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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.


 

 

Important Security Tips

Posted by on 12:59 pm in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Security Tips

Don’t Fall for Phony Phone Calls

An easy way for hackers to gain access to systems and accounts is to ask for it. Social engineering is a time-tested method used by many hackers. In many cases, all it takes is a phone call to a victim posing as an IT professional with a request for the user’s login and password so they can “remove malware” or “fix an issue” that isn’t actually there. Make sure you educate your end-users on this sort of attack and don’t fall for it yourself.

Always Patch Your Systems

The latest Verizon security breach report shows a large number of breaches result from well-known vulnerabilities. Approximately 97 percent of breaches investigated by Verizon resulted from 10 well-known vulnerabilities that are many years old. Often, users are hacked because their systems are not up-to-date and patched with the latest security patches and updates. Make sure you’re patching for well-known vulnerabilities. It just makes sense.

Be Careful with Unprotected Wi-Fi

Researchers with Cylance provided a compelling case regarding why you should use a VPN when using a public WIFI connection. Cylance discovered 277 hotels and convention centers across 29 countries were affected by a vulnerability in a router used to offer Free Wi-Fi to guests. Free Wi-Fi also has the danger to allow for a man in the middle attack. Whenever possible, use a VPN so you’re not leaving your system at risk.

The Top 5 Security Threats You Need to Pay Attention to in 2015

Posted by on 11:12 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Are you feeling lost when it comes to protecting yourself against new emerging threats?

2015 security

2014 was stained by high-profile data breaches, ending with the bizarre and damaging hack of Sony Pictures. You know your business needs to protect itself, but what exactly should you be looking out for? We’ve broken down the biggest security threats shaping up in 2015.

  • The Insecurity of Things

We don’t just use computers for internet access anymore. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of innovative, connected devices used to track, monitor, and simplify every part of our lives. But when you’re storing and transferring sensitive personal information, hackers will be looking to exploit any vulnerability. TVs, home security systems automation and any other Internet capable devices need to be protected.

  • DDoS Attacks

Denial-of-service attacks don’t steal your information or cause any overt harm, but they flood a site or service with so much traffic that it becomes overwhelmed and prevent users from connecting. Last year they became much more sophisticated and they can now morph and adapt based on the defenses in place by the targeted network.

  • Social Media

Social media is what keeps us all connected – so it’s not surprising that hackers are aiming to use it to spread malware. Attackers continue to develop techniques to exploit social networks by distributing malware and stealing sensitive data from users.

  • Mobile Malware

Security experts have been talking about mobile malware for a long time. Mobile devices are more prevalent now than ever, including in business. It seems 2015 may be the year that a major mobile malware attack finally happens – so you need to keep your devices protected.

  • Third-party Attacks

Remember this – cybercriminals will take the path of least resistance, and they know that contractors and other third-party vendors can offer an opening into generally-secured corporate networks. You always need to screen who has access to your network and systems and ensure they have proper security precautions in place.

Don’t let new threats get the best of you. We know what you’re up against and are ready to help ensure you don’t get crippled by security threats – to get setup with the best protection available contact us by phone or email.

Considering Purchasing the Apple Watch? 8 Security Issues to Think About

Posted by on 8:50 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

The recently released Apple Watch has sparked a lot of debate as to whether or not it’s really a smart or necessary purchase.

Apple Iwatch

Despite its sleek look and some interesting features, the capabilities don’t seem to really warrant a buy. Even more, there are a few security issues that you should definitely take note of if you’re still considering making the purchase.

  • Connection Vulnerabilities

For both GPS and wireless connectivity, which includes downloading any apps onto your watch, Apple says the device must be paired with an iPhone: particularly an iPhone 5 or newer, running on at least iOS 8.2. Considering how high profile the watch is, it’s safe to say that hackers will soon be working to find vulnerabilities and weakness in the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections. And getting into the watch could mean getting instant access to all of the information stored on your phone.

  • The Apps are Brand New

While we already know of vulnerabilities existing in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth use, we don’t know much at all about the apps that have been created for Apple Watch. Do you really want to be a lab rat when it comes to discovering vulnerabilities in apps?

  • Location Tracking

Between the use of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, it’s easy to imagine that individual devices could be “fingerprinted”. Data could be used to track individuals in physical spaces, which obviously poses both security and privacy concerns.

  • Wireless Security Warnings

It’s generally accepted knowledge that you should disable wireless networking technologies when you’re in untrusted or unknown environments. But since those features are both necessary to leverage most Apple Watch features, users would be required to use them often.

  • Fraud

Apple has said that every time the watch is put on after being removed, a code must be entered to unlock the payment function. Still, recent stories of fraud have found thieves loading stolen card data into Apple Pay on iPhones and then making purchases. The issues that occur here likely won’t be unique, but similar to fraud issues with an iPhone.

  • Support May Be Declining

Due to some of these digital pay issues, Apple users may find less and less merchants and banks willing to accept Apple Pay. Many have received overwhelmingly negative reaction to how Apple handled Apple Pay fraud, stating they need to take more responsibility for fraudulent Apple accounts.

  • The Upside of Contactless Payment

Using Apple Pay with Apple Watch requires “contactless” POS terminals. This is driven by the recent liability shift in which a merchant or issuer that doesn’t support EMV is responsible for all fraudulent transactions.  These terminals could potentially reduce payment fraud rates in coming years. But…

  • Rouge NFC Terminals

The POS terminals include NFC, which means they’re already programmed to accept Apple Pay. Once your Apple Watch is unlocked, a cybercriminal could plausibly use it to make fraudulent purchases. And while POS terminals were created with heightened security in mind, it’s possible that thieves could hack and control NFC terminals to steal unauthorized payments.

For more technology inquires and security tips and tricks, contact us by email or by phone.

The Top 5 Cyber Security Tips To Protect Your Business

Posted by on 8:25 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

There’s no way to predict a cyberattack, whether it’s caused by a lack of security solutions or a careless employee opening some type of malicious attachment.

CyberSecurity Tips

In 2014, data breaches hit the headlines on a regular basis, and it’s only going to get worse in the years ahead! Think back: Target, Michaels, Neiman Marcus, and Home Depot – These are all HUGE corporations who’ve likely invested a lot more into cyber security than you.

Don’t Become the Next Victim of Cybercrime. Start Taking Cyber Security Seriously with These 5 Tips for Business!

Ready to start taking cyber security seriously? Here’s the top 5 tips to help you safeguard your technology:

  1. Train your employees

First and foremost, establish basic security policies and train your employees to protect sensitive business information and avoid cyber attacks. Make sure they understand how to use the Internet safely, which means:

  • Never opening attachments from suspicious emails
  • Using strong, different passwords for each account
  • Typing URLs into the search bar instead of clicking links

Also, make sure you’ve discussed the importance of cyber security and outlined penalties for breaking basic security policies.

  1. Install anti-virus software & firewalls

If you haven’t already done so, install anti-virus software and firewalls on every computer used within your workplace. Also, set the anti-virus software to automatically check for updates at a scheduled time and run scans for malware and viruses as often as possible.

  1. Keep all important data backed up

Cybercrime targets businesses of all types and sizes, and the truth is, you’re a target, whether you know it or not. Many types of malware, including ransomware, steal your data – making it inaccessible for employees. If you’ve backed your important data up, you’ll be prepared to recover any necessary files to keep working.

  1. Secure corporate AND employee-owned devices

All mobile devices, whether you’re corporate or employee-owed, must be secured with proper security measures in place, which includes the ability to keep personal and business data separate, and various other measures, such as encryption and remote wipe capabilities, in order to minimize risk if a device is lost or stolen.

  1. Limit and manage those who have admin privileges

If you’re giving admin privileges to those who don’t truly need them, stop and reconsider. Also, manage those who do need admin privileges – limit access to sensitive information and use strong passwords to avoid user accounts being compromised. It’s also a good idea to log all access activities and monitor on a regular basis, in order to detect any unauthorized access attempts.

Looking for more cyber security tips to keep your business safe? Call us today or drop us an email.

What Windows as a Service and a “Free Upgrade” Mean For Your Business

Posted by on 6:30 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Corporate licensing for Windows has gotten increasingly tricky.

man hand with handcuffs

Microsoft doesn’t want the Windows market to be split into a variety of versions. At one time Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 were all being supported at once. This caused developers to choose between the best functionality and the most widely compatible version. And many users lost out on the latest features or security updates because they didn’t have the latest Windows.

Most non-corporate Windows users never buy a Windows license – they buy a PC, and the PC’s manufacturer has already paid for it. The majority of people won’t shell out more money when an upgrade is available; they only get the latest Windows when they actually buy a new PC. That leaves old versions of the software out there for years. But Windows 10 is changing that…

Last week Microsoft announced that current users of Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 will receive free upgrades to Windows 10. For now, it’s a limited offer that will last a year after release. Likewise, those new Windows 10 machines will receive upgrades for free for the entire lifetime of the device. Gone are the paid major version upgrades that Windows has offered in the past. New features and capabilities will no longer be held back until the next release of Windows, they’ll be downloadable as soon as they’re ready for the market. Microsoft is hoping that by offering this free upgrade and making it as easy as possible, they can post a stop to the fragmentation of the Windows world.

People will still be buying and building new PCs, and those PCs will still need Windows licenses. Those Windows licenses will, for the time being, still cost. What Microsoft is giving up is not Windows license revenue, but rather upgrade license revenue. But upgrades were never a major money-maker in the first place, so the impact won’t be huge.

One important Windows demographic will be greatly affected by the continuously-updated new Windows: businesses. For the mission critical systems that cannot be adjusted without extensive testing and approval, Microsoft is introducing Long Term Servicing branches. These branches will be the most stable Windows versions that Microsoft has ever release.

Windows’ support is currently split into two five year periods – a Mainstream period where both feature improvements and security fixes are made, and an Extended period where only security fixes are made. The LTS branches will receive only security and critical fixes over the entire ten year support duration. The branches will be created periodically, integrating all the feature updates that have been released in the meantime.

Microsoft argues that most systems don’t need this level of immutability, so for those systems there will be the Current Branch for Business. The CBB will keep pace of consumer Windows, receiving a frequent mix of security updates and brand new features. Administrators will have the power to hold back those feature updates to enable testing without interrupting the deployment of security fixes. Windows 10 systems will have the capability to switch between CBB and LTS.

The licensing complications for corporate users are a little vaster than those for personal users. Companies using regular Windows or Windows Pro will be eligible for the free upgrade. For them hardware will ship with an OEM license, and that will keep them up-to-date for as long as they have the hardware. Any organization with a current Software Assurance agreement will be eligible for the free upgrade – it’s a major advantage of having a current Software Assurance agreement. There are some footnotes, though: if the agreement expires on June 30 and Windows 10 is released on July 1st, there is no right to upgrade.

Clarification on any other situations is still forthcoming from Microsoft. Overall, the changes seem overwhelmingly positive for small businesses and personal users – Software Assurance customers won’t even notice a change. Still, some users will fall between the cracks, and the solutions for their issues remain unclear.

For more of the latest technology news contact us immediately by phone or email.

Working with Windows? Use these Helpful Tips to Make Work Faster and More Effective!

Posted by on 11:18 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Technology is always changing, but one constant remains – it’s here to make your life easier.

Office Computer User

When you’re using Windows to do work or even for personal pastimes there are number of little tricks you can employ to make work easier, faster, and more effective. Next time you’re using Windows on your PC or laptop, try out these tips.

Launch Taskbar Programs with Your Keyboard

The taskbar is often used as a quick launch bar to easily get to the programs and applications we use every day. Now, there’s an even easier way to open them than a simple click – some quick keyboard combinations. Every program to the right of the Start button is assigned to its own numerical shortcut, starting with “1” and so on. Pressing the Windows key and the number of the program you want to open will launch it immediately.

Discover Hidden Right-Click Options

Using the Shift key when right-clicking reveals some hidden options you can use as shortcuts. For instance, the basic Send To tool that appears as a right-click option on a file or folder is handy, but if you hold down the Shift key as you right click, you’ll be given an expanded list of locations as part of the Send To menu.

Erase a Mistake

When you’re storing a ton of files and constantly shuffling through them, it can be easy to make a wrong move or drop. You may accidentally delete something or create unwanted copies in other locations. Luckily Windows has basically implemented a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card – pressing Ctrl + Z is a shortcut that undoes your last action.

Easy Multitasking

When you need to start multitasking this will come in handy. Windows 8 provides the ability to “Snap” multiple open apps side-by-side. Just click on an open window and drag it to either the left or right edge of your screen. It will automatically resize to fill that half of your desktop. If you prefer to use keyboard commands, Windows key + left arrow, Windows key + right arrow, and Windows key + up arrow will also snap the selected window.

A Powerful Search Tool

It’s most common to search Windows using the Start menu, but for better results try the search box that’s provided in the upper-right corner of Windows Explorer. The advanced search tools let you add filters such as date and file type. You can also make a shortcut to a custom search by dragging the magnifying-glass icon in the File Explorer location bar. Clicking on it will always give you the latest results.

Create Your Own Keyboard Shortcuts

There are a ton of shortcuts that are already part of your system, but with Windows you can also create your own to make work faster and easier for you. Right-click on a program icon and select Properties, then select the Shortcut tab, click “Shortcut key” and press the key you want to use to launch that program.

  • Use Your Taskbar to Search the Web

Want to add even more functionality to your taskbar? Right-click on it and select Properties and then open the Toolbars tab. A list of Windows’ available toolbars will appear and you simply check the boxes next to the ones you’d like to add. The Address option adds a URL bar to your taskbar which you can use to browse the web, and the Desktop option adds a drop-down menu that allows you to easily search files or folders or your PC.

For more useful tips and tricks like these and to learn how to get the most out of your technology, contact your Microsoft Office and Microsoft Windows experts today.

LinkedIn No Longer Supporting Old Version of Outlook: How Will This Affect You?

Posted by on 10:35 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Outlook Social Media Connector

LinkedIn sent its users a brief message this week that stated the following:

As an active user of LinkedIn for Microsoft Outlook Social Connector, we wanted to make sure we let you know that on March 9, we will no longer support LinkedIn for Microsoft Outlook Social Connector in Outlook 2003, 2007, and 2010. This means that LinkedIn information about your email contacts will not be visible in those Outlook versions.

What’s This Mean for You?

Many businesses, for example, use Microsoft Office 2010 – that includes Outlook 2010. It’s common to use this connection to look at the LinkedIn status of contacts. When you select a contact that’s connected with LinkedIn, Outlook will show you that contact’s status.

It’s a valuable feature to know a co-worker or client’s LinkedIn status before e-mailing or calling them, so losing the connection between Outlook and LinkedIn can be difficult for some. Don’t worry yet, though, because there are easy ways to get around it and continue on work as usual.

A Simple Upgrade

If this affects you, it’s probably time to upgrade your Microsoft Office. If you’re running a small business you can upgrade to Microsoft Office 2013 for Home, which includes Outlook, for $99.99 a year for up to five computers. Some Microsoft Exchange providers will give you a license and software for Outlook 2013 as well.

With the newest Office or Outlook you can download a new connector at no additional cost so that you can continue staying connected with your clients and contacts through LinkedIn.

For more IT news and to ensure your system and applications are up to date, contact your IT service team on email or by the phone.

Data Breaches Increase at an Alarming Rate in January 2015

Posted by on 5:55 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Has Your Business Been Compromised?

data breaches in january

Data breaches are increasing at higher rates than ever before. Not only are we being targeted more often, the number of records compromised in each breach is on the rise. When comparing year-to-year numbers, January reports show over a 20% increase in records compromised.

The number of data breaches in 2014 involving more than 100 million records increased by 100% when compared to 2013 statistics. The numbers are alarming, and the effects are being felt by small and large businesses around the world.

Recent research revealed over one billion data records were compromised in over 1,500 data breaches occurring in 2014. This is a 78% increase in compromised data records compared to 2013.

Identity thieves are the main culprit behind the attacks. The BLI states that 54% of all data breaches were identity theft related. Not only is identity theft responsible for over 50% of all breaches, it accounts for one third of the breaches ranked as Severe or Catastrophic in the BLI.

Even more alarming, over two-thirds of the 50 highest ranked breaches occurred in 2014.

Retail and financial services continue to be the prime targets for identity thieves and hackers. Over 55% of data records compromised in 2014 were in the retail sector, and the average amount of records compromised in data breaches within the financial sector increased tenfold.

So how do you ensure YOUR business isn’t the victim of a terrible data breach?

Turn to us for a complete IT security solution you can depend on to protect your valuable data:

  • Managed firewalls to prevent dangerous unauthorized access to your network
  • Anti-malware protection to lock out viruses that leak data or hold your records hostage
  • Continuous backups for all your data – keeping files recoverable when disaster strikes.

Stay tuned to our blog for the latest security news and trends!

Call us today or send us an email and book a time to speak with us about how to protect YOUR IT network from data breaches.

Is This Good or Bad? Net Neutrality Protected in FCC Vote!

Posted by on 6:11 pm in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

What Does This Mean for YOUR Business?

GettyImages_178711967

It’s a topic that’s sparked debate and launched protests, and today a decision has finally been reached. With a 3-2 vote, the Federal Communications Commission approved a policy known as net neutrality. Chances are, you’ve heard of it, but do you know what it means?

Closer Regulation of Service Providers

In today’s vote, the FCC changed the way it classifies wireless and fixed-line broadband service providers. They’re now known as “Title II” common carries under the nation’s telecommunications laws. That designates that the FCC can set rates, open access to competitors, and more closely regulate the broadband industry. Until today, the FCC had no laws to enforce net neutrality rules on wireless broadband services, and their regulation of fixed providers was minimal. For net neutrality advocates, the vote today was a major win, but not all internet service providers are happy.

The New Terms

Title II gives the FCC the ability to dictate rates in the cable industry and to regulate the back-end of the internet where some ISPs have begun charging content providers (like Netflix) fees to host their content in independent data centers – something which is essential to their objective of seamless movie-streaming.

The FCC has stated clearly that they don’t intend to regulate rates, but they do plan to ensure that nobody’s internet traffic will ever be blocked or unfairly prioritized by service providers. A year ago, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said they would find a way to enforce net neutrality without the Title II designation, but in November of last year, President Barack Obama voiced his support of the classification, and since then, it’s basically been a foregone conclusion.

“The internet is the most powerful and pervasive platform on the planet,” Wheeler said. “It’s simply too important to be left without rules and without a referee on the field.” The order, called Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet, will take effect 60 days after it’s published in the Federal Register, which may still take a few weeks.

For more information on what this new law means for your business, contact us immediately.

Facebook at Risk! Over 110,000 Users Targeted by New Trojan

Posted by on 11:10 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Facebook ThreatAt least 110,000 Facebook users were infected in just two days last week by Cybercriminals using Trojan malware. This puts Facebook at the forefront of this week’s IT security headlines, along with Akamai Technologies, UMass Memorial Medical Group and Kaspersky Lab.

Facebook Users at Risk

The new malware affecting Facebook users has the ability to manipulate keystrokes and mouse controls, and was first reported last Thursday. Security researcher Mohammad Reza Faghani stated that this Trojan is different from most bugs that have been used on social networks in the past. The Trojan is able to get more visibility to the victims when it tags friends in a malicious post – this allows the tagged post to be seen on victim’s friends’ walls as well, leading to a large number of potential targets.

Facebook said that week that it had identified the malware and is currently trying to stop its spread. A spokesperson told Threatpost:

“We use a number of automated systems to identify potentially harmful links and stop them from spreading. In this case, we’re aware of these malware varieties, which are typically hosted as browser extensions and distributed using links on social media sites. We are blocking links to these scams, offering cleanup options and pursuing additional measures to ensure that people continue to have a safe experience on Facebook.”

More IT Headlines 

  • UMass Memorial Medical Group was recently breached. They told law enforcement that a former employee allegedly gained access to thousands of patient billing records containing credit card and debit information, social security numbers and medical records. About 14,000 patients could be affected.

For more on the latest IT news and how to keep your business safe, contact us today.