Traveling With Technology?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remote Support – Watch Us Fix Your Computer!

Remote Support

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three New Year’s Tech Resolutions You Should Actually Keep

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

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

No More Junk Mail

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

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

Go Password Pro

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

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

Backup. No Really, Backup.

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

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

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

IT vs Productivity – How You Can Win the Battle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All Hard Drives Eventually Fail

Hard Drive Failure

 

 

It is only a matter of time before all hard drives fail. Yes some may last longer than others but as they are mechanical with spinning parts and they will fail eventually. What things should you look for that point to a failing hard drive?

You can start by watching for these signs:

Your Computer Slowing Down
As hard drives contain moving parts, the slower they get, the slower your computer gets. It is like a record player, with spinning plates and a needle whipping from side to side. Your hard drive may eventually take longer to spin up and longer to retrieve files –  this will have an impact on everything you do from booting your computer to starting your applications.

Not Booting
During the initial boot up stage, your computer consistently reading from your hard drive. If your computer can’t see the hard drive or has issues reading files then Windows won’t boot.

Corrupted Files
Sometimes a file won’t open because the computer says it is corrupted. Some essential pieces of the file are missing, and unlike a book where a missing page is only inconvenient, it is a deal breaker for computers.

Noises
You should make yourself familiar with the normal noises your computer normally makes as when the hard drive starts to fail these noises can change. You might hear clicking, grinding or even a sci-fi phaser noise. Noises may get louder or speed up during heavy file access.

The Blue Screen Of Death
This is when your computer locks up and only shows a blue screen with an error code. While a blue screen may indicate any number of things it can also point to a failing drive. The more often your computer does this, the more severe the problem is.

Whenever something is clearly wrong, the key is to stop and turn your computer off. Continued use can result in more data loss. Even if you don’t have a backup yet, turn it off now because the large task of backing up can cause extra strain on an already delicate hard drive. It’s tempting to hurry and try to get a quick copy of your files, but in these cases it is best to seek immediate help from a professional.

Also remember to regularly backup all your important data. Sometimes you will get the tell tale signs of a failing drive as listed above and other times you may not get any warnings.

If you hard drive is failing or has failed bring it to us and we will do all we can to retrieve your data. Contact us on 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au as soon as you can.

Why You Need A Multi Layered Approach To Security

Multi layered security

Firewalls are a well-known security essential, and we are certainly big fans, but did you know a firewall alone is not enough to keep your business safe? It is like building a fence around your house to keep the burglars out: You feel safe, private and secure… but the reality is, anyone with a ladder, enough motivation or ninja skills poses a real threat. That is why despite every networked business having a firewall in place, security breaches are increasing at an alarming rate – further protections are still needed.

Without these additional protections, once the firewall is beaten or bypassed it’s like a fox in a hen house. The bad guys are free to view and download files, make changes, and even take over your systems completely. That’s why computer security works best when it’s multi-layered. When one protection fails, the next layer kicks in to keep your business safe. And then the next, and the next…but that doesn’t mean you need CIA level security that gets in your way.

A few strategic, well-planned measures can provide all the protection your business needs to keep operating without costly downtime. While it’s cool to imagine a system so secure you’ll be opening doors with retinal scanners the reality is infinitely more usable and affordable. In fact, we’ll help you choose the perfect measures that blend invisibly into your existing processes, boosting security without affecting productivity. Take a look at some of our offerings:

Proper firewall device
While not enough by itself, your firewall is still your first line of defence. However, there’s a huge difference between the generic firewall that comes standard with your broadband router and a dedicated hardware firewall appliance. Our technicians will work with you to identify which firewall is suitable for your business.

Corporate Grade Antivirus Software
A free antivirus program might be ok for home use but do you really want a free program with no backup or support protecting your confidential business data and financial information?

Access restrictions
We’ll help you give employees access to only the files they need to do their job. It’s not a matter of trust, but rather one of security. If they were the one to accidentally let the attackers through the firewall, perhaps by clicking an email link, you’re then able to limit the damage. Without this added layer of protection, it’s relatively easy to access any and all files.

Encrypt confidential files
More secure than simply password locking a file, this uses a secret ‘key’ to scramble the files and their contents, so that when anyone else tries to view them all they see is incomprehensible nonsense. Our technicians can setup an encryption system for you so that approved users can use them normally while all files remain secure.

Backups
As nothing is totally 100% secure no matter what features you implement a backup is a necessity. Having your data backup on multiple removable devices (stored both locally and offsite) as well as a cloud based backup is a must.

DP Computing offers security services to make sure all our clients are protected and all their security products are operating at 100% efficiency. Threat analysis, prevention, management and response are all included so your focus can remain on growing your business and we’ll take care of the bad guys.

Give us a call at 08 8326 4364 or via email at david@dpcomputing.com.au about multi-layered protections for your business.

Eleven Best Security Practices To Stop Ransomware

Ransomware and most malware attacks start in two main ways. A booby-trapped email with a malicious attachment or via a compromised website; which then work their way down to your endpoints and servers.To stop these attacks, it is critical that you have a multi layered approach to security.

This starts with a training your employees and patching your devices right through to cloud based malware filters, dedicated hardware firewalls and corporate grade security applications on each device.

The eleven best security practices to apply now are:

  1. Employee training
    Regular training for employees is essential. Employers need to inform their staff on what to look out for and don’t trust the contents of every email they receive.
  2. Patch early, patch often
    The sooner you patch Windows the fewer holes there are for ransomware to exploit.
  3. Backup
    Backup regularly and keep a recent backup copy off-line and off-site. Offline and off-site means ransomware can’t get to it. With recent backups data loss can be minimized.
  4. Implement corporate grade security software
    A free antivirus program might be ok for home use but do you really want a free program protecting your confidential business data and financial information?
  5. Install a firewall or UTM
    You probably don’t just rely on a cheap door lock on the front door of your house so why rely on a basic firewall on the electronic entrance to your business?
  6. Enable cloud based email filtering
    Don’t rely on your local antivirus software detecting and stopping malware within your email application. Block it before it even enters your network by using using a cloud based filter – one that uses multiple filters is even better.
  7. Enable file extensions.
    Enabling extensions makes it much easier to spot file types that wouldn’t commonly be sent to you.
  8. Disable Macros
    Don’t enable macros in document attachments received via email. A lot of infections rely on persuading you to turn macros on, so don’t do it!
  9. Be cautious about unsolicited attachments
    If you aren’t sure – don’t open it. Check with the sender if possible.
  10. Admin Login Rights
    Don’t have more login power than you need. Having administrator rights may bake things easier for administration but they also give malware free ranges on your computer and network. An infection which may be able to be contained to one device could become a network disaster is the malware exploits admin rights.
  11. Keep applications up to date.
    Stay up-to-date with new security features in your business applications
    For example Office 2016 now includes a control called “Block macros from running in Office files from the internet”.

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.