How to Protect Your Business from the Piracy Police

Piracy PoliceIt may not get the same attention as illegal movie and tv show downloads, but software piracy still isn’t something business owners should take lightly. In fact, one little slip can cost your business thousands or even millions of dollars in fines.

There even is a global agency dedicated to catching you out – even if the copyright breach wasn’t your fault! It could have been something an employee used once to solve a certain problem, grabbing a quick download instead of bothering you with a purchase request. Or maybe it is an application you use every day and long since forgot how the license works. Or perhaps you actually own a legit license but are running it on 8 computers when you’re only supposed to run it on 1. Whether you have set out to be a brazen ‘pirate’ or not, the Software Alliance (often called the BSA – Business Software Association) and their associates would love to make an example of your business. They are now advertising and will even pay for whistle-blowers.

Here is a bit of a background: Back in the late 80’s, Microsoft founded an external agency whose task was to protect the intellectual property of member companies, by finding and prosecuting as many cases as possible. The protection laws already existed, they simply needed a means to implement them. Until recently, finding software pirates was very resource intensive. Now, they can simply create a Facebook ad, target it to ex/current employees of a business, and offer a reward up to $1 million (depending on the country) for information. Your business does not even need to be actively using the illegal software, it simply needs to be installed or show traces on your devices.

How to protect your business

We recommend taking a zero-tolerance approach to unapproved software. This means locking down employee systems so that they are unable to install software, even on their own workstations. Set permissions so that only management and above can install new programs, and create a processes for requesting new software. When a software need arises, you then have complete control over the selection, installation and licensing.

Maintaining your software license documentation and running annual audits is also important. On a daily level, it ensures you’ve got records that can keep your business operating during bad luck circumstances, like when an employee leaves and you suddenly discover no-one knows a particular password and the resets go to a dead email address. Proper license documentation also makes sure you aren’t caught red-handed with illegal software, and if you are ever investigated, you have all the documents at the ready.

We can audit your network for pirated software and lock down employee systems – give us a call today on 08 8326 4364 or via email at support@dpcomputing.com.au.

Is Your Wi-Fi Keeping Up?

Wifi

Wi-Fi has forever changed the way we live, work and play. We can surf the internet throughout the office and surrounds. It is no wonder it was accepted with open arms, but is your Wi-Fi as good as it needs to be?

Twenty years after Wi-Fi first made its way into our homes and offices it has evolved into a juggernaut of speed and accessibility that we can not do without. Think about how many wireless devices your employees have – mobile phones, tablets and laptops.

While older devices are typically happy with a slice of slow internet, newer devices like video conferencing and and media streaming simply can’t function without fast internet. Add in another employee or two with mobile devices and your Wi-Fi is suddenly stretched beyond full capacity and struggling to keep up. Most people though don’t know how fast their Wi-Fi is, or if it’s working right– they only know how many bars they’ve got.

But relying on your Wi-Fi bar count might be ruining your internet experience:

Bars measure the wrong thing
While it is great to know you’ve got a ‘strong’ signal, it would be even better if you could have a ‘fast and constantly available’ signal. The internet could actually be down and you would still have full bars because it is only measuring how close to the Wi-Fi router you are. That proximity measure doesn’t take into account how many devices are fighting for the same bandwidth and whether there is any left for you. We can ensure your Wi-Fi isn’t just available, it’s up to the task.

Wi-Fi goes sideways
While next-door’s Wi-Fi can reach the back of their property, it can also go a similar distance sideways into your offices. This extra ‘noise’ disrupts and slows down your own Wi-Fi. In a lot of commercial areas each office has its own WiFi network, all using the same channel and frequency. It is an invisible digital crowd which seriously slows down your speeds. We can fix this by changing your Wi-Fi channel to one with less cross-talk.

Everyone uses the default settings
Most Wi-Fi uses a 2.4ghz frequency by default. While it makes things easier to to set up, it does mean you’re not getting the speeds you could be. Switching to the 5ghz frequency means your Wi-Fi is separated from the neighborhood cross-talk. 5ghz is also considerably faster, which is a bonus. We can help you upgrade to a 5Ghz-capable router or switch your existing frequency.

Priority isn’t set: While not Wi-Fi specific, we can also set up “Quality of Service” if your router supports it or supply you with one that does. This allows things like Skype calls to always take priority and remain uninterrupted over less important tasks like downloads.

Poor Coverage
With larger offices and more objects that can cause interference you may need extra or better quality WiFi routers. We can assist with a wireless audit to help you maximise the use of the best network with the least amount of access points.

Is your wireless not keeping up? Give us a call at 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au and we can improve your network experience.

All Hard Drives Eventually Fail

Hard Drive Failure

 

 

It is only a matter of time before all hard drives fail. Yes some may last longer than others but as they are mechanical with spinning parts and they will fail eventually. What things should you look for that point to a failing hard drive?

You can start by watching for these signs:

Your Computer Slowing Down
As hard drives contain moving parts, the slower they get, the slower your computer gets. It is like a record player, with spinning plates and a needle whipping from side to side. Your hard drive may eventually take longer to spin up and longer to retrieve files –  this will have an impact on everything you do from booting your computer to starting your applications.

Not Booting
During the initial boot up stage, your computer consistently reading from your hard drive. If your computer can’t see the hard drive or has issues reading files then Windows won’t boot.

Corrupted Files
Sometimes a file won’t open because the computer says it is corrupted. Some essential pieces of the file are missing, and unlike a book where a missing page is only inconvenient, it is a deal breaker for computers.

Noises
You should make yourself familiar with the normal noises your computer normally makes as when the hard drive starts to fail these noises can change. You might hear clicking, grinding or even a sci-fi phaser noise. Noises may get louder or speed up during heavy file access.

The Blue Screen Of Death
This is when your computer locks up and only shows a blue screen with an error code. While a blue screen may indicate any number of things it can also point to a failing drive. The more often your computer does this, the more severe the problem is.

Whenever something is clearly wrong, the key is to stop and turn your computer off. Continued use can result in more data loss. Even if you don’t have a backup yet, turn it off now because the large task of backing up can cause extra strain on an already delicate hard drive. It’s tempting to hurry and try to get a quick copy of your files, but in these cases it is best to seek immediate help from a professional.

Also remember to regularly backup all your important data. Sometimes you will get the tell tale signs of a failing drive as listed above and other times you may not get any warnings.

If you hard drive is failing or has failed bring it to us and we will do all we can to retrieve your data. Contact us on 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au as soon as you can.

Why You Need A Multi Layered Approach To Security

Multi layered security

Firewalls are a well-known security essential, and we are certainly big fans, but did you know a firewall alone is not enough to keep your business safe? It is like building a fence around your house to keep the burglars out: You feel safe, private and secure… but the reality is, anyone with a ladder, enough motivation or ninja skills poses a real threat. That is why despite every networked business having a firewall in place, security breaches are increasing at an alarming rate – further protections are still needed.

Without these additional protections, once the firewall is beaten or bypassed it’s like a fox in a hen house. The bad guys are free to view and download files, make changes, and even take over your systems completely. That’s why computer security works best when it’s multi-layered. When one protection fails, the next layer kicks in to keep your business safe. And then the next, and the next…but that doesn’t mean you need CIA level security that gets in your way.

A few strategic, well-planned measures can provide all the protection your business needs to keep operating without costly downtime. While it’s cool to imagine a system so secure you’ll be opening doors with retinal scanners the reality is infinitely more usable and affordable. In fact, we’ll help you choose the perfect measures that blend invisibly into your existing processes, boosting security without affecting productivity. Take a look at some of our offerings:

Proper firewall device
While not enough by itself, your firewall is still your first line of defence. However, there’s a huge difference between the generic firewall that comes standard with your broadband router and a dedicated hardware firewall appliance. Our technicians will work with you to identify which firewall is suitable for your business.

Corporate Grade Antivirus Software
A free antivirus program might be ok for home use but do you really want a free program with no backup or support protecting your confidential business data and financial information?

Access restrictions
We’ll help you give employees access to only the files they need to do their job. It’s not a matter of trust, but rather one of security. If they were the one to accidentally let the attackers through the firewall, perhaps by clicking an email link, you’re then able to limit the damage. Without this added layer of protection, it’s relatively easy to access any and all files.

Encrypt confidential files
More secure than simply password locking a file, this uses a secret ‘key’ to scramble the files and their contents, so that when anyone else tries to view them all they see is incomprehensible nonsense. Our technicians can setup an encryption system for you so that approved users can use them normally while all files remain secure.

Backups
As nothing is totally 100% secure no matter what features you implement a backup is a necessity. Having your data backup on multiple removable devices (stored both locally and offsite) as well as a cloud based backup is a must.

DP Computing offers security services to make sure all our clients are protected and all their security products are operating at 100% efficiency. Threat analysis, prevention, management and response are all included so your focus can remain on growing your business and we’ll take care of the bad guys.

Give us a call at 08 8326 4364 or via email at david@dpcomputing.com.au about multi-layered protections for your business.

Eleven Best Security Practices To Stop Ransomware

Ransomware and most malware attacks start in two main ways. A booby-trapped email with a malicious attachment or via a compromised website; which then work their way down to your endpoints and servers.To stop these attacks, it is critical that you have a multi layered approach to security.

This starts with a training your employees and patching your devices right through to cloud based malware filters, dedicated hardware firewalls and corporate grade security applications on each device.

The eleven best security practices to apply now are:

  1. Employee training
    Regular training for employees is essential. Employers need to inform their staff on what to look out for and don’t trust the contents of every email they receive.
  2. Patch early, patch often
    The sooner you patch Windows the fewer holes there are for ransomware to exploit.
  3. Backup
    Backup regularly and keep a recent backup copy off-line and off-site. Offline and off-site means ransomware can’t get to it. With recent backups data loss can be minimized.
  4. Implement corporate grade security software
    A free antivirus program might be ok for home use but do you really want a free program protecting your confidential business data and financial information?
  5. Install a firewall or UTM
    You probably don’t just rely on a cheap door lock on the front door of your house so why rely on a basic firewall on the electronic entrance to your business?
  6. Enable cloud based email filtering
    Don’t rely on your local antivirus software detecting and stopping malware within your email application. Block it before it even enters your network by using using a cloud based filter – one that uses multiple filters is even better.
  7. Enable file extensions.
    Enabling extensions makes it much easier to spot file types that wouldn’t commonly be sent to you.
  8. Disable Macros
    Don’t enable macros in document attachments received via email. A lot of infections rely on persuading you to turn macros on, so don’t do it!
  9. Be cautious about unsolicited attachments
    If you aren’t sure – don’t open it. Check with the sender if possible.
  10. Admin Login Rights
    Don’t have more login power than you need. Having administrator rights may bake things easier for administration but they also give malware free ranges on your computer and network. An infection which may be able to be contained to one device could become a network disaster is the malware exploits admin rights.
  11. Keep applications up to date.
    Stay up-to-date with new security features in your business applications
    For example Office 2016 now includes a control called “Block macros from running in Office files from the internet”.