Heartbleed Bug: What a Business Owner Should Know

The name Heartbleed OpenSSL Vulnerability (aka Heartbleed bug) is as scary as it sounds. Some reports say up to two thirds of all secure websites (e.g. those with a web address starting with a green https://) are using OpenSSL.  It has been reported that Google was first to discover the Heartbleed bug  that compromised sites including Yahoo, Tumblr, Flickr, Amazon, and other websites relying on OpenSSL for security.  This security breach may provide hackers access to accounts, passwords, and credit card information. Heartbleed and Your Systems Business owners using OpenSSL for their email, website, eCommerce applications, or other  web applications should take action to prevent data loss or theft.  The fix for the Heartbleed bug should be installed on your operating systems, network appliances, and other software to ensure that confidential information is protected.  Consider having your IT professional test your public web servers to determine if they are safe. Heartbleed and Your Employees Your employees may have used websites that were exposed to the Heartbleed bug.  This means their username and password combinations may have been compromised by hackers tapping into what was supposed to be encrypted communications.  Employees should be reminded to reset passwords within the guidelines established by your company.  There are plenty of resources on creating a secure password.  Microsoft offers tips for creating a strong password on their website. The Need for IT Security Because the Heartbleed bug is pervasive, most internet users need to change passwords on sites like Gmail, Yahoo, and Facebook.  The Heartbleed bug is a wake-up call to the importance of having an IT Security policy that includes strong password...

Target Privacy Data Breach: Part 2

Target Retailers were just involved in the second largest credit card data breach in United States history. Today Target announced the data breach that occurred over Thanksgiving weekend now exposes upwards of 70 million credit and debit cards. Target also disclosed the privacy data breach compromised names, addresses, phone numbers or email addresses, in addition to credit card information.  When businesses are victims of a security breach, loss of revenue is often highlighted in the news. What the media often overlooks is the internal costs of remediation, exposure to privacy breach laws and loss of reputation with their customers. Any Business can be the Target of a Privacy Data Breach While large companies make the news, many small business owners believe their company is too small to be targeted by cyber criminals resulting in privacy data breach.  According to Verizon Wireless’s 2012 Data Breach Investigation Study, 71% of data breaches occur in companies with fewer than 100 employees.  A privacy data breach can be devastating to a small business. Malware or software used to interrupt a computer’s processing, is a common way of perpetrating these attacks.  Small businesses are often unprepared when it comes to these attacks. What a Business Owner do to Avoid a Privacy Breach Action can be taken to protect your small business and your customer’s sensitive information.  First, audit your network regularly. Periodically scan your network for unauthorized computers and devices connected to your network directly or via Wi-Fi.  Also, update any antivirus or malware software regularly. Check your firewall and security settings.  Make sure all your defense mechanisms are up to date and working...

PC Repair Tips to Improve Performance

PC Repair Tips to Improve Performance Over time Windows Personal Computers and Laptops need ongoing repair to keep them running smoothly. Why waste time and office productivity when you can proactively repair and maintain your PCs for optimal performance? Here are some tips you may try yourself or ask your IT Professional about for support. Check your Anti-virus Anti-virus programs are designed to protect your PC from security threats that can destroy your important data. Some anti-virus programs have stringent security settings where the anti-virus program scrutinizes every file and program on your PC. This may slow your systems down. Also, if you have had your PC or Laptop for a while, you may have installed multiple anti-virus programs overtime. These programs may be pulling double duty, slowing your systems even more. Inventory which anti-virus programs you have installed and check the security settings to make sure you balance your security needs with performance requirements. Eradicate Malware Malicious software or “Malware” may accumulate on your PC. These programs may run as background tasks without your knowledge. Some programs look for sensitive data, including passwords. They may interrogate every keystroke on your PC. Aside from the security risk, these programs may slow down the performance of your PC or Laptop. Many times anti-Malware security programs are part of an IT-managed service contract from your IT Service Provider. These programs run to detect and eliminate Malware from your PC and protect your system from future Malware intrusions. Remove unused programs Overtime your computer will collect programs you no longer use or need. Some of these programs may start up automatically when...

Why you should audit your network.

Do you know what’s connected to your network? If not, you should! Auditing your network and creating an inventory of your IT assets catalogs all devices connected to your network including PCs, laptops, printers, routers and switches. In some cases, assets discovered may even be unauthorized. By scanning and discovering all connected devices, your IT team can quickly perform a hardware and software audit. This helps ensure compliance with network policy, software licensing compliance, and compliance with industry regulatory requirements, such as, HIPPA. What’s more, having asset data cataloged, including hardware and software profiles, helps remote support technicians troubleshoot when things go wrong. What can you do with network audit data? Check your firewall’s security settings to make sure you are protected from the latest hacker attacks, worms, and viruses. Scan and remove spyware that is secretly stealing your company’s bandwidth, jeopardizing the speed of your computer system, and embezzling confidential information about you, your employees, and your business. Check your network’s backup system to ensure it is working properly and accurately backing up all of the critical files and information you never want to lose. Verify that you have the most up-to-date security patches installed properly; miss one critical update and you’re a “sitting duck.” Identify unstable PCs that may operate slowly. Search for all items meeting a criteria in summary and detail. For example, to determine how many machines use windows 7 with 4 megs of RAM to see if they are eligible for an O/S migration. Determine which devices may be out of software license compliance. Summarize warranty information for which devices are covered and which...

Adopting an Integrated IT Strategy

Are you thrilled with your IT infrastructure? Chances are you do not want to think about it at all. In fact, the less you worry about your IT Infrastructure and assets the better – right? Small and medium businesses (SMBs) rely on hardware, software, email and data to run daily operations. The slightest hiccup can turn into a huge distraction resulting in loss of productivity for your employees and company. What can you do to take the worry out of your IT? One solution is to adopt an integrated IT strategy. Instead of managing a variety of tools for data protection, remote backup, anti-virus and anti-malware yourself, have your IT Service Provider manage your infrastructure for you. Do you really have time to ensure all your systems are up to date with operating systems (O/S) patches to protect you from the latest security threats? Remember, your network is only as secure as your most vulnerable device. If you miss a patch on one device, your entire network may be out of compliance and compromised. There are plenty of benefits from adopting an integrated approach to managing your IT assets. For starters, having a single source IT Service Provider means you have one organization to call when you have a problem. If you have service level agreement (SLA) in place, you will get a rapid resolution when you run into problems. What’s more, by using the latest remote monitoring and management technologies, your IT Service Provider will identify and resolve problems before you even realize you have them. By proactively managing and monitoring your IT Systems, you will run into...
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