October 19th, 2012

Wireless connections are a great thing, as you can connect devices to the Internet and one another without the need for cables. Sadly, many of us don’t use wireless devices much beyond Wi-Fi. As we continue to use an increasing number of devices, all of which use cables, it can be hard to keep them in order. If you have a mess of cables in your office, it may be time to straighten them out.

Like most things in business, organization is key, and a neatly organized cable system not only helps IT, but can help ensure you can troubleshoot/repair if an IT professional isn’t available to do so in person.

If your server room/office looks like a Jackson Pollock painting, there are a few measures you can take to ensure a neat and tidy set of cables.

  • Use a cabling professional. If you are starting out with a new system, or moving offices and need to lay new cable, it’s a good idea to skip the DIY and contact a professional who can help. This will help minimize cable mess along with potential performance and connection issues.
  • Make a device map. On a piece of paper or chart, depending on how many devices you have, mark every device, assign them a unique number and mark what they connect to. For example, if you have a server and five computers, all these should link to the server.
  • Tag on the hub. Use the numbers you’ve just applied to the devices and mark their current location on the Patch Panel - the panel on a server or electrical device where you attach cables. For example, If Computer #1 connects to Patch Panel B, mark this on the panel.
  • Untangle those wires. Once you know the connection location, you can unplug all the cables, untangle them and plug them back in, in an orderly manner. Use Zip-Ties or twist ties to link cables together to make them easier to move or keep track of.
  • Use colored cables. If you have different types of devices connected to one hub, it’s a good idea to use different colored cables so you know what is connected. For example servers could be red cords, printers yellow and computers white/blue.
Is your cabling in need of a good organizing but you lack the time or are unsure of how to go about it? Contact us, we can help.
Published with permission from Source.

Topic General
October 9th, 2012

When Facebook was first introduced in 2004, it was little more than a communication tool used by university students to communicate with their peers. Fast forward to 2012 and it’s now a social media platform that has more or less changed the way we interact with one another. Companies use it to connect with their fans and customers, a new-age form of soft marketing. To make marketing more effective, Facebook has introduced a new advertising feature.

Custom Audiences is Facebook’s new marketing feature, available through a plug-in called Power Editor for Google Chrome. If your company utilizes the Facebook Advertising API (Application Programming Interface) to manage Facebook related advertising, this feature is also available to you.

What exactly is Custom Audiences? If you conduct any form of email advertising, you likely have a list of email addresses that you send content like newsletters to on a regular basis. If you have this list saved as a single column CSV - Comma-Separated Value: A document that stores tabular data (e.g., Excel files) with no formatting, separated by commas - you can import it into Power Editor. Power Editor will match the email addresses with Facebook users and allow you to create ads to target just those users.

If you have a phone list, you can upload that to use as well. This is a good feature as it allows you to reach out, through Facebook, with ads to clients or customers who aren’t currently your fans or don’t like your page. In other words, your marketing reach through Facebook has just expanded.

Because you do upload your customer’s information to your Facebook account, the information is stored on Facebook’s servers. This move has come under scrutiny from many security experts, to which Facebook has responded that all data uploaded is hashed for security. On top of this, advertisers must have consent from data owners to use their information and agree to remove it when asked.

For now, this feature is only available through third-party vendors or to users of the Power Editor script. Power Editor is an extension for Chrome which helps users to create, edit and manage Facebook ad campaigns.

How to create a Custom Audience If you have Power Editor installed, navigate to it and you’ll notice a new tab labeled Custom Audiences. Click it and a pop-up window will open. In the window you’ll be able to pick a name for your audience and upload the file with the contact information and type of information. Select the relevant information and click Create.

After the upload is complete, you should see the new list on the main window. Select the list and press Create Ad Using Audience. You will create your ad as you normally would, and it will be sent to the list you selected.

If you are looking to expand your marketing platform or reach out to your customers in a new way, this is a good feature to do so. While it is free for now, it’s yet to be seen if it will become a paid feature in the near future. To learn more about how to use Facebook for your marketing, please contact us.

Published with permission from Source.

Topic General
September 28th, 2012

Computer terminology can be one of the hardest things to wrap your head around. It’s can all seem like mumbo jumbo, with made-up or adopted words. Some of the more confusing terminology comes from programs and software with harmful intent. Is the program infecting your computer a Trojan horse, worm or malware though? It can be hard to differentiate them sometimes.

Here’s an overview of the most commonly used terms for malicious software.

Malware - Malware is a portmanteau of malicious and software. When we, or any other IT professional, talks about malware, we are generally speaking about any software that is designed to steal information, disrupt operations or gain access to a computer or network. In tech, and indeed many news articles, malware is used as a general term. It can also be referred to in legal circles as a ‘computer contaminant’.

Virus - A virus is a malicious code that is spread from one computer to another. Computer viruses are usually introduced to a system by a user downloading and opening an infected file. They can also be spread by any removable media including CDs, DVDs, USB drives, SD cards, etc. If an infected file is put onto say a USB drive, which is then plugged into a new computer and the infected file is opened, the virus will be introduced into the system. For malicious software to be labeled as a virus, it has to be spread through human action, usually in the form of the user unknowingly opening an infected file.

Trojan horse - A Trojan horse takes its name from the Greek story where a wooden horse was used to hide Greek soldiers who secretly entered Troy. In a similar way this computer virus is a program that is disguised as a useful program that when installed will do damage to your system. The severity of a Trojan horse varies from annoying to completely destructive, and while they are malicious, they will not replicate or transfer to other computers. Many modern Trojan horse programs also contain a backdoor (more on that below).

Worm - Worms are similar to a virus. In fact, many experts consider a worm to be a subclass of virus. Worms, like viruses, spread from computer to computer; the major difference being that worms can spread themselves. Computer worms also have the ability to replicate on a host system and send these copies to other users. The most common way of transmission is through email, or via a company's network, often causing computers to run slowly while using a ton of bandwidth, ultimately leading to a system crash.

Spyware - Spyware is a malware program that captures user activity and information without the user’s knowledge or consent. Some can even go so far as to capture every single keystroke a user makes - this is commonly known as a keylogger. Spyware infects computers either through user deception (i.e., “You’ve won 1,000,000,000 dollars” ads) or through exploits in programs. Some spyware has been known to redirect users to websites or even change computer settings.

Adware - The main purpose of adware is to show ads and gain the hacker ad revenue. These ads can be pop-ups, extra banners added to web browsers, or ads shown during the installation of third party software. While generally not a form of malicious software on its own, it can, and often does, come with spyware.

Rootkit - Rootkits are all about stealth. When installed they hide themselves from detection while allowing an unauthorized user to access and control your computer. Nine times out of ten, the unauthorized user will have full administrative access, which means that if they were malicious enough, they could really do some damage.

Backdoor - Backdoors are similar to Rootkits, in that they allow an unauthorized user to access your computer. Many Trojan horses install a backdoor for the hacker to access and remotely control your system.

Bug - Some users think that a bug in software is a form of malware, placed there by the developer to ruin the program or a system. In fact, bugs aren’t malware, they are an error or fault in the software’s code. It’s true that hackers have exploited bugs to infect systems, but the bug was the way in, not the malicious software itself.

In the early days of the Internet, viruses were often installed separately from Trojans and worms. With the rising complexity and effectiveness of malware prevention software, hackers have started to blend their attacks together, often using a combination of one or more types of malicious software to infect systems. These combination malware infections are normally complex, but have been incredibly effective.

While malware is usually malicious towards single users, a new form of warfare that utilizes malware has arisen. Cyberwarfare is rumored to have been used by governments and companies to steal information or completely disrupt a countries information networks. While most Cyberwarfare is conducted at the country or conglomerate organization level, it is only a matter of time before small to medium companies are targeted.

Tools like Microsoft’s Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET), which is meant to fix bugs in Internet explorer, as well as strong anti-virus measures, timely virus scans and an efficient Internet use policy will go a long way toward preventing malware from infecting your computers. If you’re worried about the security of your computers and network, please give us a shout, we may have a solution for you.

Published with permission from Source.

Topic General
May 4th, 2011

Passwords are more or less the equivalent of keys when it comes to cyberspace. However, passwords can be compromised through hacking, stealing, or even just guessing – which is why password security and integrity is very important.

In the same way that keys are used to open different doors, passwords are used to access many areas of cyberspace. However, those passwords are vulnerable to hacking, stealing, or random guessing – which makes password integrity and security a main concern.

However, for many people, this essential fact is overlooked. Many tend to use either easy-to-guess passwords, or use the same password for all their online accounts – from their online banking to their email – which is a hacker’s dream come true. Because when they steal a password, it’s standard operating procedure for them to test it against popular websites to see if it works there as well.

The most basic security measure you can use to guard against this is to have multiple passwords for your different online accounts – whether they are for personal or business use. And don’t just think of easy passwords, like your birthday or wedding anniversary – these are usually the first thing hackers try. The best passwords are alphanumeric – composed of both letters and numbers so that it’s harder to crack.

This might be a bit tedious, but it’s better than running the risk of compromising your security online. There are also several programs and applications you can use to help store your passwords, so you only need to remember a few of your most-used ones, and refer to your database for the others.

Remember, your passwords hold the keys to most, if not all, of your online presence, so keeping them secure is extremely important. If you’re looking for a security solution for your passwords, please give us a call so we can help you implement a password security system that works for you.

Published with permission from Source

Topic General
May 21st, 2010

It seems that even the most innocuous machines in the workplace can serve as a security threat to companies. According to this report from CBS News, many office copiers save the images they copy on a dedicated hard disk installed inside them. This means that everything from mundane memos to your most sensitive information such as financial statements and contracts are stored – and could potentially extracted.

So the next time you dispose of a copy machine, if you’re not sure what’s stored on it and how to get it off – give us a call to help out.

To see the news report, watch this video.

Published with permission from Source.
Topic General