Beware New Facebook Scam

McAfee posted on its blog recently news about e-mail purportedly coming from Facebook urging recipients to open an attachment to get their new password on the site. Unfortunately the email is a scam to get not only users’ password of the popular social networking website, but potentially any accounts they use while using their computer as well. This is the latest in a wave of malware and phishing scams specifically targetting uses of social networking websites. As the popularity of these websites grow, so do their attractiveness to online crooks . It is estimated that Facebook alone has over 350 million users, and just recently has surpassed Google as the most popular destination on the Internet. Even if just a small percentage of users fall for the scam, this would still make a sizable number of compromised profiles and accounts. As always, be extra careful when opening any sort of attachment in email messages. Also make sure to double check the sender of the message, the context and its content. For example, Facebook rarely asks users to update their account information via email. In addition, the message in the bogus email mentioned here is supposedly full of awkward sentences and wrong spellings, which should clue users in on its authenticity. Of course customers enrolled in our managed security services won’t have to worry, as we block these types of messages before they reach their Inbox. Worried about threats coming in through your email? Contact us and see how we can help. Related links: Beware the new Facebook password reset scam (cnet.com) Social-networking sites short on security (securityfocus.com) EU may regulate social networking sites over security issues (arstechnica.com)

Beware of Ransomware!

Users 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!

Coming Soon: More Business-class Smartphones

Hold on to your mobile devices: IDC predicts 20.9% growth in smartphone sales from 2009 through 2013. Symbian and Research In Motion (RIM) remain the market leaders, but you can be sure that competition will intensify with giants Microsoft , Google and Apple in the mix. A few weeks ago, Microsoft announced the release of Windows Mobile 7 , officially named Windows Phone. The announcement, made at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, came soon after the debut of Apple’s iPad. Early hardware partners were announced, including Dell, Garmin-Asus, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, and HP. While hesitant to give any specific dates, Microsoft says to expect Windows Phone handsets to hit the shelves “in time for the Holiday season of 2010.″ Business users will find the ”Office” particularly interesting: a center where users can access Office, Outlook, OneNote, and SharePoint Workspace on their mobile device. A feature called the “Marketplace” will also be useful, allowing you to easily find and download certified applications and games. Meanwhile, news has been circulating recently on websites such as The Wall Street Journal , Mashable and VentureBeat about Google’s plans to sell third-party software for its Android mobile platform. While an app store for their smartphone OS has existed for some time, many have criticized it for not being business ready, with its lack of a more stringent review and vetting process for apps. However, all that’s expected to change with the launch of a new app store completely filtered for business-ready apps . You can be sure that Symbian, through its sponsor Nokia, is not taking all of this sitting down. Soon, you’ll be able to download the popular VoIP product, Skype, for free from Nokia’s Ovi Store . The app will work over a Wi-Fi or mobile data connection – GPRS, EDGE, and 3G – and you’ll be able to call, instant message, text message, share photos and videos, receive alerts when your contacts are online, and import a phone’s address book. Not to be left behind, RIM also made a recent announcement of its plans to develop a new browser for its Blackberry products. Many have felt that the company’s products has been outperformed by the competition in terms of its web capabilities and UI. With this announcement, it’s believed that the Blackberry will finally have support for websites with AJAX, CSS, and HTML5, although no mention of flash was made. It’s truly exciting times for mobile device users. If you spend your day connected to customers, partners, and employees, you can see the value in these capabilities, with even more useful useful devices that really help you stay in touch and work on the go.

Evaluating your backup solution

You can’t have a disaster recovery plan until you first have a good backup solution. Is your backup solution good—or just good enough? The traditional backup process is done to tape – which has a number of limitations including high cost (particularly as capacity increases), difficult upgrades, degradation over time, and slow backup and restoration. Over the past three to five years, there has been a transition to hard-disk-based backup solutions that generally offer the ability to easily increase capacity as well as backup and restore much faster. Whichever solution you use, there are many risks to your data. Traditional backup processes capture only one snapshot of your information per day. So if your backup is scheduled to take place at 12 a.m., you risk losing the entire following day’s work in the case of a disaster. The backup process traditionally involves significant manual labor. Someone has to ensure that the correct media is in the drive. Someone has to look at the results of the backup to ensure that it is complete (and ideally perform periodic data restorations). Then, when the backup is complete, someone has to take it offsite for safekeeping. While some businesses have the capabilities to perform all of these backup-related tasks, many others don’t—and therefore have no idea if their backups will be there when needed. How can you make your backup system better? First, you should be absolutely sure that every bit of your data is backed up multiple times per day. Second, the human element should be completely eliminated from the equation. Third, restoration should be quick and flexible, so you can bring back any part of your data or all of it, depending on your needs. Finally, the impact on your business should be minimal. In fact, you should be unaware that a backup is even in progress. We can help you set up and maintain a backup solution perfect for your needs. Contact us for more information.

Three Ways Managed Services Can Reduce Your IT Costs

In today’s tough market environment, many small and medium businesses are turning to Managed Services. But is the up-front cost worth it? We say yes—and think you’ll agree when we explain why. With Managed Services, an IT consultant constantly manages your network, typically from afar. In other words, someone will prevent many IT problems—and fix those that do occur before they disrupt your operations. Despite this benefit, many companies still consider Managed Services an unnecessary expense because it typically involves a monthly or yearly fee. But there are many ways that such a model can actually lower your IT costs. Lower overhead. It can be expensive to hire and train IT staff. In fact, staffing is often the largest portion of a company’s IT budget. You can eliminate much of that expense with Managed Services, which provide you with high-quality IT staff at a fraction of the cost. Increased cost predictability. The cost of responding to an IT problem is usually an unplanned expense—and often a significant one. With Managed Services, you prevent problems, so you can better predict (and therefore manage) IT costs. A better business model. Additionally, Managed Services provide an efficient business model. There’s less IT down time, which means employees are less frustrated and customers are always served. That increases employee retention and helps you create long-term business relationships—which in turn can increase your revenue. Contact us today for more information about our Managed Services.

Is Your Disaster Recovery Plan Up To Date?

Businesses are constantly changing. Is your disaster recovery plan changing, too? It should be. Every company can experience a business-altering event at any time:  floods, explosions, accidents, computer malfunctions—the list is endless. If you have a disaster recovery plan, you’re prepared to prevent such events from disrupting your normal operations—or at least you were at the time you created the plan. But how long ago was that? As your business has grown, it’s likely that your products and services, or at least the way you deliver them, has changed as well. For example, the increase in technology-based processes over the past few years has likely increased your reliance on the availability of systems and information for your business to function effectively. These changes might necessitate a change in your disaster recovery plan. As a result, we recommend a regular review of your plan. If you make changes, these change should be tested and new processes documented so all employees can be trained accordingly. Finally, keep in mind that reviewing your disaster recovery plan isn’t a one-time event. Because changes to your products and services, or the way you deliver them, are likely to continue, reviewing your disaster recovery plan should be a regular process. If you’d like a professional review of your disaster recovery plan (or if you don’t have one in place at all), contact us today. We can help save your systems and data from the unthinkable.

Mariposa Botnet Masters Arrested

Spanish 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. Related articles: How FBI, police busted massive botnet (go.theregister.com) Botnet takedowns ‘don’t hurt crooks enough’ (go.theregister.com) Vodafone distributes Mariposa Bot, Conficker and Lineage in HTC Magic (techie-buzz.com)

SaaS Characteristics and Integration

SaaS has several characteristics that set it apart from other services: SaaS allows the access and use of commercially available software through a remote, network, or internet connection. This means that the software is not installed in the subscriber’s computer, but rather on the SaaS provider’s server. This also makes the software accessible to the subscriber regardless of his or her location. SaaS provides commercially available software, not custom made software, meaning that a particular software service is made available to multiple clients, so customization is limited to only what the software or SaaS provider allows. The SaaS provider shoulders the responsibility of updating the software, and subscribers can request updates, upgrades, and additional features. Regarding implementation, SaaS architecture is classified into four “maturity” levels based on factors such as configurability, multi-tenant efficiency, and scalability. Level 1 is the “ad-hoc/custom” level, in which a modified version of a particular piece of software is offered to subscribers, which is then run on the provider’s host server. This level is requires the lowest maintenance. The second level offers more customization and allows subscribers to configure the metadata of a program. This then allows a customized version of the same software, based on the needs of the subscriber. Multi-tenant efficiency is added to the third maturity level, which means that the SaaS servers are made more conducive for subscribers to use separate instances of a single application. The fourth and most “mature” SaaS architecture offers all four factors, with the service reaching optimum efficiency. Considering SaaS for your business? Let us help you sort through the details.