LOCK YOUR DOOR.
LOCK YOUR COMPUTER.
LOCK YOUR ACCOUNTS WITH SECURE PASSWORDS.
Locking the door to our homes when we leave is something most do on autopilot. If you drive to work, you automatically lock your vehicle after arriving to your destination (I listen for the beep, and sometimes have to walk back to the car at my wife's disgust to hit that lock button one last time). Checking the physical locks in our life is easy, we don’t even think twice. But what about the digital locks, did you lock them too? Does it matter? Most definitely.
Trust me, you are not alone in the never ending frustration of trying to remember your latest passwords. Even those of us who spend our careers in the IT industry can get a bit tired of it. Which is why many people (even though they know better) often use weak passwords. We have all been guilty at one time or another. But, here is the thing: the small inconvenience of selecting secure passwords and updating them frequently is much easier to handle than a data breach. In a sobering reality check, the 2017 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report found that 81 percent of data breaches were caused by a password hack.
Think of your passwords like a flood wall made up of sandbags. In one section the sandbags are eight feet tall and four feet deep. Yet, in another section, the wall is only five feet tall and two feet deep. Now, picture flood waters pushing with millions of pounds of pressure on the wall. Maybe the taller and thicker section holds, but then the waters find a weakness in the shorter and more narrow section. Within minutes, the sandbags are pushed aside by the raging waters and the whole neighborhood is buried in damaging flood waters. Like the weaker section of the flood wall, in your organization if even one member of your staff uses a weak password, it exposes the entire business to the risk of a data breach.
This month is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM), at IT Protectorate we encourage you to use this month as an opportunity to remind your team of the importance of selecting strong passwords and updating them frequently. #SecureIT and keep your company’s data safe.
TIPS FOR CREATING A STRONG PASSWORD
In today's competitive, always-on landscape, businesses need to be one step ahead of their competitors to thrive and retain their customers. Your business functions on technology and it should be reliable and efficient.
In light of October being National Security Awareness Month, your first objective should be to ensure that your network and interconnected devices are secure against the proliferation of ransomware and malware knocking at your firewall's front door.
Features like these and more are commonplace with what are being called Next Generation Firewalls.
Speaking of Next Generation, the same applies to Antivirus. Several new security software companies have brought new software to market which takes a new approach to Antivirus software. Gone are the days of downloading updates and definitions; now heuristics and intrusion detection and prevention are here.
We're testing these Next Generation products and have found that some are capable of stopping malware in it's tracks and restoring any data and settings that were modified back to their original state—usually in the blink of an eye.
Contact us today to learn more! We'd be happy to have a conversation over the phone, email, or coffee!
Ctrl + X to Cut
Think about X marking the spot in the text where you want to cut words, an image, or a URL. Drag your cursor over the selection to highlight the particular text/table/image/file (or a part of it). If you don’t want it at all, the cut function is another version of delete. If you want to move the selection, this is your first step.
Ctrl + V to Paste
With this simple shortcut you can place the information you just cut (or copied using Ctrl + C) anywhere you want. The important thing to remember is that the paste function only holds one selection in memory. So, if you cut a phrase from one place, don’t get distracted by an image you want to copy or other text to cut. You want to paste what you have first, then go back and copy or cut the next thing so as not to risk risking losing anything.
Ctrl + Z to Undo, Ctrl + Y to Redo
If only this shortcut was available in real life. We could retract that thing we inadvertently said to Uncle Steve, or take out the salt we put in a recipe instead of sugar, or avoid leaving the house for the gym without our running shoes.
Still, Windows users are able to undo their most recent action with this key combination. Whichever Windows program you’re in, you can use Ctrl + Z to reverse your last action. To redo something, go with Ctrl + Y.
Alt + Tab to Switch Screens
There are many things you can do with Windows. Perhaps you’re multitasking: you have a PowerPoint open, as well as an Excel spreadsheet, and Internet Explorer, too. By pressing Alt and then the Tab key, you can switch between tabs or screens. If you hold down the Alt button while tapping Tab, you’ll scroll through all screens.
Ctrl + N to open a new window
Pressing Ctrl+N together opens up a new document file or browser window, depending on the program you’re in. It saves you a few drop-down menus and works in most Windows applications and Web browsers.
Ctrl + F to Find
This is another one we’d love to see in the real world. Using the find shortcut calls up a pop-up box where you can enter text or numbers. You can use this shortcut to find what you’re looking for on a Web page, in a PDF document, or in your rough draft of a speech. In fact, you’ll be able to see how many times your search text appears and toggle from one selection to the next.
Ctrl + Mouse Scroll Wheel to Zoom in or Out
Forget your reading glasses? Looking at a too-small info-graphic? Having a tough time locating the right tiny file on your desktop? You can zoom in with this shortcut. Using this shortcut on your desktop makes files and folders larger. In your browser, this function zooms in on the page.
Want to know more about Windows and technology to streamline processes? Our experts can help you find the right computer solutions for your home or office.
Call us today at (863) 606-8349!
The techie in us couldn't resist posting this great imagery of hurricane Dorian as of 9/2/2019.
Check out https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/satellite.php and look at the GOES Gulf and East Coast links for looped imagery like the one below.
Please be cautious of Dorian. With Hurricane Irma, we experienced winds that were primarily from one direction. While it looks like we've dodged a bullet, shifts in the direction of the winds as the eye crosses over can pack a punch due to the saturated ground.
Please be safe and alert, especially as the hurricane gets closer. Being prepared is key as the storm approaches, ensuring that we don't wake up to find out Dorian didn't turn North.
The Hurricane DR Checklist for Businesses
At IT Protectorate, our clients’ security comes first. Security researchers have now successfully weaponized BlueKeep (CVE-2019-0708), a name for a vulnerability Microsoft Remote Desktop. We expect hackers to start launching attacks on this vulnerability soon, if they haven’t already.
Do I need more Security Measures in place?
Yes and no. Most businesses (even home users) think they are too small to be noticed. However, hackers do not discriminate. On one hand, they may target a large business with the goal of a large payout in mind. On the other, they may target thousands, even millions of PCs across the internet in an effort to use them as part of their attack vector.
So, what are some recommendations?
First and foremost, IT Protectorate recommends protecting your connection to the internet with a Next-Generation firewall. A firewall will scan and block malicious traffic before it gets to your network (or leaves it!). These are not the firewalls that you can buy at Target or Walmart, mind you.
Second, protect your servers and workstations with Antivirus. We make sure our clients under Maintenance Programs are covered with managed AV, which we monitor for alerts and keep updated.
Third, consider cyber-security awareness training. IT Protectorate offers programs purposefully designed to trick your users into giving their credentials away to would-be hackers. Once identified, training programs are provided to give end users knowledge of key indicators which help them identify malicious emails, as well as general recommended practices to avoid data breaches, loss of funds due to falsified emails requesting payments and/or banking transfers.
Finally, know your data.
Do you offer more advanced security systems?
Security software and services is a huge focus after the last several years have seen the hacking of millions of cyber-citizens’ personal and business data breached and sold on the dark web. Contact us today and we’ll assess your network and provide recommendations according to your budget. A technology road-map is helpful as it allows you to plan and budget for your technology as well as recognize the value it provides your business and its’ customers.
Shameless plug: Here are some ideas and topics you may have come across that we offer or can simply answer questions about.
Managed IT Services is a maintenance program which bundles services such as IT Support, Network Security, Systems Administration, Cloud Services Management, and Data Security. We tend to group backup and general data protection, data loss prevention, and data security under our Data Security service—5 years ago we would have referred to this as data mobility, but now data is growing and moving around our planet so quickly that we struggle to remember what cloud storage service a document is stored in.
Right, right…but what does that mean? Well, let’s start at a high level and make our way down until we can see our spot on the beach—you know, the one with a lounge chair and your favorite drink.
Today, your IT support may be like a Prairie Dog; popping its head up when something needs to be fixed or a virus or some other malware needs to be removed (dare we say a ransom paid or backup data restored, with incident response procedures to ensure the data is viable). The goal of Managed Services is for that Prairie Dog to be constantly vigilant and equipped with the tools and expertise to drive off predators or play the role of medic when called for. Okay; tactical Prairie Dog, got it.
Instead of being reactive, Managed Services is the constant oversight of your IT services by an external organization. It is monitoring, maintenance, and self-repair of networks, hardware, servers, and software to keep your business’s data protected and available to allow your team to deliver outstanding customer service, deliver product on time, build the right product the first time, you name it.
Usually, one or more employees find themselves “pitching in” for the IT role. While this is helpful in the moment, it takes away focus from their primary role and technology is always an afterthought. When things get really complicated, a call goes out to another resource or consultant to bring your service back online. You can open QuickBooks again? Great, until the next time an outage occurs. Be prepared for a 3 to 4-hour staff meeting until the IT guy is available and makes the corrections to get the services running again.
What if your servers, workstations, network, and business applications were monitored 24×7? Taking a more proactive approach ensures the technology you rely on has improved up-time. Beyond monitoring, IT Protectorate reviews trends and automates processes designed to keep your systems running smoothly.
With our focus on your technology operations, IT Protectorate can provide insight to your strategic planning. Keeping track of your assets, cloud services subscriptions, software licensing, and device configurations can be a daunting task. We’re able to keep track of this data in our specialized systems and provide you with summary reports that will help plan the future of your business.
A proactive approach will prevent IT problems before they occur, ensuring your technology is as reliable as the service you provide your customers. Allow us the opportunity to assess your network and work with you to establish a reliable IT maintenance program for your business.
Does your business email system have minimum protections in place? There are some simple mail flow rules that can be added to prevent email spoofing, and more advanced techniques to reduce spam. For outgoing email, it’s important to have the correct records in place such as SPF, DMARC, and DKIM to ensure your email doesn’t end up in someone else’s junk box (or blocked entirely).
The Office 365 Security Road map can be found here. These tasks can be overwhelming and sometimes complicated so we recommend against beginners or non-technical users changing any Microsoft Exchange settings, however.
IT Protectorate can review your environment, find areas for improvement, and implement configuration changes to mitigate risk of users being tricked into clicking email. One of the classic cases is someone in accounting receiving an email from the CEO asking to transfer large sums of money into an account. The untrained user may be afraid to question it and just transfer the money as requested…to that prince in a foreign land posing as an executive.
While protecting against everything can reduce productivity, we recommend training end users by presenting them with scenarios such as these and tracking when they fall for the email. IT Protectorate can setup fake email campaigns that track who your problem users are, then we can schedule specific training to reduce the chances of them giving away passwords or transferring money in the real world.
Things like this tend not to be obvious but it is important to have proper checks and balances in place in the digital world. Our focus is on a balance of security and productivity, we’ll be glad to assist in protecting your business data!
We’re keeping it simple today. We’d like to offer a checklist that covers simple tasks or things to keep in mind that will prevent fraud at work and your home.
What do you expect from the technology that helps run your business? Is it a benefit or a burden? We believe your success is our success and strive to help guide our customers through their digital transformations. Most importantly, we get you thinking about defining goals and setting clear intentions. This helps develop realistic expectations around the digital systems that help employees clock in or look up information to ensure they deliver quality customer service.
The first question is what are we trying to accomplish? How are we going to measure the success of this implementation? What does success mean to us?
Having walked our customers through countless upgrades, hardware failures, and data recoveries, we’ve found that clients with clearly defined goals use their technology to its fullest. Translation: thinking about the value of your data or what your customers need from your database means we can recover exactly the data you need from the exact day two weeks ago that you needed it. Or, when a customer calls in needing a serial number from an air conditioning system, pool pump, or hydraulic jack they purchased from you four years ago, they happily get that serial number quickly and think of you the next time they need your products or services.
What are your biggest operational challenges? Where would you like to see the most improvement? Thinking through these questions will help you define your businesses goals regarding the technology that helps store and retrieve data for you and your customers.
Elroy is the man behind the scenes; writing posts, checking status of servers, managing networks and endpoints, and enjoying coffee in his favorite spots in Lakeland and Winter Haven, FL.