"If it ain't broke, don't fix it" is a common and useful rule for many business owners. It serves to protect your business against unnecessary costs and unneeded downtime. While protecting your business against many types of danger, it poses an outright threat when it comes to IT security.
Security threats to your business move so fast that your IT should be working twice as hard as your company just to keep up. Every day, hundreds of thousands of new malware threats are released. Falling even hours behind means any one of these attacks can threaten your business.
The single most dangerous thing IT security can do is stand still. Keeping up with the latest advice, technology, and updates the security industry offers is vital to keep your business safe. This makes up much of the unseen job of IT professionals. Hackers never stop looking for new ways to enter your system, which means your security can't stop looking for ways to keep them out.
Modern Systems for Modern Business
One of the most common security threats to a business is using an outdated operating system or software package. Many businesses are scared to upgrade, update, or renew their IT over fears of breaking legacy systems. Many rely heavily on old software and are afraid to make a change. Some businesses today still run machines on Windows XP, an operating system first released back in 2001.
Old operating systems stop receiving security updates and patches that protect against newly released attacks. These systems become very vulnerable, allowing a large target for knowledgeable hackers. Hackers are always on the lookout for businesses that run IT equipment outside of its suggested service life.
Hackers purchase their attacks on the dark web, safe in the knowledge that old systems won't be patched. These attacks can then be used to attack unprotected businesses to steal or compromise vital company data. An unpatched old machine is like a valuable security door left propped open overnight, a golden opportunity for thieves.
Budgeting for business is a difficult task. We aim to make the most of everything we spend and reduce spending as much as we can. IT security can easily fall very far down the list of priorities.
IT can seem like an easy way to cut costs. It's a department that the customer doesn't always benefit from directly, and when it's working well, it might not be on the radar at all. Despite working largely behind the scenes, successful IT is one of the critical components of every highly successful business. Good IT can be the binding glue that holds the company together.
Even businesses far removed from the IT world typically use payment machines, ordering systems, and inventory programs. Even restaurants and retail stores rely on computers to operate. Downtime for any critical system can be a complete disaster. A business can be unable to run and costs can mount up fast. When vital IT components are used by the customer, a sales website, or an automated booking system, the problem can multiply tenfold.
Keep On Top Of The Essentials
The kind of IT that makes your business and helps it to grow is built by smart financing and careful planning. Great technicians are what makes excellent IT. Maintaining steady updates, keeping pace with the latest security, and building your IT as you build your business keeps you in the driving seat when it matters most. When IT is planned and issues are solved before they appear, security becomes cheaper, easier, and many times more effective. System upgrades can be planned out months, if not years in advance so you are never caught unaware.
Don't let your IT be broken before you take steps to fix it. Move ahead of the curve and give us a call at 937-680-4489 so you don't have to find out what your business looks like without IT.
The VCR Is Officially Dead, But We'll Never Forget It. The VCR is one of the few technologies that passed the highest bar we can possibly set: It made the previously impossible commonplace.
In 1997, DVD's showed up. VHS was never bad. It just wasn’t as good as what came next.
Happy VCR Day!
Children today have grown up with technology their entire lives. Since before they are old enough to read they can pick up a tablet or smartphone and swipe at apps and play games. Modern kids have a natural understanding and ability with technology that older generations can barely imagine. The abundance of technology, however, comes with a price. Easy access to any marketplace can be a double-edged sword. The convenience and ease of use is great for those of us needing a quick app, but accidental purchases can bring big problems. One-click online shopping was once one of the biggest dangers our bank account faced. Now, many of us carry multiple devices, each with their own marketplace and app stores.
With modern technology, mobile applications, whether on iOS or Android devices, are easier than ever to buy and download. So simple in fact, that a child can do it.
Designed to Appeal - Children love to download mobile applications that feature their favorite characters, cartoons and TV shows. Advertisements are aimed specifically for children in ways that will invite them to click a link and instantly download a game. These games are typically free, meaning they don't require authentication before downloading. A new game can be downloaded, installed, and ready to run seconds. Developers commonly use what is known in the business as a 'freemium' model. This means that the game is free to download and start, but inserts paid 'upgrades' designed to make the player part with cash.
Freemium Games - Upgrades to games may unlock more levels, purchase in-game currency, or outfit a character with special qualities. Competitive online games commonly have a strategy that gives paying players an unfair advantage over ones who don't pay. This is often referred to as 'pay-to-win' and entices players to spend more to get on the same level. Many mobile-based games are designed purely to encourage in-app purchasing. Some deliberately design a deceptive or tricky user-interface that makes it easy to miss-click or make purchases by accident. There are regular stories in the news featuring kids spending thousands on in-app purchases for virtual characters. In some cases, children can use real-world money to buy items thinking they are spending in-game currency.
Apps to Help - Of course, it's unfair to give all applications a bad name. Many deserve it, but not all apps are guilty of behaving poorly. There are fitness apps, productivity apps, and educational apps that can act as useful tools to help enhance your day. Children can get a lot from high-quality applications in the same way educational software for the computer can be a huge classroom boost. Getting the most out of your phone or tablet is about keeping your device safe against applications designed merely to take your money.
Secure Your Device - The best step you can take to prevent running up enormous app bills is to disable in-app purchases on your devices. This prevents apps from being able to take funds for digital items. The process to do this is simple, takes less than 2 minutes, and can save you huge amounts.
Safe Apps - With these options enabled, whether using an iOS or Android device, your phone or tablet is safe from app purchases in any hands.
Need help with settings or most anything else to do with IT? Call 937-660-4899 to set up an appointment. Feel free to leave us a message and we will return your call the same day or the following morning.
We are sad to say that today is Nic's last day with Layer 2 Computers.
Nic has been an integral part of our team and we will miss him and his work.
Nic and his family are moving out of our area.
We wish him the best!
We often tend to be creatures of habit, particularly when it comes to technology. Passwords are a prime example. Many of us use the same logins for multiple websites and applications because we don't have a photographic memory. A large percentage of users aren’t aware that this is one of the most significant security dangers they can face online. It has a simple fix too. Regularly, in the news today, there are stories about major companies being hacked, their customer data stolen, and their customers left stranded. Hackers commonly use data stolen from one site to access others where login credentials have been reused between accounts. In some cases, access to bank accounts has been gained simply by using a compromised email account. Businesses and individuals can face significant losses simply because a third party outside their control has been hacked or compromised.
The Danger Of Old Passwords
MySpace is a key example of why old and possibly forgotten services pose a security danger when passwords haven't been regularly changed. Once a thriving popular network, the use of MySpace services declined drastically from 2007 onward. While many people moved to new social networks, old accounts typically remained abandoned on their servers. Hundreds of millions of accounts remained on MySpace servers many years past the firm's peak. In 2016, MySpace suffered a data leak which exposed usernames, emails, and passwords of 360 million user accounts. Shortly after the hack, these details were published online for anyone to see. Many were used to access email accounts, servers, and accounts that shared the same details.
Even if you have never had a MySpace or social media account personally, how many of your employees or coworkers have one or more? Many have had more social media, forum, or game accounts than they care to remember. Have their passwords been updated since 2016? Your business network protects your systems, work, and intellectual property. For many firms it's the single most critical component, the backbone to business operations. Keeping it secure regardless of the number of people, staff or clients using it is a crucial task. Consider how many people currently have access and how many of those may reuse their password on another website or service. Just reusing your password once can expose you to the hacking of a third party entirely out of your control.
Good security practice is to use a unique and strong password for every login you use. A strong password should include, where possible, capital letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and character symbols. Many consider this impractical or even impossible, but it is entirely achievable for every business. It is clearly impossible to manually remember a strong password for each one of the dozens of logins needed today. Few would even attempt to. A password manager makes storing, retrieving, and using unique passwords easy. When using a password manager, an individual is required to remember only one single strong password to access a database which contains a different login password for each service. This database can be synced between multiple devices, saved and backed up to the cloud, and even used to create strong passwords for you.
Password managers can be used to implement security policies that demand zero password reuse, between services or over time, and set strict limits over the duration a password can last. With the right policies in place, both your business and your employees are protected against attacks from hackers that have compromised third-party sites.
The maximum recommended lifetime of a password for any service is a single year. Make the start of the calendar year the time which you refresh your passwords and start new.
To help keep on top of your security and make sure your business is safe give us a call at 937-660-4899.
Many of us set goals, tasks, and challenges on a weekly or monthly basis. Cleaning out the spare room, shopping around for the best energy deals, or exercising more than we did last year. We set these goals to improve our lives and build on productivity, health, and organization in the future. Goals for improvement are great ideas to aspire towards; whether organizing your office, tidying your house, or taking control of your digital footprint. If you manage to achieve only one of your IT goals for this year, make it to put a good backup in place for your digital files. Storage failure, theft, accident, or natural disaster can impact at any time. Many of us put these possibilities to the back of our minds. We plan to organize our files 'eventually' and then never get around to it. It's easy to think 'it won't happen to me’ or make creating a backup something that is always to be done tomorrow.
Replacing Old Valuables
Almost anything you own can be replaced one way or another. A broken laptop, tablet, or phone can easily be replaced with another model. Even credit card or financial details, if stolen or lost, can be cancelled and replaced by the bank in under a week. Losing data, however, is far tougher to face. Without a safe backup, there's no way to recover it once it is gone. Backups provide a service which could be described as the world’s best insurance policy.
While an insurer will often give you some, even most, of the value of the previous goods lost; data backup provides you with your exact data, precisely how you left it. It does this instantly, repeatedly, and without any additional charges or excess. In some instances, it is even automatic and done behind the scenes.
Recovering Irreplaceable Data
There are almost certainly old essays, browser bookmarks, and notes that you can comfortably live without. Equally, there are likely to be photographs, videos, and important documents that you couldn't or should not part with. For many, these files can be as valuable as the memories themselves: photographs of loved ones, long ago vacations, or milestone events in life. We commonly take critical data for granted; Assuming that because we can access it today, it will still be there tomorrow. This is unfortunately not always true. These irreplaceable files are too important to keep in just a single place. Retaining only a single copy leaves your data vulnerable to luck and chance as to how long and if it survives.
Losing Data In An Instant
Data storage is liable to develop faults or failures at any time. Often a storage failure isn't made apparent until the device fails to turn on or dies suddenly. These types of hardware failure become more and more likely as devices age. Similarly, modern devices are more and more vulnerable to loss or theft as they get smaller and lighter. While criminals are not likely to be interested in your irreplaceable photographs and documents, they are vulnerable to being stolen along with the device they plan to sell. Whether lost through natural disaster such as flood or fire, misplaced by accident, or stolen by criminals; important files are truly painful to lose. If you were to lose these files in an instant today, how much would you pay to end that stress and get them back again? Setting up a good backup is only a tiny fraction of the cost without any of the pain.
Backup For You
With the right backup solution, it doesn't matter how many devices are lost or stolen. Even without a device or away from home, the data important to you can be kept safe and sound to be returned to you when you're ready again.
Regular, consistent backups can even be made for you, automatic and in the background. Documents you create, photographs and video you take can be backed up and kept safe from the second they are captured or saved.
If you have traveled too long on borrowed luck, without putting a backup in place, give us a call at 937-660-4899 to get set up with a robust and dependable backup solution for your data.
David is the managing member and main technology expert at Layer 2 Computers. Read More