Why Your Business Needs a Firewall With Unified Threat Management

Unified Threat Management - FirewallUnified Threat Management (UTM) is a special kind of firewall solution focused on proactive protection. Consider it like a team of virtual bodyguards that stand at the door between your business and the internet, keeping trouble out while your legitimate traffic can come and go normally.

With the increasing number of connected devices in your business network and the different ways your employees can now connect, it is more important than ever to set up dedicated security systems that give integrated protection. UTM is a series of solutions that work together, simultaneously layering your protection across the board. We’ll cover the four main inclusions here and show exactly what they can do for your business.

Robust Firewall

Put simply, a firewall keeps an eye on all the data coming in and out of your network and looks for anything abnormal. While every home PC comes with a software firewall built in, those ones pale in comparison to what a UTM firewall can do. Remember the team of virtual bodyguards? Imagine the home firewall asking nicely if the data should be doing that, while the UTM slams the data to the ground and demands answers. Its job it to make sure the data entering your network is safe, that it is not part of a cyber-attack, and that in the rare event your network becomes infected, your servers aren’t being used to attack another business.

Anti-virus Where it Matters

With so much new malware being released daily, it’s easy to fall behind in updates and discover you’ve been infected. Your employees are likely doing their best, but manually scanning each file can be exhausting and time-consuming. Your UTM anti-virus is built into the firewall, ensuring known or suspicious malware is stopped at the door removing any risk. Clearly that is the best outcome possible and will allow your employees to work at maximum efficiency, while you can run your business with confidence.

Spam Blocking

Most cyber-attacks come via email these days, with either an attachment or a link. Once clicked, the malware wreaks havoc in your network. Obviously, your employees are smart enough not to open random attachments/links, so hackers use phishing emails. These are emails that look legitimate and may refer to vendors you use, financial services you have accounts with or even seem to be from other employees. Your UTM strips down each email and checks it against high-tech legitimacy markers. If it sees anything suspicious, the email is marked as spam and either held for review or bounced away.

As the phoney emails are blocked, your employees never see the emails so they can’t accidentally open up the network for attack. While the UTM is monitoring for phishing/fake emails, it’s also culling out the general spam that clogs up inboxes. Employees will no longer have to spend precious minutes each day wading through the junk, and the likelihood of missing an important customer email has greatly dropped.

Content Filtering

In a perfect world, your employees would only access work-related sites and do work-related things online. Content filtering can help you limit the risk they’re bringing into your business via their Internet browsing. Your UTM can be set to restrict sites that infect computers, such as adult content, gambling or illegal downloads. It can also be used to restrict access to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, either during work hours or completely. It’s up to your policies how much you’d like to filter and whether to add any flexibility. Some businesses allow social media during lunch breaks or have special reward hours each week. Simple tweaks like this can increase productivity overnight and give you the security you’re looking for.

You can see how a layered security solution like UTM provides a space for your business to thrive, where systems are secure, employees are able to maintain efficiency, and cyber problems stay outside the doors. The way the layers work together is more effective than a patchwork of separate systems, and a UTM is much easier to configure and maintain.

We can find the right UTM solution for your business. Call us today at 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au!

Fake Invoice Attacks Are on the Rise – Here’s How to Spot Them

False Invoice Scam

Businesses around the world are being targeted with a cyber-attack that sends victims a fake invoice that looks real enough to fool to most people. It is based on an old scam that used to see invoices faxed or mailed to the victims and now it has made its way into the digital world and instances are on the rise.

You may have already seen some of the less effective attempts – an email advising your domain is expiring (except it’s not from your host and your domain is nowhere near expiration) or others that describe a product or service you would never have purchased.

The new attacks though are much more advanced as they look completely legitimate and are often from contractors and suppliers you actually use. The logos are correct, spelling and grammar are spot on and they might even refer to actual work or products you regularly use. The senders name may also be the normal contact you deal with at that business as cyber criminals are able to ‘spoof’ real accounts and real people. While it is worrying that they know enough about your business to wear that disguise so well, a successful attack relies on you not knowing what to look for.

Here are two types of invoice attacks you may receive:

1) The Payment Redirect

This style of fake invoice either explicitly states that the payment should be made to a certain account (perhaps with a friendly note listing the new details) or includes a payment link direct to a new account. Your accounts payable person believes they are doing the right thing by resolving the invoice without bothering you and unwittingly sends money to a third party. The problem may not be discovered until an invoice from the real supplier comes in or the transaction is flagged in an audit. Due to the nature of international cyber crime, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to recover the funds even if you catch it quickly.

2) The Malware Link

Rather than an immediate cash grab, this style of attack asks your employee to click a link to download the invoice. The email may even look exactly like the ones normally generated by popular accounting tools like Quickbooks, Xero or MYOB. Once your employee has clicked the link, malware is downloaded to your systems that can trigger ransomware or data breaches. While an up-to-date anti-virus should block the attack at that stage, it’s not always guaranteed (especially with new and undiscovered malware). If it does get through, the malware quickly embeds itself deep into your systems and often remains silent until detected or activated.

How to Stay Safe

Awareness is key to ensuring these types of attacks have no impact on your business. As always, keep your anti-virus, firewalls and spam filters up to date to minimize the risk of the emails getting through in the first place.

Secondly, consider implementing a simple set of procedures regarding payments. These could include verifying account changes with a phone call (to the number you have on record, not the one in the email), double checking the invoices against purchase orders, appointing a single administrator to restrict access to accounts or even two-factor authorization for payments. Simple preemptive checks like hovering the mouse over any links before clicking and quickly making sure it looks correct can also help. If anything looks off, hold back on payment / clicking until it has been reviewed. Fake invoices attacks may be increasing, but that doesn’t mean your business will become a statistic, especially now that you know what’s going on and how you can stop them.

We can help increase your security, talk to us today. Call us at 08 8326 4364 or on support@dpcomputing.com.au

eBook: Digital Transformation – What’s In It For You?

Why Digital Transformation  is a Top Priority for Small Businesses

Digital Transformation eBookNew technologies are opening up new opportunities for business.

They are driving a revolution known as DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION, where processes are simplified, ideas are implemented, and businesses are benefiting like never before.

We have written a free eBook that explains what digital transformation is, and the possibilities that even small changes can provide to your business growth.

Click here to subscribe to our monthly newsletter and access your copy of this book – don’t worry we won’t share your details and you can unsubscribe at anytime. If you are already a subscriber and would like a copy please email david@dpcomputing.com.au. You will also get a free copy of our other eBooks including the following so sign up now!

  • Is Your Old Tech Dragging You Down?
  • Spectre and Meltdown: How you’ll be affected.
  • 10 Tips to Stay Safe Online
  • 6 Business Problems You Can Solve With A Single Phone Call

3 Essential Steps Before You Fire an Employee

Before you fire an employeeYour employees need access to your IT resources and accounts so that they can do their job, but what happens to that access and those passwords when you fire them? Nobody likes to think of firing their employees, or why you’d need to, but nonetheless, it is a responsibility of every business owner and they will face it at some point in time. While your book keeper or accounts team will stop their paychecks it is important to take the same proactive stance to stop their system access.

Most of the time, former employees leaves under good terms and you’ll wish them well. If you are lucky they may even manage the hand-over to their replacement (so your productivity losses are minimal). Other employees may leave your business reluctantly and / or angrily. While you will have very different feelings about the two scenarios, the risk to your business remains high until action is taken. Here are 3 steps you can take to protect your business from an angry ex employee:

Step 1: Limit access to a need-to-know basis

You might be surprised how often a new employee is presented with access to every ones account and has access to all the company data. Accounts, staff & customer details, strategy, marketing etc etc…all those sensitive parts of your business that have made it a success are exposed. A better policy is to limit access to only what the employee needs for their job. Rather than view it as a lack of trust, your employees will appreciate the care you’ve taken to protect your business (and their job). It also helps keeps them from becoming overwhelmed, confused or tempted if the situation ever turns sour. Likewise, take a few moments to delete old or temporary accounts that are no longer required – you never know when a hacker or disgruntled employee will squeeze through those gaps.

Step 2: Quickly change passwords

On average, it will take at least a week before passwords are changed after an employee is fired – if at all! Unfortunately, this type of delay is one your business can’t afford. In 2017, an ex-employee from the American College of Education held their entire email system to ransom for $200,000 after an unhappy exit. Stories of others stealing client databases are also common – especially if they leave to start their own business or work for a competitor. It is not just full-time employees either, contract and part-time employees such as social media managers and customer support email specialists often have access to more of your business than you might imagine. Yes you may be able to get the person involved prosecuted but it only takes seconds to login and wreak absolute havoc on your network. Knowing you can force those bad eggs into a lengthy court case is poor comfort considering the extent of damage you’ll likely endure. The best option is to change their access credentials fast – even before your employee knows they are fired. This lessens the chance of revenge attacks and opportunistic access.

Use a password manager

If you have good password manager like KeePass or LastPass, reducing your risk becomes mostly automated. You will be able to keep your passwords in a central vault and only share passwords to those who need that access – plus you can section off the passwords to different sections or job roles. If an employee leaves or moves to a new internal position you can change or revoke access.

We can help you secure your network and use a password management tool. Contact us at support@dpcomputing.com.au or 08 8326 4364.

Are You Backing Up Correctly?

BackupThe 31st of March is World Backup day and it’s a great time to check your backup or put a backup in place. Businesses lose huge amounts of data every day, purely because ‘backing up’ is stuck at the bottom of their to-do list. So this is your reminder, that even if you only do this once a year when the calendar tells you to make it happen now! But how? What is the easiest, most effective way for your business to backup?

You’ve probably heard of file backup by a number of names: Cloud Sync, Cloud Backup or Cloud Storage. They’re all similar enough to be confusing and meaningless enough to be anything. Here’s what they mean and which one you need today.

Cloud Sync

Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, etc are services that sync up with a single folder on your computer. They mirror it. When a file changes in one, the sync service rushes to change it on your other computers too, so they are always the same. Cloud Sync services are hugely flexible for remote employees or for those squeezing in a few quick tasks while riding the train to work. They are ridiculously easy to use, require no training, and the free tiers are enough for most small businesses and individuals. This all sounds amazing, right? Except…when things go wrong, they go wrong big time! Accidentally deleting a file means it disappears from the Cloud Sync drive and your other computers – almost immediately. Overwriting a file does the same thing, and if an employee edits the wrong file, then those edits are there to stay. If disaster strikes and your local copy becomes corrupted (or ransomed), well you guessed it, the corruption is uploaded too. While some Cloud Sync services now offer a 30 day backup option, you may not notice the file was missing within this time frame.

Cloud Sync services are fantastic for productivity and accessing files on the go, but they simply can’t be relied on as your backup tech.

Cloud Storage

Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure, etc are massive buildings full of storage drives that work just like your local hard drive but you access them securely via the internet. In fact, when you use a cloud sync app like Dropbox, they’re actually sending your data to one of these locations. While the sync services have a constant back and forth connection between the storage center and your folder, and as explained above aren’t good for backup, you have another option. You can access cloud storage on a per/GB basis yourself and upload your entire backup as desired. It won’t update with changes on your local network, but it will be safe from disaster. When you need to retrieve a file, you simply login and download it.

Your backed up data is secure, protected against disaster, and always available to you. However, because it relies on you or your employee to handle the backup plan and manually take care of the uploads, this is a high-risk solution. Unless your employee is scouring your network each day/week/month for changes to files and uploading them with fervent dedication, chances are this plan won’t work. We recommend an automated or outsourced solution so you can get on with business AND also be protected.

Cloud Backup

Carbonite, Soonr, Crashplan, etc might not be names you’ve heard before, but they work in the background to monitor changes to files on your computer or network and make sure you’re backed up. You can roll back individual files or whole drives, and even select from earlier backups, not just one. Like sync services, they use cloud storage centers with extra-high security and redundancy so that your data is always there when you need it. Even better, neither you nor your employees need to worry about when it was last done.

The One You Need

Let’s take a moment to talk planning. We recommend starting with the 3-2-1 strategy. This means having 3 copies in total, 2 of them locally such as on your computer and an external drive, and another offsite in the cloud. Using this strategy keeps your business operating when data disasters occur and is an investment in your uptime. We can help get you set up with the 3-2-1 method, including selecting the best cloud service for your needs. If you’re looking for a more scalable, cost-effective solution that gives the utmost peace of mind, ask about our managed backups service.

Need help with your backup then call us at 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au.

Office 365 & Email Security

Spam email

As an IT Expert, I get client calls and emails asking me about various emails they receive and whether that particular email is fake or real – almost all time the emails are fake.

To help my clients and others in a similar situation I’ve put together a video that goes through some security tips on how to protect your self from hackers and phishing attempts. The video goes through:

  • First alerts of being attacked.
  • How scammers and hackers try to fool you.
  • How to tell if an email is fake or not.
  • The Do’s and Don’ts.
  • How to tell if you’ve been hacked.
  • What to look for after you have been hacked.
  • How to prevent and protect from hackers.
  • What is 2-step and MFA?
  • What to do after you’ve been hacked.
  • Screenshot examples of phishing emails.

Check out the video below and leave any comments in the fields below.

eBook: Spectre and Meltdown: How you’ll be affected

Spectre & Meltdown ExposedSevere design flaws in modern CPUs were recently discovered and made public. These flaws put users and businesses alike at risk of attacks known as Spectre and Meltdown, where private data can be called up and stolen.

Chip manufacturers including Intel and ARM have responded by working with software developers to correct the flaws, however these fixes are affecting computer performance. Discover exactly how this vulnerability works, how you’ll be impacted, and what you can do to protect your systems.

We have written a free Ebook that explains these vulnerabilities in more detail and also covers:

  • How these vulnerabilities works
  • The impact to your business.
  • What you can do to protect your systems

Click here to subscribe to our monthly newsletter and access your copy of this book. If you are already a subscriber and would like a copy please email david@dpcomputing.com.au.

Top 5 Cloud Advantages for Small Business

Cloud Computing

Cloud technology has been a revolution for small business, changing the way you store, share and backup files. While ‘the cloud’ is often hard to understand because it’s neither in the sky or in a single location, there’s no arguing that it’s driving growth across the board. Storage concerns are a thing of the past as small businesses like yours embrace the flexibility, cost savings and protections of cloud solutions. We’ve done the research for you and identified the top 5 ways small businesses benefits from making the move.

It’s Cheaper

Budget is always a factor for many businesses, many of which are further constrained by pressures from managers and owners. Some regard investing in cloud solutions as a large expense that can be put off indefinitely. In most cases though, making the switch to cloud storage costs a fraction of the price. Compared in powering servers, scaling to keep up, regular support and then repairs when problems occur, cloud storage offers extraordinary savings. With one decision, you get access to high-end infrastructure and dedicated support. Cloud solutions were specifically created to meet your needs, which means you only pay for what you use. Costs remain capped while the benefits continue to rise, a clear advantage for the budget-conscious business.

It’s Secure

A lot of people like having their data where they can see it but that is not always the safest option. Natural disasters seem more frequent than ever, break-ins are a worry, and employees are always losing laptops and phones or have them stolen. More often though, someone simply makes a mistake and deletes important files, or accidentally infects the system with malware. Cloud storage mitigates these risks, with storage in ultra-secure locations, protected against disasters, and committed to robust backup systems. In recent times particularly, we’ve seen many small businesses survive ransomware attacks purely because their critical data was secure in the cloud with clean backups available.

It’s Compliant

We know medical businesses and services need to follow certain regulations when it comes to patient data. This includes security as well as data integrity, plus backups and auditing. Many cloud providers acknowledged this need early on and made sure to offer compliance guarantees. They therefore keep abreast of changing regulations, often implementing new requirements before you’ve even heard about them. With cloud storage systems, you essentially slash your compliance workload and let your cloud provider do all the worrying.

It’s Portable

One of the key benefits of cloud storage is your ability to collaborate remotely. In the past, this would have involved multiple file copies that need to be merged back together, often confusing employees as to which is the ‘right’ file. With cloud storage, your staff can work on the same file, using the same interface and real-time updates. Even having different versions of software is no longer an issue. Employees can work on a file in the office and then securely access the same file at home, or elsewhere on their smartphone or laptop without needing to buy additional software or worry about version corruption. Sharing and collaborating becomes easier, more desirable and more secure, which helps puts your business on track to reach your goals.

It’s Easy to Migrate

One of the biggest concerns we hear is that it will be too disruptive to migrate to cloud solutions all at once. That’s okay. We don’t have to do it all in one day, we can migrate it in parts. For example, you can move your email to the cloud, or just remote file storage. As your various servers and systems age out or need repair, we can help you move each to the cloud, which means your downtime is minimal to non-existent. You can also actively choose a hybrid approach to keep your legacy applications, with no pressure to move them to the cloud. Our technicians can help ensure smooth integration across your entire business, making sure all your systems work seamlessly together, whether in-house or in the cloud.

Talk to us about your cloud options by calling us at 08 8326 4364 or at support@dpcomputing.com.au

Desktop Vs Laptop: Which One Is Right For You?

Desktop v Laptop

 

Laptops have become the favourite choice for most people in the market for a new computer. They’re sleek, portable and heavily advertised. But are they the best choice for your needs? Before you buy your next computer, take a look at these considerations  – you may discover you’ve been dreaming of a desktop all along!

How portable do you need it to be?

Hands down, laptops are far more portable than a desktop. You can pick them up, pop them into bag and away you go. That doesn’t mean desktops are bolted to the floor, just that they’re not designed to take on holidays or go with you to the local cafe. With that portability though, comes a trade-off: thin and light means your computer performance takes a hit. The more powerful your laptop, the bigger and heavier it is, and you won’t enjoy lugging that weight around all day. If that’s got you leaning towards an ultra-portable, consider this: The smaller and lighter your laptop is, the weaker it is. In fact, some laptops struggle to run the most basic apps. Fortunately, when you do choose a desktop, cloud technology means your data is mobile, even if your main computer isn’t.

What balance of power and price do you need?

The bottom line here is that a desktop will always give you more power for less money. Their larger cases allow for bigger and better components, with more effective systems to avoid overheating. Even the most powerful laptop is going to be hotter than its desktop equivalent, and much noisier too. If you’re using power-hungry software like video editing, we recommend choosing a desktop. The heat control alone is worth it as frequently overheated laptops don’t last long.

Desired screen size

As laptops are designed to be portable, screen sizes are usually small, around 11-15”. Larger, more powerful laptops often go up to 17”. Desktop monitors average at 22” and go up to 28″ and even 32″. These larger sizes give you more space to work in and multi-task. They also allow for nice big text and images, with a better ability to choose the visual experience that suits your needs. If you’re after a large screen size without a big box, all-in-one’s, NUC’s and small form factor PC’s are a great
option.

Your working comfort

Many people buy a laptop only to get it back to the office and literally find it is a pain in the neck! The traditional laptop design means you’re always looking down at the screen which can put a strain on your neck. You can try to raise the screen by placing the laptop on a stand, but then the keyboard is out of easy reach. The smaller keyboards and touchpad designs may also leave you more prone to repetitive strain injuries. Many people end up connecting their laptops to external monitors, keyboards and mice, simply so they can work in comfort. Desktop computers on the other hand, allow you to create the perfect working environment for your needs and even cater for other office or family members. Monitors are usually height adjustable, keyboards and mice are wireless, and you’re able to place the desktop on the floor out of the way. If you’re on your computer for more than short bursts, your body will appreciate you choosing a desktop.

Are you looking for flexibility?

When you buy a laptop computer, it’s like choosing from a set menu. You get this brand, in this design, with these specifications. Changing out parts for repair or upgrade can be difficult and expensive as there’s not a spare inch of space. Some parts are extremely hard to get to, which can turn a simple swap or repair into a dealbreaker. The extra space inside a desktop gives infinite flexibility for upgrades over time and fast repairs. This means you’re able to easily pop in more powerful components for a fraction of the price and extend the life of your computer by years.

Come talk to us about your next computer and we’ll find the right one for you. Call us now at 08 8326 4364.

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.