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January 9th, 2012

A worldwide shortage of hard drives is expected in the near future as many of the Thai-based factories continue to struggle with flooding.

In the same way the massive earthquake and tsunami damaged Japan’s electronics industry, the flood crisis in Thailand is causing concern for companies that require hard drives for production.

The majority of the world's hard drives are produced in factories located in Thailand, where the flood crisis has put a damper on many industries, hard drive producers included.

According to reports, the shortage is already driving hard drive costs up and may just be the beginning of that trend. As companies like Hewlett Packard respond to the situation, the outlook remains unclear. PC sales could be affected well into 2012 and beyond. With flooding still an issue for some producers the shortage could expand.

As of now, there is still no concrete solution in sight for the problem with the supply of hard drives in the world, and while reconstruction efforts in Thailand are ongoing, getting the hard drive industry on its feet will take a while. As for the effects on the computing world as a whole, PC prices will likely rise as pre-flood inventories are sold out and replacement stock is delayed.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic General Tech
January 6th, 2012

The use of social networks has changed the way many people communicate with each other online. In the same vein, internal social networks can also enhance communications within a given organization, but only if the right policies to govern its use are developed and implemented by the company it belongs to.

With the waves created by social networking in how companies do business nowadays, many have also utilized the same principle to develop internal social networks to enhance their in-house communications as well. However, the use of this new medium of communication also requires that companies develop new policies to cover its use.

One concern that may leave you apprehensive about creating an internal social network might be the fear that it could be abused by employees. However, reports have shown that introducing an in-house social network has produced generally positive results.

As long as company policies regarding the use of internal social networks are developed and implemented properly, employees will view such a network as an extension of the workplace, and will try to put their best foot forward. Such policies must specifically tackle the use of the internal social network, and many experts recommend revising existing company rules that govern the use of email, IT resources, and even external social networks. To be on the safe side, it's a good idea to consult with a lawyer to avoid any legal problems with the policy in the future.

Who's going to be in charge? Your managers, of course. Since the social network will be for company use, it follows that department heads should be given administrative duties and permissions which they will use for moderating communications and discussions in and pertaining do their respective sections.

While an internal social network can do wonders for your in-house communications, good policies and rules pertaining to its use will be what keep it working like a well-oiled machine.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 3rd, 2012

It doesn't matter how solid your security system is –any hacker or online thief can figure out a weak password in a couple of hours through trial and error. Don't risk being a victim of a security breach and data theft. Avoid these passwords that are especially easy to crack.

If you think using 'password' as your password is no big deal, then it's time to rethink.

Security experts have recently compiled a list of the worst passwords users can choose, and 'password' is at the very top of the list. Weak passwords make your information more vulnerable simply because hackers can guess them. It may be easier to pick a password that you don't have to think about, but it's a choice that you may come to regret.

To help you avoid common password choice mistakes that users make, management application provider SplashData has compiled a list of the 25 worst passwords to use:

  1. password
  2. 123456
  3. 12345678
  4. qwerty
  5. abc123
  6. monkey
  7. 1234567
  8. letmein
  9. trustno1
  10. dragon
  11. baseball
  12. 111111
  13. iloveyou
  14. master
  15. sunshine
  16. ashley
  17. bailey
  18. passw0rd
  19. shadow
  20. 123123
  21. 654321
  22. superman
  23. qazwsx
  24. michael
  25. football
Make a smart password choice Experts advise using a combination of letters and numbers when creating your passwords, and to avoid things that anyone might be able to guess, such as birthdays and anniversary dates. Passwords with eight characters or more are safer and it's best to use different passwords for different accounts and websites. Use a password manager to help you keep track of all of your passwords if you're finding it difficult to remember them all..

No matter how sophisticated your security system is, a weak password gives hackers and online thieves an advantage. Helping all the users in your organization understand the importance of password strength will help you secure the IT systems in your organization.

If you're interested in learning more, please contact us so we can develop a comprehensive and custom security blueprint that meets your specific needs.

Reference: Worst Internet Passwords

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

December 29th, 2011

In an unprecedented move against online fraudsters and hackers, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and authorities in Estonia, aided by information from security firm Trend Micro, recently conducted a raid that brought down an enormous bot network made up of at least 4 million bots.

Four million is a big number which makes four million bots, in security terms, a staggering and frightening number as well.

It is a good thing, then, that four million is also the number of bots taken down in a recent bust by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Estonian Police, and security firm Trend Micro. Data centers in New York City, Chicago, and Estonia were raided by authorities, shutting down hundreds of servers used to create a network of bots that spanned some 100 countries.

The said bust, dubbed “Operation Ghost Click”, is one of – if not THE – largest cybercriminal bust in history, putting to sleep a sophisticated scamming operation that victimized 4 to 5 million users and was said to have generated at least $14 million in illegal revenue.

The scam mainly involved hijacking Domain Name Server (DNS) settings in infected computers, which can be used not only to introduce more malware into an IT system, but also to hijack search results and replace advertisements loaded on websites visited through an infected computer.

While this bust does bode well for all IT users everywhere in the world, it also illustrates the scope of influence and level of organization behind security threats. Since this is probably not the only scam / fraud / botnet operation in the world, it is always best to have a comprehensive security policy for your IT infrastructure to minimize the risk of compromising your company’s data and information.

For more details on the bust, check out Trend Micro’s blog post here.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

December 19th, 2011

Employees using their own mobile devices for work may seem like a good idea at first it's less expense for you, the employer, and they can also make employees more productive. However, it also means that you are allowing potentially unsecure devices to access your company's data. The solution? An effective IT security policy that balances personal freedom to use these devices and your need to secure important business information.

As technology continues to become more affordable and accessible to consumers, it's an inevitable fact that employers will see more and more of their employees using their own personal devices such as laptops and mobile phones to access the company's IT system.

This can be a dangerous thing. Since these devices aren't company owned and regulated, you have limited access and control over how they are used. Employees could download all sorts of malware and viruses on their devices and pass the infection along to your IT system when they access it.

The solution: a comprehensive IT security policy. It's important that you find a compromise between the freedom of the employee to use the device as desired and your need to keep your IT system safe from viruses and other threats to your data's security. Steps such as having employees run mobile device management (MDM) software on their devices is one of many actions you can take to lessen the risk of security breaches. You may also want to implement applications and software that check and screen for malware, both for laptops and mobile devices. And don't forget that while Android seems to have a bigger problem with malicious software, Apple isn't exactly virus-free, either.

Employees have a right to use their personal devices as they see fit, but not at the expense of important company information stored in your IT system. Running a tight ship in terms of security is an effective way to protect your business interests and your sensitive company data. If you are interested in knowing more about developing a concrete and effective IT security policy for personal device use as well as general system access, please don't hesitate to give us a call so we can sit down with you and discuss a custom security blueprint that's just right for you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

December 12th, 2011

Fact: all it takes is one security breach to destroy a company. But few - especially small businesses - seem to realize it, according to a recent survey released by StaySafeOnline.org. Results show that few small businesses see themselves as a target of online thieves or hackers, resulting in many having only token security policies in place.

StaySafeOnline.org, a website of the National Cyber Security Alliance, has recently released a study that chronicles the cyber security practices and attitudes of small businesses. Conducted in partnership with Visa, the study shows some interesting, if not disturbing, results.

It turns out that many small businesses (about 65% of the respondents) are highly dependent on their computer / IT / data systems, where they store important information, from sensitive company financial records to personal client information such as credit card info, addresses and phone numbers, and more. However, as many as 85% believe that they will not be targeted by hackers and online thieves, and less than half have data security systems in which they are confident. In general, small businesses have, at best, a mediocre security system.

Few realize, though, that it only takes one breach to compromise a company's finances and relationships with clients. And if you have less than stellar security, stealing from you is easier. You might not have as many online assets as big businesses, but hackers can make a hefty profit by victimizing several easy marks as opposed to bigger and riskier efforts with more secure systems of larger firms.

Don't take a risk with important data, and don't compromise the relationships and reputation you've built with your clients over the years. Good security is always worth it. If you're interested in knowing more about beefing up your security through company policies, software, and user education, please don't hesitate to contact us. We'd be happy to sit down with you and discuss a security blueprint that's cost effective and custom built to meet your specific needs.

Reference: National Small Business Study

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic General Tech
November 28th, 2011

A word of caution for Facebook users: Hackers and scam artists are now using promotions and all other sorts of come-ons to victimize users into falling for phishing traps or giving up personal information. It is important to know what to do to avoid becoming a victim as well as securing your system to prevent any unwanted data breaches.

As more and more people continue to use Facebook both for personal and business purposes it seems to follow that all sorts of unscrupulous individuals and groups will find ways to exploit this popularity for their own illicit benefit.

In the same way people are phished through email, hackers and scammers use similar techniques to fool Facebook users into falling for their tricks. The combination of curiosity and trust is what hackers rely on to make users fill in contact details for non-existent promotions, visit suspicious websites, or download fake software, all through Facebook. While Facebook has instituted some additional security measures to counter this threat, the consensus is that it is a generally lukewarm, or even cursory response to the issue.

What makes it worse is that you aren't usually the first victim – those links and whatnot appear on your News Feed courtesy of a contact who has fallen into the same trap. So always be wary of events or promos your contacts invite you to join.

The most important thing is to have both the right knowledge and software to prevent getting scammed not only on Facebook, but anywhere else on the Web. Facebook is just a new medium for scammers and hackers to steal information and data and they'll do the same thing once the next big thing on the Web comes along.

If you want to know more about Facebook scams and how you can better protect yourself both through training and the right software solutions – please feel free to give us a call so we can help you set up a more secure system for your business that's custom-built to meet your specific needs.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic General Tech
November 21st, 2011

Long-term cost-effectiveness. Simple, but comprehensive and updated solutions. Dependable and stable. These are just some of the advantages of using Managed Services to deliver efficient and custom designed IT solutions that meet your specific needs.

Many large businesses prefer the use of Managed Services to meet their IT needs, but many smaller organizations continue to be skeptical of this solution. Here are five reasons that will make you think twice about dismissing Managed Services:

Managed Services help control costs. In any kind of business, it's important to be as cost-effective as possible. Especially in IT, where unbridled or poorly managed systems cost way more that they're worth, it's essential to have a system that works with your budget but doesn't compromise on quality. Managed Services is the most feasible and practical way to accomplish that, especially in the long term.

Managed Services help you deal with increasingly complex IT solutions. With both hardware and software components of IT systems constantly evolving, businesses with limited resources may very well find themselves left behind after a while. But with Managed Services, you are able to enjoy the advantages of the latest IT solutions at a fraction of the cost – enabling you to provide the best possible service to your clients.

Managed Services give you a better, more dependable IT infrastructure. Especially for smaller businesses, it can be tedious to maintain an in-house IT arm; and you run the risk of stretching resources too thinly, which can compromise the quality and output of your IT department. Managed Services allow you to have a stable and dependable IT arm that's dedicated to meeting your specific needs in a cost-effective manner.

Managed Services offer more comprehensive and complete IT solutions. More often than not, small and undermanned IT departments are more of a burden to the organization they belong to – errors are more likely to occur, response and problem solving is a slow process, and staff members are probably overworked and underpaid, making them both unhappy and less productive. Managed Services, on the other hand, are completely the opposite, allowing you to utilize efficient and comprehensive solutions that are tailor-made to fit your specific requirements.

Managed Services help you maintain compliance. With the marketplace becoming more and more competitive, meeting different regulatory compliances has become a fundamental need. From Sarbanes-Oxley to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), smaller companies can often find themselves lost. It’s Managed Services that helps these companies not only fully understand the requirements of these regulations, but also comply with them.

If you want to know more about how Managed Services can directly benefit your day to day operations, please do not hesitate to give us a call – we'd be happy to sit down and discuss a custom solution that works for you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic General Tech
November 14th, 2011

For businesses, social networks like Facebook and Twitter can be used to connect your businesses with the general public. But through a unique social networking platform called LinkedIn, you have access to a symposium or conference of sorts, where you can connect with fellow professionals and businesses.

Among the many social networks on the World Wide Web today, one stands out from the pack: LinkedIn. It stands out because it is one of the few (if there are any like it to begin with) that uses the principle behind social networking but adapts it to suit business and professional purposes.

If regular social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter can help a business, LinkedIn can do so even more since it is specifically targeted for businesses and professionals. With LinkedIn, you make contacts that are more relevant to your line of work minus the clutter, noise, and nonsense compared to the more social feedback, comments, and discussions you are inevitably going to have from content you put out on Facebook and Twitter.

Another advantage to LinkedIn is that you are more likely to connect with people and businesses that help you move forward be it additional staff, suppliers, or clients. The site's recommendation feature and referrals from other contacts will help you find what you are looking for faster. Also, you are able to better connect to people who are in your own industry or are doing similar things, allowing you to better assess what else you can do to give your business an added edge.

Using LinkedIn is a definite advantage, regardless of what business you are in. If you are interested in knowing more, please don't hesitate to contact us so we can sit down with you and talk about various custom LinkedIn strategies that meet your specific needs.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic General Tech
November 4th, 2011

While online banking can be a very convenient way for your business to manage and keep track of finances, a weak security system can make it more possible for cyber-thieves and hackers to steal your hard-earned money. It is important to make sure that all possible steps are taken to prevent this from happening.

Online banking is a tool that many businesses utilize because of the ease, efficiency, and convenience it offers. Especially when it comes to small and medium-sized businesses, online banking is a great way to manage and track finances for day-to-day operations.

However, the increase in online banking also has the unfortunate effect of luring unsavoury parties such as cyber-thieves and hackers who target and steal from the businesses who use it. This is why security experts are urging companies to beef up their security systems to keep them safe from cyber and identity theft. The more companies rely on the internet, especially when it comes to managing finances through online banking, the more prudent it is to take steps to prevent that hard-earned money from being stolen.

One tip experts give is to establish proper protocols for transacting with the bank, such as requiring two people to verify a transaction before it is approved. This helps create a checks-and-balance system that hackers will be hard-pressed to get around. Having a dedicated workstation used for only online financial transactions is also recommended, as this lessens the likelihood of it being infiltrated by Trojans, viruses, spyware, and other malware that may come from the machine being used for other purposes. Having the right anti-virus and anti-malware software as well as regularly updating it can also go a long way in keeping your online banking transactions safe from unfriendly eyes.

Your finances are the lifeblood of your business, so if you are interested in how you can make your online banking experience safe and secure, we'd be happy to sit down with you to discuss security solutions that are tailor-fit to your specific requirements and needs.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic General Tech