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IT Support Blog

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.


 

 

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?

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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.

Kiss Weak Passwords GoodBye In 12 Months

Posted by on 10:18 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Weak PasswordsEnsuring the protection of your accounts and data is an ongoing struggle. Passwords at times seem inefficient, especially when a few letters are all that’s keeping your sensitive information protected. Good news – biometric markers such as fingerprint authentication could replace passwords in as little as 12 months.

In fact, you may already be using biometric access as services such as Apple Pay require users to scan their fingerprints to carry out a transaction. Recently the senior vice president of risk products and business intelligence at Visa, Mark Nelsen, pointed out Braintree as a leader of this type of technology. Based out of Chicago, Braintree is a payment processor and software developer that was purchased by PayPal in 2013. They design applications with unique authentication capabilities and then license them out to other companies who wish to employ them.

Advancements such as using voice authentication or fingerprints to access data would be a huge step above the typical letter-and-number combination passcodes. Not only would it keep personal devices safer, but company’s trying to protect their data will see the benefits of greater restriction.

It can be hard to get businesses to adapt to new technology and learn to trust it, but once it become more pervasive and with proper education available, it will be clear that biometric markers are the superior way to restrict access. While it can be expensive for small business to implement at first, software companies will likely provide more affordable applications with comparable capabilities.

The process has been a long time coming and naturally will still take some time to roll out – many companies are likely to continue offering traditional password authentication in addition to biometric options, giving customers a choice. For now, other options such as tokenization, a process where real data is swapped with placeholder values and the information which can reveal the changes is stored separately, are also helping to improve security. Even if a hacker manages to get a hold of encrypted or tokenized data, it would be totally useless.

Keeping your company’s private data safe is about to get much easier. To learn more information about network security, contact us by phone or email.

End of Support for Windows 7

Posted by on 10:48 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Windows 7 UpgradeWhat does this mean for you, and why you should upgrade.

On January 13, 2015, Microsoft announced they are stopping mainstream support for Windows 7. Windows 7 is a popular operating system. This creates concern for many.

So what now?

Stopping mainstream support doesn’t mean the end of Windows 7. It means no more:

  • Service packs
  • Redesigns
  • Additional features

But most importantly—No more fixes for non-security related issues!

Microsoft will stop fixing security problems in January 2020.

Should you upgrade?

It’s beneficial to do so if you want to continue receiving mainstream support and up-to-date service.

Does this mean you have to upgrade? No.

Do we recommend it?

Of course. Upgrading your system will improve the security of your I.T.

What are your opinions on the matter? Will you upgrade or stick with Windows 7?

10 Vital Questions to Ask an IT Consulting Company BEFORE Signing a Service Contract!

Posted by on 12:35 pm in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Service Level AgreementWhile there’s a lot of great IT consulting companies out there, there’s a lot of not-so-great ones as well. You’ve probably noticed a common pattern: they make all sorts of promises, then when it comes time to deliver, they’re nowhere to be found, or worse, they’ll take twice as long as needed to resolve issues to leave you with shockingly high bills. So how do you find the right IT consulting company?

Here’s 10 vital questions to ask an IT consulting company BEFORE signing a service contract:

  1. What certifications and/or technical specialties do you have?

You depend on your information technology to get work done, so it’s important to work with a qualified IT consulting company that truly knows what needs to be done to improve the way you’re using information technology. Make sure you’ve asked about certifications and/or technical specialties.

  1. Have you worked with other businesses in my industry?

Every business has unique IT needs, especially if they’re operating in an industry with specific compliance requirements. If you’re subject to industry-specific regulations, make sure the IT consulting company is familiar with those regulations – and able to help you do whatever needs to be done to stay compliant.

  1. What type of IT service & support offerings do you have?

While most IT consulting companies offer similar, if not the same, IT services and support; it all comes down to how they’re offered: does the IT consulting company offer managed services, as well as hourly rates? This gives you the option to get the right IT services and support for your unique needs.

  1. How long have you been working in the IT industry?

There’s some great IT consulting companies who’ve only been in the industry for a short time, however, it’s always nice to know your IT consulting company has a few years of experience – this shows they’ve built up experience, knowledge, and skill-sets; and they’ll be able to handle your information technology with ease.

  1. Will you help me ensure business continuity?

If an IT consulting company hasn’t talked to you about business continuity, they’re probably not the right company for you. The truth is, you simply can’t afford a few hours, or even days, of downtime. Make sure the IT consulting company talks about ensuring business continuity through a comprehensive data backup/disaster recovery solution.

  1. When would I be able to contact you for support?

Imagine going into the office after the weekend and finding a server has crashed or a computer has malfunctioned! Would you be able to contact the IT consulting company in the event of major downtime? Make sure they offer a good response time that lets you feel comfortable knowing they’re available during emergencies.

  1. How do you stay ahead of evolving technology advancements and challenges?

As you’ve probably noticed, technology evolves fast – new advancements come out quite often, and as a result, new challenges appear on a regular basis. If an IT consulting company doesn’t have an answer to this, they’re probably not the right IT consulting company for you.

  1. Can I speak with some of your existing clients or see case studies/testimonials?

In general, word-of-mouth is a fairly reliable way to find out if you’re choosing a good IT consulting company. Ask if they’re willing to let you speak with some of their existing clients or check their website for case studies and testimonials. This gives you a good idea of what to expect working with them.

  1. Will you proactively try to prevent problems instead of simply reacting to them?

Any IT consulting company can come onsite or log in remotely to deal with problems as they occur, but you’re the one who’s impacted by those problems; so why have them in the first place? Make sure they’re proactive with regular maintenance, 24/7 monitoring, and patch management to prevent problems before they occur.

  1. How do you plan to protect my IT systems and data?

As cybercrime continues to become more sophisticated than ever before, businesses are starting to worry about cybersecurity; and they should! Ask what the IT consulting company plans to do to protect your IT systems and data, and if you’re not comfortable with the answer, don’t sign a service contract!

We can answer all of these questions, and anything else you’d like to know. We guarantee you’ll be happy with our answers! Find out for yourself – call us or send us an email.

Infographic: 5 Essential Questions To Ask When Searching For A New IT Services Company

Posted by on 10:19 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

When you’re looking for a new IT Services Firm, deciding on a company responsible for providing your businesses IT services and support will be an incredibly important choice.

Check out our Infographic on the 5 most essential questions to ask.

IT Company

Don’t Get Suckered In by Fake Emails Claiming to Be About Your Healthcare!

Posted by on 7:57 pm in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Affordable HealthcareBe on the lookout for suspicious emails that claim to be from a federal agency – they could be a trap to steal your private information!

A new campaign of email phishing attacks has been reported by US-CERT. The subject lines of these emails reference the Affordable Care Act, and they claim to be about directing users towards important information about their health coverage. Instead, those who open the links or attachments end up being directed to sites that either install malware on computers or try to convince the reader to give up private information.

Don’t fall for these tricks! Here are some important tips to keep in mind to help you avoid falling for phishing attacks:

  • A legit organization will NEVER ask for private information via email. Never divulge your personal information, including passwords, usernames, birthdate, social security number, or anything else.
  • Always be wary of emails that include unfamiliar or complicated links to websites – if you don’t immediately recognize the URL, DON’T CLICK THE LINK.
  • If the email is unsolicited, never download any attachment or follow any link at all.
  • Even if the email address is familiar, use caution when downloading attachments, in case a colleague or friend has had their email hijacked. If the attachment is a .zip or a .exe file, it may be dangerous.

The best way to protect yourself and your business against potential attacks like these is with a comprehensive security solution. Our anti-malware software will help prevent, detect, and resolve issues like viruses, and our backup solution will ensure that, even if your computers are infected by a virus, you can restore your data and easily get your computers back at their best.

Don’t leave yourself vulnerable to cybercriminals looking to exploit you! Call us by phone or send us an email. Find out how to protect your business from those looking to do you harm.

Save YOUR Business from Losing Market Share & Customer Trust in the Wake of Data Breach!

Posted by on 12:56 pm in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Data BreachWhile businesses are increasingly aware of the many dangers that cyber-attacks can present to their company, it seems that they still aren’t entirely sure how to deal with data loss or breaches. The majority of modern businesses workings are dealt with online, and if a malware attack or other bugs enter their network, they can be left completely crippled. According to a study by the Ponemon Institute conducted for HP, seventy percent of the 495 executives surveyed believe that their companies don’t fully understand the risks that they can be exposed to as a result of a data breach.

You can minimize the risk of a data breach and ensure your company is well equipped to deal with the fallout by follow a few simple steps:

  • Understand the Threats

Be proactive and make sure that you and your employees understand the risks they face. Identifying the most sensitive and important data in your network is imperative so that you can devise a plan to back it up before an attack occurs.

  • Protect Yourself

Making sure that adequate security measures are in place in case of an attack is crucial. One way to do this is to have a third party provide recommendations on the strength of your already-implemented security practices, and perhaps to suggest further measures.

  • Keep Updated

Meet regularly with your board of directors, your company’s CEO, and your I.T. security team to keep everyone updated on potential security and online threats. This is a good way to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that all parties are prepared for a potential breach.

  • Test Yourself

The best way to determine how ready you are for an attack is a drill. Forensics technologies and expertise should be part of the response plan so that they can determine the cause of a breach as soon as it happens.

  • Train Your Staff

Reduce employee mistakes and negligence in the handling of sensitive information with regular training and awareness programs. This can help to prevent any careless errors such as opening an e-mail containing data-destroying malware.

  • Centralize Leadership

Selecting a security leader who is supported by an expert staff is the easiest way to deal with incident response. Should your company fall victim to an online threat, having a pre-appointed and unified team to deal with the issue will ensure a quick response.

An attack or breach of your company’s systems is something no one wants to think is possible, but in today’s technology age, it’s a very real threat. For more information on how to prevent and deal with attacks or data breach issues, contact us by email or speak with us directly by phone.

Think Before You Swipe: 3 Shocking Places You Never Realized Were Dangerous for Using YOUR Debit Card!

Posted by on 9:46 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Credit Card SkimmingWould you feel comfortable handing a thief access to your checking account? No? We don’t blame you. As data breaches continue to rise, there’s a lot of focus on using credit cards safely, but debit cards can actually present a greater risk. How? Well, credit card users can simply decline charges and not pay the bill until the issue is resolved, whereas debit cards draw cash directly from the account and not much can be done on the users part.

Unfortunately, you’re probably using your debit card in a risky manner and leaving yourself open to financial theft if you’re swiping in one of these places:

  1. Skimming ATMS:

Did you know some ATMs give thieves a great opportunity to skim debit card information from unsuspecting victims? Essentially, skimming occurs when a thief installs a device that reads magnetic strips on debit cards. If you’re using an open ATM that’s easily accessible, always look around and make sure it doesn’t seem beaten up or askew. For a safer alternative, go to your local branch ATM as they’re typically more secure.

  1. Online stores:

For those who prefer not to use credit cards, debit cards can be convenient for shopping online. Unfortunately, shopping online is a dangerous way of making purchases; whether your computer is infected with malware, a man-in-the-middle attack occurs, or the merchant’s database gets hacked, you’re taking a big risk. Make sure online stores are completely safe before making any purchases.

  1. Restaurants:

When you’re going to a restaurant, always keep in mind that cashiers tend to keep customer payment information on file, in order to make any potential future orders simpler and more convenient. If the restaurant is small, instead of a chain restaurant, it’s even more dangerous as small businesses often don’t safeguard payment data as much as necessary. Whenever possible, pay with cash instead.

Financial fraud is always a scary possibility, however, taking the right precautions and being careful can minimize the risk of having your checking account fall into the wrong hands. To learn more, give us a call or send us an email. Our team of cyber security experts are happy to help you keep your sensitive information safe.

Is Your Router Opening Your Business to Cybercrime? You Might Have Been Given the Misfortune Cookie!

Posted by on 10:22 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Misfortune Cookie Security FlawA critical flaw has been discovered in over 12 million routers that could open up a network to easy hijacking by cybercriminals. Is your business safe from cybercrime? Find out for certain with the security experts at {company} – call us at {phone} today for a vulnerability assessment.

The security researchers at Check Point Software Technologies have identified a vulnerability in many small office / home office (SOHO) routers that is incredibly easy to exploit. Over 12 million routers in 189 countries have already been determined to be affected by the flaw, and more are being discovered now.

Dubbed the “Misfortune Cookie” by Check Point, the flaw is ridiculously simple to exploit:

  • An attacker simply needs to send a single packet to your public IT address. No complex hacking tools or techniques are required – just a modern web browser.

That’s it. That’s all it could take to compromise your business. Essentially, the flaw is due to an error in the HTTP cookie management system in the software of the routers, allowing attacks to send a specially designed cookie to the public IP address of a router. Once the cookie is in, the attacker can take complete control of the network with full administrative privileges. This could allow all sorts of potential cybercrime, including:

  • Theft of usernames and passwords.
  • Monitoring and theft of business and personal data, including sensitive financial information.
  • Easier attacking and hijacking of devices connected to the network, including smartphones and tablets.
  • The easy ability to install malware and use business computers for further cybercrime.

This flaw has been in existence since 2002, and affects over 200 different router models, including TP-Link, Huawei, SmartAX, Zyxel, Netcomm, Edimax, and more. You can find a full list of compromised devices here.

What Can You Do?

If your device is included on the compromised list, you should immediately contact your router manufacturer for a firmware upgrade to address the flaw. If you’re not able to connect with the manufacturer, you should immediately contact us for assistance. The window for cybercriminals to exploit Misfortune Cookie is closing, and that means they will be looking for any and all opportunities to get whatever benefits they can from any vulnerable systems they can find.

Don’t take your security for granted! To discover if you’re at risk from Misfortune Cookie or any other security vulnerabilities, contact us today.