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Is There A Safe Way to Use The Cloud?

Is There A Safe Way to Use The Cloud?

Cloud technology has grown to new heights in recent years. Ten years ago ‘the cloud’ was jargon almost nobody was aware of, today it is a phrase used almost daily in offices worldwide. More and more businesses today are taking advantage of the huge benefits cloud services have to offer.

The sudden and widespread adoption of this new technology has raised questions too. Some want to fully understand what the cloud is before committing their vital company data to it. Most want to find out what the cloud can do for them. Everyone wants to know, is it safe?

What Is The Cloud?

The Cloud is an abstract name for an engineering principle that allows you to store, retrieve, and work on your data without worrying about the specifics of precisely where or how it is kept. Storing your data on the cloud essentially means saving it on a server without worrying about the fine details.

Your data may be stored on a single computer, or distributed across multiple servers all around the world. Most often it’s stored across one or more data centers as close as possible to your physical location.

From the perspective of the end user, the big idea behind the cloud is that where data is stored ultimately doesn’t matter to you. Your cloud server takes care of retrieving your data as quickly and efficiently as possible.

With cloud technology, you are free to forget about the specifics and worry only about the bigger picture.

Safety In The Cloud

Many people are concerned by the idea of their confidential data being distributed worldwide. Often, people imagine small unguarded computers being responsible for vital company information. In a cloud setting, almost nothing could be further from the truth.

The reality is more like many hundreds, or thousands, of computers stacked up multiple stories in height. Data centers make storing and securing data their entire business, meaning they employ high-level cybersecurity and back it up with top of the line physical security too.

Today, digital assets are treated with security previously used only for cash, or precious metals such as silver and gold. Walled compounds, security gates, guards, and CCTV protect physical servers from unwanted access. Redundant power supplies even protect services against unplanned outages.

A modern data center is many times more secure than an office server in your own building. The difference could be compared to storing your cash in a highly secured bank vault versus a lock box on your desk.

State of the art digital security encrypts data, secures transmission, and monitors services for intrusion too.

Cloud Convenience

Storing data in the cloud means having easy access and very regular backups. Staff across the entire firm can work on documents at the same time, save files, and transfer documents without worrying about redundant copies and saving over previous versions.

The cloud acts, for your firm, as the ultimate productivity and security tool. Many firms haven’t known they needed it until they started using it.

User Security

The most significant threat to your cloud security comes from the users. Creating a weak password or reusing an old one to access your cloud services, opens up your data to easy access by hackers.

Falling for a phishing scam, or accidentally installing malicious software on your computer gives attackers the single opportunity they need to strike.

Attacking a fortified, secure data center is almost impossible. Attacking a user with common attacks and weak passwords is comparatively simple. These issues can be guarded against and prevented with staff training, awareness, and simple security tools. A simple password manager can guard against a large number of the biggest threats to your firm.

In today’s modern tech environment, the cloud is not only safe, it’s very likely the safest, most reliable, and most secure way to store your critical data.

We offer a variety of cloud services to help your business. Give us a now at call at 319-227-7000.

2019-03-01T13:25:41-05:00March 19th, 2019|Cloud Services|0 Comments

Don’t Fall Victim to Webcam Blackmail

Don’t Fall Victim to Webcam Blackmailwebcam blackmail

Don’t Fall Victim to Webcam Blackmail. Many users have reported recent scam messages from individuals claiming to have intercepted their username and password. These messages often state they have been watching your screen activity and webcam while you have been unaware.

Typically, attackers threaten to broadcast footage to your contacts, colleagues, or social media channels. Demanding payment in Bitcoin, malicious hackers blackmail their victims to keep confidential information private.

Where Have the Attacks Come From?

In many cases where hackers have claimed to have a victims’ password, this has turned out to be true.

In the last few years alone, many large websites have suffered enormous hacks which have released confidential details on many of their users. LinkedIn, Yahoo, and Myspace all suffered massive and devastating hacks. Some users of these services are still feeling the consequences today.

The details leaked from these sites, and others facing the same issues, are sold online for years after the initial breach. Hackers buy username and password combinations in the hopes of reusing them to access services, steal money, or blackmail their owners.

How to Respond

If you have been contacted by one of these hackers, it is a scary reality that they could have access to your credentials, data, and online services.

The only thing you can do in response to this type of email is to ignore it. This “we recorded you” email is a scam made much more believable because they probably do have one of your real passwords gained from a site hack.

That said, accounts that share the same password should be changed immediately. Security on additional services you use should be updated too.

Self Defense On the Web

When using online services, a unique password for every site is your number one defense. A good password manager makes this practical and straightforward too.

Using a different password for each site you use means that hackers can only gain access to one site at a time. A hack in one place should never compromise your other accounts by revealing the single password you use everywhere.

Often, people think that maintaining many passwords is hard work or even impossible to do. In truth, it’s almost always easier to keep tabs with a password manager than it is to use the system you have in place today.

A high quality and secure password manager such as LastPass, can keep track of all your logins efficiently and securely. They often offer the chance to improve your security by generating random and strong passwords that hackers will have a tougher time cracking.

Password management services offer a host of features that help you log in, remind you to refresh your security, and make your safety a number one priority. After using a manager for just a short time, you can be forgiven for wondering how you managed without it.

If you think you might have been hacked already, or want to prevent it from ever happening, give us a call to at 319-227-7000 update your security.

2019-03-01T13:15:08-05:00March 12th, 2019|Email|0 Comments

What Can An MSP Do to Kick-start Your Business

What Can An MSP Do to Kick-start Your BusinessMSP

What Can An MSP Do to Kick-start Your Business. Business today relies on technology in a way which we have never seen before. It makes up the core of almost every firm currently in existence. Today going digital impacts small companies more than large ones; it can make new opportunities possible and accelerate your path to success.

The advantages of modern technology to small business is likely to be present already within your firm, but so too are the disadvantages. Faster transactions, quicker payment, accurate inventory, and improved customer outreach serve to boost our capabilities. While complex set-up, systems management, and ever-present security threats hold us back from our full potential.

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) can eliminate the drawbacks, sharpen up your systems, and allow your business to grow to its full capacity in the modern business landscape.

What An MSP Does For You – There are a staggering number of systems a modern business is expected to keep tabs on today. Accounting, inventory, and timekeeping; on top of customer-facing services such as maintaining a website, managing social media, and processing online orders. It’s simply impossible for every small business to keep up.

An MSP is an expert in the field, managing your IT services to give you the confidence your business is on the right track. If the core of your business relied on maintaining a fleet of vehicles, you would hire a mechanic to keep each one in top condition. Building your firm on modern technology should employ a similar strategy.

For your company, an MSP exists to keep your systems in their best shape to generate maximum mileage for your business.

Tailored to Exactly What You Need – The key to unlocking near unlimited growth in your own company is to find out precisely what you need to operate to capacity. An MSP can provide consulting services to your firm to find out how your business can improve. Simple tweaks and minor changes are often all it takes to create a more streamlined, more productive, working environment.

Almost always, the smallest changes in the right places make the most significant differences. Working with technology, rather than fighting against it, provides your firm with the competitive edge to put you in control.

Technology That Helps Without Getting in The Way – An MSP can both enhance and protect your business by providing backup and recovery services that will safeguard your data and services against any disaster.

The nature of IT failures means they can appear to happen at any time. Whether hit by a natural disaster, criminal break-in, or IT outage; a severe failure at the wrong time can cost customers, money, and reputation. A high quality, effective MSP works in the background to guarantee up-time, recover from adverse events, and increase security against threats.

Technology That Keeps You in Business – A huge number of businesses, both high-profile and small owner-operated firms, have suffered massive client losses as a result of missing deadlines, losing data, or exposing their customers to unnecessary threats. Clients are often left with little choice but to choose a firm that takes their data and privacy seriously.

One of the most significant benefits to managed services is regular, predictable support costs. Making regular and fixed payments to keep your IT in good shape protects against major and unexpected blow-outs in the monthly budget.

By monitoring systems, diagnosing issues, and maintaining technology, many of the problems that cause unexpected downtime and data loss can be avoided altogether. Preventing problems before they happen saves you money, but more importantly maintains your business reputation too.

An MSP Working For You – Increasing your potential, reducing your costs, and protecting your reputation are all great reasons to incorporate a managed service provider into your business. You can effectively add a whole new department to your business without adding unnecessary management overhead.

By eliminating IT distractions that take you away from your core business, you are free to pursue activities that make your company great. Take up an MSP and return to doing what you enjoy most, the part of the firm you are great at, the reason you got into your business in the first place.

Let us do the IT we are great at, so you can build and run the business you have always wanted. Give us a call at 319-227-7000 to manage your IT services for you.

2019-03-01T15:32:08-05:00March 7th, 2019|Managed Services|0 Comments

Has Your Email Been Hijacked?

Has Your Email Been Hijacked?email been hijacked

A common complaint by many users in recent months has been spam emails appearing to come from their own accounts. Despite not knowing why, reports of friends, family, and contacts receiving spam email that appears to come from them has worried many people.

Some have had their accounts suspended or shut down by their service providers as a result. For many, this experience can be highly disruptive. It’s a problem that can cause many issues in both your professional and personal life.

The key to defense is learning how these attacks happen, and figuring out what you can do to protect yourself and your contacts against them.

Hackers Using Your Email Against You

Scammers that send out spam messages are continually looking for ways to make the process faster, cheaper, and more efficient. It’s the best way in which they can make more money every day by scamming unsuspecting victims for even more cash.

One of the most efficient ways they do this is by hijacking ready-made, trusted email accounts like your own. Hackers have several tools at their disposal to attempt to hijack your accounts.

Some of the principles which make email fast and easy to use means that details, such as those in the ‘from’ field, are easy to fake. A hacker might change the information supplied to make it appear as if the email comes from anyone.

There’s not much you can do to defend your email against such an attack. However, you can work to verify that an email, even one you expect to receive, does come from the person you believe it to. If your email provider flags up an incoming email as ‘suspicious’, or ‘untrustworthy’, it may well be.

Stolen Credentials

Hackers often buy large bundles of email addresses and passwords from the dark web. Leaked emails are often put up for sale following hacks of major companies and service providers.

The value of these details comes from passwords being unlikely to have been changed, the details attached to them are trusted, and often get hackers access to additional services too.

How To Detect an Email Intrusion

It can take a long time before you’re aware that malicious hackers are using your details. You might even be the last person in your contacts to know.

The first sign to look out for is a large number of unexpected emails in your inbox. These are likely to be replies to emails you never sent in the first place. Out of office, automatic responses, people complaining about spam, and people responding to the email as if it were genuine may all come to you first.

Keep a close eye on unexpected emails appearing suddenly in either your inbox or outbox. A hacker may be spear-phishing someone that you do business with or trust. By acting as you, using your address and details, they may be able to divert payments or confidential information to their accounts instead.

Protecting Yourself Against Hackers, Attackers, And Hijackers

Sometimes your computer might have been compromised to give hackers access to your services. Malicious software may have infected your machine to steal data and infect your contacts.

Take extra care to change your passwords if you believe your email has been accessed by a hacker. Use a different, more secure password for your email. Your email account is often the key to accessing many of the services you use most.

Run a virus scan and maintain security updates if you think your computer could have been infected. Have your machine and services looked at by a professional if you believe there is a risk your data is being used.

If you think your email could have been hijacked, or your details used elsewhere, give us a call at 319-227-7000 to clean up today.

2019-03-01T13:01:57-05:00March 5th, 2019|Email|0 Comments

Remote Support Will Create Tech That Works for You

Remote Support Will Create Tech That Works for YouRemote Support

Remote Support Will Create Tech That Works for You. There are few things as frustrating as IT issues getting in the way of your work. Even the simplest of problems can break your flow, ruin your productivity, and waste your time. IT should be working to boost your day instead of slowing you down.

Tripping up on a computer glitch can happen at any moment. Working to fix one can take hours. You might try a few steps that have worked before, ask a colleague for help, or try a web search to see what turns up. All of these take time from you or your colleagues, and often make the original problem worse.

When you outsource your help desk, your IT problems become our IT problems. We take charge of righting the ship to keep your tech on the right track.

Setting Up Your Business for Success

Many businesses try a break/fix model to deal with IT issues. This means waiting for problems to happen before contacting IT to resolve them. Break/fix adds costs and downtime to every IT issue as they happen. To us, this makes it an unacceptable long-term solution for business.

The process of scheduling a mutually suitable time to visit, diagnosing the issue, and resolving every issue on a case-by-case basis is massively time-consuming. Both IT technicians and in-house staff waste productive hours dealing with, often trivial, problems.

We think that time could be better spent building your business instead.

Your Personal Help Desk

When you outsource your IT help desk, you get a custom service dedicated to resolving your issues fast. Technicians with the knowledge and experience of years in IT can work without creating new problems or making the original issue worse. In modern IT, knowledge and experience is the key to successful solutions.

Many of the issues we resolve on a day-to-day basis are problems we have seen many times before on many different systems. IT is our business, and we know it very well.

How Outsourced IT Works For You

Outsourcing your IT means simply submitting a ticket to have issues taken care of. Having your own help desk to rely on means having help available exactly when you need it. Waiting on a local firm, or nearby technician to become available should be a thing of the past.

Queuing for an ‘adviser’, waiting on hold, and spelling out your problem over and over again is no fun for anyone. There should be better ways your time can be spent. There are certainly many ways firms can benefit more from ours.

Submitting an electronic ticket to resolve your issue is an easy, one step, process. Detail the problem once, email the ticket, and you can return to your work. We’ll call you back to work on a solution when the timing best works for you.

Managing Problems Remotely

To resolve system issues, diagnose, update, or maintain systems, we often log in remotely and take ownership of the problem personally. We’ve found there is little advantage to wasting time asking staff to find menus, click on links, and tell us what they see. We get straight to the heart of the problem and fix it there and then.

Problems that tie up one or more machines for a long time can be scheduled for out-of-hours, holiday, or weekend fixes. Large, system-wide updates or upgrades can be done remotely when they won’t get in the way.

For staff, updates appear to happen without anyone around to see them. You would be forgiven for thinking the IT is fixing itself.

Our golden rule is to make sure IT works for you, not the other way round. If you are wasting staff hours on hold, arranging meetings just for your tech, or structuring your day around simple problem solving, your firm could be upgraded in a flash.

Call us at 319-227-7000 or just submit a ticket and we’ll sort out the rest.

2019-03-01T16:16:09-05:00March 1st, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Repairing Your Computer Quicker for Less

Repairing Your Computer Quicker for LessRepairing Your Computer

Repairing Your Computer Quicker for Less. Have you started to notice your computer’s flaws, and problems growing more severe and more frequent over recent months? These issues can irritate you daily, stop you from doing critical tasks, and even put your data in danger. It may be time to book in your computer for a brief service check or repair to get back on track.

When booking your PC in for a service, you can help your technician get straight to the root of the problem. A few simple notes is all it takes. Many people drop off their computers with, at best, a brief and vague description of the problem they experience.

Technicians have a wide range of tools and years of experience to bring an ageing machine back to health. Even with tools and help, without a clear description of the problem, troubleshooting is far more time consuming and expensive. The best doctors in the world couldn’t diagnose a medical condition without a clear explanation of the symptoms.

With just a few simple steps, you can save time and money while ensuring you get your computer back with every problem fixed.

Take Note of the Problem Every Time It Happens

Some computer problems only crop up every now and again. A machine might freeze suddenly, or shut down unexpectedly. Intermittent issues can be frustrating and seemingly impossible to solve, but these occurrences may not be entirely random.

When these events happen, you can help to resolve your issues by jotting down what you were doing and the programs running at the time they happen. Information about what you clicked on last, or settings you recently changed can reveal unexpected links to the computer’s behavior.

Detailed notes help technicians to reproduce the problem and see the crash or error for themselves. This can lead to faster fixes, more lasting solutions, and less time spent diagnosing problems in the dark. Simple notes scribbled down on a piece of paper or smartphone app can save you a surprising amount of money.

Keep an Eye on the Environment as Well as the Computer

It’s not just things within the computer we need to note down. External factors can play a significant role in how machines operate. Hot and humid days have been known to limit cooling on devices already suffering from heat issues.

Even changing the time of day can raise different computer related issues. There have been occasions where users have reported problems connecting to the internet around lunchtime every day. A seemingly strange coincidence with no apparent cause, until technicians dig a little deeper.

Wi-Fi, which relies on radio waves to send and receive data, uses a frequency of 2.4ghz to communicate with devices. By coincidence, the same frequency is used in concentrated form inside of a microwave to heat food and beverages.

Microwaves, particularly when poorly positioned, or faulty, can cause Wi-Fi issues that disrupt communications every time they are used. Problems that come and go, seemingly randomly, have such a strange link to the computer’s environment that they can be very difficult to diagnose.

Take the Right Hardware at the Right Time

Bringing your computer in for repair, whatever the issue, is as simple as picking up the box itself. We don’t need the peripherals such as the mouse, screen, or keyboard unless those are the things causing the issue. Bringing in a laptop is as simple as carrying it to us, along with the charger.

When deciding when to come in, sooner is always better than later. Computer issues often get worse over time. Vents gather more and more dust, fans run slower and slower. Heat issues in particular drastically lower the lifespan of a machine as time goes on. Hard drive issues could cause data loss if not handled immediately.

A machine that gets less and less stable over time puts your programs and your critical data at risk. Updates applied over a shaky foundation can cause any number of software issues. With data, there’s often zero warning before it’s gone.

Can you afford to delay?

Give is a call at 319-227-7000 to book an appointment and give your computer a clean bill of health.

2019-03-01T13:44:50-05:00March 1st, 2019|Computer Repair|0 Comments

Is Your Physical Security as Good As Your Cyber Security?

Is Your Physical Security as Good As Your Cyber Security?Physical Security

Headlines are often made by firms that have been hacked by “elite” cyber-criminals. These events sound high tech, sophisticated, and interesting. The truth is almost always an amateur attacker chancing their luck with an unpatched security hole or bad password. Physical break-ins affect businesses far more commonly and cause much more damage, but get talked about far less.

Similar to technology hacks, most physical security threats come from criminals that chance their luck on businesses that look poorly secured. On a rare occasion, they may strike a business owner that has forgot to lock up or failed to set the security alarm.

By breaking in, these criminals exploit poor physical security to cause damage and steal valuables. Typically, by destroying or taking critical assets, a criminal may make a few hundred in profit while the total damage done to the business is counted in the tens of thousands.

While most IT security packages act automatically and always remain on, physical security needs to be made a daily habit and require periodic updates.

Threats Starting from Within

Every business should have secure locks protecting their doors. Many use an alarm system to add protection to valuable assets. However, there are common threats that neither of these can protect you from. How would your business be protected if the attack came from within your firm?

A disgruntled employee, or even a former employee, can do an enormous amount of damage to a business. Attacking their own business, an employee can likely do more damage during the day than a criminal could breaking-in overnight. Misplaced trust in the wrong individual can result in devastating consequences.

Employees typically have access to one of your business’s most valuable assets: data. A criminal may steal computer hardware to sell for quick cash because most don’t fully understand the value of the data stored on it.

The value of the data in a business machine can easily exceed the cost of the hardware one hundred times over.

Physical Security Heists

For criminals who do understand the value of data; physical security can be the weakest spot in a business’s armor. In 2013, media streaming service Vudu suffered a break in where criminals stole server hardware to obtain credit card information stored within.

A technology savvy streaming firm is highly likely to have up-to-date IT with excellent security measures. Thieves looking for easy cash recognized that the best way to get to the data was through their comparatively weak physical security.

The best security packages in the world are completely ineffective if the keys are left in the door and physical hardware is easy to remove. This challenge of securing your data can be made even more difficult when using a location that must remain open to the public.

Securing Your Data with Good Security Practices

Keeping your customer data safe is one of the most significant responsibilities small business owners take on. It requires a duty to employ the best possible security practices to keep your customers safe. For a customer to have the trust to use your business over the competition, they have to see their concerns put to rest.

Locking down data access for employees so they can only view and edit what is strictly needed, protects both customers and the business against many kinds of damage; both accidental and malicious. Limiting device access, such as disabling USB ports to thumb drives or storage devices, helps to prevent data being copied and carried offsite.

Physically locking down a server in the location it sits is one of the best deterrents available to prevent against theft. Locked server racks are an excellent piece of physical security that works on top of the building security already in place.

Make sure your business is up to the task of securing its data. Give us a call at 319-227-7000 to audit both your digital and physical security.

2019-01-31T10:30:01-05:00February 26th, 2019|Security|0 Comments

Professional Businesses Deserve Professional Setup

Professional Businesses Deserve Professional SetupProfessional Business

Watching a business grow is as satisfying as it is rewarding. Whether opening a new office, starting a new department, or bringing in a new employee; it’s a positive step in the right direction. Upward growth often requires new office tech and IT changes to bring new staff fully online.

At a minimum, a new computer will be needed for employees to get started quickly and hit the ground running. New staff or an entire department may require a server, printer, or additional networking hardware to cope with extra demand.

A tech smart business should give careful consideration to how it sources and sets up its hardware and software. It can be tempting to pick a simple solution off the shelf from the nearest retailer.

Modern manufacturers often make it easy to get set up with a new device straight out the box. Using default settings and a simple setup means a laptop or tablet can be just plugged in and it’s ready to go, right?

Unfortunately, setting up technology to create safe, secure, and reliable business services requires a little more detail.

Setting Up Tech For Business

The hardware you have is at least as important as the hardware you buy. It’s important to ensure new tech on the network is compatible with your existing business systems. Adding the wrong solutions to accommodate new employees can slow down the system for everyone.

Many firms talk themselves into buying the most expensive, or heavily marketed system on the market. Buyers often feel confident that the high price tag and slick design means it’s guaranteed to work with anything you put to it. We wish that were always the case.

Without an eye for fine detail and good IT knowledge, combining certain solutions can cause a significant network slowdown or even fail to work together at all.

Consistency Is Key

It can seem easy, and tempting, to buy technology based on offers and deals around at the time you need it. Some companies do this to save money short term, building their systems using a mixture of hardware from various vendors and manufacturers. When thinking long term, this approach might not get you the great deal that you think.

Mixing suppliers alone can make it difficult to track where components came from in the coming months and years. Warranties, service agreements, and support can become hard to track down when parts fail and hardware dies. Money spent securing your business against failure is completely wasted if you can’t find the right paperwork at the right time.

Sourcing replacement parts and supported peripherals can be made more difficult when components are mixed too.

Planning ahead and purchasing identical hardware can make swapping components fast and straightforward. When systems are consistent, both parts and knowledge can be shared throughout the entire business. A smart decision today can eliminate costs, time, and headaches further down the road.

Unexpected issues appearing at the last minute can have large consequences on workload and deadlines. Sharing everything from chargers to memory can help to reduce and mitigate IT risks. Consistent hardware, swappable components, and even considering a supply of spares can take care of many potential headaches.

Smooth On-boarding

In business, first impressions are critically important. Whether setting up a new office or getting an employee ready to start, a professional attitude goes a long way. Good IT that’s ready to work sets a professional tone to carry your business forward.

IT that supports and enhances operations is infinitely better than IT that gets in the way. Using consistent and well-known solutions in the right way avoids wasting time, maintains performance, and reduces costs where it matters.

Our goal is to ensure your hardware meets your business needs. A professional setup ensures your IT is consistently improved while you watch your business flourish and grow.

Give us a call at 319-227-7000 for a professional setup to make sure nothing stands in the way of growing your business.

2019-01-31T10:16:58-05:00February 19th, 2019|Managed Services|0 Comments

SSD: Make Your Old Computer Your New Computer

SSD: Make Your Old Computer Your New ComputerSSD

The solid-state drive (SSD) has swiftly become the go-to upgrade to breathe new life into an aging computer, and for good reason too. An SSD swiftly brings an old laptop or desktop up to date with modern machines in just a single step.

The price of solid-state memory has fallen dramatically in recent years. As costs have dropped, the popularity of the technology has increased exponentially. At one time an SSD was a rare treat for serious PC enthusiasts, now it’s cheaper and more readily available than ever. No other single solution is as cost-effective, quick to swap, and impressively effective as swapping out an old hard drive in favor of the faster and more modern SSD.

Out with The Old

The hard disk drive (HDD) is a technology that dates back as far as the 1950’s. They became the default solution all PCs would use for decades to come. Most old laptop and desktop machines still contain their original, worn hard drives they left the factory with.

The HDD was a mostly mechanical device. Inside a solid outer casing was a series of spinning disks arranged in a delicate stack known as a platter. Each disk could read and save data using a tiny needle moving across the disk’s surface.

The technology looked and worked much like a miniature record player. Like a record player, widely in use at the time that hard drives were developed, the hard drive had some serious drawbacks in their use.

The series of tiny disks and needles that made up the HDD were incredibly fragile. Vulnerable to dust or movement, computers commonly succumbed to hard drive failures that rendered the machine and its stored data unusable. Occasionally, simply moving a laptop while reading or writing data can damage a hard drive’s spinning disk.

In with The New

The primary reason to switch to a more modern SSD, on top of their impressive durability, is the incredible increase in speed. The SSD has no moving parts at all, working more like a digital camera memory card than a vinyl record player.

An SSD simply makes the process of retrieving and saving data to storage many times faster. Eliminating the mechanical component, removing the need to move a physical disk, and not needing to physically pick up the data means a much faster and smoother operation.

Computer startup, where the operating system loads all its data from storage, can take as little as one-quarter of the time of a comparable HDD. Additionally, loading regular applications and data from an SSD takes a fraction of time of an HDD.

An SSD completely breathes new life into an old machine. Computers with an SSD replacement for the hard drive feel like using an entirely new machine for a fraction of the cost.

Replacing the main mechanical component additionally eliminates wear and tear working to break down your machine. While a HDD slows over time, degrades, and can eventually suffer mechanical failure; an SSD remains as durable as the day it was purchased.

Ideal Laptop Upgrade

In a laptop setting, the SSD makes complete sense. They require less power than older hard drives, making the most of your battery charge.

In addition, not needing a large disk platter, mechanical parts, or protective outer case means they are about half the weight of a mechanical drive. Making an old machine lightweight brings it another step closer to a modern machine.

They run almost silently too. The familiar click-clack of the hard drive inside a laptop is a thing of the past. Many users comment on the noise their laptop used to make starting up and loading programs. Noisy laptops are a tech throwback we’re happy to leave behind.

For many who feel like their old laptop or desktop is showing its age, the prohibitive cost of purchasing a whole new machine keeps them invested in their old one. A simple, fast SSD upgrade can make your old machine new again at a much smaller price. If swapping long startups, and slow load times sounds right for you, consider upgrading to an SSD. You won’t look back.

Give us a call at 319-227-7000, and we can give your machine a new lease on life.

2019-01-31T09:46:17-05:00February 12th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Don’t Get Hooked by Spear Phishing Attacks

Don’t Get Hooked by Spear Phishing AttacksPhishing

Phishing attacks have been around for a long time. Designed to steal your credentials or trick you into installing malicious software, they have persisted in the IT world precisely because they have been so devastatingly simple and effective. Today, a more modern and more effective version of the same attack is commonly used.

A typical phishing attack involves an attacker sending out a malicious email to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of users. The attacker’s email is designed to look like it comes from a bank, financial service, or even the tax office. Often aiming to trick you into logging in to a fake online service, a phishing attack captures the login details you enter so an attacker may use them to enter the genuine service later.

By sending out tens of thousands of emails at a time, attackers can guarantee that even if only one half of one percent of people fall for it, there is a lot of profit to be made by draining accounts. Spear phishing is a more modern, more sophisticated, and far more dangerous form of the attack. It’s typically targeted at businesses and their staff.

A Convincing, Dangerous Attack

While a traditional phishing attack throws out a broad net in the hope of capturing as many credentials as possible, spear phishing is targeted and precise. The attack is aimed towards convincing a single business, department, or individual that a fraudulent email or website is genuine.

The attacker focuses on building a relationship and establishing trust with the target. By building trust and convincing the target that they are who they are pretending to be, the user is more likely to open attachments, follow links, or provide sensitive details.

Consider how many times you have followed a link or opened an attachment just because it has come from a contact you have trusted before.

A Trusted E-mail

The malicious email can appear to come from a vendor you deal with regularly. It may even look like an invoice you are expecting to receive. Often attackers can simply substitute the vendors’ banking details for their own, hoping the target will not notice the difference.

Such an attack is very difficult to detect. It takes a keen eye, strong working knowledge, and constant awareness to keep your company protected. Even a single small mistake by an unaware member of staff can compromise your business accounts.

Defending Your Business

The key to stopping a spear phishing attack is education. Learning attack techniques, and how to protect against them is the single biggest thing you can do to enhance business security.

Whenever you deal with a vendor in a business transaction, you should always consider important questions before proceeding. Are you expecting this email? Is the vendor attempting to rush you into a quick decision or transaction? Have you checked all the details are correct and as you expected? Sometimes a simple query to the vendor can protect you against worst-case scenarios.

In many cases, a phishing attack can be halted in its tracks with a strong IT security package. Web filtering prevents most malicious emails and links from entering the network, shutting attacks down before any damage can be done.

Good Security Practice

As with many types of IT threats, good security practices help mitigate damage. Locking down security to ensure employees only access the systems they need helps to prevent damage spreading across the network.

Enforcing unique and strong passwords prevents leaked credentials from affecting systems related to the one that has been compromised. Getting employees set up with a password manager and good security policies can do the world of good to boost your security to the level it needs to be.

Give us a call at 319-227-7000 to audit your security practices. It could be the difference that secures your firm against sophisticated spear phishing attacks.

2019-01-30T22:13:00-05:00February 5th, 2019|Security|0 Comments
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