Comments on the Computer Business

Usually suggestions and recommendations on computer security for small and home based businesses

Old fashion, reliable computer support

I often feel that people and companies over think things. I was watching a video that Tyler Garnes was doing for his InfusionSoft Success Lab and he mentioned his $10, $100, $1,000, $10,000 “rule”. You can spend your business day working on the $10 and $100 per hour jobs that are easy and make you feel good or you can spend your day working on the $1,000 and $10,000 jobs reliable computer servicethat are harder but change your business.

At Saunders, we handle the $10 and $100 computer related jobs for you in the form of old fashion, reliable computer support. What we do is very simple. We make your computer safer, faster and better. We use tools to do this because we want to be as efficient as possible as well. As a result, we can provide our services very inexpensively but always deliver more than you expect. That is why we have customers that have been with us for over 15 years.

There are a few services we offer, such as our CAP-IT Security program, where we take care of your computers for you. This includes anything that is needed that can be done remotely. We update the computer programs, speed up slow computers, we provide your antivirus program and maintain it for you as well as solve your computer problems and questions. Computer security is always “top of mind” for us. We feel like we are a part of our customers businesses and understand what they need and do our best to always be there for them.

For example, we work on the computers when the customer does not need them. When needed, we work on computers when you go to a meeting, go to lunch, after hours or on weekends. Our goal is to be as transparent to your operation as possible but still provide a level of service that you will want to tell your friends.

We provide multiple levels of backup services for our customers as well called our CAP-IT Monitored Backup programs. We know that having a computer that is backed up is a “peace of mind” that is sometimes hard to obtain. What makes us different is we monitor your backups daily so if there is a problem with your backup, we know it and fix it for you. If you want to receive a notice daily as well, we can provide that. Our “top of the line” backup is a full image backup of your system so if there was ever a problem, we can restore your computer back to exactly where you were when it was stolen or the data was lost, including the programs.

There are many other services we provide to our customers that I will talk about later but for now, these two are the most important. When one of our customers has a problem, we take it very seriously and do everything possible to get the problem resolved quickly.

Testimonial

“Dorm Suite Dorm and Sew Sheri Designs have been trusting their computer backup and security to Saunders Business Solutions for several years now. Rob and his team are always quick to respond to any needs or issues that come up, whether mild mechanical/technical problems or destructive virus issues.  We rest easy knowing Rob and his team will provide any computer assistance we may need.”

Deborah Fine
Dorm Suite Dorm, LLC
dba Sew Sheri Designs

If you are interested in any of our services or just want to talk about your situation, whether you are an office based business or a home-based business or you just have some home computers, give us a call (205) 408-0600.

Rob Saunders
We have been in the computer business since 1989

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CAP-IT Security - Comprehensive computer security monitoring program

Have you ever done what Mike did?

Today, advancements in technology are moving at an incredible rate. In many cases, it is great. Better technology often means better technological solutions. However, in some cases, we simply cannot keep up with the fast-paced, digital technology, especially when it was designed to be malicious. Such is the case with Mike, a 44-year-old successful business owner.

Mike has owned his own car parts business for over twenty years. When he started his business, computer-based technology was still on the rise and the internet was brand new. Mike was an entrepreneur that adopted the “work smart, not hard” mentality. While not tech-savvy, he still wanted to make running his business as easy as possible.

He invested in a computer and built a database of his inventory and linked with a point of sales system. He found his database to be a great resource for processing sales and evaluating inventory.

As his business grew, he built a database of frequent customers and clients. His customer database stored information such as a specific person’s purchase history and upcoming requests. The database he built would notify him if he added a car part into his inventory that a regular customer was requesting. Not only was this convenient, but, he saw a rise in sales by 8%!

Time wore on and every few years he would need to replace his computer. But, he would make sure to transfer all his data (and convenient databases) from the old computer to the new computer. Each time he replaced a computer, the technology had improved and he was able to do more.

He built a website and an email database. In just the first two months of being visible online, he saw a 5% increase in sales. He linked his inventory database with his website and began selling parts online as well as in store. Now that he could sell parts nationally and saw a 20% increase in sales almost overnight!

As Mike built his email database, he started sending out coupons and special offers to customers that had purchased from him before. Each time he did this, he saw a 5-7% burst in sales for the month. Mike was eager to see where technology was going to take him next.

It was a cool April morning, like many mornings in April, when he opened his shop for business. He got his coffee and clicked on the OPEN sign. Knowing he wouldn’t see the first customer until at least ten (as usual), he decided to check his phone messages from the answering service. Usually, there were only two or three people that had a question or needed help with the website, but today… There were fourteen!

Mike started to worry that maybe he accidentally sent out a coupon that offered a discount on something he didn’t have in stock. He had made that mistake before and hoped he hadn’t made it again. He flipped through the messages and noticed that each one was the same: nothing is in stock. Looking around the room, he knew that couldn’t be right. He had a store full of inventory.

He went over to his computer to check his inventory database and found several screens open with odd characters on them that made no sense. He closed each one before looking for his inventory database. He kept the program file on his desktop, so he was baffled to find that it wasn’t there. Neither was his customer database or email database.

Mike called a computer specialist to come over right away and look at the computer. Unfortunately, a virus had entered the computer and bypassed the firewall. The virus had permanently deleted all data-based files and programs. The computer specialist was able to remove the virus, but the damage had been done.

Mike had lost all his data for his inventory, customers, and emails. As of that moment, he didn’t have a way to track his inventory, sell his inventory, or promote new inventory. He also did not know what products his regular customers were waiting on or even how to contact them!

Then he remembered that his nephew had him download an online computer backup program that automatically backs up all the data on your computer periodically. Frantically, he called his nephew, Jared, to help him restore his data. Jared rushed over.

Jared only needed to look at the computer for a couple of minutes before giving his uncle a solemn look.  The program had been downloaded and installed, but never turned on for a full back up. Mike was devastated.

In addition to losing and possibly compromising all his inventory and customer information, there had been other imperative files to running his business. His digital copies of his filed taxes were gone and his profit/loss sheets were gone. He now could not look at numbers and trends to see what types of promotions he should run to increase sales.

It was all gone.

Mike could have used a completely carefree data management solution like CAP-IT Monitored Backup. CAP-IT Monitored Backup is a monitored back up program that manages your computer backup for you. You save tons of time, and in Mike’s case, tons of money and frustration.

Best of all, your data is backed up daily on a secure server with the most technologically advanced data encryption available. The CAP-IT Help Desk is available 24 hours a day, so you can feel confident that your data is backed up and protected. They can also help you with small tasks such as fixing your email or connecting your printer!

Visit Saunders Business Solutions now to learn what other digital services are available to help you ensure you don’t end up like Mike!

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The WannaCry Virus Explained

The WannaCry Virus Explained

Technology plays a huge role in our everyday lives,
but along with it come big security problems too.

What is Ransomware?

The “WannaCry” virus is an example of “ransomware.” It’s a really complex The WannaCry Virus Explainedpiece of software that generally falls into a bigger category called “malware.” (And that means it’s a bad thing.) Once accidentally turned on by a computer user, this virus blocks all access to a person’s hard-drive files. The only way for a victim to get back access to a computer that has been infected by WannaCry and other similar encryption ransomware is to give in and pay a ransom to decrypt the blocked files. (“Encryption” is the alteration of electronic data into another format that cannot be understood by anyone except those with an encryption “key.”) It is important to note that if files are backed up off of the infected computer’s hard drive, all this can be avoided in the first place. (More on that later…)

Ransomware is a modern version of the kind of extortion that Al Capone was famous for back in the early twentieth century when he would empty the pockets of his victims through the threat (and use) of physical violence. In modern times the threat of losing all your computer files is just as effective as the idea of baseball bat to the knees…

Types of Ransomware

In addition to the above-mentioned encryption that blocks computer system files until payment is made and a key provided WannaCry Ransomwarethat decrypts the blocked files, there are also what are known as “lockers.” This form of ransomware “locks” the computer user out of the operating system, making it virtually impossible to access any files. The difference here is that the files are not encrypted. Instead, a ransom is demanded in return for unlocking the computer that is exposed to the virus.
The most common threat presently is encryption ransomware, of which WannaCry is a prime example. And these threats are also potentially dangerous…

Dangerous Game

Unfortunately, ransomware such as WannaCry can be way more than just a major inconvenience to computer users as it also can strike, for example, hospital computer systems and possibly put people’s very lives at risk. Alarmingly, the vast majority of U.S. medical institutions have no people on staff who can deal with these cyber threats and this means our healthcare system is frighteningly vulnerable. Many experts are urgently counseling hospitals to hire cyber security professionals to make patient files and administration information safer.
Now that there is an alternative (and untraceable) form of digital currency called “Bitcoin” along with the invention of increasingly sophisticated encryption methods, ransomware has transformed into arguably the most dangerous threat used in cyber criminality. Modern day pirates are increasingly attracted to this highly lucrative form of crime. Over the last ten years, the types of encrypting malware have increased in a very big way. The Wanna Cry virus alone infected around 300,000 computer systems, stopped medical care providers in their tracks, closed down factories, and will have likely resulted in losses of billions of dollars.

How to Fight Back

Unfortunately, once files have been encrypted there’s little a person can do other than paying up and hoping the extortionists live up to their end of the bargain to decrypt your files as promised. Keep note that you are dealing with criminals, so even if you do pay the ransom there’s the likelihood you won’t get back your precious files.
The way to mitigate these threats is by investing in a good cybersecurity program that can thwart malware attacks before they happen. Before doing that though, it is highly recommended to invest in a data backup service or buy a portable hard drive to store copies of all your data on a regular basis. Be aware of your backup methods! If you lose your files to an attack, the only solution is to restore from a backup that was not connected to the computer when it was attacked. If the backup device is attached when the system is attacked, the files on back-up will be encrypted too! This explains why many experts tout the value of a good offsite backup service. We offer our CAP-IT Monitored Backup service that is designed to protect your data on a daily, or more often, basis. And, finally, be sure to keep your computer’s software up to date! (Wanna Cry exploited a vulnerability in Microsoft’s software.)

Rob Saunders
rob@saundersbusiness.com

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Is your email a BellSouth.net address?

I had a customer call me today and said that BellSouth.net called her and said that she had viruses on her computer and that they needed to log into her computer to take care of it. She told them that she had a computer attack and that she would let her computer tech take care of the problem. They asked her who her computer tech was and she said Rob Saunders.

After much discussion, they finally convinced her to go to a website, which she did and type in a code that would give them access to her computer. In the meantime she wasBellsouth.net continuing to say that she had a computer tech that would handle this and that they did not need to do this. They then said we have Rob Saunders on the line and then a person, claiming to be me, with a foreign accent said that it was okay. She said that does not sound like Rob Saunders I do not believe you. And then she hung up. She then called me and asked me what I thought.

Just in case you didn’t catch it, they were still logged into her computer after she hung up with them, while she was talking to me.

I immediately logged into her computer, saw that they still had access so I rebooted her computer. After the reboot, the computer was asking for a password to get into the system. This was not a Windows password, this was not a DOS password, just as system password that they “BellSouth.net” person had put on her system so that she could not use her computer anymore.

Fortunately for her she has a full backup so we’re going to reformat her computer and restore the backup and get it back to where she was before all this happened.

Lessons learned from this situation:

  1. If you have a BellSouth.net email address you could be a target for the spammers. As you know BellSouth.net doesn’t exist anymore, they changed their name to AT&T, but it could be an indication of someone that is older and not is up to date on technology
  2. The person that this happened to was an older lady, that is not computer literate, which isn’t her fault but unfortunately makes her an easy target.

What should be done in the future:

  1. If you have someone in your family or someone you know, please have them read this blog and pay attention to situations that they may have in the future.
  2. If anybody ever calls you, and tells you that your computer is at risk, and that you need to let them log into your computer to check it out, and you do not know who it is, don’t let them log into your computer.

If You Currently Subscribe to our CAP-IT Security program, and you get a call like this, do not let them log into your computer and call us immediately.

Rob Saunders
205-408-0600

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Security Best Practice

Security Best Practice – lawyers and business people, pay attention!

Security Best Practice – here is a listing of what you should do and know.

Do you, or any of your staff, ever type the following into a computer, web based program, email, document, Smart Phone, tablet, iPad, etc.?

  • Social Security NumbersSo you think you are safer than a 5th grader?
  • Date of Birth
  • Someone’s full name
  • Address
  • Credit Card number
  • Business License number
  • Date of Diagnosis
  • Injury / Illness description

If you do, you need to pay attention, yours and your clients data is at risk.

Who wants this information? Who is the enemy?

  • Romania
  • the state of China
  • Al Qaeda
  • the state of Russia
  • organized crime
  • and any other criminal organizations that need funding

Why are they interested in your organization, your computers, your data?

For the most part the large organizations have adopted Security Best Practice and have locked down their data and their systems pretty well. As recent as 5 years ago, the large organizations were the targets. Now that they are essentially off the table, small organizations, companies, individuals and others are the targets. The price for stolen data such as stolen credit cards have gone from $25 and 2011 down to $6 in 2016. As you can see, more credit cards must be stolen to keep their revenue the same or growing. This is true of all forms of identity and is why your information is at risk.

You are not being targeted. The enemy is looking for any open doors and will take advantage of any opportunities.

So where do you start? Computer security issues in order of importance.

  1. Passwords
  2. Backups
  3. Updates

Once you have these three areas under control, the next areas to focus on are as follows:

  1. Hardware firewall – computer hacking
  2. Email security
  3. Cloud Storage security
  4. Mobile Device security
  5. Antivirus Software
  6. Anti-Phishing Software
  7. Software or Hardware (better) Firewall
  8. Intrusion Detection Software
  9. Network Monitoring
  10. HIPAA Compliance
  11. PCI Compliance

There are many other areas of concern when it comes to Security Best Practice but due to time we will only cover the top three in this document.

Passwords

  • You want to have unique passwords for every program and every website (later in this document I will tell you how you can do this)Passwords
  • It is okay to use programs such as LastPass, RoboForm, Dashlane, etc. these are the best
  • Pay attention to two-step authentication and use it whenever possible
  • Always assume that your data is being attacked
  • Password protect all of your devices
  • Turn on your screensaver and turn on “on resume, display logon screen” especially if you’re in a high traffic area.
  • Log off your computers at night
  • Spend all the time to make all this happen
  • Do not use the same password for everywhere
  • Do not use the word “password” or any other simple passwords
  • Do not save passwords in your browsers or programs – ever
  • Do not tell others your passwords

Passwords and security are an inconvenience. Take the time to put a proper password policy in place.

Backups

Phishing attacks, viruses, malware, encryption attacks all destroy and lock your data. If you have backups is easy to recover. If you do not have backups, you may never recover and may lose your practice.

What should you backup?Backup

  • Desktop computer
  • Laptop computer
  • iPad
  • iPhone
  • Smart phone or tablet
  • Website
  • Cloud storage (depending on service)

How you backup depends on your situation and practice:

  • Copy files to a thumb drive
  • Copy files to an external hard drive
  • Copy files to a server or another computer
  • Off-site backups
  • Local image backups
  • Off-site image backups
  • Local and off-site image backups with web access
  • Cloud storage
  • Office 365 or Google Docs

There are pros and cons to every one of these nine backup options. There are a few factors that are involved in making the correct decision on how you should backup your information. Those factors are as follows:

  • Speed of recovery
  • Cost
  • Discipline
  • Data importance
  • Security

Regardless of the data backup option you select, there are a few things that you must always do.

  • You should always verify that the backup is running.
  • You should constantly spot-check to be sure the information you need backed up is being backed up
  • Once a month or once a quarter you should verify that the information you expect to be backed up is actually being backed up

How often you backup is dependent on how much information you can reconstruct if all of your information is lost. For example, if you could only reconstruct one day’s information then you would need to backup daily. If you can reconstruct a weeks’ worth of data then you might consider backing up once a week, time permitting. It may not be worth reentering a weeks’ worth of information.

Another factor to consider when you’re backing up is could you recover in the event of a fire, flood, tornado, hurricane, theft. All of these events could be catastrophic if your backup is on site.

If you’re using cloud storage and are not backing up that cloud storage, how confident are you and the financial strength of the company that has your data? Are they backing up your data? How secure is their operation?

Lastly, you need to consider the expense of the different backup options. Backups are a factor of time, resources, recoverability, security and availability.

Updates

Updates of the final area that we will cover in this document. If the program is on your computer, you should update it or remove it. You should not have any programs on your computer that are not being updated.

There are two reasons that companies update their programs:Updates

  • For security reasons
  • Correct problems in their program

Security reasons are the most common reasons for updates and this is why you should always be updating your programs. For example, when Windows stopped supporting their Windows XP operating system after being used by the public for over 10 years, their last update included 11 security patches closing holes that had recently been discovered.

Java is the most popular program in the world with over 3 billion users and is the most vulnerable program doorway to break into computers. Java is not easy to update so a lot of people don’t update. As a result, the bad guys know that this is a way that they can get into computers. We have seen computers that have never had Java updated so for security best practice that is not good.

Other programs that you should update on a regular basis if you have them on your computer are:

  • Windows
  • Flash
  • Reader
  • Chrome
  • Firefox
  • Java
  • iTunes
  • Safari
  • Google Earth
  • WinRAR
  • Foxit reader
  • Skype
  • WinZip
  • and others

How often should you update your programs?

Keep the following in mind when you thinking about updates. There are two reasons for an update one is a change in the program. Those updates can be done whenever you want to do them. Security updates are created when a security hole has been found in the program. That means if somebody has broken into that program and done something malicious that has caught the attention of the programmers enough to create and distribute a patch (update). With that in mind, update should be installed immediately for security best practice.

In most cases we will wait a few days to install an update just to be sure that any bugs in the update are corrected before we apply the update our customer’s computers.

Remember the discussion about “open doors”? These are the open doors into your systems.

The unfortunate fact about updates are as follows:

  • Even if automatic updates are turned on they don’t always update
  • If an update fails, in most situations, no other updates will follow with that program
  • Updates take time that most of us have very little
  • Updates can break programs

As I mentioned early in this document, there are many areas of concern when it comes to security best practice with your electronic devices. We have covered three of those concerns. If you have five computers in your practice you should be spending approximately four hours per computer per month on security. That would be a total of 20 hours per month on security for your practice.

Now you’re saying, there is no way, I will agree. We have spent thousands of hours updating computers manually and have a thorough understanding of what is needed and the results you receive if done properly. That is why you want to hire a company that is geared to keeping your computers safe. There are tools out there that will keep your computers up-to-date and report when there are problems. The cost for these services is extremely reasonable when you consider how much time you would have to spend maintaining your systems versus the income that you can generate during that same amount of time.

Slow computers are almost always a result of viruses and update issues.

If there’s anything that we can do to help you, feel free to contact us and will help any way we can.

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I am done with all this computer security stuff!

As a business owner you can’t just stick your head in the sand and pretend that this security stuff is not important. Security is very important and should not be left up to your employees to manage. This day and age, business owners are busier than they’ve ever been trying to keep their businesses alive and they are pushing employees to the limit to get as much productivity out of their employees as they possibly can. As a result, security gets done when it can be done and in most small businesses, this is not adequate.security stuff

You don’t want to leave security up to your employees. A security breach could cause your business to go under due to something as simple as opening an email attachment. We all know that we need to constantly update Windows, Java, reader, chrome, Firefox, flash and all the other programs that we have including QuickBooks. Are you checking to be sure that is being done on all the computers in your business? Are you doing this for your computer as the business owner.

Back in the 80s security met protecting your physical location from thieves and maybe intellectual property breaches. You might have given a little thought to that and purchased a lock or even put in a security system in your building and all that is still needed but a lot more.

You know all the things that need to be done, nothing new is being told in this blog. You have to update all of your programs including QuickBooks, flash. reader etc. and you have to backup all of your devices especially the devices that have your critical data such as servers. But even small businesses with two or three employees need to start thinking about protecting their computers and network from outside intrusions. The Microsoft firewall that came with your Microsoft operating system is not enough. You need to install a hardware firewall that has the ability to block intrusions into your network.

Antivirus programs are important, but there’s a higher level of protection that can be provided using hardware devices the go between your modem and your network. In the past small businesses didn’t think that they were a target, but they are because the bad guys have to target any company or any computers that they can access. They are not always looking for information on your computer and a lot of situations, they are looking for computers they can use to host their various programs that send out emails or provide information as a part of their criminal activity.

As an integral part of small business security you need to deal with the hardware, software and employee situations. The hardware needs to be protected, the software needs to be updated and most important the employees need to be educated. If your employees do not know how to spot problems, how to spot emails that may contain crypto viruses, how to update their computers if somebody else is not responsible, how to recognize phone calls for Microsoft that are really scams, you could have a severe security loophole in your business.

In a lot of companies, the business owners take responsibility for all of this however, in many situations the business owners preoccupied with other “more important” activities. It is very inexpensive now to have IT companies assist with all of this. Saunders Business Solutions has our CAP-IT security program and we will be glad to discuss it with you.

Rob Saunders
205-408-0600

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Don't plug in that Thumb Drive!

USB Sticks, Thumb Drives, Flash Drives, Memory Sticks, Flash Stick, USB Flash Drive, Key Drive, Pen Drive, Jump Drive. Do you know what is on yours? Do you know where it came from?

These portable drives have become very popular over the last few years. Many companies will put their names on them and give them out as give-a-ways, incentives for employees or as ways to back up their computer information. Here are some things you need to know and be aware of when using these devices.USB Sticks, Thumb Drives, Flash Drives, Memory Sticks, Flash Stick, USB Flash Drive, Key Drive, Pen Drive, Jump Drive

1.       The “bad guys” will buy them, put a popular company logo or name on them and out their virus or malware on them. Then they will put them around for people to find and plug into their systems, resulting in an infection. A recent study by the University of Illinois and CompTIA took 250 of these devices and put a virus on them that only “called home” and to say it had been installed. They then put them around where people could find them. Over half were found and plugged into computers resulting in the “call home”. If you do not know where your thumb drive came from, do not use it.

2.       People will use thumb drives as their portable storage device so when they go home and then back to the office they carry it with them so they always have their information with them. Good idea in theory but there can be problems with it. For instance, I had a lawyer call me the other day and ask if we could repair thumb drives. All of her case work was stored on her thumb drive and it crashed leaving her with no backup and no data. Second, these devices are easy to break, lose or steal. All someone has to do is to grab and put in their pocket and they have your data. If you have sensitive data, it gets worse – now you have a data breach that must be reported.

So how should you use your thumb drive? I do use it to transport information when needed but there is always a copy of the data somewhere else – usually on my computer. I also use it to carry programs that I need to normally download from the Internet to save time. Lastly, I use thumb drives to share information that may take too long to download or is too big to email to someone.

I keep my thumb drive on my keyring so I do not lose it. I never have information on it that would be a problem if it was lost, stolen or if the thumb drive was broken. I never use a thumb drive as a backup device – but that is just me. You could use it for backup just don’t carry it around with you all the time.

And by all means, if you find a thumb drive laying around, and it is not yours, DO NOT put it in your computer. Do not open the files on it. You do not want to become a statistic.

Rob Saunders
(205) 408-0600

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Computer backup

5 backup options to choose from

There are many backup options available to you as a small business owner. Many more than were available even a few years ago. I will list the most popular ones below – this is by no means and exhaustive list but it will get you started.

1.       Thumb Drive Backup – This is where you put your thumb drive in the computer and backup the file or files you just created or modified. It is great for the file you just modified but easy to lose.Red USB memory stick isolated on white

2.       External Hard Drive Backup – You have an external hard drive that you plug into your computer and copy all your files to it or you have a program that backs up your information to the external hard drive. If you leave the hard drive connected, you are susceptible to losing all your data if you get a crypto virus or the locky virus. If you do not leave it connected, you have to remember to connect it – often forgotten

3.       DropBox, Box, etc.  – If you have the free version, you do not have a backup in most cases with these programs. I definitely recommend getting the paid version where you can restore your files if needed from previous dates. You must remember that if you delete a file on one device, it will delete the file on all devices. If you install DropBox on multiple computers and say you have 500 GB of data, you will take up 500 GB of space on every device unless you adjust the settings. Usually I do not recommend this as a backup solution.

4.       Desktop Image software – When you take an image of your computer, you are taking a snapshot in time of every program, file, etc. that is on the computer at that time and you can restore that image to another hard drive or computer if you have a theft or crash. Keep in mind that if the image is on the computer, and it gets stolen, they got your backup as well. The image must be kept somewhere else using #1 or #2 above or copied to a remote – off site location, or another computer.Man Hand writing Online Backup with black marker on visual screen. Isolated on background. Business technology internet concept. Stock Photo

5.       External Backup Device with a Web interface – This is the ideal solution at this time for small businesses but can be expensive – but not nearly as expensive as it was even a year ago. In this situation, your computer image is taken every hour or two and copied to the local device. The last image in the day is then uploaded to a remote website where it is stored and maintained. In the event of a major event or theft, the image of your system can be access from anywhere in the world via another computer and the internet. There you will have all your applications and data, even email available and you can work from there until your computer is rebuilt or replaced.

Depending on your situation, any of these options could work for you but if you have a mission critical program we recommend considering option #5. This is a great Business Continuity solution and will make sure that your business will not become a statistic due to loss of data.

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Who is using your computer? You really do not know!

There is nothing on my computer worth stealing so why should I be concerned about security? Typical criminal computer uses.

The following information was provided by Brian Krebs – A noted security expert.Criminal Computer Uses

So let’s say there really is not anything you do or use your computer for that the “Bad Guys” would want to steal. If they got in your computer, here are some criminal computer uses, they could do the following:

Use your computer as a Web Server as a Malware Download Site, Spam Site, Bad pictures site and more.

They could use your computer for Email Attacks such as Webmail Spam, Harvesting Email Contacts, Access to Corporate email

They could sell the following from your computer: Online Gaming Characters, Online Gaming Goods, PC Game License Keys, Operating System License Keys.

They could use your computer as a base of operation for Reputation Hacking into Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+.

They could perform Ransomware, Fake Viruses, Email Account Ransomware or Webcam Image Extortion.

There is much more but suffice it to say, if you have a computer and it is turned on, you need to be aware of security and pay attention. Almost all of these activities would not be visible to the typical computer user.

You want to be sure you have strong passwords and that you change passwords from time to time. Do not go to dangerous places or participate in web activities that are known for criminal activity. You want to be sure to keep all your programs and operating system up to date and current with all the latest patches. And lastly you want to be sure you know who has been using your computer and what they are using it for.

All this takes time so be sure to set aside a little time every month to check your computer and make sure it is save and secure.

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You want to know about "Locky"

Mary called me yesterday. She received an email from a financial services firm relayed to her from a trusted friend. She thought it was strange to get an email for September but she opened the email attachment.

Immediately, icons on her computer started turning white. She thought that was strange so she shut down her computer and reopened it and the icons were still white. She clicked on one of them and saw the word “Locky” in the name – she called me immediately.It is just a game?
I logged in to take a look and immediately determined that it was a virus but not one I had ever seen.

“Locky” is a new form of Ransom Ware that encrypts your files. Different versions will do different things but Mary’s encrypted all her pictures, Word documents and Excel Files, both on her computer and on her external hard drive.

Here is how it works. You open the email, click on the attachment and that is it, you are encrypted. What makes this such an ugly virus is after it encrypts your files, it uninstalls itself. There is no virus to remove and the files are encrypted with RSA-2048 and AES-128 ciphers making the files un-usable. There is a ransom request but everywhere I looked discouraged the payment. You do not want to endorse the bad behavior.

So what can you do to keep from getting this virus?

AV Defender, Malwarebytes, SpyBot, BitDefender, Norton, Symantec, TrendMicro, none of these will catch the virus. Your only way to protect yourself is discipline. You must know what you are getting in your email, make sure it makes sense, look for misspellings, call the sender if you know them and see if they really sent it. If you are not sure, don’t open it. If you do not need to open it, don’t. Make sure you have a backup and it is current and backing up everything you may need.

This is going to really be a problem. The virus has only been out a couple of weeks so BEWARE.

Your only solution, if you get the virus, is to reformat your computer hard drive and re-install Windows and all your data from your backup. If you do not have a backup, you are hosed. If your backup is attached to your computer, it will be encrypted. Your backup must be detached from your computer for example a web based backup solution.

If you are concerned about this virus and would like to discuss options or if this is just something you do not want to be worried about, call us and we will be glad to assist.

Rob Saunders
(205) 408-0600

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