4 Quick Cyber Security Tips

4 Quick Cyber Security Tips

By | Jun 20, 2017

No matter your business, digitizing your operation is essential for increased workplace communication, productivity, and success. However, with this new digital frontier comes new problems, and even the most internet savvy individual may fall prey to some common issues of cyber security.

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5 Common Cyber Security Myths

5 Common Cyber Security Myths

By | Jun 13, 2017

Navigating cyberspace is such a part our daily lives that we rarely consider the potential consequences of utilizing online conveniences. However, even the most experienced and well intentioned user may find themselves making detrimental cyber security mistakes every day. The key to avoiding mistakes is reassessing the most common cyber security myths and find how to truly protect ourselves and our businesses. Here are the 5 most common cyber security myths:

  1. It just won’t/can’t happen to me.

    Everyone has told themselves this message at some point in time. While ignorance may be bliss, it has proven to be an incredibly unsafe thought that any individual or company is not a potential target of hacking and cyber security risks. In 2015 alone, the Identity Theft Resource Center found that 312 breaches of cyber security occurred targeting businesses, and this shocking number of attacks only makes up 40% of the breaches within the year. Before you change your passwords, the first thing you must do is change your mindset. A breach can happen to anyone, reduce your chances of an attack by arming yourself with the right safety tools and tips. For example, backing up your computer is one of the most important tips you will hear from any IT company.

  2. I have a strong password and therefore I am protected.

    This myth can be busted on two fronts. First you have to ask yourself, “How strong is my password really?” In 2016, Keeper Security found that one of the most popular passwords was “123456789,” second only to “123456.” The takeaway here: don’t be predictable. An easy step you can take to safeguard your information will always include creating a difficult password that uses a variety of letters, numbers, and symbols, such as “3b5A!A765d!”

  3. I can safely browse on any network.

    Assuming your password is all the protection you need leads is another common mistake. Network Security is a major issue when it comes to protecting your data. While taking time out of the office to work at a nearby café may sound relaxing, it can have disastrous results if you connect to a public network. To avoid the devastating consequences of having your data copied and stolen, it is best advised to use your own device on a network you know is secure and trustworthy. If you are traveling and must access a public network, make sure you have backed up your important information. Thankfully, there are 5 Cloud Storage Services that can help.

  4. “Leaving my computer unlocked while I do ____ will be fine.”

    The hard truth of the matter is that having your data copied or your device infected can happen in seconds. Even if you know you’ll be back to your desktop in less than a minute, it is always best practice to lock your device while you’re away. This is incredibly important if you are using a public computer. Always log out of your email, social media, and personal accounts. Classic wisdom will always lend itself to the philosophy of “better safe than sorry.”

  5. “I can minimize cyber risk if I unplug and switch to paper.”

    While this may be true to a certain extent, switching to paper comes with its own set of risks. One of the biggest issues with paper is that it can be easily copied with little to no evidence of theft. Another undeniable downfall is that not utilizing digital methods of productivity can greatly dent workplace efficiency. At the end of the day, using your computer can be as safe, if not safer, than using paper for your private information. The best way to protect yourself is to ultimately stay up to date with appropriate safety measures and apply them within your own home and workspace.

The fact of the matter is Cyber Security is constantly evolving and will continue to do so. If you are concerned for the safety of your computer and private information, Intellithought can help.

WannaCrypt make you WannaCry? An overview of the ransomware attack

WannaCrypt make you WannaCry? An overview of the ransomware attack

By | May 17, 2017

As you may be aware, a serious and vicious piece of malware made its rounds over this past weekend. It goes by many names, WannaCrypt, WannaCry, or Wncry, but the fact of the matter is it has already infected over 200,000 computers across more than 100 countries.  Any un-patched computer may still be vulnerable to WannaCrypt and any of its variants.  Researchers have announced that WannaCrypt 2.0 is beginning to spread along with other variants.

These all fall into the category of malware known as ransomware. 

malwareThe malware will encrypt files on the computer and then display a message demanding a ransom be paid before restoring access to these files. WannaCrypt, in particular, has demanded users shell out $300 to $1,000 in Bitcoins to regain access to their systems. This will effectively render the computer useless until the ransomware is removed and the files restored from backup.

As everyone may not have complete or any backups, this type of malware can be devastating to a business as the files may not be recoverable, potentially losing days, weeks, months, or even years of work.

How does this happen?

Ransomware has been around for years. This began in 1989 but, throughout the years, has developed into complex malware. However, WannaCrypt is particularly difficult because the attackers gained their resources from a NSA leak. WannaCrypt took advantage of a hole in Windows Server Message Block connections, which are used to transfer files and data between authenticated computers.

The primary delivery method of WannaCrypt ransomware is through email.  Be extremely cautious of any email you receive with an attachment even if the sender is known to you. If there is an attachment, especially a .zip file, delete the whole email and never open the attached file. Remember: “When in doubt, throw it out!”

Wannacrypt does not discriminate. Businesses like FedEx and Renault, various universities worldwide, hospitals across Europe, and even Russia’s Interior Ministry and telecommunications company, Megafon, were all hit by WannaCrypt. Patches have been made by Windows but it is extremely likely that similar ransomware will strike again.

How to prevent a ransomware attack.

WannaCrypt ransomwareIntellithought can assist with making certain the machines on your network have the appropriate Microsoft patches that close the security hole currently being exploited by WannaCry and its variants. Services range from a Basic security package for personal users, to Real-Time Monitoring for bigger companies and businesses.

We also provide Intellithought Phoenix which can provide effective patch management and anti-virus/anti-malware to protect against malware such as WannaCry.  Phoenix will allow Intellithought to make certain that the computers on your network have the most up to date security patches and are running up to date anti-virus/anti-malware software.  Contact Us to receive more information on Phoenix.

What is Phishing?

What is Phishing?

By | Jan 31, 2017

Phishing (a play on the word fishing and pronounced the same) is a method used by cybercriminals to dupe you into disclosing personal information such as username/password, credit card, and banking information.  The goal for the cybercriminal is to steal your identity and/or your money.  The information gathered can be used to open fraudulent accounts in your name or make purchases using your financial information.  Phishing attacks commonly use email, phone calls, or social media to trick you into giving out your personal information.

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What Your Web Design Should Look Like in 2018

What Your Web Design Should Look Like in 2018

By | Aug 30, 2016

The Future of Web Design

“If you think math is hard try web design.”
― Trish Parr

Think of how you use a paper map compared to how you use Google maps. Or look at a printed resume versus a LinkedIn profile. How is a file cabinet in comparison to DropBox? Each of these situations show the central benefit of a website.

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Cloud Storage vs. Dedicated Servers, Pros & Cons  – Part 2

Cloud Storage vs. Dedicated Servers, Pros & Cons – Part 2

By | Feb 25, 2016

In part 1 we took an in-depth look at dedicated servers, the solution where a company’s data is stored on physical hardware locally (in the building) using custom software. We found this solution to be costly but secure and flexible. In this post we are going to be looking at a new spin on flexibility called cloud computing, an emerging off-site IT solution for all types and sizes of companies. Furthermore, we intend to answer the question: I know cloud computing will work for advanced organizations in larger metros, but is it viable for a company located in Johnson City, Kingsport, or Bristol?

Let’s jump in.

Cloud Storage, Pros & Cons:

Definition: Cloud Storage means that a company’s data from all its users is hosted (stored) on a “virtual” server supplied by a third-party cloud provider off-site and accessed through the web.

Pros

Accessibility

A huge benefit of cloud storage is the ability to access data from any device anywhere there is Internet connectivity. For example, a realtor who relies on a local dedicated server for her data leaves her office to meet with a client. At the meeting, the client asks to see the financial plan for the project. The realtor reaches into her briefcase only to discover she has forgotten the folder in her file cabinet back at her office. The meeting ends.

Another realtor who relies on cloud storage to store her data, leaves her office carrying nothing but her iPad to meet with her client. At the meeting, the client asks to see the financial plan for the project. The realtor says, “Sure,” and opens an app on her iPad, instantly connecting to her cloud storage and displaying the report, as well as other information that client spontaneously asks for. The meeting continues.

The point: a cloud computing solution allows users to access any data through any web-enabled device in any location, removing the limitation of workstation dependency. Businesses that rely on mobility, agility, and real-time data-sharing will find huge benefits in cloud storage.

Scalability

CloudTweaks, a leader in cloud research, writes:

One of the key benefits of using cloud storage is its scalability. Cloud storage allows your business to easily upscale or downscale your IT requirements as and when required. For example, most cloud service providers will allow you to increase your existing resources to accommodate increased business needs or changes. This will allow you to support your business growth without expensive changes to your existing IT systems.

In the past, when web-based companies jumped from a couple thousand users to millions of users, a company would have to scramble for physical servers. The cloud lets this rapid scalability happen by automatically unlocking more server space in the – essentially –  infinite reservoir of storage.

cloud storage data center

Cost

The ability to increase or downsize as needed in a matter of clicks is a huge money-saver, especially for small businesses. With a physical, in-house server system, an increase in IT requirements would mean sinking the cash into new hardware and software. Then, the new hardware and software may be underutilized or even unneeded in a matter of months. Cloud storage makes it easy to scale up or down in server space with greater efficiency and at a fraction of the price.

We compared the pricing of five of the most popular consumer cloud providers.

For a dedicated server system, a company can expect to pay $15,000 – $100,000 depending on size and capability, with ongoing support costs.

For a cloud computing system, can expect to pay $750 – $3,000 per month.

Support

Cloud storage providers have thousands of customers, it can be difficult to get a quick response from them. In this scenario, we recommend working with a local cloud computing company to serve as a liaison to solve technical problems. The benefit here is since the hardware is not on site, IT support will not need to come to your facility to manage the equipment.

Cons

Macro Risk

Cloud computing subjects users to two risks: large-scale data breaches and Internet volatility. Large-scale data breaches are attacks by malicious hackers gaining access to the entirety of a cloud’s data. The Cloud Security Alliance ranked data breaches as the number one top nine threats to cloud computing security. If the architecture of the database is not designed perfectly, a single flaw could expose the data of every tenant.

When searching for a secure cloud service provider, make sure they employ data encryption. Encryption provides an extra level of safety where each file is individually encoded requiring a decryption tool to access.

Connectivity

Lastly, cloud storage data is only accessible through an Internet connection. If the Internet slows down or goes out, your ability to work drags or even desists.

Cloud Storage vs. Dedicated Servers

We’ve looked at the pros and cons of cloud storage and dedicated servers and this is what we’ve found:

  • Dedicated servers pros: security, control, and reliability.
  • Dedicated servers cons: cost and local risk.
  • Cloud storage pros: accessibility, scalability, and cost.
  • Cloud storage cons: macro risk and support.

Is there a universal right choice? No. Is their a right choice for your business in Johnson City, Kingsport, or Bristol? Yes. Location does not matter as much (or at all) to do cloud storage as long as there is reliable Internet connectivity.

Talk to us and we’ll walk you through your specific IT requirements and best-fit solutions at no charge.

Learn More About Cloud Services Contact Us to Get Started

Comparing 5 of the Best Cloud Storage Services Available

Comparing 5 of the Best Cloud Storage Services Available

By | Feb 16, 2016

Updated for 2016, the cloud storage battle continues to rage as service providers continue to slash prices and add new features to their services. These cloud storage services allow you to store your files, photos, videos, etc. on servers in large data centers, “the cloud.”

Cloud storage is a model of data storage where the digital data is stored in logical pools, the physical storage spans multiple servers (and often locations), and the physical environment is typically owned and managed by a hosting company.

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8 Surprises About the Apple Watch

8 Surprises About the Apple Watch

By | Jun 5, 2015

“We’ve never sold anything as a company that people could try on before.”

– Tim Cook, to sales staff at a London Apple Store, reported by The Telegraph.

The Apple Watch was one of the century’s most anticipated technology products. When the company that could form its own country and compete with other mid-sized (actual) countries, decided to design and produce a wearable, the world watched (pun intended, please laugh).

But did the Apple Watch live up to the hype?

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6 Effective Ways to Use the Periscope App

6 Effective Ways to Use the Periscope App

By | Apr 21, 2015

Last month, Twitter announced its $100 million acquisition of Periscope. Twitter CEO, Dick Costolo said that video is only going to become more of a focus for the micro-blogging social network.

Periscope is the, if you will, lead surfer on the new wave of content marketing and social media. It (and its twin brother, Meerkat) are the first pioneers to introduce live-streaming video sharing to the masses. I hopped on the app to try it out and this is what I discovered.

But first —

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Pros & Cons List: Cloud Computing vs. Dedicated Servers – Part 1

Pros & Cons List: Cloud Computing vs. Dedicated Servers – Part 1

By | Apr 14, 2015

“I don’t need a hard disk in my computer if I can get to the server faster… carrying around these non-connected computers is byzantine by comparison.”
Steve Jobs, late chairman of Apple (1997)

Steve Jobs imagined cloud computing fourteen years before it became a reality. In his mind, optimal efficiency and effectiveness were the result of as little hardware as possible. As we can see from the iPhone, iPad, and soon the Apple Watch, Jobs employed minimalism to achieve the sleekest, simplest design for his products.

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