Posts in Security

Secure Shopping

Stay Secure When Shopping Online

November 14th, 2018 Posted by Cloud, Data, Desktop, Hackers, Hosted Services, Managed Service Provider, Security, Services 2 thoughts on “Stay Secure When Shopping Online”

9 Tips for Secure Shopping Online

As we approach the holiday season, we encourage extra mindfulness when it comes to online shopping.

There are some simple precautions that will make your online purchases more secure, including using reputable third-party pay services (like PayPal) whenever possible, always logging out of sites after you’ve completed a purchase and selecting one credit card for all online purchases to limit exposure.

Here are 9 tips for staying safe online, so you can start checking off items on that holiday shopping list:

1. Use familiar/trusted websites – Start at a trusted site rather than shopping with a search engine. Search results lead you astray, especially when you drift past the first few pages of links. If you know the site, chances are it’s less likely to be a rip off. Beware of misspellings or sites using a different top-level domain (.net instead of .com, for example).

2. Look for the padlock icon – Never buy anything from a site that doesn’t have SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed. You’ll know if the site has SSL because the URL for the site will start with “HTTPS” instead of just “HTTP”. An icon of a locked padlock will appear, typically in the status bar at the bottom of your web browser, or right next to the URL in the address bar, depending on your browser. Never give anyone your credit card over email.

3. Don’t provide all of your info– No online shopping store needs your social security number or your birthday to do business. However, combined with your credit card number, your social security number and other identification numbers can do a lot of damage. When possible, default to giving the least amount of information.

4. Check your bank statements – Don’t wait for your bill to come at the end of the month. Go online regularly during the holiday season to review statements for your credit card, debit card, and checking accounts. Make sure you don’t see any fraudulent charges. If you do see something wrong, pick up the phone to address the matter quickly. In the case of credit cards, pay the bill only once you know all your charges are accurate.

5. Protect your devices – You can protect against malware with regular updates to your operating system, browsers and software. Software companies add security updates along with every upgrade released. Installing updates as soon as they are released can help you better protect your devices against malware. You should also run a reputable, anti-virus product on your home PC or laptop. This will help prevent your device from becoming infected with malware.

6. Use strong passwords – It’s always important to utilize strong passwords, but it’s never more important than when banking and shopping online. Make sure your passwords are unique for each website, contain a healthy mix of letters, numbers and symbols when allowed. Passwords should not be easy to guess (like your last name or birthday). Use a password protected spreadsheet or secure app to store your passwords. When possible, set up multi-factor authentication for additional security.

7. Avoid shopping on public devices – It should go without saying that it’s a bad idea to use a public computer to make purchases. If you must, remember to log out every time you use a public computer, even if you were just checking email. Avoid entering your credit card and expiration date on websites in public, even if you’re using your own devices. By doing so you’re giving onlookers the chance to steal your information. At the very least, double check no one is looking and be as discreet as possible.

Additionally, don’t use publicly available charging cords or USB ports to charge your devices. Publicly available power outlets are generally fine, but the cords or ports could be used to deliver malware to your phone.

8. Avoid shopping via public Wi-Fi – Avoid using public Wi-Fi hotspots – like the ones at coffee shops, airports, hotels, etc., for online shopping. If you do use a public Wi-Fi hotspot, be sure to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) so others cannot intercept your communications. As an alternative, stick to the mobile network and create a personal Wi-Fi hotspot with your phone.

9. Keep an eye out for obvious scams – Stick to the source when you buy gift cards; scammers like to auction off gift cards on sites like eBay with little or no funds on them. Some scams offer of a free product with purchase, like an iPad or even holiday job offers. Many of these “offers” will surface on social media or phishing emails. Be wary if you get a message from friend claiming he or she has been robbed, especially a friend overseas looking for money to be wire transferred, unless you absolutely can confirm it by talking to him or her personally. Skepticism in most cases can go a long way toward saving you from a stolen card number.

Trust Your Judgement

If you’re shopping online and something seems fishy, it probably is. Trust your judgement or ask for a second opinion before submitting your credit card or other personally identifying information online. No purchase, no matter how great of a deal, is worth the risk of identity theft.

While following these guidelines won’t completely eliminate the chance of becoming a victim of cybercrime, they can help you avoid risky situations and protect yourself against identity theft.

Happy Shopping!

 

Sources: PC Mag & ColoradoBiz

Technology News - September 2018

Technology News – September 2018

September 19th, 2018 Posted by Cloud, Internet, Newsletters, Security 0 thoughts on “Technology News – September 2018”

Your Guide to the Most Relevant Technology News

Here’s what we’re reading this month:

The right to be forgotten allows individuals to have their data erased from certain sources, including search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. The GDPR enforces this law for EU citizens, but the right to be forgotten could be enforced worldwide in the future. Google and its supporters argue that “European data regulators should not be allowed to decide what internet users around the world find when they use a search engine.” Read more here.

Apple iOS 12 was released, adding new features to existing phones and gearing up for the release of the new iPhone Xs and Xr phones. The new operating system includes new features and improvements, Group Facetime, allowing Facetime for up to 32 people, among the most notable and anticipated. Read more here.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is here. Changes from the Note 8 include Samsung’s biggest screen ever, better color accuracy, S Pen upgrades, and improved storage and battery life. Read more here.

A recent Forbes article examines the “missing link in developing a cyber security strategy”. The author, CTO at a technology company, says that communication between the IT team and executives is often overlooked in strategy design, resulting in oversight of potential risks and lack of understanding for solutions to avert them. Read more here.

Facebook announced its initiative to build its first Asian data center. The facility, located in Singapore, is expected to open in 2022 and will support hundreds of new jobs. As mobile growth, e-commerce and cloud computing demand rise, the investment is crucial. Read more here.

Phishing

How to Avoid a Phishing Attack

July 10th, 2018 Posted by Best Practices, Cloud, Communication, Devices, Internet, Security 2 thoughts on “How to Avoid a Phishing Attack”

90% of Data Breaches Involve a Phishing Attack

First things first – what is phishing? Phishing is an email technique used to fraudulently obtain sensitive information. Phishing emails are designed to look like they’re from a brand or institution you trust. They typically prompt you to download malware (malicious software), click on a link that redirects you to a malicious website or enter personal information. This can enable hackers to steal your identity, breach your employer’s systems, and more. The best way to defend yourself against phishing attacks is to identify phony emails before you click on them.

5 Tips for Identifying Phishing Emails

  1. Who’s the real sender? – Make sure the organization’s name in the “From” field matches the address between the brackets. Watch out for addresses that contain typos in the organization name (think amaz0n.com).
    Phishing - Who's the real sender?
  2. Check the salutation – If you do business with an organization, the first line of the email should contain your name. Don’t trust impersonal introductions like “Dear Customer.”
    Phishing - Check the salutation
  3. Use your mouse hover – Hover over an email link to see the full URL it will direct you to. Do not click the link – just hover. If the address isn’t where you’d expect it to go, don’t click it. Check all the links – if the URLs are all the same, it’s likely a phishing email.
    Phishing - Who's the real sender?
  4. What’s in the footer? – The footer of any legitimate email should contain, at minimum, a physical address for the brand or institution and an unsubscribe button. If either of these items are missing, it’s probably fake.
    Phishing - What's in the footer?
  5. Look for other content clues – Does the content have spelling and grammar errors, ask for personal or sensitive information, convey a high sense of urgency and/or privacy, offer incentives through threat or reward, or contain links or attachments? These are all clues pointing toward a phishing email.

When in Doubt, Delete

If something seems off, delete the email. If it’s not fake, the sender will contact you another way or send the message again.

We Can Help…

Think Network Technologies offers IT Consulting services to can help your organization keep systems and information secure. For more information about this topic and how we can support your business, contact us.

Source: Webroot Inc.

Server

Rising Temperatures, Rising Server Threats

June 13th, 2018 Posted by Best Practices, Cloud, Communication, Devices, Internet, Security 0 thoughts on “Rising Temperatures, Rising Server Threats”

Why is it important to monitor server room temperatures?

With temperatures on the rise, server threats also increase. When servers overheat they can shut down. Whether you’re running a huge data center or a server room with just a few servers it is important to monitor room temperature to prevent downtime, loss of productivity and ultimately loss of revenue for your business.

Monitoring your servers’ temperature information is a starting point. However, monitoring the room temperature is a more proactive approach and will add another layer of security to ensure your server never reaches high temperatures. Monitoring the room temperature will provide an early indication if something is wrong, so you have enough time to react early and avoid serious problems.

5 benefits of monitoring server room temperature

  1. Prevent downtime – Temperature monitoring sensors and software will allow you to configure alerts that notify key personnel via email or text message if and when temperatures reach predefined thresholds so that someone can take action. Excessive temperature is one of the leading causes for having to replace hardware, and in most cases, it is easily prevented.
  2. Ensure efficient airflow inlet and exhaust – Placing temperature sensors on the front and back of your server racks will allow you to measure the temperature of the air going in and coming out of your servers. This is important to know to make sure cold airflow is not being mixed with hot air circulating in the room, as well as to ensure hot air exhaust from your servers is within the proper ranges. Airflow sensors can monitor the presence of airflow into your server room and will alert you if it stops.
  3. Reduce power consumption and increase energy efficiency – If you are actively monitoring the temperature in your server room, you should be able to identify trends and baselines. This data should indicate if your AC unit is able to keep up with the load and if there are cost savings to be had. Many times, room temperature will be set lower than necessary to compensate for not knowing exactly how effectively your servers are being cooled.
  4. Server room planning and scaling – Using the data collected from your temperature monitoring sensors, you will have insight into the cooling loads and airflow distribution of your current layout. You can use these insights to plan for the additional heat load of adding new equipment and how to maintain a proper layout for best airflow.
  5. Extend the life of your equipment – Last but not least, maintaining the proper server room temperature range will help extend the lifespan of your equipment by preventing excessive temperatures going unnoticed and causing unnecessary wear on your equipment. Short spikes of excessive temperatures can reduce reliability and can lead to hardware failure months later.

How do you monitor your server room temperature?

There are many vendors that offer physical sensors for measuring not only temperature, but also humidity, power, flooding and more. Think Network Technologies can help your business implement a server temperature monitoring solution. Contact us today to learn more.

Sources: enviromon.net, Paessler Blog

Technology News - April 2018

Technology News – April 2018

April 9th, 2018 Posted by Cloud, Internet, Newsletters, Security 0 thoughts on “Technology News – April 2018”

Your Guide to the Most Relevant Technology News

Here’s what we’re reading this month:

Dell’s Director of Virtual and Augmented reality talks about the future of virtual reality, and how VR headsets will change the way we approach training and education. Read more here.

Big retailers are increasing their adoption of robots. Retail giants Walmart, Amazon and Target are testing robots in stores to reduce labor costs and improve efficiency. Read more here.

How to protect your data on social media. The New York Times’ tips on how protect yourself from data-harvesting apps and programs on Facebook can also be used as security measures on other social media platforms. Read more here.

SpaceX is officially approved to provide internet service. SpaceX internet service is officially approved – bringing new competition to the internet provider industry and coverage to areas where internet was not previously available. Read more here and here.

Technology News - March 2018

Technology News – March 2018

February 27th, 2018 Posted by Hackers, Internet, Security 0 thoughts on “Technology News – March 2018”

Your Guide to the Most Relevant Technology News

Here’s what we’re reading this month:

Everything you need to know about blockchain, a new technology used for sharing information, and how it will change the business world. Read more here.

The order overturning net neutrality rules was officially published. The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) order hands internet service providers the power to control the content consumers can access. Many technology companies are supporting the congressional bid to reverse the net neutrality repeal and protect an open internet. Read more here and here.

Two experimental SpaceX satellites successfully deployed into space at the end of February. The satellites are designed to help lay the foundation for Starlink, a huge network of SpaceX satellites that aims to provide 100% global internet coverage within five years, a crucial leap forward for the billions of people currently without internet access. Read more here.

The latest cyber security tips from Forbes on how you can protect yourself in a world where almost everything has a computer and every computer has the potential to be hacked. Read more here.

hipaa compliance technology

HIPAA Compliance Solutions

November 27th, 2017 Posted by Security 0 thoughts on “HIPAA Compliance Solutions”

Medical providers and healthcare organizations need to be careful about compliance. It can be intimidating trying to navigate the world of HIPAA and other rules, but it doesn’t have to be too complicated. In a nutshell…

Protected Health Information

Healthcare organizations that are “Covered Entities” under HIPAA are expected to secure protected health information (PHI) sent by email using reasonable and appropriate encryption technology. And in the event that PHI is lost or stolen, encrypted data is exempted from fines and consumer and agency notification by most regulations.

Quick Compliance

We have the expertise and resources to help you comply, and our service will automatically encrypt messages and attachments that contain PHI. This is done automatically, which is important, because most breaches of PHI are accidental.

With our expert services, you can be compliant very quickly.

Automatic Email Encryption

Protect your patients’ privacy, and protect your company from possible penalties. Get in touch to learn more about automatic encryption for email. Contact us, or give us a call at 888-98-THINK.

How Secure Is Your BYOD Policy?

August 8th, 2017 Posted by Best Practices, byod, Data, Devices, Networks, Newsletters, Phone, Security, Staff 0 thoughts on “How Secure Is Your BYOD Policy?”

It only takes one unsecured device that’s plugged into your network to lead to a network breach. That’s why it’s so important to have a bring your own device (BYOD) policy.

BYOD has its pros and cons, and organizations that already have a policy in place or are contemplating implementing one need to tick some boxes to make sure it runs as smoothly and securely as possible.

 

The Upside

BYOD has obvious advantages for staff who like the convenience and familiarity of working on their own devices. It could also lead to productivity gains, as users have an affinity for their own personal devices and how they use them.

Personal laptops, tablets and smartphones are usually more cutting edge, given that companies often don’t update their desktops for years on end. BYOD also allows staff to carry only one or two devices around with them, rather than different ones for work and personal use.

BYOD policies can save organizations money, as they don’t have to spend as much on their IT hardware while allowing workers increased mobility.

 

The Downside

Having said that, BYOD practices are not free from security concerns. More and more mobile devices provide greater scope for ways to breach a company’s IT infrastructure.

Some employees may not be as stringent as they should be about the information they bring home that could be highly sensitive or confidential. Once they take it out of the office, there’s nothing stopping them from sharing it across devices, networks, emails or even showing it to their family and friends.

Disgruntled employees about to walk out the door pose an even bigger threat. If they are leaving to work for a competitor, BYOD makes it easier for them to take intellectual property with them. Alternatively, if an employee uses a smartphone to access the company network then loses it or it’s stolen, an unauthorized person could retrieve unsecured data on the device. Staff can also sell their devices or give them away and forget to wipe company data beforehand.

 

And the Essentials

A good BYOD policy should contain two critical components: an application or software program for managing the devices connected to your organization’s networks, and a written agreement that clearly states the responsibilities of employers and staff.

For example, IT departments wishing to monitor the use of personal devices must ensure that they only monitor activities that access company information.

Software developers and device manufacturers are constantly releasing security patches and updates for threats such as viruses and malware. BYOD policies should have the necessary processes in place to automatically apply those patches across all the agreed BYOD devices.

Additionally, organizations can simplify the whole process by limiting the number or make of devices allowed in their BYOD programs and the systems they have to support. Supporting a broad range of devices could become an administrative nightmare.

The IT department should also have permission to remotely wipe the device if it’s lost, the employee leaves or if it detects a data breach, virus or any other threat to its infrastructure.

BYOD should satisfy employees and management alike, as long as there’s a clear understanding of everyone’s responsibilities. Before settling on the best BYOD policy for your organization, it’s worth getting input from HR, IT, finance, legal and anyone else who has a stake in the matter.

 

Let the Think specialists help you and your company! Please contact our sales team at sales@thinknettech.com if you would like our recommendations or a quote.

Ask the Engineer – Online or Desktop?

July 19th, 2017 Posted by Best Practices, Cloud, Data, Desktop, Disaster, Internet, Networks, Newsletters, Security 2 thoughts on “Ask the Engineer – Online or Desktop?”

In our last newsletter, we asked our readers about what topics they had the most questions about and we shared those questions with our technical team.  This month is about online bookkeeping programs.

Reader Question:  Online bookkeeping programs – how secure are they? What is the probability of someone hacking into your personal or business information through them vs. the probability of a desktop bookkeeping solution? Are there minimum security requirements across the board for online bookkeeping providers and, if so, are they realistic and effective at protecting information?

Ask the Engineer Response:

Software that you run online or through your desktop is vulnerable to security threats, so the real question is, “Is online software more secure than desktop software”?

For most SMBs, the answer is yes.  To understand why, we’ve compiled some information about all the vulnerabilities of using software.

 

Desktop Software:

Desktop software vulnerabilities are all located in one place, on your desktop or laptop. This is your point of access for everything; the point of storage for your accounting software, your data files, and your point of connection to the internet.

Sadly, many businesses don’t realize the importance of security. From technical measures such as anti-virus and firewalls to physical means such as locked doors and anti-theft cable solutions. Businesses also spend little or no time/money on educating their staff about best security practices.

Your office computer is faced with a greater range of internet-based attacks than online software would. Keep in mind that it is also much more susceptible to physical dangers such as fire, flood or theft.

If an emergency does happen, do you have a game plan to restore your software? Probably not, according to most SMBs. Backup is treated as an afterthought for many businesses, but this process could save you many hours or days when you need to return to full operation. Check out our other article to read more about backups, disaster recovery, and business continuity – Fire is a Real Threat.

 

Online Software:

Online software points of vulnerability are shared between the vendor and the user. It is still the user’s responsibility to secure the point of access while viewing the software though.

The good news is that the storage of the accounting software and the data file is not the user’s responsibility, but the vendor’s. These software companies have enterprise grade data centers with highly advanced defenses that run your online software.

Behind the scenes at one of these data centers would make any SMB server room look like a kid’s playroom.  The facility would be protected by guards while access would be regulated by key cards, fingerprint recognition, and iris scanners. There would also be a physical protection system that would include firefighting defenses, generators in case of blackouts, and flood resistant areas.

These data centers would have numerous, lightning fast high-speed internet connections. Their networks would be protected around the clock by current security technologies with a team of IT security specialists.

Online software companies store your data on the same server as hundreds of other businesses, so there is also security in anonymity.  If a server fails it can automatically push your data onto another server. You can imagine the detailed backup procedures that these companies have in case a software bug causes a crash. The best known online software programs only have several hours of downtime in a whole year.

No matter what the threat is, going with online software is usually a safer bet than a desktop program. Hackers are intelligent and have sophisticated methods for penetrating files.  They have two main ways of hacking into online software from the user’s computer. One is a password guessing program that cycles through billions of sequences until they get a match. Otherwise, they nose around on a network until they can grab a password that passes between the desktop and the data center.  The most successful forms of hacking have nothing to do with online software itself. The weakest link in the chain is usually the user.

But, these advanced attacks are practically impossible against online accounting software that’s distributed by mainstream vendors.

You can minimize the risk of a breach by:

  • Using a complicated password and keeping it somewhere secure.
  • A password manager is great for storing difficult passwords.
  • You should never, ever reveal your password. If someone asks, there’s a good chance they don’t have the best intentions.
  • Don’t use public computers, stick with your own laptop or computer.
  • As tempting as it is, don’t use public wifi networks. These public wifi networks can be compromised.

For more information, please contact our engineers at 888-98-THINK.

Think IT Town Hall Helps Locals with Tech Advice

March 17th, 2017 Posted by Best Practices, Community, Data, Desktop, Devices, Hosted Services, Internet, Microsoft, Networks, Newsletters, Operating System, Security, Services 1 thought on “Think IT Town Hall Helps Locals with Tech Advice”

Matt Glick and Prudencio Dimas from Think have over three decades of experience in the IT world working side by side with organizations, both large and small, to understand and resolve ongoing IT challenges.  Their understanding of network infrastructure, design and implementation was offered to participants of the TechKnowledge 2017 Conference in a Town Hall forum.  Topics such as servers, backups, disaster recovery, cloud storage, Office 365, virus protection, malware, ransomware, and security best practices were all discussed.  Matt and Prudencio fielded a range of questions but it was obvious what was the most concerning topic among the group.

Ransomware and backups.

The duo talked about best practices when it comes to backups and ransomware for almost an hour with the group. It was a very productive session and their favorite question came from Diana Murray, Manager for ASAP Accounting & Payroll, Inc.  Ms. Murray asked “What are the three most important elements of IT when talking about small business?”  We thought we would summarize their answers below.

1. A layered approach to security:

Matt brought up an older Blog post Think published entitled “Is Your Security Layered Like Your Bean Dip?”  It says you should layer your security like a seven-layer bean dip.  Just one layer at the bottom, and it just not as enticing.  But when you get all those layers, working together, it’s an explosion of excellence!  And even more important, the layered security approach tells us the more hoops a hacker has to jump through, the less likely they are to be successful.

2. Backups are key:

Matt posed a few questions business owners should consider when it comes to their backups.  What kind of backup you have is just as important as what is being backed up.  Is it file level backup?  Do you have a full image?  And, what is your expectation of downtime in the event that you do deal with a server crash?  And, he reminded everyone there to be realists.  Emergencies happen.  So, anticipate that they will happen and be prepared.  Practice.  Exercise your backup recovery process; test and retest it, so you have time to work out the kinks.

3. Standardization:

Prudencio explained IT standardization is a strategy for minimizing IT costs within an organization by keeping hardware and software as consistent as possible and reducing the number of tools you have that address the same basic need. It may take the form of ensuring that every computer has the same operating system, or of purchasing hardware in bulk so that every PC in your office is the same make and model. By streamlining your IT infrastructure, you can simplify decision­ making and minimize purchasing and maintenance costs.

Thank you to the Chamber of Commerce for organizing this event for our community and for asking Think to be involved.

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