Published on: September 16, 2019 in
Cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility. But you don’t need to be an IT expert to know how to protect yourself from a cyberattack. To help you get started, here are helpful terms you need to know so you’re not left in the dark, whether you’re teaching yourself how to update your anti-malware, updating your systems, or consulting your tech support.
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 malware.
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 is malware that encrypts valuable data until a ransom is paid for its return.
Intrusion protection system(IPS)
There are several ways to safeguard your network from malware, but 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 exploit or take advantage of a known vulnerability.
Not all types of malware rely solely on fancy computer programming. 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.
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 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.
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 cyberattackers 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.
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 malware.
When antivirus 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 workspace ensures that if there is a malware infection, you’re equipped with backups.
We aren’t just creating a glossary of cybersecurity 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 just how we can help you with your IT woes.
Published on: September 2, 2019 in
You’ve received a message from one of your Facebook friends. You click on the link not knowing what you’ve gotten yourself into. This describes one of the latest social media adware schemes, which has wreaked havoc on Facebook users worldwide.
What is it?
Little is known about the adware itself or those behind it, but it was uncovered by David Jacoby, senior security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, when he received a Facebook message from one of his friends, only to find out that wasn’t the case.
Basically, the adware uses Facebook Messenger to track your browser activity and pushes you to click on malicious ads or give out personal information.
How does it work?
By clickjacking and hijacking credentials of Facebook users, the adware is able to send messages to people in the victim’s contact list. If you’re one of those people, you’ll receive a phony message from your friend’s compromised Facebook account.
The message includes your friend’s name followed by the word “Video,” a shocked face emoji, and a shortened URL. Once clicked, the URL will redirect you to a Google Doc with a blurred photo taken from your friend’s Facebook page, disguised as a video. If you click on the “video”, you’ll be redirected to one of a number of targeted websites based on your browser, operating system, and location.
For instance, if you use Google Chrome, you’ll be sent to a website that looks exactly like YouTube, complete with the official logo. The hoax website will show you a fake error message to trick you into downloading a malicious Chrome extension.
If you’re on Firefox, you’ll be sent to a site with a false Flash Player update notice and a Windows adware executable; the same goes with OS X except the adware is hidden in a .dmg file.
The goal here is to move your browser through a set of websites so tracking cookies can monitor your activity and display malicious ads or you can be “social engineered” to give up confidential information.
How do you avoid falling victim?
Facebook has rolled out a number of automated systems to stop harmful links and files. What’s more, they will provide you with a free antivirus scan if they suspect that your account has been compromised by adware.
Still, you should be very skeptical about any shortened URL links sent to you by your Facebook friends, no matter how long you’ve been friends.
Due to their low key nature as potential security endpoints, cyber criminals are turning to social media platforms as their new medium of choice. To keep your business safe, you need to stay up-to-date and educate your employees. If you have any other questions about social media and how it can impact your business, just give us a call.
Published on: February 19, 2019 in
Windows 7 Extended Support Ends 1-13-2020
As the saying goes: Out with the old, in with the new. That’s exactly what Microsoft is encouraging Windows 7 users to do as soon as possible. It’s been reported that Windows 7 is so outdated that patches are unable to secure it anymore. Maybe it’s the nostalgic qualities that make it hard for users to take the leap. But sentiments aside, Windows 10 is the way to go.
Windows 7 was given extended support in 2015. And with that, Microsoft warned its users that this outdated version would drive up operating costs due to remediating software attacks that Windows 10 systems could otherwise avoid. The one-year countdown to Windows 7’s twilight officially began with a warning to enterprises that they could face hefty fines for sticking with the platform’s outdated security.
According to Markus Nitschke, head of Windows at Microsoft Germany: Windows 7 does not meet the requirements of modern technology, nor the high security requirements of IT departments. How would this make current Windows 7 users feel? Why are users choosing to remain faithful to the platform’s outdated security? Users can delay upgrades until January 13, 2020, after which extended support for the 2009 OS will end and it will no longer receive patches — unless the customer is paying for a pricey Microsoft Custom Support Agreement.
Markus also added that “As early as in Windows XP, we saw that companies should take early steps to avoid future risks or costs.” The message came as Microsoft published studies that showed Windows 10 Anniversary Update’s built-in security managed to neutralize many zero-day exploits, even without patches needed to protect earlier versions of Windows.
Failing to upgrade to Windows 10 means that you and your networks will miss out on noteworthy security features such as the Windows Hello biometric login, the AppContainer sandboxing technology, and Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection, which will gain new features after upcoming Creators Update.
With the help of newer tools, migrating from Windows 7 to Windows 10 is considerably easier when compared with migrations from XP. Microsoft is still urging corporate users to make the shift before Microsoft permanently terminates support for Windows 7, stating that their business could be looking at real trouble if they fail to comply.
Business owners always do their best to ensure the future of their organization. That includes knowing which tech resources to rely on and which ones to avoid. If you still have questions about Windows 7, feel free to give us a call.
Published on: January 4, 2017 in
Your employees are some of your business’s best assets. With that in mind, it is imperative that they work with high-performance computers that will unlock their full potential and contribute to your business’s profitability. If only it were that simple. Selecting a computer often involves several factors such as mobility, quality, and price – there are simply too many things to consider. Choosing the right computer requires careful thought, and this is what we’re here to discuss.
Laptop or desktop?
Laptops are highly portable, efficient, and inexpensive. If these are the most important qualities your business requires in a computer, then by all means, choose them. Clearly, desktops aren’t built for mobility, but what they lack in portability, they more than make up for in storage, processing capacity, and security. Although laptops make perfect sense for small businesses with great need for portability, they are much more prone to security threats and are not as easy to upgrade and maintain, unlike desktops.
The Central Processing Unit (CPU), determines the speed at which you can access your data and perform business-critical tasks. Speed is measured in Gigahertz (GHz), and a processor that runs from 2 to 4 GHz should be plenty for small enterprises. Arguably the most important item on the list of a computer’s specifications, the processor plays a crucial role in your computer’s speed and efficiency.
As critical hardware components, hard drives indicate how much information you can store and use. Storage capacity typically ranges from 128 gigabytes on “light computers”, all the way up to 2+ terabytes on more critical machines. If your business doesn’t need to store large files such as videos and images, and will be used mostly for email and a few applications, 250- or 500-GB storage should do the job. (If processor speed is number one on your list of computer requirements, it’s followed closely by hard drive storage.)
Operating system (OS) decisions often boil down to choosing between Windows or Mac. It might help in your decision-making to know that Windows remains the most widely used OS mainly due to its high compatibility with business software, not to mention, its relatively cheaper price. Macs can perform just as brilliantly as Windows-operated systems can. And although Macs are usually more expensive, they’re well known for their own outstanding features, such as being less prone to crashes.
Not to be confused with storage drives, a computer’s Random Access Memory (RAM) is only used to run open applications. It is responsible for keeping your computer performing at optimum speeds, especially when you’re working with several applications or programs at once. For small businesses, a 1200-2600-MHz RAM should suffice. The higher the MHz of your RAM, the higher its performance will be. To keep your basic programs running, 4-8 gigabytes of RAM is often satisfactory.
Ready to Buy a New Computer?
Deciding which computer to buy is an important business decision. While there are a handful of factors to consider, what you aim to accomplish in your business’s day-to-day operations should be your main consideration when choosing a computer. Businesses that require plenty of remote and mobile work should consider laptops. Those that require regular transfers of large datasets could benefit from the increased storage capacity associated with desktops.
Do you need expert advice in choosing the best computers for your small business? We’re happy to guide you in every step of your purchase decision. Give us a call today.
Published on: September 1, 2015 in
Following the let-down that was Windows 8 and 8.1, Microsoft is keen to impress – so much so that it’s skipped number 9 and jumped right to Windows 10. Now the new operating system’s release has been confirmed for July 29, and Windows-based small businesses are clamoring to try out its impressive new features. Here is the rundown of the things you need to know before you spend your fall upping the ante with Windows 10.
You can get it for free
They say the best things in life are free, and that might just be the case with Windows 10. Microsoft has kept its word about making its newest operating system free to access – at least if you’re currently running an authentic version of Windows 7 or 8.1, its two most recent releases. You’ll enjoy a free lifetime upgrade to Windows 10 provided you make the move within the next year and, better still, it’s an automatic upgrade directly from your existing Windows 7 or 8.1 interface. If you’re running an older version of Windows, you’ll need to make a fresh install and you’ll also need to pay – the various available versions of Windows 10 are expected to retail starting at $119.
It’s being launched in phases
Although the official release date was July 29, in reality Microsoft pushed out Windows 10 in a phased launch. This explains why you might not have been prompted for the Windows 10 on July 29 itself – instead, Microsoft has made the new operating system available to desktop and laptop users first, and only later to mobile and other devices. What’s more, the firm already has its next move in the pipeline. Upgrade and update plans for Windows 10 are anticipated to be on the way in two phases, in June and October 2016. But we are expecting these changes, codenamed Redstone, to come in the form of more minor tweaks to the Windows 10 infrastructure rather than a full overhaul.
It’s the last you’ll see of Windows
Microsoft has made no secret of the fact that it sees Windows 10 as the operating system’s final release. But that’s not quite as ultimate as it sounds – this is not really the end of Windows. Instead, what we’re seeing is the transition of Windows from a product to a service. Microsoft envisions a future where, instead of major new versions of Windows emerging every few years, there are regular improvements and updates – far beyond the Windows Updates that we know at the moment.
It’s likely that version numbers will come to play far less of a role in system updates in the future – in much the same way as mobile apps operate, we’ll instead settle into enjoying a frequently updated service that incorporates the latest features Microsoft has developed. And while some have expressed fears that this could lead to home and business users being tied into a subscription model in order to stay up to date, Microsoft appears committed to ensuring that ongoing upgrades are free.
Ready to make the leap to Windows 10? Want to find out how best to make the transition with minimal disruption to your business? Give us a call and let us walk you through it.
Published on: July 29, 2015 in
At TECHLINQ, we clearly love technology… but even WE advise you to unplug from the hectic world and leave the gadgets behind while on vacation. Unfortunately, if you’re like most of us, you need to stay connected to some degree.
We’ve compiled a list of good technology practices and safety tips to keep in mind while traveling.
- Don’t bring your laptop! Try to use your smartphone or tablet instead to read emails, browse the internet, and access social media while on vacation. No need for the extra weight and risk of loss or damage. If you must bring your laptop consider the following before you leave on your trip:
• Make sure that your software updates and antivirus settings are up to date
• Back up all of your files and important documents
• Password protect your valuables with complex passwords that are hard to crack
• Encrypt important data
- Create a VPN so you can securely access your home network anywhere you go (this is especially helpful when visiting countries with censorship or internet restrictions).
- Avoid logging in to any public or shared computers and unsecured networks. Don’t let even the swankiest hotel lobby PC fool you! Public computers can be littered with malware so avoid logging into anything that requires you to enter passwords or personal information. To stay on the safer side, see if the hotel offers a WPA¬2 protected wifi network for guests that you can access on your phone or tablet.
- Make sure that your technology and gadgets are equipped with well-fitting protective gear. It helps to bring extra plastic bags to protect your gear in case of sudden downpours or unexpected moisture. There are also countless designs of waterproof cases you can also choose from if you’re going to be spending a lot of time near water.
- Back up your files often throughout your vacation. This will enable you to have enough room for plenty of new photos and ensures that each day’s memories will be safe! Not sure how to back up your files on the go? You can use SD cards, an external hard drive, a USB thumb drive, or if you have internet access, a cloud based service such as Dropbox, OneDrive, iCloud for Apple, or Google+ Auto Backup for Android phones.
- Pack a good quality power strip so you can charge all your devices at once. If you’re going overseas you’ll want to include a universal power adapter.
- Bring a portable cell phone charger. For a lot of us, our phones double as our digital cameras. A portable charger will give you a chance to charge your phone if you don’t have access to an electrical outlet.
- Make use of the countless apps created to make travel easier. There are apps to keep your devices secure with alarms, help you find locations with wifi, or apps that will allow you to explore the land like a local!
- Avoid roaming charges and high rates on your cell phone and use a wifi based calling system such as Skype or WhatsApp.
- This one might be the most important tip of them all. Make the best of your time and memories by opening your eyes to the world around you. After all, those are the moments that add to your life and make your vacation memorable.
Published on: February 11, 2015 in
This checklist will help you make and keep your PC more secure. Over time, security holes are discovered in all computers’ operating systems and the software that runs on them. These risks need to be patched to keep your system and personal information safe. We’re rolling this list out for the start of 2015, but recommend it be adhered to consistently.
- 1. Make sure your operating system is up to date
We recommend current systems have at least Windows 7 Pro 64-bit, which will be supported until 2020. If you’re running Windows 8.0, we highly recommend that it be upgraded to 8.1 to be sure you have the most secure version.
- 2. Check Windows Update settings
Verify that your computer is set to automatically download and install at least critical updates frequently. Better yet, have your updates managed by TECHLINQ to ensure not only stability, but compatibility and proper application.
- 3. Ensure that you have Endpoint Security software installed
Properly functioning and current antivirus/malware protection is a must for all PCs.
- 4. Check that you have a Security Appliance in place, or at least a firewall on your computer
An edge Security Appliance is the best way to provide comprehensive gateway security for your entire network. In addition, each PC has a built-in software firewall that should be enabled as well. Configuring the intricacy of these security devices and features takes specialized knowledge, can get very complicated, and is typically best left for technology security professionals.
- 5. Check what version of Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, and Java you have installed
A surprising number of threats are borne from these three add-ins/applications. Always make sure you’re running the latest versions available that are compatible with your systems and applications.
- 6. Update or upgrade your web browser
Your web browser is the window to your Internet world. Maintaining them on the most recent versions is critical to maintaining the security of your systems. The “big three” browsers are Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox. All three will give you similar experiences with minor differences in features, speed, and security profile, so choose what you’re comfortable with.
If you are having difficulty staying on top of properly maintaining your systems, contact the experts at TECHLINQ to see how we can help ease the burden with an innovative TECHLINQ Support plan.
Published on: December 10, 2014 in
One of the most popular gifts this holiday season is the tablet, and more specifically the Android tablet. Because there are so many different options to choose from, it can be difficult to actually choose the right tablet to give as a gift. To help, we came up with some important factors to consider before you purchase your festive gift.
Consider your budget
The great thing about Android is that there are tablets available for a wide budget range; from the ridiculously affordable, yet highly praised, Amazon Fire HD 6 ($99 on Amazon.com), to the top-of-the-line Samsung Galaxy Tab S ($350-$400 in stores).
Look at reviews online
There are a ton of websites dedicated to reviewing tablets and other mobile devices. Take, for example, the well-known Engadget or Trusted Reviews. Sites like these generally give a good overview of the new and most popular devices out there. Pay close attention to the criteria used though, as some review sites tend to only look at basics such as battery life and design, without going too deep into the actual usability.
It is also important to look at actual user reviews. A great place for this is Amazon.com, as almost all reviews of devices on the site are submitted by users. While some reviews may be overly positive or negative without actually revealing reasons, generally speaking they provide an accurate real-life picture.
What will the tablet be used for?
Many tablets offer special features and functions aimed at different types of users. For example, some offer increased security and encryption that is ideal for the business user, while others may offer features such as pen support which turns the tablet into a drawing pad. If the recipient is likely to be using the tablet for work, then your search should focus on specific, business-oriented devices.
Who will be using the tablet?
Tablets running Android 4.4 (KitKat) and Android 5.0 (Lollipop) have the ability to establish different profiles for different users. So, if you know that the tablet will be used by a variety of people then it would be best to purchase a tablet incorporating either of these versions.
If you know that children will be using the tablet, there are a number of apps with features that set the tablet up for children. For example, some will block the Google Play store and any apps that are deemed unsuitable for children. It might be a big help if you install this beforehand.
What is the technical ability of the user?
It’s true that almost every tablet is designed to make it simple to pick up and figure out, but some tablets are aimed more at specific users than others. Take for example Google’s Nexus line, which is aimed at users who want a tablet with the most up-to-date software. Users with more tech experience generally find the Nexus line more preferable.
Other tablets come with super simple setups and many popular apps pre-installed, which could make them more suited to users who may not know much about Android, or simply just want to pick up their tablet and go.
Look at durability, and features
As with most tech-related purchases, you generally get what you pay for. So, if you want a tablet with top-of-the-line features like a great display, fast processing speeds, and LTE/Data connections, you are likely going to pay more.
A good starting point is to look at the questions you answered above about who will be using the device and what they will be using it for, then look for a tablet with those features and positive reviews. While it may be tempting to stick with brand new tablets only, be sure to look at those released in the past year as well. For example, the terrific Nexus 7 tablet (2013 version) is still a great option for many users, not to mention the fact that it is available at an affordable price. Manufacturers like Samsung also have a number of great tablets available with a wide variety of features.
Almost above all else, the overall durability of the device is important. If you purchase a tablet with flimsy construction, there is a good chance it will break or fall apart easily. Online reviews often focus on the build quality, so these could be a good starting point. Also, going to the store and physically trying the devices can go a long way in helping you choose the best one.
If you are struggling to find the perfect tech gift or Android tablet this holiday season, contact us today to see how our experts can help you find exactly what you need.