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August 3rd, 2011

It is inevitable to have to upgrade any kind of software sooner or later. This is now true for Windows XP, as Microsoft has announced a discontinuation of support for the operating system in 2014. Microsoft recommends upgrading to the newer Windows 7 OS, which is something worth considering as early as now.

Part of using any sort of software is the inevitable need to upgrade. Most if not all software needs to either be replaced and upgraded as the demands of the market entail more efficient processing of the various data and information a business handles.

Such is the case with Windows XP. While many continue to use this proven straightforward operating system, Microsoft has decided to stop support by the year 2014. Microsoft further recommends upgrading to its latest OS, Windows 7, in order for users to continue to receive OS support.

While there are some lines of business applications that have not been upgraded to work with Windows 7, most have and there are alternative approaches. Also, your business needs the security and protection that only a current, up-to-date operating system can provide.

We understand that changing your OS will entail some expense, including new licenses, hardware, and some training. Fortunately, these things are designed to help you operate more efficiently and increase your productivity in the long run. But such change will take time, and if you are interested in starting to plan for an upgrade now, we’ll be happy to sit down with you and develop an upgrade process that meets your specific needs.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
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December 31st, 2010

wifi signThese days, more and more people are on the go, and many of them bring their work with them. While connecting to public and open-access Wi-Fi hotspots is indeed convenient, using open networks also pose risks that endanger your security.

While connecting to public and open-access Wi-Fi hotspots is indeed convenient, using open networks also poses risks that endanger your security. The open nature that allows anyone to use the connection also enables unscrupulous people to gain access to your private information. The whole act of stealing information from people who are using public Wi-Fi networks is called ‘sidejacking’.

There are applications such as Firesheep, for example, that provide an easy-to-use platform that others can exploit to spy and harvest personal, sensitive information from you. And since Firesheep is a Mozilla Firefox plug in, virtually anyone can download and use it to sidejack people on the same network.

You can’t be too cautious with your personal and business data these days, so you always need to have the proper laptop configuration and security infrastructure to protect your system, especially when you frequently avail of open and public networks. To know more about this, please feel free to give us a call and we’ll be happy to draw up some security options that meet your specific needs.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
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March 26th, 2010

ransomewareUsers beware of ransomware: malicious software that extorts money from users in exchange for freeing the user’s computer or data. One particularly nasty version was recently discovered by researchers at CA which came bundled with a software download called uFast Download Manager. The malware blocks Internet access for users until they pay the publisher a fee via SMS. Users who download the software are immediately infected, seeing a message posted in Russian demanding a ransom under the guise of activating the uFast Download Manager application. To keep your computer environment safe, always be wary of downloading suspicious free software on the Internet. If you need help or are unsure, please contact us first so we can help!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
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March 15th, 2010

weeklySpanish authorities report that they have arrested the masterminds behind a string of online criminal activities using the botnet dubbed Mariposa. Mariposa is the original name of a commercially distributed Do-it-Yourself malware kit, sold online for 800/1000 EUR for “wannabe” hackers.  Along with the arrest, authorities seized sensitive data belonging to about 800,000 users in 190 countries, gathered from an estimated 12M+ infected host computers on the Internet.

What’s particularly interesting is that the cybercriminals arrested were not themselves the author of the malware, nor were they any more techincally adept than many ordinary users. They simply had access to malware widely available on the Internet, and were able to conduct a crime of such a wide scale and reach.

This illustrates that it’s become easier for many cybercriminals to conduct their nefarious deeds online, and highlights the need for more vigilance on the part of law-abiding netizens in keeping their network secure from hackers and malware.

Is your network safe? Contact us to find out.

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Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
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February 26th, 2010

bewareMicrosoft recently released a number of security bulletins and patches addressing vulnerabilities in Windows and Office that are of high risk to users. It’s widely believed that many will be exploited by hackers within the next 30 days. One of them could potentially allow hackers or malware authors to easily compromise systems by tricking users to download malicious AVI-formatted files. Others require nothing more than just visiting a website. Another specifically targets Powerpoint Viewer 2003, and opening a malicious .ppt file could affect your system.

This latest round of patches and vulnerability updates is really nothing new – although the sheer number made public in one day is notable. This highlights the need for a comprehensive security policy, because vulnerabilities do exist in even the most mundane or old versions of software. Customers under our Managed Services plan can rest easy since we monitor and update their computers as soon as these patches and advisories are released. Find out more about what we do to make your systems safe and secure. Contact us today.

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Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
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February 25th, 2010
Kneber Botnet

A malicious piece of software making the rounds of news websites this week is believed to be behind the compromise of over 75,000 systems in over 2,500 international organizations – many of which are government agencies and large Fortune 500 companies.

Called the Knebner botnet after the name in the email used to register the initial domain used in the campaign to propagate the malware, the software infects computers and captures user login access to online financial services such as Paypal and online banks, social networking websites such as Facebook, and email. Infected computers can be centrally controlled from a master computer, which presumably harvests the data captured for nefarious means.

The Knebner botnet itself is not new. It’s based on the ZeuS botnet, and has gained prominence lately because it’s slipped under the radar of so many organizations. However, there are ways to prevent compromises from botnets – one of which is to have a proactive security system and policy in place. Our Managed Security customers have this assurance in place since we continuously protect their system from botnets and other malware. If you’re not sure that you’re protected, talk to us today.

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Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
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February 18th, 2010

hackerIn a report by security firm Websense, an alarming rise in the growth of malicious websites was identified in 2009 as compared to 2008 – almost 225 percent. The study also found an increased focus among hackers and spammers on targeting social media sites such as blogs and wikis. Social media or so-called Web 2.0 sites allow user-generated content, which can be a source of vulnerability. Researchers identified that up to 95 percent of user-generated comments to blogs, chat rooms, and message boards are spam or malicious – linking to data stealing sites or to downloads of malicious software. Email also continues to be a target for malicious activity with tens of thousands of Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo! email accounts hacked and passwords stolen and posted online in 2009, which resulted in a marked increase in the number of spam emails.

For our clients on our Managed Service plans, we work hard to ensure your systems are protected from harmful or malicious activity coming from the Internet. If you’re not under our Managed Service plans perhaps now is a good time to talk – let’s make sure your systems are safe in 2010.

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Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
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February 16th, 2010

firefoxMozilla, the organization behind the popular Firefox browser disclosed that two add-ons available for download on its website were vectors for Trojans that could compromise users’ computers. Add-ons allow users to extend and enhance the capabilities of Firefox beyond the default install. Normally they are scanned for malware before being uploaded onto Mozilla’s website, but apparently two of them managed to slip through Mozilla’s automated scans. The infected add-ons are Version 4.0 of Sothink Web Video Downloader and all versions of Master Filer.

Mozilla has since updated their scanning process, but as part of our ongoing security watch we are vigilant in continuously protecting our customers under our Managed Services program from malware – you can rest easy.

When managing your systems on your own, it’s highly advisable to be vigilant with security and always use antivirus software – even when downloading and using software from legitimate sources. If you have downloaded these Firefox add-ons, uninstalling them does not remove the trojans that they carry, and you’ll need to use antivirus software to remove any malware on their system. Need more information or help? Call us and we will be glad to assist you.

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Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
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February 3rd, 2010

passwordSecurity firm Imperva recently released a warning to users of popular social networking website RockYou indicating that their accounts and passwords may have been compromised. According to the firm, a hacker may have accessed an alarming 32 million accounts. But what is more interesting in the wake of this news is an analysis made of the accounts and passwords stolen. From the data provided to researchers, it seems that a great number of users still use insecure passwords, such as those with six or less characters (30% of users); those confined to alpha-numeric characters (60%); or passwords including names, slang words, dictionary words, or trivial passwords such as consecutive digits, adjacent keyboard keys (50%). The most popular password? 123456. Are you using an insecure password? Let us guide you through best practices for information security. Contact us today.

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Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
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January 31st, 2010

chineseEarly January, Google released a report detailing attacks on its infrastructure which it claimed to have originated from China. In the wake of its announcement, another report came out detailing what is purported to be an “organized espionage operation” originating from China. Known as “Operation Aurora”, the attack attempted to siphon information from 33 companies in the US, including Google. The attackers are believed to have exploited a vulnerability in Internet Explorer (IE). The vulnerability affect IE 6 Service Pack 1 on Microsoft Windows 2000 Service Pack 4, and IE 6, IE 7, and IE 8 on Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 R2. In the wake of the attacks Microsoft released a patch to address the vulnerability. If you are unsure if this patch has been applied to your systems, contact us for help.

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Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
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