Comments on the Computer Business

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

So you think you are safer than a 5th grader?

My 5th grade granddaughter was staying with us this past weekend while her parents went to Charleston SC. We are having a great time and all of a sudden she announces that she got a phone call from her mother asking when did her So you think you are safer than a 5th grader?granddaddy send the text message from her phone?

It turns out that my granddaughter got a text from her mother asking what her (mother) Apple ID was. My Granddaughter responded with the following:  I trust you but if you are who you say you are, you would know your Apple ID. Just in case you are mother and forgot it, answer the following questions;

1. What is the address where I am staying this weekend?
2. Why am I staying here?
3. What is the first name of everyone that is staying here with me?
4. What are their last names?
5. Where are my parents this weekend?

The next thing that happened was her mother called her daughter asking if her granddaddy wrote the text? Her response was no, I did it. Here parents were very happy that their daughter had the common sense to not assume that it was her mother that was making the request.  I did not know anything about it until after the fact. I am so proud of her and her parents!

Lesson learned, don’t trust people on the internet. Unfortunately now days, even if you think you know who is calling, texting, emailing, etc. it really might not be the person you think it is, so you have to put the requests in context, like my granddaughter did. The text was from her mother but the question did not make sense. She was suspicious and did not respond as most people will do with the information. She challenged the question.

Great lesson learned from a 5th grader!

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Backup

Never backup your computer again

We have all been taught that we must backup our computer or else we run the risk of losing everything. That is just not true anymore because of Business Continuity. Let me explain.

There are many ways to protect the data that you have spent many years collecting, creating and processing. No one wants to run the risk of losing everything so why are you saying there is no need to backup anymore?Words Best practice on a virtual interface in a navigation bar with a businessman touching it with his finger from behind.

There are three basic ways to protect your data:

  1. Traditional backup to an external hard drive, thumb drive, DVD, the old Tape system, internal hard drive and other onsite systems. This is what we have been conditioned to do for 20 plus years. Many of us only know that type of backup and for the most part, many of us do it haphazardly. There are many steps involved in making this happen including remembering to make the backups if not automatic, remembering to check to make sure the backups are happening, inserting or removing the media, checking to make sure something was actually backed up and more. None of this includes the act of taking the media off site and the risks associated with that.
  2. Set up / subscribe to an off site storage service like Carbonite, One Drive, iCloud and others. You are copying the data to the cloud. It still requires you to verify that it is working and that the data you want is being copied. Some of these services will even create an image of your system and keep it up to date. Again, you must make sure it is always working. If you set it and forget it, you may be surprised to find out you have nothing or you do not have what you thought you had when a catastrophic failure occurs.
  3. Disaster Recovery (Business Continuity) is the way to go if you have data that is critical to the success of your business and if you have the need to recover fast in the event of a catastrophic disaster. For instance, let’s say you are a CPA and you have all your clients records on your system. It is tax time and your building burns down, destroying your computer. How would you recover quick enough to finish all your taxes in time and take care of your client’s needs? If you had a true Business Continuity solution, you could go home from the fire, get on your home computer, log into your virtual machine on the Internet and resume where you left off with all your files, programs and data just the way they were at the office. You would be back in business in a matter of minutes. With traditional systems 1 or 2 above, it may be days or a week before you could recover if you have the data and the programs available.

This is nothing new. This third system has been available for years – for the large corporations. Even medium size companies have been able to afford this technology but for the one person office or 5 – 10 person office, the price was prohibitive, until now. We have a solution that is affordable (less than a cup of Starbucks coffee). Give us a call and we can tell you all about our Business Continuity solution.

Rob Saunders
Saunders Business Solutions
(205) 408-0600

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It will never happen to me – no I mean that

  1. I just shipped off a hard drive to have the data recovered. It will cost the customer $400 – $2,000 to recover their data and they have no backups at all
  2. Last weekend a company I have been talking to got the Crypto Virus, and it encrypted all their data destroying all their hard work – years’ worth of data
  3. We had a customer that told us that they had all their data backed up but when the main computer’s hard drive crashed, they discovered that there was no information on the backup
  4. Recently I talked to a dentist that was backing up his server to external hard drives every day and taking them home. Turns out there was nothing on them for four months. Scary but he caught it in time.Make time for backups

These are just a few of the stories that I see and experience every day. The “It will never happen to me” line is just not true. All of these stories are just related to backups and not having information backed up. I could tell you just as many stories about virus attacks, lost or stolen computers, websites being lost or corrupted and much more.

More and more people are using automated off-site backup services and think that once it is set up, they are safe. That is just not true. Did you know that many of the off-site companies will only retain your data for 30 days, then they delete it? Also, their programs are designed to work but often they fail and need to be repaired or restarted but the owners do not do it, so their backups stop and nothing gets backed up. They discover this when all is lost, and they need to restore.

So what is safe?

We like to think that Monitored off-site backups are best since they are monitored and repaired when there is a problem. Data owners can monitor their off-site backups – but they don’t.
When customers ask us how often should I backup my data, we ask them “how much information can you reconstruct from your notes – how many hours or days?” We back up our customer’s data anywhere from daily to eight times a day and if it does not backup, we know it and fix it.

Rob Saunders
(205) 408-0600
rob@saundersbusiness.com

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DO IT YOURSELF SECURITY

Distinctive keys. Many odd shaped keys on old wood table . Security and encryption, concept image.DO IT YOURSELF SECURITY

If I were to be forced to only select two forms of security they would be Unique Passwords and Updates.

You want a unique password for every program, email, website that you use. Also you do not want to write down the passwords or record them in a spreadsheet on your computer. That is impossible you say! Well try this, pick a phrase that you like and have used most of your life, for example “Jack and Jill went up the hill”.

Make your password core from that phrase “J@Jwuth” a “6” to the end then the initials of your website, program or email provider.

Facebook password would be = J@Jwuth6fb

Twitter password would be = J@Jwuth6t

If you had a password that you need to change often, just add a number to the end and change it as you needed to.

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RAM Scraping – we are not talking about sheep

RAM scraping is a system where malware grabs your credit card information and writes it to a text file before it is encrypted by your POS system. This happens in a millisecond and is undetectable. Anyone that has a POS device need to be aware of this and take steps to prevent it. As you can see below, this is on the rise and will get worse before it gets better. This system is behind many of the large credit card scams in 2014.RAM Scraping

So what can you do?

You need to do all the things that you know you are supposed to do. For example you need to:

  • Make sure Windows updates are kept current
  • Be careful opening emails – Phishing attacks
  • Watch what your employees are doing on the Internet
  • Keep a good Anti-Virus program on your systems and current

There is nothing new needed to help prevent this from impacting your business – more of the same that most businesses pay little or no attention to until they have a data breach or someone they knows have problems.

As you can see in the graph from the Verizon Security report 2015 graph, this activity is on the rise. Act now before you are the next victim.

 

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Computers are your window to the world – you can travel anywhere without leaving home

RomeHave you ever wanted to go to Paris, Rome, Nebraska and just did not have the money, ability or the time?

If you have a computer, smartphone or tablet with Internet access, you are almost there. Pick a place like Rome and “Google” it. (Open your Internet Browser and type in city you want to explore into Google.com)You will be amazed at the resources and video that is available to you. For example, you can click on Wikipedia and read all about Rome. Wikipedia is the new World Book Encyclopedia of the Internet. Next you can click on the videos under “Rome – Video Results.” and you can see movies, short and long descriptions (narratives) and tours of Rome, right from your home.

For the example, I clicked on the first Video link, and it took me to a 46 minute Discovery Channel documentary on Seven Wonders of Ancient Rome. On the right side of the screen, you will find more videos from 4 minutes to 55 minutes each. With today’s technology and YouTube, you can learn anything. Someone has put out a video on any subject you can imagine, all you need to do is to have the imagination to look for it.

Another resource is Google Earth. You will need to install it if you do not already have it. To do this go to www.Google.com/earth. You do not need the Pro version, so just click on the Google Earth box in the middle of the screen. You will now need to select Desktop, Web or Mobile then click on the Download Google Earth button and install it.

Now you have a program on your computer that can take you anywhere. For example, back in the 70s’ My wife and I lived in Kingsport Tn. In a house on top of a mountain. I can Google Earth the address, and it will zoom straight in, and I can see what the house and area look like today. All you need to do is type in the address in the search box at the top left of the screen and click search, and you are there. Click on the image and it will zoom in. Click and hold on your mouse and slide around and the image will move with it. I can see the backyard of the house where my first two children played. Double click and you can drive down the street. Maybe you would like to know more about a location you are about to visit. Just go to Google Earth, and you are there.

A few resources you may want if you are going somewhere are listed belowParis

Another fun site to visit would be the Rand McNally site (www.randmcnally.com) There you can enter your starting and ending points and get mileage and driving instructions – on a real map, for us old timers.

The Alabama DOT website is another informative site (www.dot.state.al.us) You can get information on bridge replacements, construction, and my favorite, road conditions.

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Computer security report for the year 2014

Below is a security report based on the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report – 2015 that is the most comprehensive report available with over 70 worldwide reporting agencies. This applies to business large and small as well as individuals.

For most of us your Mobile Device safe. From a Malicious Exploit standpoint, the mobile market was negligible with only .03% affected. The mobile device target currently appears to be apps the people download to their phones. Most of these are geared to gathering data used to target the end users for advertising. Although it is not a top threat now does not mean it will not be in the future.

23% of recipients open Phishing emails. This is a problem. Eleven percent click on the attachments. Over 50% of the phishing attack’s emails are opened and clicked within one hour of the initial release. The solution here is education. A lot is being done to block these, but education is the key and critical to protecting you and your company in this area. This is your top threat now.Computer security

Windows, Java, Reader and Flash patches are more important than ever. According to Verizon, 99.9% of the exploited vulnerabilities were compromised more than a year after the initial release. This means that if you do not patch (update) your software, you are exposed and can be attacked, even if the attack is old. This is a high threat and needs your attention or the attention of your tech company.

The following industries are the most vulnerable to malware events such as cyber attacks:
1. Financial Services
2. Insurance
3. Retail
4. Utilities
5. Education

If your business is one of these, you need to pay particular attention to security and have a good security plan in place. Then you need to have someone that is responsible for making sure that plan is being followed. In the world, five malware events occur every second.
If you do not think your business is targeted, think again. 70 – 90% of malware samples are unique to an organization. That is not to say that it was written to attack your business alone, but it may have. There are thousands of variations of these malware attacks, and you need to be prepared.

There is much more to report and will be included in the next report. Security needs to be on everyone’s mind, not just businesses but individuals as well. At Saunders Business Solutions, we help small companies with all this as well as Home based businesses and individuals. Call us and see how affordable it can be to have us handle all this for you, so you do not have to think about it.

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Who cares about this crap? – Nobody!

I had a meeting with a customer today, and the discussion came to Battery Back-ups. They do not have Battery Backups, and they said that they saw no reason to have them since they would not be able to work very long if they lost power.A magnifying glass hovering over many questions to find the answ

In response, I told them that there are a number of reasons to have battery backups for example it will protect their computers, protect their server from surges. They will have enough time to close out of the programs they are in, and their computers can shut down gracefully and not be damaged. None of this was a concern of theirs. So what does this have to do with computer security?

Many people have the same attitude toward computer security. They say I am not willing to make the efforts to control my environment, it is too much trouble, they will get in anyway. Or it has not happened to me.

So from a personal security standpoint and data security (business and personal information) standpoint, most people just don’t care. But ask them about their children and you will get a different answer. They will hover over their children not allowing them to make any mistakes or decisions for themselves. They will change the oil in their cars on time, they will eat breakfast lunch and dinner at the same times every day. They will spend $75 to go out to eat and never think twice but would not spend a dime or anytime on their computer security.

So what is the answer to the question – why will we not spend money on our computer or data security?

I think the answer is fear. Fear that they will not be successful and that someone will get into their system. Fear that they do not know what to do, so they do nothing. Fear that something that they may do will open the door, not close the door, allowing someone to get their information.

Cliff Hanger
He is not scared, he knows what he is doing. Do you?

They think it is better to do nothing than to run the risk of making a mistake.

We remove that fear. We deal with this stuff every day and know the things to do and not do. We coach our customers and help them understand what is allowed and what is not allowed. Our customers call us about big things and the smallest things imaginable.

For less than $1 per day you can get rid of this fear. That is less than the cost of the iced tea at your $75 dinner.

It is time to remove this worry from your life. Call us now, and we will take the fear away.

Rob Saunders
(205) 408-0600
Saunders Business Solutions

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Phishing, what your parents or Grandparents need to know

When you talk about fishing, the goal is to go to the lake and catch some fish. When you talk about phishing, the goal is to send emails and catch someone’s information. In either case, something or someone is in trouble.

Fishing you know all about so we will talk about phishing and why it is a problem. The purpose of a phishing email is to get you to click on a link that you would not normally click on so the bad guys can get information from you or your computer that would benefit them. They are good at it and very convincing. They are masters of deception and know what make people react, and they take advantage of that every day. Below are some examples of possible phishing emails.Oldies and Laptop

  • An email from USPS saying they need information to deliver a package
  • An email from Fedex saying the same thing
  • Any email from the IRS
  • Emails from Amazon or any other popular mail order type company saying they need information to deliver a package
  • Email offering a free pizza from Pizza Hut
  • And any other popular topic that would get your attention

First a statistic then some ways you can avoid these scams. The statistic is when ten emails sent in a phishing attack, there is a 90% chance you will open one of them. This is why there are so many of this type email – it is “easy money”.

You do not want to be one of the 90%; it is easy; you just need to be aware and educated.

  1. Do not click on a link or attachment in any email quickly – take your time always.
  2. Take note who is sending the email. Look at the email address not the name of the person that comes before the email address. That information can be anything they want it to be. If it looks suspicious, don’t click on it.
  3. If the attachment is a.ZIP file and you are not expecting it, stay away from it. Resist the temptation to open it. It is bad.
  4. If they are asking you to click on a link and it is not something you are expecting, don’t do it. If you have a Windows computer, you can mouse over the link, and it will show you where it will take you. If you have an Apple device, you can click and hold (I don’t like doing that) and it will give you options including where it will take you.
  5. You need to pay attention to the link you are looking at above, for example, www.package.fedex.com would be a legitimate address. You can have something with a “.” Then the URL (Fedex.com) but www.fedex.iwantyourinfo.com would not be a good link. These can be very deceptive and easy to miss. Take your time.
  6. Think. Are you really expecting a package or information from that company? If not delete the email.
  7. Lastly, if all else fails, call the person, if you know them, or company and ask them but do not use the provided phone number in the email. It may not take you to the company at all. Look them up if needed by going to their website. Do not do a search for the phone number. They willElder Woman With A Computer put fake phone numbers put there.

I know this is a lot. There is a lot more, but this is a good start. Older people are easy targets for these and other scam artists. You do not want to be their next victim. Below is a list of things you should never include in an email to someone – even someone you know and trust, others can see your emails.

Social security number
Driver’s license number
Date of Birth
Credit Card Number
Bank Account information

If you do feel a need to provide even the most innocent pieces of information to a person that went you an email such as name, address, phone number you may think that is nothing. It is their way of gaining your confidence and eventually they will ask for more information.

Do not play with these people. You may recognize that it is a phishing email, and you want to communicate with them knowing that they are bad but you can control the situation – don’t. These are bad people and are not playing. If you get a phishing email, delete it and move on to other more pleasant activities.

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What do Identity Theft and the latest Anthem Data Breach have in common?

If your identity is stolen and the perpetrator uses your information when they go to the doctor, your medical records could be compromised. That could mean that in the event of an accident, and you were unable to respond to the medical staff, they could treat you incorrectly. You may be allergic to penicillin, but your records may indicate that you are not. You could be treated for a heart condition that you do not have or other illnesses that you do not have and the medicine could have harmfull effects. This could be life threatening.Doctor Discussing Records With Senior Female Patient

With the recent Anthem data breach, one of America’s largest medical insurers, your records could have been compromised. On February 4th, the company announced that over 80,000,000 records were stolen. Credit card information was not stolen, but information linked to insurance accounts was stolen and could be used for prescriptions or identity theft resulting in potential medical problems for the insured.

What should you do?
1. If you think your identity has been stolen, act on it immediately. Check your credit reports and make sure nothing unusual has occurred.
2. Make sure you have some sort of Identity Theft coverage. Some are definitely better than others. We recommend Kroll as they not only catch the problems, they repair your credit for you so you do not have to spend your days at work doing it.
3. If you are a customer of Anthem, take advantage of their free offer for credit monitoring.
4. Also if you think your medical records could be affected, call your doctor and ask him to review your records. You might even go to the doctor’s office and look at them yourself if your doctor is not as familiar with your case as you might be.

The most important thing you can do is to remain aware. You are not invincible. Many people think it will never happen to them or there is nothing they have that someone would be interested in getting. Neither of these statements are true. Cyber crime is a crime of opportunity. The criminals are looking for any “open door” and will take advantage of the opening any way they can.

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