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October 4th, 2013

Although many businesses have been getting rid of Windows XP for at least the last 3 years, the fact remains that as of early this year, around 500 million business computers were still running Windows XP. While the witching hour for Windows XP is still a few months away (April 8, 2014), here are 7 of the top reasons running Windows XP should scare any business owner right now:malware

1. Tons Of Viruses. There is a huge library of viruses aimed at Windows XP and limited antivirus support still available.

2. XP Is OLD (almost 12 years old!). The 1st iPod was released the same year as Windows XP. In a world where the 5th iPhone has been released, no one should be left using an O/S that pre-dates the 1st iPod!

3. Least Secure Operating System (By Far!). ALL other platforms, including Linux, all versions of Mac OS X, Windows 7 and Windows 8 are more secure than XP by a huge margin. Windows Vista is actually a far safer option (scary!).

4. Built For A Simpler Time. XP was created for a simpler world of technology. It was formatted to fit to a screen only 640 pixels wide, and it showcased IE6 as a new product. The internet was a different place when XP was developed. Smartphones were non-existent, laptops were a luxury and tablet computers were science fiction.

5. No More Band-Aids. Only so many band-aid fixes on top of each other can be effective.

6. Support Is Ending. All support of XP will end on April 8, 2014. It’s time to replace your systems now while you can plan ahead.

7. Malware Everywhere. You can continue to use XP, but with more malware than ever. XP is by far, the most vulnerable platform to connect to the internet.

 

Our Free Service Call Will “Exorcise” The Ghosts, Gremlins And Goblins
Causing Problems In Your Computer Network

Call us between now and Halloween (October 31st) and we will come out to your office for free and we will…

  • Provide a full inventory of all of your computer equipment, including all of your Windows XP machines and the software programs on them. Diagnose slow, unstable PC’s (whether Windows XP or newer).
  • Verify your computer’s security patches are up to date and installed properly; miss one critical update and you’re a “sitting duck”.
  • Provide a technology roadmap to rid your company of Windows XP finally and forever, including how to move legacy software systems that still require XP to run!

To book your FREE Network Assessment, call us today at 678-730-2703 or email at Jennifer@mis-solutions.com.

October 1st, 2013

Over a billion dollars are lost each year in the United States through “ATM Skimming” – far more than any losses from bank robberies – and it’s growing at a rate of more than 10% every year.

atm-skimmer  ATM Skimming is a cyber-crime where the criminals steal (or “skim”) your ATM/debit card data when you’re using a typical ATM machine. They do this by fitting a small card reader over the typical ATM card slot, thus capturing your information. Additionally, the criminals install mini cameras above or near the ATM to capture your PIN number. The data is then transmitted via Bluetooth to the cyber-criminals somewhere nearby. The average skimming attack usually lasts only an hour or two during peak ATM usage times (i.e. lunch hour or after work). Meanwhile, you have no idea that you’ve just been had and are at risk. These cyber-criminals will then sell the data on the cards to others so that they can either clone your debit card or wipe out your bank account.

5 Tips To Prevent ATM Skimming

1. Cover your hand as you type. Obstructing the view of your PIN from any cameras will render your data useless.

2. Pay attention to the area around the ATM card slot. If anything looks loose or out of place, pull to see if you can remove it.

3. Be aware of surroundings. Be extra careful of ATMs in dark or isolated places.

4. Does the machine look different? If anything looks out of place (extra signage, mirrors, etc.) then avoid the machine.

5. Notify the bank. If you find or suspect an ATM has been compromised, notify your bank and law enforcement immediately.

We recently met with our business bankers to learn about the latest scams that they are seeing here in Atlanta and you would be amazed at the things that happen with business checking accounts: unique check forgeries and a multitude of banking online scams. If you haven’t sat down with your banker to review the limits and controls on your business bank accounts, I highly recommend you do. If you have further questions about how to secure your network and online business banking for your employees, give me a call at 678-730-2703 or email me at Jennifer@mis-solutions.com.

October 1st, 2013

ghost    Was I having a nightmare? Was I just watching too many episodes of “Ghost Hunters?” Maybe taking the Halloween spirit too far? No – it simply occurred to me that you might not know the importance of having a solid backup and disaster recovery plan in place!

And if your server data was erased, corrupted or destroyed because of a hardware malfunction, system crash, fire, flood or some other random, unforeseen disaster, you might not be able to be back up and running again FAST!

 The Thought Of That Happening Scared Me Half To Death!

And quite honestly, it should scare you, too! Just imagine what would happen if your server went down and you…

  •  Lost all accounting documentation and history…
  • Lost all the work files you’ve spent YEARS developing…
  • Lost the work files and documentation you desperately need to service your customers…
  • Lost all the e-mails you had saved and couldn’t access your inbox…

Can you even put a price tag on it? Probably not – yet so many business owners aren’t 100% certain that they could be back up and running after a disaster and are purely hoping that their current tape drive or backup is working and storing a usable copy of their data.

That’s why I desperately urge you to contact us today to schedule your FREE Data Security and Backup Audit – a $495 value. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Call Jennifer at 678-730-2703 and mention this newsletter.

2. Email Jennifer at Jennifer@mis-solutions.com

Hurry, this offer ends October 31, 2013.

October 1st, 2013

login  You’ve got one for every site and every application you use–e-mail, online banking, social media sites, and your CRM system, just to name a few. With so many password protected sites to keep track of, the inclination is to always use the same password for every site or to make it so easy you can’t possibly forget it (like using Password123).  Unfortunately, this compromises all of your data and makes it easy for cyber-attackers to steal sensitive, confidential information.

Studies have shown that password security is still the weakest link in keeping data safe. There are some simple things you can remember when creating a password that can help protect your information.

Here are 7 tips to consider:

1. Use special characters and numbers.

2. Mix up upper case and lower case letters.

3. Make sure your password is a minimum of 10 characters.

4. Be sure it’s not something that can be guessed easily (zip code, phone number, birthdate, your name).

5. Randomly replace letters with numbers, e.g. shake becomes $h@ke

6. Pick a sentence or phrase, and reduce it to first letters of each word only, e.g. “A Golden Key Can Open Any Door” becomes AGKCOAD.

7. Reverse the spelling of a word, e.g. partnership becomes pihsrentrap.

Not all cyber-attacks can be avoided, but don’t make it too easy for them. Be proactive and update all of your passwords so they meet the above criteria.

August 26th, 2013

   A recent AOL online article titled “The Scary Truth Of How Terrorists Could Crash Your Car” freaked a lot of people out by implying that terrorists could easily hack into your car’s computer systems and wreck your car (or hundreds of cars terroristsat a time) at speeds exceeding 100 mph. While that is a scary thought to consider, the facts are quite a bit less severe than the article suggests. Nothing like some great sensationalist journalism, eh?

What really are the facts? Could you really be hacked driving your car?

• Cars are more and more dependent on software and electronics to run everything in the car, including GPS, music, brake systems, your power train, throttle and more.

• A new car is a rolling computer with 80 to 100 microprocessors and 100 million lines of software code.

• Researchers from the University of Washington and UC San Diego recently were able to successfully hack into an ordinary sedan, lock and unlock the doors, turn the engine on and off and listen to a conversation going on.

  • In another experiment, researchers compromised an auto repair “pass-through device” that helps technicians diagnose problems, which then allowed them to install software on every car that touched that device, potentially allowing them to control a wide range of auto functions on those cars.
  • New studies are being done on how to use wireless connectivity in cars to help avoid accidents, route traffic more effectively and make our travels even more safer (over 90% of accidents are due to human error and smarter cars can potentially fix that).

   But the truth of the matter is that, although cars are packed with computers, very few systems can currently be controlled wirelessly from outside the car. In all reality, someone would likely need to install an additional attachment to your car’s computer system to really take it over. Stay tuned, however, as I’m sure that this is going to be an ongoing discussion for many years to come.

 

August 6th, 2013

cyber crime   Do you have Java turned on in your web browser?  If your answer is “Yes” or “I’m not sure” then it’s time to take action to find out.  Why?  The biggest threat to your computer systems in 2013 (and beyond) is no longer Microsoft Windows – it is Oracle Java. 

    After 20+ years as the poster child for insecure software, Microsoft’s newest operating systems (Windows 7 and 8) have gotten their act together. Cybercriminals like to get the greatest bang for their buck and therefore they’re attacking the Java platform because of its huge market share and because it’s an easier platform to hack than the Microsoft operating system.  Java is now installed in over 1.1 billion desktops and 3 billion mobile phones.  That’s a big target that is very attractive to hackers. Hackers also love that Java is multi-platform, which means it’s capable of corrupting PCs running Windows, Mac OS X or Linux. And since many Mac users don’t have anti-virus, hackers were able to infect over 600,000 Macs with serious malware via the Java software installed on their machines.   

    Right now, cybercriminals are aware and are exploiting any security flaws in Java that could lead to infections on your computer.  There are even automated kits now available to capitalize on any security hole found within days, if not hours of them becoming known.  It’s not unusual to see hackers use Java as a first attack to weaken the defenses before serving up an Operating System specific attack.  Even the Department of Homeland Security suggested that “To defend against future Java vulnerabilities, their users should consider disabling Java in web browsers.”

 Here are 3 steps you can take today to minimize your risk:

 1. Disable or uninstall Java wherever you can.  If you don’t need it, remove it. 

2. Where Java is necessary, use a separate web browser only used for Java based websites and be sure to patch Java regularly.

3. Have your staff report the first signs of slowness, possible infections and web browser popups to your IT guy as soon as they happen. 

July 10th, 2013

xxxsWant to avoid the most common and expensive computer problems that most Atlanta area business owners experience? Then read on! We’ve compiled a list of 3 things you should be doing to save yourself a lot of time and money by avoiding a big, ugly computer disaster.

 1. Have an automated off-site backup system in place. I cannot stress the importance of this enough. Having an off-site backup of your data is the equivalent of wearing a seatbelt in a major accident. You don’t think much about it until you need it, and then you will thank your lucky stars you had it in place.

 2. Centralize your data on your server. At one time, servers only made sense for large organizations because of their high cost and complexity.

But today, there are very affordable and easy-to-implement server systems designed specifically for any size small business. Depending on your business needs, your server can be in your office or hosted in the cloud. A server will not only speed up your network, but it will also make backups easier, allow secure remote access (allowing you and your employees to work from home or on the road) and make it much easier to share documents, databases and printers in a secure manner.

 3. Keep your anti-virus software up to date, and perform weekly spyware scans. Almost everyone understands the importance of anti-virus software, but many businesses still do not perform weekly spyware sweeps. Spyware can cause a host of problems, including slowing down your systems, pop-up ads and even identity theft.

 Want An Easy Way To Make Sure You Aren’t Making These 3 Mistakes (Or Others) In Your Business? With our Greenlight Managed Services program, we take full responsibility for managing your computer network! This service is guaranteed to eliminate expensive, frustrating computer problems and give you the peace of mind that your data is safe and secure.

June 12th, 2013

    explosionAlthough businesses have been getting rid of Windows XP for at least the last 3 years, the fact remains that as of last December, around 500 million users will still be running Windows XP. Here are 7 of the top reasons it’s time to finally give up Windows XP now.

1. Tons Of Viruses. There is a huge library of viruses aimed at Windows XP and unfortunately only limited antivirus support still available for XP.

2. XP Is OLD (almost 12 years old!). The 1st iPod was released the same year as Windows XP. In a world where the 5th iPhone has been released, no one should be left using an O/S that pre-dates the 1st iPod!

3. Least Secure Operating System (By Far!). ALL other platforms, including Linux, all versions of Mac OS X, Windows 7 and Windows 8 are more secure than XP by a huge margin. Windows Vista is actually a far safer option (scary!).

4. Built For A Simpler Time. XP was created for a simpler world of technology. It was formatted to fit to a screen only 640 pixels wide, and it showcased IE6 as a new product. The internet was a different place when XP was developed. Smartphones were non-existent, laptops were a luxury and tablet computers were science fiction.

5. No More Band-Aids. Only so many band-aid fixes on top of each other can be effective.

6. Support Is Ending. Mainstream support of XP ended 4 years ago (April 2009) with only critical security updates since then.

7. Malware Everywhere. You can continue to use XP, but with more malware than ever. XP is by far the most vulnerable platform to connect to the internet.

    XP is a relic from a different world. Use at your own risk. If you have questions about moving away from Windows XP or any software question, call Jennifer at 678-730-5527 or email at Jennifer@mis-solutions.com.

May 13th, 2013

dropbox   A question that we often get around here is whether or not file sharing services such as DropBox, YouSendIt and Google Docs are secure enough for business.  If you use any of these services for your business, here’s the scoop…

Treat DropBox As A Public, Shared Environment.

   DropBox (and the others mentioned above) is designed to easily share very large files – ones that are not optimal for email because they’re so huge.  Examples include videos, audio files, large PDF’s and graphics files.  These services are typically free (or very cheap) and you shouldn’t have the expectation of great security for this price.

But an increasing use of these tools, even for legitimate reasons such as collaboration are putting a lot of private information at risk.  According to a recent Ponemon study, 60% of organizations have employees that frequently put confidential files on services like DropBox without permission.  In fact, companies such as IBM have banned the use of these services completely.

When Does Or Doesn’t It Make Sense?

When you have a file that doesn’t need to be secure and simply needs to easily and quickly get from point A to point B, then DropBox can be a viable solution.  On the other hand, you would not send or store any sensitive files, such as contracts or financial statements on DropBox.  These services are also not safe for any files subject to government compliance regulations such as PCI, HIPAA, SOX, Sarbanes-Oxley or HITECH.  These file sharing solutions are NOT compliant.

What To Use Instead

If you need to transfer files outside of your network and need to do so securely, some options to consider are:

  • Creating a secure FTP site
  • Use 2-factor authentication rules
  • Be sure to have audit logs involved to monitor the secure of your data

If you have questions about Dropbox or any other file sharing service, call Jennifer at 678-730-2703 or email at Jennifer@mis-solutions.com.

May 13th, 2013

cell phone   It has been 40 years since the first public phone call was made on a cell phone. When the cell phone hit the market, it weighed 2 pounds, only stored 30 numbers, took 10 hours to charge, and cost almost $4,000!!

   The cell phone industry has come a long way in the last 40 years and unfortunately, so have criminals. Smart phones are under malware attack—yes, all smart phones.

   If you think about it, a smart phone is a mini computer. It has an operating system and hackers are spending more time creating viruses to attack smart phones because people are storing more of their personal information on them.

   Mobile malware acts the same way malware on your PC does—it can slow down your processing speeds, hack your email and send out spam to all your contacts, randomly delete important files, and initiate system-wide crashes. Some can even hijack the camera on your phone to take photos at random!

   Here are some ways to protect your cell phone:

  • Do not open messages from unknown senders.
  • Do not store personal financial information or financial account logins on your cell phone.
  • Never connect with unknown wireless networks.
  • Make the most of your phone’s protective features—put a passcode on your phone and set the screen lock feature to lock after a few minutes of inactivity.
  • Install mobile device software to protect company data against lost or stolen cell phones.
  • Only install well-reviewed applications thru the app store. Don’t install lots of free games and apps.

For more information on how to protect your phone, call us at 678-730-2703 or email at Jennifer@mis-solutions.com.