20 Feb

Understanding Cyber-Security

As technology consultants, we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. We want to provide our clients with enterprise-level IT, but that requires that we specialize in overwhelmingly intricate technology. Explaining even the most foundational aspects of our cyber-security would most likely put you to sleep before convincing you of our expertise. But if you really want to know, here are a few summaries of how we focus on proactive strategies rather than reactive ones.

 

Understand the threats you’re facing

 

Before any small- or medium-sized business can work toward preventing cyber-attacks, everyone involved needs to know exactly what they’re fighting against. Whether you’re working with in-house IT staff or an outsourced provider, you should review what types of attack vectors are most common in your industry. Ideally, your team would do this a few times a year.

 

Reevaluate what it is you’re protecting

 

Now that you have a list of the biggest threats to your organization, you need to take stock of how each one threatens the various cogs of your network. Map out every device that connects to the internet, what services are currently protecting those devices, and what type of data they have access to (regulated, mission-critical, low-importance, etc.).

 

Create a baseline of protection

 

By reviewing current trends in the cyber-security field, alongside an audit of your current technology framework, you can begin to get a clearer picture of how you want to prioritize your preventative measure versus your reactive measures.

Before you can start improving your cyber-security approach, you need to know where the baseline is. Create a handful of real-life scenarios and simulate them on your network. Network penetration testing from trustworthy IT professionals will help pinpoint strengths and weaknesses in your current framework.

 

Finalize a plan

 

All these pieces will complete the puzzle of what your new strategies need to be. With an experienced technology consultant onboard for the entire process, you can easily parse the results of your simulation into a multi-pronged approach to becoming more proactive:

Security awareness seminars that coach everyone — from receptionists to CEOs — about password management and mobile device usage.
“Front-line” defenses like intrusion prevention systems and hardware firewalls that scrutinize everything trying to sneak its way in through the front door or your network.
Routine checkups for software updates, licenses, and patches to minimize the chance of leaving a backdoor to your network open.
Web-filtering services that blacklist dangerous and inappropriate sites for anyone on your network.
Antivirus software that specializes in the threats most common to your industry.

 

As soon as you focus on preventing downtime events instead of reacting to them, your technology will begin to increase your productivity and efficiency to levels you’ve never dreamed of. Start enhancing your cyber-security. Give us a call at 1-866-BIT-WISE or email us at sales@eitnetworks.net.

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13 Jan

Microsoft (Finally) Addressing Complaints

In the past year, Microsoft was heavily criticized for forcing the Windows 10 OS update on PC users. After thousands of customer complaints, the tech giant vowed to make changes and appease disgruntled end users. With the new year are signs that the firm is finally tending to these problems. Here are some of them:

 

A patch and a glitch away

 

Users couldn’t escape the glitches in the frequent Windows 10 updates, which caused an array of problems such as frozen systems, broken webcams, and even PCs being unable to secure an Internet connection. In light of the patching dilemma, Microsoft is offering more options to defer updates. In fact, a leaked preview shows a new option to pause updates for up to 35 days via a switch in the Settings menu.

 

OneDrive placeholders

 

Since the launch of Windows 10, many users have eagerly awaited Microsoft to re-introduce this beloved feature to the operating system’s built-in OneDrive cloud storage service. In Windows 8.1, placeholders (aka Smart files) allowed users to see all their OneDrive files, whether or not they were stored on the device. Making its return in Windows 10 File Explorer when using OneDrive, the feature shows user files stored locally as well as on the cloud.

 

Owning up to the update fiasco

 

Not only is Microsoft addressing the various complaints it received, but it’s also owning up to some of them. Just before Christmas, Microsoft’s chief marketing officer, Chris Capossela, admitted that the company had gone too far when it tried to get Windows 7 and 8 users to upgrade to Windows 10. This referred to Microsoft’s decision in early 2016 to change the design for the user prompt for its Get Windows 10 app, the software responsible for scheduling upgrades. The user prompt was altered so that clicking X to close the window causes the user to unknowingly agree to a Windows 10 upgrade. This change puts Microsoft in direct violation of its own user experience guidelines for developers on dialog box design.

“Within a couple of hours of that hitting the world, we knew we had gone too far,” recalled Capossela. “Those two weeks were pretty painful and clearly a lowlight for us.” It was then that Microsoft reversed its decision on tweaking the pop-up, so clicking on X would dismiss the upgrade.

 

It seems that 2017 is the year that Microsoft will start listening more to its users and addressing their complaints. Maybe: Hopefully this renewed strategy will benefit users sooner rather than frustrate them later. Contact us (1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net) and we’ll keep you up-to-date with the latest Microsoft updates.

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15 Dec

Gooligan Malware Haunts Android Devices

It is the largest single theft of Google accounts ever reported. And if you own an Android 4 or 5 phone, it has likely already affected you. The Gooligan virus, running rampant in third-party app stores, promises to keep wreaking havoc until developers find a way to shut it down. To help your business avoid malware catastrophe, read on to learn what we know about Gooligan so far.

 

It is estimated that since Gooligan’s August 2016 appearance, the malware has infected more than 1.3 million Google accounts — one of the largest single thefts in recent history.

With the range of personal data available in Google accounts, it is interesting to note that Gooligan’s purpose isn’t to steal the valuable information; instead, it’s to distribute advertising fraud. With as much as $320,000 a month going into the pockets of Gooligan developers, it is obvious that the ploy is working.

 

How Gooligan is Moving Through the Internet

 

Consumers are falling prey to the virus when they attempt to download a fake app from a third-party app store. Instead of getting the program that they were promised, they inadvertently allow the Gooligan malware to root into their Android OS and take control of it. Once in control, the virus downloads apps using your Google information. These apps are infused with ads that belong to Gooligan developers, bringing them a never-ending stream of income.

 

Where Gooligan Came from and Where it’s Going

 

Gooligan appears to be a variation of the 2015 Ghost Push malware, which was also wildly successful at infecting Android users. Google is currently working with Android engineers and Internet security firms to quelch the malware; they believe that through cooperative efforts, it will disappear from public attention. As it is, those who have updated Android versions of 6.0 or greater are not affected by the malware.

You can lower your chances of contracting the Gooligan malware by downloading apps only from Google Play and checking your system through the security firm Check Point to ensure your Android hasn’t already been infected.

 

For more information on Gooligan and how you can protect your company, contact us at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net.

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05 Dec

The Surprise Office 365 App

There is a new weapon available to business owners who subscribe to Office 365. It’s called Office 365 Hub, and it was recently released under the guise of the Get Office App in Windows 10. Learn more about the Hub program and how it promises to increase your company’s efficiency and visibility.

 

What does Office Hub Do?

 

Office 365 Hub is a dashboard management program that makes it easier for you to integrate all your Office 365 apps in one location and manage the different programs without the need to get on a browser.

 

Users can:

Manage their payment and subscription information
Optimize Office apps for mobile devices
Access files, programs and apps on the cloud drive from any device
Switch between a personal and business account
Office Hub, like other dashboard management programs, allows you to access multiple apps and programs in one place. Clicking on the Home tab displays a summary of recent documents accessed as well as your commonly used Office apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.

 

For the business owner, this ease of access increases efficiency company-wide. Business owners can install new apps on the desktop without visiting an online browser, while administrators will have no problem moving between the different office applications.

 

What’s more, Office 365 Hub provides a Help and Training tab with links to online resources, tutorials and support forums to help new Office 365 users to quickly acclimate to the cloud. All in all, Office 365 Hub promises a stress-free and easily manageable cloud experience.

 

Reaching the Office 365 Hub App

 

Unfortunately, the Office 365 Hub is not yet visible to everyone who signs on to the Get Office App on Windows 10. It is only open to those who are Office 365 subscribers and members of their Insider program. They also have to be set as Fast Ring subscribers, members who receive builds before they have been completely debugged and updated. Otherwise, you can expect the general release of Office 365 Hub and its benefits in the first half of 2017.

 

If you want the latest updates on Office 365 Hub or any new Microsoft features, contact us today at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net.

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11 Nov

Laptop vs Desktop: Which to Choose for Your Business

Running a small business takes an intelligent, resourceful person. From day one you must make important decisions in all areas of business, from the marketing strategy chosen for a product to the brand of printer you will use to print out flyers. One of the biggest decisions you will make in the early stages of a business involves your SMB’s computer hardware, particularly whether to invest in a desktop computer or a laptop. Read on to find out how to make this decision for your company.

 

Portability

 

Modern desktop computers aren’t nearly as immobile as they used to be. In many cases the screen is thin and light, and all-in-one desktops are easy to unplug, move and plug in on the road. But there are still places the desktop cannot go. Laptops allow you to go anywhere, even places without electricity. But this ability to take your work anywhere can be counterproductive by creating more stress on employees who think they must work all the time.

 

Memory/Speed

 

Desktop computers often have more memory than laptops, and they’re faster due to better processors. This is now changing as a result of advancing technology, but until the cost of high-powered laptops becomes affordable to the general public, the desktop computer is going to provide businesses with more speed. If your employees’ work is limited to word processing and emailing, laptops should be enough. However, anything more will probably require a desktop machine.

 

Security

 

An SMB’s computer hardware needs to be secure to ensure that private company information doesn’t end up in the wrong hands. On a desktop computer, the hardware is easier to defend against malware and adware. It’s also more physically secure because the desktop is often kept in one location and not easy to snatch. If you do choose the laptop route, make sure to have strict policies on how to protect machines that leave the office.

 

Price

 

Traditionally, the laptop has been cheaper and available to more people. This is true particularly for smaller notebook-style laptops. But desktop computers are becoming more affordable as more people have access to them through local channels. With a capable IT service provider, cost probably won’t be a deciding factor between the two options.

 

Quality

 

Although laptop computers provide the convenience of portability, over time they’re prone to problems with the battery and charging cord. They are also easily damaged. By contrast, desktops are generally more sturdy. But when they do experience a problem, it often leads to expensive repairs.

 

Final Recommendation

 

The desktop versus laptop debate is an old one, with supporters on both sides touting the advantages of their choice to all who will listen. A growing company really needs a combination of both types of computers. However, a desktop computer will be generally more reliable for the fledgling company owner to start with. Laptops should be added as budget permits to provide that extra portability and convenience.

 

If you have questions regarding the best choice for your company, give us a call at 1-866-BIT-WISE, or email sales@eitnetworks.net. We’ll be happy to provide you the assistance you need to improve your business.

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07 Nov

Download iOS 10.1 ASAP

If you want to make sure that your iPhone reliably works the way it should and that all the information in it is secure, you should always pay special attention to updates as soon as they become available. Although you may be hesitant to immediately download the latest iOS 10.1 update, you should get to know more about why you should download this update right away.

 

The latest update for iPhone and iOS users, referred to as the iOS 10.1 update, was launched on October 24, 2016. Its primary purpose is to address a serious security issue with the previous version of iOS. This security vulnerability should be of major concern to any iOS or iPhone user.

 

The security vulnerability addressed by the iOS 10.1 update was originally discovered by Tencent’s Keen Lab, specifically by a researcher named Marco Grassi. This vulnerability left a hole in the iOS programming that would allow a hacker or attacker to seize control of the phone, changing the code and performing commands after the iOS user opens a JPEG file (image file) that has been “maliciously crafted.”

 

Essentially, what this boils down to is that without the iOS 10.1 update, a corrupted image file could allow another person to control your device (iPad or iPhone). Even without downloading the file, this security hole could be taken advantage of by a hacker. If this is not enough reason to download the iOS 10.1 update, it also addresses other security issues and concerns that involve specific apps, the ability to see login password lengths through workaround hacks, and the like. Because of these specific issues and more, the iOS 10.1 update is a must-have for users of iPhones or iPads.

 

If keeping your phone and personal information secure are two of your biggest concerns, the iOS 10.1 update is a no-brainer. The sooner you update your device, the sooner you can feel safer using your iOS devices.

 

Installing security updates may be inconvenient, but they’re a necessity. If you need help managing software updates and keeping your business safe, contact us today at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net.

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18 Oct

What Makes Google’s Pixel so Special?

This year, Google announced its grand entry into a market largely dominated by major companies like Samsung and Apple with the production of its first smartphone — the Google Pixel. Although it sports a design similar to the iPhone, Google is planning to offer distinct features that will enhance the user experience. What are they, and will they make Google Pixel stand out from other smartphones?

 

A fantastic smartphone camera

 

When purchasing a smartphone, a good camera is one of the must-haves. And in this area, Google Pixel does not disappoint, as it has one of the best smartphone cameras on the market. With a 12.3-megapixel rear camera, the Google Pixel can capture high-quality photos in both bright and poorly-lit environments. For selfie enthusiasts, Google’s smartphone also sports an 8-megapixel front camera, which is much more powerful than the iPhone 7’s.

 

Long battery life

 

Due to the complex programs that run on them, many smartphones are unable to offer long battery life. But this isn’t a problem with the Google smartphone. The Google Pixel can last for as long as 13 hours with extended internet use. What’s more, just a short time charging yields hours of potential use. Experts say that with only 15 minutes of plug-in time, the phone will operate for up to 7 hours.

 

Robust specs

 

One of the weaknesses of Microsoft’s smartphone was its mediocre specifications compared to other handheld devices at the time. Pixel users will find no problems here. To compete with the iPhone, Google Pixel is starting strong with a 1080p screen, 1.6GHz quad processor, 4GB of RAM, and a minimum of 32GB of storage space. Additionally, because it runs with the Android operating system, Pixel can comfortably outperform many other smartphone models.

As for its design, the device looks a lot like the iPhone, but comes in three distinct colors amusingly named “really blue,” “very silver,” and “quite black.” Learning from the missteps of previous companies’ smartphone efforts, Google Pixel has focused on borrowing only the successful elements of prominent smartphone developers to ensure a bit of market share from the beginning.

 

One of the best contenders in the market

 

Apple and Samsung phones may still be the cream of the crop, but Google’s entry is quickly catching up. With pricing in line with the iPhone 7 (USD$649), Google is certainly confident in its hardware. We suppose only time will tell whether Google has reached a smartphone breakthrough or if it will flop like so many companies before them.

 

We at EIT love all things technological. While we are not in the business of selling or maintaining smartphones, we can definitely offer advice on which phone will work best for your needs. If you are looking for technological advice or are interested in a professional managed services provider, contact us at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net.

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23 Sep

Cybersecurity Terms YOU Should Know

Everyone, from doctors to lawyers, needs to continue learning to stay ahead of the times. Business owners might have it worst of all, oftentimes needing to stay on top of several industries to keep their company running. Keep reading for a refresher on all the latest trends and buzzwords used in the cybersecurity sector.

 

Malware

 

For a long time, the phrase ‘computer virus’ was misappropriated as a term to define every type of attack that intended to harm or hurt your computers and networks. A virus is actually a specific type of attack or malware. Whereas a virus is designed to replicate itself, any software created for the purpose of destroying or unfairly accessing networks and data should be referred to as a type of malware.

 

Ransomware

 

Don’t let all the other words ending in ‘ware’ confuse you; they are all just subcategories of malware. Currently, one of the most popular of these is ‘ransomware,’ which encrypts valuable data until a ransom is paid for its return.

 

Intrusion Protection System

 

There are several ways to safeguard your network from malware, but intrusion protection systems (IPSs) are quickly becoming one of the non-negotiables. IPSs sit inside of your company’s firewall and look for suspicious and malicious activity that can be halted before it can deploy an exploit or take advantage of a known vulnerability.

 

Social Engineering

 

Not all types of malware rely solely on fancy computer programming. While the exact statistics are quite difficult to pin down, experts agree that the majority of attacks require some form of what is called ‘social engineering’ to be successful. Social engineering is the act of tricking people, rather than computers, into revealing sensitive or guarded information. Complicated software is totally unnecessary if you can just convince potential victims that you’re a security professional who needs their password to secure their account.

 

Phishing

 

Despite often relying on face-to-face interactions, social engineering does occasionally employ more technical methods. Phishing is the act of creating an application or website that impersonates a trustworthy, and often well-known, business in an attempt to elicit confidential information. Just because you received an email that says it’s from the IRS doesn’t mean it should be taken at face value — always verify the source of any service requesting your sensitive data.

 

Antivirus

 

Antivirus software is often misunderstood as a way to comprehensively secure your computers and workstations. These applications are just one piece of the cybersecurity puzzle and can only scan the drives on which they are installed for signs of well known malware variants.

 

Zero-day attacks

 

Malware is most dangerous when it has been released but not yet discovered by cybersecurity experts. When a vulnerability is found within a piece of software, vendors will release an update to amend the gap in security. However, if cyber attackers release a piece of malware that has never been seen before, and if that malware exploits one of these holes before the vulnerability is addressed, it is called a zero-day attack.

 

Patch

 

When software developers discover a security vulnerability in their programming, they usually release a small file to update and ‘patch’ this gap. Patches are essential to keeping your network secure from the vultures lurking on the internet. By checking for and installing patches as often as possible, you keep your software protected from the latest advances in malware.

 

Redundant data

 

When anti-virus software, patches, and intrusion detection fail to keep your information secure, there’s only one thing that will: quarantined off-site storage. Duplicating your data offline and storing it somewhere other than your business’s office ensures that if there is a malware infection, you’re equipped with backups.

 

We aren’t just creating a glossary of cyber security terms; every day, we’re writing a new chapter to the history of this ever-evolving industry. And no matter what you might think, we are available to impart that knowledge on anyone who comes knocking. Get in touch with us today and find out for yourself. Call 1-866-BIT-WISE or email sales@eitnetworks.net.

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