Tag : technology

Businesses Beware- FBI warns Ransomware is on the rise

ransomeThe FBI released statements of warning this week about the rapid growth of ransomware attacks. As attacks become more frequent and sophisticated, it is crucial that businesses are proactive about ransomware prevention. The influx of attacks against hospitals has made ransomware a major threat to the U.S. healthcare industry this year and will only continue without proper protection.

Years prior, ransomware was delivered through email. Now that email systems have evolved, and spam settings have become more sensitive, cyber criminals have stepped away from email delivery. Seeding legitimate websites with malicious code and taking advantage of unpatched software on end-user computers, there is no need for an individual to click on a link in order to be infected. In a usual email attack, a user may see an email addressed to them and open it. Unsuspectingly clicking on the attachment that appears no different than any other attachment, the malware code is then able to access the victims machine and the rest is history.

Once the machine has been infected, the malware begins encrypting the files and folders on local drives, including attached drives, backups and even other computers on a shared network. As seen many times this year, organizations are often unaware of the attack until they are unable to open their files and retrieve data. Sometimes organizations are not made aware of the encryption until messages start to display ransom payment in exchange for a decryption key.

Whether or not to pay the ransom is still under debate. The FBI does not encourage payment, only because paying the bitcoin does not guarantee the safe return of sensitive data. Morally, payment would be frowned upon, as it is most certainly funding illicit criminal activity and encouraging more attacks. However, it is understandable why many have been forced to pay, simply put businesses need their data in order to survive. Unfortunately ransomware criminals know that all too well.

Prevention Measures 

  • Make sure employees are aware of ransomware and of their critical roles in protecting the organization’s data.
  • Patch operating system, software, and firmware on digital devices (which may be made easier through a centralized patch management system).
  • Ensure antivirus and anti-malware solutions are set to automatically update and conduct regular scans.
  • Manage the use of privileged accounts—no users should be assigned administrative access unless absolutely needed, and only use administrator accounts when necessary.
  • Configure access controls, including file, directory, and network share permissions appropriately. If users only need read specific information, they don’t need write-access to those files or directories.
  • Implement software restriction policies or other controls to prevent programs from executing from common ransomware locations (e.g., temporary folders supporting popular Internet browsers, compression/decompression programs).
  • Back up data regularly.
  • Secure your backups. Make sure they aren’t connected to the computers and networks they are backing up.

If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit: FBI: Ransomware threat at all-time high; how to protect company jewels

Whats Up HTC 10

The HTC 10 had no choice but to revamp their design in order to compete with the Samsung Galaxy S7. A mere 5.6 ounces the phone feels more solid than previous models especially the G5. The back of the phone is curved, even rocking when placed on a flat surface. The front has a 5.3 inch, 2,560 by 1,440 Super LCD 5 screen. There is a physical home button complete with a fingerprint reader below the screen.

The design may have improved but the hardware still the same as the S7 and G5 with  2.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor and 4 GB of Ram. Although not wireless charging, the phone houses a USB-C jack on the bottom of the phone and supports Quickcharge 3.0.

What really makes the HTC 10 pop in terms of customer attraction is the audio. The 10 uses two speakers, a front facing tweeter at the top and toward the bottom an edge facing woofer. This combination leads to less distortion than you receive on many other smart phones on the market. The 10 comes with a “hi res certified” headset worth about $90. A pretty nice gift if you ask me. You can tune the headset to your hearing preferences and capabilities by listening to a series of tones. The headphone amp is one of the most powerful with 1v amp connected to a 24-bit DAC.

Different than other smartphones, the photo gallery app and calendar have been replaced with Google Photos and Google Calendar. In addition the phone is pre-loaded with Facebook, Messanger, and Instagram. Not a social media wizard? Don’t get your hopes up for a cleaner phone, these pre-loaded apps are not permitted for deletion.

The HTC 10 will be available in the next coming weeks for pre-order from T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon for about $699.

418508-bottom418512-display418514-back


 

If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit: Hands On With the HTC 10

The Almighty Apple finally falls!…well sorta

apple_topic

Apple released financial reports this week that revealed a decline in quarterly revenue, something that hasn’t happened since 2003. In terms of product, Apple sold 51.2 million iPhones compared to 61.17 million iPhones sold in the same quarter last year.

As Jason Perlow, writer for Tech Broiler states, Apple sits on billions of dollars in cash assets. However, the core product of the Apple corporation is the iPhone, making up 68% of revenue. Perlow points out that the smartphone market is beginning to resemble that of the PC market. What has been done, is being done again and again. Smartphone innovation  is almost to the point of little advancement, and will eventually give up shares to more price-aggressive Chinese products.

Aggressive prediction, but he has a point. Most of the model advancements we witness on the latest editions of smartphones are standard, improved battery life, sharper display, faster downloads and cloud storage. Nothing too major.

As Perlow writes, “Apple does not play by the same rules the rest of the industry does. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage.” One of Apple’s best skills is creating brand loyalty within its customers. Much of how Apple sustains itself is due to repeat customers, buying their products over and over again. How many of us are filled with excitement and joy at the hint of a new Apple product release? I’ll speak for myself here, I am a shining example of the usual Apple consumer. I have two Apple smartphones, both the 6 and the 5c, an iPad, and a Macbook. I began with one device and once I learned how to navigate the Apple “language” so to speak, I was hooked.

But is this enough? Perlow doesn’t seem to think so. He makes a valid point that once someone creates something that capitalizes on the Apple magic, but for a much cheaper price, most of Apple’s loyal fan base will probably jump ship. Once the displays, the RAM, flash, batteries and so on can be manufactured in China, Apple and Samsung are going to have some major competition.

Are we worried? Not really. Apple has close to 200 Billion dollars in cash assets just sitting, and they have braved lows like this before. Usually a downturn like this one leads to a peak innovation cycle for Apple.

Go figure.


 

If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit: Here comes the iPhone apocalypse and the end of Apple as we know it

 

Easy and Free- 5 security apps for Windows 10

These 5 free security apps allow for safe browsing while protecting your computer against viruses, and even remembers all your passwords for you. Sounds great to us. apps.31776.9007199266248614.e32fdc94-77ee-4dac-af90-52ca48b6eb41

Password Padlock –  Password Padlock manages all your passwords securely by first having you select a single master password. This master password is used to encrypt all the other passwords in your collection using AES-256 encryption. You can rest well knowing that your master password is never stored. Encrypted passwords are easily backed up to OneDrive, and you can backup on one device and restore to another with ease.

LastPass- LastPass remembers all your passwords for you so you can spend time working on more important things. Creating strong passwords for every account you have, LastPass keeps such passwords locked up in the easy to navigate LastPass password manager. Automatic sync across every browser and device ensures you are never left scratching your head for your password. LastPass will sign into all your online accounts for you. Similar to Password Padlock, Last Pass also gives the option to create one secure password for ultimate protection. 

Super Password Generator – The Super Password Generator uses Cryptographic Random Number Generator to make sure the password generated with the given characters are unique and never gets duplicated. This generator can also generate QR code so you can scan it with any device that supports QR Code decoding such as a Windows Phone.

Avast Antivirus Download Center- The Avast Antivirus Download Center App allows for easy access to downloads of PC security products from Avast product portfolio. It also streams the latest security news from Avast Blog directly into your windows 10 PC.

Touch VPN- Unable to access some websites or apps? Worried about unprotected Wi-Fi hotspots? Want to be anonymous and protected from surveillance and hackers? Touch VPN – the Secure VPN Proxy– is the best solution for you!


If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit: 5 top-rated free security apps

5 New Tech Tested Products for Your Business

Ever wondered what the best in tech products are at this very moment? The experts at Network World weigh in and give us a little glimpse of the newest innovations on the market.

Vidder PrecisionAccess – By rendering applications invisible to unauthorized users PrecisionAccess does a fantastic job at preventing application hacking. Even with stolen credentials hackers can’t access protected applications with unauthorized devices.precision-vpn_clip_image002

VeloCloud SD-WAN – VeloCloud provides a hybrid WAN solution that works with MPLS private links as well as ATT-U-Verse with cable or any broadband DSL links. One tech pro reported an increase from almost zero network visibility to nearly 100% network visibility. A great tool for IT management across multiple locations without staff needing to be onsite at all times. Facilitates communication and network visibility.  velocloudlogo

Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) – With so many features that help with managing user-facing ports and devices, whats not to love about Cisco ISE. One huge factor reported by tech pros is the integration of TACACS within Cisco ISE, making it easy to run Cisco ISE as a Radius server or TACACS server for network devices. In addition to this, Cisco ISE significantly improves management of devices especially restricting machines from devices and sites they are not permitted to visit.Cisco_ISE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intermedia SecuriSync – For backup and file sharing SecuriSync is the way to go. As a two-in-one tool for consolidated file backup and management of continuous file backups, Intermedia SecuriSync makes relevant files easier to access as they are all stored in a secured shared folder. If you have team members spread across different locations, this tool is very helpful in making sure the data is always backed up and kept secure. One platform with a master source keeps project collaboration as safe as it can be.securisync-logo-247x300

OpenSpan Transformation Platform – OpenSpan collects all employee desktop activities both productive and nonproductive, including time away from the computer. This platform allows businesses to evaluate from employee activities how employees work best and what can be improved upon in order to drive down operational costs and maximize revenue. Providing data about employee activities takes away the need for manual employee logs. Lack of employee logs that need to be analyzed by supervisors for key performance indicators (KPIs), such as call volumes, proves to be a huge time saver. OpenSpan Transformation Platform takes working smarter to a higher level.

yKVWo9CQ_400x400


If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit: Fave Raves: 29 tech pros share their favorite IT products 

Apple Watch 2 Predictions

apple-watch-21According to an investors note issued by Ming-Chi Kuo Securities, most of the changes to the Apple Watch will be to the inside rather than to the appearance. This solidifies rumors that the next version of the Apple Watch will be virtually the same as the previous except for minor hardware and application upgrades. Longer battery life and faster charging is one of the elements consumers are hoping the next generation will improve upon. The screen visibility when outdoors or in heavy natural lighting is less than perfect and is also on the radar as a possible improvement to be seen in the newer version.

Most customers are on board will updating their phones and PCs in a timely manner, even every year when the latest model makes its debut. However, watches are not a revolving door item. This leads me to believe that most of those buying the next version of the Apple Watch are new to the Apple Watch and want the latest and greatest in watch technology. Leaving the design of the device alone is one of the smartest things Apple can do. A change in design would exclude first generation buyers.

Kuo predicted a decline in watch shipments this year, to 7.5 million units shipped from 10.6 million in 2015, AppleInsider reported. It is proposed that this drop in sales could be due to the increased desire for more standalone features and specialized must have features that can only be found on the Apple Watch. Researchers and IT professionals predict Apple will begin segmenting the Apple Watch into different models with specific price points and features as they usually do with the iPhone and iPad.

One thing we know to be true, Apple will continue to polish up each new version of the Apple Watch until we are all itching for one on our wrists.

 


 

If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit: Next Apple Watch Will Be More ‘S’ Than 2

Software Defined Networking – 5 best practices

software-defined-networking_sdn

Software Defined Networking, (SDN) provides cost-effective, easily adaptable management of network control and forwarding functions. In simple terms, SDN is the physical separation of the network control plane from the forwarding plane, where a control plane controls multiple devices. Software Defined Networking is an emerging technology and therefore lacks long term examples to be used as a guideline for success. Greg Stemberger, Principal Solutions Architect, has laid out what he has seen in his experience with SDN, creating a five step process for best practices of implementation.

The first step, as it most often it with any new technology employment it to define usage. Bringing in a new technology for your company is only helpful if the technology fits the needs of your organization. Determine the problems your company is facing and proceed to evaluate whether the desired technology will be able to handle and alleviate such problems accordingly. No one technology will be able to solve all your problems. Identify specific problems you believe SDN can fix, specifically just one problem at a time. As Stemberger suggests, “A single use case with tangible, positive results, offers more reliable, measurable outcomes than implementing SDN across your entire network.”

It is crucial to assemble a cross functional team with SDN. Utilizing SDN in the correct manner means having a skilled team with a united approach. A team of well versed members is the best way to manage SDN. You need people who can combine skill sets to work together. Increasing efficiency lets you IT staff spend more of their time on you IT infrastructure rather than operational overhead. Get everyone on the same page, toward a universal goal.

Remember to test in a less critical network area. This is common sense for most. Find a less critical network that you can play with first before moving to your network. This way you avoid uprooting your entire network and facing the wrath of angry coworkers. A small-scale SDN test allows the flexibility to learn and make mistakes.

After testing for a while, make sure to go over the data you gather and review your test case. Did it solve your current problem? Is it a wise investment to expand SDN to the entire network? Do you have the infrastructure ready on both a personnel and technical level?

As a gentle reminder that it’s okay to stay on the cautious side, it is suggested that you gain maturity before expanding deployment.  Rather than diving head first, proceed slowly and make the implementation gradual. Even if the SDN went better than expected in one area of the network, this is not a gurantee that the entire network will function at the same caliber. How will SDN performance change across higher trafficked areas of the network?

These steps are meant to evaluate risks, gain perspective and ensure efficiency. In order to get the most out of Software Defined Networking, it’s best to get all your ducks in a row.


If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit: 5 steps to launching Software Defined Networking

VMware takes on the big boys with Boxer app for AirWatch

VMware launched a new version of the Boxer iOS app earlier this month and its pretty awesome. The app is for companies using VMware to manage their employee’s mobile devices VMware Boxer is available for both AirWatch and Workspace One customers. The app includes some attractive features, not surprising as Boxer is intended to replace the preloaded Mail feature on the Apple iPhone and iPad.

screen-shot-2015-10-15-at-9-03-16-amThe new app allows for preference customization such as change of sound when new emails arrives. You can also take different actions by swiping email messages, and easily bulk edit messages. The app combines email and calendar taking away the need to navigate away from Boxer in order to see your calendar events. Similar to other applications put forth by Microsoft and Google in terms of functionality.

Boxer VMware will be made free for AirWatch users on the orange, blue and yellow plans. For those who have already committed their email needs to VMware, no need to worry. If you are one of the many that still want VMware purely for email management, VMware will release a special build on the app that will let consumers more more slowly and provide more time between updates. Most consumer and commercial users will be presented with rapid release updates as they are made available, but the extra feature for businesses that wish to update at a slower pace is an attractive option.


 

If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit: VMware goes after Outlook with Boxer email app for Airwatch

 

Ransomware Attacked My Mom’s Computer

04CYBERWALL-facebookJumbo
How My Mom Got Hacked, a real life story about Brooklyn artist who receives a panicked phone call from her mom one day complaining her personal computer has been taken over by some sort of strange encryption. The story unravels the journey Alina Simone and her mom Inna endure in order to restore the files back from the hackers. After the initial shock of the situation sets in the two research their options and realize, as many do, that there is little to no answer as to how to get the files back without paying the hefty $500 ransom fee.

“I thought it was a typical mom rant about hr hardware crashing and having to pay the repair people $500 because her computer crashed.” Like many of us do when our parents call us after a long days work, Alina didnt take her mom seriously. Seeing as it was Thanksgiving weekend, a major snowstorm had just hit, and the ransom deadline was already decreasing to less than a 24 hour bracket, Alina and her mother were frantic. Her mother didn’t make the deadline, and according the the hackers the ransom would double due to this. Inna pleaded with the hackers and they let her off with $500 ransom and all her files. Luckily.

Others, such as the case of the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center that was hacked in early February and had to pay a whooping 40 bitcoin, $17,000 ransom, in order to get their system back on track.

“The value of my personal files and pictures caps off somewhere. But [if] I encrypt the back-end of your corporate system and prevent you from processing payments, that has a tremendous value. And if the hacker can recognize the value of what he has, the ransom can be more dynamically set based on the content of the data.”explains Grayson Milbourne, Security Intelligence Director for Internet security firm Webroot.

From personal to corporate, ransomware is most certainly an eye opening experience to security vulnerabilities.

 


 

If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit: The Growing Threat of Ransomware

VPN, you need one

tunnelA Virtual Private Network, or VPN, is used to connect a private network, such as a company’s internal network, using public wires. In other words you can use an other IP other than your own to appear you are something other than where you actually are. Pretty nifty.

The use of VPNs started as a way for work at home users to access their workplace network just like if they were working in the office. Benefits reach farther now than just work from home capabilities. It is difficult for advanced malware to self install through open ports because the computer will always appear to be another system someplace else. This other machine is often a server that is more heavily protected and harder to attack. Not a sure fire way to avoid attack, but most certainly a viable preventative option.

This presents an extra method of protection, basically playing a little hid and go seek with potential malware. Increased mobile internet usage will eventual open a new vulnerability for hackers to infiltrate, and VPNs could be the eventual answer to avoiding attacks on mobile devices as well. Need for mobile phone VPNs could be the next big thing for data protection.

 


 

If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit: You Need a VPN, or You’re Screwed