You’ve Been Hacked, Now What Do You Do?

August 28th, 2013

Angry Hacking Victim

Recognizing that an account that you use often has been hacked is fairly easy. Recovering from a hack is much more difficult.

Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, recently tackled this issue on his blog. As he notes, not only do you need to make sure the hacker no longer has access to any of your accounts, but you also need to safeguard for the future.

In the event that you have a hacked account, here’s what to do.

  • Change your password

Take this opportunity to make passwords stronger using numbers, symbols and both upper and lowercase letters. If you’re changing multiple accounts, make sure you’ve secured your email address first. Otherwise, a criminal could have access to emails from other accounts informing you about your new passwords. 

  • Check log-in details

For Google accounts, and most email and social media accounts, you should be able to see when your account was last active. If you’re being told that someone accessed this account within the hour and it wasn’t you, you know there’s still a problem. You should also be able to find out where other users are logging in from. 

  • Check settings

For email accounts, a hacker may have set your address to forward to his. For other accounts, check to make sure your email address is still the one associated with the account. 

  • Consider two-factor authentication

This method is available for most accounts and requires both your log-in and password in addition to a code the website send you, usually over text message. This adds another layer of security and throws in an additional pass code that outsiders shouldn’t know. 

Unfortunately, even if you’re careful you run a significant risk of a hack. Knowing how to recover quickly and re-secure your account is important so you don’t lose more than you have to.

For help with security at home or the office, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335.

BYOD Is A Threat To Your Security

August 28th, 2013

BYOD smartphone

Bring your own device, or BYOD, is a growing trend in business. It refers to employees using their own devices, like smartphones and tablets, to access their company’s network and make their jobs easier. This becomes a problem in terms of security.

As Anders Lofgren writes for All Things Digital, an estimated 80-percent of employees are already bringing their devices to the office but many employers aren’t embracing this trend. This doesn’t mean that workers will stop using their smartphones to check their work email. It does mean that they’ll be doing so in an unsecured manner.

The threat of data being lost is exponentially higher when there are no security mandates on employees devices. Just by password protecting a smartphone, you greatly reduce your risk. There’s also a need to ensure that any device accessing your network has adequate security software installed.

Beyond adapting to the growing BYOD trend, you should also have an eye on what’s ahead.

Bring your own cloud, or BYOC, is another employee habit companies must plan for. Using Dropbox, Google Drive or other public cloud services makes an employee’s job simpler, but there are a number of security concerns.

If you allow individuals to bring their own device to work, what happens when they leave the company? Take your own device, or TYOD, refers to the policy of remotely wiping a former employees device of any sensitive data specific to your company. Currently, less than a quarter of all businesses have a policy to ensure former employees don’t still have sensitive data on their personal devices.

Compatibility issues also become a major problem when employees bring their own devices. Many will have iPhones or iPads, which may not be immediately compatible with your companies software choices.

To lock down your security in the face of the BYOD trend, call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We solve compatibility issues, close gaps in security and offer solutions to keep your business running efficiently.

Data Security Is A Concern For Every Business

August 28th, 2013

Data Security

Is your organization the target of a cyber attack? Almost definitely, yes.

John P. Mello reports for CIO that “about half of global organizations have suffered a cyber attack in the last year”.

What you should take away from that statistic is that every organization is at risk, regardless of size, who they cater to and what industry they’re in.

Here’s why an attack is such a major concern for any business. About 65-percent of attacks result in a loss of revenue because of system and employee downtime. About 19-percent result in the loss of potentially valuable data. If you aren’t protecting yourself properly, you’re inviting criminals to affect your bottom line.

Many of the cyber attacks that affect businesses worldwide are not of the targeted variety. A targeted attack implies that an individual hacker or group specifically came after your company for a reason. That reason can be because they wanted specific data, or just because they don’t like your company.

If an attack isn’t targeted, it’s usually the result of bad surfing practices by employees or lax security. Hackers unleash malware on the public with no specific target in mind and wait for their tactics to pay off. Clicking a bad link, opening spam email or downloading a file all opens the door for these attacks.

Detection of these attacks is key. Just as stopping a virus attacking a human body is easiest when detection is early, early detection of a cyber threat makes stopping the threat and closing the gap in security much easier.

To improve your company’s security, call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We offer a customized approach to safeguard your data and network.

The Key Differences Of Data Centers And Cloud Computing

August 27th, 2013

Apples to oranges, like cloud computing to data centers

A data center stores data. That seems pretty straightforward.

A cloud computing system also stores data. It has many other capabilities as well.

Many have used “data center” and “cloud” as interchangeable terms for the same thing, but that shouldn’t be the case. Sara Angeles, of Business News Daily, touched on the differences between the two in her recent article.

  • The cloud stores data on the internet and is hosted an maintained by an outside provider. A data center uses hardware to store data and is often located on-site, which requires the in-house IT department to maintain it. 
  • Data centers consist of servers and other equipment. A cloud system must be housed in a data center.
  • A data center offers a dedicated system with finite capabilities and is utilized by only one organization. A cloud system could serve multiple organizations, unless it’s a private cloud. It’s scalable to your needs and has practically unlimited capabilities and is easily upgradeable.
  • The cloud is potentially less secure, or harder to secure, because it’s connected to the internet and available from anywhere. A third party provider is responsible for security. A data center operates on a local network with limited access, which makes security much easier, but you are responsible for that security.
  • A data center requires an organization to build an entire infrastructure from the ground up and can cost millions of dollars per year to maintain. Cloud computing is more cost effective because no infrastructure is needed. Most cloud providers offer a flat monthly rate and your system is ready within hours of registration.

That should give you a basic understanding of the difference between a data center and a cloud computing system. If you’re interested in implementing a cloud for your business or have data storage needs, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We offer a variety of solutions to help your business run more efficiently. 

How Cloud Computing Helps Your Business

August 27th, 2013

Cloud computing for business

Over the past few months, cloud computing has become one of the hottest buzzwords of 2013. Many are still unsure of exactly what cloud computing is, however. Many more are unsure how to implement a cloud system into their business.

Cloud Business Review posted six advantages afforded to businesses who implement cloud computing to help those who are still wary of the technology.

  • Speed of Deployment

A cloud system is implemented usually within 24-hours. A network this powerful would require an IT-team and weeks to finish, but the cloud accelerates and simplifies the whole process. As a cloud provider, Geek Rescue customizes your cloud system based on your needs and gets you up and running almost immediately. There’s no need to add hardware or personnel. 

  • Minimal Downtime

The nature of the cloud allows it to be uploaded to a server quickly. This means that when a server hosting the cloud goes down, your system is moved to a working server with hardly any downtime. This means costly outages when employees stop working are a thing of the past. 

  • Mobility and Sharing

Even for small businesses, ensuring that the right employees have access to vital files is difficult. The cloud makes sharing much easier and allows for employees to access files for virtually anywhere. With mobile access, your employees work from anywhere and always have access to the files or applications they need. 

  • Easy Upgrades

Over time, your needs will likely change. A cloud network is highly scalable and allows you to increase memory or data storage quickly. While a physical network would require days of work and probable downtime to finish upgrades, the cloud effectively increases your capabilities in no time. 

The uses for cloud computing are practically limitless. Regardless of your industry, call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335 to discover how the cloud could help you do business more efficiently.

Testing Reveals Many Effective Mobile Security Apps

August 27th, 2013

Mobile security

Adding security software to your smartphone or tablet is a necessity. Just as you need protection from malware on your home computer, you mobile device needs protection too. In fact, since you’ll be traveling around and possibly using unsecured networks, security on your mobile device may be even more important.

One major concern for many users, however, is how much battery will be drained by effective mobile security apps. As Paul Lilly writes for Maximum PC, AV-Comparitives, an independent testing lab, put 16 of the top security apps to the test to find out which one you should consider for your mobile device.

Surprisingly, for the leading apps battery usage isn’t much of a concern. Even the security apps that drain your battery the most won’t take more than about 3-percent.

Most of the apps were also incredibly effective detecting malware. In fact, all but one detected at least 98-percent of almost 3-thousand malicious applications collected for the test.

The lesson here is that there are a number of effective mobile security apps available to keep your device safe without hurting performance. There are even free options that perform as well as some of their paid counterparts.

Without these apps, your mobile device could be infected by malware, which results in a loss in performance and the monitoring or harvesting of your data. Some malware is even capable of taking over functions of your device, like sending texts or taking pictures.

For help keeping your devices secure or to clean or fix a device, call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. Like we always say, if it boots up or turns on, we fix it.

Think You Don’t Need Security? Think Again

August 26th, 2013

Security cameras

Data security for all types of businesses is a hot topic. Strangely, there are still many that subscribe to the theory that data theft won’t happen to them because they either have nothing of value or because they are too small to be targeted.

Thor Olavsrud reports for CIO that about two-thirds of industrial executives at midmarket firms said they were “at little or no risk”. Even though that’s down from about 77-percent a year ago, the large number of decision makers who don’t make security a priority is exactly why their firms become a target.

While larger companies tend to embrace the security risks they face, small to medium sized companies often feel they can get away with less security because larger companies will be targeted instead. If you’re a hacker, however, would you go after the company with robust security, or the company with next to none?

The belief that a company’s data is not valuable is also a false assumption. Even without a desire for access to the data you use to run your business, a cyber criminal will want personnel files, which contain social security numbers, personal identifiable information and financial information. This is data kept by any company, no matter how big.

Without the proper security measures in place, a business will have a difficult time knowing what’s been compromised, or even if they’ve been hacked at all. That makes recovery more difficult. It also makes it next to impossible to take necessary precautions to prevent stolen data from costing you more.

Data security is extremely important for any business. Those that feel they don’t need security are actually advertising themselves as ideal targets. To build an effective security infrastructure for your business, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335.

Smartphone’s Anti-Theft Tool Renders Phone Useless

August 26th, 2013

Smartphone bricked

When your phone is stolen, there are a number of things to worry about beyond just getting a new phone. All of our smartphones carry personal information that is used to access our online accounts when it falls into the wrong hands. Before getting a new phone, our first concern should be to lock down access to our old phone.

As Jaeyeon Woo reports for the Wall Street Journal, Samsung and LG are taking measures to not only prevent smartphone theft, but also to keep your data safe after theft. Their new anti-theft tool, or “kill switch”, would completely disable a phone that’s been reported stolen. This means the device becomes inoperable, even with a new SIM card or hacking procedures.

A growing business overseas is to ship and sell stolen smartphones to the U.S. This “kill switch” feature would take a tremendous bite out of that industry. However, users will have to register their devices before they are stolen in order to use the kill switch function.

Samsung and LG’s efforts build on the recently publisized developments for Android phones to help find and lock lost and stolen phones. Those using iOS devices also have similar functions to protect their lost and stolen devices.

The kill switch, however, is seemingly the first tool that bricks a device in any circumstance. Since the phone is rendered useless, the hope is that thefts will drop dramatically. In any event, users won’t have to worry that the theft of their smartphone will also lead to the theft of their identity.

To keep your smartphone or other device more secure, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We offer a variety of security options and also fix broken devices and devices with infected with malware.

How Many People Knowingly Open Spam?

August 23rd, 2013

Spam email frustration

When spam email arrives in your inbox, it’s easy to ignore it, delete it and forget about it, right? Well, maybe not so easy for many of us.

As Chris Matyszczyk, of CNet, reports, a recent study found that about 30-percent of people knowingly, willingly opened an email that they knew, or at least strongly suspected, was spam. Why? Sometimes, the promise of something too good to be true is too good to pass up.

To make matters worse, about 9-percent of people willingly downloaded attachments included in the spam email. So, they thought it was spam, opened it anyway and downloaded the attachment. Sometimes, we make it too easy for the hackers.

Those hackers, however, don’t make it easy for users. It’s because of the social engineering they employ that it’s so enticing to open messages we know we shouldn’t. The most popular tactics are the promise of money, sex or a new friend.

This behavior is why having antivirus software installed on your computer isn’t enough to keep you fully secure. It is this human error that often causes viruses and malware to infect your PC and steal your data.

These tempting spam attacks extend beyond your email inbox, as well. You’ll see similar tactics used on social media and in text messages. You’ve likely already received a text from an unknown number informing you that you’ve won some money or are entitled to a free gift card. When those arrive on our smartphones, it’s easy to identify them as spam, but sometimes it’s much more difficult to delete them and move on.

If you’d like to improve the security on your email, or need to clean and fix a device that’s infected with malware, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We understand spam is tricky, but we will fix whatever harm has been done.

Use Chrome Extensions For A Better Browsing Experience

August 23rd, 2013

Web browser

There are three main choices for an internet browser. Internet explorer from Microsoft was the top choice for quite some time, but competitors Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome have taken a bite out of the market share. Chrome is now the most used browser, but many people aren’t taking advantage of extensions to use it at full capacity.

Extensions are tools you add on to your existing Chrome browser. They enhance your productivity by making tasks you already do easier. There are ad-blockers, screenshot tools, password auto-fills and social media help. Best of all, many of the top extensions are free to install.

Paul Mah, of CIO, has a list of some of the best Chrome apps currently available, but not all of his choices are free.

  • Awesome Screenshot

We’ve all had moments when a screenshot of our browser would be helpful for one reason or another. With this extension, you get to choose what area of the screen you want a shot of, and include annotations for reference. 

  • Buffer

This extension allows you to post updates to all of your social media profiles without having to navigate to each page. When you find something you want to share, just use Buffer to schedule your posts across all of your profiles. It even tracks metrics so you can see how you’re doing. 

  • Dualless

Your operating system may not have the capability to snap browser windows to each side of the screen so each is viewable. With the Dualless extension, you’ll always be able to arrange Chrome’s windows the way you need them. 

  • FlashBlock

Sites that still use Flash slow down your performance, but with this extension, Flash on any site is automatically blocked to keep your browsing experience fast. 

  • Google Dictionary

When you come across a word you are unfamiliar with, just double click and this extension provides a small pop-up definition. You will have to specifically allow Chrome to open pop-ups when you double click, however. 

  • Sexy Undo Close Tab

The name is a little odd, but this extension proves to be incredibly useful. If you accidentally close a tab, you’ll have the ability to search through a list of every closed tab you’ve been through to find it again. The list is organized by when the tab was closed, but is searchable by keywords to help. 

The Chrome Web Store offers thousands of options for you to customize your browser and optimize your experience. It’s available by going to the Settings page and clicking Extensions.

Should you be having trouble with your internet, or the device you use to access it, call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. Our knowledgeable techs are available to fix whatever problem you may be experiencing.