Keeping Your IT Network And Computers Safe

For those small and medium sized businesses that have a growing IT department, keeping on top of security is one of the key elements in maintaining company safety.  With more and more personal data changing hands it is of utmost importance to ensure that you’re meeting vital protocol and remaining compliant with any security regulations in your industry.  The cost of data breaches grows exponentially should any victims that had data stolen desire to file a lawsuit or take other compensatory action.

This is where outsourcing your IT security to a professional company can be worth the cost.  You can free up your in-house IT staff while ensuring that your security remains top of the line.

Picking an IT company to do your security can be a bit of a daunting task, but with a few simple tips you can cut down your search by weeding out the companies that don’t deserve your time or business.

Think Local

Local IT companies are the best choice for this.  Picking large, nationwide companies can often leave you feeling like you’re just a number in the system, not a personal client.  This is where local companies shine: by giving you personalized attention and being close at hand if an emergency happens.

I live in the San Diego area, so for example I would be looking at local IT companies.  I would not expand my search to Los Angeles, that would be too far.  Don’t go more than an hour away from your business location.  For IT Support San Diego has one of the best companies in the business: AMA Networks.  With over 20 years in the business, AMA has seen everything and is meticulous about creating strong security for all of the IT networks that they maintain and work with.

For example, AMA Networks strives to deliver a personalized experience to all of their clients and ensure that they are face to face, honest, and forthright with letting clients know what upgrades might benefit them and which are unnecessary and might just be “upsells” to another company.

Think Medium Size

When choosing an IT company for your security, ensure that the company you choose isn’t too small to be overwhelmed by the potential for multiple emergencies happening at the same time to clients.   Make sure they have enough employees that they can assist multiple clients at once.  However, don’t go with a huge company where again you won’t get personalized service and you’ll get a more “cookie cutter” approach to you IT network.

Trust Your Gut

Lastly, trust your gut.  You should definitely try to meet the IT company you want to hire in person to get a feel for how they are.  Visit their office and assess company morale and how organized they are.  This can tell you a lot about a company.  Get word of mouth recommendations from other companies in your industry, and ask honest questions about how the IT company has responded to them in an emergency or computer security situation.

Ask these questions of the IT companies themselves: any company worth their salt should be excited to answer challenging questions such as these.  If a company is not proud of how they work or respond to companies experiencing after-hours emergencies, then they might not be the company for you.

The Biggest Cyber Threats you should anticipate the rest of the Year

Today it’s a fresh Trojan that is doing the rounds; tomorrow a stubborn virulent strain of phishing malware is unleashed; by the middle of the week, a Fortune500 hack has been reported, and come weekend, so has been a huge ecommerce platform.

When it comes to cybercrime, we are at a point where attacks seem almost scheduled. They are constant, unrelenting, and afford us little time to process before we are faced with a fresh challenge. It has become so commonplace over the past three or so years that – just as anything routine – we’ve started developing indifference toward the whole drama.

In truth, however, this is no way to treat cybercrime. We live in a world where hackers not only possess an ever bulging arsenal of malicious strains, but also a tremendous degree of power. We have reached that point of a Hollywood picture that depicts nation-state attacks conducted virtually and the lines between virtual and reality are becoming increasingly blurred.

Here, we highlight the major cyber threats that have been happening and those you should anticipate for the rest of the year.

If you have become a victim of some of these threats, we highly recommend using Reimage, a computer repair tool that can rebuild Windows after critical system files have been damaged or removed by malware or viruses.

Ransomware

When it comes to this kind of attack, cyber criminals are targeting data that is very valuable to you and data that you would be willing to pay for its recovery. This is particularly hitting work files, but this is not to say it couldn’t happen to any other computer file or system.

The biggest motive behind most ransomware is that they are easy to reap through. When the victim’s data or system is held ‘hostage’, the business (or individual) must part with a fixed sum which but serves to give an instant financial incentive for hackers.

At the moment, you should particularly be wary of one called CRYPAURA. This ransomware has the capacity to encrypt over a hundred file types, locking you out. And you have little option other than to pay.

Mobile Adware

Adware is bad, but mobile adware is worse. The mobile world is proving to be one of the most promising hunting grounds for hackers these days. Android, in particular, is experiencing its fair share if a 2014 annual security report by Cisco is anything to go by. It says that a staggering 99 percent of all mobile malware in 2013 was directed at the Android platform. Since, Google has moved to address a number of security challenges, but still…

The reason why mobile malware is increasingly becoming such a threat to the point it is eclipsing its desktop counterpart is obvious to you: there lacks as many and robust defenses as there exists for computers. Additionally, you’re likely to try out new mobile apps than you are PC ones. Things are unlikely to change much for the rest of the year.

Critical Infrastructure Attacks

The idea that critical infrastructure is susceptible to virtual attacks is scary by itself. And as mentioned at the start of this post, this isn’t the stuff of future or Hollywood: it is happening now. In fact, an [in]famous one was carried out by North Korea the other day, as reported by the WSJ.

This attack encompassed a series of intrusions and was aimed at removing data from the network and this very critical data involved highly classified items such as plant blueprints. There was no physical damage suffered in this case, but that is bound to happen at some point. This is why it is becoming increasingly vital for individuals and businesses to have in place a cyber strategy, and for governments to begin building security plans for critical infrastructure.

2015 is clearly shaping up to be remarkable in terms of ingenuity, volume and sophistication of attacks. And we surely haven’t seen the last of it.

Tips For A Faster Computer

The Windows operating system is notorious for slowing down over time. This can happen from a variety of different causes, however there are generally a few key culprits that are the reason for this particular tech malady. Once you learn how and why Windows can get bogged down you can learn to prevent and solve the issue entirely. The key is to educate yourself on some basic working knowledge of how computers work.

Unfortunately it seems that Windows tends to let itself become victim of software that gets installed on the computer. This really shouldn’t be the case, but it’s a holdover from years and years of building onto the same general OS structure. It seems that the Mac OS is a bit less susceptible to this, however even Macs are not immune to this particular problem.

Preventing computer slowdowns starts with avoiding installing software that you don’t need. Back in the day when internet connection speeds were getting faster people started to get download-happy. They would download anything in sight: music, screensavers, file sharing apps, games, apps, and other things that weren’t really necessary. The problem was that much of this software was quite poorly coded and resulted in memory hogs that would overtake the operating system’s resources. People seem to download less junk these days but it bears reminding people that every time you install a new software program you will likely slow down your computer by a small increment. This is true especially if the software runs in the background. Antivirus software is a great example – it’s constantly running in the background. You have to choose your antivirus software carefully or you risk having your computer crawl to a screeching halt.

If your computer is slow and you have a lot of extra software you don’t need, then I definitely recommend going to the Add / Remove Software section in the Control Panel and getting rid of the software that you don’t use. You might be surprised at what you find in there – programs you may have forgotten about or didn’t even realize were still there. It’s funny how we forget what’s on our computer!

Another reason that Windows can slow down considerably is malware running in the background. In this case you might not even know the program is there, however it’s hogging resources. The best way to find and remove these particular programs is to run a spyware removal software tool. There are several of them on the market and it’s not too hard to find a good one. A great one that I have used myself is Spyhunter, but you can shop around for others.

Malware can also be dangerous to your computer and your personal information. Although much of the malware out there is relatively benign, there are some malicious programs that will sniff out passwords and account numbers. This is something you should definitely be aware of. Getting a good antimalware software program on your computer should be the next step after installing an antivirus software program.