Are you still using that old computer that is not-so gracefully aging and devaluing? Maybe you are running important programs on older machines with old operating systems since they “still work fine.” While it might still help you get the job done, there may be hidden security risks that can lead to major problems later on.

What is firmware?

Firmware is a basic type of software that is embedded into every piece of hardware. It cannot be uninstalled or removed, and is only compatible with the make and model of the hardware it is installed on. Think of it like a translator between your stiff and unchanging hardware and your fluid and evolving software.

 

For example, Windows can be installed on almost any computer, and it helps users surf the internet and watch YouTube videos. But how does Windows know how to communicate and connect with your hardware router to do all that? Firmware on your router allows you to update and modify settings so other, higher-level pieces of software can interact with it.

 

Why is firmware security important?

 

Firmware installed on a router is a great example of why addressing this issue is so critical. When you buy a router and plug it in, it should be able to connect devices to your wireless network with almost zero input from you. However, leaving default settings such as the username and password for web browser access will leave you woefully exposed.

 

And the username and password example is just one of hundreds. More experienced hackers can exploit holes that even experienced users have no way of fixing. The only way to secure these hardware security gaps is with firmware updates from the device’s manufacturer.

 

How do I protect myself?

 

Firmware exploits are not rare occurrences. Not too long ago, a cybersecurity professional discovered that sending a 33-character text message to a router generated an SMS response that included the administrator username and password.

 

Unfortunately, every manufacturer has different procedures for checking and updating firmware. The best place to start is Googling “[manufacturer name] router firmware update.” For instance, if you have a DLink of Netgear router, typing “192.168.0.1” into a web browser will allow you to access its firmware and update process, assuming you have the username and password.

 

Remember that routers are just one example of how firmware affects your cybersecurity posture. Hard drives, motherboards, and even mice and keyboards need to be checked. Routinely checking all your devices for firmware updates should be combined with the same process you use to check for software updates.

It can be a tedious process, and we highly recommend hiring an IT provider to take care of it for you. If you’re curious about what else we can do to help, give us a call today!

 

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

 

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

 

It doesn’t matter what the size of your business is when it means everything to you. Small business owners are particularly invested in the companies that they have created with their own imaginations, hard work, countless hours and occasionally, their life savings. Being able to protect your business’s computer network can be vital in maintaining a smooth working environment while protecting your data and your customers.

 

Starting and growing a small business takes massive effort, a willingness to take a chance, and financial capital. Many owners don’t believe that they have room in their already tight budgets to spend on their IT support services company but they may be wrong.

 

When considering the option between hiring an in-house IT person or turning to a service provider, it is important to look at the long-term benefits and expenses side by side. With an in-house employee, you are relying on the expertise and experience of only one person and not a network of highly trained specialists. A monthly salary paid to an onsite employee may seem preferable than dishing out for a more complex team to monitor your systems. In actual fact, the amount that is spent on salary, bonuses and health benefits can cost you more than investing in a tailored security plan that meets your business’s needs.

 

A professional IT service provider will work with you to evaluate the type and complexity of plan that will keep you protected and on budget. Each business has individual needs based on not only the type of commerce you are involved in but what your plans are for future expansion. Having a solid infrastructure and security plan that will not only protect your interests but allow your company to grow is vital to keeping things running smoothly on a daily basis.

 

Some of the benefits and services that are provided by professional service providers, like GCInfotech, are listed below. Consider how these services could be of value to your organization.

 

  • Maintenance of network infrastructure
  • Hardware maintenance and support
  • Security management
  • Anti-virus systems management
  • Network and firewall configurations
  • Software maintenance & upgrades
  • Data backup
  • User setup
  • Documentation of changes
  • Disaster Recovery plan management

 

With new technology firmly entrenched in the business world, many companies are finding that nearly all of their business dealings are done in the cloud or on a private network. The risk of system failure or a breach of privacy is an all so real threat in the marketplace today. Investing to a proper degree in protecting your data, customers and the well-being of your business should be a priority for all entrepreneurs.

 

Putting your trust in a professional company with extensive experience, highly trained experts, and a solid back up team that is ready to help is an advantage that every business owner would like to have in their corner. When you work with the best, nothing can stand in your way.

 

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

 

Published with consideration from TechMoran SOURCE

 

Contrary to what you may believe, cyberthreats don’t only target Windows computers. Even small-business users can click a seemingly harmless link and become a victim of a cyberattack. If you don’t want this to happen to you, there are a few simple things you can do.

Check your Privacy Settings

Begin by making sure that your Mac settings are set up properly to keep your information safe. Click System Preferences (the gear icon along the bottom of your screen), then open the Security & Privacy pane, which contains four tabs that allow you to manage different security features. You should do this with an administrator account so the changes affect everyone who uses this computer.

Take Advantage of the Firewall

One of the biggest steps you can take to protect your computer is to enable macOS’s built-in firewall to block unwelcome network connections. Just go to the Firewall tab in the Security & Privacy settings, click on the padlock at the bottom of the screen, and key in your username and password. Then enable firewall by clicking on Turn On Firewall.

To modify its settings, click on Firewall Options just below the Turn Off Firewall button. A dialog box will pop up and you can click on Enable Stealth Mode. Turning on Stealth Mode will make your Mac invisible on public networks (like an unsecured coffeeshop WiFi).
In the Firewall Options, you will also find a list of services and apps that are allowed to receive inbound connections. If you want to add an app or service to the list, just click the ‘+’ button below the list itself. However, we recommend keeping this list as short as possible because any app connected to the list can be exploited.

Set Up a Firmware Password

Nowadays, macOS/Mac OS X automatically turns on FileVault encryption. This means that it encrypts the hard drive by default, and the only way it can be accessed is by logging in. Keep in mind, though, that this feature won’t necessarily save your account in case someone reinstalls macOS/OS X, or when they use a USB memory stick to boot the Mac and possibly remove all data from your hard disk.
To increase protection, set up a firmware password. To do so, restart your computer, and then press and hold down Cmd+R before the Apple logo shows up on screen. You can let go of the keys once the progress bar pops up.
Choose your location and language when asked, then click on the Utilities>Firmware Password Utility menu. Simply follow the instructions here, and make sure to never forget or misplace your password. Forgetting your firmware password can be quite a hassle because only Apple technicians can recover it.
Ensure that your confidential data remains confidential simply by performing minor tweaks on the system settings. It takes only a few minutes of your time to ensure lasting online protection. If setting up a firewall or firmware password sounds a little too advanced for you, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experts.
To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

Con artists have created a new method of deceiving Chrome users by freezing their browsers and displaying a security notification with bogus tech-support contact details. Their ultimate goal is to scare potential victims and trick them into dialing the fake hotline number on the screen.

The End Game
The scam works by displaying an error message indicating a bogus security breach incident that renders a browser unusable. These scammers capitalize on the fact that a serious crash can’t be solved by simply closing the site, thereby sending the users into a panic. This encourages them to dial the number listed on the warning message.
On the other end of the line, the scammers would pose as Microsoft or Apple representatives to convince users into surrendering their credit card details to repair a non-existing security issue. The scams are generally carried out through legitimate sites or malicious ads that have been hacked.

The Ingenious Process
This new scam operates against Chrome by corrupting the window.navigator.msSaveOrOpenBlob programming interface, which basically uses it as a form of distraction. The hackers manipulate the browser and forces it to save a random document on a disk repeatedly at super fast intervals that are impossible to notice. After five to 10 seconds, Chrome will be completely unresponsive.

The Easy Fix
To recover, Windows users simply have to open Windows Task Manager (press ctrl + shift + esc keys) and stop the process there. On the other hand, macOS users just need to wait until a system message prompts them to close the unresponsive Chrome tab. Typically, the latter is a more appealing option since users would have the freedom to close only the corrupted page. Manually closing the whole browser means possibly losing unsaved files in any open Windows.
When faced with IT-related issues, you need to determine how you can approach them calmly. The threats in the digital world may be terrifying and intimidating, but causing a panic in your workplace isn’t the answer. Call us as soon as any problems arise, and we’ll help you as soon as we can. We can even hook you up with other security measures to beef up your network security.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment
Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

According to security researchers, a bulk of the world’s computer processors have gaping flaws. The flaws, grouped under the term ‘Spectre,’ affect many critical systems including web browsers like Chrome, Safari, Microsoft Edge, and Firefox. Here’s a quick rundown of these major vulnerabilities and what you can do to secure them.

What is Spectre?
To understand this unprecedented vulnerability, you need to know some computer chip basics. Modern chips try to speed up their work by storing information related to predictable and repetitive processes. Whenever CPUs perform calculations ahead of time that end up being unnecessary, the data is thrown away into a supposedly secure storage cache.

Hackers can gain access to the discarded data by using malware to create digital backdoors. From there, they can simply sneak in, sift through the private information, and even trick the processor into throwing away even more sensitive information. This is known as a Spectre attack.
Though the exploit is highly technical and difficult to execute, researchers said Spectre affects all modern processors, including those developed by Intel, AMD, and ARM.

How does it affect browsers?
As mentioned, hackers would need to install malware on a device to perform a Spectre attack. One tactic experts found effective is if hackers build a malicious program and embed it on a website. Should anyone visit the rogue website, their browser will automatically run the malicious program.

Once inside, the attacker can use Spectre to gain full access to keystrokes, encryption keys, and login credentials.
So far, there is no evidence of Spectre attacks actively being used to steal data from web browsers, but they are difficult to detect. Experts also predict hackers will likely develop specialized malware now that this information is available to the public.

Is there a way to protect myself?
Fortunately, major browser developers were quick to release updates as soon as the Spectre attack was discovered.

Mozilla also has security features to prevent some Spectre attacks, but announced a full-blown solution is in the works.
As for Chrome, users can expect an update as early as January 23. But for the time being Google recommends enabling the Site Isolation feature, which limits how much access browser plugins have to your computer.

This feature can be enabled by going to your address bar and entering: chrome://flags/#enable-site-per-process.
Even though the updates may affect browser performance, it’s a small price to pay compared with having your credit card or social security number stolen.
Like it or not, Spectre is just one of the many threats targeting your web browsers. That’s why you should call us today. We offer expert advice and cutting-edge solutions to make sure your browsing experience is a pleasant and safe one.
To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

Top 10 Things Every Business Owner Must Know About Hiring an Honest, Competent, Responsive and Fairly Priced IT Company

Choosing a computer support company isn’t easy. There are no shortages of horror stories about incompetent computer repair “gurus” bungling jobs and causing MORE problems as a result of their lack of knowledge. I’m sure if you talk to your own friends and colleagues you will get an ear-full of the unfortunate experiences they have encountered in this area.

Why is this? Because it is not regulated like many other professional service industries, which means ANYONE can claim they are a “computer repair expert.” In fact, a lot of the businesses in this industry started because the owner was fired or laid off from their job and couldn’t find work anywhere else, or they hire people who are not properly trained to support a business.

Unfortunately, they will try to take advantage of trusting business owners who simply do not have the ability to determine whether or not they know what they are doing. From misleading information, unqualified technicians, poor management and terrible customer service, we’ve seen it all.

This is why it’s so important for you to arm yourself with the information below:
Here is my list of the Top 10 things you should look for (or look out for!) when hiring an IT company…

10. They own all the IT problems.
When something goes wrong with your Internet service, phone systems, printers or other IT services, a good IT company should own the problem for its clients (versus saying “that’s not our problem to fix”). As a business owner, you shouldn’t have to try and resolve any of these issues on your own – that’s just plain old good service and something many computer guys won’t do.

9. They conduct periodic test restores of your backups.
The worst time to “test” a backup is when you desperately need it. A proactive IT company will insist on performing regular “fire drills” and perform a test restore from backup to make sure your data can be recovered in the event of an emergency.

8. They offer a TRULY all-inclusive support plan.
Many IT companies say they offer all-inclusive plans, but they are saddled with “gotchas” hidden in the fine print. An authentic all-inclusive managed services plan is just that – all inclusive.

7. They provide you with a monthly report of your network.
A good IT company should provide you with a detailed report each month that shows an overall health score of your network that includes all updates, security patches, and status of every machine in your network so your know FOR SURE that your systems have been secured and updated.

6. They monitor your network 24-7-365.
Your IT company should continuously watch over your network to look for developing problems, security issues and other problems to address them BEFORE they turn into bigger problems.

5. They consistently (and proactively) offer new ways to improve your network’s performance instead of waiting until you have a problem to make recommendations.
A great IT company will invest in their people with training and education to understand the latest offerings that will fit into their client’s businesses. They will also conduct monthly on-site visits with their clients to look for new ways to help improve their operations, lower costs, increase efficiencies and resolve any problems that may be arising.

4. They avoid “geek-speak.”
A competent IT company should take the time to explain what they are doing and answer your questions in terms you can understand. You should never be made to feel stupid for asking questions. And they should meet with you on a regular basis to make sure you are using technology to grow your business.

3. They have a written, guaranteed response time to your calls.
Your IT company should have a technician working on your problem within 60 minutes or less of your call. A great IT company will have this written into their service agreements.

2. They answer their phone live.
When you have a computer problem that is keeping you from your work, it is especially frustrating to have to leave a voicemail and wait for a call back. A responsive IT company knows this and will answer your call live, every time 24/7.

1. They will offer to complete a FREE audit of your network.
A truly competent IT company will offer to come out to your office and conduct a complementary assessment of your entire network to help you look for any potential issues you are facing, or to at least verify that your current IT company has all your bases covered.

The absolute best way a business can ensure that their systems and networks are secure is to work with an IT partner like us. Our managed services can help ensure that you have proper security measures in place and the systems are set up and managed properly. Tech peace of mind means the focus can be on creating a successful company instead. . Contact us today to learn more.

Published with consideration Joanna Sobran from HuffingtonPost.com. SOURCE

Picture this: you start your computer and wait. And wait. And wait some more. When your desktop finally shows its face, things don’t get any better. Your Internet is sluggish, your programs are taking forever to load, and your cursor is dragging 20 seconds behind your mouse. You might have tried to open too many programs at once. Or…

You might be infected.

Sometimes a malware infection is plain as day. Other times it’s a silent killer. If you want to know whether or not your machine is sick, you first need to understand the symptoms. So let’s take a look at the telltale signs.

Blatant signs of infection

You’ve got ransomware

This one’s the most obvious. Ransomware authors want to make it perfectly clear that you have a malware infection—that’s how they make their money. If you’ve got ransomware, you’ll get a pop-up that tells you your files have been encrypted and there’s a deadline to pay a ransom in order to get them back.

Browser redirects

You click on a link after doing a Google search on “my computer’s acting strange.” Link opens to a different page. You head back to your search results and try a different link. Same thing happens. Over and over you’re redirected to a different site from the one you’re trying to reach. That, my friend, is a malware infection.

Different home page

Say you set your home page to be your favorite sports news site. But for some reason, Yahoo.com keeps coming up. You also notice some new toolbars (rows of selectable icons) below your browser window that you can’t get rid of. You could either have a major case of the forgets, or, more likely, you’ve got an infection.

Bombarded with pop-ups

We’re talking: can’t escape. Close one, another one opens. Or you’re not even online, and you’re getting pop-up messages on your system. Some sites admittedly have terrible ad experiences that feel like something nefarious is going on (but really isn’t). Most of the time, if your screen is loaded with pop-ups, you’re looking at an adware or spyware infection.

Less obvious signs of infection

Computer running slow

Lots of things can contribute to a slow computer. You could be running too many programs at once, you may be running out of hard drive space, or there’s not enough free memory. If none of those are true for you and your computer is still slow, it’s possible you’re infected.

New, unfamiliar icons on desktop

Maybe your nephew Timmy jumped on without your knowledge and downloaded a photo editing program so he could swap his face with his dog’s face and share it on social media. Or perhaps you downloaded a legitimate piece of software and a Potentially Unwanted Program (PUP) hitched a ride. If it’s the latter, your computer could be weighed down by PUPs, which Malwarebytes and many other security companies consider malware.

Constant crashing

There are a couple reasons why your applications or system might crash, including potential incompatibility between programs or software and hardware that needs updating. However, some forms of malware, such as rootkits, dig deep into the Windows kernel and latch on, creating instability.

Web browser freezes or is unresponsive

Slow Internet could be just that—check your wifi signal or your download speeds with your Internet provider to be sure. But if everything checks out and your browser grinds to a halt, it could be a sign of infection.

Lots of bounced email

We’ve all mistakenly typed in the wrong email address and hit “send.” But if you’re getting a suspiciously high number of bounces, or emails that return to your inbox undelivered, something else is going on.

First, your email address could have been hacked and is now being used to spam the crap out of your contacts list. Or malware could be the culprit. How? An infected computer sends out emails using the addresses it found in your computer. If the “To” address doesn’t work, the message bounces back to the “From” address, which is often yours.

Mobile infections

Battery life drains quickly

Oh yes, your cell phone is not immune to malware. If you notice your battery life draining quickly, it could be that you’ve got some hefty programs open, such as games or music streaming services. It could also be that your battery is on its last leg. Unfortunately, the third possibility is mobile malware.

Unusually large bill

This one’s pretty clear-cut. Pay close attention to your cell phone bill. Are you being charged for messages you didn’t send? Is your data plan getting busted? Are you getting texts from your provider saying you owe money for something you didn’t purchase? Mobile malware is to blame.

You can protect against mobile threats using anti-malware software designed specifically for smartphones and tablets. For example, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Mobile safeguards Android devices from malware, infected applications, and unauthorized surveillance.

Stealth infections

No sign at all

Is your computer running like a smooth criminal? No issues whatsoever? You still might be infected. Many forms of malware, including botnets and others designed to steal your data, are nearly impossible to detect unless you run a scan.

In fact, whether it’s plainly obviously or there’s no real sign of malware, you should be regularly scanning your computer with security programs like Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.

Should your files be attacked and encrypted by any type of malware, then the first thing you should do is to contact us. We can work with you to help find a solution that will not end up in you having to pay the ransom to recover your files.

If you are looking to learn more about malware and how to boost your security and protect your data and systems, then let GCInfotech be your first line of tech defense.

Published with consideration from Malwarebytes Labs. SOURCE

You just got back from lunch and are settling down into your office chair. You open up your planner to check your schedule, and then wake your PC from sleep. Time to check emails. But wait, something’s wrong. You’re…waiting. Your computer is moving as slow as a brontosaurus and the problem appears to go deeper than internet speed. What happened? When a PC slowdown strikes, there can be a number of culprits. Here are a few ideas to alleviate the problem, so you can get back to business in no time.

slowPCRestart

The most obvious but often overlooked fix is to simply restart your PC. Many people get into the habit of leaving their PC on 24/7 and, instead of turning it off, just leave it in sleep mode when they’re not using it. However, restarting it is like vacuuming a carpet or mopping a floor. If you let either of them sit for a while, a lot of temporary gunk builds up. A simple restart can help clean your computer up but, unlike with household chores, you won’t get dirty in the process.

Uninstall new stuff

Did you recently install new hardware or software? If you did, this could be causing your slowdown and, if you don’t need it, it’s worth uninstalling it. Here’s how:

  1. Go to your Control Panel’s Programs and Features section.
  2. If you think a driver is slowing you down, open Device Manager and double click the new driver.
  3. A dialog box will open. Click the Driver tab followed by the Roll Back Driver button.
  4. If that button is grayed out, it means the problem isn’t with that driver. If not, you can continue with uninstalling.

Using the Device Manager, you can also uninstall new hardware.

Free up hard drive space

A lack of hard drive space can slow your PC down as well. To run your system smoothly, it’s recommended you have 15% hard drive space free. Having this extra space gives room for temporary files and swapping.

If you don’t have the space, you may need to purchase a new hard drive or transfer some of your files and programs over to an external one.

Search for the bloated program that’s eating your memory

Another potential problem could be a dysfunctional program that is using up too much of your PC’s memory. To see if this is the source of your problem, go to Windows Task Manager and click the Processes tab. Then look in the CPU or memory column. Either of these will show you if there’s one program that’s eating all your memory.

To solve this problem, click on the program in Windows Task Manager; and then hit End Process. Keep in mind that this is only a temporary fix. You’ll have to uninstall this program and replace it with something that will run more efficiently.

Scan for viruses

Both viruses and malware can also slow down your computer. To check if you’ve been infected, run a system scan. If you do have malicious software on your PC, and your antivirus software hasn’t effectively detected or removed it, contact a local IT Services Provider who will be able to clean your computer and free it of potentially harmful malware. They can also advise you to a reputable solution to avoid future issues.

Want more tips on how to resolve PC slowness and other computer issues? Worried you may have been infected by a virus? Get in touch with us today for help and advice.

Your old PC may be costing you more than you think

In today‘s era of notebooks, tablets, and smartphones, mobility is a high priority-making small businesses more dynamic and responsive in an on-the-go world.

That reality, however, should not detract from the important role desktop PCs still play in today‘s business environment, delivering more power, more robust upgrade options, and more functionality compared to their portable counterparts.

While large enterprises typically refresh their desktop PCs once every three years, small businesses tend to hold on to their PCs for five to seven years [1]. Older hardware, however, often slows operations and sparks hidden costs. In fact, PCs more than four-and-a-half years old are estimated to cost 50 percent more to support and take 50 percent longer to perform many tasks [2].

So while retaining those still-functioning workhorse PCs purchased during the early-2000s might seem a prudent move, their continued use could be costing you more than you think. Here’s how:

slow-pc-solutionsRevealed Hidden Cost #1: Slow performance

As a PC ages, it slows and struggles to keep pace with current technology and business needs. Applications take longer to load, heat buildup causes Windows, the mouse, or keyboard to be unresponsive. Compatibility issues between older PCs and new software and printers all drain time, frustrate the user, and undermine productivity.

Modern desktops respond to today‘s multitasking, collaborative, and fast-paced business environment with productivity-driving features that allow workers to create rather than wait. New features include: touchscreens, fast-charging USB ports, and solid-state drives that reduce wait times when opening files or switching applications.

Revealed Hidden Cost #2: More maintenance

On average, 42 productive work hours are lost each year while an older computer is being repaired-two times that of a newer model. Annual maintenance costs for an older PC, meanwhile, sit at $561, about the cost of a new, mid-range desktop [3].

New desktops deliver a greater value in the present and the future. Their longer lifespan, platform stability, and increased durability stretch your budget further, and reduce the burden on your IT department.

Revealed Hidden Cost #3: Lower efficiency

Today‘s desktop PCs reflect the modern age with space- and energy-saving features unmatched by their older, bulkier peers, some of which have limited ports or require adapters to accommodate modern needs.

New form factors, such as All-in-Ones and mini desktops, embrace sleek, streamlined construction, reduce wire clutter with integrated components, and adapt to the task at hand. In addition to more efficient use of space, modern desktops also require less energy, as the power needed to perform a task requiring a fixed number of computations continues to fall in half every 18 months [4].

Revealed Hidden Cost #4: Security vulnerabilities

Hackers continue to view small businesses as easy targets, even more so following Microsoft’s end-of-support for Windows XP in 2014. According to Microsoft, existing XP users are “five times more vulnerable to security risks and viruses,” which makes moving to a new PC that can support a current operating system like Windows 8.1 the safest play [5].

Some new PC designs include built-in hardware and software security to help protect your devices, identity, and data. Most new PCs come with bundled tools that offer security from the start, with enhanced protection against virus attacks and other security threats, and is designed to help prevent data loss, and reduce downtime.

Doing the math

While those existing desktops had their time and place, the older hardware may now be hampering your team’s performance. Running a quick cost-benefit analysis addressing issues such as maintenance and lost productivity against the cost of new desktops might prove eye opening and inspire action.

With modern business-oriented desktop PCs, your small business can reap the benefits of technology’s rapid innovation with improved productivity, reduced costs, heightened efficiencies, and stronger security to keep the business running at an optimal level.

If you are looking to learn more about the replacement options that are available today, then let GCInfotech be your first call.

[1] Intel, How much is it costing your business to run old PCs?, 2013
[2] The Legislative Budget Board, Review of Replacement Schedules for Information Technology EquipmentJanuary 2013
[3] Techaisle.com, The Ageing PC Effect–Exposing Financial Impact for Small Businesses
[4] MIT Technology Review, The Computing Trend that Will Change Everything, 2012
[5] Microsoft, Windows XP support has ended

Published with permission from HP.com. SOURCE

FirewallCartoonWith the ever growing number of security threats faced by businesses around the world, the vast majority of business owners have adopted some form of security measures in an effort to keep their organizations secure. But, how do you know the measures you’ve implemented are actually keeping your systems safe? Here are five ways you can tell if your security measures aren’t sufficient.

1. Open wireless networks

Wireless networks are one of the most common ways businesses allow their employees to get online. With one main Internet line and a couple of wireless routers, you can theoretically have the whole office online. This method of connecting does save money, but there is an inherent security risk with this and that is an unsecure network.

Contrary to popular belief, simply plugging in a wireless router and creating a basic network won’t mean you are secure. If you don’t set a password on your routers, then anyone within range can connect. Hackers and criminal organizations are known to look for, and then target these networks. With fairly simple tools and a bit of know-how, they can start capturing data that goes in and out of the network, and even attacking the network and computers attached. In other words, unprotected networks are basically open invitations to hackers.

Therefore, you should take steps to ensure that all wireless networks in the office are secured with passwords that are not easy to guess. For example, many Internet Service Providers who install hardware when setting up networks will often just use the company’s main phone number as the password to the router. This is too easy to work out, so changing to a password that is a lot more difficult to guess is makes sense.

2. Email is not secure

Admittedly, most companies who have implemented a new email system in the past couple of years will likely be fairly secure. This is especially true if they use cloud-based options, or well-known email systems like Exchange which offer enhanced security and scanning, while using modern email transition methods.

The businesses at risk are those using older systems like POP, or systems that don’t encrypt passwords (what are known as ‘clear passwords’). If your system doesn’t encrypt information like this, anyone with the right tools and a bit of knowledge can capture login information and potentially compromise your systems and data.

If you are using older email systems, it is advisable to upgrade to newer ones, especially if they don’t encrypt important information.

3. Mobile devices that aren’t secure enough

Mobile devices, like tablets and smartphones, are being used more than ever before in business, and do offer a great way to stay connected and productive while out of the office. The issue with this however is that if you use your tablet or phone to connect to office systems, and don’t have security measures in place, you could find networks compromised.

For example, if you have linked your work email to your tablet, but don’t have a screen lock enabled and you lose your device anyone who picks it up will have access to your email and potentially sensitive information.

The same goes if you accidentally install a fake app with malware on it. You could find your systems infected. Therefore, you should take steps to ensure that your device is locked with at least a passcode, and you have anti-virus and malware scanners installed and running on a regular basis.

4. Anti-virus scanners that aren’t maintained

These days, it is essential that you have anti-virus, malware, and spyware scanners installed on all machines and devices in your company and that you take the time to configure these properly. It could be that scans are scheduled during business hours, or they just aren’t updated. If you install these solutions onto your systems, and they start to scan during work time, most employees will just turn the scanner off thus leaving systems wide-open.

The same goes for not properly ensuring that these systems are updated. Updates are important for scanners, because they implement new virus databases that contain newly discovered malware and viruses, and fixes for them.

Therefore, scanners need to be properly installed and maintained if they are going to even stand a chance of keeping systems secure.

5. Lack of firewalls

A firewall is a networking security tool that can be configured to block certain types of network access and data from leaving the network or being accessed from outside of the network. A properly configured firewall is necessary for network security, and while many modems include this, it’s often not robust enough for business use.

What you need instead is a firewall that covers the whole network at the point where data enters and exits (usually before the routers). These are business-centric tools that should be installed by an IT partner like us, in order for them to be most effective.

How do I ensure proper business security?

The absolute best way a business can ensure that their systems and networks are secure is to work with an IT partner like us. Our managed services can help ensure that you have proper security measures in place and the systems are set up and managed properly. Tech peace of mind means the focus can be on creating a successful company instead. Contact us today to learn more.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. SOURCE