Last week Avagio attended the Chippenham Business Awards. We entered for Apprentice of the year. The Candidate – Alex Cowley,... View Article
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social crm + email marketing + file storage + calendar + taskpad + mailmerge > all from just £12 pcmDecember 24, 2012 11:12 am
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As systems and market demands continue to require better productivity and efficiency, it only follows that the software that businesses use also needs to upgrade sooner or later. Such is the case with Windows XP, which Microsoft will stop issuing support for in 2014. Part of using any sort of software is the inevitable need to upgrade. Most if not all software needs to either be replaced and upgraded as the demands of the market entail more efficient processing of the various data and information a business handles. Such is the case with Windows XP. While many continue to use this proven straightforward operating system, Microsoft has decided to stop support by the year 2014. Microsoft further recommends upgrading to its latest OS, Windows 7, in order for users to continue to receive OS support. While there are some lines of business applications that have not been upgraded to work with Windows 7, most have — and there are alternative approaches. Also, your business needs the security and protection that only a current, up-to-date operating system can provide. We understand that changing your OS will entail some expense, including new licenses, hardware, and some training. Fortunately, these things are designed to help you operate more efficiently and increase your productivity in the long run. But such change will take time, and if you are interested in starting to plan for an upgrade now, we’ll be happy to sit down with you and develop an upgrade process that meets your specific needs.
A recent attack by cyber-criminals has highlighted the need for many SMBs to re-evaluate the security protocols between themselves and their bank. Hackers exploit weaknesses in such systems, and when successful, can siphon tens of thousands of dollars from your accounts. In a recent attack, cyber-thieves managed to get away with $63,000 after they exploited vulnerabilities in the online payroll system of a small business with its bank. First, the crooks managed to infiltrate the company’s system through a piece of malware called the Zeus Trojan. This gave them access to the company’s data, including the password and username used in transacting with the company’s bank. The thieves then created several new ghost employees and created payroll accounts for them, which they sent to the bank and authenticated using the company controller’s username and password. And to cover their tracks, the hackers erased the confirmation emails regarding the transaction. This incident highlights the need for better security systems in both the business and their bank – as security experts cite online banking transactions as one of the favorite targets of cyber-criminals. Cyber-attacks such as this one exploit weaknesses in many existing systems that rely on very simple and automated authentication procedures to confirm transactions. A direct threat to your business finances is not something to be taken lightly. You not only need to review your current online banking system, but also the current security protocols you have installed, since hackers and cyber-criminals are constantly updating Trojans and other malware to adapt to changing IT protection systems. We encourage you to have us take a look at the systems you have in place to determine if you are at risk for attacks like these. Please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to draw up custom security solutions that address your specific needs. References: Sold a Lemon in Internet Banking Cybercrooks Drive Away With $63,000 from Car Dealership
With hackers and electronic thieves constantly on the lookout for the latest exploits and security breaches they can take advantage of, it is comforting to know that there are also people behind bold initiatives to make our web experiences much safer. If you think hackers are the only ones doing their research to release newer and scarier viruses and malware on the web, think again. It is comforting to know that there are also very capable people doing what they can to make the internet a safer place – like Professor Dawn Song, associate professor at the University of California at Berkeley and MacArthur Foundation fellow. In a nutshell, Professor Song has been looking at different ways to make the internet experience more secure. Her two initiatives – WebBlaze and BitBlaze – are aimed toward developers who want to create better and much more secure programs and applications. WebBlaze is a compilation of different strategies from Song and other like minds who tackle different problems and solutions in all sorts of platforms, and BitBlaze is an analysis tool for malicious software. While we won’t go into too much detail (it involves very complicated math), the gist is that Song and her colleagues are drawing up some very solid solutions to constantly evolving security issues on the web. It’s exciting to see developments like these in the security industry. As threats continue to evolve, so does the means through which they are fought. The more we use the internet and the more the online experience becomes integral to the day-to-day operations of businesses big and small, the more important securing your data and information becomes. And because of efforts such as Professor Song’s, we can expect security programs to be much more effective and efficient as time passes. Know more about BitBlaze and WebBlaze Learn more about Dawn Song here If you are looking to assess and beef up your security systems, we’d be happy to sit down with you and take a look at improvements that can make your business and your data much more secure.
With the growth of social networking, it is becoming increasingly difficult to separate business connections with personal connections. November 17, 2010 was declared by Jimmy Kimmel during his television show as “National Unfriend Day”, the opportunity for all Facebook users to declutter their Facebook pages by “unfriending” people in their friends’ lists. He claims that Facebook has been “cheapening” the idea of friendship. To many the idea was hilarious, but others are seriously considering the wisdom of unfriending. Is Kimmel on to something here? Can unfriending benefit your online business? Research shows that as social media gets bigger, we’re getting smaller. Brian Wong, a network marketer says it simply: “With the growth of social networking, I am finding it increasingly difficult to separate business connections and personal connections.” He says that having almost 1,000 friends on Facebook has made it difficult for him to see the feeds and updates of his “real” friends and important business partners. Lately there is a growing trend of de-scaling on the internet. People have started “pruning” their social lives online. For example, the popular Farmville app lost 30 million players this year, and people are beginning to realize that conversations and comments are more important than a huge number of blog hits. So how can de-scaling and unfriending help your business? The drive to be more intimate can benefit your business by allowing you to form a tighter circle of customers, more successfully establishing you as a preferred channel for consumption. Luckily, there are tools that can help you descale your social networks: Path – Offers small-scale communities where people feel more comfortable sharing personal information. It controls who can view your information and does not include features that make your content viral. Letter.ly – A subscription-based newsletter for bloggers who feel that public posts decrease the quality of conversations. This newsletter opens discussion only to people who pay, or who are privately invited to read a blog post. GroupMe – A texting app which limits your group text participants to only 14, to ensure that meaningful dialogues take place. What about the flip side of unfriending and descaling? While you’re considering who to eliminate from your social circles, your contacts are likely doing the same. Here are some tips to help you make their cuts: 1. Be selective in your communications. Of course, your product is important – to you. But not every little detail is as important to your audience. Be sure to focus on key features and benefits from your audience’s perspective. 2. Stay on topic. Always give relevant communications to your customers, and never rant or badmouth competitors. This is a sure way to lose customers. 3. Provide value. In addition to talking about your product or service, find ways to provide value to your circle of friends. Understand topics and pain points important to them, and provide valuable information and advice to help them succeed. You’ll soon come to be considered as a valuable resource to your contacts – one that they want to keep in their online social groups. One thing is clear: quality is still more important than quantity, especially in the current economic downturn when people are downsizing everything. Start “pruning” your social network – and take steps to avoid being pruned – and you’ll reap the benefits of having a tight circle of loyal friends and customers.
Using shared Wi-Fi networks can be really convenient, but it is not without risks of its own. These days, more and more people are on the go, and many of them bring their work with them. And in this day and age, it’s ideal if you’re working – or playing for that matter – while connected to the internet, which is often through public Wi-Fi hotspots. While connecting to public and open-access Wi-Fi hotspots is indeed convenient, using open networks also poses risks that endanger your security. The open nature that allows anyone to use the connection also enables unscrupulous people to gain access to your private information. The whole act of stealing information from people who are using public Wi-Fi networks is called ‘sidejacking’. There are applications such as Firesheep, for example, that provide an easy-to-use platform that others can exploit to spy and harvest personal, sensitive information from you. And since Firesheep is a Mozilla Firefox plug in, virtually anyone can download and use it to sidejack people on the same network. You can’t be too cautious with your personal and business data these days, so you always need to have the proper laptop configuration and security infrastructure to protect your system, especially when you frequently avail of open and public networks. To know more about this, please feel free to give us a call and we’ll be happy to draw up some security options that meet your specific needs.
It seems that even the most innocuous machines in the workplace can serve as a security threat to companies. According to this report from CBS News, many office copiers save the images they copy on a dedicated hard disk installed inside them. This means that everything from mundane memos to your most sensitive information such as financial statements and contracts are stored – and could potentially extracted. So the next time you dispose of a copy machine, if you’re not sure what’s stored on it and how to get it off – give us a call to help out. To see the news report, watch this video.
Users beware of ransomware : malicious software that extorts money from users in exchange for freeing the user’s computer or data. One particularly nasty version was recently discovered by researchers at CA which came bundled with a software download called uFast Download Manager. The malware blocks Internet access for users until they pay the publisher a fee via SMS. Users who download the software are immediately infected, seeing a message posted in Russian demanding a ransom under the guise of activating the uFast Download Manager application. To keep your computer environment safe, always be wary of downloading suspicious free software on the Internet. If you need help or are unsure, please contact us first so we can help!
Spanish authorities report that they have arrested the masterminds behind a string of online criminal activities using the botnet dubbed Mariposa. Mariposa is the original name of a commercially distributed Do-it-Yourself malware kit, sold online for 800/1000 EUR for “wannabe” hackers. Along with the arrest, authorities seized sensitive data belonging to about 800,000 users in 190 countries, gathered from an estimated 12M+ infected host computers on the Internet. What’s particularly interesting is that the cybercriminals arrested were not themselves the author of the malware, nor were they any more techincally adept than many ordinary users. They simply had access to malware widely available on the Internet, and were able to conduct a crime of such a wide scale and reach. This illustrates that it’s become easier for many cybercriminals to conduct their nefarious deeds online, and highlights the need for more vigilance on the part of law-abiding netizens in keeping their network secure from hackers and malware. Is your network safe? Contact us to find out. Related articles: How FBI, police busted massive botnet (go.theregister.com) Botnet takedowns ‘don’t hurt crooks enough’ (go.theregister.com) Vodafone distributes Mariposa Bot, Conficker and Lineage in HTC Magic (techie-buzz.com)
Microsoft recently released a number of security bulletins and patches addressing vulnerabilities in Windows and Office that are of high risk to users. It’s widely believed that many will be exploited by hackers within the next 30 days. One of them could potentially allow hackers or malware authors to easily compromise systems by tricking users to download malicious AVI-formatted files. Others require nothing more than just visiting a website. Another specifically targets Powerpoint Viewer 2003, and opening a malicious .ppt file could affect your system. This latest round of patches and vulnerability updates is really nothing new – although the sheer number made public in one day is notable. This highlights the need for a comprehensive security policy, because vulnerabilities do exist in even the most mundane or old versions of software. Customers under our Managed Services plan can rest easy since we monitor and update their computers as soon as these patches and advisories are released. Find out more about what we do to make your systems safe and secure. Contact us today. Related links: Patch Tuesday: Microsoft plugs critical Windows worm holes (zdnet) Researchers warn of likely attacks against Windows, PowerPoint (computerworld) Microsoft delivers huge Windows security update (computerworld)
A malicious piece of software making the rounds of news websites this week is believed to be behind the compromise of over 75,000 systems in over 2,500 international organizations – many of which are government agencies and large Fortune 500 companies. Called the Knebner botnet after the name in the email used to register the initial domain used in the campaign to propagate the malware , the software infects computers and captures user login access to online financial services such as Paypal and online banks, social networking websites such as Facebook, and email. Infected computers can be centrally controlled from a master computer, which presumably harvests the data captured for nefarious means. The Knebner botnet itself is not new. It’s based on the ZeuS botnet, and has gained prominence lately because it’s slipped under the radar of so many organizations. However, there are ways to prevent compromises from botnets – one of which is to have a proactive security system and policy in place. Our Managed Security customers have this assurance in place since we continuously protect their system from botnets and other malware. If you’re not sure that you’re protected, talk to us today. Related articles: Kneber botnet described as ‘massive’ and ‘worldwide’ (inquisitr.com) Kneber attack resurrects notorious Zeus Trojan, say experts (guardian.co.uk) Malicious Software Infects Corporate Computers (nytimes.com)
In a report by security firm Websense , an alarming rise in the growth of malicious websites was identified in 2009 as compared to 2008 – almost 225 percent. The study also found an increased focus among hackers and spammers on targeting social media sites such as blogs and wikis. Social media or so-called Web 2.0 sites allow user-generated content , which can be a source of vulnerability. Researchers identified that up to 95 percent of user-generated comments to blogs, chat rooms, and message boards are spam or malicious – linking to data stealing sites or to downloads of malicious software . Email also continues to be a target for malicious activity with tens of thousands of Hotmail , Gmail and Yahoo! email accounts hacked and passwords stolen and posted online in 2009, which resulted in a marked increase in the number of spam emails. For our clients on our Managed Service plans, we work hard to ensure your systems are protected from harmful or malicious activity coming from the Internet. If you’re not under our Managed Service plans perhaps now is a good time to talk – let’s make sure your systems are safe in 2010. Related articles Top search results riddled with malware (v3.co.uk) Email phishing attack spreading say experts (telegraph.co.uk) Fraudsters Go Phishing For Victims’ Friends (news.sky.com)
Mozilla , the organization behind the popular Firefox browser disclosed that two add-ons available for download on its website were vectors for Trojans that could compromise users’ computers. Add-ons allow users to extend and enhance the capabilities of Firefox beyond the default install. Normally they are scanned for malware before being uploaded onto Mozilla’s website, but apparently two of them managed to slip through Mozilla’s automated scans. The infected add-ons are Version 4.0 of Sothink Web Video Downloader and all versions of Master Filer. Mozilla has since updated their scanning process, but as part of our ongoing security watch we are vigilant in continuously protecting our customers under our Managed Services program from malware – you can rest easy. When managing your systems on your own, it’s highly advisable to be vigilant with security and always use antivirus software – even when downloading and using software from legitimate sources. If you have downloaded these Firefox add-ons, uninstalling them does not remove the trojans that they carry, and you’ll need to use antivirus software to remove any malware on their system. Need more information or help? Call us and we will be glad to assist you. Related links: Mozilla Firefox hit by malware add-ons (zdnet) Trojan Horse Mozilla Firefox Addons (the firefox extension guru’s blog) Mozilla admits Firefox add-ons contained Trojan code (sophos)
Security firm Imperva recently released a warning to users of popular social networking website RockYou indicating that their accounts and passwords may have been compromised. According to the firm, a hacker may have accessed an alarming 32 million accounts. But what is more interesting in the wake of this news is an analysis made of the accounts and passwords stolen . From the data provided to researchers, it seems that a great number of users still use insecure passwords, such as those with six or less characters (30% of users); those confined to alpha-numeric characters (60%); or passwords including names, slang words, dictionary words, or trivial passwords such as consecutive digits, adjacent keyboard keys (50%). The most popular password? 123456. Are you using an insecure password? Let us guide you through best practices for information security. Contact us today. Related links: And the most popular password is… (zdnet) RockYou hack reveals easy-to-crack passwords (register) RockYou hack exposes names, passwords of 30M accounts (computerworld)
Chinese Hackers Exploit IE Vulnerability in a Concerted Attack – Make Sure your Browser is ProtectedJanuary 31, 2010 12:45 pm
Early January, Google released a report detailing attacks on its infrastructure which it claimed to have originated from China. In the wake of its announcement, another report came out detailing what is purported to be an “organized espionage operation” originating from China. Known as “Operation Aurora”, the attack attempted to siphon information from 33 companies in the US, including Google. The attackers are believed to have exploited a vulnerability in Internet Explorer (IE). The vulnerability affect IE 6 Service Pack 1 on Microsoft Windows 2000 Service Pack 4, and IE 6, IE 7, and IE 8 on Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 R2. In the wake of the attacks Microsoft released a patch to address the vulnerability. If you are unsure if this patch has been applied to your systems, contact us for help. Related links: More Security Flaws Found in Internet Explorer (Mashable)
RealNetworks , developers of RealPlayer, a popular real-time streaming media player, recently released an advisory about vulnerabilities that when exploited could trigger remote code execution attacks. The firm reports at least 11 critical vulnerabilities that expose Windows, Mac, and Linux users to malicious hacker attacks. RealPlayer is a favorite target for malware and fraudware writers, and users are advised to download the latest software update. If you don’t use RealPlayer, you’re best advised to uninstall it immediately. Need help in making sure your applications are safe to use? Contact us today. Related links: Bogus IQ test with destructive payload in the wild (zdnet) Tor project suffers hack attack (zdnet) RealPlayer Exploit Infecting Windows Machines (eweek)
New research from the Ponemom Institute and Lumension , shows that a majority of firms are struggling to secure data as users quickly adopt new and emerging technologies such as mobile, cloud computing, and collaborative Web 2.0 technologies. The study, which surveyed IT security and IT operations practitioners, shows that many (44 percent) feel that their IT network is less secure than a year ago or that their IT security policies are insufficient in addressing the growing threats arising from the use of new technologies. Budgets are also a limiting factor, with many feeling that IT security budgets still aren’t what they need to be to fully support business objectives and security priorities. Other findings from the report: 56% said mobile devices are not secure, representing a risk to data security 49% said data security is not a strategic initiative for their company 48% said their companies have allocated insufficient resources to achieve effective data security and regulatory compliance 47% cited a lack of strong CEO support for information security efforts as a reason for ineffective data security programs 41% said there was a lack of proactive security risk management in their organization Just as large companies worldwide struggle to keep up with security, many small businesses do so even more. If you need help understanding the security implications that new technologies bring to your organization, contact us so we can help. Related articles: Companies face IT attacks in uncertain economy: Ernst & Young (newswire.ca) Keeping America’s information safe offers a secure career (techburgh.com) Cloud Security and Privacy (oreilly.com) Computer Security Challenged By Web 2.0 ‘Endpoint’ Growth (Investor’s Business Daily via Yahoo! News) (slumpedoverkeyboarddead.com)
If you are using an automated clearing house (ACH) system to manage your funds, then you had better be extra careful. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has warned ACH users – particularly small businesses – to be on the lookout for ACH system fraud, which has already scammed as much as $100 million from unsuspecting victims. The FBI is working with the National Cyber Forensics and Training Alliance (NCFTA) to determine a solution for the problem and to catch the criminals behind these multi-million dollar scams. All it takes is a seemingly harmless email to an organization’s bookkeeper or accountant to give hackers access to all their accounts. In a technique called “phishing”, these criminals send electronic correspondence laced with attachments disguised as documents or genuine applications (like an update for Windows, for example), or links to supposedly legitimate websites. Once a recipient clicks on these links or installs the software, the hacker installs a keylogging program in their system, giving them access to passwords and other sensitive account information. The siphoning off of funds happens fairly quickly. Some hackers set up ACH transfers to unaware third party groups that typically do payroll processing tasks for international companies, which in turn transfer the money overseas. Others create fake names on a payroll system which automatically siphons off money into preset accounts enrolled in a similar system. According to the FBI, the usual victims are small businesses because of their tendency to work with smaller, less secure banks. It’s the FBI’s conclusion, indicated in a report by their Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), that smaller banks lack the proper security measures, which gives hackers the capacity to abuse the ACH system. “In several cases banks did not have proper firewalls installed, nor anti-virus software on their servers or their desktop computers. The lack of defense-in-depth at the smaller institution/service provider level has created a threat to the ACH system,” the IC3 report reads. More details about this story can be found here. (http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9140308/FBI_warns_of_100M_cyber_threat_to_small_business?taxonomyId=17&pageNumber=1)
The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and Symantec recently released the results of a survey they did as part of National Cyber Security Awareness Month to assess the awareness and preparedness of small businesses (51 or fewer employees) in countering cybersecurity threats. Some notable findings: Only 28% have formal Internet security policies in place Only 25% provide even minimal Internet use/Internet security training to employees Those companies that do train spend less than 5 training hours per year on average 86% do not have an employee focused on Internet security More than 90% believe they are protected from malware and viruses However: Barely half of the businesses surveyed check their antivirus software weekly to insure they’re up to date 11% never check security tools to make sure they’re current For many, it seems, online security is simply not a top priority, falling far behind other issues such as meeting payroll and managing cash. But this is dangerous thinking, since more and more companies’ operations have become highly dependent on their IT infrastructure and the Internet for communications and business transactions. How about your business? Is it secure? Call us today and find out how we can help. Related articles: Fake security software ‘installed on millions of PCs’ (telegraph.co.uk) Celebrating National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2009 (googleblog.blogspot.com) Symantec lists “Dirtiest Web Sites” (canada.com)
From the heavyset computing devices of Charles Babbage to today’s simple novelty items, electronic devices and gadgets have become smaller, more functional, and more integrated into our daily lives. With mobile phone calls, SMS, and email we are seemingly in constant need to be in touch with other people electronically. And therein lies the problem. Many people seem to put such a high priority on immediately replying to electronic communication that they often unintentionally offend the people they are actually physically with. For example, how does that colleague doing the “Blackberry Prayer” during a meeting – hunched over a handheld device, texting and emailing – make you feel? Here are a few etiquette tips when using our electronic devices: When in meetings, turn your phone off – or at least put it in silent mode. Check your messages and return calls and emails after meetings, not during them. It’s much more polite to explain to a caller or email sender that your response was delayed because you were in a meeting rather than explaining to everyone with you that the person on your phone is more important than them. If you are expecting an urgent call you must take, inform others about it before the meeting begins. When your phone vibrates, excuse yourself quietly and take the call outside. Never wear an earpiece while in a meeting. Don’t use your mobile phone or PDA while you are talking to somebody – it gives the impression that the person you are talking to is unimportant and insignificant. Loud ringtones are inappropriate for certain settings, so make sure they’re off at the right times. If you need to use speaker phone, ask the person on the other line for permission first, and announce who else is in the room with you. Many people are (understandably) uncomfortable not knowing who else may be listening to them. While in video conferences, treat the people on the other end of the line as if they were actually in the room with you. No discreet playing of Plants vs. Zombies on your iPhone while the brand manager from the other end of the line is giving his sales report – regardless of how boring it may be. Remember: electronic correspondence can never replace actual human interaction and conversation. Even though we’re in the electronic age, the old saying still applies: “Politeness is to human nature what warmth is to wax.”
In a previous post, we pointed out how just browsing the web these days can possibly infect your PC with malware . To show how dangerous surfing can become, Symantec recently released their list of the “Dirtiest Websites of Summer” – the top 100 infected sites on the Internet based on number of threats detected by their software as of August 2009. The list identifies websites that could compromise security with risks including phishing , malicious downloads, browser exploits, and links to unsafe external sites. Some interesting findings from the study: The average number of threats per site on the Dirtiest Websites list is roughly 18,000, compared to 23 threats per site for most sites 40 of the Top 100 Dirtiest Sites have more than 20,000 threats per site 48% of the Top 100 Dirtiest Web sites feature adult content 3/4 of the Top 100 Dirtiest Web sites have distributed malware for more than 6 months Viruses are the most common threat represented on the Dirtiest Websites list, followed by security risks and browser exploits You can read more about this research at Symantec’s website. If you suspect your PCs are at risk, or if you want to ensure your website doesn’t get hijacked by cybercriminals, contact us. We can help. Related articles: Symantec lists “Dirtiest Web Sites” Virus Security By Leveraging Community And Clouds Smartphone users need more security
Organized criminals believed to be based in Eastern Europe are robbing small to midsized US businesses of millions of dollars via an elaborate scheme aided by malicious software . Recent reports reveal that over the past few months, several businesses have fallen victim to unauthorized fund transfers whereby hundreds of thousands of dollars from the businesses’ bank accounts have been transferred to accounts in Europe, and in some cases, to the accounts of willing or unwitting accomplices in the United States. According to the reports the victims, usually the company CFO or owner, were sent malicious software as attachments to email, which when opened remained resident on the victims’ machines and stole the victims’ passwords to their online banking websites. The cybercriminals used this information to initiate transfers from their accounts of up to US $10,000 at a time to evade notice and detection from their bank’s anti-fraud or money laundering detection systems and protocols. Your business might be at risk. Make sure you are protected from this type of fraud by securing your PC and network from malicious software. Do not open suspicious-looking attachments and make sure you have the necessary protection in place, such as firewalls, antivirus software, and other methods of protection. Need help? Contact us today. Related articles: Comment: online banking? No thanks Know When Something is Being Installed on Your Machine Cybercrime victim? 3 telltale signs and what to do
The web is indeed becoming a dangerous place. These days, your PC could become infected with malware or vulnerable to a hacker attack just by innocently browsing a website or opening an email. Last July 14th, Microsoft released six bulletins with fixes for at least nine known security vulnerabilities that put users at risk in a range of Microsoft products. Many of the vulnerabilities, if not patched, can allow “remote code execution” or allow a hacker or malicious software to take over your PC and run unauthorized commands. ZDNet’s Ryan Naraine has posted a helpful summary of the released fixes: MS09-029 : This update covers two privately reported vulnerabilities in the Microsoft Windows component Embedded OpenType (EOT) Font Engine, which could allow remote code execution. Rated “critical” for all supported editions of Microsoft Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, and Windows Server 2008. MS09-028 : This update fixes three separate vulnerabilities ( one publicly disclosed and under attack! ) in Microsoft DirectShow, which could allow remote code execution if a user opens a specially-crafted QuickTime media file. MS09-032 : This update resolves a privately reported vulnerability in Microsoft Video ActiveX Control. The vulnerability could allow remote code execution if a user uses Internet Explorer to view a specially-crafted Web page that uses the ActiveX control . This vulnerability is currently being exploited in the wild! Rated “critical” for all supported editions of Windows XP and “moderate” for all supported editions of Windows Server 2003. Some of the vulnerabilities, notably one in Microsoft Office Web Components, do not yet have a patch. An attacker who successfully exploits this vulnerability could potentially gain the same user rights as a local user, allowing the attacker to modify or remove files on the PC remotely. This could potentially happen simply by using Internet Explorer to visit a website. A workaround exists by downloading a free utility from Microsoft called FixIt , which prevents the Microsoft Office Web Components from running in Internet Explorer. Users, as always, are advised to immediately download the updates and utilities, or use Microsoft’s Windows Update service. If you need help installing the patches or workarounds, or if you feel your PCs are at risk, contact us immediately. Related articles: Microsoft Security Advisory 972890 Released Microsoft warns of Internet Explorer security hole Microsoft issues patches, including one for IE exploit Internet Explorer’s ActiveX Security Mitigations in Use Microsoft Warns of Security Hole
For many small and medium-sized businesses, the cost of maintaining an old PC may be more expensive than upgrading to a new one. This insight comes from a survey conducted by research firm Techaisle , which polled 630 companies across seven countries. Their research suggests that the average cost for SMBs to repair PCs over three years old can be 1.65 times as expensive as repairing PCs under three years old. Repairs include replacements, usually from hardware failure, and the cost to fix software crashes. Small business respondents with PCs older than three years experienced network card failures nearly eight times more than respondents with PCs less than three years old. This was followed by power supply failures, motherboard failures, software crashes, and virus attacks. Midmarket respondents experienced a similar trend, with network card failures at six times higher, followed by power supply failures and motherboard failures. In addition, respondents said desktops that have been in use for more than three years are more susceptible to attacks from malware and viruses (28 percent), while older notebooks are 58 percent more likely to endure a virus attack. The cost of related lost worker productivity should also be factored in by companies wishing to hold on to outdated hardware. Are you hanging on to old PCs in an attempt to money? Contact us today. We can help you assess the health and condition of your PCs, as well as determine the cost of maintaining existing PCs versus upgrading or replacing them.
Is it time for you to consider a server for your business? This question was raised recently by Rhonda Abrams, a writer for USA TODAY’s Small Business section. According to Ms. Abrams’s article, if your business is growing and you have more than two people in your business, then you should definitely consider buying a server. Having a server, or a dedicated computer that acts as a central resource for data and applications within your office network , can dramatically improve the way your business runs. A server allows you to consolidate your data in one place, making it easy to share among your colleagues. Network file shares allow you to upload and archive files and data in one centralized location for everyone. Centralizing data also makes it easier to secure and back up. Servers often are powerful computers that can host applications your business runs within the office network. With servers, you can run applications such as email and security services, host your business website or company intranet , deploy multi-user databases, and much more. Let us know if you are considering deploying a server for your business – we can help you do it efficiently and cost effectively. Related article: Strategies: It might be time to get serious about a server.
Last July 4th and 5th, a massive denial-of-service attack was launched against several government and commercial websites in the United States and South Korea. According to security researchers, the attacks were the work of malware that infected PCs and routed traffic to government and commercial sites during the July 4 weekend in an attempt to take them down with the flood of simultaneous requests hitting them. Among those affected were the U.S. Department of Treasury, the Secret Service, the Federal Trade Commission, and several others. The attacks, which hit South Korean sites a few days later on July the 7th, are widely believed to have been carried out by an updated version of the MyDoom worm which gained infamy when it first hit Windows machines last 2004. The motive for the attack is not yet known. In the meantime, users are advised to scan their machines and update their operating systems to protect against known vulnerabilities. Contact us to learn more about protecting your business from a similar attack. Related articles: Mysterious cyber-attacker hits at federal websites, crisis averted? Cyber Attack Targets Government Websites Who’s behind cyber assaults?
Excited about Windows 7 but unsure if you want to replace your existing Vista installation? Worried about potential compatibility and driver problems with the Windows 7 beta or release candidate? Why not install both on the same machine? Microsoft has posted an interesting article on how to have both Vista and the upcoming Windows 7 Beta or Release Candidate on the same machine by dual booting from one operating system to the other. Be sure to check out the system requirements for Windows 7 ensure your system is up to the challenge. Generally speaking, if your system can handle Vista then it will likely have no problem with Windows 7; however, you’ll need ample space on your hard drive to have both running. Check out the article at Microsoft’s Technet website. Not sure how (or why) to do it? Contact us – we can help! Related articles Windows 7 testers have long path to upgrade Can a Windows Vista PC Run Windows XP Instead? Windows 7 release date announced
Surprise, surprise! According to Forrester Research , an analyst firm, small businesses buy and use software differently than their larger brethren. More than 2,200 IT executives and technology decision-makers in North America and Europe were polled, and the findings show that: small businesses are more likely to purchase software than build their own they are wary of open source software because of security and support issues interest in SaaS is growing but total cost of ownership is a concern they are more optimistic than big businesses and will allocate a greater portion of their IT spend on software These conclusions come from the recent Forrester Research report The State Of SMB Software: 2009 and data from Forrester’s Enterprise and SMB Software Survey “Enterprise Versus SMB: Who Influences Your Software Purchasing Decisions?” and “Software Budget Outlook And Preferred Purchasing Channels By Company Size: 2008 To 2009”. You can purchase the research at Forrester’s website or go to bMighty to read a summary . Do you agree with the findings? Let us know – we’re interested in what you think.
New research from security firm Secunia reveals that the average PC user has over a dozen insecure applications on his or her computer. They found that the typical user installs over 80 applications on his or her desktop, and around 15% are vulnerable to attack due to failure to patch the applications in a timely manner. Vendors normally release updates or patches to fix known vulnerabilities in their applications. This is an acute problem for software which connects to the Internet, especially if it hosts sensitive or private data. Only 2% of users make it a point regularly update their applications. For businesses, the problem could be greater with the need to manage multiple PCs. Protect your network today by letting us implement software patch management tools to manage and automate this process for you. Related articles: Keep your software up to date with Secunia Personal Software Inspector Patch management no longer just an IT problem Another year of handwringing on cybersecurity
As if the scare from the Swine Flu virus were not enough, some opportunistic and malicious hackers have started spreading a computer virus with emails of the same name. Otherwise also known as the Navia.a virus, it seems to have surfaced during the height of the Avian Flu scare. However, the computer virus may have started spreading again. Initial reports from Japan say that the country’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) posted on its website that a suspicious Japanese-language email message purportedly coming from them has been circulating with an attached file called “information on swine flu”. The email, originating from senders in the “@yahoo.co.jp” domain, seemed to be sent to random Internet users, the institute said. Users, as always, are advised to avoid opening attachments from suspicious-looking emails to prevent infecting their PCs with malware.While we can’t protect you from the real swine flu virus, we can help you protect your PCs from its new malicious online cousin. Contact us today to find out how. Related articles: Internet flooded with swine flu spam As If Swine Flu Virus Is Not Enough – We Now Have Swine Flu Computer Virus
Cyber-Ark Software, a security solutions company, recently released a survey showing that as much as 35 percent of people within an organization (that’s one out of three) admit to accessing corporate information without authorization. Furthermore, an alarming 74 percent claim they could circumvent the controls currently in place to prevent that access. The study polled over 400 IT administrators at the Infosecurity Europe 2009 and RSA USA 2009 conferences. While certainly a cause for concern, this is not surprising. Because of their technical knowledge and access to sensitive corporate information, internal IT staff are capable of circumventing internal policies and controls. If this is a cause for concern within your organization, don’t delay in giving us a call. We can help you secure your information and computing assets today. Related articles: Infosec 2009: Security must be built in from the start Securing business Slump prompts workplace snooping
What are the key technology lessons that small and mid-sized businesses can learn from large enterprises? Be proactive. Be prepared. Take security concerns seriously. Always watch for ways to cut costs. That just might sum up the advice that enterprise-grade IT shops would give smaller businesses about how to avoid costly IT mistakes. But what are some specific technology lessons that smaller fry can learn from the big fish? We asked the experts, and here’s a partial list: Read more at Inc Technology…
Rumors abound that we may soon see Microsoft’s Office suite on mobile devices. Some people are speculating that it may even be made available to the (gasp!) Apple iPhone . What is sure is the ubiquitous office productivity suite is making its way online , onto to the Internet cloud, and one day may even be provided free with an advertising supported model .
With the continuous proliferation of data and its increasing importance to business, it has become critical to implement measures to safeguard it. One such measure is to make sure you have a data protection, backup, and recovery system in place. The threat of data loss from hardware failure, malware , or disaster is very real. A little proactive effort will go a long way in ensuring the integrity and continuous availability of your critical company data. Talk to your IT consultant to find out more.
Microsoft Windows 7 will be in stores October 22, but surprisingly few details of its features have been released. Thankfully, Ed Bott, a ZDNet blogger, researched it for his readers. We now know that, like its predecessor Vista, Windows 7 will ship with different editions: Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate/Enterprise, and the new Starter Edition, specifically for Netbooks. All share the same enhancements in speed, performance, and security, as well as many UI enhancements and new applications such as Internet Explorer 8 and Windows Media Player 12. The entry-level editions lack support for business-specific features such as encryption, virtualization, and the ability to join a domain, and limited customization options (lack of support for the Aero interface, for example). The premium editions feature interesting new add-ons such as support for Touch Applications. Vista customers will be happy to know that Microsoft announced an upgrade program for customers who have purchased Vista before Windows 7′s release. Want to know if Windows 7 will benefit your business? Give us a call today and we’ll help you decide. Related articles: Windows 7: The Complete Guide (Now With RC1!) [Windows 7] Microsoft: Lots to turn off in Windows 7 Windows 7 – It’s like Vista, only less annoying
Google announced the release of a new Local Business Center feature called Search Dashboard that promises to help small businesses gain insight into how visitors came across their local listings. Local Business Center is a Google service that allows business owners to enhance their business listings in Google Maps and other search results. With Search Dashboard, users are able to view statistics on how local listings are found across different websites within Google. For example, it shows when website visitors clicked on driving directions included with listings as well as those visitors’ Zip Codes. Let us show you how this service can help you target ads to regions where your customers and prospects live. Related articles: The Local Business Center dashboard opens its doors (googleblog.blogspot.com) Google LBC Is A Treasure For Small Business (regulargeek.com) Google giving small businesses local search data (news.cnet.com)
Research recently released by antivirus vendors Mcafee and Panda suggest that searching for certain key words on Internet search engines can prove dangerous.Hackers and malware authors have become adept at Search Engine Optimization and are using frequently searched key words to create sites that will rank favorably in search engines, but are a host for malware or phishing attacks. According to the report, many popular search terms are targeted, such as: lyrics downloads, free downloads, swine flu, and rihanna . Users are urged to always protect themselves by using patched systems and updated protection tools such as antivirus software. We can help you make sure you’re protected when surfing the Internet – give us a call today. Related articles: McAfee Finds Lyrics and Free Download Searches Most Dangerous Search Keywords The Riskiest Search Terms On The Internet | WebProNews Danger lurks in screensaver searches: internet security report
A new study, “ Understanding Growth Priorities of Small and Medium-sized Businesses ” conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by services company Verio, finds that 83 percent of small-business executives are optimistic about their potential for growth once the economy turns.More than half of the respondents believe there will be a worldwide economic upturn by the middle of next year. One-quarter expect to see the global economy begin to recover by the end of 2009 and 34% anticipate a rebound by mid-2010. An interesting insight from the study reveals the expected role of technology in the recovery. Approximately 57 percent of the executives surveyed “agree” or “strongly agree” that technology will be a huge deciding factor in their ability to emerge successfully from this recession. About 20 percent said they would invest more heavily in innovative technology to help them surpass their competitors. Are you one of them? Give us a call and we’ll help you explore ways technology can help your company grow. Related articles: Small Businesses: Hopeful of the future? Survey: SMBs poised to rebound when economy turns
Tech-savvy criminals have thought of with a new way of scamming us out of our money. In a twist to “ phishing ” (when spoofed websites are used to trick users into surrendering passwords or credit card numbers), “vishing” is when phone calls using spoofed caller ID numbers hide the identity of the caller and trick people into surrendering sensitive information. Usually, vishing attacks play a recorded message that tells users to call a toll-free number, where they are asked via an automated attendant to punch in a credit card number or other personal information. Attacks are on the rise since with Voice over IP phone technology, caller ID spoofing is very easy to do.Protect yourself by registering your number with the National Do Not Call registry at donotcall.gov . Some criminals and unscrupulous telemarketers may ignore the list, and if you continue to get calls, it’s a tip that the offer is bogus. Contact the authorities immediately if you do get scammed, and always play it safe and don’t surrender your information to unknown sources. Related articles: Can You Trust Your Caller ID? 123Spoof Makes Caller ID Spoofing Easy 9 Simple Ways to Protect Yourself against Internet fraud
Security company Websense released a survey of of 1,300 IT professionals worldwide revealing that although social media or the use of “Web 2.0″ technologies such as blogs , wikis and social networks are already pervasive in business, a majority of IT managers seem ill equipped to manage its use, much less protect against security concerns associated with it. According to the survey, 70 of the top 100 most popular websites, many of which are social media sites, had hosted malicious content at some point. The study points to 150,000 spoofs of Facebook alone. In addition, 57 percent of data-stealing attacks are conducted over the Web. Because the nature of Web 2.0 sites allow for users to create and post their own content, it’s easy for cyber criminals to gather information and use it for threats, attack or fraud. Though 80 percent of the IT managers surveyed were confident in their company’s Web security, only nine percent said they have the necessary tools to protect against social media threats. If you feel your organization may be at risk, give us a call today – we can help.Related articles: Social Media a Stumbling Block for IT Pros Survey: IT Managers Unprepared for Social Security Risks
Last May 14th, reports indicated that hackers had launched a phising attack on Facebook ‘s 200 million users, successfully stealing passwords from some. The hackers set up websites designed to look like the Facebook home page. Victims were directed to log back in to the site, but were routed to the fake site instead, unwittingly giving away their passwords. Facebook has deleted all references to the fake domains, which included www.151.im, www.121.im and www.123.im. This is the latest in a string of campaigns launched by hackers to steal personal information from users and to spread spam. Facebook’s large user base makes them an attractive target for many cybercriminials. Users are urged to seek help from authorities or trusted IT consultants if they believe their accounts were compromised, or to avoid similar scams.Related articles: Facebook users targeted by hackers in successful phishing attack Gadgetwise: More Facebook Phishing Trouble Today Hackers launch phishing attack on Facebook users
Research conducted by SIS International Research and sponsored by Siemens found that small and midsized businesses (SMBs) with 100 employees could be leaking a staggering $524,569 annually as a result of communications barriers and latency. The study identifies these top five pain points, in order of estimated cost: inefficient coordination waiting for information unwanted communications; customer complaints barriers to communication In addition, researchers determined that the time spent per week dealing with communications issues was more than 50 percent higher in companies with more than 20 workers. In hard costs, your company could be losing up to half a million dollars each year by not addressing employees’ most painful communications issues! The good news: we can help you implement applications and services to greatly improve your inter-company communications, including collaboration tools such as email and shared calendards and address books, social media technologies such as blogs and wikis , and IP-based communication tools such as instant messaging (IM) and Voice-over-IP ( VoIP ). Call us today and let us help you stop this expensive leak.Related articles: Report: SMBs Expected to Spend More Online (searchenginewatch.com) How Collaboration Tools Bring Cost Savings, Business Alignment (searchcio-midmarket.com) Inefficient Communications Costs SMBs $5000 per Employee (SMBnow.com)
Microsoft recently announced the release of the newest service pack to Microsoft Office 2007 , and has finished work on the second service pack update to Windows Vista . The MS Office update includes a collection of stability and performance updates as well as support for more file formats including Open Document Format (ODF) and Portable Document Format (PDF) files. The Windows Vista update includes support for Bluetooth 2.1, an updated Windows search technology, and the ability to natively record data to Blu-ray discs. Download the Microsoft Office 2007 service pack to install and watch out for the Windows Vista update soon. Ask us how your workflow can benefit from these helpful new releases.
Social Media such as Blogs, Micro-blogs, Wikis, and Social Networks are not only helping many people communicate and connect, but are also powerful tools for business as well. They can be used to promote your products and services, engage customers in meaningful conversations, network and develop new relationships, or simply to distribute information about your business online. Recently, the media has been awash with reports about Facebook , LinkedIn and Twitter , but many of you may be unclear about the concept, or unsure of its relevance to your business activities. Learn more about this new media online . Get to know how these tools can benefit your business or contact your IT Consultant for advice. Related articles by Zemanta: More notes from “Social Media Marketing” Social Media Marketing Industry Report The 4 Customer Types of Social Media The Five Myths of Social Media Using social media to network
April fool’s day came and went, but so far the much feared attack from Conflicker never materialized, leaving security researchers to ponder what’s next for the notorious Internet worm . Although it didn’t release any detectable malicious payload, the arrival of April 1 did trigger a change in its behavior, with experts finding a finding a changed domain generation algorithm that opens up unfettered communication to 500 of the 50,000 potential newly generated domains. The latest variant, Conficker C , now has the ability to contact its command and control centers for further instructions while circumventing interference from the security community, which up until now had been able to block communication with its parent domains. At this point users are still advised to patch their operating systems or to seek the assistance of their IT service providers to make sure all variants of the worm has been removed. Read more at Channel Web .
Never before have startup entrepreneurs and small business owners had access to so much marketing advice and tools as we have today on the Web. There are hundreds of free or near free tools out there that you can use: from sites that help you create your own logos , print your own business cards , set up your own website , even make your own marketing swag . There are literally hundreds of even more sites that in turn give advice on how to use these tools to market your business more effectively such as Inc Magazine , Entrepreneur Magazine , and Fast Company . Its easy to use your PC and Internet to help you grow your business—so get started today!
PC World posts a nice overview of the highly infectious Conflicker Worm. The Worm is dangerous as it uses several methods of attack. Once one computer in a network is infected, it often has ready access to other vulnerable computers in that network and can spread rapidly. The worm can download and install additional malware from attacker-controlled Web sites as well. Since that could mean anything from a password stealer to remote control software, a Conflicker-infected PC is essentially under the complete control of the attackers. Conficker and other worms are typically of most concern to small businesses that don’t regularly update the desktops and servers in their networks. If you’re not sure your network security is up to day get some help to find out. Read more at PC World…
Janet Attard of The Business Know-How Blog posts 18 tips for small businesses considering outsourcing. She offers insight on how to get the best possible results from outsourced work. Among them: Know the results you want to achieve. Understand how long it should take to complete the work. (Ask others in your industry if you’re not sure.) Set a realistic time table for achieving results. Insist on all service providers and vendors document their work Offer feedback and praise When it comes to your outsourced computer support and network management these are great tips to keep in mind. Read more at Small Biz Resources…
Microsoft announced that is has granted system builders a “flexible” delivery date of Windows XP licenses to customers beyond the official phase-out deadline of January 31, 2009. PC vendors still have to purchase licenses before that date, but can now choose to take delivery of those licenses through May 30, 2009. For all small businesses it’s important to have a plan to manage computer support for end-of-life products. If you’re not sure where you stand now might be a good time to get a thorough review of your licensing. Read more at TG Daily
Lately, we have been hearing about how quickly the Conficker Worm is spreading. News sources have pegged the number of infections in the neighborhood of 3.5 million computers. Given that Microsoft issued a patch for the flaw targeted by the Conficker worm and the use of strong passwords can prevent much of the spread, it seems odd that enterprises (large corporations) with network management would be hurt by the worm. But sometimes enterprise security isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Regardless of your size – small or large you need to make sure you’re taking all available steps to protect your network security. If you’re not sure, get help. Read More at eWeek
In 2009, IT experts predict more malware and other attacks on company networks coming from mobile devices, social networks, and faster Internet connections, among other trends. IT experts predict a substantial uptick this year in the number of small businesses using smart phones — as well as flash drives, social networks, and faster Internet connections. While that might make employees more productive, it also increases the security risks a small business faces. Read more at Inc Technology…
Whether the economy is up or down, no matter what is happening in the world, most small business owner’s work hard anyway. It’s never been easy to start a business, nurture its growth and succeed in any line of business. It’s competitive, more so in some industries than others, but every butcher, baker, candlestick maker or software developer started the same way – small. There are an astronomical number of variables that are involved in any business success, certainly, but there are also some truisms that seem to apply always and everywhere. The primary ingredient in success, of course, is not genius, creativity, a college education or a lot of working capital. The key is persistence, pure and simple. Read more at SB Informer…
We all want to minimize costs – both planned and unexpected – but not at the expense of keeping systems and essential equipment running smoothly. Small businesses without an IT department often wait until something breaks to call in an expert for help, or simply rely on the most techy person in the office to take care of the computers in addition to his regular duties. Read more at SB Informer…
Online fax services are becoming extremely popular with business owners. There are several reasons why Internet or online faxing has found favor with the business sector. Mainly because it’s easy, fast, available 24/7, truly mobile and perhaps most of all, online faxing is very convenient to use. No wonder, Internet fax providers like MyFax have reported they’re getting over 15,000 new costumers signing up each month. Many companies, large and small, are switching over to this new way of faxing; while others are adding an online fax service to compliment their traditional office fax machine. Read more at SB Informer…
Brand building is indeed a journey. Branding is all about how your product or service is perceived by customers and potential customers. A brand marketer attempts to manipulate brand awareness by associating traits they would like consumers to associate with the brand. Building a brand has everything to do with capturing the hearts and minds of consumers. Building a brand is much more than just promoting an image. A brand incorporates and conveys the values and traits that a company wants associated with their product or service. It sounds like building a brand is a simple task, but the marketers must do more than just create a brand image. The magnitude of branding encompasses all aspects of a product. With this in mind, we’ve put together a guide for marketers on the journey of brand building… Read more at SB Informer…
One of the key characteristics of Web 2.0 is participation, collaboration and moderation through the use of web applications. Web 2.0 sites derive their power from the human connections and network effects from this characteristic that is made possible, and grow in effectiveness the more people use them. Read more at SB Informer…
For the past few months I’ve been using a variety of wireless, blue tooth headsets, with my cell phone. The latest head set I’m using does not have clear reception. Often times I can hear the person fine, but they can’t hear me so well. I love technology, and in fact, the particular blue tooth headset I’m using is made by one of the premier brands. Read more at Small Biz IT…
Virus Attack: What to Do on Zero Day
As a kid I used to write messages with lemon juice and when the juice dried I had a secret message (or so I thought) that was viewable when held up to the light. Of course these child hood secret messages only work in the mind of a child, but not the corporate shield of real business. For your communications between your employees, your partners or your clients you need to ensure that each email message that needs to be secure, is secure. Read more at Small Biz IT…