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.

Don’t Become a Victim of Social Engineering

Social EngineeringYou can have the best in computer and network security but if you or one of your staff members inadvertently give out some information all the security can come to nought.

Social engineering is the art of manipulating other people to take certain actions or divulge private information. Some hackers use social engineers techniques and skip the hassle of writing code and go straight for the weakest link in your security defenses – you and your employees. A seemingly innocent phone call or email may be all it takes to gain access to your computer systems, despite having solid software and hardware protections in place.

Here are a few ways on how social engineers work:

Email: Pretending to be a co-worker, supplier or customer who needs a simple piece of information. It could be a money transfer, contact person or some sort of personal details that they pretend they already know, but simply don’t have in front of them. The hacker may also create a sense of urgency or indicate fear that they’ll get in trouble without this information. Your employee is naturally inclined to help and quickly responds with a reply.

Phone: Posing as IT support, government official or even a customer, the hacker can manipulate your employee into changing a password or giving out information. These attacks are hard to identify and the hacker can be very persuasive, even using background sound effects like a crying baby or call-center noise to trigger empathy or trust.

In person: A person in uniform or a repairman can easily get past most people without question. The social engineer can then quickly move into sensitive areas of your business. Once inside, they become invisible and are free to install network listening devices, read a Post-it note listing passwords or gain information and tamper with your business in other ways.

It’s impossible to predict when and where (or how) a social engineer will strike. The above attacks aren’t particularly sophisticated but can be extremely effective. Your staff have been trained to be helpful, but this can also be a weakness.

So what can you do to protect your business? First, recognize that not all of your employees have the same level of interaction with people, the front desk person taking calls and welcoming visitors is at higher risk than the back office or factory worker. We recommend cyber-security training for each level of risk identified and focus on responding to the types of scenarios like those listed above. Social engineering is too dangerous to take lightly.

Talk to us about your cyber security options today. Call us at 08 8326 4364 or at support@dpcomputing.com.au

How to Search Safely With Google

Search Safely With GoogleWe all love Google, quickly finding everything we need on the Internet. It’s replaced dictionaries, encyclopedias, instruction manuals, newspapers and in many cases, even doctors. However, sometimes your search results aren’t the real thing and can be downright malicious. Here’s how to search safely:

Pay attention to the URL in Google

Below every result title there’s a URL in green. No matter what the title says, this URL is where your click will take you. Unfortunately, cyber-criminals will often list their site with a familiar and trusted title but link you to their scam/malware pages.

For example, the title could be your bank name (eg, Example Bank), which seems legitimate, but the URL could be www.baabpjhg.com which is obviously not your bank. Sometimes they’ll attempt to trick you by putting the real site into the link too, eg www.baabpjhg.com/examplebank.com which makes it even more likely to catch you when skimming through results quickly. When you visit the page, it might look exactly like your bank’s site and ask for your login details, which are then harvested for attack. While jibberish in the link is pretty easy to spot, sometimes they’ll take advantage of a small typo that you can easily miss. For example, www.exampebank.com (missing the letter L).

Notice Google search results vs paid ads

Google does a pretty good job at making sure the most relevant and legitimate sites are at the top of the list. However paid ads will usually appear above them. Most of the time, these paid ads are also legitimate (and you can quickly check the URL to verify), but occasionally cybercriminals are able to promote their malicious site to the top and catch thousands of victims before being removed.

Believe Google’s malicious site alerts

Sometimes Google knows when something is wrong with a site. It could be a legitimate site that was recently hacked, a security setting that’s malfunctioned, or the site was reported to them as compromised. When this happens, Google stops you clicking through with a message saying “this website may be harmful” or “this site may harm your computer”. Stop immediately, and trust that Google has detected something you don’t want in your house.

Turn on safe search

You can filter out explicit results by turning on Google Safe Search. While not strictly a cyber-security issue, it can still provide a safer Google experience. Safe Search is normally suggested as a way to protect browsing children, but it also helps adults who aren’t interested in having their search results cluttered with inappropriate links, many of which lead to high-risk sites. Switch Safe Search on/off by clicking Settings > Safe Search.

Need some help securing your system? Give us a call at 08 8326 4364.

Get Back A Brand New Computer With A System Refresh

Computer Refresh

Remember how well your computer ran when you first brought your computer? It was booting fast and files were whizzing around at light speed no matter how many tabs you had open. Then after a period of time it become slower and started taking forever to do anything. All that zip and speed you loved so much was gone

The good news is you may NOT need a new computer, you simply need what we call a “format and reload”. This will

Clear the clutter: Over time as you install applications you collect associated files and options everywhere. This gets worse when you uninstall and upgrade the programs as not all the unnecessary files and settings get automatically removed. All that uninvited clutter is slowing your system down and making it hard for you to find the things you need. Simply put, it’s a mess. Our technicians can clean your system back to pristine in no time.

Beat viral overload: Is the virus really gone? Sometimes a virus has multiple layers and can bury itself so deep that anti-virus programs don’t see it. Despite getting the all-clear from your anti-virus, you might also still be seeing the issue reoccuring. Perhaps the virus made a mess of your internal file structure, left pieces of code all over the place, or deleted files essential for smooth running. When an infection has been cleared but the system is still running slow, we recommend dropping it into our store asap for a check-up and refresh.

Assess incompatible software: Installing a new piece of software can sometimes produce unexpected results. While your system met the hardware and operating system requirements it may not play nice with your other applications. They can be fighting over the same resources, system files, or clashing with one of your hardware components. Clearly, something isn’t quite right, but you’re not sure what. Our team loves to play detective and get your system back to normal.

Archive older files: Some of your files you definitely want to keep. Your financial records, client files etc are all important and need to be kept – but are they important to keep sitting on your desktop? They are not just slowing your computer down, you’re at risk of losing them in a crash. It’s much safer to archive them to an external drive or cloud storage, simply let us know what you’d like to keep and we cab arrange to archive them to a safe spot.

What exactly is a computer refresh? It’s like a car tune-up, but more flexible. Rather than tick the boxes saying we’ve changed the oil, cleaned the filters etc, we treat each computer as a unique case. Sometimes we can tune it up in a few minutes, and that’s all it needed. Sometimes it’s worth starting over like from day one.

We can reinstall Windows and migrate your data (docs, emails, financial records, bookmarks, etc), putting back only what you WANT to keep. The rest of the clutter that built up over time or piggy-backed on a virus gets flushed away. We can also set up your email and install any devices you need, like printers. It’s doing whatever is necessary to give you a fresh start with your computer, but keeping the essentials.

Ready to get back up to speed? Give us a call at 08 8326 4364 or email at support@dpcomputing.com.au.

Keep Your Systems Up to Date

Computer Updates

Updating your computer systems and associated business software is one of your best protections against cyber-attack, but actually running the updates is a task that businesses often overlook. Either they take too long, they pop up at inconvenient times, don’t know when an update is available or simply don’t know what to do. Do you have a plan in place to ensure all your tech is up-to-date or are you flying by the seat of your pants?

Emergency updates are a killer

Most businesses update their software only when the computer technician comes to fix a different problem. The tech runs the update before they leave but as time goes on the systems sit there with ever-widening security gaps… until another breach happens and the techs are called back for another band-aid solution. Emergency only updates in a break/fix model are a great little earner for those techs but not so good for your uptime and system security.

Finding time for maintenance

To keep your business up and running securely, you need someone who lives and breathes IT. They need to know when and how to apply all the patches and how to make sure all your other tech is playing nice (and may be even do it all after-hours to save you downtime). Businesses that have an in-house IT specialist should be set – and they should already have an update plan. But if you don’t have a qualified IT team, outsourcing to an IT specialist is the perfect solution. You get highly skilled technicians remotely applying your network updates at a time that suits you.

What else needs to be checked?

Beyond running security patches, it’s important to keep your business moving forward. Here are a few areas our techs look at as part of our regular service plans:

Hardware health: The last thing you want is days of downtime after a piece of hardware dies. By not staying on top of your hardware health, you are opening yourself up to lost productivity, lost income and unknown delays. Our services can assess and replace components before they break.

Operating system expiry: Keeping an operating system after the manufacturer ceases support can leave your business wide open for attack. It is simply not a good combination and can cause compliance issues in certain industries. Our managed service technicians will advise you of any changes coming up for your OS and suggest the best upgrade for your needs.

Legacy programs: Updates to your software have the potential to disrupt older program that can result n errors, slow performance or even downtime. With technology advancing so fast, we often find additional requirements are required before updates can be installed. Our technicians always make sure to check for compatibility as a whole before running an update.

Staying on top of your maintenance and upgrades can be a huge challenge for small business. Outsourcing to our regular service plans can help more than your budget – call us today at 08 8326 4364 .

How The ‘KRACK’ Wi-Fi Security Issue Affects Us All

WPA2 KrackedThe invention of Wi-Fi or wireless networking has been a dream come true. We can use our laptops and tablets anywhere in the office and our phones are using the main internet connection instead of sucking down data on the 3G / 4G network. It is essentially the backbone of the smart tech boom for home and business alike. Most Wi-Fi networks are password-protected with an encryption called “WPA2” and up until now this has been safe and secure.

Recently, a security flaw called KRACK (The Key Reinstallation AttaCK) was discovered. KRACK allows hackers to break into Wi-Fi networks – even the secured ones and your wireless networks are possibly vulnerable as a result.

How KRACK works?

KRACK doesn’t work via a problem with your device or how it was set up as it is an actual issue with the Wi-Fi technology itself. The attack gets between your device (eg computer, tablet or mobile phone) and the wireless access point (eg modem / router) to reset the encryption key so hackers can view all network traffic in plain text. Since just about everyone relies on Wi-Fi so much, this might mean hackers have a front row seat to your credit card numbers, passwords, confidential files, emails and more.

NOTE: The hacker needs to be in physical range of your Wi-Fi network to exploit this flaw and it doesn’t work remotely like other attacks we’ve seen recently. Given that most Wi-Fi networks extend well past your own home/business walls, this is small comfort, but important to know.

How to protect yourself

Run your updates: Software updates are being released which fix the flaw. Microsoft has already released them for Windows and Apple has one coming in a few weeks. So please take a few minutes to make sure you’re up to date with all your patches on any device that uses Wi-Fi (your smartphones, laptops, tablets, PCs, game consoles, etc). Unfortunately, some devices may be slow to get an update (eg Android phones), or if they’re older, may not get an update to fix the issue at all. If possible, consider using a cabled connection on those older devices or upgrade to one with support. With smart phones consider using data on the 3G / 4G network instead of Wi-Fi.

Be very careful with public Wi-Fi: While your local business center, library or school campus should have expert IT professionals keeping guard over security, it is a very different matter at your local coffee shop. It is unlikely small locations such as this will be on top of security patches. Remember, a hacker exploiting this flaw only needs to be in the same Wi-Fi area as you, so be careful you don’t give them an opportunity to grab your precious data.

Check your browser security: Before sending anything private over the internet, check that you are using a secure HTTPS site. You’ll know these by the little padlock you see next to the URL, and the address specifically begins with HTTPS. Major sites like Facebook, Gmail and financial institutions already use HTTPS.

If you need help updating your devices, or want us to check if you’re safe, give us a call on 08 8326 4364 or via email at support@dpcomputing.com.au.

Bought a New Device? Here’s the Essential Tech Prep You Can’t Afford to Skip

New Device SetupIt is fun and exciting getting a new device. Sellers like to say that it is ready to use straight from the box – and it is – except not quite the way you need it to work. Yes they all turn on, connect to wifi, and sure, you may be able to browse websites but what about emails, printers, your line of business software, security programs, software updates etc etc. Taking the time now to prepare your new device will save you time, stress, and quite possibly money.

So before you jump in head first here are some of the things to be aware of:

Security Updates and Fixes

The device doesn’t usually come directly from the factory to your office, the device has been in the box for at least a month. In the world of technology a month is an eternity. During time on the shelf, new viruses have come out and new software weaknesses have been discovered. Fortunately, new updates to combat these problems have been released and need to be installed before you go browsing the Internet. We can make sure your device is up-to-date and set to auto update in the future. That way, you know your device is safe to go online.

Data Transfer From Old to New

We can help transfer your data from your old machine to the new one. This way all your important documents and emails are there ready for you to continue working.

Setting up Email and Software

Often email programs need special configurations and settings to connect properly. We find people can sometimes get stuck and not able to send emails or get access to all their old emails. We can get all your emails transferred & setup along with all your other line of business software.

Setting up Hardware

Do you need to print, scan or connect the device to another peripheral?  These tasks that should be plug-and-play but as you know with computers nothing is ever as easy as it sounds!  We can help get you set up, with everything tested and working.

 

Setting up the Network

While tapping in a wifi password is easy enough but it doesn’t mean your browsing is secure or even as fast as it could possibly be. There are also other settings like mapped drives and connections to cloud based services that all need to be setup and tested.

 

So if you have purchased a new device through us we will have done a number of these things before we deliver it and can help and assist with the other steps when onsite. If you are purchasing a new device yourselves it will pay to at least speak with your IT professional to make sure everything is compatible with your network and setup.

If you need more assistance we would love to help you out. Give us a call at 08 8326 4364 or email at support@dpcomputing.com.au.

3 Tech Tips to Help Business Owners

Tech Tips for Business Owners

1) Don’t cheap out on technology

Unsurprisingly, a techology newsletter is advising you to invest in tech, but bear with me for a minute. Technology is becoming the backbone of all businesses, yet we still see people who try and get by with the bare minimum investment and maintenance. And by ‘see people’, we mean they are our most frequent repair and data recovery clients.

When businesses take shortcuts with their technology they will always get higher failure rates resulting in more downtime with employees sitting around doing nothing. Some businesses only think short term rather then thinking of the overall higher costs that old technology causes.

2) Consider a commuting policy

With better technology and the rise of the NBN here in Australia, remote working isn’t just a possibility now, it is beginning to be an expectation. Yes it is not applicable for every job but there are a lot of computer tasks in your business that could possibly be done from home. Even if you offer a split week with 1 or 2 days at home and the remainder in the office can be a huge boost to your workplace productivity.

Remote employees can be more efficient without the distractions of the usual office carry on (birthday cakes, general chit chat etc.) leading to fewer absences and they tend to stay in the job longer. From an employee perspective, they don’t need to waste time commuting, get their work done faster, and generally feel happier and healthier.

 

3) Embrace cloud computing

Many of your existing software packages have a cloud version this will allow multi user support, backup and synchronization benefits. The owner, remote workers, mobile staff, accountant and book keeper can all view the same reports without anyone having the trouble of sending out separate copies.

Cloud technology is also perfect for collaboration using software like Evernote or OneDrive. You and your employees can think of ideas while out, make notes on a mobile device and have it all synced perfectly back to the office. You can even have a file server in the cloud so you can access your documents whenever needed.

Contact us to discuss other ways in which your business can unlock multiple possibilities that will make your days run smoother, your business more profitable and put you miles ahead of the competition. Call us now on either 08 8326 4364 or via email at support@dpcomputing.com.au.

How to Tell if Your Computer Has a Virus?

How to tell if your computer has a virus?Sometimes computers do crazy things that ring alarm bells and make users think it is a virus. Next thing you know the boss is telling everyone to run scans and demanding people come clean about their browsing habits. Fortunately, not all weird occurrences are viruses related – sometimes your computer is simply overloaded, overheating or in desperate need of a reboot.

Here are some of the tell-tale signs that your computer maybe infected with malware:

Strange Error Messages

Does your computer have messages popping up from nowhere that make no sense, are poorly worded or just plain gibberish. Take note of anti-virus and security warnings too, check that the warning is from YOUR anti-virus software and looks like it should occur. If a message pops up that isn’t quite right then don’t click it – not even to clear or cancel the message. Close the browser or shut down the computer, then run a full virus scan.

Suddenly Deactivated Anti-virus / Malware Protection

The best way past a security guard is to sneak it when they are not around. Certain malware infections are programmed to disable the security systems first, leaving your computer open to infection. If you reboot and your protections are not enabled you may be under attack. Attempt to start the anti-virus manually and if that doesn’t work, backup your data and try and reinstall your security software.

Social Media Messages You Did Not Send

Are your friends replying to messages you never wrote? Your login details may have been hacked and your friends could be tricked into giving up personal information or money. Change your password immediately and advise your contacts of the hack.

Web Browser Acting Strange?

Perhaps your homepage has changed, it is using an odd search engine or opening/redirecting your to unwanted sites. If your browser has gone rogue it is definitely malware which could be trying to steal your personal or financial details. Skip the online banking and email until your scans come up clear and everything is working normally again. Once you are certain your machine is clean, change all your passwords.

Sluggish Performance

If your computer speed has slowed, boot up takes an eternity and even opening programs takes forever, it is a sign that something is wrong. It is not necessarily a virus though. Run your anti-virus scan and if that resolves it, great, if not, your computer may have a hardware issues or your computer needs a tune-up or service.

Constant Computer Activity

You are not using the computer but the hard drive is going nuts, the fans are whirring, and the network lights are flashing like a disco? It is almost like someone IS using the computer! Viruses and malware attacks use your computer resources, sometimes even more than you do. Take note of what is normal, and what is not and seek help if it looks like something is amiss.

If you have a virus that you can’t get rid of or need a service on your computer give us a call at 08 8326 4364 or at support@dpcomputing.com.au.

Could Your Business Survive a Disaster?

Could your business survive a disaster?

With human errors, natural disasters, power problems and cyber terrorism on the rise, it’s not a case of ‘if’ a disaster will strike your business, but ‘when’ will it happen. If it does happen it is usually not the scope and size of the event that influences how your business is impacted but whether a business has a plan to work their way through the issues.

Put simply, this is a business continuity plan – a document that lays out the pre-planned responses to an event, laid out in detail and implemented to keep your business running with little or no downtime. Think about what would happen if your business was hit by a disaster tomorrow. Would it survive and how much downtime would it take to push you into dangerous territory?

According to an IBM study of companies that have had a major loss of data, 43% never reopen, 51% close within two years and just 6% will survive long-term. For some of those survivors their business continued as usual thanks to their business continuity plan. It is more than just disaster recovery, it’s full preparedness that bypasses the need for weeks of downtime, financial ruin, wasted salaries and a loss of reputation – but it does require a level of advanced planning.

Recommendations

Here are some recommendations on how to help your business survive a disaster.

Prioritize: You will need to plan exactly what you’ll recover first and know who is in charge of making that happen. It goes beyond a checklist of things to do, it is taking an analytical, process-based approach to recovery for each unique business perspective. But be realistic and plan to adapt – there is no point using precious time to reviving the email system if your financial data is leaking onto the internet – even if email did rank as your top priority!

Backup: The most critical part of your business continuity is having full backups located in three places. Why three? One copy locally which you rotate offsite each day, a backup offsite and one in the cloud. The local and offsite backups come into play for system crashes, cyber-attacks and the like. While the cloud backup comes into play when your business has taken a major physical hit, perhaps from fire, flood or other natural disaster where your location is not accessible or destroyed. Some businesses can run entirely location-independent when using cloud systems like Office365, which can be enough to help them survive.

Test: Make sure all employees know what the plan is, where it is located and their role in the plan. It is also recommended to test, prepare and rehearse your continuity plan under simulated disaster conditions. This will uncover new obstacles, priorities, additional threats and other potential problems before it is too late.

As businesses IT environments becomes more and more complex the importance of a robust business continuity plan increases. The best plans look beyond disaster recovery, taking into account scalability of your system and scope of your individual business, to help create strong battle lines that will keep your business operational, both now and in the long term.

Give us a call at 08 8326 4364 to discuss your requirements and assist you in creating a custom business continuity plan for your business.

Here’s How Managed IT Can Help Save Money In Your Business

Managed Services

When it comes to running a modern business, technology is always a growing line item in the budget. Costs can creep up every quarter, along with a new learning curve for simply keeping everything running along smoothly. It is no wonder then that budget restrictions for IT were recently found to be a universal concern for small and medium business.

You are balancing the outlay of maintenance with replacement, plus securing against a steady stream of threats – all while making sure every dollar gives you maximum return on investment. It even sounds exhausting! What typically happens is the tech budget gets stripped to a bare minimum, hoping nothing unexpected pops up and everything keeps moving along nicely. After all, everything is working just fine and that money could make a real difference elsewhere… except as soon as an IT emergency strikes, that tiny budget is obliterated and you’re left to either limp along with insufficient technology or have to dip into another budget area.

Now imagine if budget wasn’t an issue. Imagine that all your tech expenses were predicted and capped, and you got everything you needed without resorting to financial magic tricks. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Put simply, that’s how a Managed IT Service works. It’s a service designed for businesses with a limited budget who don’t have time for tech issues. For a fixed price each month (which is no doubt less than you’re thinking), you get a team of IT technicians actively monitoring your systems in order to catch issues before they occur, repairing problems on the fly, and ensuring your business is always as secure as possible. Included as part of your Managed IT Service, you also get expert business consulting around the solutions you need now, which solutions will help you rapidly scale, and which technology you don’t need. All for one predictable, fixed price each month. It even gets better with the following benefits:

Reduced downtime and associated revenue loss.

Forget scrambling while systems are down, with Managed IT Services you’ll know which tech is failing and can proactively repair or replace before it impacts your business. Downtime is planned or minimized and your staff are working on what they are supposed to be doing instead of being interrupted by technical dramas.

Your efficiency will skyrocket.

Currently you have probably been responding to your IT events in a ‘firefighter mode’, essentially dealing with problems as they arise and switching to new, improved equipment only when forced by a system failure. With Managed IT Services, problems are automatically reported and optimal solutions designed in advance. Even the small issues that have been slowing your business down and limiting progress come to light, ready to be solved for greater efficiency.

You will be secure against data loss.

Whether you’ve been following the news and worrying about the next cyber-attack, or you are working with confidential customer or proprietary data, your Managed IT Service has you covered. Our technicians secure your business against attack using the latest technology, full backups, software updates and leverage every drop of their know-how to keep your valuable data safe.

Learn know how Managed IT Services can benefit your business – give us a call on 08 8326 4364 or at support@dpcomputing.com.au.