Although more generally secure than Windows computers and Android devices, Apple computers and devices have security threats, too. Thinking that Macs and iPhones don’t need protection is just asking for trouble. Follow these tips to bolster the security of all your business gadgets.

Keep abreast of current security threats

Educate your organization about the most common ways systems are infected or hacked. Apple users in your organization must be aware of recent security updates on iPhones and Macs, for instance.

  • iPhones – Security and privacy are key concerns with every iOS update, which is why Apple highlighted its privacy and security features when it released iOS 13, the latest iOS version. However, in June, it was reported that 38% of Apple iOS apps contained critical vulnerabilities, which was only slightly lower compared to Android’s 43%. The vulnerabilities were reportedly caused by weaknesses in security mechanisms.
  • Macs – In 2017’s WannaCry/WannaCrypt ransomware attacks, only Windows machines were affected. This shows that Apple does a fairly good job of guarding against threats. That said, Macs are certainly not immune to malware and viruses. In 2019, a malware called OSX/CrescentCore was reportedly found on several websites and worked by installing an infected file or a Safari extension.

Practice secure web browsing

The vast majority of security breaches happen when a user installs programs, knowingly or unknowingly, or clicks on links in emails or on the Web that contain malware. Take these precautions to avoid intrusions:

  1. Never open email attachments from unknown senders especially those with file extensions that are for programs, i.e., DMG. These include attachments in emails from large companies and financial institutions. When in doubt, contact the sender to verify.
  2. Always hover over links before you click on them. If you receive an email with a link in it, hover over the URL to see where it links to and look for spelling or grammar mistakes, or any other indication that it’s a fraudulent link.
  3. Don’t automatically open any downloaded apps. Verify an app by taking a look at its name and its source information. If the site appears to be different from where you downloaded it, the app may be infected.
  4. When you try to watch content from any random website, many sites will ask you to download a plugin or video player. It’s best to avoid these sites altogether because many of them are known to host malware that can install itself.
  5. When in doubt, don’t take action. If you’re unsure about a link or app you are being asked to download, simply don’t click on it or download it.

Install antivirus scanners

It’s amazing how many Mac users don’t bother with an antivirus scanner. These tools are indispensable for keeping your systems and data secure. There are a number of excellent scanners out there, so make sure to pick a solution that covers both desktop and mobile devices to ensure optimal security. We can also help you pick the best solution for your business.

Consult IT experts

Strengthen the security of your computers, mobile devices, and network by working with an IT expert like us. We take the time to get to know how you use your devices to discover your security needs and recommend an integrated, effective solution for you. 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

Microsoft has warned Windows users to install an “emergency” out-of-band security patch.

The software giant said in an advisory that a security flaw in some versions of Internet Explorer could allow an attacker to remotely run malicious code on an affected device. A user could be stealthily infected by visiting a malicious web page or by being tricked into clicking on a link in an email.

“An attacker who successfully exploited the vulnerability could take control of an affected system,” said Microsoft.

Microsoft said the vulnerability was under active exploitation, though details of the flaw had not been made public.

More than 7 percent of all browser users are running affected versions of Internet Explorer 9, 10 and 11, according to recent data. All supported versions of Windows are affected, including Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, as well as several Windows Server versions.

Most users can install the patches using Windows Update.

Microsoft also issued a fix for its in-built malware scanner Windows Defender, which if exploited could have triggered a denial-of-service condition resulting in the app failing to work.

The company said no action was required by users to remediate the bug in Windows Defender.

It’s rare but not unheard of for Microsoft to release emergency security patches outside of its typical monthly patching cycle. The company typically releases security fixes in the second week of each month on its so-called Patch Tuesday, but will also release fixes for significant vulnerabilities under active exploitation as soon as they are made available.

Homeland Security warned in its own advisory urging affected users to install the patches.

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 TechCrunch.com  SOURCE

The Windows 7 End of Life date has been announced: January 14, 2020 – even sooner for those who don’t download a recent security update. This means Microsoft will no longer update or support the operating system after that date.

And, while Windows 7 is a decade old at this point – launching on July 22, 2009 – it’s still incredibly popular, with recent reports from Netmarketshare suggesting that Windows 7 is still being used on 39% of all PCs.

So, the news that Windows 7 will no longer be supported by Microsoft means there are many users out there who need to start thinking about finally moving on from their favorite operating system.

If you’re one of those people, in this guide we’ll explain how you can prepare for Windows 7 End of Life. We’ll look at why the end of support for Windows 7 is so important, as well as the options you have, and at how you can go about moving to Windows 10, Microsoft’s most recent operating system, as well as alternative software.

With the Windows 7 End of Life date now rapidly approaching, Microsoft is keen to make sure people know that support for the operating system is ending, and wants to encourage people to move from the operating system.

So, the company is releasing an update to Windows 7 – KB4493132 – which will display notifications reminding Windows 7 users to upgrade to Windows 10 before the End of Life date.

The update is optional, but anyone with automatic updates turned on will receive it. Microsoft promises that the notification won’t be too obtrusive, and you can prevent it from appearing again, but it shows how seriously Microsoft is about getting people to stop using Windows 7.

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 TechRadar.com  SOURCE

Once you’ve unboxed that laptop you just bought, there are important things that need to be done. After installing Windows 10, you must unlock its full potential by customizing some critical settings. You can ask a technician for help with this, but here are a few things you can do on your own.

#1 Check for updates 

Your new laptop should check for updates automatically, but you can also check manually. Just click the gear icon above the Start button to go to the Settings, choose Update & Security > Windows Update, and then click Check for updates. (Or, just type “updates” into the search box, and click Check for updates.)

#2 System restore

If something goes wrong with your laptop, you can save a lot of time if you have a “restore point,” which is like a backup of your entire operating system. To set up a restore point, search for “restore” from the taskbar and click Create a restore point. You’ll be taken to the System Protection tab of the System Properties window.

From there you can choose what you want to be included in the backup and then click the Configure button. Select the radio dial to “Turn on system protection” if it’s not already on. And then you can choose how much disk space to reserve, usually no more than 2 or 3 percent.

#3 Power plan

If you want to prolong your laptop’s battery life, one of the best things you can do is switch the Power Saver, High Performance, and Balanced power plans based on your needs. To choose a plan, right-click the battery icon in the lower-right corner of your screen and click Power settings. Next, click Additional power settings to select a power plan.

#4 App installation tolerance level

To restrict which apps can be installed on your laptop, you can disallow anything that isn’t in the Windows Store. Go to Settings > Apps > Apps & features, and you can choose whether to permit installations from only the Windows Store, any app installations (with a warning), or unrestricted app installations.

#5 Remove bloatware

Vendors package new laptops with lots of trial apps, which are mostly unnecessary and unwanted software called bloatware.

Windows 10 offers an easy way to see which apps are installed on your new laptop and a quick way to uninstall those you don’t want. Head to Settings > Apps > Apps & features and peruse the list. If you don’t want an app and are 100% certain your computer doesn’t need it, click the Uninstall button.

#6 Anti-ransomware

Ransomware is a form of malicious software (or malware) that makes all your data inaccessible until you pay a fee to hackers.

To combat it, type “Windows Defender Security Center” into the search bar at the bottom of your screen, click it and go to “Virus & threat protection”. Here, you’ll be able to enable a new option called “Controlled folder access,” which protects you against ransomware attacks. By default, the Desktop, Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos folders are protected, but you can add others too.

Do you know what settings to change and update to optimize your laptop? This article barely scratches the surface of Window 10’s security and efficiency settings. Call us today for a quick chat with one of our Microsoft experts about taking your operating system to the next level.

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

Servers need to be replaced and/or upgraded at some point. The older the servers are, the harder they become to maintain because finding replacement parts become more time-consuming and costly. What’s more, you could be missing out on new features that could benefit your business if you don’t upgrade your servers. To help you decide if it’s time to replace your server, here are some guide questions.

When do my servers need to be replaced?

This is a difficult question, but there are two factors you will want to consider — age and performance. The useful life of a server is around three years. While it’s not unheard of for servers to function properly beyond year three, relying on them beyond this point can be risky as hardware problems occur more often. This means you will have to deal with costly repairs and possible unpredictable downtime.

Performance is another factor to consider. Even if your servers are only a year old, it doesn’t make sense to keep them around until year three if they are slow and too costly to maintain. It’s important to do a cost-benefit analysis in these situations and look at how much money you will lose in repairs and downtime and then compare it to the cost of buying new hardware.

Do I have an alternative to buying new servers?

Believe it or not, the answer to your server problems might not necessarily be purchasing more physical hardware. One way to avoid this is by embracing virtualization. This process allows your servers to be stored and maintained off-site with everything being delivered to your office via the internet.

There are two notable benefits of virtualizing your servers. First, you don’t have to spend a ton of money on new equipment. Second, virtualization is a scalable technology, meaning you only pay for the data capacity you use. For instance, if you only need two and a half servers, you can do that. This is in contrast to having physical equipment which would require your business to either make do with two servers or splurge and buy the third one even if you didn’t need all of that space.

Of course there are a few things you need to consider before making the switch to server virtualization. One of the biggest issues is security. Ask yourself if you feel comfortable keeping all of your data off-site. While this isn’t a concern for some companies, others may not see this as palatable. There are several workarounds to this issue, including the hybrid option where you keep sensitive data on-site and everything else off-site.

Can I do anything to prevent a full-scale server replacement?

Yes. It’s certainly possible for you to buy some time and give your current servers additional life, but these are short-term fixes, not long-term solutions. Server upgrades are a good place to start if your servers are less than three years old but are degrading in performance. Installing additional CPUs or memory may increase server performance at a fraction of the cost of buying new servers.

You can also utilize old servers for non-critical workloads. It’s possible to extend the life of servers that may have four or five years of wear-and-tear on them via repurposing. Instead of swapping out all of your servers, use the old ones for non-critical processes and purchase new ones to handle critical workloads. This will help you get a better ROI on your technology while avoiding a wholesale hardware purchase which could cripple your budget.

If you have any questions about your servers and how you can increase their performance, get in touch with us today. We can help you procure new hardware or show you the benefits of virtualization.

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

The IT hardware issues your business experienced in previous years should, ideally, be a thing of the past. Although some minor issues may remain, they can be avoided by taking care of your computer hardware. The following checklist can help you better manage your hardware.

✓ Clean up your computer components

Wipe your monitor with clean, static-free fabric; remove excess dirt from your mouse’s exterior; and tidy up your keyboard with compressed air. Don’t forget your computer tower! Dust buildup can block your computer’s air vent and affect its performance. Ensure that your workstation is getting adequate ventilation and isn’t directly exposed to sunlight and other heat sources.

 

✓ Manage your cables

If you’re not giving your computers’ cables the attention they deserve, now’s a good time to do so. Other than wiping the thick coat of dust off of computer cables, consider using cable management solutions that unclutter and untangle messy wires. These don’t just organize and secure your cables, they also help ensure your PCs run quieter and are less prone to overheating as a result of blocked air vents.

 

Planning to relocate or upgrade in the near future? Organizing your computers’ cables now makes future relocation and upgrading processes much easier.

 

✓ Review and update your inventory

Keeping an inventory of all your hardware helps you manage hardware life cycles and purchases, identify items that are near their end of life, and ensure you avoid duplicate purchases of items already in stock.

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Your inventory list should include all owned and leased devices: PCs and laptops, printers and scanners, tablets and smartphones, and modems and other network hardware. Update all your assets’ serial numbers and keep track of their respective users and location.

 

✓ Printer maintenance

Clean the interiors and exteriors of your printers, including paper trays, which are sure to have accumulated dirt from years of use. You should also repair and/or replace parts and accessories such as print heads and cartridges that are no longer in good condition. Should you decide to do a complete printer maintenance, check for the latest software updates for your printers and install them immediately.

 

✓ Implement a hardware policy

This is also a good time to create a technology guideline that your employees can follow to ensure they work efficiently. These guidelines reduce the need to spend on unnecessary repairs, keeping the succeeding year’s checklist shorter. With clear instructions on the proper use, replacement, and storage of your hardware and devices, you’ll be better able to manage your hardware for years to come.

 

With a more organized IT hardware inventory, you have one less thing to worry about. Want to get more in-depth hardware management advice? Call our experts 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

You may think that you’re not online enough to risk your safety, or that you never visit unsafe sites. However, the world wide web is a vast network where the exchange of information is often difficult to track. Here are some good reasons to “go incognito”.

With the headlines about data breaches and cyberattacks greeting you every time you go online, it seems impossible to have a surefire, foolproof way to keep your information secure. Sometimes cyber predators are relatively harmless, but oftentimes, their goal is to steal identities and financial information. Virus scanners and firewalls can definitely help, but here’s an added layer of protection when you go online.

What is private browsing?

Your web browser — whether it be Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Safari, or Opera — stores the addresses of the sites you visit, cookies that track your activity, passwords you’ve used, and temporary files you’ve downloaded.

This can be convenient if you frequently visit certain pages, can’t remember your login details, or if you’re trying to recall a website you visited a few days ago. But if someone else uses or gains access to your computer, your most private (and embarrassing) internet activities are exposed for anyone to see.

With private browsing — also called Incognito Mode in Chrome and InPrivate Browsing in Edge — all the information listed above does not get recorded. In fact, all the websites and information you accessed during a private browsing session is discarded without a trace as soon as you close the browser. This can come in handy when you’re using a public computer because you’re instantly logged out of all the accounts after closing the window.

Private browsing also prevents cookies from being stored on your computer. In a normal browsing session, sites like Facebook will inundate you with highly targeted ads based on the sites and pages you’ve visited. But in private browsing mode, your internet activity won’t be used against you by marketing companies.

Another benefit of private browsing is you can use it to log in to several accounts on the same site, which is useful if you need to log in to two different Google accounts at the same time.

Limitations of private browsing

Although private browsing does prevent your web browser from storing your data, it doesn’t keep your online activities 100% private. If your computer is connected to the company network, system administrators can still keep track of what you’re browsing, even if you’re in Incognito Mode. Also, if spyware or keylogger malware is installed on your computer, hackers will still be able to see what you’re doing online.

A keylogger malware records every key you punched in and may send this information to a predefined email address without you knowing. This means passwords, answers to verification questions, account numbers, credit card details, or even the words you type in a chat can be emailed to someone spying on your online activities.

Even though private browsing has quite a few benefits, you shouldn’t solely depend on it for online privacy. Your computers and mobile devices must be equipped with Virtual Private Networks that encrypt your internet connection and prevent anyone from intercepting your data. And don’t forget to scan your computer for viruses with a strong anti-malware program to keep spyware and other malicious web monitoring software at bay.

If you want to know where you can get these solutions or learn more about web browser security, call us today. We have the tools and expert advice you need to prevent anyone from snooping on your internet browsing.

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

Unless the computer app is critical for your work, alerts about a new patch update or incoming message can distract you. Luckily, you can personalize your notifications settings on Windows 10’s action center using these three simple steps.

Overarching action center settings

First of all, you should customize your Windows 10 system-wide notifications settings. To view these:

  • Click on the Cortana icon on your taskbar and type ‘Notifications’.
  • Click ‘Notifications & actions settings’.

Here, you can turn off alerts entirely or customize the alerts for core functions such as alarms, reminders, and incoming VoIP calls.

Settings for individual applications

If you want to take a far more nuanced approach to your notifications, there are advanced options to create rules on an app-by-app basis. At the bottom of the ‘Notifications & actions’ setting screen is a section titled ‘Get notifications from these senders.’ By enabling any of the items in this list, you can open a new window full of more graded notifications options. From here, users can specify lock screen, sound, and priority settings for individual software.

You can also adjust the amount of notifications of a particular app in the ‘Number of notifications visible in action center’ setting. To do so, click on the app’s name and select the amount of notifications you’d like to receive at any given time. Although the default amount is three, you can choose to get up to 20 notifications.

Closing the blinds

For users who have no interest whatsoever in the Windows 10 action center, you can banish it entirely. To do this:

  • Open Cortana and search ‘Notification area’.
  • Click ‘Turn system icons on or off’.
  • Toggle the Action Center option to remove the icon from your taskbar.

You can also choose which apps to remove from your taskbar entirely. To do so, click the back arrow to return to the ‘Notification area’ window and choose ‘Select which icons appear on the taskbar’.

If artists have tools unique to their style, why shouldn’t the tools of your trade be tailored to your preferences? Get in touch with us today to speak with one of our tech-savvy specialists about your technology goals to start achieving new levels of productivity and efficiency on your Windows machine 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

Windows 7 was one of Microsoft’s popular and best-loved operating systems (OS), and most of us are still using it. But like the OSs before it, Windows 7 will eventually reach the end of its lifecycle. Mainstream end of support for Windows came into effect on January 13, 2015, but extended support won’t end until January 14, 2020. Find out what this means for you.

No more security updates

End of support for Windows means Microsoft stops issuing security updates for that operating system (OS). For example, Windows Vista and Windows XP can no longer receive security updates despite the substantial security holes found in them.

On January 14, 2020, the same will be true for Windows 7. From there, you’ll be on your own. You can still use antivirus tools and other security software for protection, but they won’t be enough to defend against bigger threats. Security software will also gradually drop support for older versions of Windows. Large organizations can sign “custom support” contracts to keep getting security updates while they transition to a new OS. But Microsoft will ratchet up the price going forward to encourage those organizations to move to a new version of Windows.

Software companies will halt support too

When Microsoft ends support for an OS, that’s also the signal for third-party companies to stop supporting that particular version of Windows with their own software and hardware. This doesn’t happen immediately but it does eventually.

For example, Windows XP support ended on April 8, 2014, but Chrome didn’t stop supporting Windows XP until April 2016, two years later. Mozilla Firefox stopped supporting Windows XP in June 2018. Steam will officially drop support for Windows XP and Windows Vista on January 1, 2019. On the other hand, software companies dropped support for Windows Vista more quickly, as it was much less popular than Windows XP.

New hardware may not work

New hardware components and peripherals will stop working on your system too. These need hardware drivers, and manufacturers might not create those hardware drivers for your old, out-of-date OS.

Presently, the latest Intel CPU platforms don’t even support Windows 7 and 8.1. However, the operating systems are technically still in “extended support.” You can keep using your old OS with your current software and hardware, but you have no guarantees of future updates or compatibility.

When will Microsoft end support?

Microsoft has a well-defined support lifecycle for its software products. They come ahead of time so they’re never a surprise. The agreement includes the assurance that Microsoft is committed to providing products with improved security. While they may be unable to provide security updates for older products, they do advise customers to install the latest product releases, security updates, as well as service packs to remain as secure as possible.

 

Upgrading is better than using unsupported Windows

The support lifecycle is rapidly fading away as Microsoft shifts to its Windows as a service and Office 365 subscription models. If you want to prevent security frustrations, it’s best to upgrade to a newer version of Windows. Should you need help in upgrading, or have further concerns about your current Windows, give us a call.

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

Smartphones are like palm-sized computers, and they deserve the same protection as desktops and laptops. While you don’t need to install bulky security software to protect against cyberthreats, there are steps you can take to keep cybercriminals at bay.

Mobile malware MO

Mobile malware can be as harmful to a business’s network as infected desktops and laptops. Potential problems include overcharges on phone bills, stolen data, intercepting messages, tricking users with phishing attacks, and sending fake notifications to one’s contact list.

Most malware comes from applications downloaded from third-party app stores and give hackers access to passwords, user account information, and other sensitive personal data. Since many business users link their Android devices to each other, malware could transfer from one device to the next.

Who is responsible?

The burden doesn’t fall solely on smartphone users. App stores such as Google Play Store are responsible, too, such as in the case of the malware-ridden banking and weather apps that were downloaded from the Google Play Store. In these cases, the companies that were affected were urged to provide updates regarding the malicious apps so they could be removed from the store.

How to avoid being victimized by malware

The Google Play Store isn’t 100% secure, but downloading from established app stores — and not from little-known and less secure ones — reduces the probability of downloading malicious apps. In cases when an infected app makes its way to the store and starts getting lots of downloads, Google will be quick to remove it from the store and make everyone aware of it.

Despite app stores’ best efforts, it’s nearly impossible to prevent mobile malware from getting through to the store. That’s why it pays to read user reviews where infected users post detailed warnings. Also, regularly updating your mobile device’s operating system and security software helps prevent infection as the latest versions of those are patched against the latest known threats in app stores and elsewhere online.

Malware doesn’t discriminate, so regardless of your computer or mobile device of choice, it will find a way to infect you if your software isn’t up to date. To find out whether your business devices are safe and fully protected, consult our cybersecurity experts 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