Category Archives for Tech Tips

Securing sensitive files in the cloud

The beauty of the Cloud is that it brings important files into reach from wherever you are. But the typical rule of thumb with technology is, the more convenient it is the more vulnerable it is. So if you want to be able to work from anywhere, but the files you're using are sensitive. Read on to learn some tips on how to secure sensitive files in the Cloud.\

1. Change your password regularly. Most enterprise grade cloud storage have a feature to create a policy that will force users to change their passwords every 30 to 60 days. But even if it doesn't, create a reoccurring calendar event that reminds you to change your password.

2. Password protect mobile devices.  Any device that you use to access the files(phone or laptop) should be password protected.  These devices should also be configured to lock themselves if they've been idle for awhile.

3. Encrypt your devices. If your files are synced to your devices hard drive, it's important to encrypt it in case it's lost or stolen. Even if your device is password protected, it's possible to gain access to the files on the hard drive if it's not encrypted. The good news is Windows 10 Pro, OSX and most smart phones have the ability to be encrypted without any additional software.

As always, if you have any questions we're here to help. We hope this is useful!

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Major Mac High Sierra Vulnerability

    ​If you're running Mac OSX 10.13 or "High Sierra" a major security vulnerability was found that could allow anyone with physical access to your computer have full access to it.

    What was found was that if you tried to log in with the username "root" and a blank password over and over again it would eventually let you in. In case you don't know "root" is Apple's equivalent of "administrator". So that person would have full permission once in to do what ever they like.

    Since then, Apple has released a security update to patch the issue. So it is highly recommended that you check the App Store to make sure you are up to date on all security updates. To do this simply open the App Store and go to the "Updates" tab and install all of the updates until there's no updates available when you refresh the page by hitting command+R.

    If you have anymore questions or concerns about your PC or Macs security feel free to reach out and let us know. That's what we're here for.

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    Are Passwords the Bane of Your Existence?

    We hope you enjoy today's post from Solve technician, Erick Collins.

    We all know and “love” the general rules we have to follow when creating a password for a new site or program:

    •Capital and lowercase letters
    •Special characters
    •A total of at least 8 characters
    •A index finger of your first-born son

    The above may be a slight stretch, but you know the usual. Just remember that these rules help to keep hackers from cracking that confidential password and getting into your information. These are easy rules to follow; but difficult passwords to remember. However, for the past several years, password managers have become a useful component for business as well as the personal computer use. Below, are several great applications for password storage:

    Password - I have used 1Password personally, with great ease. At about $3/month, I could access all my passwords with one master password from my iPhone, tablet, and PC browsers, like Google Chrome.

    LastPass - At $12 per year, LastPass 4.0 Premium is on the low side for a commercial password manager price-wise, but on the high side feature-wise. It spotlights on syncing passwords across all your devices, powerful multi factor authentication, and automated password changing.

    Dashlane - Its automated password changer handles many popular sites, and advanced features like emergency access and secure sharing, which keep Dashlane at the top of the heap. It is famed for its slick interface and ease of use. Although it does have a $40/year premium version, it seems they have a free version for use as well.

    If you find yourself constantly having to change your passwords due to forgetting them , or misplacing that magical password sticky note, a password manager may be an unknown necessity.

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    A Cyber Criminals Best Weapon is Your Fear

    There's a lot of talk anymore about how the NSA has leaked exploits that hackers can use to get into your computers, and how ransom ware viruses are running amok and causing all sorts of problems. But the leading cause of data breaches and computer infections are not exploited software bugs. It's exploited human fear.

    Not only is Information Technology a relatively new field, but it's a rapidly changing field. Where the stakes keep getting raised as more and more of our lives and our livelihood is put into the hands of computers and little "clouds" in the internet.

    Human psychology 101 is that we tend to fear what we don't understand. So whenever you get a call from someone at Microsoft saying your computer has a virus and all your data is compromised. Or you get a pop up that locks up your whole computer saying that all your files will be deleted unless you call this number in the next 5 minutes. They're all attempts to insight your fear, so that you'll do something or trust someone that you typically wouldn't.

    Here's a few pointers to keep in mind. To help you respond, instead of react.

    • 1
      Microsoft will not call, nor do they want you to call them.
    • 2
      If you get a call or pop up that says you'll lose everything unless you act now!  DON'T ACT NOW.  If your computer is still working, 99.9% of the time it will still be working 10 minutes from now.  Putting a time limit helps stir up a sense of urgency.
    • 3
      If you let someone in your computer, even though you're watching what they're doing on your screen.  You really don't know what they're doing.  Are they scanning your computer for viruses?  Or installing one.  Are they running a diagnostic or just showing you a bunch of made up numbers and stats to get you to give them your credit card info?
    • 4
      If you have good backups, it doesn't matter what happens to your computer. Good backups are the best insurance to have.
    • 5
      Don't try to figure out your IT on your own. Outsource it to professionals.

    If you have any questions feel free to reach out to us in the contact page.  You may not trust your computers, but you can trust us.

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    Windows 10 Creators Update

    Back in April Microsoft began to release the newest build of Windows 10, dubbed the "Creator's Update". And that's when the wheels began to fall off. As the update was pushed out to more and more PC's we began to get more calls about user's having internet issues after the update was installed. Being IT professionals who like to preach keeping PC's up to date, we poured a lot of time into finding a fix for the issue while allowing people to keep the update. But it seems rolling your computer back is the only option to truly fix the internet issues caused by the Creator's Update. Now that news has surfaced that Microsoft has accidentally released experimental versions of a newer Creator's Update that is also causing problems, we thought it was time to bring up the subject.

    First off, not everyone who installs the Creator's Update has an issue with it. We haven't been able to find a trend in the PC's that do have an issue. But I would still recommend installing it first to see if you will have any issues.

    If you install it and begin to notice issues then you can follow the instructions below to roll back your computer. Then once you do that we will include some instructions on how to defer those builds from installing in the future.

    I would certainly suggest calling us, or whoever your IT provider is first. But if you're in a pinch and need a solution now, you're welcome to follow the steps below.

    Before you begin rolling back to previous builds, it's crucial that you confirm that you have the Creator's Update. If you do not but think you do and decide to roll your computer back, you could potentially roll your computer back 6 months by accident.

    • 1
      Open the "Run" box by hitting the Windows key + R keyboard shortcut.
    • 2
      Type "Winver" in the run box and hit enter.
    • 3
      A screen like the one below should appear. If you have the Creator's Update you'll see version 1703 below Microsoft Windows. As you can see below, I do not have the Creator's Update.

    So once you have confirmed that you do have the Creator's Update here's how to remove it.

    • 1
      Click the Start Menu -> Settings -> Update & Security.
    • 2
      Click Recovery.
    • 3
      You should now see an option to "Roll Back to Previous Builds".
    • 4
      Select that and follow the prompts.

    ​Now that you know that the Creator's Update has caused issues on your PC and you've removed it. Now let's prevent it from installing again. Don't worry, after you do this you'll continue to get security patches just not the new build.

    • 1
      Click the Start Menu -> Settings -> Update & Security.
    • 2
      Under Windows Update select "Advanced Options".
    • 3
      Then put a check box in "Defer Feature Updates".

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    Is Your Phone the Weak Link in Your Security?

    Everyone agrees that security for your network and PC's is a great idea. Afterall, whether your data is stored at your office or in the cloud, any place it is accessed from could be exploited. So, we manage those PC's closely to protect your data.

    But what we tend to forget about are our phones and tablets. We live in a world where we gauge the convenience of a service on if they've developed an app for your phone so you don't have to log in with your computer.

    If your phone fell into the wrong hands, they'd probably have access to all your emails and text messages. If you use OneDrive or Dropbox to manage your files, they'd have access to all of those as well.

    We can't afford to think of our mobile devices as "lesser technology" anymore. If you're just responsible for yourself or a small team, it may be easy to enforce security measures such as lockscreen passwords. But it's easy for details to slip through the cracks. Especially in large teams.

    That's why Office 365 and G Suite have mobile device security policies. These allow you to enforce policies on any mobile device that has email on it such as a mandatory passcode, screen timeouts and even remotely wiping phones that are lost or stolen.

    If your email currently is not hosted on Office 365 or G Suite there are other solutions that can allow you to manage the mobile devices in your organization. Either way, at least you can sleep well at night knowing all your bases are covered!

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    The Cheapest Most Effective Security Change for Your Network

    Revoking the admin rights for all of your users could be one of the most secure changes your make to your computer network. It's common to allow all your users to use admin accounts, that way they can install any software and make any changes they need to without issue.

    The problem is that 97% of critical vulnerabilities that were found last year specifically require admin rights to be effective. But the good news, is that when you revoke admin rights, that leaves 97% of the critical vulnerabilities from last year harmless.

    Even if you give the admin password to everyone so that they have it when they need it. That would still be more secure then having everyone operate with admin rights. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out. That's what we're here for.

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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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    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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