7 Ways To Keep Your Systems Secure

eBook - Business Security Guide - 7 Ways to Keep Your Systems SecureCyber-attacks on your business can be crippling, but there are easy ways to keep the bad guys out. We have written a great eBook listing 7 simple but effective ways to reduce your risk of malware or hacking.

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 receive a free copy of our other great eBooks including the following so sign up now!

  • 5 Reasons Your Business Needs Office365 Today!
  • Is Your Old Tech Dragging You Down?
  • Spectre and Meltdown: How you’ll be affected.
  • 10 Tips to Stay Safe Online
  • Digital Transformation – What’s In It For You?

As always, if you want to talk about ways you can save on your IT, give us a call on 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au.

It’s Official: Your Website NEEDS to Use HTTPS

HTTPSYou may have noticed many business websites now have a green padlock in the address bar next to the letters ‘https’. Until recently, you would have only see that on shopping or banking sites, but it is now become the expected norm for all business websites – even if you don’t need users to log in or enter credit cards. Simply put, the ‘s’ in https stands for secure and means any data sent and / or received by the visitor is encrypted.

Clearly, this is an essential feature for e-commerce sites, but why have all the info-only websites started using https too?

The New Google Rule

As of July 2018, Google will mark your website as insecure unless you use https. It is a movement they started a few years ago to make the internet a more secure place by default. Since Google pretty much rule the internet search and increasing security is always a good idea, business websites have been gradually switching over. Without https protection, someone with access to your internet connection, whether from digital eavesdropping or hacking, could intercept the information. They could also place malware onto otherwise legitimate sites and infect innocent visitors. That is why eighty-one of the top 100 sites online have already switched to https and a very large majority of others are following suit.

The Browser Bar Says It All

In the same way a green padlock in the browser bar indicates a trustworthy site, you can expect that non-https sites will be marked with a “not secure” warning. Previously, users had to click an information symbol to actively investigate the security status of sites. This shift to plain sight markers will be most noticeable on Chrome, however it is expected that other browsers will follow suit. Future visitors to your site may then be alarmed by seeing that the connection isn’t secure.

The fact that you may not be asking them to log in, enter personal details or payment is irrelevant as perceptions matter. Eventually that warning will be changed to an alarming red as Google declares war on insecure sites. As the common understanding is that a warning is bad, you may get more visitors bouncing straight away or even contacting you to report that your site has a problem.

Boosts for Secure Sites

Google is also taking its commitment to safe web browsing further by favouring https websites. This means that Google’s search algorithm is taking your site security into account, preferring https results. Since https status get preference in search results, you may find yourself climbing in the ranking while other businesses drop. It really is a win-win situation for you to implement https..

How to proceed?

It is a little more complicated than just changing a setting within your web hosting environment. You have to order an install a SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate and then install it within your hosting environment. The easiest way to do this is to contact your IT technician or web developer, as they will be able to make sure that it is all done correctly and thus will keep Google happy.

We can help secure your website by migrating it to https – contact us today at 08 83264 364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au.

4 Ways to Avoid IT Downtime

Avoid computer downtime

Technology is a wonderful thing, but what happens when the IT stops working? In today’s world IT is a necessity. Unfortunately, this means when downtime inevitably hits, you have a BIG problem.

Maybe it’s from a malware or virus attack, a bug in the system, hardware failure or something else… Whatever the cause, the impact is real and measurable and you need it fixed ASAP. Research firm Gartner, reports that 43% of small businesses close their doors right after a major data loss, and only a tiny 6% survive long term. The financial cost of each hour can be in the thousands, and the damage to your brand could be irreparable. While downtime will occasionally strike every business, there are things you can do to minimize the duration, frequency and interruption to your business.

Taking a few simple actions now may result in your business staying open while your competitor gives up.

1. Use monitored antivirus and firewalls

While most businesses have these protections, not all have embraced the idea of monitored antivirus and firewalls. Instead most small business setups have more in common with a home network than a robust professional system. Given that SMB are a primary target for malware and cyber-attack, you should seriously consider moving to the monitored versions. Our experts set up custom protection to block all attacks, both known and emerging. All updates are taken care of and company-wide protections applied.

2. Have backups you can count on

A backup can not only protect you from digital threats like viruses and ransomware, they also protect you against physical threats like robbery, fire or natural disasters. The last thing you want is for your business to be crippled by data loss. A robust backup system can be as simple as asking our team to take care of it, or if you have an on-site technician, using the rule of 3: one backup on the server, one unplugged from the server, and one off-site. If anything ever goes wrong, you’ll be able to pull up the most recent backup and continue as normal. Businesses without good backups tend to be down for days, if not weeks. You also need to regularly test your backups to confirm they are working and also backing up the correct data.

3. Planning

Nobody likes to think about their business flooding or being hit with ransomware, but do you and your employees know what to do if the worst happens? Having a comprehensive Disaster Recovery Plan helps you get up and running quicker and  minimises downtime. Everyone knows what their role is, what steps they need to take, who to tell and which systems take priority.

4. Monitor hardware for early signs of problems

Computer hardware is like any piece of equipment – when it’s getting old it will let you know! This could be anything from making noises, being louder or slower than normal or even system crashes. Each symptom is your early warning sign that allows you to take action before a crash that sends everything into downtime. We can even implement hardware monitoring to look for signs of impending issues. If the signs point to imminent failure, we can let you know and often repair or replace the affected hardware with little or no downtime.

Downtime is an unavoidable part of all modern businesses but your preparation can dictate whether it goes for one minute or one week and how often it happens. According to one study, most firms experience 43 hours average downtime per year, a number much too high for most peoples comfort. While scheduled downtime can sometimes be unavoidable, your business will appreciate being able to skip the panic of surprise downtime events. Reducing your risk is the best action you can take, making downtime a truly rare occasion. Even better, our Proactive or Managed Services can take care of this for you, stopping many downtime events before they occur.

Talk to us about ways to reduce your downtime. Contact us today on 08 8326 4364 or at support@dpcomputing.com.au.

How to Securely Dispose of Your Old Computers

Securely dispose of old computers

Getting new computers for your business is exciting, but what do you do with the old ones? Sometimes they may get handed down to another staff member, re-purposed for another function, sold or even thrown out.

The problem is that there is sensitive data on them. There are passwords, emails, account numbers, license keys, client details, financial information, browser history…. the works! Every computer contains a treasure trove of sensitive information that cyber criminals would love to get their hands on!

Deleting all the files on the computer doesn’t actually make them disappear, nor does waving a strong magnet over the drive. These mistakes have cost businesses millions of dollars over the years.

Most businesses and users are unaware that specialized data deletion and cleanup is necessary. A 2016 experiment proved just how dangerous the situation can be. Researchers bought 200 used hard drives and found that 67% held unwiped, unencrypted sensitive data, including sales projection spreadsheets, CRM records, and product inventories. Even more frighteningly is that they didn’t need any special hacking skills to get this data – it was all right there on the hard drives, easily readable and helpfully labelled. It is also not surprising that with simple data recovery tools, people have also been able to access medical records, financial info and even defence related  data, all waiting patiently on a discarded hard drives.

Why deleting files doesn’t help

Data on a hard drive is stored like a book with an index. Every time data is written, a quick entry is written into the index so when you need it again, it knows where to look on the hard drive. The index is used for files you create as well as system files you can’t even see. If you delete a file it is more like changing the index to say nothing is on page 10 and you can write something else there when you are ready. But if you manually go to page 10, you will find the information is still there. The file still exists until it’s been written over – it is just the index reference that is deleted when you “delete” a file.

Wiping data before disposal

There are specialised software tools you can get to properly wipe the hard drives  yourself, as well as dedicated security firms, but your best option is to choose an IT business you know and trust. With that in mind, a methodical approach is required to ensure not a single drive is left untreated. You don’t want to leave data behind, or even clues that a motivated person could extrapolate any information from. The approach might include using checklists to maintain security, or dedicated processes to guide each step in decommissioning. Records should also be kept, including who signs off on completion of the retirement and where the computers are sent afterwards. A proper inventory and auditing process may slow the roll-out of your new computers, but it is always better than having your old data coming back to haunt you.

If you are located in Adelaide or the surrounding area we can migrate any needed data to your new systems and then securely destroy your old hard drives for you. We can then dispose of the computer for you via a recycling centre.

Upgrading your business computers should be an exciting time for you and your employees, so with a little forward planning, you’ll be able to keep everyone smiling and all your data secure.

Need help with your old hardware? Contact us today on 08 8326 4364 or at support@dpcomputing.com.au so that we can securely dispose of your old equipment.

Think Before Clicking – 5 Red Flags of Phishing Emails

Just one click can be the difference between maintaining computer security and suffering massive financial losses. All it takes is just one employee to click on a link in an email for your business to be vulnerable.

Here are a list of 5 red flags that point out a potential phishing email:

1. Poor spelling and grammar

The occasional typo happens to even the best of us, an email filled with errors (both in grammar and spelling) is a clear warning sign of a phishing attempt. Most companies push their email campaigns through multiple reviews where errors are fixed and the language is refined. Errors throughout the entire message indicate that the same level of care was not taken and therefore the message is more than likely fraudulent.

2. An offer too good to be true

Free items or a lottery win sound great, but does the offer comes out of nowhere and with no catch? Then there is definitely cause for concern. Take care not to get carried away with the message and don’t click without investigating further.

3. Random sender who knows too much

Spear phishing is when an email or offer is designed and crafted especially for your business. Culprits take personal details from your public channels (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and even offline documents such as annual company reports etc) and then use it against you. The only clues? The sender is unknown – they weren’t at the event or involved in any way. Take a moment to see if their story checks out. Even check the email address of the sender to confirm that it is correct and not just a similar sounding or looking address (see #4 below).

4. The URL or email address is not quite right

One of the most effective techniques used in phishing emails is to use domains which sound almost right. For example, [microsoft.info.com] or [pay-pal.com] Hover over the link with your mouse and review where it will take you. If it doesn’t look right, or is completely different from the link text then delete the email.

5. It asks for personal, financial or business details

Alarms should ring when a message contains a request for personal, business or financial information. If you believe there may be a genuine issue, you can initiate a check using established, trusted channels (ie phone the person on their known number not one contained within the email).

While education is the best way to ensure phishing emails are unsuccessful, a robust spam filter and solid anti-virus system provide peace of mind that your business has the best protection available.

DP Computing can help secure your business and can even organise a fake phishing attack to see if further staff training is required. Give us a call to discuss how we can help you on 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au.

Do You Have a Bad Case of Password Exhaustion?

Passwords

You’re not alone! Most people use the same password everywhere – home, work, Twitter, Facebook, email and even for banking. Considering how many passwords we use everyday and are expected to remember them, password exhaustion is a real thing. It is no wonder that when yet another prompt for a password appears, users enter very easily guessed combinations like ‘abcd’ or ‘password’.

Trouble is, even if your password conforms to strict password rules, hackers are taking regular strolls around the internet and collecting logins and passwords, from either leaked details or sites with security flaws.

Then, they will try their luck with that login/password combination on other sites. They know more than half the users only have only one password and email combination, so the chance of gaining access into another one of your accounts is quite high.

As the same password is used elsewhere, one site breach follows another and another until hackers have nothing more to gain. The only way to break this chain reaction is to use a different password for each site.

How to Create Easily Remembered Passwords

Have a system or template for creating your own unique passwords, that you’ll be able to remember, but is not obvious to hackers. For example:

<character><word><something about the site><numbers><character>

Becomes:

 !K1ttyFB75!

At first it might seem complicated, but the above is really just based around the words ‘kitty’ (with an upper case K and a number 1 for the i) and ‘FB’ for Facebook. For other sites change the FB to something else.

What to Do If Your Password Has Been Hacked

You can check to see if any of your accounts have been compromised by entering your email into a site like:

www.haveibeenpwned.com

If it alerts a breach, you will need to change your passwords immediately – all of them. Use the example system above to create a new set. If you’re struggling to remember your set of passwords, consider using a secure password tracker such as LastPass. (http://www.lastpass.com) or Keepass (https://keepass.info)

If you assistance changing your passwords or setting up a secure password system, let us know on (08) 8326 4364 and we will be more than happy to help you out.

Could Your Backups Survive A Ransomware Attack?

More and more businesses and organizations are getting hit by ransomware demands. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, hospitals, schools, factories, offices,… are all getting infected and hackers are raking in millions.

Ransomware attacks are devious in their simplicity. A user in a business is tricked into opening a file, usually through a phishing email or download. The file contains malware which then encrypts your data and demands money in exchange for the password to decrypt you data.

All businesses should have a backup and thus should simply be able to restore from their backup if the worst occurs. But this is not always the case.Sometimes the backup  fails for some reason and the data can’t be retrieved. In other instances, the business has a backup that can be restored but it doesn’t include everything they need. So have you tested your backup recently?

Sometime the backup is also caught in the ransomware encryption and becomes useless as a recovery method. This is why it is good to have at least one backup stored offsite and not connected to a computer network.

The only defense is to block the malware before it can infect your network and then continue the protection with a comprehensive backup strategy for all workstations and servers. Give us a call to discuss how we can help secure your business against ransomware today on 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au.

Is It Time To Retire Those Old Legacy Applications? Here Is How To Tell For Sure

How to retire old programs

You have likely been using the same applications for some time in your business. While you have been replacing computers and devices regularly to maintain your competitive advantage, the standard software installation have largely remained the same. The programs do the job perfectly and everyone knows how to use them, so what is the point of upgrading?

In some cases, it is completely fine to keep that old legacy program. However, there are some aspects that you should consider:

 

Support Available

With some software the author has moved on from supporting the program. They may have closed the business, sold it or gone in a different direction completely. Either way, they are no longer interested in helping and supporting the program. Every time you come up against a problem you have nowhere to turn and productivity takes a hit as you try and come up with a workaround. You also run the risk that it could suddenly stop working after a Windows update, start clashing with other essential software or even create large holes in your network security. Even applications from bigger companies like Microsoft have stopped support for older versions. Having support available to both assist and protect your business is a huge advantage.

Hardware Compatibility

Due to the rapid advancement of computer hardware, you may find a simple component refresh leaves your legacy program completely incompatible. The latest CPU, graphics card or motherboard may suddenly brings your entire business to a standstill, purely because it is too advanced. Owners can work around this by keeping some older computers running for that program, but as the hardware fails, you may find yourself struggling to find replacement parts or technicians able to install them.

 

Security Vulnerabilities

The longer a program has been around, the longer hackers have had to discover its weaknesses and holes. It can be a flaw in the program itself or in the operating system that runs it. For example, the program may only run on Windows XP, but Windows XP is not being supported by Microsoft any more. This mean any new weaknesses in XP are not being fixed by Microsoft leaving you open for attack. This is how hospitals across the UK found themselves infected with ransomware last year – they were running programs with known weaknesses that were out of support.

Sometimes it is not always feasible to replace a program immediately and we can help you run it on a virtual machine. That is, getting the older operating system or program to run from within another program. With this setup you will have increased security, an element of support and a strong backup system while you work to find a replacement program. These solutions are very specialized and resource hungry though, so let us know if you need help.

The other option is to move to a new application that fulfills your requirements, is supported, compatible with new hardware and secure. If you have been running the old program for some time, this may feel quite daunting at first but we can help you out and assist with the migration.

Do you need to talk through your options? Give us a call at 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au.

Outsourcing vs Proactive IT Support – What Is the Difference?

Outsourcing Vs Proactive Support

Outsourcing has become a dirty word. It implies that you are taking jobs and work offshore or giving up oversight over a key part of your business. Proactive It Support or Managed Services (or MSP – Managed Service Provider) is the complete opposite of that and is a local solution. Your business already looks for help in various places, hiring consultants, agencies and other contractors, all so that you can focus on running your business. Proactive IT is simply another of those specialized services, designed exclusively to help with your technology needs.

A True IT Partner

Our team act as partners dedicated to achieving your business success. We are able to analyze your strategic needs to tailor IT solutions specific to your business requirements. We work hand-in-hand with you to design, implement and maintain your IT and keep you involved at every step of the way. We will also be up to date on industry news and where relevant can apply it to your business so you don’t lose your edge. When new software versions are released, we can help you make informed decisions about whether to upgrade, stick with current version a little longer or switch to an alternative. You will have a true partner on your team that’s always looking out for you and your business.

Better Results

Since our team get to know your business so closely, we are able to ensure all your tech support and maintenance is handled quickly and without disruption to your daily running. You will be able to keep your employees on task while our experienced technicians work through the issue, often remotely so the response is quick and disruption is kept to a minimum.

Visible and Accountable

Unlike standard outsourcing where you lose control of certain elements and are left to hope for the best, Proactive IT Services are completely transparent. You can get reports on the status of your computers or networks, the number of support tickets we’ve answered and exactly what we’ve been doing to keep your technology up and running. This level of visibility also means you’re able to see IT trends across your business and make strategic decisions to improve productivity and efficiency.

It Is A Local Solution

All of us have called a support number and found ourselves stuck in a frustration loop with an overseas call center. It is almost the entire reason outsourcing has earned a bad name. Our Proactive IT support service is actually a local service, a real-life business near you who employs local people and supports the local economy. Keeping your IT support nearby means you can get the tech assistance you need, with local knowledge, and customer service standards that make the process easier.

You Stay Protected and Prepared

Part of any Proactive or Managed IT service is to ensure your computers, network and digital devices are secure against threats. This means updates, patches, scans, tweaks, backups and system maintenance are all done for you. Your employees no longer have to worry about making time for these tasks and you don’t have to worry that they are getting skipped and opening up your systems for possible attacks. This level of proactive support ensures problems are stopped before they can occur and your business is able to keep on functioning. If anything ever goes wrong, your IT provider will have prepared disaster recovery and continuity plans so that you are up and running asap.

It Is Cost Effective

With Proactive or Managed IT, you will be able to reduce infrastructure costs very quickly as your IT partners are able to recommend better, faster solutions such as cloud storage and mobile technology. Instead of replacing hardware and software when things break, your IT experts will present plans with multiple cost-saving options and strategies. These can often extend to licensing and training too. Productivity improves as the technology begins to work with your processes and employees, not against them. Predictable costs are important to every business, which is why Proactive or Managed IT is the right choice. You’ll know your monthly expenses are capped, and you’ll be able to avoid expensive surprises.

Considering Proactive or Managed IT? Then reach out to us today on 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au.

5 Tech Travel Tips You Can Use

Travelling with technology

Are you off on a business or personal trip soon? This can also mean making sure your tech is packed and ready for the adventure. Smartphones, eBook readers, tablets, laptops and smart watches are now so light and portable that you’d never think of leaving them behind, plus they can value to your trip.

Here are a few things to consider before you head off.

1. Backup Your Data

While you are travelling your devices are always going to be exposed to a level of risk. This might range from accidentally dropping it, leaving your laptop at a cafe, or having it stolen or lost. If the unfortunate happens your device is gone along with all the data it contained. If you have backed up your devices to the cloud (eg OneDrive or Google Drive) you will be able to access your files easily and securely from anywhere.

Hot Tip: Scan and then save important documents like your itineraries and passports to the cloud and also leave a copy with someone you trust back home.

2. Pack the right cables

It is not fun begging random strangers for a loan of their cable, so remember to bring the exact cables and chargers that you need. Most smartphones and tablets use universal plugs like Micro USB, USB C or Apple Lightning, so you can get away with only packing one cable but we suggest taking at least two in case one is lost or fails to work. If you are travelling overseas remeber to check the socket types and pack a plug converter. Depending on your destination, you might even find the voltage is different. so you may also need a voltage converter before you try and charge your device.

3. Download Online Data

Global roaming and data charges can give nasty bill shocks. While travelling, you might find yourself in a region or location where data costs a fortune, is extremely slow or is not available at all. Download any critical files you might need so that you can access them even without a connection.

4. Update and scan

Just like you’d make sure you have got the right vaccinations and travel gear, make sure your tech is ready to travel too! Set aside a few minutes or get your technician to run updates for all your operating systems and apps (remember your anti-virus). Also run a manual anti-virus scan too as the last thing you want to deal with is a malware issue on your trip!

Turn off auto Windows updates as you don’t want to be stuck downloading and installing an update as you are about to board a plane.

While you are updating your devices, turn on password protection for all devices so that only you can unlock them.

Hot tip: Use a complex password that is hard for hackers and thieves to guess. Also tell someone you trust the password so that you don’t get locked out of your devices if you forget it!

5. Label Your Devices

Label your devices so let everyone know this tech belongs to you. Write your cell number or email on portable devices in case you get separated so that whoever finds it can give you a quick call and save the day. If you don’t want to use permanent marker on your devices grab some sticky labels you can peel off when you return home.

You can also purchase little Bluetooth tracking tags to stick to your equipment, so that if you ever lose something you can quickly chase it down. Similarly, you might like to consider enabling the ‘find my devices’ option available on many devices. Having this feature switched on also means you can find or disable your device remotely, an excellent security option if it’s been stolen.

Need help preparing your tech for travel? Contact us at 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au.