Advertisements and “helpful” suggestions based on your internet browsing habits can be troubling. But what’s even more alarming is that hackers have found another way of tracking you via seemingly harmless autocomplete passwords. Here’s what you need to know.

Why auto-fill passwords are so dangerous

As of December 2018, there are 4.1 billion internet users in the world. This means users have to create dozens of passwords, either to protect their account or simply to meet the password-creation requirements of the platform they’re using. Unfortunately, only 20% of US internet users have different passwords for their multiple online accounts.

Certain web browsers have integrated a mechanism that enables usernames and passwords to be automatically entered into a web form. On the other hand, password manager applications have made it easy to access login credentials. But these aren’t completely safe.
Tricking a browser or password manager into giving up this saved information is incredibly simple. All a hacker needs to do is place an invisible form on a compromised webpage to collect users’ login information.

Using auto-fill to track users

For over a decade, there’s been a password security tug-of-war between hackers and cybersecurity professionals. Little do many people know that shrewd digital marketers also use password auto-fill to track user activity.

Digital marketing groups AdThink and OnAudience have been placing these invisible login forms on websites to track the sites that users visit. They’ve made no attempts to steal passwords, but security professionals said it wouldn’t have been hard for them to do. AdThink and OnAudience simply tracked people based on the usernames in hidden auto-fill forms and sold the information they gathered to advertisers.

One simple security tip for today

A quick and effective way to improve your account security is to turn off auto-fill in your web browser. Here’s how to do it:

  • If you’re using Chrome– Open the Settings window, click Advanced, and select the appropriate settings under Manage Passwords.
  • If you’re using 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’re using 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

According to the B2B research firm Clutch.co, in 2018 a small amount less than two-thirds of all SMBs in the United States had their own websites, but interestingly, the same study also reported that only 17% of those SMBs with websites are actually investing in Search Engine Optimization – or what gets your SMB’s website to the top of Google’s search results so that new and old customers can actually find your official website.

The reason for this statistical discrepancy will be blatantly apparent to most SMB owners. The marketing budget is not unlimited for SMBs, and unnecessary expenses should be avoided, but don’t trick yourself out of realizing the importance of your company’s web presence.

Research has been done that states that upwards of 80% of people lookup and research an SMB or their product or service before visiting a site or buying something from them. Even if your company has a website, chances are your most important content and information is being buried by other, less relevant search results. The following are three ways to ensure the right audience is seeing your site, and benefiting from all of the services you offer:

  1. Off-Domain Visibility

For SMB owners that haven’t built a website yet, this tip can be especially helpful. As you build your website, think of other ways to increase your online presence. Tools like Google My Business(GMB) are a great way to provide information and content for potential customers on the web, even before your website is completed. If you have little experience in this area, it can help to consult with an experienced company offering Google My Business services.

It is also beneficial for any company trying to establish an online presence to have consistently-updated social media profiles. This provides a different avenue of exposure for your business, and may even reach potential customers you might not find elsewhere.

  1.  Technical SEO

The benefits of, and strategies behind technical search engine optimization(SEO) are some of the most important concepts to learn when it comes to getting your website found by the right people.

 

Search engines rely on complex algorithms to rank sites based on a host of factors like page load time and rendering speed. Testing your site’s HTML and correcting errors, along with finding and eliminating pieces of duplicate page content will also go a long in boosting your page in the rankings. This means there are two important things you need to understand:

 

  • Why search engines view your site the way they do and the factors they are looking at when indexing
  • How to control and optimize the aspects of your site that are being evaluated by search engines.

Working with an experienced web development-, marketing-, or SEO-focused company can give you all of the tools you need to harness the power of technical SEO services.

 

  1.  Fresh Content

It is important to be consistent and earnest when it comes to posting content for your website. Simply providing fluff content stuffed with industry keywords will usually result in a lower ranking or your site. It is important to work with someone who knows what google is looking for and how to strategically plan content management services as part of your website design. Fully understanding the role of fresh content and how to manage it with a well-laid-out plan can make your website visible to those who are searching for it.

 

Having a site that looks great is only half the battle when it comes to attracting customers and providing a great first impression. A stream of content that is both relevant and useful plays an important role when it comes to the way Google and other search engines view your site.

 

Bonus: Up to Date

It’s current year, your SMB’s website should not look like it’s from the same era as bell-bottom jeans. While some would rightfully argue that completely redesigning and updating the look of your website is not an easy step toward fixing your SMBs web presence, it is one of the most important ways a company can improve its presence on the internet. If your SMB needs a website overhaul, Xponex Marketing can help. We’ve worked with dozens of SMBs to modernize their websites and optimize their SEO to give them competitive advantages in their marketplaces.

Ask yourself what your website is doing for you and whether it’s aligned with your business needs and objectives. The GCInfotech professional web design team is here to help.

 

Published with consideration from SMBnow.com. 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

Keeping your personal and professional information safe from cybercriminals is not easy. It takes constant vigilance and frequent training. There are dozens of simple tools and tips to help people with almost zero expertise stay safe online, but these five are our favorites.

1. Multi-factor authentication (MFA)

This tool earns the number one spot on our list because it can keep you safe even after a hacker has stolen one of your passwords. That’s because MFA requires more than one form of identification to grant access to an account.

The most common example is a temporary code that is sent to your mobile device. Only someone with both the password and access to your smartphone will be able to log in. Almost any online account provider offers this service, and some let you require additional types of verification, such as a fingerprint or facial scan.

2. Password managers

Every online account linked to your name should have a unique password with at least 12 characters that doesn’t contain facts about you (avoid anniversary dates, pet names, etc.). Hackers have tools to guess thousands of passwords per second based on your personal details, and the first thing they do after cracking a password is to try it on other accounts.

Password manager apps create random strings of characters and let you save them in an encrypted list. You only need one complex password to log into the manager, and you’ll have easy access to all your credentials. No more memorizing long phrases, or reusing passwords!

3. Software updates

Software developers and hackers are constantly searching for vulnerabilities that can be exploited. Sometimes, a developer will find one before hackers and release a proactive update to fix it. Other times, hackers find the vulnerability first and release malware to exploit it, forcing the developer to issue a reactive update as quickly as possible.

Either way, you must update all your applications as often as possible. If you are too busy, check the software settings for an automatic update option. The inconvenience of updating when you aren’t prepared to is nothing compared to the pain of a data breach.

4. Disable flash player

Adobe Flash Player is one of the most popular ways to stream media on the web, but it has such a poor security record that most experts recommend that users block the plugin on all their devices. Flash Player has been hacked thousands of times, and products from companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Google regularly display reminders to turn it off. Open your web browser’s settings and look for the Plugins or Content Settings menu, then disable Adobe Flash Player.

 

5. HTTPS Everywhere

Just a few years ago, most websites used unencrypted connections, which meant anything you typed into a form on that site would be sent in plain text and could be intercepted with little effort. HTTPS was created to facilitate safer connections, but many sites were slow to adopt it or didn’t make it the default option.

HTTPS Everywhere is a browser extension that ensures you use an encrypted connection whenever possible and are alerted when one isn’t available on a page that requests sensitive information. It takes less than one minute and a few clicks to install it.

If you run a business with 10 or more employees, these simple tips won’t be enough to keep you safe. You’ll need a team of certified professionals that can install and manage several security solutions that work in unison. If you don’t have access to that level of expertise, our team is available to help. Give us a call 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

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

Overarching action center settings

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

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

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

Settings for individual applications

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

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

Closing the blinds

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

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

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

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

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

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

While mobile devices cannot equal what desktops and laptops can do, they’re inching pretty close to matching them. That’s why businesses are allowing their employees to use their smartphones and tablets, which help increase productivity and enhance collaboration. But mobile devices have also become the new targets of cybercriminals. Protect your devices with the following tips.

Ensure mobile OS is up-to-date

The updates on Apple and Android operating systems (OSs) improve overall user experience, but their most important function is to fix security vulnerabilities. Reduce your business’s exposure to threats by installing updates for all devices as soon as they become available. Don’t wait for a few weeks or months to update, as this give hackers ample time to exploit vulnerabilities on devices that run on an outdated OS.

Install business applications only

Downloading apps seems harmless. But lenient policies on what should and shouldn’t be downloaded on company mobile devices could lead to staff downloading and installing non-business-related apps from third-party stores, most of which are notorious for malicious advertising codes and other threats.

Be careful when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks

Emergency situations may compel you to use password-free Wi-Fi networks in hotels, airports, cafes, and other public places. Connecting to an open network can expose your confidential information and sensitive company data to hackers connected to the same network.

You can avoid this by providing a practical internet data plan, preferably one that includes roaming services, for remote workers. And if you really have to connect to an open Wi-Fi, don’t use the connection for transferring sensitive data.

Enable phone tracking tools

It’s sad but inevitable — losing a company-issued mobile device happens. Devices can be misplaced or stolen, and enabling Find My iPhone for iOS devices, GPS Phone Tracker for Android, or any device-tracking app helps users locate lost phones. Some also have the option to delete data in stolen devices. Downloading and setting up such an app only takes a few minutes, and it will give you peace of mind knowing that even if your phone is lost or stolen, its contents will not be compromised.

Screen SMS carefully

SMS phishing can be used to trick you into clicking malicious links. Hackers send messages purporting to be from someone you know, asking you to urgently send confidential data. Should you encounter such an SMS, you can either delete it or alert your IT department. You can also block unknown senders without even opening their message.

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

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

 

We are taught never to judge a book by its cover. But in this superficial age, looks are everything, especially for websites. Your website is a customer’s first impression of your business, and if it doesn’t wow them, you’re losing money. Follow these best practices so you don’t end up in that situation.

A variety of professional photos

From pictures of your products to team photos, high-quality images are arguably the most important thing on your website. Blurry, outdated, or irrelevant pictures tell your site visitors that you don’t care about their browsing experience. In-house photos are the best option, but stock images shouldn’t cause any problems as long as they are optimized for mobile viewing and relevant to your content.

Navigation

Aside from one subpar imagery, linking to nonexistent pages is one of the best ways to turn site visitors away. Make sure it’s easy to navigate your site and remove outdated or irrelevant pages. You can’t sell 404 pages to customers, and if that’s all visitors can find, it’s game over.

Clear copywriting

The last thing you want to do is to confuse your customers, so it’s important to keep all of your product or service descriptions as straightforward and simple as possible. If what you’re selling has detailed information, such as dimensions or technical requirements, make sure it’s easy to find but not obtrusive.

Promises to site visitors

Any website that ships products should make its returns policy as visible as possible. This establishes trust early and some online shoppers make purchase decisions based solely on the clarity of a return policy.

If you don’t run an eCommerce site, you also need to prominently display privacy commitments, such as those mandated by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

About page

Your brand needs a story behind it that customers can relate to. Every company website should have an About Us page that describes your team, its culture, and what sets you apart from the competition. Whatever your story is, make sure it’s accessible from any page on your site.

Design

Not everyone is a web design expert, but in today’s gig economy one is never too far away. If your budget is tight, there are DIY site builders specifically geared toward small businesses. Or with a relatively low monthly expenditure, you can hire a managed website provider.

With more revenue originating online, small- and medium-sized business owners can’t afford to overlook the importance of creating a fully functional website. For more information on building a modern website, call us today!

Ask yourself what your website is doing for you and whether it’s aligned with your business needs and objectives. The GCInfotech professional web design team is here to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. SOURCE

 

 

Businesses need technology to be profitable and productive. But not all technologies are capable of delivering on their perceived benefits. To make sure your investments are still worth keeping, you need to perform technology business reviews.

What is a technology business review?
A technology business review reveals the strengths and weaknesses of your company’s IT framework. It’s often performed by a third-party IT consultant who will give an objective assessment of your technology and provide recommendations to help meet your goals. If done properly, technology business reviews allow you to:

 

Save money
Every review starts with a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether a solution you’ve implemented is worth the continued investment. If there are technologies costing you a fortune in management and maintenance fees, consultants will advise you to cut them from your budget. The best ones will even recommend cost-effective alternatives so you can do more with less.

 

Increase productivity
System-wide reviews of your IT infrastructure show you what processes are hindering operations and propose solutions that let you work faster and smarter. For example, if employees are mainly sharing files via email, consultants might suggest cloud collaboration platforms like Office 365 or G Suite that store data in a centralized location for seamless file sharing.

 

Enhance security and compliance
Technology business reviewers also uncover security risks within your business. Consultants scan for missed patches, poorly configured networks, and other software vulnerabilities that make it easy for cybercriminals to hack your systems.

 

They’ll then compile their findings to create a more robust defense strategy, usually one that involves implementing advanced solutions like intrusion prevention systems, file access restrictions, and patch management software.

If you operate a business that’s subjected to data regulations like HIPAA or PCI-DSS, consultants will also pinpoint IT practices and solutions that are noncompliant and customize a strategy that ensures the privacy, integrity, and availability of your data.

Implement technologies that fit
Considering that new technologies are released at a breakneck pace, it’s important you pick the ones that make sense for your operation, its goals, and the bottom line. Technology business reviews keep you up to date on the latest technology trends and gauge the impact of implementing them, so you can make informed decisions.

 

Whether your goal is to increase profits, productivity, security, or all of the above, technology business reviews can put you on the right track. Our seasoned IT consultants can conduct these reviews for you and develop a strategy that gives you an edge over the competition. Just 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

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

No more security updates

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

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

Software companies will halt support too

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

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

New hardware may not work

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

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

When will Microsoft end support?

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

 

Upgrading is better than using unsupported Windows

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

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

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

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