Windows 10 helps users by giving useful suggestions as they type and by displaying ads based on their online searches. But these can feel invasive after a while. To ensure your privacy and keep Microsoft’s watchful eye off your computer activity, follow these tips.

Turn off personalized advertising

Windows 10 assigns each user an advertising ID to personalize their ad experience based on their recent browser history. You can turn off the advertising ID feature by doing the following:

  1. Click Start Settings > Privacy > General.
  2. Toggle off the option “Let apps use my advertising ID for experiences across apps.” This will reset your advertising ID.
  3. If you don’t want to receive locally relevant content from websites, toggle off the option “Let websites provide locally relevant content by accessing my language list.”

Disable Cortana

Microsoft has ventured into the market of voice-controlled virtual assistants with Cortana. This personal assistant allows users to set reminders, schedule events, and send emails, among other tasks. Every time you use Cortana, it collects information about your computer activity — “learning” it, so to speak — to improve user experience. But if you find this feature intrusive, you can disable Cortana completely with these steps:

  1. Search for the Windows Registry editor in the Windows search bar, or press Windows + R, type “regedit,” and click OK.
  2. Copy and paste HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows into the address bar at the top.
  3. Look for the Windows Search folder. If it doesn’t exist, create it by right-clicking the right-hand pane, then choose New > Key. Rename the folder “Windows Search”.
  4. Select the Windows Search folder, then right-click the right-hand pane and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.
  5. Name it “Allow Cortana,” and make sure the Value Data is set to zero.
  6. Restart your computer.

Stop peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing

Windows 10’s P2P file sharing feature enables your PC to share downloaded updates with other Windows 10 users by default. This helps other users update their systems faster and speeds up your upgrade downloads. To turn it off, do the following:

  1. Go to Settings > Update and Security > Windows Update > Advanced Options > Choose how updates are delivered.
  2. Note that the default setting is “Updates from more than one place.” If you want to disable this feature entirely, toggle off this option. If you want to share your files with PCs on your home network, leave this feature on and select PCs on my local network.

Change Microsoft’s Edge settings

Microsoft’s relaunched browser is chock-full of features, such as web experience personalization and typing prediction. Such features may make you uncomfortable since they all send back data to Microsoft. Here’s how to turn them off:

  1. Open Edge and click on the menu icon (three dots) in the upper right corner.
  2. Next, click on Settings > Privacy and services. Scroll down and switch on the “Send ‘Do Not Track’ requests” option.

There’s also a bunch of privacy and services settings that you may want to disable, such as tracking services, navigation error resolution, block potentially unwanted apps, and more.

For more tips on keeping Microsoft from tracking your online activity and more information about how to safeguard your security and privacy, drop us a line today.

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

Many small- to medium-sized business (SMB) owners never expect a major crisis to hit their company and are often caught flat-footed when it does. Such events can cause downtime, which can lead to lost revenue and reduced profits. In addition, SMBs that fail to recover quickly from disruption face the risk of losing their customers to their competitors. To prevent this from happening to you, you should have a BCP in place.
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What is a BCP?

A BCP is a predefined set of protocols on how your business should respond in the event of an emergency or natural disaster. It contains contingency plans for every aspect of your organization, including human resources, assets, and business processes.

Key threats to business continuity

Various types of threats can affect SMBs such as:

Natural disasters – These are natural phenomena such as storms, earthquakes, and wildfires.
Man-made disasters – These include cyberattacks, intentional sabotage, and human negligence.
Equipment and utility failures – These include unexpected power failure, internet downtime, and disruption of communication services.

How to build an effective BCP

If your organization does not have a BCP in place, now is a good time to put one together. These steps will help you formulate an effective BCP that will ensure your company keeps running even during a major crisis.

#1 Business impact analysis (BIA)
A BIA will help you determine how a disruption can affect your company’s current functions and processes, such as personnel, equipment, technology, and physical infrastructure. This step will help you calculate the potential financial and operational loss from each function and process affected.

#2 Recovery options
This step will help you identify key resources essential to returning your business to minimum operational levels. Some recovery options you can take include letting employees work from home or operating from a secondary location.

#3 Plan development
This step involves assembling your company’s continuity team, which will be responsible for developing and implementing your BCP.

#4 Testing and training
Once your BCP is in place, your continuity team needs to perform regular tests to identify gaps and make necessary changes to ensure the plan’s effectiveness. They also need to conduct regular training for your employees so everyone knows their respective roles when a disaster strikes.

Having a foolproof BCP is a great way to ensure your business can quickly bounce back after a major disaster. If you’re thinking about creating a BCP for your company but don’t know where to start, 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

Amidst the current climate of malware, hacks, and phishing scams, the internet really isn’t safe for any company that doesn’t take precautions. Without safeguards, browsers that you or your employees use are vulnerable to cyber attacks that may cripple productivity and profit. There are wise steps that every company should take to browse the net safely.

Data stored on desktops, servers and in the cloud, doesn’t make it safe. If anything, it makes it available to anyone who has the desire and capabilities to hack into your system and cause mayhem for your business operations.

One thing you should be doing to protect your data – and your company – is to make use of privacy-protecting browser extensions. Depending on the nature of your business, both you and your employees are likely to be online at least some, if not all, of the working day. What are some of the browser extensions that can make the experience more secure?

Prevent browser tracking

If you don’t like the idea of a third party (reputable or otherwise) being able to track your browsing habits, try installing a tool for private browsing. These programs offer protection against tracking by blocking third-party cookies as well as malware. Some extensions also boast secure Wi-Fi and bandwidth optimization and can guard against tracking and data collection from social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

Blocking adverts

While online ads may seem harmless, the truth is they can contain scripts and widgets that send your data back to a third party. A decent ad blocking program will block banner, rollover and pop-up ads, and also prevent you from inadvertently visiting a site that may contain malware.

Many blockers contain additional features such as the ability to disable cookies and scripts used by third-parties on a site, the option to block specific items, and even options to ‘clean up’ Facebook, and hide YouTube comments. The major blockers work with Google Chrome, Safari, and Firefox and you’ll be able to find everything from user-friendly solutions to more advanced tools that are customizable down to the tiniest degree.

Consider installing a VPN

Unfortunately, browser tracking, malware, and adware are not the only internet nasties that you need to be concerned about. but the good news is that there a number of other extensions that you can download to really get a grip on your online safety. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is something else to consider. VPNs encrypt your internet traffic, effectively shutting out anyone who may be trying to see what you’re doing.

Commonly used in countries where the internet is heavily censored by the powers that be, a VPN allows for private browsing as well as enabling users to access blocked sites – in China’s case that’s anything from blogs criticizing the government to Facebook and Instagram. There are hundreds of VPNs on the market so do a little research and find one that suits you best.

Finally, it goes without saying that having anti-virus and anti-malware software installed on your PC, tablet, and even your smartphone is crucial if you want to ensure your online safety.

Is browsing at your workplace secure? Would you like a more comprehensive security system for your business? We can tell you all about it and help your business protect itself from online threats. Get in touch with 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

The volume of malicious cyber attacks is increasing every year. Although many companies use the latest network security systems, they aren’t immune to the hackers’ favorite strategy — social engineering. Unlike malware, social engineering tricks people into volunteering sensitive data. Here’s what you should know to protect your business.

Phishing

This is the most frequently used social engineering attack, especially against small businesses. Check out these frightening statistics:

 

How is phishing carried out? Criminals make use of emails, phone calls, or text messages to steal money. Victims are directed to phony websites or hotlines and are tricked into giving away sensitive information like names, addresses, login information, social security, and credit card numbers.

To protect yourself, be wary of emails from people you don’t know that offer you a prize, come with attachments you didn’t request, direct you to suspicious sites, or urge you to act quickly. Phishing emails usually appear to come from reliable sources, but they are wolves in sheep’s clothing.

One of the most infamous and widespread examples of phishing was during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, where victims received fraudulent emails for fake ticketing services that stole their personal and financial information.

Tailgating

What’s the fastest and easiest way for criminals to enter a secure office? Through the front door, of course! Tailgating happens when an employee holds the door open for strangers and unauthorized visitors, allowing them to infiltrate an organization. This simple act of kindness enables fraudsters to enter restricted areas, access computers when no one is looking, or leave behind devices for snooping.

Quid pro quo

Here, scam artists offer a free service or a prize in exchange for information. They may lure their victims with a gift, concert tickets, a T-shirt, or early access to a popular game in exchange for login credentials, account details, passwords, and other important information. Or hackers may volunteer to fix their victims’ IT problems to get what they want. In most cases, the gift is a cheap trinket or the tickets are fake, but damages from stolen information are all too real.

Pretexting

Fraudsters pretend to be someone else to steal information. They may pose as a telemarketer, tech support representative, co-worker, or police officer to fish out credit card information, bank account details, usernames, and passwords. The con artist may even convince the unsuspecting victim to apply for a loan over the phone to get more details from the victim. By gaining the person’s trust, the scammer can fool anyone into divulging company secrets.

In spite of the many security measures available today, fraudsters and their social engineering schemes continue to haunt and harm many businesses. Thus, it’s best to prepare for the worst. To protect sensitive information, educate yourself and be careful. Remember: If anything is too good to be true, it probably is!

To shield your business from social engineering attacks or 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

Speculation has been circulating that Windows 10 gathers more info than it should. Whether or not you think privacy lines have been breached, here are some tips to protect your privacy in a matter of clicks.

Slip off the grid

Thanks to location tracking, nearby restaurants and future weather predictions are at your fingertips. While some might not mind this feature, there are others who wish to enjoy some privacy from their smartphones every once in a while.

To turn it off, launch the Settings app, tap Privacy, and disable the Location tab. If you wish to share your location with certain apps, scroll down and activate the ‘Choose apps that can use your location’ tab and choose your desired apps.

Say goodbye to ad tracking

Every time you surf the net, you leave a trail of breadcrumbs that lead directly to your online profile. This problem is easily solved by deactivating ad tracking. Windows 10, however, goes a tad further by using an advertising ID, which gathers information based on web browsing usage and whenever you use Windows 10 apps.

To take care of that, launch the Settings app, go to General, look for “Change privacy options,” then move the slider from on to off. If you want to make sure you have no virtual stalkers, head to choice.microsoft.com/en-us/opt-out and disable the “Personalized ads whenever I use my Microsoft account” tab.

Disable Wi-Fi Sense

This feature is designed to let you easily share Wi-Fi connections with specific users, but hackers can misuse it to log on to your network without your permission. To disable it, launch the Setting app, go to Network & Internet > Wi-Fi > and click on Wi-Fi Sense. From there, deactivate two bars: “Connect to suggested open hotspots” and “Connect to networks shared my contacts”.

Cortana, why so clingy?

Albeit helpful, the digital assistant Cortana requires access to your personal information. But you can stop her from collecting data by logging in to your Microsoft account and clearing all the information Cortana and other Microsoft services (ex. Bing maps) have gathered.

You can also clear the information in your interests section or head over to the “interest manager” tab to edit the interests you want Cortana to track.

More privacy options

All of these tips are easy to follow and will take only five to ten minutes to implement, but if you like to make very detailed adjustments to your system’s privacy setup, launch the Settings app and go to Privacy.

We hope you find these five privacy protection tips helpful. If you need more help protecting your information or securing your network, 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

Cybercriminals are fairly experienced at avoiding detection. By the time you notice they’ve infected your computer with malware or hijacked your account, serious damage has most likely already been done. To make matters worse, they have another way to hide their illegal activities, and it involves sending thousands of spam emails.

Understanding DSD
Distributed Spam Distraction (DSD) is designed to inundate your inbox with thousands of nonsense emails. There are no dangerous links, ads, or attachments involved, just random excerpts of text stolen from books and websites. What’s more, the email and IP addresses used are all different so victims can’t simply block a specific sender.

These attacks last anywhere from 12 to 24 hours and can flood inboxes with as many as 60,000 messages. While they may seem like harmless annoyances, the true purpose of DSD is to draw victims’ attention away from what hackers are doing behind the scenes.
And what they’re doing is exploiting your personally identifiable information (PII) to make unauthorized purchases or pilfer cash directly from your accounts. The DSD acts as a sort of smokescreen to hide payment confirmation messages behind a deluge of spam messages.

New tactics
Over the years, hackers have developed new tactics involving DSD. Several reports have shown that, instead of nonsensical emails, hackers are using automated software to have their targets sign up for thousands of free accounts and newsletters to distract them with authentic messages. This allows DSD blasts to slip past spam filters that have been designed to weed out malicious code and gibberish text used by traditional DSD attacks.

What’s even more worrying is that any ill-intentioned individual can go to the dark web and pay for DSD services. They just have to provide a hacker with their target’s name, email address, and credit card numbers — all of which can also be purchased in the dark web — and pay as little as $40 to send 20,000 spam messages.

How to stop it
DSD is a clear sign that one of your accounts has been hijacked, so whenever you receive dozens of emails in quick succession, contact your financial institutions to cancel any unfamiliar transactions and change your login credentials as soon as possible. It’s also important to update your anti-spam software (or get one if you don’t have one already) to protect your inbox from future DSD attacks.

Hackers only initiate DSD attacks after they’ve obtained their target’s email address and personal information, so make sure your accounts and identity are well protected. This means you should regularly change your passwords and pins, enable multi-factor authentication, set up text alerts for whenever online purchases are made in your name, and be careful about sharing personal information.
For more tips on how to deal with DSDs or other cyberattacks, call us today. We offer powerful tools and expert advice that will ensure your business’s safety.
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

If you’re disturbed by advertisements and “helpful” suggestions that are based on your internet browsing habits, recent research has found yet another source of online tracking. It’s a sneaky tactic that also comes with serious security concerns. Let’s take a look at what you can do to stop it from targeting you.

Why auto-fill passwords are so dangerous
In 2015, the average internet user had 90 online accounts, a number that has undoubtedly grown since then. This has forced users to create dozens of passwords, sometimes because they want to practice healthy security habits and other times because the platforms they’re using have different password requirements.
Web browsers and password manager applications addressed this account overload by allowing usernames and passwords to be automatically entered into a web form, eliminating the need for users to hunt down the right credentials before logging in.
The process of tricking a browser or password manager into giving up this saved information is incredibly simple. All it takes is an invisible form placed on a compromised webpage to collect users’ login information without them knowing.

Using auto-fill to track users
Stealing passwords with this strategy has been a tug-of-war between hackers and security professionals for over a decade. However, it has recently come to light that digital marketers are also using this tactic to track users.
Two groups, AdThink and OnAudience, have been placing these invisible login forms on websites as a way to track which sites users visit. These marketers made no attempts to steal passwords, but security professionals said it wouldn’t have been hard to accomplish. AdThink and OnAudience simply tracked people based on the usernames in hidden auto-fill forms and sold that information to advertisers.

One simple security tip for today
Turn off auto-fill in your web browser. It’s quick, easy, and will go to great lengths to improve your account security.
• If you use Chrome – Open the Settings window, click Advanced, and select the appropriate settings under Manage Passwords
• If you use Firefox – Open the Options window, click Privacy, and under the History heading select “Firefox will: Use custom settings for history.” In the new window, disable “Remember search and form history.”
• If you use Safari – Open the Preferences window, select the Auto-fill tab, and turn off all the features related to usernames and passwords.

This is just one small thing you can do to keep your accounts and the information they contain safe. For managed, 24×7 cybersecurity assistance that goes far beyond protecting your privacy, call 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

Truly understanding the ins and outs of virtualization is not for the faint hearted. It’s a complicated field that is constantly evolving, but one thing remains mostly the same: its benefits. Read on for an uncomplicated recap of just a few of virtualization’s greatest advantages.

More technology uptime

Virtualization vendors use lots of fancy names for the features of their technology, but behind all the technobabble are a number of revolutionary concepts. Take “fault tolerance” for example. When you use virtualization to pool multiple servers in such a way that they can be used as a single supercomputer, you can drastically increase uptime. If one of those servers goes down, the others continue working uninterrupted.

Another example of this is “live migrations,” which is just a fancy way of saying that employee computers can be worked on by technicians while users are still using them. Say you’ve built a bare-bones workstation (as a virtual machine on the server), but you need to upgrade its storage capacity. Virtualization solutions of today can do that without the need to disconnect the user and restart their computer.

Better disaster recovery

Data backups are much simpler in a virtualized environment. In a traditional system, you could create an “image” backup of your server — complete with operating system, applications and system settings. But it could be restored to a computer only with the exact same hardware specifications.

With virtualization, images of your servers and workstations are much more uniform and can be restored to a wider array of computer hardware setups. This is far more convenient and much faster to restore compared to more traditional backups.

More secure applications

In an effort to increase security, IT technicians usually advocate isolating software and applications from each other. If malware is able to find a way into your system through a software security gap, you want to do everything in your power to keep it from spreading.

Virtualization can put your applications into quarantined spaces that are allowed to use only minimum system resources and storage, reducing the opportunities they have to wreak havoc on other components of the system.

Longer technology lifespans

The same features that quarantine applications can also create customized virtual spaces for old software. If your business needs a piece of software that won’t work on modern operating systems, virtualization allows you to build a small-scale machine with everything the program needs to run. In that virtual space, the application will be more secure, use fewer resources, and remain quarantined from new programs.

In addition to software, virtualization also encourages longer life spans of old hardware components. With virtualization, the hardware an employee uses is little more than a window to the powerful virtual machine on the server. Employee computers need only the hardware required to run the virtualization window, and the majority of the processing takes place on the server. Hardware requirements are much lower for employees and equipment can be used for several years.

Easier cloud migrations

There are several ways virtualization and cloud technology overlap. Both help users separate processing power from local hardware and software, delivering computing power over a local network or the internet. Because of these similarities, migrating to the cloud from a virtualized environment is a much simpler task.

There is no debate about the benefits of this technology. The only thing standing between your business and more affordable, efficient computing is an IT provider that can manage it for you. For unlimited technology support, virtualization or otherwise, on a flat monthly fee — get in touch with 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

Many small and midsize businesses are deciding to make cloud services and infrastructure an intentional component of their strategy, rather than scrambling to react every time employees start using some new service. These cloud-ready businesses are taking control of cloud adoption by investing in the right tools and making the technical and operational changes necessary to adapt to a faster-paced world.

A strategic approach to the cloud means recognizing that it is here to stay, and being clear about what benefits you want to achieve for your business. Then, you can evaluate where changes need to be made to ensure you can use cloud services securely and productively while maintaining control over costs.

Five key areas you should consider when optimizing your business for the cloud:

Infrastructure: Look at the IT hardware and networking infrastructure you currently have on-premises, and consider what you will need to fulfill your growth plans and optimize for the cloud. Look for ways you can consume infrastructure from the cloud instead of managing it yourself, as many robust options are available that are more secure and higher-performance than most small or midsize businesses can obtain on their own. These aspects of IT are generally well-defined and are not where you want to focus your efforts on adding value. At the same time, don’t abandon what you have. Rather, look for ways that your existing infrastructure can easily connect to the online services you with to use.

Data: Using online services naturally means data moves across multiple locations. The more cloud services you use, the more likely it is that you will keep significant amounts of data online. In order to cloud-optimize your business, look for data storage options that can interoperate with all the tools you plan to use, including analytics, business applications, and business processes. Being able to seamlessly move data to the cloud depending on application and performance needs can enable you to preserve more of your data in an accessible state.

Management: With the cloud, you can spin up multiple virtual servers for a variety of purposes, typically at far lower cost than purchasing the required hardware yourself. That means you need more than virtualization—you need visibility across all the services you support and consume. This is doubly true if you’re using a mix of on-premises hardware, cloud-based virtual machines, and public cloud services, as many businesses will for the foreseeable future. Visibility is also necessary to manage costs, as consuming cloud services typically uses an operational expense model rather than a capital expense model. This may require new management tools if your environment is on the more complex side.

Security: Securing data across multiple services is a different task than securing it behind a traditional firewall. You need server technology built to protect data wherever it goes, whether it’s on a local server, a mobile device, or an online file share. Strong encryption and multi-factor authentication should be available as an option in the technology you choose.

Applications: Look at all the applications your company uses and make strategic decisions about which ones will provide the best value when you set up your business in the cloud. Other apps might require modification to move to the cloud, but if the business value is there, it could well be worth the trouble.

One key to creating a cloud-ready business is choosing the right server technology to power your applications and services. Windows Server is designed for a cloud-first, mobile-first world and powers business workloads around the world. It helps you give employees access to information across diverse infrastructure, networks, devices, and applications, while offering high levels of security and reliability. And, interoperability between Windows Server and Microsoft Azure can smooth the path to cloud migration.

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 Microsoft SOURCE

If you are seeking out a way to improve your business’s cyber security, both for your business itself as well as for your customers, you are likely looking at your authentication process. Two-step and two-factor authentication are two of the most commonly used options in cyber security. And in current cyber security, many businesses use the terms two-step and two-factor authentication interchangeably.

There are, however, subtle differences between the two. A two-step authentication process requires a single-factor login (such as a memorized password or biometric reading) as well as another of the same type of login that is essentially sent to the user. For example, you may have a memorized password for your first step and then receive a one-time-use code on your cell phone as the second step.

Two-step authentication does function to add an extra step in the authentication process, making it more secure than a single-step authentication (i.e. just the password). However, if a person or business is hacked, it will do only a little to stop hackers from getting a hold of whatever they are looking for.

On the other hand, there is two-factor authentication (sometimes referred to as multi-factor authentication), which is significantly more secure. This type of authentication requires two different types of information to authenticate. For example, it could be a combination of a fingerprint or retinal scan as well as a password or passcode. Because the types of information are different, it would require a hacker a great deal more effort to obtain both forms of authentication.

In essence, every two-factor authentication is a two-step authentication process, but the opposite is not true. With this information in mind, you can be certain that you are using the right type of authentication in your business to keep your business and customer information as secure as possible.

Your network needs the best security technology has to offer. What type of authentication that results in is just one of hundreds of choices that must be made to achieve that end. To take the stress out of securing and protecting your network, call us today for all the help you could ever ask for.

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. SOURCE