Security Awareness in 2017

Security Awareness in 2017

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Happy New Year everyone. Let’s kick off 2017 with a reminder on how important security awareness training is. Employees are responsible for 80% of data leaks. All it takes is a single employee clicking on a link to make your company’s security go bye-bye. Here are three good sources on the subject:

Via: www.inspiredelearning.com

 

Top 10 To Do List for 2014

Top 10 To Do List for 2014

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Everyone loves a Top Ten list so we though we would join the bandwagon. Below you will find a list of things to do as we start the new year. These items will secure you from hackers, speed up your systems, and make your IT life just a little better.

1. Get Rid of Windows XP..Right Now..Seriously..We’re Not Joking.

If you have seen our past articles you know that after April Microsoft will no longer release any security fixes for XP (end of support). The bad guys are stockpiling exploits to unleash once support ends. Bottom line,If you have a button that says START in the lower left of your screen you will probably be hacked.

2. Switch from the Big Blue ‘E’.

Do you use Internet Explorer to browse the web? If so, stop doing it. Switch to alternative browsers such as Google Chrome or Firefox. You will be more secure, have faster response times, and be able to use extended features. If you use Chrome for example you can sync your browsing data, bookmarks, etc. with any other device that uses Chrome (smart phones, tablets, etc.).

3. Drink some coffee but ditch Java.

HTML5 is now the standard and most websites don’t use Java anymore. It is full of security holes and has many other issues. Removing Java may cut your risk of malware infection by more than 50%. Click here for removal instructions. Make sure you remove all versions.

4. Upgrade to the latest Adobe Reader.

Adobe reader allows the viewing of PDF files but it is also one of the top 3 programs exploited by malware. Keeping it up to date is key. Luckily the latest versions do this automatically for you.Click here to install the latest version. NOTE: Uncheck the installation of McAffee before clicking install now.

5. Test your backup solution before the disaster.

Your files are backed up and secure right? Are you sure? When is the last time you did a test restore? We didn’t think so. Take 5 minutes out of your day to restore some business critical files from your backup solution (tape, disk, cloud) just to make sure your data is really being backed up. Wireguided does offer a business grade cloud backup solution if you are still backing up to tape or a USB drive stuck under your bed.

6. Test your UPS (battery backup). Don’t have one, buy one.

The batteries on a UPS die just like any other battery. Most have a simple button you can press to test it. Press the button and if it beeps you should be good. Other models may have a red light when it is time to replace. Winter storms mean power outages. Power outages mean crashed computers.

7. Switch to laser printing and save money.

Did that $70 inkjet printer just cost you over $300 in toner? Laser printers can now be purchased for under $200. The toner lasts much longer, the printers are built better, and the paper will not smear. There is really no use for an inkjet anymore unless you have extra money to burn.

8. Change your passwords the right way.

How many passwords do you have? 3,4,5,10? The more passwords you have the more insecure they are. A simple way to manage your passwords is to have three levels. One for web sites that are looking for an account but have no personal information (e.g., news websites, games, etc.). One for social media sites and sites you order items from (e.g., Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, etc.). And the most secure for banking and other sites with personal information. To make a secure password that is easy to remember make sure it is at least 8 characters long. Think of a phrase and pick the first letter of each word. Add a number at the end or in between the letters and there you go. Add a special character and you have a secure password you can remember. Or you can just go here.

9. Clean up the junk in two clicks.

If you have a PC go and download the free version of CCleaner and run it. If your machine is over a year old you should see improved performance. You may also want to go to your installed programs, sort by installation date, and remove items that are no longer needed or installed without your knowledge.

10. Shutdown your computer when not using it. A reboot couldn’t hurt either.

Many people never shutdown or reboot their computers. We have seen users keep machines on for months. This is bad for many reasons such as wear and tear on the machine (fans do not like spinning non-stop) and power cost (a high end machine on non-stop can cost as much as $600/year). The top reason from an end user point of view would be that shutting down and rebooting a machine cleans it up and helps keep things stable. Think of how you are when you get no sleep. Now look at your machine  you have kept on for months and wonder no more why it is acting strange.

Conclusion

We could have added many more but these should be a good start. Follow these steps,make sure your antivirus is up-to-date, don’t click on zip attachments from ‘UPS’ or the ‘IRS’ and your 2014 should be a happy one. Please feel free to share this article.

-Tim

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Why to migrate from Windows XP in One Chart

Why to migrate from Windows XP in One Chart

Security Windows

As we have mentioned before Microsoft’s end of life for Windows XP is approaching quickly (April 2014). After that time no more support or security updates will be available for the 12 year old operating system. Hackers are not wasting anytime though.

Here is the Reason to Migrate *Now*

The below chart shows the infection rate of different Windows operating systems. It shows that the infection rate of Windows XP is double that of Windows 7 and six times the rate of Windows 8. If your PCs are running Windows XP you’re asking for trouble. In business, trouble equals loss of income and/or productivity. After April 2014 it may also mean loss of industry security compliance standings (e.g., MA 201 CMR 17) which means possible legal issues if something does happen.

Source: Microsoft Intelligence Report, vol 15
Source: Microsoft Intelligence Report, vol 15

What should my business be doing?

If you have not already started the migration process you (or your IT department) need to start taking the following steps:

  1. Contact vendors to make sure any business critical applications that are on XP systems now are compatible with Windows 7. Upgrading may be necessary. Don’t forget to test software compatibility before rolling out new systems to everyone.
  2. Determine how many new systems you will need to purchase (you cannot upgrade from XP to anything. Systems running XP are generally at their end of life anyway). You should budget around $550 per new PC (no monitor) to estimate upgrade costs.
  3. Make sure you have access to installation media, download locations, and licenses so you can install your software on any new system.

Other things to consider

If you will be replacing a significant portion of your hardware you may want to consider looking at other aspects of your infrastructure

  1.  The Cloud – Is now a good time to move to the cloud (e.g., backups, email, antivirus, etc.). It may make fiscal sense to do this instead of having to purchase new software licenses. Microsoft Office365 has been excellent for hosted email. Symantec Endpoint Protection SBE 2013 is equally good with anti-malware.
  2. Virtualize – Instead of new PCs maybe virtual workstations should be considered if you have 20+ computers and/or a large remote employee base.
  3. Outsource IT – We might just be a *little* biased on this one but if your IT support consists just of a desktop support person they may not have the skills or manpower to implement new technologies or large upgrades. Outside expertise may cost less then possible downtime.

Like anything else planning is key. If you would like help or just need some free advice please give us a call or shoot us an email.

 

Ditch Internet Explorer Now

Ditch Internet Explorer Now

Internet Security

Do you click on a blue ‘e’ to surf the web? If so, now is the time to move on to another browser for many reasons. The most critical is the security of your PC (and your business).

Background

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer comes with Windows so most individuals and businesses use it as their way to access the Internet. The problem is that it’s riddled with security holes, prone to poor performance, and the latest versions are incompatible with some websites. With the advent of new web technologies such as HTML 5 and much better alternatives there is no reason anyone should be using Internet Explorer any more.

Did I mention it’s a huge security risk?no_ie

A month ago a new exploit was released into the wild that takes advantage of yet another security bug in Internet Explorer. Microsoft will not have an automatic fix for this until Oct 8th. This new bug is being used right now to install malware on computers around the world. While no browser is 100% secure, most of the other ones would act more quickly to fix such a serious issue. Also, most bad guys will write exploits for Internet Explorer as it is the most popular browser in most places.

What are my options?

The good news is that there are many other browsers to choose from. Most Mac users use Safari. Other popular ones are Google Chrome and Firefox. Our recommendation is Google Chrome. It is fast and reliable. It also offers many features not found in Internet Explorer such as syncing of bookmarks and history across all your devices. This makes it the perfect choice if you have an Android based phone or tablet. It also has many free apps that connect your data between devices and makes life a lot easier. Two of our favorites are Chrome to Phone and Google Keep

I run a business. What can I do at work?

If your in charge of managing multiple computers at work going to each one to install Chrome can be a chore. Luckily many free tools exist which can remove the Internet Explorer icon from the desktop and remotely install your new browser of choice. If you would like more information on these tools please contact us via email or phone.

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