February 10th, 2016

Gone are the days when software patches were just for nifty little feature add-ons or updates.

Today, a software update notice could mean your whole computer network is suddenly at risk. Dangers include data theft, crippling malware attacks and mischief you may not discover for months, or even years…

As with graffiti on your garage door, if you don’t pay attention and clamp down on bad behavior, your problems have likely just begun…

And, like those who hire a professional security firm to keep thieves out of the warehouse, thousands of CEOs and business owners are now waking up to the fact that it’s absolutely imperative to hire a pro when it comes to securing your data network.

Here’s why you need a professional handling this for you:

#1: Speed is of the essence.

“If you didn’t update to version 7.32 within seven hours, you should assume you’ve been hacked.” That’s what software maker Drupal told millions of its customers around the world last year. It’s just one example of what can happen if you don’t respond with lightning speed.

Once a security breach has been identified, hackers rush in. On “Day Zero,” cyber-crooks around the world go after at-risk targets. You’ve got to be quick to patch the gap, or else you risk a system compromise.

Unless you have the time, knowledge, experience and tool set to respond instantly, you are far better off leaving this to a professional IT firm you can trust.

#2: It’s not just the big boys they’re after.

Sure, the top news stories are about the attacks on companies like Target, Home Depot and Sony…

Yet your business is just as vulnerable, if not more so.

Chances are, you simply do not have the resources that giant corporations have to manage a data disaster. The statistics bearing this out are shocking: more than 60% of small businesses close their doors following a serious data breach.

The threat is not confined to giant corporations. Small and medium businesses are being attacked every day, and, unfortunately, your business is no exception.

#3: Dealing with data breaches requires specialized knowledge, skill and experience.

Here are just a few of the things a competent data guardian must be able to do to effectively protect your systems:

Review documentation and monitor forums. Sometimes your software vendor doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s critical to check online forums and other communities to see if anyone else is having issues with the new patch before jumping in with both feet.

Know when to apply a patch immediately and when to wait. Typically, somewhere around 95% of patches work hassle-free. The trick is to spot the 5% that don’t — before installing them. This requires identifying unique patching requirements, and applying exceptions accordingly. For instance:

Does the patch deal only with a security issue?

Or does it just add new features or fix non-security-related bugs?

Obviously, security issues get top priority.

Is the system currently having issues?

If not, and if the patch doesn’t address a security issue your system is vulnerable to, it may be better to heed the old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

What security gaps does it address? How severe is the threat to your particular network? If, for example, the only way a virus can enter your system is through an e-mail attachment and this functionality has been disabled for all users, perhaps the threat needn’t be a great concern.

Keep options open in case of complications.

Once a patch has been applied, if things aren’t working, it’s critical to restore the data network to pre-patch functionality, with little if any downtime. That means having good backups in place along with a tested and proven recovery process.

Does just thinking about data security give you a headache? We strongly advise that you let us handle this critical part of your business for you.

Contact Amazing Computer Service today and schedule our no-cost Security Update Audit today. You’ll discover how easy it is to rest assured that your network is secure 24/7.

Topic Articles
December 2nd, 2015

For better or worse, we are practically “married” to our phone these days. It goes everywhere we go. It has access to our most private conversations and key financial data. It holds some of our most precious memories, in the form of pictures, sound recordings and video.

And yet, there are those who would use it to rob and manipulate you. And they’re getting more and more clever each day at penetrating your defenses.

So how do you protect your phone and yourself from vicious attack by these cybercriminals?

Here’s a basic checklist to keep you and your “beloved” safe.

1. Keep your phone with you at all times. Remember, if somebody swipes it:

  • It can be used to access your money, or steal your identity.
  • Someone can pose as you on your social media accounts.
  • A thief can use your SIM card to rack up phone bills.

2. Keep your phone secure.

  • Set a secure entry password.
  • Update your phone’s operating system as soon as updates become available.
  • Turn Bluetooth off when you’re not using it and avoid using it in crowded areas.
  • Only use encrypted WiFi networks that require a password, and set your phone to not automatically connect to new networks.
  • Enable remote geo-tracking and the lock and wipe functions. These will allow you to locate your phone if misplaced. You’ll also be able to lock the screen and wipe the data if the phone is stolen. Just be aware that geo-tracking may enable others to pinpoint your location.

3. Keep your data secure.

  • Back up your data regularly.
  • Don’t save passwords or PINs on your phone.
  • Avoid online banking in public or crowded areas. Strangers may be able to look over your shoulder.

4. Use apps safely.

  • Apps can transmit personal data. Select permissions carefully when you install them.
  • Always source apps from trusted providers and check feedback from other users.
  • If you’re not sure why an app needs access to your contacts, calls, photos or location, see if you can find a comparable app that doesn’t require that access.

5. Be selective about how and where you use your phone.

  • Stick with trusted webs sites and apps when you download anything.
  • Never download content from an unknown source or one you can’t verify.
  • Turn GPS off when you’re not using it. Your location can be tracked if you have it turned on.
  • Log out of web sites when you are done using them.
  • Especially with e-mail – THINK before you click. Hackers are getting very clever at creating authentic looking e-mails. One false click could unleash malicious code allowing them access to all your personal data.

Keep these tips in mind to keep yourself out of harm’s way — and to enjoy all the great things you love about your phone.

Topic Articles