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

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

How many times this month have you paid for something online using your credit card? Was each payment page secured by HTTPS? If you’re not 100% certain, you’re a prime target for identity theft. The padlock icon in your web browser’s address bar is immensely important and it requires your attention.

HTTPS Encryption

Older web protocols lack data encryption. When you visit a website that doesn’t use HTTPS, everything you type or click on that website is sent across the network in plain text. So, if your bank’s website doesn’t use the latest protocols, your login information can be intercepted by anyone with the right tools.

HTTPS Certificates

 

The second thing outdated web browsing lacks is publisher certificates. When you enter a web address into your browser, your computer uses an online directory to translate that text into numerical addresses (e.g., www.google.com = 8.8.8.8) then saves that information on your computer so it doesn’t need to check the online directory every time you visit a known website.

 

The problem is, if your computer is hacked it could be tricked into directing www.google.com to 8.8.8.255, even if that’s a malicious website. Oftentimes, this strategy is implemented to send users to sites that look exactly like what they expected, but are actually false-front sites designed to trick you into providing your credentials.

 

HTTPS created a new ecosystem of certificates that are issued by the online directories mentioned earlier. These certificates make it impossible for you to be redirected to a false-front website.

What this means for daily browsing

 

Most people hop from site to site too quickly to check each one for padlocks and certificates. Unfortunately, HTTPS is way too important to ignore. Here are a few things to consider when browsing:

  • If your browser marks a website as “unsafe” do not click “proceed anyway” unless you are absolutely certain nothing private will be transmitted.
  • There are web browser extensions that create encrypted connections to unencrypted websites (HTTPS Everywhere is great for Chrome and Firefox).
  • HTTPS certificates don’t mean anything if you don’t recognize the company’s name. For example, goog1e.com (with the ‘l’ replaced with a one) could have a certificate, but that doesn’t mean it’s a trustworthy site.

 

Avoiding sites that don’t use the HTTPS protocol is just one of many things you need to do to stay safe when browsing the internet. When you’re ready for IT support that handles the finer points of cybersecurity like safe web browsing, give our office 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

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 would-be 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 is 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 after closing the window.

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

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

Limitations of private browsing
Although private browsing does prevent your web browser from storing your data, it doesn’t stop anyone from snooping on your current activities. If your computer is connected to the company network, system administrators can still keep track of what you’re browsing even if you’re in Incognito Mode. Also, if spyware or keylogger malware is installed on your computer, hackers will still be able to see what you’re doing online. Even though private browsing has quite a few benefits, you shouldn’t solely depend on it for online privacy.

Your computers must be equipped with Virtual Private Networks that encrypt your internet connection and prevent anyone from intercepting your data. And don’t forget to scan your computer for viruses with a strong anti-malware program to keep spyware and other malicious web monitoring software at bay.

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

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

As a business owner, it’s essential that you are aware of the hidden costs associated with the Cloud and what measures you can take to keep those costs down. They might be more than what you’d normally pay for at first, but it could add up and cost you two, or even three times more than its worth. Pay the right price for the services you receive, and not a penny more with these five tips:

No standalones
Cloud services come in various shapes and sizes, many of which are standalones that can contribute to rising costs. Opt for a service provider that offers a suite of products that all work together. They are often less expensive than a group of standalone products. Another benefit of working with a provider is that you receive a single point of contact to resolve your issues quickly and effectively.

Experience matters
If you have to integrate a standalone Cloud service into your system, make sure you hire an experienced integration consultant for the job since they will be able to finish the job quicker, thus making it cheaper. Integration mishaps can cause serious downtime which drains a lot of money.

Backups are important
Performing endless backups will definitely waste cloud storage space. That’s why it’s important to examine your Cloud storage data by asking the following questions:

How many versions of this data do you need to store for the long-term? The more versions you store, the more it costs.
What regulatory demands do you need to meet? Some data may need to be accessible for up to three years, whereas other data can be deleted after 30 days.
How quickly do you need to access your backup? If you can wait for a day or two, archive that data to a less expensive service or offline at your provider’s data center.

Remove users
Many Cloud service providers charge by the number of users in your system. By neglecting to manage the list of users, you could end up paying for people who no longer work for you. Implement processes that remove users when they are terminated and consider scheduling a regular audit. Ideally, this should be once every six months to a year, to ensure that your Cloud user list is up-to-date.

Monitor proactively
Ask your Cloud provider whether they can proactively monitor your account to notify you of potential issues before they cause problems. This is especially important if you have a pay-as-you-go license that charges based on resource and storage usage.

Utilizing the right technology resources is vital to your business’s success, and so is knowing how to prevent them from racking up a staggering monthly bill. If you wish to enjoy all the benefits Cloud computing can provide your business without breaking the bank, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.

Time to Get Your Business into Cloud Computing Services? GCInfotech is your Cloud Computing Company Servicing NYC, CT and NJ. With our IT Support, it’s a simple, cost-effective and totally scalable IT infrastructure that also provides 24/7 support as part of a monthly program. Using the power of the Web, our cloud computing management services provide the IT hardware, software, and data backup you need to keep your your company running safely and efficiently. Contact GCInfotech cloud professionals today.

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.com 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

With all the recent hacking scares all over the world, you know and understand that your cyber security and your business’s cyber security are extremely important. However, when it comes to authentication processes, you may not be sure what the real deal is. There are two seemingly similar types of authentication that are often confused. Those are, of course, two-step and two-factor authentication. Find out more about the differences between the two here to ensure your cyber security will always be top of the line.

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 permission from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

Earlier this year, thousands of Delta passengers worldwide were grounded due to a power outage that halted critical IT operations. This was a huge problem not only for the many delayed travelers, but also for the airline company itself. Within three days, the airline company cancelled around 2300 flights and paid over millions of dollars in downtime costs. But if you weren’t personally affected, why should you care? Well, without a business continuity in place, companies like yours can face the same repercussions. In order to prevent that, take heed of some poignant lessons companies can learn from Delta’s IT failings.

Strive for 100% redundancy

According to Delta’s chief information officer, a power failure caused the company’s data center to crash, grounding thousands of would-be passengers. Although power was restored six hours after the incident, critical systems and network equipment failed to switch to a secondary site, corrupting valuable data in the process. And while some systems failed over, other vital applications didn’t; this created bottlenecks, decreased revenue, and diminished customers’ confidence.

Delta’s case is a massive wakeup call not just for the airline industry but for every business — large and small. Companies must implement disaster recovery plans for their data centers, on-site technology, and Cloud applications to continue servicing customers while fixing the main issue with their primary systems. Companies also need to get rid of the false notion that redundancy plans to assure service continuity is restricted to larger corporations. DR and business continuity solutions are extremely affordable today, and a partnership with a provider can help you in more ways than one (more on this later).

Always test your backups

So although Delta had a plan to bring its business back to normalcy, the DR plan left a lot to be desired in practice. This begs the question as to whether the airline company is actually testing, reviewing, and reinforcing its vulnerabilities to different disasters.

The point is that even though your company may have a failover protocol in place, that protocol adds no value to your business unless it has been rigorously tried and tested. In order to avoid the same fate as Delta, make sure to find out whether your disaster recovery plan is capable of running mission-critical applications like email and customer service applications before — not after — downtime occurs.

Account for different types of vulnerability

In an interview with the Associated Press, Delta CEO Ed Bastian said, “We did not believe, by any means, that we had this type of vulnerability.” Indeed, it’s often hard to foresee what threats and vulnerabilities a natural disaster, power outage, or hacker can produce. But it’s not impossible.

By conducting a comprehensive audit of your data center security and disaster protocols, your business will be more aware and adept at minimizing the risk of potential disasters. This also means evaluating and preparing for disasters that are likely to happen to your business depending on its geographic location. Southern US, for instance, is prone to hurricanes and flooding.

Call for help

These lessons and strategies are all crucially important, but pulling off a DR and business continuity solution on your own may be difficult. For this reason, it’s critical to have a planned partnership with a managed services provider that can assess, plan, test and install the continuity solutions your business needs in order to minimize the impact and avoid encountering a Delta IT outage of your own.

To find out more about business continuity and guaranteeing complete IT redundancy, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE