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.

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.

Strategies To Increase Your Email Impact

Smart email strategies

Many small businesses rely on email as their preferred form of communication. Communications either internally or externally to clients, customers and suppliers, still use email as the go-to format. Our love affair with it is no surprise as email is quick, simple and provides a paper trail. Its convenience though shouldn’t mean relaxed – in fact, poor email communication can hurt your reputation and cost you customers. Here’s are some tips on how to be smart with your business email:

Manage your inbox: Your inbox should only be for items you still need immediate access to. Once you are finished with an email it should be deleted or archived. You would never leave a stack of physical letters on your desk reach 6-foot high and you shouldn’t do the same with email. It’s not hard to identify which ones to keep for reference, so create inbox folders and file them accordingly. As emails arrive and are actioned, move them to the relevant folder or delete them.

Write professional messages: Going from casual to careless is easy if you skip the basic elements of good business writing. Spelling and grammar is always important and the sentence structure of your language hasn’t changed. All email programs include a spell-checker and many draw attention to errors, so there is really no excuse. Typing in all CAPS is seen as yelling and using paragraphs makes your message so much more readable. Before you click send, remember to quickly glance over your email to make sure your tone is appropriate and no mistakes have snuck in – or if it is a real important email get one of your work mates to check it for you.

Embrace the subject line: Many emails are overlooked because the subject line meant nothing to the receiver or was empty. Writing these an attention-grabbing subject can be tricky but simply summarizing the message should be fine – just remember to keep them under 5-8 words so they fit on mobile displays.

Be smart with attachments: Try and keep attachments small (under 5MB) as they can clog up email servers. For larger attachments, share the file location as a link using your favorite cloud storage provider. Due to email being used to spread malware always explain in the email body what the attachment is and even follow up with a phone call to the receiver. As always, be careful when receiving attachments, especially if you are not expecting them. If in doubt contact the sender to confirm what the attachment is and always to scan them with an antivirus program before opening.

Keep your CC/BCC under control: The carbon copy (CC) and blind carbon copy (BCC) fields let you send emails to additional stakeholders – this is mainly used as a FYI for the receivers more than anything else. As a rule, use BCC if you’re using an email list or where privacy is an issue. Before you add extra people to the email though make sure the email IS relevant to them as there is nothing worse than being stuck in a pointless email chain!

Contact us know to find out how IT can make your smarter in business.

7 Benefits of Office 365

Office 365You have probably seen all the advertising for Office 365. They are popping up when you surf the web and your employees are bugging you to upgrade and improve their productivity. You may have even done some research and checked out what all the fuss is about but is Office 365 a necessary upgrade for your small business? The answer is yes. It is much more than just hosted email and includes many more tools to improve your productivity. Here are 7 reasons you may not of thought of why small business owners should upgrade now.

1. Data security is built in
Office 365 is designed with data security at its core. The built-in compliance and security protocols mean your storage is safe in the cloud and you can control access.

2. Ditch the licensing drama
Software version differences are a real nightmare in small offices. Not every system can do the same things or even open the same files. It quickly becomes a hodge-podge of workarounds and time is lost trying to find keys that came when you bought your computer years ago. Office 365 includes site-wide licenses with upgrades at the same time. All your licenses are in the same place and you can easily upgrade and also downgrade the number of licenses when required.

3. Mail storage for real people
Most people leave messages in their inbox forever. Occasionally they may do a quick clean up but that doesn’t happen often. With Office 365, your employees can communicate without worrying about storage space.

4. Better time management
Every person in your business is busy – they are juggling meetings, emails and contacts – usually across multiple platforms (computers in the office and at home, tablets and smart phones). Office 365 combines all those elements and integrates them seamlessly for more efficient time management. Contacts that are updated via users mobile phones are automatically updated across all connected devices. Meetings scheduled in an email are added instantly to the calendar. You can even access files from any device, edit them on the run and then back in the office, simply pick up where you left off.

5. Predictable costs
Forget about planning for costly software upgrades as the monthly subscription model of Office 365 has you covered. You can choose a plan based on your unique needs and change it at any time. You can even add or decrease the number of users as you scale and streamline. For a low monthly cost it is now so easy to fit Office 365 into your budget while knowing you now have the same functionality that previously only the big corporates could afford.

6. Work on the go
The days of fiddling with settings are over. Thanks to Office 365 you don’t even need any special IT skills or extra software. Users can now securely access their files from home, during their commute, or in meetings. An internet connection is all your staff will need to squeeze extra productivity out of every day.

7. Stay up and running with little downtime
A whopping 25% of small businesses shut down permanently after flood, fire, crash or cyber-attack. With Office 365, all your data is stored in the cloud. No matter what happens, your data will be there and as long as you have an internet connection your data is always available.

If you are ready to take your productivity to the next level contact us on support@dpcomputing.com.au or on 08 8326 4364.

What You Need to Know About Facebook Privacy

Facebook PrivacyA lot of people use Facebook but finding the balance between privacy and Facebook fun can be challenging. It allows us to connect with friends near and far but also it publicly shares information that just a few years ago, we’d never dream of putting online. With a Facebook search you can look for people based on where they went to school, town they live in, clubs they belong to, who they’re related to… but when is it too much information?

Your birthday is the first piece of info collected by Facebook when you sign up and it is great getting birthday wishes from friends and family when it appears in their news feed. But while your friends are sending you balloons and funny memes, your birthday is now public knowledge. It may seem harmless, but when you call your bank or other institution, what’s the first question they ask to verify your identity? Your birthday! Some companies and organisations even ask questions like ‘which high school did you go to?’ assuming this is knowledge that only you would know. Except… a lot of people have publicly shared it on Facebook. Whoops!

Then there are the stories of people who have lost their jobs after less-than-wholesome pictures or comments have gone public. If you want to protect your reputation, you may not want pictures from last weekend’s private party showing up online. While you can’t control what others do with photos they take of you, you can control whether or not you are tagged in Facebook in them.

Fortunately, there are settings in Facebook that allow you to control who can see what information and what happens when you’re tagged in a photo. Despite what rumours you may have heard or seen floating around, you do have complete control over your Facebook privacy and it is easy to adjust.

How to Check and Adjust Your Facebook Privacy Settings

Here are some settings you can easily change within Facebook to help secure your privacy and see who can see what on your profile. These steps assume you are logged into Facebook via a browser (using an app on your phone or tablet may be different).

See what your account looks like to an outsider

To see what others can see of your profile follow these steps:

  1. From your Facebook homepage, click your name on the blue bar at the top of the page.
  2. Click the three dots next to ‘View Activity Log’.
  3. Now select ‘View as…’

Run a quick privacy checkup

To run a checkup click the question mark in the top right corner of Facebook and choose the ‘privacy checkup’. Facebook then guides you through a few steps showing what your main settings are.

From within this section think about what you really need to share. For example do people need to know the YEAR of your birth or just your birthday? You can hide the year and your friends will still get the notification.

Edit advanced privacy

While the above checkup covers the most obvious information you can delve much deeper via the privacy section. Click the V-shaped drop down to the right of the question mark and go to settings and select privacy.

Adjust timeline and tagging

In the privacy settings (mentioned above), you can control who can tag you, who can see or share the tagged content and what shows up in your news feed.

I hope that explains about privacy and allows you to go in  and change the settings to what you want and not what the Facebook defaults are.

Tightening your Facebook privacy only takes a few minutes, but it can save you a whole lot of trouble in the future. If you need help with this, just give us a call on 08 8326 4364 or via email at support@dpcomputing.com.au.

When is Your Business Ready to Move to the Cloud?

When to move my business to the cloud?By now you would have heard of the cloud and know that the cloud is not going away any time soon (click here to learn more about cloud computing). In fact, thanks to its many benefits, cloud computing has become a natural step in business growth. More and more business applications are being released in an online format and staff are becoming more familiar with this type of interface. So when is the right time to move your business computing to the cloud?

As the cloud has become mainstream many businesses are facing this question. Like any strategic business decision though, timing is everything. Here are a few factors to consider before making the switch.

Age of your current servers

If your current servers are reaching their end of life and a large capital investment is needed you may be able to minimize the expense by moving to the cloud. This can be a huge cost saving made in just moments.

Need for remote and mobile access

Many businesses now have a mobile workforce that needs access to files from anywhere and at any time. Cloud computing allows your staff to work safely, securely and efficiently from any location with internet access.

Current support setup

If your business currently outsources your IT management and support you are perfectly suited for the move to the cloud. Network maintenance and monitoring becomes a non-issue as it is handled automatically as part of the cloud service. You will find problems are fixed before you knew they existed and server downtime becomes a thing of the past.

Internet Speeds

If you move to the cloud your internet speed becomes a important factor to consider. If you currently have a slow and unstable connection you may need to examine other Internet options (ie NBN, fibre, MBE, EFM and 4G) for faster speed or maybe even look at delaying your move until a faster service is available. Having a failover Internet connection is also preferable in case anything happens to your main link.

Need for predictable IT costs

If your IT costs sometimes spiral out of control, challenging your patience and budget, cloud computing will seem like a dream come true. With the cloud you are moving from a capital expense to an operational one – server replacements are no longer your concern. You can budget for IT costs in advance with the majority of your IT expenditure already known leaving your cash flow free for other expenses.

Now that cloud computing is more advanced, secure and priced competitively it is a good time to examine your options. At its core, cloud computing is purely about doing things better and can have a massive impact on your profits, productivity and even staff satisfaction rates.

We offer a variety of cloud services to help your business. Give us a phone call at 08 8326 4364 or via email on mailto:support@dpcomputing.com.au to discuss how we can improve your business IT.

What is the Cloud and Where is it?

What is Cloud Computing?All you here about now a days is cloud this, cloud that. But what actually IS the cloud? Most people don’t understand it so don’t worry as you are not alone.

The cloud or cloud computing is about storing your data (personal or business) on the internet. This allows you to access the data from anywhere, just like you do a web page. It doesn’t matter if you are working from home or at the beach on holidays you can access the data and even collaborate with colleagues just as if you were sitting in the office.

If may sound futuristic but email services such as Gmail and Hotmail (now Outlook.com) have been providing this service for quite a while now. With Gmail and Hotmail none of your emails are actually stored on your local device as they are stored in the cloud on Google’s or Microsoft’s servers allowing you to access them anytime you like.

Netflix is another cloud provider. Netflix allows you to access movies and television shows stored remotely on Netflix’s cloud server any time you want. Netflix even remembers what you watched and where you were up to every time you login (even if you are on a different device).

Where is all this data stored in the “cloud”?

They are stored on another computer in a large data center that is connected to the internet. These data centers are huge and contain rows and rows of servers and data storage.

In terms of location, the US is a popular site, but the machines can be located in any location in the world and may even be in multiple locations to provide redundancy – if problems occur at one location, the other location still has a copy.

With some cloud providers you can choose your preferred location. This helps with local privacy laws and can increase speed of access (as the data doesn’t have to travel as far across the world).

So cloud computing can provide better collaboration, security and redundancy.

Ready to take advantage of cloud computing? Give us a call on 08 8326 4364 or at support@dpcomputing.com.au. Or check out our other article on “When Is You Business Ready To Move To The Cloud“.