossible to lose data completely.
  3. Low Cost – the real crowning jewel of cloud computing technology is its cost efficiency. There’s no need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on setting up an infrastructure as a web enabled device and internet access is all that’s needed to get a cloud based system up and running.  as a web enabled device and internet access is all that’s needed to get a cloud based system up and running.

So, working with the cloud can lead to better marketing, more options, more security and best of all – more money!
Talk to the pros at Techno Advantage today to learn more about cloud computing solutions for your business.

The Cloud Explained Part II – Public vs Private

22 Sep 14
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Cloud computing comes in three major forms: public clouds, private clouds, and hybrids clouds. Depending on the type of data you’re working with, you’ll want to compare public, private, and hybrid clouds in terms of the different levels of security and management required.

Private cloud

Private cloud is operated solely for a single organization, whether managed internally or by a third-party.  It can be hosted either internally or externally.  Undertaking a private cloud project requires a significant level of engagement and requires the organization to reevaluate decisions about existing resources. When done right, it can improve your business, but every step in the project raises security issues that must be addressed to prevent serious vulnerabilities. Self-run data centers can be expensive and have a significant physical footprint, requiring space, hardware, and environmental controls. These assets have to be refreshed periodically, resulting in additional expense.

On the other hand, there are compelling reasons why enterprises may choose a private cloud.  A private cloud can be customized to fit their unique requirements and security can be optimized to address legal compliance issues such as HIPAA.

Public cloud

A cloud is called a “public cloud” when the services are rendered over a network that is open for public use. Public cloud services may be free or offered on a pay-per-usage model.  Technically there may be little or no difference between public and private cloud architecture, however, the security consideration may be substantially different.   Generally, public cloud service providers like Amazon AWS, Microsoft and Google own and operate the infrastructure at their data center and access is generally via the Internet.  A few drawbacks of the public cloud are that you sacrifice a degree of security and you have no control over hardware performance.

Hybrid cloud

Gartner, Inc. defines a hybrid cloud service as a cloud computing service that is composed of some combination of private, public and community cloud services, from different service providers.   It allows one to extend either the capacity or the capability of a cloud service, by aggregation, integration or customization with another cloud service.

For example, an organization may store sensitive client data in-house on a private cloud application, but interconnect that application to a business intelligence application provided on a public cloud as a software service.

If security and privacy issues are a concern for your business, and you don’t want to build your own private cloud, a hybrid cloud system, your own gated community within the public cloud universe may be an option.

Stay tuned to the Techno Advantage blog for more helpful articles on cloud computing.

Have questions?  Contact a Techno Advantage team member today!

Protecting Your Data – Is your password strong enough?

18 Aug 14
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Information security is an ongoing process, not something you do once and then forget about, right?

Right!  If you’re still keeping all your original passwords in a small dusty notebook on the corner of your desk…it’s time to rethink.

 

You’ll be relieved to know there are some really good online password management solutions you can use.  Passwordbox.com, Lastpass.com and Dash

The single best way to reduce the risk that hackers have zeroed in on your online credentials is to change passwords on a regular basis. As an extra precaution, you could create a distinct password for each website.  This lessens the chances that a crook could tap into all of a person’s web-based accounts, especially bank accounts.  Consumers could for example, preface an easy to remember password with the name of the store, such as “amazon_Zulu58!”lane.com can help computer users develop stronger passwords that are kept in a virtual vault, of sorts.  That way unencrypted data doesn’t stay in the user’s browser cache.  Some sites also have a repository for credit card numbers.

“Proceed with Caution”  is a good general rule of thumb to remember whenever you’re opening attachments, making purchases or logging in to a site.  Some local Indiana banks and businesses have been breached when the hacker sends an e-mail to an employee that contains a malicious attachment.  A single careless click installs key-logging software that harvests passwords.  Clever hackers may even go so far as figuring out a professional organization to which an employee belongs and creating custom e-mails to entice the reader to open and click.

While some online retail sites appear slick and compelling for consumers – often times they are traps for stealing consumer data.  Be cautious of sites that lack basics such as a phone number or office address on the site.  Also, look for whether it is a member of the Better Business Bureau or whether it has been reviewed or recognized by industry publications that might attest to the site’s authenticity.  When placing online orders, consumers also should watch that the URL on the browser indicates that the data is encrypted, such as displaying https: rather than http:.

Much of the earlier hacking focused on financial companies. But as those systems have been strengthened, hackers are turning to less robust systems operated by hospitals, small retailers and other industries.

Here are six keys to help keep your information secure:

1)      Use a different password for every website you visit.  We know it seems like password overload but it is a lot less work than dealing with getting hacked.

2)      Use a combination of upper case, lower case, numbers and symbols.  The more original you are the better.

3)      Change your passwords every three months.

4)      If it’s hard to remember all your passwords, try a password manager.  With most password managers, you have to put in a master password every time you want to use it, so it keeps hackers out.

5)      Make sure your computer has an anti-virus program.  Several companies such as Avast, McAfee, Webroot and Kaspersky offer suites of protection.

6)      Set-up two step log-ins.  Two step authentication asks you to sign in with your password, and then add a second sign-in – a numeric code sent by text, e-mail or a phone call.  Think of it as a double password.

 

Have questions?  Jay and his team at Techno Advantage want to help you ensure that you’re protected.  Click here to contact a Techno Pro!

**Don’t forget – Windows Server 2003 will officially be unsupported on July 14, 2015. **

Contact Techno Advantage for more information on migration solutions.  317.857.0150