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.

Why Spam is a Small Business Nightmare

Why Spam is a Small Business NightmareFifteen years after the Internet world  united to crack down on spam emails, we are all still struggling with overloaded inboxes. All that unwanted email continues to flood the internet, much of it targeted towards small businesses and the impact goes wider than you might think. Here’s the breakdown of how modern spam works and how it is hurting your business.

What is spam?

Spam is any unwanted message that lands in your email, comes via text, social media messaging or any other communication platform. It might be sent to your main business account, eg your ‘contact us’ email or directed to your employees. Most of the time, spam are annoying but relatively innocent messages from another business inviting you to buy, do or see something. They are newsletters, reminders, invitations, sales pitches, etc. You may know the sender and have a previous relationship with them or they might be a complete stranger. Spam may even be part of a cyber attack.

Why you are getting spammed.

Maybe you or your employee signed up for a newsletter or bought a raffle ticket to win a car. Perhaps you got onto the mailing list accidentally after enquiring about a product, not knowing that simply getting a brochure sent through would trigger a spam avalanche. Often there is fine print that says they’ll not only use your details to send you their marketing, but they’ll share your details with 3rd parties so that they can send you messages too. That single email address can be passed around the internet like wildfire and before you know it, you are buried under spam. Sometimes your details are found through a hacked website, like the recent LinkedIn leak. More often though, your email is simply collected by a computer ‘scraping’ the internet – scouring forums and websites for plain text or linked emails and selling them to spammers. It is easy to see now, how individual office employees receive an average of 120 emails daily, over half of which are spam!

More than annoying.

We all know spam is annoying but did you know it’s also consuming business resources? Your employees are spending hours each week sorting their email, assessing each one for relevance and deleting the spam. Your email servers along with your Internet links are getting clogged with the spam flowing into your business. Too often, legitimate emails from clients and customers get caught up and are accidentally deleted. Plus the temptation to read the more interesting spam emails and productivity drops to zero. On the other side of the business, your email server might be dedicating storage and processing power to spam emails, occasionally to the point where inboxes get full and real mail is bouncing out. While most spam is simply an unwanted newsletter or sale notice, there is also the risk that any links may be a cyber-attack in disguise. Remember one click can open the door to viruses, ransomware, phishing or other security issues which a hacker can then take advantage of.

How to stop the spam?

The 2003 Can Spam Act (a global set of anti-spam laws) requires all marketers to follow certain rules – like not adding people to mailing lists without permission and always including an ‘unsubscribe’ link. So make sure you’re not accidentally giving people permission to email you – check the fine print or privacy policy. Next, look for the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email. Unfortunately, not all of them include the link, or they hide it somewhere impossible to see. The worst spammers take that ‘unsubscribe’ click to confirm that your email address is valid/active and then sell it on.

Take control of your email and talk to us about your anti-spam protections. 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.

Protecting Your Ecommerce Platform from Hackers in 2018

Security

 

2017 saw an increase in cybercrimes in Australia. Back in May, News.com.au reported on the massive ransomware attack across the world, mentioning that at least three private businesses in Australia were hit. While Australia didn’t experience any major attacks, other countries suffered losses. In total, the incident affected around 200,000 people in 150 countries. Countless computer systems were examined in relation to the extortion plot where users would get kicked out unless they sent payment.

2018 brings a clean slate of opportunities for online businesses to strengthen their security systems. Ecommerce platforms are the most at risk, since they involve payments and valuable information. In determining how strong your website’s defense is against hacker threats, consider some of these factors:

Customer data

Identity thefts will not occur if there is nothing to steal. Therefore, you should refrain from saving any customer data that isn’t important to your business. Storing payment card details is against PCI (Payment Card Industry) standards anyway. These details are usually handled by the payment provider. What you can do is use an encrypted checkout tunnel so that your servers won’t save any payment data.

Firewall

For your ecommerce business to have decent security, it should at least be able to withstand common attacks. Business2Community suggests to begin with a firewall, because it weeds out the untrusted networks and controls the website traffic. Firewalls serve as a great first line of defence against the usual hacking threats.

DoS and DDoS Protection

Once in a while, your server may be attacked by malicious queries that intend to keep your website from functioning properly. These Denial of Service or Distributed Denial of Service attacks can keep you out of business for a long time, which is why security measures should be taken to prevent them. DoS and DDoS raids can come from different sources, like applications and traffic flooding.

The best defence is to invest in more bandwidth, since a large amount of space will render it difficult for attackers to flood your site. The downside is that this is also the most expensive solution. However, it’s in your best interests to spend on security. DP Computing previously explained the importance of not being cheap when it comes to security technology, as it serves your business in the long run.

HTTPS

Another DP Computing article advised to pay close attention to the URLs on Google, because hackers would sometimes use phishing scams to acquire sensitive information from customers. These involve links that if accessed, will install malware on your PC that can steal information.

When checking URLs, be wary if the website uses only HTTP. It is more appropriate for ecommerce platforms to use HTTPS, especially on pages where data is created. Unlike in HTTPS, information entered on HTTP is not encrypted. The data is only sent as plain text, making it an easy target for hackers to intercept. Although, remember that not all website pages need to be in HTTPS, or else your website speed will suffer.

Pay attention as well to how your website appears on Google search results, especially if your business is using paid search ads. Ayima noted that Google has improved its algorithm on paid search ads, stating that emphasis is placed on close variants. This means that advertisers will have an easier time of building lists to match user queries. Since paid ads are becoming more rampant now, hackers have taken the opportunity to promote their malicious sites in order to fool thousands of victims. If by any chance, your website’s ad appears shady or seems similar to a malicious ad, take it as a sign to rethink your campaign.

In today’s digital landscape where hackers are getting more creative with their attacks, the importance of cyber security cannot be stressed further. For ecommerce businesses, security investment should be one of the top priorities. Left unchecked, your website could close down at any time, resulting in huge losses in revenue.

 

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.

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.

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

Keep Your Systems Up to Date

Computer Updates

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

Emergency updates are a killer

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

Finding time for maintenance

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

What else needs to be checked?

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

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

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

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

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