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News and info on IT Services

We provide a range of Managed IT Services, Business IT Support, and IT Consulting that can help you keep costs down.

We know its hard to make sense of all the options available when it comes to IT. We can keep you posted on the latest trends and info with our IT Support Blog.


 

 

Why the Microsoft Active Directory is Vulnerable to Attack

Posted by on 7:29 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Active DirectoryA critical design flaw has been uncovered in Microsoft’s Active Directory. Microsoft insists that any issues with the Active Directory have been long known and that they are in the process of repairing any flaws. However, in a recent phone interview, Tal Be’ery, vice president of research at Aorato said that, “The dire consequences we are discussing – that an attacker can change the password – was definitely not known.”

Microsoft’s Active Directory is a widely used service. Some of its functions include:

  • Authenticating and authorizing all users and computers in a Windows domain type network
  • Assigning and enforcing security policies for all computers installing or updating software
  • Checking submitted passwords and determining whether the user is a system administrator or normal user.

So, what’s all the commotion about? Recently, the Israeli security firm called Aorato noted a major flaw allowing attackers to change passwords in Active Directory. The company’s research focuses on an authentication protocol called NTLM that Microsoft has used for years.

NTLM is a suite of Microsoft security protocols that provides to its users,

  • Authentication
  • Integrity
  • Confidentiality

However, NTLM is known to have vulnerabilities to an attack called “Pass-the-Hash” which can be performed on any server accepting NTLM authentication. The attacker can obtain login credentials and can then access other services or computers. Windows is not the only operating system at risk; any single sign-on system or SSO is also affected by this threat. A simple way to avoid this is to disable SSO, however through disabling SSO, users on a network must compromise for tedious reentering of their passwords.

Microsoft has attempted to patch the vulnerabilities, but Be’ery worries that these patches will deteriorate functionality and thinks Microsoft is not doing enough to protect the security of its users.

To learn more about the vulnerabilities and design flaws of Active Directory, contact us. You can reach us by phone or send us an email.

Great Information Graphic On Secure Communications With Healthcare

Posted by on 9:11 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Thanks to our friends at HIPAA Secure Now for sharing this awesome infographic.
HIPAA Secure Communications

Today’s Technology Is No Longer Bound By the Power Cord, and Your Business Shouldn’t Be Either

Posted by on 7:13 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Mobile ComputingWith the help of modern technology, businesses today have the remarkable ability to expand beyond the office and into the wider world. Mobile devices can let you take your business with you anywhere you go, freeing you from the power cord to maximize your productivity and profitability. But you have to be careful; mobile devices are at greater risk than your home systems, and the security of your information is intrinsically tied to your business’s success.

Our Mobile Device Management (MDM) programs can make sure your mobile devices are taking your business where you want it to go, and not into someone else’s pockets. We offer industry-leading MDM Solutions to keep your data safe and easily accessible. 

Our team of IT Mobile Device Management experts have a flawless record in keeping the mobile devices of our customers safe, secure and easy-to-use. We will create a custom MDM system that will let your business incorporate any number of devices into your network, helping you increase your productivity at the same time as freeing you to pursue your business interests outside the office.

Our team of mobile computer experts uses only the most up-to-date and innovative Mobile Device Management solutions, including:

  • The ability to remotely find, lock, or even wipe a mobile device that has been lost or stolen, protecting your information.
  • The option to keep business data separate from personal data on an employee’s personal device, letting you control your data while leaving your employees free to incorporate their work into their daily routine.
  • Sure-fire security that keeps your mobile devices monitored and managed round-the-clock.
  • Enforced encryption and secure passcodes to ensure only your employees have access to the data that keeps your business running.

Avoid the risk and protect your business on the go with Mobile Device Management Solutions. Contact us for reliable and expert IT solutions for your business. Learn more or schedule your complimentary security assessment by calling us or emailing us.

Look Out Avid Thrift Shoppers – Goodwill: The Next Possible Victim of Credit Card Data Theft?

Posted by on 12:20 pm in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Goodwill POS BreachAre you an avid-thrift shopper? If so, you must know your way up and down the aisles of your local Goodwill thrift shop! The organization sells donated clothing and household items, then uses the proceeds to fund:

  • Job training programs
  • Employment placement services
  • Various community-based initiatives

But unfortunately, there’s some bad news for shoppers: Goodwill is investigating a security breach, in order to determine what led to the theft of customers’ credit card data. On Friday, July 18th 2014, federal authorities and a fraud investigation unit contacted Goodwill regarding potential data theft at it’s American store locations. At the moment, Goodwill is working with the authorities to uncover any type of data compromise.

POS breaches are quickly growing in the U.S, with places like P.F. Chang’s, Target, Michaels, Sally Beauty Supply, and Neiman Marcus all confirming a credit card breach this year. If Goodwill confirms data theft, it will hold consistent with other major retailers.

Goodwill wrote in an email, “At this point, no security breach has been confirmed but an investigation is underway. Goodwills across the country take the data of consumers seriously and their community well being is our number one concern.”

The email continued, “Goodwill Industries International is working with industry contacts and the federal authorities on the investigation. We will remain appraised of the situation and will work proactively with any individual local Goodwill involved taking appropriate actions if a data compromise is uncovered.”

Sorry thrift-shoppers! For now, you’re better off using cash payments at Goodwill, at least until further confirmations surface regarding credit card data theft.

To learn more about the security breach, or if you’d like to discuss IT security services to protect your business against security breaches, please give us a call or send us an email. Our team specializes in IT security services designed to ensure the security of your IT infrastructure.

Essential Apps For International Road Warriors

Posted by on 7:26 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Business Travel ApplicationsWe as your IT experts understand the challenges that you probably will face when traveling either across the country or internationally. Do you know of some latest applications that will make your life easier while you are away?

Here are some of the top applications for the road warrior.

Triplt

Of all the numerous travel-planning apps, Triplt is a faithful companion. With Triplt, which, of course, is accessible online, you do not need to worry about organizing your itineraries and travel arrangements.

How does the app work?

Triplt gathers your various travel arrangements in one place such as hotel and car rental reservations and even your flight details. You have the option of inputting these details manually or simply using Triplt’s ultra-convenient “email itinerary” feature that links your email account to the app.

Wi-Fi Finder

We know that while you are traveling finding Wi-Fi is your top priority when needing the check emails or catch up on items in the office.  Wi-Fi Finder, a free iOS and Android app, helps you find Wi-Fi irrespective of whether you are  offline or online, whether you are able currently to see networks or not. The app is equipped with a scanner that scans for networks that your device can see.

Wi-Fi Finder has a “public Wi-Fi Near Me” option, which provides a listing of all public Wi-Fi hotspots in your location. Basically, the app will enable you locate cafes, libraries, restaurants and other establishments that are giving Wi-Fi either for a fee or for free.

Plug Finder

There is no doubt that even airplanes are now technology friendly. From the comfort of your seat, you can access under-seat power sockets and USB chargers. .

What will you do if you can’t find a plug to recharge your laptop or your device?

Plug Finder offers you a solution. The app, a free iOS crowd- sources, plug locations. It displays nearby outlets on a map using your phones GPS regardless of your location. Users of this app can also upload plug locations with a description of the area and a photo of the plug.

Desks Near Me

The app uses your phones GPS to trace nearby work places. This amazing app allows you to filter for prices, number of desks, amenities, business equipment such as copiers and fax machines. With the app, you can book a desk directly or can call for more information from the provider.

DocuSign Ink

Suppose you travel overseas, and are required to sign some contract and send it back what will you do in such a situation?

There is no need to get worried or to cut short your visit. The DocuSign Ink, a free app for Windows Phone, iOS and Android allows you to sign and date docs and send them via email to your employers and clients. How is this possible? It is simple. Open your document in PDF format in the app and tap to sign it. With this app, you only need to sign one document, and it will take your signature and place it onto future documents.

Expensify

Are you travelling for work and have incurred expenses like food, accommodation and other incidentals that should be expensed to your company? Expensify a free app for iOS, Windows Phone, Android and Blackberry is all you need.

The app tracks and creates expense reports. It also enables you to track other variables for instance mileage and time.

Word Lens

The app is free for iOS and Android, and it is an app that reads a text and translates it into different languages in real time using your phone’s camera.

Have questions about these great applications?  Give your team of IT professionals a call today.  We can help you installed, configure and maintain these great applications.  Call us today.

6 Advanced Excel Functions to Help You Shine in the Workplace!

Posted by on 7:54 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

microsoft Excel tipsMicrosoft Excel has become one of the most popular pieces of software in the business world. And while Excel functions are meant to make inputting data simpler, some people are overwhelmed considering there are more than 400 functions! Fortunately, here are the top 6 advanced functions to help you shine in the workplace:

  1. IF(B3 > D3,”B is larger”,”D is larger”)

An IF Function calculates whether a condition is true or false for a specific cell.

  1. =IF(OR(AND(B1>900,C1=”Orange”),AND(B1<900,C1=”Sunday”)),

“Correct”,”Wrong”)

The OR/AND functions can be used with an IF function to resolve whether a defined condition is true or false.

  1. =VLOOKUP(F1,C1:D2,4,FALSE)

VLookup is a vertical lookup. It is useful when you are searching for a value within a column. After you specify your desired range, the function will match the input with similar value from another specified column in that range.

  1. =HLOOKUP(200,A1:F22,1,TRUE)

HLookup is a horizontal lookup. It can help you explore rows in the range-defined input and provides a corresponding value for a defined row.

  1. =MOD(ROW(),2)=0

Conditional Formatting highlights parts of your data for any specific condition you want. To use Conditional Formatting, first select the data you want to highlight. Then, go to Menu, Format, Conditional Formatting. Delete “cell value” and add “formula is”.  The formula above will allow you to change every other row, as indicated by the number 2.

Inserting a Transposed Copy of a chart will save you the time of creating a duplicate. This tip will help you if you ever need to switch data in a column with data in a row. First, you will need to click on a blank space within your chart. Then, go to the Home tab and click the arrow on the Paste icon. After that, move to the third icon under Paste Values. Once it is highlighted, you can paste it wherever you want.

To prevent incorrect data from filling your spreadsheet, start by using Excel’s Data Validation feature. In a table, you have to select the cells that contain one kind of data. Go to the Table Tools tab, click Data Validation and specify the data you want in those cells.

  1. =SUMIF($A$1:$A$10,”good”,$D$1:$D$10)

This function quickly returns the sum of numbers in a specified range. You can use it for columns or rows. This function is useful for accounting or calculating costs

If you have any questions, or if you’d like to learn more useful tips, give us a call or send us an email. We can help you leverage Excel to the fullest extent! 

Using Remote Desktops to Protect Your Data

Posted by on 7:53 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Remote DesktopEnabling remote access on your computer requires a series of simple steps. Once set up is complete, you can remotely access your desktop through any Windows computer!

Windows XP introduced Windows OS users to the remote desktop function. Remote Desktop means remotely accessing your computer through local area networks (LAN) or the internet. You can access files, run programs and applications, and even manage network resources on any Windows device.

Enabling remote access on your computer requires a series of simple steps. First of all you need to set up the computers you want to control. Click the “Windows” button and go to the “Control Panel.” Make sure to have already set a user account so you can change your password. When you reached the control panel platform, click the “User Accounts” option and then click “Change your password.” Enter a unique password that you can use to access your computer locally, or from any Windows computer.

Next, you have to enable the Remote Desktop function. Again, click the “Start” button and right-click “Computer.” A drop-down navigation panel will appear where you will find the “Properties” option. After clicking “Properties,” go to “Remote Settings” to enable Remote Desktop. Make sure to tick the “Allow connections from computers running any version of Remote Desktop” box so you can enable remote access from computers with various versions of Windows.

Finally, set up which users will have access to your device via Remote Desktop. If you’re an Administrative user, you will automatically have access. Click the “Select Users” button, then choose the users you additionally want to allow. Once the set up is complete, you can start accessing your desktop from anywhere.

To use the Remote Desktop feature, click the Windows “Start” button and enter “remote desktop” in the search box. Enter the name or IP address of the remote computer and click “Connect.” Your computer will now hook up with the Remote Desktop computer, and you’ll be asked for the username and password.

It is also possible to connect to your Remote Desktop computer through the Internet by setting up your router. You can easily search for instructions on how to do that, or call for assistance from your provider, either way the process is pretty simple.

Have questions about remote desktop and if it will work for your business?  Give us a call or drop us an email.

Macro Malware: A Revival?

Posted by on 2:12 pm in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Macro VirusesMalware creators has revived the Macros malware using a simpler method by tricking users to click on the Word menu bar to activate the virus without noticing.

The computer contagion of the late 1990s are back. Macros viruses, the hitchhikers that plague our Excel and MS Office  documents are not  lost at all. They have only hibernated since the year 2000 when IT techniques and technologies developed over the years.  Usually opening an infected Microsoft Office document would trigger the virus to infect your Windows PC. Macro viruses are written in Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). They are automated and can infect one Office file and spread by copying itself into a later edited document. In modern versions, the macros do not it execute automatically. They are blocked when opening your file leaving macros almost extinct.

Paul Ducklin of Naked Security mentioned that the reoccurrence of the macros malware was published by a security researcher, Gabor Szappanos from Sophos in Hungary. It is a compelling piece that talks about the revival of the Visual Basic for Application (VBA) programming language among miscreants. Szappi, as he is best known among readers, reported that over half of the document-based aggressiveness lately carry VBA macros aimed to trick the user instead of tricking the Office application itself. Latest generation macros viruses began using social engineering strategies to trick users into activating the macros malware rather than taking advantage of security or software flaws.

In the end of January 2014, Szappi pointed out that VBA macros are disabled by default from MS Office 7 to newer versions. It even  displays a warning on Word that macros has been disabled. His paper mentioned that the macros can be used as a vector to infect it like that of a Napolar distribution campaign wherein the document is blurred out to trick users in activating the  macros in order to retrieve the entire content. They give you the illusion that the document is protected but gives directions on what to click to activate macros and download a trojan. It seems like malware authors has fiendishly found new ways to trick users and it is definitely acquiring results in the virus lab. There are around 75 newly discovered variants and probably more to be seen.

The Visual Basic for Application is one favorite of malware creators because it is easier to write using that programming language. Exchanging data and documents is constantly occurring between people thus increasing multiple infected computers in a short span of time. They are capable of infecting any computer which runs an MS Office. Automatic downloading of Office files can be done using the Internet Explorer. It can be done by downloading documents from emails without asking the user to confirm it. These recently discovered macro attacks’ goal is to infect a large number of users without them noticing. Szappi suggested that having a good anti-virus to scan for suspicious macros on your Office files before using it will be helpful. Regardless of what the security software tells you, there is no valid reason why you need to activate macros just to view your document. Receiving a message to execute macros is a signal that your document or computer is being attacked by a malicious malware.

Have questions about your IT security? Do viruses keep you awake a night?  You need our IT security and antivirus solutions to keep your business free of malware, viruses and other malicious activity.  Give us a call today.

Google Assures Support for Chrome on XP Users Up To April 2015

Posted by on 7:36 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Google Chrome BrowserGoogle continues to support Chrome on Windows XP despite Windows’ end os support to the XP OS to aid PC users in migrating to a newer version of Windows OS

It has been more than a decade and Windows has finally cut-off support for Windows XP last April 8, 2014. It will no longer receive security patches nor updates just like other technologies whose plug has been pulled. Windows have suggested that XP users should migrate to the latest version of Windows but people seem to cling on to their beloved XP operating system though they knew there is a huge risk from malware attacks and phishing. Windows mentioned that migrating to a more modern operating system will benefit customers dramatically with its enhanced security and increased user-productive functionality.

But Google said that they will support Chrome for Windows XP up to April 2015. Isn’t that a relief for Windows XP users? But try not to be too comfortable about the idea. The reason why they have extended their support is because they admit that millions of users still depend on XP including a good lot of Chrome users. In one way or another, this might cause delay to some companies in migrating to a newer Windows version because they may think they are still fully protected by Chrome and may rely on that fact.

TechRepublic admitted that most of their members still use Windows XP even if Windows does not support it any longer. Their reason is because there is still a web browser that currently updates and protects them compared to the obsolete Internet Explorer for XP. It sounds fine actually. Though crazy as it may seem, they think it is a good way for Chrome to boost its market since they let more customers trust Chrome in XP. It is one of Google’s goal to create a safe internet experience and that includes upgrading and fixing problems. Having to choose an alternative to an unsupported Windows Internet Explorer, there will definitely be stubborn individuals who would stay in the old OS like a lamb waiting for its predator.

According to Mark Larson, a Google Chrome executive, many institutions and companies have a hard time migrating to a newer Windows OS. Most of their applications still run on the Windows XP operating system.  In order to help loads of consumers through this transition, they aimed to support Chrome for XP in the process. Chrome will continue providing updates and security patches since malware infects computers through holes in unpatched browsers. This will provide XP operating system users some ample time to migrate to a newer version of Windows.

Google also suggested that IT professionals may use the Legacy Browser Support if they still use web applications created for older browsers. They may set Chrome as their main browser to limit selected unsupported web applications. Internet Explorer 9 and the earlier versions are unsupported by Microsoft except for Internet Explorer 8. It is best to choose a web browser that is continually being supported compared to that of a browser only receiving security patches than featured updates. In the end of the line, you still need to migrate since support for Chrome for XP will also end sooner or later. Technology always evolve. It is best to keep up with it.

Are you still running Windows XP in your business?  Even though Google is supporting their Chrome browser on Windows XP, it doesn’t mean your business should be running Windows XP.  If you are, we need to talk.  Give us a call or drop us an email immediately.

John Mueller announced that Google is dropping authorship photos from most search results.

Posted by on 7:48 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Google AuthorshipAs of June 29, traditional authorship snippets dropped from 22% to 0% of search results across all date centers.

John Mueller announced that Google is dropping authorship photos from most search results. This rings bad news to most SEOs who are trying to up click-through rates and increase a brand’s visibility by incorporating real people into search results.

As of June 29, traditional authorship snippets dropped from 22% to 0% of search results across all date centers.

Big Changes in Author Photos

Previously, if you verified your authorship with Google, your picture will appear in the search results, linked to your Google circle account. Now, Google entirely dropped the photo and circle account, posting only the author’s name in the search snippet. The change will roll out widely in the coming days.

A different plot is happening with Google News, however. Not only will they post a larger news photo snippet, a smaller photo will also be added.

A lot of people have people been asking about the photo drop, they are also awaiting a saving feature in exchange for the detrimental change. John Mueller announced that they are working to clean up the visual design of search results because they’re gearing up for a better, fully responsive, and more consistent mobile experience.

Now that Google has prioritized a mobile-first approach, it is not surprising that they would take down authorship photos. The photos generate a rather cluttered small screen visual.

Authors believe that a good photo attached to a search result would yield better click through as users today find visuals more appealing. Nevertheless, Mueller said that test results showed that “click-through behavior” with the new interface is actually just about the same. Nobody knows exactly what this means, but critics are majorly blunt in expressing that instead of author photos, we’ll be seeing a lot of Google ads instead.

Same Old, Same Old

Authorship stays

The photos may be gone but Google authorship is not going anywhere. Mark Traphagen puts it in Google+, “Google Authorship continues. Qualifying authors will still get a byline on search results, so Google hasn’t abandoned it.”

Author names in search results

The new search results interface will still post author names in the search results, and these will still redirect to the author’s Google+ account. Whether this will par with previous click through rates or not, no one can tell so far.

Unchanged rankings

Rankings for search results will remain unchanged. Although photos may have contributed to more traffic in the past, the new system will not alter the order of results.

Authorship verification

At least Google authorship is still reputable when it comes to authorship. It is not changing the guidelines for authorship verification which is, verification via email, linking content to your Google+ account, then adding a link on your website form Google+ contributor section.

Authorship CTR, track it!

You can still track your click through rate (CTR) via Google Webmaster Tools. Check how many times your information has appeared in search results, how many clicks, and what your current average position is. CTR is majorly dependent on average position that even a small shake in rank can ripple a huge difference on number of clicks for each URL.

What’s next?

There is no definite future for Google+ and the same can be said of its authorship. In case they employ more of “Author Rank” in their search algorithm, it is highly advisable to establish yourself now. The disappearing photos are only the start of changes that will follow.