Tag Archives: technoadvantage

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.

What is VoIP Technology?

01 Sep 17
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Is it time for your business to abandon that ancient land line phone and discover the flexibility and convenience of VoIP technology? If so, you’re in luck because we’re working on a series of blog posts on this topic.  Let’s jump right in and learn the basics…

When you install VoIP technology into your home or business, you’ll have the ability to talk to others using Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP.)  All that means is that you’ll be able to use the phone that’s connected to the internet to make calls.

Instead of phone lines that traditionally run over the electrical or phone lines in your home already, VoIP uses your internet connection instead.

In most cases, you won’t be able to tell the difference in using VoIP over other phone technology.  It gives you the same basic results.  It sounds easy, right?  It really is that simple.

To do this, several key things will be necessary.

  1. You will need to connect your standard telephone to an adapter unit that is VoIP qualified or get a new internet ready phone unit. You may also use a microphone equipped computer to make your calls instead of a phone.
  2. When you pick up the phone to dial your friend across the ocean, the VoIP adapter realizes what you are doing and turns the voice signals you are sending into your phone into digital based signals. These are then sent across the ocean through the Internet, instead of traveling through any phone line.
  3. Your friend receives your call in the same way. He or she will pick up the phone when you call and then VoIP goes to work again.  This time it translates the digital like signals back into a standard voice transmission.  When your friend uses their phone, they hear your voice, nothing more.

As you can see, it really doesn’t make much of a difference in the experience that you have using the telephone.  You’ll be doing the same thing that you are already doing.

Here’s how it works:

Phone Call –To- Adapter- Internet – Adapter –To- Phone

Although it may seem like this process takes time, it really does not.  It will take little to no time to convert your voice into a digital signal to go over the internet service that you have and back into your voice so your friend will hear you.  In fact, the process happens so fast you may not even realize what is happening at all!

Computer Communication

Another option that you may have comes in the form of using the computer in your home or business to make your calls.

In order to do this, you will need to have a computer that has a microphone built in.  This microphone will serve as your communication tool.

When you make a call, you will simply use the software that is installed on your computer to call your friend.  When they answer, you can talk to them without any type of handset.  Instead, you’ll use the microphone to talk into.

The process is still the same.  The computer will take your voice and translate it into a digital signal which is then sent over the internet to your friend’s computer.  They can either use the phone or their own computer to talk to you.  The voice once again changes from a digital signal into an actual voice and you hear your friend, just as you would if you had dialed their phone number into your phone.

You can also do this by using a computer that is equipped with a headset that allows you to speak into it for more privacy.

As you can see, VoIP technology is quite easy to use and can help your business stay connected to your clients, suppliers and associates around the world. Techno Advantage can help you get the right equipment, ensure that your connection is optimized and maybe even save money!

If you are considering VoIP technology for your business, contact our Techno Pros here at Techno Advantage. 

Lost Employee Smartphone? Do This NOW!

15 Feb 17
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“Hey boss, I lost my smartphone.”

How well have you prepared for this moment? It will happen sooner or later. If your company has a plan in place, no big deal. If not, you may suddenly get that sinking feeling in your gut …

And well you might. You now have three big worries:

Compliance Issues – If your employee had access to information covered by any number of regulations, your company could be subject to stiff penalties. One employer we know of wound up with a $900,000 fine.

Data Security – Sensitive company data in the wrong hands could spell disaster. Access to your network, secure sites, proprietary files, work-related e-mails and corporate secrets may now be out of your control. You must move quickly to prevent serious financial harm.

Employee Privacy and Property Concerns – If a valued employee had family photos and movies on the device, and you remotely delete all data on the phone, you may now have a disgruntled, or even uncooperative, employee. Especially if company policy regarding BYOD (bring your own device) and data loss were not clearly stated and agreed to up-front.

So how do you prevent a relatively minor incident from blowing up into a big problem? Here are seven smart measures you can take right now to prepare for the day an employee smartphone is lost or stolen:

  1. Install a mobile device management (MDM) system on any employee device to be used at work. This software can create a virtual wall separating work data from personal. It facilitates any security measures you wish to impose. And to protect employee privacy, it can limit company access to work data only.
  1. Determine which devices will be allowed and which types of company data people may access from them.
  1. Require that employees agree with an Acceptable Use Policy before they connect to your network. Make sure these include notice as to conditions in which company data may be “wiped” – i.e., destroyed. Also include specific policies regarding device inspection and removal of company records.
  1. Put strong data protection practices in place. Require use of hard-to-crack passwords and auto-locking after periods of inactivity. Establish protocols for reporting lost or stolen devices. Mandate antivirus and other protective software as well as regular backups.
  1. Designate someone at your company to authorize access to software and critical data. This person can also be your main point of contact for questions about BYOD policy and practices. It might also work well to distribute a resource page or FAQ document to your employees.
  1. Establish a standard protocol for what to do when a device is lost or stolen. Both Android and iOS phones have features that allow device owners to locate, lock and/or “wipe” all data on their phones. Make sure your policy requires that these features are set up in advance. Then, when a device is lost or stolen, your employee can be instructed to take appropriate action according to your protocol in order to protect company data.
  1. And finally, your best protection is to implement a well-crafted BYOD policy in advance. Develop it in partnership with risk management and operations personnel, as well as legal counsel and IT professionals, to come up with an effective and comprehensive plan.

Do not delay on this – it is a serious vulnerability that can and must be addressed in order to assure the safety of your company’s data and systems.

 

Backup

Will Your Backups Be There When You Need Them?

06 Jul 16
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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.

3 Deadly Sins of Computer Care

18 May 16
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If you’re like most people in business, you require a computer to do some if not all of your daily work.  But how often do you actual consider the proper care your devices require to work optimally and keep you connected to the world around you?  

If you’re committing these 3 deadly sins of computer care, read through our suggestions to help ensure the health of your hardware.  The last thing you need is your computer crashing, losing unsaved work and ruining your productivity.  

1.       You don’t have a cooling fan.  A cooling fan for your laptop or computer will help ensure that it does not become overheated.  Sometimes the dreaded “Blue Screen of Death” will appear as a result of an overheated hard drive.  For PC users, a small desk fan will also improve the temperature control for those long work hours at the office.

2.       Is that a dust bunny in there?  A quick burst on the keyboard with your handy dandy “Can O’ Air” is not enough to keep the dust out of your computer tower.  Every couple of months you need to open the case of your tower and clean house!  Dust will slow down all of your systems and choke the processing speed right out of your computer.

3.      Snack-a-holic!  Eating in front of your keyboard is a fast way to sticky keys and stuck space bars.  Don’t let your keyboard become a garbage can due to your bad habits.  A clean work space is the key to cutting down the list of problems that can occur in and around your office.

If your computer could use some TLC, contact TechnoAdvantage today!

Going to be away from the office? Do it in good taste.

20 Apr 16
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You’re productive and you like to receive replies promptly to your emails when engaging in business. No one has time to mess around. So when the weather warms up, with it comes the inevitable surge in out-of-office replies. This can be frustrating for your customers and downright bad business if you don’t handle it properly.

Going into this busy season of absent employees, it’s a good time to look at the right ways and the wrong ways to inform the world—and your coworkers—that you’re away from your desk and vacationing your cares away. There is an etiquette around this seemingly trivial aspect of email. Here are some tips:

  • Create calendar update. Make sure that you update your Outlook calendar to reflect the dates you will be away. Set an Out of Office status and a standing Appointment for those days that you are going to be absent so that coworkers can see your calendar and schedule meetings appropriately, knowing when you are and are not available.
  • Don’t blanket the company with your out of office reminders. Send The Outlook appointment containing your Out of Office status only to the people who will truly be impacted by your absence—your manager(s) and those you work with regularly. There’s nothing more annoying than getting daily out of office reminders, so make sure to turn that off.
  • Prepare your auto responder message. In Outlook, go to Tools, and then Out of Office. Fill in your message, as well as dates and times you will be away. There are also Address book rules that should be set so that you choose who receives your notification. For example, you do not want your Out of Office email to go to external parties, which would include spammers. For security reasons keep it internal.
  • Provide some pertinent details. You’ll want to include the dates you’ll be away, and when you will return. Also mention when you will be able to reply to their message. You may be able to check emails once a day or once a week while away, so let them know, but do not over promise on this point. The fact is that you may not be able to keep your promise so it may be in your best interest to include a name and contact information of a colleague who will stand in for you in your absence.
  • Keep the details to business. Nobody wants or needs to know what you’re doing on your vacation so don’t be a braggart and assume people want to hear about your lobster dinners or parasailing adventures. Just the simple stuff from point 4 above is all you need.

We’re happy to help you find better more advantageous ways to use IT in your daily business. Contact TechnoAdvantage today for help using Outlook or other ideas to make your company run more smoothly.

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.

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.