Run your Windows Updates and be very skeptical about opening unsolicited emails. Failure to do so may result in a very dangerous strain of ransomware that could infect your entire network and spread to your clients, partners, and prospects.
Microsoft has even released patches for some older, unsupported versions of Windows to combat the threat that infected PCs all over the world over the weekend.
What’s Going On? A ransomware worm variant dubbed ‘WannaCry’ struck critical systems all around the world. While the attack has been addressed by Microsoft and halted for the time being, the threat is far from over, especially for users who don’t keep their computers updated.
Discovered early in the morning hours of Friday, May 12, WannaCry spread at a startling rate, reaching victims in 11 countries within its first few hours, and over 45,000 attacks (spread through 99 countries) after a few more hours. By Monday, over 150 countries had been hit by this global cyberattack.
There’s No Specific Target The victims included many companies that provide utilities, like telecommunications, electrical, and gas companies. Even more frightening, WannaCry caused serious trouble in England’s healthcare systems, leading to massive numbers of non-critical patients being sent home or turned away at hospital doors. Russia found that thousands of its interior ministry computers had been infected. In the United States, the ransomware managed to infect FedEx’s systems, and these are just the big highlights. Businesses everywhere went dark as a result of this attack.
However, WannaCry did not target businesses of any specific industry. This particular ransomware worm is a threat to essentially any PC, old and new.
WannaCry was first discovered by security company Malwarebytes, whose director of malware intelligence, Adam Kujawa, had a few choice words to describe the malware, “The spread is immense. I’ve never seen anything before like this. This is nuts.” This opinion was repeated by many others in the industry.
How Do I Prevent WannaCry? WannaCry relies on a security vulnerability in Windows. Microsoft deployed a security patch on March 14, so it is critical that users run the update, especially before putting themselves at risk and opening unsolicited emails. Computers that are patched face a significantly smaller risk of getting the ransomware. Key words here; significantly smaller, as in not totally in the clear.
To run your Windows Updates in Windows 10, open up your Start Menu and type “updates” in the search box and choose Check for Updates - system settings from the results. A window titled Windows Update should appear. From there, click the Check for updates button. If it says your device is up to date, you have the latest update. If not, you’ll need to allow your PC to install them.
Evaluating your computer and network security would be a good step in the right direction, as well as educating employees on some basic best practices like not downloading and opening unsolicited attachments.
It’s also critical that your files are backed up securely. If ransomware infects your network, it makes your files inaccessible unless you pay the ransom which only feeds into the problem. Utilizing an offsite backup solution that can easily be restored is the only way to go.
I’m Updated, am I Still at Risk? There is also the risk that WannaCry is still waiting on some systems that have not been used since the attack began, so this initial attack is still far from over. Any PC on your network that gets infected could infect the rest. Plus, even with the patch, a user could still accidentally download an infected file. It’s also possible that those behind WannaCry will devise a workaround to the patch. Therefore, you should always be mindful as you review your incoming email and do your best to protect your network with managed IT security solutions and backing up your files.
Events like these are why we always encourage timely updates to your systems. WannaCry depended on a vulnerability in Windows, and will continue to infect outdated, unpatched PCs to be effective, and so your first defense against it is to make sure yours has the most recent security patches from Microsoft.
As Microsoft's president and chief legal officer Brad Smith said, “The governments of the world should treat this attack as a wake-up call.”
What If I’ve Been Infected By WannaCry? Contact us at (732) 360-2999 immediately. Under no circumstance should you attempt to pay the ransom.
If you haven’t been targeted, count your blessings. That said, it’s time to start thinking about having your IT managed and maintained to prevent issues like this. Contact Net It On at (732) 360-2999 and ask how we can help prevent business-crippling issues and security threats like WannaCry.
Sometimes it can be a chore to find certain programs or files on your computer when they aren’t immediately available on the desktop. You might have to dig through countless folders just to get started on an important task. Thankfully, there’s a well-known way of getting around this frustration: Windows’ integrated search application. To get started with this week’s tip, turn your attention to the Start menu.
The more recent versions of Windows have come equipped with more dynamic ways to take advantage of your computer’s built-in functionality, and the Start menu is no different. Nowadays, the Search option is built right into the Start menu, and it allows you to search for not just local files, but pages on the Internet as well. It’s a testament to how innovation can help strengthen the computer user’s experience.
Better yet, it’s very easy to use. First, press the Windows key to open up the computer’s Start menu. Next, just type in the name of whatever you happen to be looking for. You’ll be shown results based on what you’ve typed in, so it’s just a matter of picking out what looks right. For example, if you’re looking for location, you might be shown search results such as location privacy settings, or other settings like how to change your country or region. Furthermore, you might find options for default save locations, clearing your location history, or even the location of the taskbar on the screen.
All of this great utility is located within your search function, but the advantages don’t stop there. Let’s say that you want to run a quick web search--all you need to do is use a couple of simple keystrokes. Keep in mind that this does default to the Edge browser, though, so if you’re more fond of other web browsers it might not be of interest to you.
If you want to focus down the results, you have the option of adding filters to your searches. For example, if you know that the file you’re looking for has a specific word in the title, you can apply the filter to adjust the search results so that you only find what files that are close to what you’re looking for.
If you don’t mind speaking into your Windows 10 PC’s microphone, you can easily start up a search by saying “Hey Cortana.” In fact, the latest Creators update makes it easier than ever to use the features of Cortana through many new improvements and features.
With features like these, you’ll be surprised by how much time you can save while looking for files on your computer, or searching on the Internet. What are your thoughts on this added functionality? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe for more great tech tips and tricks.
It’s inevitable that your organization will face some hard decisions, but no choice is as painful as pulling the plug on the one thing that you’ve dumped your heart and soul into; your business. There is a plethora of problems that could cause a business to consider shutting its doors, but often there is a solution. If technology-related costs and downtime are your main problems, managed IT services can help.
The businesses we are associated with generally have a proper understanding of how to manage risk and remain cognizant of the future. They understand that ignoring threats and not planning for future troubles can be all the difference between recovering or failing entirely. The reason why they choose to work with us that we work hard behind the scenes so that they can focus on keeping their business functioning at maximum capacity. With great technology and Net It On to manage it, our clients are better able to adapt to change and ensure their future remains intact.
Outsourcing your IT through a managed service provider isn’t a new strategy, but it is one that has gained a lot of traction as businesses come to rely more and more on technology. We’re sure that you’ve seen all the numbers about cybercrime, and how businesses and families are in more danger of data theft now than they were in the past. Financial information and personally identifiable information is highly sought after, especially in the hacking world where hackers can profit from them. Small businesses suffer from over 4,000 cyberattacks a day, presenting the need for small and medium-sized business to adhere to enterprise-level security practices as best they can. They will also need to put in place a comprehensive business continuity plan to ensure if something terrible were to happen, that there are contingencies in place.
Here is what we can do to help your business survive in the long run:
Proactive Monitoring and Maintenance It’s clear that if you prevent issues from becoming huge problems your business will be substantially better off. SMBs need to understand that their technology shows off warning signs when it’s close to failing, but only a trained eye will be able to identify it, and prevent catastrophe. Our remote monitoring and management solution lets us do all of this remotely. We can keep close watch for problems (such as malfunctioning network components or faulty drives) so that they can be addressed before you sustain expensive and costly downtime.
Comprehensive Threat Management When we say that your organization is at risk of falling victim to a cyberattack, we mean it. We won’t sugarcoat it for you, the chances of your business surviving a cyber threat or data breach will depend on how well you’ve prepared for that particular moment. You’ll need to implement enterprise-level solutions like a firewall, antivirus, spam blocker, and content filter, as well as a virtual private network for secure access to your organization’s network. Only then can you say that you’ve put in the effort to protect your business.
Data Backup and Disaster Recovery There can be no underestimating the importance of data backup, especially for a business that wants to ensure continuity. What would you do if you lost your data? Maybe you could recover it… or maybe you couldn’t. You want to eliminate this uncertainty by implementing a solid backup strategy. Our backup solution is ideal for SMBs, as it can take snapshots of your data as often as every fifteen minutes, as well as back them up in multiple locations for safe keeping. This includes locally on your network and in the cloud for virtual access. Cloud computing is a great way to take advantage of data backup as it’s more dynamic than traditional backup systems like tape, allowing you to restore data without suffering from crippling downtime.
For much of the past century, if you wanted to work among the clouds, you’d join the Air Force and take it from there. Nowadays, however, working among the clouds can mean that you want to work with advanced computer systems that deliver computing, security, storage, and utilities to businesses and end-users from all around the world.
With the demand for secure cloud computing platforms skyrocketing, you are beginning to see a shortage of resumes from individuals with the expertise and inclination to work with these cloud computing systems. Since technician turnover is a major problem within the IT world, companies tend to work hard to keep the talent they have. In fact, in the United States alone, there are over 500,000 IT jobs that have remained open for over 90 days, suggesting a shortage of workers with the skills needed to do the job. This presents opportunities for people to come into an industry that is, remarkably, just starting a massive growth spurt.
A Career in the Cloud The cloud services industry is in the middle of a boom. According to Gartner, the cloud service industry will grow by over $38 billion in 2017, making it a $250 billion industry. With organizations of all types (and sizes) beginning to leverage these public cloud solutions, the industry has quickly seen that there aren’t enough people to do the work. If you want a career in the cloud, where would you start?
Obviously, the first step to take for any potential person that wants to work with this dynamic technology is to understand it. Going to school for Information System Management is the best start if you are just starting out. Here are the top 10 college programs from U.S. News and World Report. Most schools will offer a certificate, associate, or bachelor’s program that can get you started understanding the technology well enough to professionally manage and maintain it.
Once you have the training, you can then look for a job. Since the cloud is more than just storage, being able to understand how the cloud works, what types of clouds there are, what they are used for, and how businesses leverage them will allow you to access to a variety of businesses. Knowing where you’d make the best fit will go a long way toward bringing you job satisfaction and the elusive positive work/life balance.
Next, you have to understand the roles companies are looking to fill in regards to cloud computing. Four of the cloud-based jobs that are in the highest demand are:
Cloud administrator - Organizations need people that can work directly with the monitoring and management of their cloud solutions. A majority of the job is managing cloud infrastructure, so learning core cloud platforms and monitoring tools will be beneficial. Concepts like merging workloads to the public cloud and DevOps will be beneficial for the would-be cloud administrator.
Cloud security - Since network security is a priority for most businesses, it makes sense that organizations will be looking for someone to look after their cloud security. Cloud security professionals will be proficient and certified in management techniques, as well as more advanced security measures. Along with computing proficiencies, a cloud security professional will need communication skills, as much of their job will be working with employees and other staff to design and construct a security protocol that will legitimately and efficiently protect the organization’s cloud-based assets.
Cloud architect - By overseeing the complete cloud computing strategy for an organization, a cloud architect is constantly looking at the entire operation. From adoption plans, application design, organizational strategy, and even management, the architect of an organization's cloud computing platform has to take into account every aspect of the cloud computing construct. Most organizations need their move to the cloud to be cost-effective and efficient, so the cloud architect needs to understand how to mix and match platforms for the best results today, and in the future.
Cloud application developer - Programming is at the core of this career. Having a repertoire of several commonly used languages can be most advantageous for the up-and-coming cloud application developer, especially since many organizations use major cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services, Google, and Microsoft Azure. Like most application developers, the fit has to be right, so keep in mind that just any job may do.
By gaining knowledge and experience dealing with cloud-based systems and the implementation of them, you could find yourself with your head in the clouds sooner rather than later.
It doesn’t matter what your role is within your organization--you’ll still be using the same hardware solutions to accomplish your daily tasks. Keyboards, wireless mouses, external microphones, and just about any normal USB device, all use drivers that allow for device compatibility. Unfortunately, if these drivers aren’t installed and kept up-to-date, your technology’s performance can suffer, as well as your productivity.
This week’s tip is all about how to install drivers or check if you have the most recent versions of your drivers so that you get the most out of your technology.
Since drivers are meant to help your device perform at maximum efficiency, Windows will automatically try to install them when you plug in a new piece of hardware. Depending on the developer, they will need to be frequently updated. Without the necessary drivers, you’ll be more likely to experience interruptions to your workday from hardware crashes that decrease overall performance. Of course, the easiest way to dodge these troubles is by simply keeping your drivers up to date.
First, you’ll want to open the Windows 10 Device Manager. To do so, right-click the Start menu, or press the Windows Key + X.
Once you’re in the Device Manager, you can see the details of the drivers that you’ve installed on your device. Use the categorized list to find the specified device’s drivers. Once you’ve done so, double-click the device and you’ll be shown the version of the driver that’s installed, as well as the date that it was issued.
If you have drivers that must be updated, select the Update Driver option. By checking the Search automatically for updated driver software, Windows can search for the new version of the driver. Once you’ve done this, the new driver (if available) will automatically install.
It’s important to keep in mind that some drivers will automatically be updated by Windows, but others will require that you use their specific tools to update drivers or patch software. Some manufacturers will keep direct download links on their websites, which means that Windows won’t be able to find what your device needs. Thus, it’s worth checking out the manufacturer’s website from time to time to see if there is a new version of a driver available.
Another thing to keep in mind is that a new version of a driver could potentially cause an issue or incompatibility with another part of your computer. Even though it’s important to keep everything up to date on your PC, it’s best to leave the updates to a technology professional. When Net It On handles your technology, we ensure that software updates, patches, and hardware drivers are installed in a way which helps you benefit the most from them.
Arguably one of the most important parts of running a business is the physical infrastructure of your office environment. This involves ensuring that the cabling of all network assets is properly implemented. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done, as no two businesses will utilize the same setup. We’ll walk you through some of the variables that you’ll need to consider during the cabling process, and what you can do to make it easier to handle.
Keep in mind that this article assumes that you’re either in the process of cabling your office, or you’re looking to expand your infrastructure. As with most time-consuming projects, your office’s cabling is something that you’ll want to get done right the first time so as to avoid more expenses in the future.
How Many Wired Endpoints Do You Have? This variable is determined by how many wired devices you need to physically hook up to your in-house network. This includes servers, networking components, workstations, and some other odds and ends that help your business maintain operations. The reason we ask that you know this variable is because it will have a heavy impact on how your office can be most-effectively cabled. Of course, the location of each device will also be of the utmost importance, but you can’t really know this without first considering the actual layout of your office.
One really important tip; plan ahead and run twice as many cables as you think you need. This will save you a lot of time and money if you need to expand your capabilities, put in extra workstations, or run into an issue with the primary cable you’ve already installed.
What’s the Setup of Your Office? You might want to pull out a floor plan or two for this one. When we talk about the setup of your office, we mean the actual physical office itself. How many floors do you have, and do all of them need access to data? Are there walls that will make it more difficult to get a Wi-Fi signal extended throughout your building? How about a server room? Does it have enough access to the rest of your network, and are you able to connect devices that need access to your servers? Furthermore, do you own the building, or do you rent it? If you rent, you might run into complications with elements of your setup/expansion.
How Flexible Do You Want to Be? It’s tough to plan for the future when you’re focused on the short term, especially when it means more work for you and your IT department. However, it’s not easy to change your office’s cabled network once it’s been implemented, which is why it’s so crucial that you go through this extensive implementation process in the first place. In fact, if you haven’t gotten yourself in too deep with your cabling infrastructure, there may be other solutions that you can implement to help you cut down on the cost of labor.
Understand the Best Practices There are a lot of best practices when running cable, depending on the type of cable you are running. For instance, Cat5/Cat6 cable should not be ran along with electrical, or be placed at 90 degree angles. Some cables require specific types of terminations while others give you more options. Having someone familiar with network infrastructure on hand will definitely be handy before you start working with your every-day maintenance person. We’d be happy to work with you to make sure you are on the right track.