So what is your summer intern doing online between tasks when you’re not looking over their shoulder?
You’d be surprised to know that nationwide, 50% to 70% of companies are blocking social media sites through their corporate network because countless hours are wasted each day on social media sites. We are finding an increased number of our clients asking for such necessary restrictions.
To help combat this sensitive situation, companies are reluctantly blocking access to websites such as Facebook and Twitter in order to prevent their employees from wasting work hours on social media & personal websites. But decreased productivity is not the only reason for this growing trend. Many companies fear the negative impact that these sites could potentially have on their business, their network infrastructure and corporate reputations. Our clients say that by allowing access to social network sites it can greatly increases their online risk.
This is a controversial topic because on the other hand, employees obviously disagree with their employer for blocking access to these websites because they believe there are benefits to social media at work that go well beyond Marketing departments. For one, it can get boring sitting around an office doing the same thing every day for hours and hours and a quick look at what your friends are up to is a welcome change of pace. Therefore, employees can be happy and relaxed if they know it’s OK when log on to their social media accounts to take a quick break – which actually often not results in the same time required for a quick coffee break. With all this said, we won’t even discuss the “big brother” effect that employees feel from such restrictions. Further compounding the issue is that nowaday’s the majority of employees have smartphones, iPhones, etc and are accessing these websites right out of their pocket regardless.
You might think that it almost seems a waste of effort for employers to block websites on computers when employees can access the sites anyways. But, as an employer you have to look at the benefits that clearly outweigh the negative employee morale of blocking access. For example, one of the largest risks is the mere simplicity of posting updates, pictures, etc. combined with the ease of access to sensitive customer information, which is typically not available from home. Another commonly overlooked risk is the introduction to new viruses and malware on the network which can easily be drawn from the sites and their advertisers. Last year alone, we saw a 200% increase in service requests that can be tracked back to social media site browsing!
With the right combination of strategy, planning and exection your business can successfully take a few simple steps to protect your network; and blocking social media sites is just ONE piece of the puzzle. LANConnect can help guide you along the entire path!
It is common nowadays to assume that your business is “covered” in regards to security when you do all of the common measures such as installing Anti-virus software, having a firewall, training your employees on proper Internet use, shredding hard-drives on old computers and the like BUT with today’s IT complexity comes further risk! Did you know, that almost every digital copier built since 2002 contains a hard drive, and these hard drives hold digital copies of documents that have passed through the machine?
About 60% of Americans did not know that regardless of whether it was an email, scan, or copied document that a digital image is stored inside of these machines on the local hard-drive. Recently, New Jersey lawmakers are taking steps to educate businesses to ensure that all scanner and copier hard drives are wiped out before the owner gets rid of the machine. Lawmakers, Paul Moriarty, Herb Conaway and Dan Benson, believe that by erasing all past records, it will help to prevent identity theft. With this, new companies are stepping up to protect you and your files by shredding your digital “secrets”. Businesses put so much work and money into shredding confidential files; however, these files have been saved all along. Fact: thousands and thousands of documents can be downloaded in mere hours if not properly “scrubbed” from the drives.
John Juntunen’s company “Digital Copier Security” has developed software called “INFOSWEEP”. This software is designed to wipe all of your information and files from these drives before disposing or transferring ownership. CBS News [http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-18563_162-6412439.html] and Juntunen have recently visited a warehouse of copiers and searched through just a few hard drives and found over 20,000 copies of documents from the Buffalo, New York Police Sex Crimes Division. In just one other hard drive, social security numbers, names, addresses, and forty thousand dollars in copied checks were found. On that day, those copy machines were shipped to Argentina to be sold to customers.
So, be sure to remember those digital footprints on that machine before you dispose of it, or sell it to another business – you’d be surprised what was lurking on the drive…
Are you looking to purchase a set top-box / media streaming device but can’t decide which one? Hands down Logitech Revue with Google TV is the way to go.
I had Boxee Box first and fell in love. The setup was relatively easy, and with no base for comparison it seemed to have a slew of features. I was able to attach an external storage device to it and use it to play music, videos (not .3gp Android Videos) or create slideshows of favorite photos. The remote was small but featured a full qwerty keyboard on the back that seamed ingenious. I could stream Netflix, listen to Pandora, watch YouTube videos. However, it was terribly unstable. Applications would hang, or lose functionality, and the Boxee Box constantly required a reboot. I could only open a few apps, or even search for a few songs on Vevo before it would freeze up. Several of their popular apps had similar issues, if they worked at all. Web browsing was also a very clunky experience, with limited functionality on many sites.
Then Logitech’s Revue with Google TV came into my life and I haven’t looked back. I purchased this on a whim, with pretty low expectations, after the announcement that its price had dropped below $100 (from $300) and that Google was working to add the Honeycomb Android operating system to it, with the Android market, which would allow me to install apps to the device just like a tablet or smartphone. Initially, the setup was a bit more involved than the Boxee Box had been, however this extra effort is due to some added functionality. Its remote control is a hybrid between a PC keyboard and a Harmony remote and has the ability to control all of my entertainment devices (TV, Cable Box, Audio Receiver, and Revue). I was able to get through the configuration in about 15 minutes, thanks to the fact that I already own a harmony remote and had been familiar with the setup and where my model #’s lived on my devices. At first the remote seemed huge, but once I started using it made perfect sense. It’s basically a full wireless keyboard with touchpad and it makes searching the web and using the apps so easy. Using the Revue is a seamless experience. Since the cable box is routed through the Revue to my TV, I don’t need to change the input on my TV or change the AV output, as the cable box and Revue are fed off the same signal. Google and Logitech made a concerted effort on stability when they teamed up to build this device, and it shows. I’ve only had to reboot the device a handful of times since setting it up, whereas I may have had that many reboots in a single day with the Boxee Box. When you use the search button on the keyboard you are searching Google, your Revue, YouTube, and your cable channels. This powerful search functionality is amazing. You can also use the Revue in a PIP mode, so you can see and hear your TV shows while playing with the Revue configuration…or better yet to watch your FF scores, while keeping an eye on the live games. The internet browser appears to be some form of Chrome, so where many sites failed on the Boxee Box, the Revue excels and mimics the ease of web browsing on a computer. The stock apps on
the Revue appear to be less apps and more specially designed web pages that feed your content, but I have had no complaints with the way these work or with their stability.
Also. The Revue is thin and sleek and fit on my entertainment console without needing to move anything around. It slid right on top of my cable box and is almost unnoticeable. The Boxee Box’s awkward cube shape stuck out like a sore thumb.
My only real complaint about the Revue is that the interface is a little less intuitive than the Boxee, similar to any other Android device. It takes a little tweaking and playing to learn all that can be done with the UI to make it most useable. Hopefully this will be improved with the release of Honeycomb this fall. For nearly $100 less, the Google Revue not only beats out Boxee Box on price but also functionality.
Do you use a set-top box or streaming media device? Have you tried the Revue or Boxee Box? What do you think?
As you take time to prepare for Hurricane Irene headed our way this weekend we recommend you take a few minutes and think about your IT disaster plan. There are a few simple steps you can take before the storm hits to keep you in good shape:
For your home:
- Check your backup and make sure it’s current. Once you know it’s current make sure you have a backup offsite somewhere. That can be anywhere you deem safe… the cloud, a safe location in your home (safe from water damage), or a relative’s house outside the storm range. Just make sure your backup is up-to-date and that it’s in at least two locations.
- Charge up all your devices like cell phones, laptops, and any other gadgets you may want to use to help weather the storm. Don’t forget a battery powered radio!
- Pull out that old school telephone. Any phone that needs to be plugged in won’t do you any good in a power outage.
- Make sure all appliances are plugged into a surge strip. Many small appliances have small computer components built in and are susceptible to damage during power surges (things like new refrigerators, washing machines etc). If it’s not plugged into a decent surge strip unplug it for the duration of the storm.
- Take care of all your online research before Irene hits. If your power goes out you won’t have access to the internet since your cable modem/router will be down. Don’t rely on your cell either since the network could be bogged down and unreliable. Do your research and “googling” now.
For your business:
- Again, check your backups and make sure you have a copy offsite. If your building gets flooded your backup is useless if all your backup tapes or drives are damaged with the server.
- Consider shutting down any servers, or large equipment. If you think your power may go out for an extended period of time, or may go out and come back on unexpectedly we recommend shutting down for the duration of the storm. Basic UPS devices typically last a short period of time and aren’t designed to keep your systems up for an extended period of time.
- Check that all equipment is plugged into surge strips or power protection devices. All equipment such as PCs, fax machines, printers, and postage meters are susceptible to damage from a surge. If they are not in a strip unplug them.
- Print out a list of key contact information and bring it home with you. This list should include key employees, important customers and clients, and vendor information. If you can’t get into your systems on Monday you want to have the information handy if you need to make some calls.
Tablet computers haven’t always been popular devices. They have been around for years, and until recently most tablets were merely laptops with touch screens that could rotate around so the screen would be visible when the lid was closed. Many of these touch screen laptops would utilize a Stylus “pen “for the “touch” interface.
The events leading to the popularity of tablet PCs is similar to what happened with netbooks. Just like with the ultra-portable laptops that preceeded netbooks, the early tablets were very expensive. In both cases, this high price tag was because they were designed to do everything a laptop could do. It wasn’t until a major move to make the technology cheaper that both netbooks and tablets became popular.
The way tablet computers became cheaper was to design systems that weren’t replacements for laptops, but rather to provide simple functions in a very mobile form. This is why the iPad runs on iOS, the Operating System which powers the iPhone, rather than OSX, the system which powers the Mac computers. Android tablets also run the same line of Operating Systems which power the Android phones.
Because of this reduced function, a tablet should be used by people looking to do simple activities, similar to what they would do on a smartphone, but would prefer a larger screen size. This includes browsing the web, responding to emails, watching videos, sharing pictures, or playing games. It should not be considered a replacement for a computer. Just like early laptops, we’re not at a point yet where the tablet is ready to replace the computer.
Due to the varying nature and origin of computer viruses, preventing an infection is just as much a matter of being mindful of what you click on, as it is of having software to help you to respond to any threats. Since Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware programs are always updating their software to respond to threats that have been reported, the latest malicious software tends to be one step ahead. As a result, your first line of prevention is to be aware of what you’re doing and whether your actions are about to open up the possibility of any infection.
Whether it’s a video player pop-up message saying, “install this new component to view your video” or whether you’re opening a link or email attachment sent from a seemingly legitimate source, taking a moment to evaluate whether you really trust the content can help you prevent an infection. However, if an infection does manage to embed itself into a legitimate file or copy to your system without any need of your actual interaction, your software then comes into play.
A distinction, though sometimes unclear, exists between Malware and Viruses. As a result, it’s often difficult to find a single prevention software solution that will tackle both malicious acts effectively. You’ll commonly need both dedicated Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware products. Each of these programs will act in similar fashions; ensuring they’re both configured and running properly is important.
Make sure your definitions are up-to-date.
This can be done by checking the update settings to ensure the program is set to automatically update, and if necessary, paying to renew any licenses with the software vendor to ensure you can keep receiving updates. Both preventing and responding to malicious infections effectively is dependent on whether the protection software is up to date.
Run full scans of your system regularly, preferably a few times a month.
This can either be done in the software by configuring a weekly scan of your hard drives or by manually remembering to leave a scan running, possibly overnight when you’re done with the PC for the day. This will ensure that no infections have snuck onto the system, probably waiting to be activated.
Real-time protection is an important feature to prevent many infections.
Real-time protection acts by scanning every object as you run it, whether that means scanning a document when you open it, or scanning a link when you click it. Since the program needs to check the data before opening it, this may cause a slowdown in performance as it acts as an important barrier between the line of preventing or responding to an infection.
Become fully secure with the latest computer software for virus and malware protection today! Still unsure what to get? Ask us; we are computer experts!
And check out our blog article, Which is the best computer protection software?
A computer virus is a common phrase used to describe any type of malicious software designed to replicate and spread to multiple computer systems. The methods viruses use to replicate are dependent upon the person writing the virus software. Often the person coding a virus starts with picking a security flaw to exploit. Types of security flaws can vary, allowing for different forms of viruses and methods of attack, such as:
- email systems allowing types of infected attachments to be delivered to a mailbox
- a website’s application or database engine allowing code to become inserted and infecting a legitimate webpage
- messages and emails containing no program, but are designed to appear to be from a legitimate source yet directing the user to an illegitimate or infected destination
Regardless, sometimes there are people who are simply searching for security flaws to report them, so they may be fixed or sell the information to people who will exploit the flaw.
Chronology of a Computer Virus
1. Once the security flaw is chosen and a small “virus” is written to exploit it, the means of attack will be chosen to send the virus out. Often it’s done using a “botnet” network of PCs controlled remotely to automatically perform the task that may have already been infected by another virus to perform this task.
2. From here they will be setup to perform tasks like an “injection” to insert the malicious code into a legitimate website, creating a “drive-by download” where the malicious code is downloaded without any user interaction, or send out a massive number of infected or fraudulent “phishing” emails designed to trick the user.
Note: Often the first virus which infects a computer is designed to perform no action, but rather is designed to get “a foot in the door” for further infections. As a result of this need to not be detected, these initial viruses are constantly changing to keep a step ahead of the Anti-Virus software.
Once infected however, these viruses may be designed to perform tasks automatically to further infect the system, such as:
- responding to commands remotely
- adding it to the “botnet”
- installing malicious programs designed to bombard the user ads for fraudulent “scareware” products like a fake Anti-Virus or Malware
- “keylogging” all typed keystrokes, looking for patterns like credit card numbers or passwords
Often enough, each step of this is segregated. An underground economic model starts to emerge where specific roles develop to keep up in the constant world of technology.
How Computer Viruses Spread
1. People find vulnerabilities and sell the information to programmers
2. Those who write code for exploitation sell it to people who control botnets of thousands of computer systems
3. Those botnet controllers will then use their botnets to infect more systems in order to install malicious or fraudulent software which they’ve been paid to do
4. Finally, the malicious software which users may see might be designed to trick the user into paying $50 for fraudulent software or steal financial information. By this point, an economic model emerges, where the FBI has estimated $150 million dollars have been spent in fake Anti-Virus scams alone.
Need Anti-Virus software to protect your computer? Ask us today!
Backing up your data is a critical step to ensuring you have a plan in case a disaster strikes. Whether your data goes missing, corrupt, or destroyed, having a copy of it helps prevent a disruptive issue from becoming a major disaster.
Backing Up the Data is Only One Step of Preventive Maintenance
There is no use to a backup if you can’t restore the data. Someone could spend years backing up every day, but over time tapes can become worn, drives can develop disk errors and bad sectors, and data can be moved around and be incomplete. By doing a test restore of your data you are able to significantly increase the chances of learning about these problems before it’s too late.
Setting Up a Job to Restore the Data
When performing a test restore you can review what files and folders are being backed up, and you may find that while your “Data” and “Accounting” folders are being backed up, a “Marketing” folder that was moved, and a “Media” folder that was added since the backup was originally setup are not included in the backup. If you attempt to restore the data, but find a tape is having read/write errors, or bad sectors on the disk are preventing any data from being copied, you are able to address these errors, and either repair or replace the device at fault.
While it is important to backup regularly, doing the occasional test restore is equally important. It allows you to do a controlled run through a disaster scenario, ensuring that the backup system is working as intended and that if something inconvenient does happen to your data that you are able to recover from it.
To get help on performing a test restore for your important backup data, contact us today!