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. 

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.

FBI Warns About Spear Phishing Attacks

August 22nd, 2013

Spear Phishing attack

A new spear phishing attack has prompted a public service announcement from from the FBI’s Cyber Division. The attack uses an email made to look like it’s from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Spear phishing is a targeted attack that attempts to gain access to accounts or data. Their targeted nature usually suggests those responsible are trying to steal something specific from those receiving the email. Put another way, if you receive the email, you have something the hackers want.

This particular attack contains the subject “Search For Missing Children” and has a .zip file attached. This file contains three malicious files included, which are harmful to your computer and could steal or log your information.

Implementing better security is a great step in avoiding these types of attacks, but practicing better internet habits is key. Regardless of who it’s from, you should be wary of any unsolicited email with attachments that arrives in your inbox. Some of these attack emails also contain links that should also be avoided.

If you’ve seen this specific email spear phishing attack, or one similar, you’re urged to report it to the FBI.

To safeguard yourself or your company against these attacks and other malicious attempts to infiltrate your network, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We have a variety of security solutions to help you and will educate you on how to stay secure.

Google’s Latest Innovation To Protect Your Smartphone

August 22nd, 2013

Smartphone security

Everyone is clamoring for an upgrade in security for their smartphone and Google has applied for a patent that seemingly will do just that.

Alex Colon, of GigaOM, writes that Google patented a “location-based security system for portable electronic devices.” So how will this help keep your smartphone safe?

You’re already letting Google know where you are all the time. Using Google Maps or just leaving location based searches on, your GPS and Google already have a close relationship.

This new technology builds off of that to change the settings on your phone based on where you currently are. For example, when you’re at home, the security settings will be set to low because there is little chance of anyone swiping your phone from your coffee table. However, when you venture outside and into public, your phone will automatically beef up security due to potentially more dangerous surroundings.

Without you having to physically change anything, your phone will demand a password to advance past the lockscreen. Other security measures may be put in place, as well.

We’ll have to wait and see exactly how Google plans to use this new patent. In the meantime, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335 to discover all of your options for keeping your smartphone safe and secure. We protect devices from hacks, viruses and malware and also fix broken devices.

Your Company’s Biggest Threat To Data Security

August 9th, 2013

Frustrated Employee

If you’ve taken every precaution to secure your companies network and email and have installed consistently updated anitvirus software on every device, there’s probably only a slim chance that any of your data is intercepted by an outside source, right? Actually, there’s still the matter of your employees to worry about.

IPSwitch recently published an ebook that illustrates all of the ways your employees are compromising security, which allows for the stealing of data. Usually, these employees are not intentionally putting data at risk. They’re simply trying to make data transfer easier for themselves or clients.

  • Email Attachments- More than 84-percent of survey respondents admitted to sending confidential or classified information as an email attachment. 72-percent say they do so every week. Unless your company has specifically taken measures to protect attachments, all of the data sent this way is at risk.
  • Using Personal Email- Rather than utilizing the secured, company email, about half of respondents use their personal email, which lacks adequate security measures, to send company data. They do so in order to send larger files, because it’s faster and more convenient, they can’t connect to work email outside the office and a variety of other reasons.
  • Inadequate File Transfer Services- If they’re not sending valuable data via personal email or attachments, employees are using file transfer services, such as dropbox, or cloud services. Many times, the services they use are intended for consumers, not businesses. This compromises security and makes it impossible for IT to track how data is leaving their system.
  • External Devices- Nearly 80-percent of respondents use a thumb drive or other external device to transfer, back-up or store data. The problem with having a physical device containing important data is that physical devices get lost or stolen. Almost a third of respondents say they’ve lost an external device containing sensitive business data. About half of those were not reported to the IT department, which means the possible compromise in security couldn’t be planned for.

This list is certainly not exhaustive. Due to a lack of education, or a desire to do what’s most convenient, employees often put your organization at risk. Having security measures in place is a great start, but more is needed to keep you secure. Call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335 to find out what else needs to be done. We offer an audit of your organization that discovers bad practices and leaks in data. From top to bottom, in the physical and digital world, Geek Rescue keeps you and your business secure.

How To Use Virtualization To Help Your Business

August 5th, 2013

Virtual icon

There are many common problems in the day-to-day operations of a business that can be solved by implementing virtualization. Paul Mah, of CIO, has a list of some of these issues.

Virtualization has become such a buzzword, it’s definition and capabilities have expanded recently. At its most basic level, virtualization is creating a virtual version of a device or resource. For many companies, that means creating a virtual copy of servers and storage devices to create more resources without multiplying costs. When you consider the implications of creating virtual, working versions of actual devices, the possibilities are nearly endless.

  • Extend an apps life- Most businesses use some sort of niche application, which easily becomes obsolete and unusable without regular updates or maintenance. The company that made the app may no longer be in business, or may have just stopped offering support for that software. Either way, the application is useless if the machine running it stops working. If you virtualize the entire machine, you not only extend the life of the machine indefinitely, but you also allow access to the app from nearly anywhere.
  • Back-up your data-  Much like the application of cloud services previously discussed here, virtual machines are a great way to back-up important data. By making a copy of a server or storage unit, you’ll have a restore point in the event of a disaster.
  • Provide mobile access- Your workforce is more mobile than ever before and virtualization makes it easy for them to access vital information and applications when they’re away from their desks. Creating a virtual machine that hosts any programs they may need to access makes it easy for anyone to conduct business from practically anywhere.
  • Beef up security- An alarming number of SMBs can’t survive the cost and data loss associated with a large-scale cyber attack. With virtualization, minimize the risks by segmenting your employees activities. Create a virtual machine used only for web browsing so hackers can’t access any vital data.

This is only a short glimpse at the capabilities of virtualization. To learn how to implement it in your business, call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. 

 

COPPA’s New Rules To Keep Kids Safe Online

July 17th, 2013

Kids with smartphone

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act was initially enacted in 1998 and mandated the collection of data from children under 13. Known as COPPA, the rule was amended in 2012 to cover a wider range of information, which addresses the increase in mobile usage and social media. This modified version went into effect July 1st, but Grant Gross, of ComputerWorld, reports that some websites are struggling to stay in compliance.

COPPA requires special care and security for children’s identifying information, including cookies, geolocations, photos and videos. Critics claim that what the FTC is asking of developers is next to impossible, however.

The rule is meant to protect children against targeted advertising and online tracking, so that’s where the FTC suggests websites focus their attention. Though violations of COPPA can carry up to a $16-thousand penalty, most believe there will be a grace period for developers to hone new policies and develop new strategies to comply.

As a parent, you can look for apps with a seal of approval from the Association for Competitive Technology and a group called Moms With Apps. Their Know What’s Inside campaign awards a seal of approval for developers who comply with the recommended practices of COPPA.

To be sure you keep your children completely safe online, you’ll also need Geek Rescue’s Safety Net. For about a dollar per day, you get the ability to keep children away from potentially dangerous and inappropriate sites. Call Geek Rescue ta 918-369-4335 to learn more about keeping your kids safe.