The Most Vulnerable Software of 2016

There's a really helpful website called cvedetails.com. They categorize and keep track of all security vulnerabilities found in any software or operating system. I was browsing their website last week and saw that they announced their 50 most vulnerable software of 2016 list. If you want to browse it for yourself, you can view it here:


Unfortunately, I noticed that Adobe products held 4 of the top 10 positions on the list, which is more then a little alarming. Those products are Flash Player(#4), Acrobat Reader DC(#7), Acrobat DC(#8), Acrobat(#9), and an honorable mention goes to Reader at #12. Fortunately there are alternatives to Adobe. If you use any of these products, read on to learn how to move away from them.


The Acrobat and Reader products are all centered around viewing and editing PDF's. If you are using any of these products a good alternative is Foxit. They offer a free reader for simply viewing PDF's and an affordably priced PDF editor. You can find all of this on their website here:


Flash Player is used for some content on websites. But with the growing concern over security issues surrounding Flash Player, more and more websites have been moving away from it. If you'd like to rid your PC of Flash Player and see if you can go without it, you can follow the instructions in this very helpful article. Worse case scenario is that you realize an important website you visit requires it and you need to reinstall it. Best case scenario is that your web browsing is significantly safer(and faster).
Visit Here


Maybe you are an avid Adobe user and can't go without them. Then please be sure that you're using the most recent version and are installing updates. That goes for any software that you're running. At Triad Tech Guys your internet security is our top priority. Happy web surfing!


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Office365 vs G Suite: The Battle for Productivity

Office 365 and Google Apps (now called G Suite) are locked in a very healthy competition to deliver the best office productivity suite to us. But with everything that's provided, it can be pretty overwhelming for the consumer to read through. So here is the Triad Tech Guys breakdown of Office365 and G Suite.


1. Cost


G Suite is relatively simple offering 2 plans:

G Suite Basic - $5 per user per month

G Suite Basic includes:

  • Business​ email address
  • Video and voice calls
  • Integrated Calendars
  • 30 GB of cloud file storage
  • Online text documents, spreadsheets and presentations
  • Easy to create project sites
  • Security and admin controls
  • 24/7 phone and email support

G Suite Business - $10 per user per month

G Suite Business includes:

  • Unlimited Storage (or 1TB per user if fewer than 5 users)
  • Advanced admin controls for Drive
  • Audit and reporting insights for Drive content and sharing
  • Google Vault for eDiscovery covering emails, chats, docs and files
  • Easily search and export to different formats
  • Archive all emails sent by your company
  • Set message retention policies
  • Place and enforce litigation holds on inboxes

Office365 offers many different plan options, ranging from $5 per month per user to $35 per month per user. You can see all the plans they offer with their pricing and offerings here:


2. Email


Office365 and G Suite both offer excellent email interfaces, the main difference between the two come down to email organization and capacity. G Suite uses a label organization where you can apply multiple labels to one email, whereas Office365 employs the more classic folder filing structure. As far as capacity, G Suite email storage ranges from 30 GB to 1 TB to unlimited, depending on the plan and amount of users. Office 365 offers 50 GB for all it's plans with the exception of one which offers unlimited.


3. Applications


Office365 offers the full Office suite with all of it's plans, with the exception of two email only plans. The difference is some plans only allow the use of the applications on the web while the rest allow the applications to be installed on a computer for offline use. Microsoft has made some good changes to Office in the name of collaboration. But G Suite was built from the ground up to be used online for collaboration and can create and edit any file for Microsoft Office.


4. Video Calls


 Here's three things to keep in mind about the differences between video calls:

  • Google Hangouts was built along side G Suite to be tightly integrated. Skype was recently acquired by Microsoft and is having to be integrated after the fact and hasn't quite been achieved yet.
  • Skype translator can help you translate your call into 8 languages for voice calls and 50 calls for instant messaging.
  • The maximum number of callers in Hangouts is 50 whereas Skype's limit is 250.

Hopefully this will be a helpful place to start as you make the right decision for your business. Both of these tools are helpful to any business but depending on your size and needs G Suite and Office365 are very different products.

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The iPhone Has Finally Been Hacked

If you're one of those iPhone user's who doesn't let your phone install it's updates, instead opting to let the little number "1" sit over top of your "Settings" button, then you may want to reconsider.

The first legitimate iPhone hack has been uncovered. Hackers are sending iPhone users link's in the form of text messages warning of overdue bills, and credit card charges. When that link is opened then the hacker can silently listen in and view all communication from that point on.

Apple has released an update to correct the vulnerability. To check your phone and make sure you have that update installed go to "Settings"->"General"->"Software Update". Once you go into there it will begin checking for any available updates. You will either be told that you're up to date or that an update is available. Just follow the on screen instructions to install the update.

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Norton Users Beware

A few weeks ago the company Symantec (producers of Norton, a well known anti-virus) was found to have vulnerabilities and bugs in their code. This code is found in over twenty-five of their products, and has the potential to do massive damage to your computer, network, or server. It has the potential to cause failure in your computer that leads to what is commonly known as “blue sceen” or “blue screen of death”.


What can I do?

  • 1
    I recommend that you immediately switch to a different anti-virus product such as; Avg (Free or Paid) or Malwarebytes (Premium). Why switch? The company was aware they were using seven year old libraries in their unpackers, it’s possible they are using outdated information for other parts of their product.1
  • 2
    Don’t want to switch? Make sure that you update your product to the latest version as Symantec has published updates to address the vulnerability.
  • 3
    Several of our customers have found comfort signing up for our Safe Surfer Initiative. When you sign up you get one year of AVG Antivirus, quarterly virus checks and PC maintenance. You can learn more here.

Sources:

  1. https://googleprojectzero.blogspot.com/2016/06/how-to-compromise-enterprise-endpoint.html

  2. http://arstechnica.com/security/2016/06/25-symantec-products-open-to-wormable-attack-by-unopened-e-mail-or-links/

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How to keep Ransomware off your PC

As computer viruses evolve, their methods become more sophisticated, even going so far as to hold your computer and your data hostage, hence it being called “ransomware”. Ransomware is a new type of virus that is quickly on the rise. There are three types of ransomware, here they are in order of severity:

  • Scareware – Fake antivirus tools that pretend to detect viruses and demand payment to fix them.
  • Browser or screen locking ransomware – Law enforcement scams use fake FBI or Department of Justice messages to claim they’ve detected illegal activity on your computer for which you need to pay a fine.
  • Encrypting ransomware – Pop up messages say your files are encrypted and demand ransom money be paid by a deadline in order to return them.

Depending on the flavor of ransomware you end up getting, these can be extremely costly. Not just if you decide to pay the ransom or not. If mission critical data ends up being tied up, then it can cost business downtime as well as any costs associated with having to recreate business critical data.


Speaking of the ransom, cyber security experts recommend not paying the ransom. Mostly because there is no guarantee that you’ll get your data back. Also it can make you a target for more attacks.


So then how do you protect yourself?

  • Use supported software that is receiving updates and bug fixes.
  • Automatically install Windows updates.
  • Have a strong backup plan.
  • Have a good cyber security strategy.(Antivirus and firewalls)

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What is the cloud? And can it be trusted?

It seems that, as an IT consultant, a lot of my conversations end up circling back to the same questions. What is the “cloud”? And can it be trusted? The first question is way easier to answer then the second.


The cloud is an internet based service that offers anywhere access for an annual fee. Pretty much it means you pay someone to put your stuff on their equipment and let them manage it. Some good examples are file storage options such as Dropbox or Google Drive where they allow you anytime, anywhere access to files. Other examples are Quickbooks Online and Office 365 hosted Exchange.


The pros of these services are extremely enticing. Convenience being at the top of the list. For a monthly fee you are no longer responsible for maintaining these services. No more scheduling downtime for upgrades, no more having to increase storage to keep up with growth. No more having to manage disaster recovery practices. Along with the convenience of less maintenance, you have the convenience of anywhere access. Where at one point you had to go into your office to do your work, now the cloud makes everything you might need in your office available with a laptop and an internet connection. Without a doubt, the monthly fee for cloud services is not just to pay someone to manage your stuff, but it is also to pay for convenience.


The cons mostly revolve around security and reliability. Afterall, paying for cloud services is a lot like buying insurance. You give them money and they give you a promise that they’ll be there whenever you need them. But, at the end of the day, it’s still just a promise. And with data breaches with large companies still on the rise, security should be a big concern. A small company can store their data with a big name cloud provider and lose their advantage of anonymity, if that large cloud provider is hacked.


So what can you do?

  • Make your own decision, based off of your needs and your individual risks. Weigh the pros and cons and come to your own decision on if the cloud is a good move for you.
  • Create redundancy. Many cloud providers have a way for you to download a backup of your data. If you make a habit of doing that, you can create a reliable fail safe. Just in case.
  • Integrated Calendars
  • Have a password policy. Using super strong passwords, along with changing your passwords every 60 days or so decreases your likelihood of a security breach, drastically.
  • Talk to a trusted IT professional. Have someone you trust to ask questions and run ideas by. The cloud can be a powerful tool, but isn’t right for everyone and every situation.

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Time to Say Goodbye to Quicktime

Quicktime is a media player created by Apple in the early-mid 90's. In many ways it led the way in computer media players. But recently some MAJOR security vulnerabilities have been found in Quicktime. With these vulnerabilities hackers could transfer malicious viruses to your computer. But what makes this more dangerous is that Apple has ended support for Quicktime for Windows, which means that the patch that Apple made to fix these vulnerabilities is not available for Windows users.


What this means for anyone running Windows is that, it is in your best interest to follow the below steps to make sure you do not have Quicktime installed. If so, I recommend you remove it.


To Check for and Remove Quicktime:


For Windows 10 and 8.1

  • 1
    Right click the Windows icon on the bottom right corner of your desktop and select "Programs and Features".
  • 2
    Scroll down the list and if you see "Quicktime" click on it and then click "Uninstall"

For Windows 7:

  • 1
    1. Click the Start menu and select "Control Panel"
  • 2
    2. Click "Programs" and then "Programs and Features"
  • 3
    Scroll down the list. If you see "Quicktime" click on it and then click "Uninstall".

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How To Catch a Computer Virus

Awareness of computer security and viruses has increased for the better over the years. But knowing viruses are a threat, with little knowledge as to how they infect your equipment just leads to fear and not a well-executed plan to prevent them.

So below you’ll find my top 5 ways to catch a computer virus. Keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive. But based on my own experience in the field this takes up most of the cases I’ve run into.


- Not Doing Updates – This includes Windows updates and all program updates (yes even the annoying Java update that never goes away). Something to consider about the annoyance of updates, is that the majority of Windows and program updates are not usually improvements but are security patches against the latest vulnerabilities.

Solution: Maybe set aside one day a week to click on all the icons yelling to let them update. If you never receive an alert to install updates or never see a notice first thing in the morning that your computer was just updated, there might be a problem that needs resolved.


- Websites – Typically websites to be careful of are sites that have a lot of ads or graphical movement. Ads, because they are being loaded from a different source then the website. So the website itself could be legit but if the source of the ad was compromised then it could deliver a problem on your computer. The graphical movement is called javascript and requires permissions to access your computer, which could then give permissions to a virus hidden in there.

Solution: Firefox is a web browser that offers a couple security based addons that could be very helpful. The first is called Adblock Plus. This is a personal favorite because it automatically blocks all ads on a webpage. The second is called NoScript Security Suite. It’s not quite as popular because it blocks all Javascript on a webpage unless you tell it to allow it, which usually makes most websites unusable without extra action. But if you’re very security minded it could be worth it.


- Emails – Caution with opening unfamiliar emails has been preached more than ever, and is still relevant. One myth though is that you have to open an attachment or click a link to get infected. But, anymore, it is possible to be infected by simply opening an email. That is why it is very important to not even open an email that is suspicious or unfamiliar.

Solution: If you find yourself the recipient of frequent spam or suspicious emails you may want to consider investing in a third party spam-filter. You typically pay annually based on how many email addresses are being protected. Spam filters examine all of your incoming emails and if they seem suspicious or test positive for virus presence it will automatically get quarantined.


- Scareware – Scareware is relatively new. It is exactly what it says it is because it involves a message popping up on your computer telling you that you’ve been hacked or have a virus. With the message you will have instructions to either click on a link or call a number.

Solution: If you ever experience this while on your computer DO NOT CALL or CLICK THE LINK! Microsoft will never give you a message like that. First disconnect from the internet by either disconnecting from your wireless network or unplugging the cable. You may need to reboot your computer to get the message to go away and then do a virus scan. But do not respond to the message. A lot of times simply receiving that message doesn’t mean you have a virus, but it is best to check with an IT professional to be safe.


- No Antivirus – Finally, not having antivirus software installed on your computer is a huge contributor to having a virus. Granted no antivirus can give you a 100% guarantee that you won’t get a virus, but it is your first line of defense in both prevention and early detection of a virus.

Solution: I resell AVG Cloudcare, other good ones are Webroot, Trend Micro or Kaspersky. Be sure to not let your subscription expire or you’ll stop receiving updates on new viruses that come out.


I hope this has been helpful.If you have any other questions feel free to reach out to me, through the Contact page on our website.

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Windows 10 Upgrade Guide

In an article I posted back in June, I advised not upgrading to Windows 10 at the time. Nine months have gone by since then, and Microsoft has released a lot of patches and fixed a bunch of bugs.


With the offer to upgrade to Windows 10 ending in 4 months, if you have any interest in moving to Windows 10 now is the time to do so. Below you’ll find the extensive guide to all things Windows 10 upgrade:


How much longer will Windows 10 be available for free?
The offer to upgrade to Windows 10 for free will end July 29th, 2016.


Who’s eligible for the free upgrade?
Anyone running the latest version of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 is eligible.

What do I need to do before I upgrade?

  • 1
    Be sure to run the compatibility test to make sure there will be no hardware or software issues. For instructions you can click here.
  • 2
    If you run any proprietary software that is important to your business you’ll want to call their technical support to make sure there are no issues with Windows 10.
  • 3
    Backup your important files just in case an issue comes up with the upgrade.

How do I upgrade?
The easiest way to upgrade is to use the Windows 10 app in the lower right hand corner of your desktop. If you do not have the app you can click this link to troubleshoot.


Can I go back to my old operating system?


Yes. For the first month you can roll back to your original operating system. If you don’t see the option in Windows 10, you can use the recovery media that came with your PC.

How can I make the Windows 10 notifications disappear?

  • 1
    Right-click (or press and hold) the Taskbar, and then select Properties.
  • 2
    On the Taskbar tab, select Customize… for the Notification area.
  • 3
    In the Notification Area Icons window, for the GWX (Get Windows 10) icon, select Hide icon and notifications.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, feel free to let us know. We're here to help.

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Windows 10, For People Who Don’t Care

There's loads of content out there for folks who are fascinated in Microsoft's newest Windows OS. Rumors flying around and tech news round ups are in abundant supply. But most people don't care. All they care about is that their computer gets the job done. That's where I come in. I make sure people know enough so their computer gets the job done. Prepare yourself computer minimalists, here's all you need to know about Windows 10.


SLXLM​​


​If you're running Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 then you may have noticed a new icon in the bottom right of your windows desktop that looks like the image above. This is Microsoft peaking your interest in Windows 10. Microsoft has decided that Windows 10 will be released on July 29th, and for the first year, will be offered free to Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 users.


If you click on the icon pictured above then a Window will come up asking if you want to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. if you put your email address in it will notify you when Windows is downloaded and ready to install(after July 29th).


My advice is not to sign up for this yet! I have signed up for it and will do the update as soon as it comes out. Especially if we're talking about your business computer, I would wait a few months before you take advantage of Microsoft's generosity. With any upgrade there comes unknown side effects with your hardware and other software that you have installed on your computer.


Windows 10 is looking good, but as with any upgrade, strategy is important. I'll be sure to release another update once I've made the move to Windows 10 and have tested every aspect. Until then, my suggestion is to let the icon sit silently for now.

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