Archive for the ‘Security’ Category:

5 Ways to Protect Your Identity on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Posting Date: 11/17/2015  |   Filed Under: Security  |   No Comments
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Along with all the eggnog and caroling, the holidays are a time to spend with your loved ones and bring in the new year with cheer. Besides watching reruns of, A Christmas Story, the holidays can also be stressful and distracting to ensure everything is finished on-time. So while you’re frantically shopping during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, protect your identity by following our five simple steps.

Electronic Bills

online shopping identity theft

Two of the most common sources of identity theft are credit card statements and the purchase/bank transaction receipt. We mindlessly throw these away, but to a potential identity thief they are gold – almost literally. These receipts contain codes that indicate the store the purchase was made at to the company that processes their credit card payments which can be used to easily phish for credit card information.

RFID Wallets

The method of obtaining your personal information has evolved to the point where an identity thief doesn’t even have to swipe or look at your cards at all. Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, is a technology used to track sensitive data in many of our cards that can be scanned without even removing your wallet from your purse or pocket. Even before RFID existed, counterfeit readers existed that could pull or delete data from your cards simply by walking close to your wallet. RFID-blocking wallets, sleeves, or clutches exist to counteract this problem.  Many products will have a “faraday cage” and the specification it must have is, “electromagnetically opaque.” Not all wallets are created equal so finding the right RFID wallet that has the proper protection is key. (more…)

Danger Ahead If You Are Still Using Microsoft Server 2003!

upgradeOn July 14, 2015, Microsoft ended support for their popular Server 2003 product range. The original Server 2003, the Small Business Server and updated Windows Server 2003 R2 are included in this end of support process. These Microsoft products support file and printer sharing, centralized desktop application deployment and secure Internet connectivity. Each of these products were aimed towards the small to medium-sized businesses.

Since Microsoft ended its support for Server 2003, they will no longer provide software patches or issue security updates. This is the case for any version of Server 2003. Continued use of Server 2003 constitutes operating your business on a dangerously outdated piece of equipment. It is no longer serviced and the manufacturer no longer provides parts for this product. You are putting yourself and your business in jeopardy if you continue to use this product and the risks will only escalate over time.

Why Would Anyone Continue to Use Server 2003?

Do you understand the risks of continuing to use Server 2003? Geeks On Call encourages you should take this situation seriously or your business could be negatively impacted resulting in significant consequences. You should consider the following information as you make your Server 2003 migration plan.

  • Compliance Issues: Continuing to use a non-supported software can result in compliance issues leading to the suspension of certifications. Your business can be seriously impacted via public notification of the organization’s inability to securely maintain its computer systems. This situation places customer information at risk and creates compliance problems for your business. This is turn will lead to legal issues that can seriously damage your business’ reputation. Is it worth it?
  • Security Risks: Security threats to your business should be one of your biggest concerns. Without the security provided by an updated operating system, both your personal and business data is vulnerable to spyware and harmful viruses. It’s very likely that malicious viruses will be unleashed when Server 2003 is no longer supported by Microsoft.
  • Upgrade Expenses: Everyone worries about costs and expenses. If you think an upgrade will be too expensive, then we suggest you think again. Most likely, the upgrade will cost less than the problems that will arise if you don’t upgrade.

What Are The Alternatives to Server 2003?

  • Office 365 –Microsoft offers a cloud hosted version of much of the server software product. Additionally, it can function with the full range of Office software that includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Email Outlook. Plus, if you subscribe via a monthly service structure you can avoid purchasing new hardware and also minimize on site running costs. These costs include rent, security, electricity and air conditioning.  A smooth migration to Office 365 requires professional technical management and ongoing administration, but IT support can more easily be outsourced.
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 – Windows Server 2012 R2 delivers a long list of improvements compared to Windows Server 2003. It’s a steep learning curve to move directly from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2012 R2. Users are advised not to make an interim upgrade to Windows Server 2008. Back in January 2015, that product was also removed from mainstream support. That isn’t a solution.
  • Microsoft Azure –Microsoft developed Azure for IT integrators to host their server infrastructure centrally and control locally. Then software applications can be deployed and more easily managed on an individual basis.

Geeks On Call advises you to take this situation very seriously. If you need help developing a migration plan, Geeks On Call’s technology professionals are here to help.

Risky Business: Is Your Business Using Unsupported Products?

Posting Date: 03/10/2015  |   Filed Under: Security, Technology, Tips, Uncategorized  |   No Comments
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GOCBlogAfter Microsoft XP’s demise last year, we hope that you followed the migration guidelines and are no longer using Microsoft Windows XP or Microsoft Office 2003. If you didn’t follow through on those important upgrades, you have a problem on your hands. If your business is using Microsoft Server 2003 your problems are about to get even more complicated. Continuing to use unsupported products such as Windows XP, Office 2003 and Server 2003 can be a risky business with dangerous consequences.

Don’t Ignore Microsoft Server 2003′s Deadline

Server 2003 is scheduled to join the Microsoft legacy list on July 14, 2015. Ignoring this deadline is not an option. Here’s why:

Compliance Issues:  The Department of Homeland Security’s Computer Emergency Readiness Team has been issuing alerts about the demise of Server 2003. Just the mention of Homeland Security indicates that this is an issue of major concern. Enterprises that are subject to regulatory obligations and are still running Server 2003 after July 14 are in danger. Any organization not meeting standard compliance requirements can face the suspension of certifications. This can lead to non-compliant issues and legal peril that can damage your business’ reputation.

Security Issues:  Homeland Security has issued warnings that continuing to run Server 2003 after the deadline will leave your business open to elevated cybersecurity risks. Your business’ data and customer information will be at risk to viruses, hackers and spyware. Don’t become a victim of cybercrime by leaving your most valuable assets at risk.

Upgrade Expenses: As a business owners, don’t try to save money by neglecting an upgrade. This is not the place to trim costs. You could end up dealing with problems that are significantly more expensive than the cost of an upgrade.

Consider Alternatives to Microsoft Server 2003

Windows Server 2012 R2 offers a long list of improvements over Server 2003 such as including better scalability, security, new operational roles and more.  Avoid Server 2008 because that product already reached the end of mainstream support in January 2015.

Office 365 is Microsoft’s cloud hosted version of Office applications that is offered as a subscription service. The subscription format means you that won’t need to upgrade your Office products in the future. The subscription format enables a monthly or annual subscription fee that offers access to the latest version of the products you need.

Azure is Microsoft’s hosted server product developed for IT integrators. Azure enables applications and software to be deployed on an individual rather than a collective basis. A hybrid of Office 365 and Azure can be an alternative for industries that have developed applications that are reliant on 32 bit technology.

Avoid Risky Business!

Are you the owner of a small to medium sized business and are still using Microsoft Server 2003, Windows XP or Office2003? If yes, we strongly encourage that you take immediate action. Continuing to use unsupported products can place your business in serious jeopardy. Geeks On Call can help you understand your migration options. Contact Geeks On Call today and one of their technology professionals can work with you to develop an upgrade strategy.

New Year’s Resolution: Improve Your Financial Efficiency with QuickBooks

Posting Date: 01/07/2015  |   Filed Under: Data Back-up, Security, Technology, Tips, Uncategorized  |   No Comments
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high angle view of a credit card on a laptopDid you make a list of New Year’s resolutions?

Does it include all of the usual items?

A new exercise regimen and a diet plan? De-clutter your basement and attic? Do better at recycling? Volunteer? Spend more time with your family?

Beyond those noble efforts, have you thought about improving the efficiency of your financial processes?

 

Improve the Efficiency of Your Financial Processes with QuickBooks

If overhauling your business’ financial processes didn’t make your list of goals for 2015, perhaps you should reconsider your list of resolutions. Maybe reorganizing those financial processes just seems like too much of a headache. Think again and consider QuickBooks. Many small business owners use QuickBooks to handle their daily finances, record-keeping and tax preparation.

QuickBooks Features:

  • With one quick click, you can see where your business stands by checking on your balance sheet. It’s easy to stay on top of your profit and loss statements.
  • Automatically download and categorize bank and credit card transactions. It’s easy to stay in sync with your bank and streamline your banking processes.
  • At tax time, it easy to track your expenses plus you can use mobile apps to photograph receipts with your smartphone.
  • Manage employee payroll and file payroll taxes.
  • Create customized professional-looking invoices with company branding.
  • Set up mobile payment processes.
  • Record and pay bills from vendors. Set-up and schedule recurring payments.
  • Your data is automatically backed up with bank-level security on a daily basis.

Give QuickBooks a Try in 2015

Geeks On Call can help you increase the efficiency of your business’ financial processes. Now is an ideal time to reevaluate your business’ financial systems. Contact your local Geeks On Call office for help with QuickBooks and other technology solutions.

Are You Protecting Your Data from Cybercriminals?

Posting Date: 12/16/2014  |   Filed Under: Internet, Security, Tips  |   No Comments
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cybercrime

Do you remember when JP Morgan Chase was hacked earlier this year? Maybe you remember it vividly because you were one of the 76 million customers affected by this enormous data breach? The theft of digital information has actually exceeded physical theft.

Big retailers and financial institutions are continuously fortifying their networks against cyber attackers. As a result, smaller businesses are increasingly becoming the targets of cybercriminals and hackers. Why? Because smaller businesses are typically less prepared in the fight against cybercrime.

If you are the owner of a small business or are self-employed, Geeks On Call recommends that you safeguard your data with following tips:

 

  • Cybersecurity Awareness: When it comes to protecting yourself or your business, education and training is your first line of defense. Get informed and establish a plan. Follow appropriate internet safety guidelines while on the job or at home.

 

  • Clean Machines: Upgrade to the newest operating system, web browser and security software to guard against malware and viruses. Use a firewall software that prevents outsiders from accessing your network

 

  • Passwords and Authentication: Use unique passwords and change your passwords every three months. For greater security, use multi-factor authentication because it requires additional information to gain entry. If you work with vendors that are handling your business data, ask if they use multi-factor authentication. If not, you might want to find a vendor that does.

 

  • Secure Your Wi-Fi Network: A major misconception is that by simply having a router on your network this will provide the protection you need.  Without a password on the router, it is like putting a door on your office but not locking it.

 

  • Financial Transactions: Use encryption software to protect your business’ financial accounts, personnel files, product information and other highly sensitive data. Also, don’t surf the internet from the computer you use to process payments.

 

  • Mobile Devices: Require employees or other users to password protect their mobile devices, encrypt their data and install security apps to prevent cyber criminals from stealing information while the device is on a public network.

 

Geeks On Call can help you defend your business and home computers against cybercrime by strengthening your network and using security solutions. Give your local Geeks On Call office a call and one of their technology professionals will be happy to help you.

You Can Transform Your Business with Office 365

Posting Date: 08/08/2014  |   Filed Under: Internet, Security, Technology, Tips  |   No Comments
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Most computer users are well acquainted with Microsoft Office. Office includes popular applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Access. By 2012, Office had become such an enormously successful product that it had reached over one billion users.

Microsoft has presented Office 365 as the successor to the highly popular Office product. Office 365 is built around the Office product platform and is capable of running on Windows, Macs and portable devices such as iPhones and Android phones. The biggest innovation with Office 365 is that it is structured around a cloud delivered subscription service plan. Generally referred to as “software as subscription,” Office 365 represents the shift away from buying software. With cloud access, Office 365’s subscription plan eliminates the perpetual licensing structure associated with software purchases.

Office 365 provides users with some additional features. Microsoft has created Office 365 editions designed for various types of clients. For the business market, there is Small Business, Small Business Premium, Pro Plus, Midsize Business and Enterprise. For the consumer market segment, Office 365 is available in Home and the new Personal edition for the individual client.

 

The Advantages of Office 365

In you are working from a home office or own a business and are managing a team of employees; Office 365 offers the following advantages:

 

  • Work Wherever and When Ever: Your Office tools can be accessed from virtually anywhere. Use PowerPoint, Word, OneNote and Excel via cloud access. You can easily share files with team members, plus there is great data storage capacity.

 

  • Mobile Apps: You can use PowerPoint, Excel and Word files on your mobile device when you are working on the go. When you return to your office, you can quickly reconnect to these files from your office computer. Save time by picking up where you left off. Even the formatting stays intact.

 

  • Easily Manage Your Website: With easy-to-use DIY tools, you can quickly make changes to your website. Take charge of your marketing efforts with an up-to-date website. Without any web-hosting fees, you can add your existing website to Office 365.

 

  • Email and Calendar: With Office 365 you can sync your email and calendar. Private and secure communications via a hosted business class e-mail system. Anti-spam and anti-virus protection is provided in addition to instant messaging. Never forget another appointment again.

 

  • Online Conferencing: Take advantage of HD conferencing features. Save time and money by replacing business travel with online meetings that also include real-time note taking and desktop sharing.

 

  • Subscription Benefits:  Save on upfront expenses through Office 365’s subscription plan that enables users to pay on a monthly basis. With a monthly payment plan, you can easily cancel the subscription at any time. You can also upgrade your subscription to another edition within the same customer segment.

 

Is it Time to Reshape Your Business?

Office 365 offers you the ability to reshape the way your business operates. As a business owner, you can reshape your workforce into a more efficient team that is capable of being productive anywhere and at any time. Geeks On Call can help.  Contact your local Geeks On Call office and a technology professional will be happy to show you how Office 365 can benefit you and your business.

Conquer Your Customers’ Online Security Concerns With These Measures

Posting Date: 07/15/2014  |   Filed Under: Internet, Security, Technology  |   No Comments
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We live in an era where online privacy is dwindling. But it’s also an era of consumer empowerment, where average people are taking control of their online behaviors and protecting themselves against unnecessary outside intrusion. Consumers are concerned in light of the recent news of the National Security Agency’s snooping, the Heartbleed bug and other cyber security issues.

The 2014 Internet Security Threat Report suggested targeted attacks increased 91 percent in 2013 and 552 million identities were exposed to breaches. E-commerce businesses have started feeling the pressure to provide more secure sites to protect customers’ data. Companies that have access to their customer’s credit card numbers and other personal information online should take extra care, given the recent data breaches, to make sure customers are safe.

Block Hackers

E-commerce sites are easy targets for hackers. Small businesses are particularly vulnerable, as oftentimes, the budget for a highly sophisticated data security system simply isn’t there.

CIO.com says that an e-commerce platform should use a “sophisticated object-orientated programming language” Open-source platforms can be made inaccessible to hackers based on the strength of that language. CIO.com has two other key suggestions: 1. Use a secure connection at checkout, and 2. Avoid storing sensitive data. Online purchases should be protected by Secure Sockets Layer, more commonly known as SSL, which authenticates transactions and encrypts the data; this is most commonly where hackers breach the system, so storing credit card numbers and similar information could be catastrophic in the event of a breach.

Server Message Block technology, or SMB, is also a popular tool for e-commerce businesses that applies “more modern and nimble applications that allow them to move quickly” when securing data, according to Heather Clancy of Small Business Matters.

Even WordPress has similar solutions for small businesses. The Krux SMB plugin, for example, is designed to authenticate and secure data sent through your site via social media channels.

Promote Online Safety

Any of these security measures could easily be explained via your company’s website to increase consumer confidence; it’s actually pretty common for wary shoppers to verify your platform’s security before entering any personal information. By providing resources to your customers on staying safe and secure online, you’re also advocating that they take control of their personal data and prepare for the unexpected. For example, Aol has partnered with identity theft company Lifelock to offer a complimentary protection advantage plan benefit for Aol members. Lifelock also caters to businesses of all sizes to protect internal data.

Like the security features noted above, some companies are listing their protection measures for customers to learn how they can fully secure their online information. As an online merchant or e-commerce business, it’s important to engage conversation with customers about how your company is protecting their data. Be transparent about the security measures you’ve taken and encourage customers to seek additional assistance from outside companies. In the end, concerned customers will see your company as open, honest and allied in the fight against online thieves.

Should Your Business be Worried About HIPPA Regulations?

Posting Date: 06/18/2014  |   Filed Under: Security, Technology, Tips  |   No Comments
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The response is most likely yes! In fact many businesses and industries have to comply with HIPPA standards and regulations.

Unsure what HIPPA is and why it’s important?  Here is a quick review:

HIPPA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.  HIPPA was sanctioned by Congress in 1996 with the objective of enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of our health care system.  It also determined the guidelines for the security of vital and sensitive patient information known as protected health information (PHI).

PHI makes each of us rapidly identifiable based on our name; social security number; address; birth date; payment information; and our past, present, and future physical and mental conditions and treatment procedures. Shielding this kind of extremely sensitive information is of the utmost importance for any business that handles PHI including healthcare providers, insurers, financial services, and other health related service.

HIPPA built strict guidelines with the HIPPA Privacy Rule and the HIPPA Security Rules characterizing how this delicate information must be protected. Most healthcare providers and organizations work with a HIPPA compliant hosting provider and data center to safeguard information that is online or transmitted over the Internet. The HIPPA Security Principles fall into three classifications:

•Administrative Safeguards requires the assignment of a privacy offer; an annual risk assessment; employee preparation; workforce security and observance to information access standards for all involved with PHI.

•Physical Safeguards oversee four areas of compliance regulations that include facility access controls; workstation use; workstation security; and device and media controls.

•Technical Safeguards outlines the five areas of technology that defend PHI.  Technology must comply for access control; audit controls; integrity; authentication; and transmission security.

The punishment and penalties for HIPPA non-compliance can be extreme.  The financial ramifications can be as high as $50,000 per violation or more!   If you are concerned about your business meeting HIPPA’s strict standards for technology, please give your local Geeks On Call office a call for a consultation.  We have many owners that specialize in HIPPA compliance and regulations.  While we are not giving legal advice, we can certainly help with your technology.

Understanding the Heartbleed Bug

Posting Date: 04/10/2014  |   Filed Under: Internet, Security, Technology, Tips  |   2 Comments
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Yesterday an enormous exploit was announced impacting OpenSSL, the open-source software package extensively used to encrypt Web communications. They named this exploit the Heartbleed Bug. Many have questions about what this bug is, how it will impact them, and what they should do to protect themselves online. Hopefully this post will help you answer these questions and more about the Heartbleed Bug.

 
What is the Heartbleed Bug?
The Heartbleed Bug uncovers a vulnerability in the OpenSSL cryptographic library that permits attackers to access to highly sensitive data that is regularly protected by the SSL/TLS encryption methods. This sensitive data includes username, passwords, credit card numbers and information on virtual private networks (VPN’s).

 

What is does?
This noxious Bug allows anyone on the Internet to read the memory of the systems protected by the vulnerable versions of the OpenSSL software,” according to Heartbleed.com. The bug compromises the secret keys OpenSSL utilizes to encrypt online communications. With access to these secret keys, attackers are able to eavesdrop on communications, impersonate other users and steal information.

 

Who discovered it?
The Bug was uncovered a late last week by the Finnish security firm Codenomicon and analysts at Google who then revealed it on Monday. By mid-day Tuesday many websites stated they had already addressed the issue, or were in the process of upgrading their websites OpenSSL.

 

Are you at risk?
OpenSSL is the most commonly used open source cryptographic library and TLS implementation source to encrypt data on the Internet, so the answer is yes you are likely at risk. Popular social sites, your organization’s site, hobby and interest website, commerce or shopping websites and even government sites use OpenSSL and therefore may be impacted by this Bug.

 

What should you do to protect yourself?
Experts suggest that refraining from using the Internet for 2-3 days, specifically from accessing social sites, banking sites, and email accounts will give you the ultimate level of protection against the Heartbleed Bug. This is not realistic for most us, so it is suggested that you change all of your passwords once the OpenSSL update has been installed on the impacted website.

For more information visit www.Heartbleed.com.

IT Support Dedicated to Your Small Business

There are over 23 million small and medium sized businesses in the U. S. who are trying to remain competitive against large corporations with more money and resources. One of the main ways a small or medium sized business can continue to compete with these larger businesses is through the strategic planning and use of technology. Small and medium sized business owners see technology only as a device to increase productivity, increase communication with customers, and decrease operational costs. Expending past these obvious uses is sometimes difficult for small business owners to uncover.
As a business owner you should be able to answer the following questions:
o Is your business running an updated operating system?
o Will your business be impacted by the end of the Windows XP life cycle?
o Is your network secure against cyber-attacks?
o Do you have a reliable and tested backup system?

Smart business owners understand that their “job” is to work on the business, not in the business. Owners can stay competitive and focused by utilizing the functions of an outsourced IT service provider to enhance or even be the small business IT support department. We recommend you explore the following services that can be provided by an outsourced IT service provider
•Cloud Services: Currently 61% of small and medium sized businesses are running some type of cloud based programs. Cloud services give you the ability to have access to reliable data storage and back up systems, and a variety of industry and business software. Cloud based programs gives employees the ability to access many programs and files remotely, expanding their productivity and your profit potential.
•Security Services: With a new virus popping up daily, security services are becoming increasingly more important. In 2013, digital assaults on small businesses had increased by 18% over a two year period. Of the businesses that were impacted, over 60% folded within six months. Absence or inadequate security services can compromise critical client and business information. Additionally, with the end of life cycle for Windows XP happening on April 8, 2014, those who have decided to ignore the warnings you will be leaving their business vulnerable to criminals who are waiting in the wings to attack computers that are still running XP.
•Managed Services: When you take advantage of Managed Services you can really give your business an edge. You have a Trusted IT Service Advisor at your disposal to manage all of your technology and the vendor relationships, you will receive predictable and stable billing, and you are able to create customized plans that fit your business needs. Outsourced IT support is able to provide a helpdesk for your employees to utilize, accomplish specific technology upgrades and fixes, or manage your entire IT infrastructure. They are also able to make technology recommendations when equipment is aging or new products are launching that can make your business more profitable and productive.