Every day it seems like there’s another new threat to be wary of. A company’s email lands in your inbox informing you that their servers have been breached and your data, in one form or another, has been accessed. Some offer reassurance that the stolen data was encrypted or incomplete, that no financial data was in danger, or if the breach was extensive, they might promise you a free period of credit monitoring to thwart any legal action, should some trouble arise.
If this sounds familiar, it’s only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Leaks happen to large companies, and it does signify that the need for greater security exists, but people can do a lot at all levels to prevent those who mean harm.
Take the recent EquiFax data breach, which was confirmed to be caused because an employee neglected to update security software and patch a known security hole. Two months later, still without an update, over 145 million customers’ data was stolen.
If you use a reliable antivirus and anti-malware program, then keeping it updated keeps you ahead of the curve. The key is to use reliable software. Safety and vigilance need to start with some basic prevention. If you use your devices in public, invest in privacy screens. Even make sure there’s no one looking over your shoulder. In many cases, passwords or codes are intercepted. Yet, beyond these basics, it’s important to keep updated reliable protection. Despite what some believe, malware can make its way onto tablets, and mobile phones in addition to both PC and Mac computers. Some basic prevention and maintaining vigilance can help prevent trouble.
Yet if you need advice on reliable software or want to set up a regular maintenance schedule, companies like ours, PCMac Express, should be part of your team. We have cleaned malware from many customers’ systems, as well as helped them once their computers were compromised. We’ve helped defeat ransomware and related scams, and left customers’ computers secured and ready for use again.
The recent Equifax security breach has been making headlines due to the scope and potential consequences of leaked data of 145.5 million affected people. Yet, your company can learn a lesson from this recent catastrophe. One of the early finds regarding the Equifax situation was that it was caused, in large part, by someone in the company failing to patch a bug in software that sat there, waiting to be exploited, for two months. If you run a business with sensitive consumer data, you should learn a lesson from this incident.
You, as a business owner, may not be dealing with 145 million customer accounts, but you, like us, rely upon keeping your customers’ information secure and private. This is why you need the peace of mind of regular maintenance.
Keep Your Systems Updated:
Equifax admitted its lack of security updates left a wide open hole for information to be stolen. “Upon discovering a vulnerability in the Apache Struts web application framework as the initial attack vector, Equifax patched the affected web application before bringing it back online,” read a statement. However, the vulnerability was discovered in March, and Equifax’ systems were breached in May.
For a small business, be sure to keep your operating system up to date. If you’re running Windows, be sure to keep the version up to date as well. Microsoft has ended support for Windows Vista and earlier, with only limited support for Windows 7, which is incompatible with some modern chips and software. If you are able to, moving to Windows 10 will keep things completely up to date and at the same pace across all of your machines.
If you run a Mac, you too should keep your systems updated as, despite clichés, Macs are not insulated from vulnerabilities.
Keep Strong Security:
In addition to keeping things up to date, it’s important to keep running strong security applications. We help our customers navigate through the options out there. Some sound too good to be true, and often are. Still, some, like CCleaner, that we do continue to recommend, have also been subject to exploits just this year. It makes the case that having strong security and protections on multiple levels is important.
Keep Regular Backups:
Should your system or protections come under threat, it is vital to keep regular backups of your valuable data. We can help you set up backups and choose which backup options fit your needs and budget. There are varieties within types of backup options and differences between PC and Mac. Let us help you out whether you choose an external drive, the cloud, or a combination of options.
Keep Your Computers Running Smoothly:
Finally, do not underestimate the need to keep your computers tuned up and running smoothly. Most computers in regular use will begin to see normal wear and tear long before problems arise that we can notice. Having scheduled computer maintenance for your business can keep things running smoothly and last longer, saving you time and money.
For a free phone consultation with no obligation to contract service, call us! 212-682-6878 or 718-459-9477
It seems like every other week these days, the news carries mentions of ransomware or malware unleashed to hold unsuspecting people and businesses’ information for, as the name indicates, ransom. It is a lucrative and growing form of theft, with a surge of 167 times more ransomware in 2016 than in 2015. Yet, this week, what was first thought to be the latest ransomware attack was something intended to be much worse.
The havoc caused this week by the infection known as Petya/ExPetr acted like ransomware at first look –it would pop up and lock data behind a fake screen demanding money for a code to unlock the data and break the encryption. However, there were holes in the way it operated, and experts quickly realized after analysis that the codes customers had paid for were useless. This malware attack wasn’t to ransom data –it was to destroy it. The alleged unlock codes were just random characters that failed to decrypt anything. It wasn’t spread to make anyone money. Experts are calling it a “wiper”. Data on infected systems is lost forever.
The list of infected people and businesses grew rapidly, but security firms also jumped right into action. There are ways to catch a potential infection and stop it.
We’ve long been advocates of staying on top of security and protecting your data. Maintenance is one of the many services we provide, and we understand that losing access to everything on your computer or even an entire office network, could be a devastating and costly process to address. That is the case even when the data that has been encrypted or infected can be cleaned up and restored. In the case of this latest round, that data is simply lost, the extent of which is unknown just yet.
Imagine if your data was suddenly lost forever. We’re often able to recover data due to drive failure, erasure, or common malware infection, but this is worse.
And it’s preventable! Be proactive and save yourself the trouble by contacting us. We’ll set up options to meet your needs, from data backups, top of the line anti-malware and virus protection, to regular maintenance.
We’ve had a few customers come to us with similar situations recently. Their computers were showing signs of slowdown, sometimes sluggishness, and occasionally, their systems were in a bit more trouble than that– computers that wouldn’t turn on or were experiencing sudden shutdowns.
We opened up one case and found a ton of dust inside (see photos with this post – and this was after initial dusting). The dust combined with a lack of air circulation to go and fry the video card. Too much heat inside your computer is going to lead to problems eventually. There is a limited amount of space in the case, so making sure the fans have room to circulate the air and cool your system is important. So, too, is regular cleaning and maintenance. Dusting your computer helps it run better in the long run. Investing in a couple of cans of compressed air to dust out the fans now and then is the least you can do.
In another case, a customer who used his laptop for gaming came to us with slow computer problems. The games he enjoyed playing were rather resource intensive, and many laptops not specified for gaming purposes might chug when trying to play them. Gaming on laptops is possible, but again, heating can be a real danger when it comes to running programs that demand a lot from your system. After cleaning out this customer’s computer and performance testing everything with games and programs running, temperatures were mostly within a workable range. We suggested that the customer buy a cooling pad for laptops. Not only do cooling pads help reduce temperatures, they tend to elevate a laptop a little bit, which makes it easier for air to circulate out of the vents and below the computer. By not resting the laptop on a desk or table itself, the air can get out and disperse, letting the additional fans help prevent issues. What’s more, they begin at under $20, so it can be an affordable way to keep your hardware healthy if you use your laptop for gaming or other intensive work, like video editing.
Keeping an eye on the temperature during all your most common activities on your computer will help too, because it will give you an idea of what is normal for each demand you place on your system and alert you if excessive heat starts to become a pattern. This can help you notice heating occur before it causes any obvious problems. If you can investigate the cause and find out how to stop overheating early enough, it might spare your system repairs later.
Of course, you can invest in regular computer maintenance from a shop you trust to keep things running smoothly. We are happy to provide maintenance services for all computer models. Call us for a free, no obligation phone consultation.