Barely a month after a Google engineer disclosed a critical vulnerability in Windows XP, hackers have taken launched an attack on vulnerable machines. On June 10, a Google engineer disclosed a security flaw in Windows XP’s Help Center, which can potentially allow hackers to search and retrieve sensitive information from vulnerable PCs, and even turn them into “zombies:”machines that follow the commands of a remote master to perhaps download more malware or send out spam. Recently, reports have come out that the first real exploit has emerged, with Microsoft reporting that over 10,000 Windows XP systems have already been subjected to attack . The systems attacked are based not only in the US, but also in Russia, Portugal, Germany, and Brazil. A patch from Microsoft was released on July 13, and workarounds also exist to contain the threat, such as disabling the HCP protocol. Customers of our Managed Security services running Windows XP are assured of immediate support once the patch is rolled out, but in the meantime can take advantage of our assistance to secure systems through other means. If you’re on one of our Managed Services plans don’t worry – you’re protected. If you’re not sure contact us to find out how we can protect your systems and network from this and other dangerous attacks.
The recent fever over the FIFA World Cup made unsuspecting victims an easy target for malware makers, spammes, and scammers using the sport as a means to spread nefarious software or lure users into money-making scams. It seems the entire world was in the grip of the 2010 FIFA World Cup fever as several countries vied for football supremacy in South Africa. Unfortunately, malware makers, spammers, and scammers capitalized on the fever as well, using references to the event as a means to spread nefarious software or lure unsuspecting users into money-making scams. Some of the threats included 419-style scams , lures selling fake tickets, even fake products and business opportunities related to the World Cup. One particular ploy involved a couple of websites selling a bogus filter to cancel out the sound of noisy “Vuvuzela” trumpets in TV broadcasts. Scammers had even used legitimate websites to sell them—such as eBay and other auction sites. Several spammers used sophisticated techniques to confuse SPAM filters by using tools to automatically scrape the text from hundreds of websites (including news sites) and using them to spray random bits of this text into their messages. Another new development that was seen were targeted attacks on top executives of international manufacturing companies and government agencies. With the 2010 World Cup behind us, what does this mean to us now? Everyone should always be on guard against websites, links, or messages that seem too good to be true (because most likely they are), but understanding that scammers and spammers especially thrive during popular events helps everyone to be on extra high alert.
Implementing a client-server network and maintaining it with Managed Services can help small to medium-sized businesses prevent data loss events, which lead 43 percent of such businesses to close within two years. According to DriveSavers data recovery service, 43 percent of companies that lose data in a disaster never reopen, and 90 percent are out of business within two years. How can you prevent data loss—without the hassle and expense of staying on top of the latest technology and continually monitoring backups? Consider a client-server network combined with Managed Services. With client-server networks, computers and other devices called clients are connected to a centralized computer called a server. The server stores information in a central location, and shares it with the clients on the network. Why is this a better setup for data loss prevention than the traditional peer-to-peer network, in which computers are connected directly to other computers? First, because peer-to-peer networks have no centralized security safeguards, anyone connected to the network can gain access to all of the devices on the network, making it easy to lose data through malicious acts by hackers and viruses. Second, because peer-to-peer networks don’t share information in a centralized location, if one device on the network fails, all the data stored on that device is lost. This makes it easy to lose data through hardware and software failures. With a client-server network, you address both of these potential problems. Security software can be installed centrally, ensuring that everyone on the network has the most up-to-date protection. At the same time, access to data that might be lost through malicious acts can be controlled, with different access levels given to different users. It’s also easy to back up (and retrieve, if necessary) data because it’s stored in a centralized location. The only remaining problem is that maintaining a client-server network requires you to stay on top of the latest technology, monitor backups, and troubleshoot problems—and that can take the resources of a dedicated IT staff. If you don’t have such an IT staff, or if you’d prefer your IT staff to work on revenue-producing projects, you may want to consider Managed Services. With Managed Services, an IT company monitors your network to ensure security is high and data is backed up regularly. If a problem occurs, it’s addressed quickly, with data retored almost before you know it’s missing. The best news: Your support costs should be approximately the same as if you were paying to address problems as they arise—but your network’s safety will be significantly higher.
Are you getting a “USB device not recognized” error for a USB mouse, keyboard, or other USB device? Already tried normal fixes, such as uninstalling and reinstalling the driver, but it’s still not working? A possible solution may surprise you. Read more
Work no longer has to be a place your employees go at a certain time. Learn what technologies can enable your employees to get more done from any location, any time. Lately there has been a trend among companies, no matter what size and maturity, toward the use of so-called “virtual” teams. Driven perhaps by rising office and energy costs, maturity of computing and network technologies, talent scarcity, or simply the opportunity to realize increased efficiency, this has resulted in the adoption of flexible work arrangements for some employees including flexible time and working from home – or even from remote locations in different time zones. Along with this trend has come the need to support this new way of working. A wealth of options exists—from virtual team spaces and online collaborative tools to more advanced communication devices such as smartphones and tablets. Here are a few examples. For teams working at the same time but from different locations: Conferencing applications—via telephone or video Shared workspaces and whiteboards Instant messaging Wireless communication devices For teams working at different times but in the same place: Team rooms Intranets For teams working at different times and from different places: Extranets Virtual Private Networks E-mail/Groupware Message boards Blogs and knowledgebase tools With the right tools, work can happen any time and from any place. Interested? Get in touch with us and find out more.
Client-server networks can help employees perform 20 percent more revenue-producing tasks. For small to medium businesses that may not be able to afford a dedicated IT staff, outsourcing may be the most cost-effective means of installing and maintaining such a network. You’re probably aware of the benefits of a client-server network—but are you prepared to handle the maintenance? If not, you may want to consider Managed Services. According to a Forbes study, client-server networks help small businesses extend their geographic reach, find new customers, and increase revenues while maintaining or decreasing costs—and as a result, employees at small businesses using client-server networks perform 20 percent more revenue-producing tasks. However, installing and maintaining such a network isn’t easy. It requires you to stay on top of the latest technology, monitor backups, and troubleshoot problems. The traditional method of installing and maintaining a client-server network is to hire a staff of IT professionals to do the work, but this may not be realistic for small or even mid-sized businesses not be able to afford a dedicated IT staff. Outsourcing may be a cost-effective way to solve this problem. If you want to outsource, you could hire an IT company to set up your client-server network, then wait for the network to break down before calling the IT company to perform the repair. Or, you could consider Managed Services. With Managed Services, an IT company monitors your network to ensure performance and troubleshoot problems before they get out of hand. And in the unlikely event that something goes wrong, you’ll have qualified professionals on call to come to the rescue. Moreover, your support costs should be approximately the same as if you were paying for reactive support—but your network’s performance and reliability will be significantly higher. So why spend time and money running a network when both can be better spent running your business? Consider Managed Services for you client-server network maintenance.
Do you want to lock and password-protect your important folders in Windows 7 or Vista? If you have multiple accounts including one with administrator privileges in Windows 7 / Vista, then you can set access privileges for individual folders. Read more
The near ubiquity of WiFi hotspots nowadays has led to great advances in access and convenience for many. It’s also a great boon for “road warriors” who do most of their work from the field. However, few people understand the risks of using wireless hotspots. When you go online in open networks that don’t use a password or encryption, potentially everything you send out from your computer can be seen by anyone with adequate technical knowledge. Therefore, whenever possible it’s best to connect in places where some encryption—either WEP or WPA—is employed. If that’s not available, using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) can help, which allows you to establish a secure channel of communication to your office network over the public Internet. How you use certain software is also something you should be aware of—some browsers, instant messengers, and email clients are more secure than others. Wireless hotspots can be great when travelling on business or working on the road. Being proactive about security issues will go a long way in ensuring your safety and privacy, and we’re here to help. We can set up your machines for secure access by implementing a network VPN, consulting on software security, and much more. Contact us today to learn more.
A critical vulnerability in Windows XP has been revealed that involves the Windows and Help support center, a Web-based feature providing technical support information to end users. The vulnerability can potentially allow a remote hacker to take complete control of a victim’s machine. Systems running Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 using many major browsers, including Internet Explorer 8, are affected. A few days after the advisory, security firm Sophos warned users of a website using the vulnerability to install malicious software on victims’ machines, and of possibly more exploits coming out soon. Users of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 are advised to disable features within Help Center that allow administrators to remotely log onto their machines. For individual users, Microsoft has released a patch for the flaw. Don’t know how to install the patch? Need help? Let us know! Of course our customers with Managed Services are automatically advised of these vulnerabilities, and patches are applied as soon as they are available. Contact us today to find our more.
A recent report , released by Osterman Research and sponsored by software vendor Commtouch, reports that the incidents of outbound spam is getting worse. The research firm interviewed 266 end users of internet service providers and 100 web hosting companies. Almost 40% of respondents have had their IP addresses listed on Real Time Blackhole Lists (RBLs) in the past 12 months alone – and the number could be far greater considering those who may not be aware that they have been listed. RBLs tag machines or networks of machines as being sources of SPAM, causing their emails to be filtered out by many mail servers. This can result in legitimate emails not reaching their intended destination, and can victims’ reputations. In addition, having an infected machine or network of machines can waste bandwidth and slow down outbound connections. The cause of outbound spam varies, but can including everything from compromised email accounts to “zombie” machines – machines infected with malware sending out spam unbeknownst to the user. There are multiple ways of protecting computers and networks against the risk of outbound spam, and our Managed Services clients benefit from our proactive protection and filtering. Contact us to find out more.