Steps To Improving Your Firewall

September 16th, 2013

Firewall security

There are many elements that make up a proper security infrastructure. But, whether you are looking to improve security at home, or at your business, the first place to look is at your first line of defense, the firewall.

Robert Lemos reports for Dark Reading that fewer users are focusing on their firewall to improve security, which is unwise considering “networks have become more porous” with advancements in technology. Once you decide to improve your firewall, here are some tips.

  • Know your firewall’s capabilities

Chances are, the firewall you have in place is capable of much more than you think. Intrusion prevention, web filtering, virtual private networking and secure device management are all common features of today’s firewalls. However, you the user must use the firewall’s settings to get all the advantages of the improves technology. So, before you decide you need to add security, make sure you understand the capabilities of the security you already have in place. 

  • Filter the web

If your firewall is capable of web filtering, make sure you have enabled and fine-tuned that function. If it doesn’t, contact Geek Rescue and ask about our Safety Net. A web filtering service allows you to control the bandwidth used on your network and block sites that are inappropriate or potentially malicious. At home, this means protecting younger users from content that isn’t age appropriate. For businesses, this means blocking sites that are distracting to employees, like shopping and social media. For any network, it’s important to block sites that will infect your network with malware. 

  • Read the logs

A firewall will keep a record of its activity. If you experience an attack, the evidence will appear in the log. It’s important to analyze the firewall’s log to catch any infection or attack before it does serious damage. The problem you’ll find when looking through the logs is the number of false positives you’ll run across. So, you’ll want to do some research so you’ll be able to tell what is important and what isn’t. 

Even more than antivirus software, firewalls are vital to security. They’re capable of blocking malicious software and sites before they have a chance to infect your computer. They’re capable of much more too.

To enhance your network’s security for home or business, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335.

Malware Attack Threatens Mac Users

September 13th, 2013

Malware on Mac

Viruses and malware are a constant threat for PC users, but Mac users have been able to avoid most of the security threats over the years. One prominent threat recently suggests that security for Mac users may be more important than ever before, however.

Samantha Murphy Kelly of Mashable reports that a malware threat targeting Macs has been discovered on compromised websites.

The threat likely won’t affect most of Mac users, particularly in the US, because it was discovered on anti-Chinese websites hosted in Tibet. It also relies on Macs using Java applets on the web, which is a minority of users.

This malware threat is a concern, however, for a few reasons. Namely, the malware used gives hackers the ability to access remote files and monitor a user’s activity on their device. The fact that it targets Mac users is also concerning because of the lack of security on many machines. Finally, this malware wasn’t disseminated through spam email or downloads. Simply stumbling onto the wrong website could infect your computer.

So, while this particular attack likely won’t infect your computer, it does suggest that more security is necessary even for Mac users. If cyber criminals can deploy an attack of this nature in Tibet, they could certainly do the same on a site closer to home.

To enhance the security on your machine, be it Mac or PC, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We not only offer a variety of security options for a variety of devices, but we also fix and clean devices with malware or virus infections.

Keeping Your Tablet Safe From Threats

September 13th, 2013

Tablet use

Recent reports show that tablets are overtaking laptops in number of units shipped. With more and more tablet users out there, they become a much more attractive target for cyber criminals.

As Daniel Mellinger writes for IT Toolbox, most tablets must be linked to an email account and some even hook to mobile phone accounts. They’re used to access bank accounts, credit cards and do online shopping. This means they are home to an abundance of valuable data.

Much like the lack of security on smartphones, many tablet users decline to even have a password required to unlock the device. Not only should you set up a more secure way to unlock your tablet, but you should also consider downloading one of the numerous biometrics apps that will add a finger print scan or additional level of security.

There’s also the question of what happens if your tablet is lost or stolen. Whoever finds it will have access to all the sensitive data you’ve stored on it. Consider signing up for a remote wipe service. There are a number of easy to set-up third party apps. If you have an Apple or Android device, there are native options to use, as well. The idea is to be able to erase anything stored on the device so that whoever now has it can’t access any of your data.

Another security concern is malware. Tablet specific attacks will be more common with the tablet audience growing rapidly. This means you need security software in place. You run the risk of malware when you click on a link, download an email attachment or visit a malicious website. Most users aren’t aware that they’ve downloaded malware until it begins to affect their device’s performance. Malware is capable of harvesting data, monitoring activity and even hijacking some functions of your device.

Malware infections lead to hacked email and social media accounts, stolen identities and compromised bank and credit card accounts. That’s why it’s important to practice safe surfing and have robust security apps in place.

For help upgrading the security on your tablet, smartphone or any device, contact the experts at Geek Rescue by calling 918-369-4335.

How Cloud Computing Helps Mobile Employees

September 12th, 2013

Remote employees using cloud

Cloud computing has a practically endless list of capabilities, but perhaps the most useful is the cloud’s mobility. Sam Narisi, of IT Manager Daily, published ways your remote workers should use the cloud to increase productivity and collaboration.

  • Conferencing 

If you have remote workers spread across the country, a video conference call introduces unfamiliar faces to each other and brings the team closer together. Even if your employees are all in-house, you may need a conference call with a client, an employee working from home or a team on the road. The cloud makes it easy to connect with anyone, regardless of where they may be. A bonus is that those remote employees will be able to access files and applications needed to enhance their contributions to the conversation. 

  • Virtual Board Rooms

Sometimes, you need more than a conversation with remote employees or clients. That’s why some cloud based services offer tools like collaborative virtual whiteboards and message boards. This simplifies communication beyond normal email and leaves printed evidence of what’s been said, unlike phone conversations or video conferencing. The whiteboard feature allows users to draw out ideas and other users to add on or erase. 

  • Storage

A cloud system is great for off-site back-up and data storage. In the context of mobile access, however, storage refers to the ability of the remote workers to access and collaborate on files stored in the cloud. Documents, spreadsheets and even presentations can be shared between team members and worked on together. Not only does this make the process more efficient, but it ensures that employees will always have access to the files they need, when they need them. 

The cloud offers business solutions for nearly every industry. To find out how cloud computing will help your business, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335.

Malware Threat Targets Android Devices Through Email

September 12th, 2013

Malware on smartphone

A new form of malware attack on Android phones has security experts on the look-out. This form of scareware infects your computer through a phishing email and malicious link.

Chris Brook, of ThreatPost, reports that the emails will appear to be from the United States Postal Service.

The message informs you that the USPS was unable to deliver your package because the postal code contains an error. You’re then prompted to print a label. When you follow the “Print The Label” link included in the email, a malicious Android Package File, or .apk, is downloaded to your device.

This particular scam seems poorly constructed. After all, most of us know when we’ve sent a package recently and understand that printing a label for a package that isn’t in our possession wouldn’t do much good. However, there are plenty of users who will click the link to try to gain more information, even if they haven’t sent a package in months. Hackers play on our curiosity and even thin attacks like this one will claim victims.

This form of malware has been used before. Security experts note that a previous scam using it in a scam that asks users to pay a subscription fee to keep their devices clear of malware. What’s noteworthy is the way the malware is being distributed. Cyber criminals are adjusting to the number of users who access their email on their Android devices and are attempting to exploit that fact.

This malware is reportedly even capable of intercepting both incoming and outgoing calls. It also is capable of changing file names to look more innocent. Instead of a suspicious .apk file, it will appear as a .zip file with a tantalizing name like vacationphotos.zip.

Android users should go into the settings on their device and disable the option to “allow installation of apps from unknown sources”. Users will also be able to enable a “Verify Apps” option, which will warn them before any potentially malicious app is downloaded.

These two options help keep your device safe, but you’ll also want dedicated security apps as well. To upgrade the security on any of your devices, or to rid them of existing infections, come by or contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335.

New Threats In Chrome’s Web App Store

September 12th, 2013

Malware

For users of the web browser Google Chrome, a new malware threat has emerged. This threat looks a lot like Candy Crush and Super Mario.

Eric Johnson, of All Things Digital, describes the “wild west” atmosphere of the Chrome Web App store. Unlike Google Play, the app store for Android mobile devices, Chrome’s Web App store is much less regulated.

This lack of regulation has lead to a number of knock-off apps. Mostly, these apps are recreations of famous games like Super Mario, Candy Crush Saga, Fruit Ninja, Doodle Jump and Sonic the Hedgehog. These games aren’t licensed by their original creators and many are suspected to contain malware.

It’s not hard to understand why malware is included in these recognizable games. Users see a game they played in their youth, or a game they’ve heard is popular now, and want to try it out. It’s a naturally attractive app for what seems like no obligation. However, the apps are usually poor quality and infect your computer with malware.

The key to spotting these knock-off, malicious apps is simple. First, understand that Nintendo, Sega and other giant game companies aren’t making officially licensed apps for Chrome. If you have any further questions, look at the website associated with the app. In the case of a Candy Crush Saga knock-off, the website was listed as candycrushsaga.blogspot.com, which is not associated with King, the game’s developer.

If you have added one of these apps or another app you think contained malware, run your fully updated virus scan after you remove the app from Chrome.

For additional security on any of your devices, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We offer security solutions to keep you safe from malware, spam email, viruses and more.

Secure Your Business With These Easy Tips

September 11th, 2013

Security

Many small business owners believe that they won’t be the target of a cyber attack simply because there are larger companies that present more value to hackers. However, this belief leads to more relaxed security protocols, which makes small businesses an attractive target because of their ease of access.

Susan Solovic posted on the AT&T Small Business blog how to immediately improve your company’s security without having extensive expertise.

  • Strong Passwords

As with any account, you need to protect your business by having each employee log-in with a secure password. This password should be long, have upper and lower case letters and symbols and numbers and be changed often. 

  • Sign Out

It’s a basic step that pays big dividends. Don’t make it easy for a criminal to steal your information or infiltrate your network. When you’re not sitting at your computer, sign out. This erases the possibility that someone in the area could walk by and immediately access valuable data. This is especially important for mobile devices. 

  • Regular Updates

There’s a reason your antivirus software requires regular updates. Hackers are constantly changing tactics and using new techniques. Each update is an attempt to stay ahead of the curve. So, when any of your regularly used applications prompts you to update, do it. 

  • Create Back-ups

Nothing keeps you 100-percent secure. Even if you are able to avoid a cyber attack, natural disasters could still wipe out data. Regularly backing up vital data is important in order to avoid a catastrophe. Should any of your files be lost or corrupted, you’ll have back-ups to replace them quickly without suffering any down time. 

  • Limit Employees

Each employee and each position at your company is different. Some will require different access to different applications. Think of it like a government security clearance. There are different levels depending on your pay grade. For your business, give employees the access necessary for them to do their job, but no more. This way, if their account is compromised, you won’t be allowing access to your entire network. 

Keeping your business secure is an important and time consuming job. For help, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We offer data storage and back-up, security solutions and more.

 

The Problem With Your Password

September 11th, 2013

Password security infographic

Would you call your passwords to the various accounts you have online secure? It depends on how many characters your password is, if you use upper and lower case letters, symbols and numbers, if you use full words, recognizable names or places from your life and whether you reuse passwords on multiple sites.

Ping Identity’s Christine Bevilacqua published a blog along with the included infographic that speaks to the problem with password security.

Many of us have experienced a compromised online account and a broken password is often to blame. There is software readily available that is capable of breaking even incredibly long passwords. Sometimes, the strength of your password isn’t even the issue.

In the case of the latest attack on the New York Times, a spear phishing scam resulted in an employee giving out their password. Cyber criminals have become increasing intelligent about creating ways to hack into your accounts.

If you aren’t scammed into giving out your password outright, you may be guilty of clicking a link or downloading an attachment you shouldn’t have. This could infect your computer with malware capable of monitoring your activity, stealing passwords and infiltrating your accounts.

Some online accounts are moving to require a log-in with social media accounts, but what protects your social media accounts? A password does.

One of the latest innovations on the new iPhone is the use of biometrics. In order to unlock the phone, users will use their fingerprint. This seems like a foolproof plan. Afterall, no one will be able to hack into your phone unless they have your fingerprint. However, the problem becomes the unreliability of biometrics. For example, what happens if an error occurs and your phone won’t recognize your fingerprint? For most similar systems, the fall back is simple password protection, which brings us back to square one in terms of security.

The key to avoiding a hacker cracking your password is to practice safe surfing techniques and to have the latest security software in place.

To make any of your devices more secure, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335.

Get More Battery Life Out Of Your Smartphone

September 10th, 2013

Smartphone battery

It seems like every day there is a new function you are using on your smartphone that you can’t live without. As we use our phones for more and more, our battery dies earlier in the day. But, there are a few simple solutions for making your smartphone’s battery last longer without giving up any of those fancy functions, as suggested on the BeetleBite blog.

  • Turn Off GPS and WiFi

If you’re not on the go, or are not currently using a wireless network, there’s no reason to have GPS or WiFi enabled. These features are incredibly useful, but are a strain on your battery. They’re also easy to disable so if you’re concerned about your battery life, they should be the first to go. 

  • No Vibration

Many people leave their phone on vibrate all of the time. This way, there’s no annoying ring tone to worry about and you’re never the person whose phone goes off in the middle of a meeting or movie. When your phone is on vibrate, however, it actually uses quite a bit more of the battery than when you let the ringtone play by itself. 

  • Less Bright

Your display probably eats into your batter more than anything else. This is an unavoidable problem, but you can limit just how draining your display is. Except for a few specific circumstances, you don’t need your screen set to the brightest possible display. By dimming it a few notches, you can gain more battery life. 

  • Black Wallpaper

Surprisingly, the color on your screen’s display makes a difference in how long the battery lasts. Displaying black is less draining than displaying white. So, change your wallpaper to black and your phone could last the whole day. 

These tips allow you to use your phone longer before the battery dies and doesn’t demand you give up much functionality.

When your phone needs a fix, for poor performance or for broken hardware, call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. If it boots up or turns on, we fix it.

New iPhone Presents New Opportunity For Scam

September 10th, 2013

Apple iPhone

Apple plans to announce their newest models of the iPhone on September 10, which has millions eager to see their newest offering. Among those millions are cyber criminals looking to take advantage of the latest trend.

As Merianne Polintan writes for TrendMicro, phishing emails promising free, new iPhones have already begun to show up in some users inboxes. Most of these early occurrences were spotted in SouthEast Asia, but users in the US should also be on the lookout.

The iPhone phishing email looks like it’s sent to you from the Apple Store. The message tells you that your email has won in a drawing and you’re entitled to a new iPhone 5S. You’re then asked to log in at the link provided to claim your prize.

If you look closely at these emails, you’ll notice the tell-tale signs of a scam. For example, there are a number of spelling or grammatical errors. You’ll also likely find that although the sender is identified as “Apple Store”, the actual email address is probably not “@Apple.com”.

So, unfortunately, you didn’t win a new iPhone. By avoiding this scam, however, you will at least keep your identity from being stolen.

To improve the spam filter on your email or improve the security on any of your devices, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We keep you safe from malware, viruses, phishing scams and spam emails.