The new year doesn’t have to mean new IT hardware problems. Sure, some headaches are unavoidable, but you can start the year right by giving your computer hardware a little TLC. Let our handy hardware checklist be your guide.

✓ Clean up your computer components
Wipe your monitor with a 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 build-up 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 on computers’ 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 lifecycles and purchases, identify items that are near their end of life, and ensure you avoid duplicate purchases of items already in-stock.

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 printheads 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 recommendations, 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

Finding a power socket is often the first thing you do when carrying a laptop to work in a cafe, a co-working space, or an airport, and not every time will you be lucky to find one available. You’ll be forced, then, to rely solely on your laptop battery — if it still has any juice left. Here are some tips to help your laptop battery last as long as it could.

Some truths about your laptop battery
Batteries in many devices nowadays are lithium-based — either lithium-ion or lithium-polymer — so users must take note of the following guidelines for their proper maintenance:
• They can’t be overcharged, even though you leave your battery plugged in for a long period of time. When the battery hits 100%, it’ll stop charging.
• Leaving your battery completely drained will damage it.
• Batteries have limited lifespans. So no matter what you do, yours will age from the very first time you charge it. This is because as time passes, the ions will no longer be able to flow efficiently from the anode to the cathode, thereby reducing its capacity.

 

What else can degrade your battery
Besides its being naturally prone to deterioration, your battery can degrade due to higher-than-normal voltages, which happens when you keep your battery fully charged at all times. Even though a modern laptop battery cannot be overcharged, doing so will add a stress factor that’ll harm your battery.
Both extremely high temperatures (above 70°F) and low temperatures (between 32-41°F) can also reduce battery capacity and damage its components. The same goes for storing a battery for long periods of time, which can lead to the state of extreme discharge. Another factor is physical damage. Remember that batteries are made up of sensitive materials, and physical collision can damage them.

 

How to prolong your battery life
Now that you know some facts about your laptop battery, it’s time to learn how to delay its demise:
• Never leave your battery completely drained.
• Don’t expose your battery to extremely high or low temperatures.
• If possible, charge your battery at a lower voltage.
• If you need to use your laptop for a long period of time while plugged into a power source, it’s better to remove the battery. This is because a plugged-in laptop generates more heat which will damage your battery.
• When you need to store your battery for a few weeks, you should recharge your battery to 40% and remove it from your laptop for storage.

These are just a few tips on extending the life of your hardware. There are many more ways you can maximize your hardware efficiency and extend its longevity. Call our experts today to find out more!
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

Today, Wi-Fi isn’t only crucial for your employees to get work done, it’s also a necessary amenity for your office guests. But there’s a right and a wrong way to set up guest Wi-Fi and the latter can result in a frustrating experience for users. So, how do you set up guest Wi-Fi properly?

Never give guests access to your primary Wi-Fi
While giving guests password to your company’s main Wi-Fi might be the easiest way to get them connected, you should avoid this at all costs.

Anyone with a little technical know-how can potentially access everything on your company network, including confidential data. Not to mention, guests’ devices connected to your business network increase the risk of a malware infection or cyber attack since you can never be sure that they’re safe and secure.

Ways to create secondary Wi-Fi for guests
If you router has built-in guest Wi-Fi support (you can check this feature through a quick web search) you could use it to create a separate “virtual” network. This means guests will have access to the internet without connecting to your main company network.

If your router doesn’t support multiple Wi-Fi networks, you can implement a separate wireless access point that bypasses the rest of your network and connects directly to your Internet service provider (ISP) connection.

Both options will keep your guests’ connectivity separate from your company network so you’ll never have to worry about unauthorized persons accessing your company data.

Keep in mind that guest Wi-Fi still uses your ISP connection so you should limit bandwidth usage on your guest network. The last thing you want is a guest streaming videos that slow down the Internet for your employees. With that in mind, you can even have your employees use guest Wi-Fi for their personal devices too. This minimizes the chance of employees hogging company bandwidth for personal use.

Your guest Wi-Fi should only provide outsiders with internet access, nothing more. While proper setup isn’t rocket science, it can be a tedious process. Having said that, if you need a team of experts to take care of it all for you, or simply have questions about how else to leverage your hardware for better efficiency and security, just give us a call.

Published with Considerations from TechAdvisory SOURCE

Mobile devices can’t accomplish everything that desktops and laptops can, but that doesn’t mean they’re not important to businesses. More and more employees are using smartphones and tablets to increase productivity and enhance collaboration. But before you adopt a mobile device policy, you must keep them safe from cyber criminals. Cyber criminals now have more entry points to steal your data, but there are simple ways to keep your company’s mobile devices safe.
Ensure mobile OS is up-to-date
Apple and Android’s operating system updates improve overall user experience, but their most important function is to fix security vulnerabilities. You can reduce your business’s exposure to threats by installing updates for ALL devices as soon as they become available. Some people wait for a few weeks or months to update their device’s OS. This gives hackers ample time to exploit vulnerabilities on devices that run on outdated operating systems.
Install business applications only
Downloading apps seems harmless, but lenient mobile devices policies on what should and shouldn’t be downloaded on company devices could lead to staff downloading and installing non-business-related apps from third-party stores, most of which are notorious for malicious advertising codes and other threats.
Be careful with public Wi-Fi networks
Emergency situations might compel you to use password-free Wi-Fi networks in hotels, airport, cafes, or any public place. Connecting to an open network could expose your confidential information and sensitive company data to hackers connected to the same network.

You can avoid this by providing a practical internet data plan, preferably one that includes roaming services, for remote workers. And if you really have to connect to an open Wi-Fi, don’t use the connection for transferring sensitive data.
Enable phone tracking tools
Losing a company-issued mobile device is a scenario many would rather not contemplate, but it happens. Devices can be misplaced or stolen, and enabling a useful app such as ‘Find my iPhone’ for iOS devices, ‘GPS Phone Tracker’ for Android, or any other device-tracking app in Apple’s App or Android’s Google Play stores helps users locate lost phones, or otherwise delete data in stolen devices. Downloading and setting up the app takes just a few minutes, and it will give you peace of mind knowing that even if your phone is lost or stolen, its contents will not be compromised.
Screen SMS carefully
SMS messaging may not be as effective as email phishing, but SMS phishing can also be used to trick users into clicking malicious links. Hackers send messages purporting to be from someone you know or a legitimate source that asks you to urgently send confidential data. You can either delete these messages, block unknown senders, or alert your IT department in case you encounter a possible scammer.

Mobile devices are becoming more critical to operations. And with more devices open to attack, businesses must bolster their cybersecurity efforts. Hackers will exploit every possible vulnerability, and that includes those in unsecured smartphones and tablets. Get in touch with us if you need comprehensive security solutions for your business.

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

As a business owner, you want nothing more than to see your business succeed. But when faced with stiff competition and sophisticated cybercriminals, it’s hard to shake off the feeling of uncertainty. The future might be unpredictable, but the security of your Mac devices doesn’t have to be. So lock things down with these helpful tips:

The basics
Let’s start with the basics and head over to the Security & Privacy pane in System Preferences. Here, you’ll find four tabs — General, FileVault, Firewall, and Privacy — that control various aspects of security. To change your security settings, click on the padlock on the bottom of the screen and type in your username and password.

Firewall
Enabling the firewall will block unwanted incoming network connections. Many think it is enabled by default, but often it’s not. All you need to do is click the Firewall tab in the System Preferences > Security & Privacy pane, click the padlock icon on the bottom left, enter your username and password, and click the ‘Turn On Firewall’ button. Don’t forget to enable Stealth Mode by clicking the Firewall Options button and then clicking Enable Stealth Mode in the dialog box — this makes your computer invisible on public networks.

Passwords
Make sure to set strong passwords for your user accounts if you don’t already have one. To do this, go back to the ‘General’ section of the Security & Privacy settings. In this section, you should also consider setting the Require Password field to ‘immediately.’ This makes it so that you’ll need to re-enter your login credentials to unlock your Mac when it goes to sleep or when a screen saver begins.

Automatic login
It’s best to disable this function, especially if you are using a mobile Mac. If your Mac gets stolen, you don’t want to give thieves a free pass to your private data.

Applications
At the bottom of the General Settings tab, there are three options that authorize which apps can run on your Mac. The safest option is to allow only apps from the App Store to run, and the least secure option is to allow apps from anywhere. Get the best of both worlds by choosing the option of running apps from the App Store and from developers known to Apple.

FileVault
The FileVault tab enables you to encrypt all the files in your user account. To decrypt them, you must enter either your account password or the recovery key you created when you switched FileVault on. It might be tedious to type in a password every time to access a file, but it helps keep your vital data under lock and key.

In this digital age, ensuring the protection of all your devices is crucial to your business’s success. Because all it takes is a tiny leak to sink your ship. Feel free to give us a call and we’ll help prepare your business for choppy waters.

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

Seventy-five percent of all obsolete computing equipment is currently in storage. In other words, it’s gathering dust in that unused office, shoved under a desk somewhere, or being used as a plant stand in the corner. But good options for disposal and recycling of old computers abound.

The following are EasyTech’s top tips for safely getting rid of unused computer equipment. You’ll free up storage space while helping our environment stay clean and green.

Computer Recycling

Many of the basic components in an old computer can be reused. This includes plastic from keyboards, metal from computer housing, and glass from older monitors. At the same time, toxic substances in computers like lead and cadmium need to be kept out of landfills and groundwater. Since January 2012, Staples has recycled more than five million pounds of electronics.

Fortunately, computer recycling is now an easy option in most communities. Many towns have public drop-off stations for your unused equipment, while computer retailers such as Staples offer free recycling as well. These recyclers will ensure electronic equipment and batteries are responsibly reused.

Computer Reuse

Recycling your old computers is a great choice when they are broken and beyond repair, but equipment that still works can be sold or donated to charity. Many schools, churches, and other community organizations will be happy to take your computers when your office decides to make an upgrade. In fact, computers that are broken yet repairable are often welcomed by these kinds of institutions. (Be sure to ask before donating equipment that is not in working order.)

Another option, offered by Dell and Goodwill, is called the Dell Reconnect program. This service is a residential computer-recycling program that offers recyclers the opportunity to drop off old gear at Goodwill locations. This free service is tax deductible and not only are you recycling gear, you’re also giving the community an opportunity to use technology they might otherwise be unable to afford.

Selling your outdated computing equipment is another option. Many businesses may be surprised to know that their unwanted computers can be listed on popular classified ad sites and turned into a bit of extra cash. Just because you might not need those old computers doesn’t mean someone else might not, and if that’s the case there are effective recycling programs out there like Gazelle that actually pay you fairly well for your gear when it’s no longer wanted.

Computer Upgrades

We all like brand new things—new cars, new houses, new computers. But before you decide on junking your old computer equipment, find out whether component upgrades might be a better option. The addition of more memory or storage, or adding better graphics capability, can give an old computer new life. RAM upgrades might save you money and reduce your impact on the environment.

You might also be able to use some of the components in your old computers with your newer systems. Old hard drives can serve as data storage or backup receptacles. Your old monitor can be hooked up in tandem with a new monitor for extra viewing area (a dual monitor setup often provides small business users with a productivity boost. Want to know how? It’s a snap! Just follow these official dual-monitor setup instructions from Microsoft).

Before You Recycle

Proper computer disposal means being careful of our environment. It also means being careful with the data those old computers contain. You don’t want customer or financial information getting into the wrong hands when you dispose of your computers.

Erasing files from your computer won’t be enough to keep a determined data thief from getting at your information. Data-wiping software can make information retrieval more difficult, although even this might not stop a sophisticated crook.

If you are donating or selling old computers and they contain sensitive information, you might consider removing the hard drive first and disposing of it separately. Retailers that offer computer recycling usually ensure that data is effectively destroyed in their disposal process, so this is a good option when privacy is a concern.

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 STAPLES.com SOURCE

Phishing scams, whereby cybercriminals masquerade as trustworthy entities to fool victims into disclosing private information, have had a recent surge in popularity. This is largely because hackers realize the best way to infiltrate a system is by exploiting people’s trust. Although these attacks bypass network security systems, there are some tools you can use to defend against them. One is Google’s new anti-phishing feature for Gmail apps on Android devices.

Phishing warnings
The new Gmail app feature uses Google’s Safe Browsing technology to examine billions of URL links per day and identify websites impersonating legitimate ones, like an online store, bank, or social media. It will then check whether these websites are embedded with malware or have elements of a phishing attack (e.g., asking for login credentials, private information, etc.).

If it has reasonable evidence to think that the website is indeed malicious, Gmail will display a warning prompt: “The site you are trying to visit has been identified as a forgery, intended to trick you into disclosing financial, personal, or other sensitive information.”

Keep in mind that Gmail may come up with false positives, and for this reason, Google does not completely block access to using a link but advises that you take extra caution if you choose to proceed.

The tech giant also reported this update is available only for Android users and will eventually reach other devices; so if you have an iOS, be extremely careful when interacting with any links in your Gmail accounts.

Safety for Gmail and Google Docs
In other news, a widespread phishing attack affected thousands of Gmail and Google Doc users earlier this month. The attack uses a spoofed email from a known contact attempting to share a ‘document.’ If opened, the fraudulent link redirects victims into an innocent-looking Google page that asks for account permissions. If users grant access, a worm collects your contact list and proceeds to attack other users. Fortunately, Google quickly responded to the scam, removed the fake pages, and updated anti-phishing detection to account for similar threats.

Security training
While Safe Browsing features are extremely helpful for Android Gmail users, they shouldn’t be a total substitute for good security awareness. Remember, phishing exploits human trust, so make sure to train your employees to have a healthy skepticism of every unsolicited link or file and download security updates whenever possible.

For more information and advice on security training or Android-related news, give us a call today. We’ll make sure your business is completely up to date with shifting mobile security trends and issues.

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

MacOS has a reputation for being one of the most secure operating systems. But in 2016, its susceptibility to malware grew by an astounding 744% according to one security report. Recently, a new strain of malware was found to infiltrate Macs by bypassing all of its security features. Despite having one of the highest price points in the market, Macs’ reputation for being the safest computers remains untarnished, but will the new malware change that?

How the new malware attacks Macs

The new strain of malware targeted at Macs is called OSX/Dok, which was first discovered in April 2017. OSX/Dok infiltrates Macs through phishing attacks, whereby users receive a suspicious email with a zip file attachment. Like all phishing attacks, it contains a message that tricks the recipient into opening the attachment purportedly about tax returns.

Mayhem ensues once the malware is in the system, gains administrator privileges, takes over encrypted communications, changes network settings, and performs other system tweaks that put the users at its mercy.

What the malware does

The malware targets mostly European networks, but it’s expected to spread into other regions. Even more alarming is its ability to bypass Gatekeeper, a security feature in the MacOS designed to fend off malware. This is because its developers were able to obtain a valid Apple developer certificate, which makes the attachment appear totally legitimate. Although Apple has addressed the issue by revoking the developer’s certificate of the earliest versions of the malware, the attackers remain persistent and now use a new developer ID.

How to avoid the mayhem

The Mac-targeted OSX/Dok malware is easy to avoid if you keep your wits about you when receiving zip files from unknown senders — these files should be treated as high-risk and be reported to your IT team, quarantined, or junked. Whether you’re using a Mac or a Windows computer, clicking on suspicious ads can download and install apps from third-party sources that put your system at risk.

Mac users are not completely safe, and complacency with security could only result in compromised and irreparable systems, ruined reputation, and lost profits for businesses. For this particular malware, a simple act of vigilance may be all it takes to avoid having your Apple computer bitten by bugs. If you want to double the layer of protection for your business’s Mac computers, call us for robust security solutions.

Of course, if security training and cybersecurity solutions are not your company’s specialties, you can always rely on a trusted managed services provider like us to protect your business. We can update and secure your systems regularly, and make sure your staff are actively doing their part to reduce security risks.

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

Digital advertisements are ubiquitous across the internet. And just as users started to come to terms with that, Microsoft has taken ads one step further. The Windows File Explorer has begun to show ads for services like O365 and OneDrive, and if you’re wondering how to disable them, this article is for you.

Who is getting these ads?

Right now, we’re still unsure of how widespread Microsoft’s new advertising strategy goes. Not every Windows workstation has started displaying File Explorer banners, and based on some overwhelmingly negative reactions online, the campaign might get shut down before it even reaches your desktop.

However, even if you have yet to be targeted, you can quickly and easily disable these ads right now.

How do I turn them off?

At the moment, these pushy promotions show up only in Windows’ File Explorer window, so that’s where we’ll begin. After you’ve opened a new window, there are only five steps to boot them off your screen:

  1. Select View from the ribbon along the top of any File Explorer window.
  2. Click Options on the far righthand side.
  3. In the new window select the View tab.
  4. In the Advanced Settings window pane, scroll down and deselect ‘Show sync provider notifications’.
  5. Click Apply and close the Folder Options window.

That’s all it takes! Keep in mind that we highly recommend the services Microsoft chose to advertise with this move. Office 365, OneDrive, and others are all great cloud platforms for safely working and collaborating from any device in any location — we just don’t want to see advertisements for them when we’re hunting down sales records.

When you’re in the market for the Windows tips and tricks, this is the best blog on the web. If you’re looking for something a little more robust however, our managed services are second to none. Get in touch with us today to learn more!

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

While a vast majority of ransomware that’s been developed targets Windows computers, malware authors have begun to attack Mac devices. Recently, researchers discovered a new ransomware strain, OSX/Filecoder.E, which encrypts Mac files and keeps them locked even after the victims have paid the ransom. But don’t worry, there is still hope if you follow the security advice below.

According to ESET security researchers, even though the Filecoder ransomware was written in Apple’s programming language, the malicious code is not as potent or as skillful as other viruses. In fact, it’s so poorly written that hackers never developed a method to retrieve the encryption key once the ransom has been paid.

In any case, whether you’re dealing with Filecoder or some other ransomware, we advise against ever giving in to the hacker’s demands.

 

Avoid Filecoder
So far, Filecoder isn’t given out via phishing emails like most ransomware; instead, it’s distributed on Torrent sites and goes by the name “Patcher.” Therefore, it’s best to stay away from these highly unregulated (and mostly illegal) websites and stick to trusted app stores like Mac, Microsoft, and Google.

Even if the ransomware is not sent out via phishing campaigns, you should still be careful of any unsolicited emails with strange file attachments in case the malware authors decide to branch out.

Install preventive measures
Like with any other malware, being proactive with your cybersecurity solutions is the best way to defend against Filecoder. Install reliable antivirus software, intrusion prevention systems, firewalls, and update systems whenever possible.

You must also maintain backups and have a disaster recovery plan to keep your business running in the off chance that ransomware or any other cyberattack successfully infiltrated your systems.

Defeat the ransomware
Given the ransomware’s shoddy code, security researchers have found a way to decrypt files without paying. Free cracking tools like PKCRACK can recover Filecoder-encrypted data if you have one original version of the affected files. The recovery process, however, does require some programming knowledge, so contact an IT expert or a managed services provider to unlock the ransomware for you.

Filecoder may not be the strongest malware around, but this could just be the start of Mac-based attacks. To protect your business from the onslaught of cyberattacks, you need security experts. Contact us 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.