Category Archives: Small Business

Enlist IT help when installing CPU updates

When it comes to security updates, time is usually of the essence. The longer you wait to install a fix from a vendor, the higher the risk of being compromised. But in the cases of the Meltdown and Spectre flaws, you might be better off waiting until a more reliable patch is released. Let’s review what’s going on and what the best course of action currently is.

Unsecured data storage

Spectre and Meltdown are the names given to two hardware flaws that allow hackers to see any piece of information stored on your computer. Although slightly different in execution, both take advantage of a hardware feature that computer chips use to access and store private information. For the last 20 years, security experts believed this information could not be stolen or spied on by malicious software, but that assumption was proven false on January 3, 2018.

Now that the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities are public information, hackers can use them to create programs that steal passwords, social security numbers, credit card numbers, and anything else you type into your computer.

Because these problems are hardware-based, none of the updates will be able to secure the vulnerable storage; they’ll simply prevent your computer from storing anything in it. Currently, there are patches for:

  • Operating systems (Windows, macOS, and Linux)
  • Web browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, and IE)
  • Chip firmware (low-level programs installed on the processor itself)

If you’re using an Apple computer, these updates are relatively easy to install. If you’re using a Windows or Linux-based computer, these patches may cause your machine to freeze, reboot unexpectedly, or significantly slow down.

Why should I wait to install the updates?

Intel, one of the chipmakers responsible for the Spectre and Meltdown flaws, has provided contradictory recommendations on more than one occasion. As recently as January 18, Intel recommended waiting for an updated patch, but in the same announcement also recommended “consumers to keep systems up-to-date.”

Experts believe detecting an attack that is based on one of these flaws will be relatively easy and represent an alternative to installing updates that could render your computer unusable.

What should I do?

IT support experts will be able to quickly and easily assess what is the best option for your computers. For example, our team can determine whether or not your hardware will conflict with the current patches, and either install them or set up a detection strategy that will help you mitigate the risks without ruining your computer.

If you need expert IT support for quick responses and ironclad security — give us a call today.

3 simple and easy cyber-security tips!

 

 

Data security and privacy should be a top priority in this age of constant and downright dangerous cyber attacks. However, in your quest for ultimate security, don’t forget to implement these non-technical steps to shield your business’s IT resources.

 

Cover up your webcam

 

 

There must be some credibility to doing this if Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, former FBI director, James Comey, and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden all believe their webcams could be compromised. This is not just another paranoid celebrity reaction to ruthless paparazzi, there’s a genuine reason behind it. Kindly take a moment to consider the following scenario: hackers using your webcam to spy on you.

 

Though it might sound unrealistic, this actually happened on several occasions. Sometimes for purely voyeuristic reasons and sometimes what appeared to be espionage. This is a very real threat with disturbing repercussions. Hackers aim to gain personal information based on your surroundings, deduce your location, as well as spy on the people you’re with, ultimately using this information to hold you ransom, threatening to broadcast your most intimate and vulnerable moments if you don’t pay up.

 

Fortunately, guarding yourself against such danger is really easy and some painter’s tape over your webcam should do the trick. If you’re not confident about regular tape, you can purchase a cheap webcam cover online or at any hardware store.

 

Purchase a privacy shield

 

 

Think of privacy guards as those iPhone scratch protectors, but with an anti-snooping feature. These are thin covers you put on your computer, laptop or smartphone screen to limit viewing angles. Once installed, anyone trying to look at your screen from anywhere — except straight-on — sees nothing. Privacy filters are commonly used to protect work devices, particularly which display or contain critical files with sensitive data or confidential information. However, less sensitive, personal devices are still vulnerable to ‘shoulder surfing’ — the act of peeking at someone else’s screen, with or without ill intent, which is why we recommend using these protectors on all your devices.

 

Use a physical authentication key

 

 

Requiring more than one set of credentials to access sensitive resources is common sense, and has become standard practice for established online services. With something called two-factor authentication in place, you gain access to your account only after you’ve entered the authentication code, which the website sends to your smartphone once you’ve entered your account credentials. Until recently, two-factor authentication relied mostly on text messages that were sent to mobile phones. But professionals have now realised that phones can be hijacked to redirect text messages.

Moreover, authentication codes can be stolen, or users can be tricked into entering these codes via a convincing phishing website. If you’re looking for authentication services that cannot be hijacked, stolen or lost, your best bet is a USB or Bluetooth key you can carry on your keychain. This means nobody — not even you — will be able to access your account without the physical key. Ultimate security at your fingertips.

 

If you need help setting up two-factor authentication, or any IT security services, contact our experts and experience true peace of mind as we fortify your data to no end.

 

 

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How to ensure your IT is up-to-date for 2016

164_A_HCWith Halloween just a few days away, and the holidays following shortly after, 2016 will be here sooner than you know it. This makes it an excellent time to start thinking about next year’s IT budget, and how to best address your technology needs to keep your practice growing, compliant, and not stifled by outdated IT that distracts you from your patients. To ensure your IT is dependable for 2016, here are a few steps you can take to prepare your practice.

Evaluate

One reason some practices fail to update their IT at all, and then wind up with broken technology that causes endless headaches and delays, is that they’re simply overwhelmed by the number of technology choices available, and are unsure what needs to be upgraded or replaced. That’s why the first task you should undertake in planning next year’s IT budget is to evaluate what you have right now.

If you have a small or medium-sized practice, you may be able to do this by walking around your office and simply taking a visual assessment of your technology. However, if you don’t feel comfortable doing this, another option is to use a software tool or hire an IT provider to determine which pieces of technology you use regularly.

Correct

When you’re done with the evaluation, you’ll have likely discovered some IT issues that need to be addressed immediately. If you have the budget to fix them this year then go ahead and do so, otherwise prioritize these technology repairs in your 2016 budget. This will help ensure IT doesn’t create unnecessary dysfunction in your daily operations.

Strategize

Stop thinking about technology for a moment. Instead, think about your long-term goals for your practice. What do you want to accomplish in the next one, five, and 10 years? What do you envision your practice looking like then? Jot your goals and answers to these questions down on a piece of paper, then evaluate whether or not your practice can achieve these goals with IT implemented as it is now. If it can’t, what technology changes need to take place? The answer will reveal which IT adjustments are necessary for the future of your practice in 2016 and beyond. Here are a few other ideas to consider when planning your long-term IT strategy.

Usability – complex technology not only scares the average user, but it also prevents many from using it. If you want you, your staff and your patients to use your new IT solution, make sure it’s user friendly. Otherwise you’re simply throwing money away.

Automation – because the healthcare industry is understaffed as it is, you need all the help you can get. Technology can act as your team of extra staff members, automating and taking care of processes that are usually performed manually. This will free up your real employees to spend more time taking care of your patients.

Adaptability – both technology and the healthcare industry are in a constant state of change. So when implementing new IT, find something that will evolve with your industry. If you’re unsure, talk with the vendor of the technology product you’re interested in, or consult with an IT provider to help you along.

Lastly, we understand that IT is not the specialist area of most healthcare professionals. So if you ever have any questions, or need assistance planning for your future IT needs, our experts are more than happy to help you in assessing, evaluating and implementing new technology that will take your practice into 2016 and beyond.