About David Perkovic

David founded DP Computing in 1993. With a Computer Science degree and over 25 years of IT experience David has advanced computer, server and networking skills. He has personally designed, setup and administered many Microsoft based networks and likes to share his knowledge via blog posts and Youtube videos.

Protecting Your Ecommerce Platform from Hackers in 2018

Security

 

2017 saw an increase in cybercrimes in Australia. Back in May, News.com.au reported on the massive ransomware attack across the world, mentioning that at least three private businesses in Australia were hit. While Australia didn’t experience any major attacks, other countries suffered losses. In total, the incident affected around 200,000 people in 150 countries. Countless computer systems were examined in relation to the extortion plot where users would get kicked out unless they sent payment.

2018 brings a clean slate of opportunities for online businesses to strengthen their security systems. Ecommerce platforms are the most at risk, since they involve payments and valuable information. In determining how strong your website’s defense is against hacker threats, consider some of these factors:

Customer data

Identity thefts will not occur if there is nothing to steal. Therefore, you should refrain from saving any customer data that isn’t important to your business. Storing payment card details is against PCI (Payment Card Industry) standards anyway. These details are usually handled by the payment provider. What you can do is use an encrypted checkout tunnel so that your servers won’t save any payment data.

Firewall

For your ecommerce business to have decent security, it should at least be able to withstand common attacks. Business2Community suggests to begin with a firewall, because it weeds out the untrusted networks and controls the website traffic. Firewalls serve as a great first line of defence against the usual hacking threats.

DoS and DDoS Protection

Once in a while, your server may be attacked by malicious queries that intend to keep your website from functioning properly. These Denial of Service or Distributed Denial of Service attacks can keep you out of business for a long time, which is why security measures should be taken to prevent them. DoS and DDoS raids can come from different sources, like applications and traffic flooding.

The best defence is to invest in more bandwidth, since a large amount of space will render it difficult for attackers to flood your site. The downside is that this is also the most expensive solution. However, it’s in your best interests to spend on security. DP Computing previously explained the importance of not being cheap when it comes to security technology, as it serves your business in the long run.

HTTPS

Another DP Computing article advised to pay close attention to the URLs on Google, because hackers would sometimes use phishing scams to acquire sensitive information from customers. These involve links that if accessed, will install malware on your PC that can steal information.

When checking URLs, be wary if the website uses only HTTP. It is more appropriate for ecommerce platforms to use HTTPS, especially on pages where data is created. Unlike in HTTPS, information entered on HTTP is not encrypted. The data is only sent as plain text, making it an easy target for hackers to intercept. Although, remember that not all website pages need to be in HTTPS, or else your website speed will suffer.

Pay attention as well to how your website appears on Google search results, especially if your business is using paid search ads. Ayima noted that Google has improved its algorithm on paid search ads, stating that emphasis is placed on close variants. This means that advertisers will have an easier time of building lists to match user queries. Since paid ads are becoming more rampant now, hackers have taken the opportunity to promote their malicious sites in order to fool thousands of victims. If by any chance, your website’s ad appears shady or seems similar to a malicious ad, take it as a sign to rethink your campaign.

In today’s digital landscape where hackers are getting more creative with their attacks, the importance of cyber security cannot be stressed further. For ecommerce businesses, security investment should be one of the top priorities. Left unchecked, your website could close down at any time, resulting in huge losses in revenue.

 

Traveling With Technology?

Business trips can be stressful at the best of times. Whether you’re off for an overnight visit to a client, a few days for a training session or a longer business conference there are certain things you need to keep in mind:

Be careful with free WiFi
Many hotels have free WiFi along with libraries, cafes, bookstores and other public areas. Unfortunately, that convenience can come at a huge cost. The wireless network you use to check your email while relaxing with a latte could be operated by someone up to no good or even have been taken over by a hacker.

Using a VPN can help as well as only using secure websites (make sure the sites you visit have the little HTTPS lock).

Connect via your cell phone
The wireless networks in hotels are notorious for being slow or insanely expensive. You may find that you can use your mobile as a wireless Internet connection. This means that you connect your laptop to your phone via WiFi or cable and piggy back on its mobile internet connection. Most carriers and phones allow this – but not all. Importantly, if you’re in another country it can also be worthwhile getting a local sim card for your phone rather than paying expensive roaming charges.

Don’t forget power adapters
You’ve seen it before…people asking to borrow your charger and huddling around in groups until their device has enough juice to get them through a few more hours. Remember it is only funny when it happens to other people so make sure that it doesn’t happen to you. Be sure to pack your correct power adapters and cables, along with any plug/voltage converters required to match where you are going. It is also worth carrying your USB charging cables on your person or carry on luggage, as many planes and airport shops now offer a place for you to plug in for a quick boost.

Have plans for being offline
Sometimes you simply can’t get online, which will do you no good when you’re checking into your hotel and all your booking details are tucked safely away in your email acount. You can print out essential travel and business details on paper, but if you have a lot or don’t want to carry them, you can also save them to a document on your phone or computer. Emails can be copied and pasted into a MS Word document, or you can print them to PDF by pressing Print > Save to PDF (or similar). Many apps also have an offline mode that allows you to store the information on your computer, including Evernote and Netflix.

Need a tech checkup before you go away? Call us today at 08 8326 4364 or via email at support@dpcomputing.com.au.

Remote Support – Watch Us Fix Your Computer!

Remote Support

When your computer is acting crazy the last thing you want to do is unplug it and take it down to the local repair shop. With so many cables and connections most people don’t know what goes where. Tech support though has come a long way in recent years and now you have another option: remote support.

With remote support, one of our experts will connect to your computer through the internet and fix your problem (as long as the computer starts and has an Internet connection). You can even watch what is happening on the screen or step away and we will contact you when the problem is fixed.

Remote support takes place when the end user is on the phone, or in a chat with the technician and can run a program to give the technician access to your system. Remote access, on the other hand, does not require an end user to be present but means that the remote access software has already been installed on the computer. If the device is on and connected to the internet, a technician has the ability to conveniently and completely fix the issue by connecting to the machine at any time.

Remote support and remote access are a better way to approach a huge range of issues and have some great benefits:

High success rate: Around 80% of problems can be solved this way. We are sure you have been on the frustrating end of a call center style support session at least once and can guarantee – remote support is nothing like that. Our technicians don’t ask you to click a hundred buttons and read the screen back as they can see your exact screen and can control your computer. Our technicians simply ask your to download and install our remote support software and then the technician takes over, identifies the issue and fixes it for you.

Location independent: For some people, the best part of remote support is that it doesn’t matter where you are located. If you are away on holiday, at home with the kids or laying a beach our remote techs can still fix your computer problems.

Complete privacy: Remember you can see exactly what the remote technician is doing? As such there is no better way to know your privacy is protected than to see exactly what is happening. Unless identified as the issue, our experts won’t go anywhere near your private files and photos.

You’re in control: We can either perform this support as a one off incident where you control the session (ie remote support) or we can install a program that allows us to remotely connect when you are not around (ie remote access) – we can then remote in after hours or at a time that suits you.

Next time your computer is misbehaving, or you need help setting up a new device or program, let us know. We may be able to jump in and get your system going again without you leaving the office or us coming onsite, saving you time and frustration.

Also remember to be on the lookout for scams. If someone rings you and says they need remote access to your computer confirm that they are from your IT support company and / or you requested the support call.

It has never been easier to get expert help for your computer issues. Contact us for more information.

Three New Year’s Tech Resolutions You Should Actually Keep

Three IT New Years ResolutionsIf your typical New Year’s resolution lasted about 30 seconds, you’re not alone. Pledges to eat better, drink less and start some exercise can be rebooted again next year easy enough.

This year, we challenge you to think about your businesses IT health with some resolutions you should keep.

No More Junk Mail

Start by emptying your mailbox to zero unread messages – no you don’t have to read all that spam – you have permission to delete it unread. Let’s face it, if you were going to read it, you would have done so already. Away it goes.

Now that you’re starting with a clean slate you will need to unsubscribe to emails you never read. Keep an eye out for that gorgeous ‘unsubscribe’ link (usually at the bottom of the email) and click it with confidence. You don’t even need to give a reason if it redirects to a survey page. Before too long, your inbox will be a refreshing place filled only with people and businesses you look forward to hearing from.

Go Password Pro

With all these password leaks from LinkedIn, Myspace, and goodness knows who hasn’t come forward, now is the time to get smart with your passphrases (not not passwords – see here for the reason). Because most people use the same passwords on every site, a single breach can give the hackers access to all your accounts.You know how important it is to use different passwords for each site, but let’s be real, that’s a LOT of passwords to remember!

Instead of writing them down, we recommend using a password manager like LastPass. It remembers all your various passwords for you, so all you need to know is the super-protected master password. Master passwords are kept encrypted on your system, not theirs, and 2-factor authentication checks with you via text for all big changes.

Backup. No Really, Backup.

I’ve been meaning to backup is the cry of someone who just lost all their photos. Good intentions don’t count AT ALL in data security, because once the data is gone, it is gone. With easy cloud backup options, there’s no reason to put this off, because backup programs are now easier and more accessible than ever. You can also backup to local drives, but this will take a little extra remembering on your part, as you’ll want to have at least one drive that stays disconnected in case of viruses.

There you have it –  three New Year’s resolutions you can easily keep that will make a real difference to your IT needs. Opening your email will be a pleasure, you’ll be a spectator only in any future password leaks, and your precious files will be safe against all manner of disaster. Feels better than any diet now doesn’t it?

Stuck with any of this? Let us help by calling us at 08 8326 4364 or via email at support@dpcomputing.com.au.

IT vs Productivity – How You Can Win the Battle

Productivity & ITHow much time and productivity did you and your staff lose on computer problems over the last year? Without getting an analyst in to crunch each action and every number, you’ll never know how much money you could have earned in those lost hours. Right now, what you know for sure is that you didn’t go into business to be an IT expert, but suddenly there you are: battling servers, workstations, software, protections and permissions, all on a daily basis…managing all those things you don’t particularly care about, or understand more than you need to. Somehow, you ended up running an IT company plus your regular business.

It didn’t start that way. You got into business because you’re great at what you do. We can help you get back to doing what you’re really passionate about, and free up your time for revenue growth activities. Offload all those niggly It tasks sucking away your day to our Managed Service Provider (MSP) team.

Here are some examples of what we can take care of for you:

Software and security updates: If it seems like an update for something is always popping up, sending your employees away for yet another coffee break while it runs, you’re not far off. While it is great that software providers are continually improving their product, patching holes and reinforcing against threats, keeping up with them all can be incredibly time-consuming. Our MSP can handle all updates and patches keeping your employees focused on their business tasks.

Help desk: We can take care of all those “I don’t know how to”, “I think it’s broken” or “I need another” tech problems that can drive you crazy. You can simply circulate the new protocol – ask DP Computing – and watch how fast these small problems are solved, and your employees are back to work, more productive than ever.

Network management and security: The last thing you want is extended downtime due to a crashed server or a cyber-attack. Our monthly MSP plans works with you to balance security with your business’ necessary tasks and access, leaving you protected and operational. You’ll have staff set-up with the exact permissions they need, robust backup systems in place, and early warning when hardware/software is aging out.

Strategic IT planning: Why blow your IT budget putting out fires, buying incompatible systems or tech you simply don’t need? DP Computing can conduct strategic planning in line with your goals so you’re able to scale what you already have and schedule new expenses in time to meet projections.

The time you spend battling IT problems could be time you spend earning money, growing your business and moving strategically forward. Moving to a monthly managed service plan with DP Computing is easier than you might think. Simply let us know you’re ready to get back to the parts of your business you love and we’ll take the stresss of computing away from you.

Get managed services for your business. Call us at 08 8326 4364 or via email support@dpcomputing.com.au.

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”.