Data breaches are serious problems with business-crippling results. Some organizations are unaware of the multiple ways cybercriminals can attack and are often unprepared to combat the issues that arise when such activities occur. Others let fear of attack control their response and deploy common solutions that they presume will protect them but may later find themselves compromised because of gaps in their data protection approach.

Cybercriminals thrive on both of these scenarios–using lack of preparation or overconfidence in what was deployed to their advantage.

In this eWEEK Data Points article, Index Engines Vice-President Jim McGann offers valuable industry information about how to thwart the possibility of succumbing to a ransomware attack. Enterprises should implement the following five defensive strategies:

Data Point No. 1: Deploy a real-time malware detector.

Cybercriminals are looking for the path of least resistance when attempting to break into data centers. Whether it is a remittance of old attacks hoping to find an unsecure target or one of the many new threats created each day hoping to infiltrate a system before they’ve been identified, having one of the commercially available anti-malware software protection solutions deployed is an important first line of defense. Ensure that the software is scheduled for frequent system scans, and that updates and patches are installed automatically to minimize protection gaps.

Data Point No. 2: Deploy a backup solution that supports full-content analysis of your data.

Many backup products on the market today have some level of analytics functionality to determine whether any particular data has been corrupted. However, many of these solutions are metadata-only based, only looking at basic information about a file or database. Others use metadata analytics on the first pass and then follow up on suspicious results with content-based analytics. But this approach is flawed and can miss more sophisticated attack vectors, providing a false sense of confidence. A comprehensive content-based analytic scan deployed from the start validates the data’s integrity and delivers the high level of confidence that advanced or hidden attacks are found and neutralized.   

Data Point No. 3: Use forensic analysis that includes machine learning.

Because of the efforts of real-time malware detection providers and content-based analytic backup solutions, most cybercriminals have to consistently change approaches in their efforts to infect and attack business operations. What was once a bunch of loosely affiliated opportunists have turned into well-funded and organized syndicates using advanced technologies to re-engineer their attacks. Forensic analysis software that employs machine learning and artificial intelligence as part of its learning can detect patterns and anticipate changes that human-based intervention cannot. The cybercriminals are using ML to their advantage; so should you!

Data Point No. 4: Don’t pay a ransom.

Because of the swiftness and scale of these cybercriminal activities, it is possible that they may still find a way into your computing and storage infrastructure. Human error, falling for phishing schemes or intentional damage from a disgruntled employee can be the gaps that data thieves need to penetrate organizations that have deployed the proper security defenses. As overwhelming as it may be to find out that your data has been compromised and/or encrypted, don’t play into the hackers’ hands by paying a ransom for a return of your business-critical information. It is possible that you may still not recover your data even after paying. The security exploit that was leveraged may still be intact and cybercriminals may re-target your systems. Criminals may see you as an easy mark for having paid the ransom and have reason to come at you again, knowing that you’re willing to pay to get back up and running.

Data Point No. 5: Focus on best practices for cyber-recovery.

Not paying a ransom does not mean that you cannot get your systems back and operational. Nor does it mean that there has to be an excruciatingly long recovery period. The right protection software can turn a ransomware attack into just another disaster-recovery scenario. It can find the most recent clean backup prior to an attack and help recover any lost or infected data. In addition, the right cyber-recovery tool can launch a post-attack forensic discovery to find the breach and the malware that executed the attack in order to guide the post-attack recovery process and protect against future intrusions.

“Cybercriminals will strike any organization, no matter how big or small, if they feel like there is a good chance of collecting a ransom,” McGann said. “Taking steps to fortify your defenses and ensure fast, efficient recovery in case you do fall victim is paramount for protecting against ransomware in the first place. Criminals want the easy score. Deploying a solution like CyberSense that serves as a safety net against ransomware makes working for a win not worth the time and effort.”

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 eweek.com  SOURCE

Just like its predecessors, Windows 10 is designed to provide a personalized experience to its users. It offers many ways in which you can change your PC’s interface — how it looks, and even how it can be accessed. Here are some Windows 10 customization features you have to try.

Change your themes

The most notable way to personalize Windows 10 is by changing your background and lock screen images. Do this by right-clicking anywhere on your desktop and choosing Personalize. Here, you can choose and preview different backgrounds and themes you can use. You can even add new themes by using images from your gallery or by clicking Get more themes in the Microsoft Store.

Use dark mode

Want to give your Windows 10 an edgier feel? Right-click on your desktop and choose Personalize. Go to Colors. Under Choose your color, select Dark. This changes the colors of your windows and menus from white or gray to black, and text from black to white. The colors on websites and third-party apps remain unchanged, however.

To restore your default settings, repeat the process but click Light.

Virtual desktops

If you’re having trouble separating your work files from your personal files, try creating a virtual desktop. Press the Windows key + TAB to show all your open windows. Click on the Add a new desktop button at the upper left corner of your screen to create a virtual desktop. While viewing your open windows, you can click and drag windows from one desktop to another.

To quickly switch between desktops, use the keyboard shortcut CTRL + Windows key + left/right arrow. Remove a virtual desktop by pressing Windows key + TAB. Click on the X button on the desktop you want to erase.

App snapping

App snapping is not exactly a new feature, but Windows 10 lets you snap any app in place. Snap an app window by dragging it into any of the four corners of your screen. This changes your window to a fourth of your screen size, allowing you to view multiple windows at once. You can have a maximum of four separate windows simultaneously open in your monitor.

Reorganize your Start Menu

To add a little more “you” to your Windows PC, you can customize how your apps are arranged on the Start menu. For one, you can resize the Start menu by simply dragging the top or right side of the menu.

You can also resize the live tiles by right-clicking on them and selecting Resize. You can also rearrange application tiles by dragging them anywhere around the Start menu. If you won’t be using a particular application, simply right-click the tile and select Unpin from Start. On the other hand, if you want to pin applications to the Start menu, right-click on an app and choose Pin to Start.

For even faster access to apps, simply pin the programs to the taskbar.

Change color themes

Is the plain black Start menu not doing it for you anymore? Just right-click on your desktop, choose Personalize, go to Color, and select any accent color that pleases you. Tick the checkboxes under Show accent color on the following surfaces if you want this color applied to the Start menu, taskbar, action center, and title bars.

Disable notifications

We don’t know where you stand on app notifications, but if you absolutely hate them and wish to never get them ever again, press the Windows key and click on the gear icon to open your Settings. Click System and select Notifications & Actions. Switch off whatever app notifications you don’t want.

Switch up and personalize your Windows 10 however you like by using some or all of these options. If you want more ways to personalize your desktop or if you need information on anything Windows 10-related, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.

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

COVID-19 has forced companies large and small to rapidly retool the way they do business, with even the smallest businesses making remote work arrangements for employees. But while the pandemic has inspired an unprecedented surge of cyber attacks, including a heap of new security challenges for business, many small companies aren’t rewriting cyber security policies or implementing new security measures at the same rate as larger companies, and it seems the smaller the company, the fewer the changes.

With the economy beginning to contract, many small businesses may be struggling to find the funds or staff to address evolving cybersecurity concerns. Small businesses already make up 43 percent of cyber crime targets in the U.S., and in 2019, data breaches cost small businesses an average of $200,000, with 60 percent of those attacked going out of business within six months.

Improving cyber security might cost some money, but it’ll surely be worth keeping your business afloat — and it might even be cheaper than the cost of a data breach. Protecting yourself is often as simple as implementing a few smart policies, and using the right security tools.

Update Your Policies to Address the Realities of Remote Work

If you have employees working remotely during the crisis, you need to implement some policies that acknowledge the unique security risks of working from home. First of all, employees won’t be behind a company firewall, and might not have company security software running on their systems.

Require that employees access company data over a private network — anyone who doesn’t have access to a home network should be required to work onsite, where they can access a secure connection. Public connections, like those in coffee shops or libraries, might not be available anyway, and if they are, they’re not safe — hackers can jump on them to access your data. Clarify that employees shouldn’t save company data to their personal devices, including storage like flash drives, personal cloud storage, or personal email. All of these are insecure places to store data.

Use the Right Tools

Software solutions are available to give you and your employees the tools you need to stay secure while working in a challenging situation. Employees can use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to access your company’s internal network and even use a virtual desktop there, which provides both storage solutions and an extra layer of security.

Employees will also need endpoint security, including anti-malware protection and firewall protection. Advanced threat protection will include security for endpoints and other network devices and email, as well as malware protection. The best advanced threat protection offers real-time monitoring to catch breaches and other attacks before they do too much damage.

Train Your Employees

Of course, employees will need regular security check-ins to make sure their security features are optimized. However, they’ll also need additional training in cybersecurity, especially as everyone is on-edge and stressed-out at the moment — in other words, employees are more likely than ever before to be in the perfect state of mind to fall for a phishing email or other social engineering tactic. Regular training, even if it’s just videos and online quizzes, will help keep employees on their toes, and will maybe help you single out individuals who need further attention.

Supply Devices

If you can, it’s safest to supply your employees the devices they need to work from home. It’s more fair to the employees, who may otherwise have to use old or underpowered equipment, or scramble to come up with what they need on their own. But it’s not just about fairness — you have much more control over what happens on company devices, and you can, at least in theory, keep employees from using them for personal stuff. This can help keep hackers from compromising your company data, since you don’t know what emails your employees are answering in their downtime, or which questionable websites they might be visiting. Their personal devices could already be compromised.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been dangerous in all kinds of ways, some more predictable than others. Make sure your company is aware of the dangers COVID-19 poses for your cyber security, so you protect yourself on every front.

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 smallbiztechnology.com  SOURCE

cyber security

And What You Need To Do NOW To Protect Yourself

Everybody gets hacked, but not everything makes the evening news. We hear about big companies like Target, Home Depot, Capital One, and Facebook getting hacked. What we rarely hear about are the little guys – the small businesses that make up 99.7% of employers in the United States, according to the Small Business Administration. It’s these guys who are the biggest targets of cybercriminals.

Basically, if you run a business, that business is a potential target. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, what you sell or how popular you are. Cybercriminals go after everybody. In 2018, a cyber security survey by the Ponemon Institute found that 67% of small and midsize businesses in the US and UK were hit by a cyber-attack.

For the cybercriminal, casting a wide net makes the most sense because it gets results. It puts them in a position where they are able to extort money, steal sensitive information and ultimately profit off of destroying the property, prosperity and reputation of others.

Why do cybercriminals love to target small businesses? There are a handful of reasons why small businesses make sense to attack.

  1. Small Businesses are the most vulnerable. Business owners, entrepreneurs and executives aren’t always up-to-date on network security, current cyberthreats or best practices in IT. They have a business to run and that’s usually where their focus is. Unfortunately, that means cyber security can take a back seat to other things, like marketing or customer support. This also means they might not be investing in good network security or any IT security at all. It’s just not top-of-mind or they may feel that because it’s never happened to them, it never will (which is a dangerous way of thinking).
  2. Small Businesses don’t take IT security seriously. Coming off that last point, it’s true that many businesses don’t properly secure their network because they feel that they aren’t vulnerable. They have the mindset of “It hasn’t happened to me, so it won’t.” Along those same lines, they might not even take password security seriously. According to research conducted by Trace Security, upward of 80% of ALL breaches come down to one vulnerability: weak passwords! Even in 2020, people are still using passwords like “12345” and “password” to protect sensitive data, such as banking information and customer records. Secure passwords that are changed regularly can protect your business!
  3. Small Businesses don’t have the resources they need. Generally speaking, medium to large companies have more resources to put into IT security. While this isn’t always true (even big companies skimp on cyber security, as the headlines remind us), hackers spend less time focused on big targets because they assume it will take more of their own resources (time and effort) to get what they want (money and sensitive data). Many small businesses lack the resources like capital and personnel to put toward IT security, so hackers are more confident in attacking these businesses.

Just because you haven’t had any major problems for years – or at all – is a bad excuse for not maintaining your computer systems. Threats are growing in number by the day. While many small businesses might think, “I don’t have the time or resources for good security,” that’s not true! You don’t need to hire IT staff to take care of your security needs. You don’t need to spend an arm and a leg securing your network. IT security has come a LONG way in just the last five years alone. You can now rely on an IT security firm, like GCInfotech, to handle all the heavy lifting. They can monitor your network 24/7. They can provide you with IT support 24/7.

That’s the great thing about technology today – while many hackers are doing everything they can to use technology against us, you can use it against them too. Work with a dedicated and experienced IT security firm. Tell them your business’s network security needs and they’ll go to work fighting the good fight against the bad guys.

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 getting targeted with surprisingly relevant ads, there’s a chance your internet activity is being tracked and analyzed by market researchers. While this doesn’t bother most people, private browsing mode can offer you some protection against online marketers and data thieves.

What is private browsing?

Your web browser — whether it be Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Safari, or Opera — remembers the URLs 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 in the private browsing session are immediately 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 you accessed after closing the window.

Your cookies also won’t be tracked. In a normal browsing session, sites like Facebook will display highly targeted ads based on the sites and pages you’ve visited. But in private browsing mode, your internet activity can’t be tracked by marketing companies.

Another benefit of private browsing is that 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 online accounts at the same time.

What are the limitations of private browsing?

Although private browsing does prevent your web browser from storing your data, it doesn’t stop anyone from snooping on your online activities in real time. If your computer is connected to the company network, system administrators can still track 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. Even though private browsing has quite a few benefits, you shouldn’t solely depend on it for online privacy. Instead, you should use a virtual private network (VPN) when you go online. These encrypt your internet connection and prevent anyone from intercepting your data. And don’t forget to use a strong anti-malware program to scan your computer and keep spyware and other malicious web monitoring software at bay.

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

The global pandemic hasn’t defeated many hard-working managers and teams. They’re protecting themselves from the virus, meeting deadlines, collaborating on projects, and hitting business goals, all while working from home. In this article, we’ll go through a list of the essentials tools for the new normal that is remote working.

For both employers and employees, a remote working arrangement has attractive benefits. Organizations can tap into a potentially larger labor pool, hiring from just about anywhere and finding highly skilled talent at lower rates.

Fifty percent of remote workers reported increased job satisfaction and had 13.5 percent more calls completed. Being spared the stress of a daily commute and having a better work-life balance are factors to their happiness, and therefore, better productivity.

In the face of natural calamities, outages, and the ongoing pandemic, a distributed workforce becomes a necessary business continuity measure — a means to protect employees and keep productivity up, even as normal facilities remain unavailable.

But all of this was only possible because we have the technologies to support remote work. Barriers to remote working have been brought down by the advancement of remote working tools. With a plethora of software to choose from, we’ve selected the ones that help your remote teams thrive.

Remote desktop applications

Accessing your work computer while on the go or out of the office was once unheard of. Remote desktop apps have made it possible, allowing users to work remotely on a computer through another device and from any location.

Our picks: TeamViewer and Splashtop
Team Viewer has capabilities such as screen sharing, file transfer, wake-on-LAN, and clipboard transfer. Free for personal use, the app is easy to set up and is available for multiple operating systems such as Windows, macOS, and Android. Meanwhile, Splashtop has similar capabilities but with the added benefit of “low-latency” transfers or the transfer of a high volume of data and messages with minimal delay.

Real-time communication and collaboration software

Every successful organization needs to communicate. When communication breaks down, productivity and engagement suffer. Given the lack of face-to-face contact, regular, real-time communication is arguably more critical for remote teams and their managers. The following apps make it possible, seamless, and simple.

Our picks: SlackMattermostRocketChatMicrosoft Teams, and Join.me
Deemed the alternative to email, Slack is the leader of the pack, with its robust API that allows integration with countless applications. Its basic functionality enables remote workers to direct message (DM) or create “collaboration hubs” around departments, projects, or any topic. Mattermost and Rocket Chat are open source tools that recreate many of Slack’s capabilities.

Microsoft Teams and Join.me are well-known video chat and conferencing apps. However, as a full collaboration and communication suite, Teams offers more for Windows users. It allows VoIP, direct and group messages, and integration with all the Office 365 apps. Not only is Join.me a free video-conferencing app, but it also allows participants to use a cool brainstorming feature called “whiteboarding” for real-time interaction on a shared document.

Project management essentials

When you’re managing a team of dozens located in different parts of the globe, things can start to fall apart quickly. Time differences and distance can create significant complexity if you lack the right tools. These two apps can help you overcome the challenges and streamline project organization and collaboration.

Our picks: Basecamp and Trello
Basecamp is a web-based management tool for planning and collaboration on projects. There’s no installation needed, just your regular web browser to access its powerful core functions that include task management, messaging, collaboration, file sharing, scheduling, quick search, and reporting.

Trello’s overall shining feature is its simplicity. The web-based tool’s approach to project management is built around one concept: the bulletin board. Users can create boards that represent projects and each board can be populated with cards assigned to specific members and customized with deadlines, comments, and attachments.

With the current global crisis, remote working tools have become even more crucial to sustaining productivity, accomplishing projects, and solidifying distributed teams. It’s important your organization chooses ones that are well-suited to budget, infrastructure, and goals. Our experts can help make a proper assessment and configure the perfect remote working setup. Talk to 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 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

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

Have you bought a new PC or laptop recently? Don’t be too impressed by so-called value-added pre-installed software, as these take up storage space and use up processing power. More than this, a new report shows that free trial versions of browser toolbars, video games, and antivirus programs can make you vulnerable to cybersecurity threats. To mitigate those risks, here are a few things you ought to know about bloatware.

In the middle of 2014, Lenovo users noticed something awry with their web browsers: banner ads were breaking webpage layouts and pop-ups made surfing unpleasant. A deep dive into the problem led to the discovery of a pre-installed software called Superfish — adware that jumps in the middle of your internet connection to stuff web pages with ads. Not only was this bloatware irritating, but it also made connections unsecure, leaving users vulnerable to hackers.

 

Software behemoth Microsoft has developed and deployed its fair share bloatware as well. The Windows 10 operating system, in particular, has plenty of them, such as:

  • 3D Viewer (previously called Mixed Reality Viewer)
  • Calculator
  • Calendar
  • Candy Crush Soda Saga
  • Disney Magic Kingdoms
  • Groove Music
  • Mail
  • Movies & TV
  • Paint 3D
  • Snip & Sketch
  • Sticky Notes
  • Voice Recorder

 

These programs are called bloatware because users don’t necessarily want them, yet they’re already installed on computers and take up storage space. Some of these even run in the background and slow down computers without users knowing it.

While many of these programs are pleasant add-ons for those who find value in them, many users prefer to start with a leaner operating system due to storage space and processing power concerns. If they want a particular software, they prefer to download it themselves. This gives them greater control over their machines and how they experience their hardware and software.

Like Superfish, other Windows 10 bloatware can also cause critical vulnerabilities. The most ironic example of this was a pre-installed version of Keeper Password Manager. Instead of keeping passwords safe, it allowed malicious people behind any website to steal passwords. While Windows 10 users needed to enable Keeper to store their passwords for them to become vulnerable, it makes you wonder why such a flawed password manager app is there in the first place.

 

How to rid yourself of bloatware

 

Removing inclusions you did not ask for is a hassle in and of itself, but thankfully, the process is not too tedious:

  1. Click the Startmenu, then the gear icon.
  2. In the Settings window, select Update & Security.
  3. On the left-hand side, click Recovery.
  4. Select Learn how to start fresh with a clean installation of Windowsand follow the instructions.

 

Bloatware not only clutters your laptops and PCs, but it can render your business vulnerable to cybersecurity breaches as well. Save yourself from tons of headaches down the line; learn more about protecting your computers from bloatware. Call our team of IT 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