Tips to protect your smartphone

By EDITOR 

Cyber criminals will always be eyeing your data regardless of where it’s stored. That means even your trusty Android phone or iPhone isn’t safe. In fact, it may be more exposed to security risks than you think. These tips can help increase your mobile’s security.

Set a strong password

Whether your device requires a 4-set or 6-set numerical PIN, a fingerprint, or a facial scan, set a lock that’s difficult to crack. This is not the strongest security measure by any means, but they provide a necessary initial barrier for intruders.

Major manufacturers like Apple and Samsung are innovating their products’ locking mechanisms and you’re doing yourself a favor by using them. To manage your device’s locks, follow these steps:

  • iOS – Go to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode, enter your passcode, and switch on ‘Require Passcode.’ This is also where you can manage your Touch ID settings and adjust access controls (Recent Notifications, Today View, and more). If you’re using an iPhone X, go to ‘Face ID & Passcode.’
  • Android – Go to the Settings page > Lock Screen and Security to set your passcodes. These feature names may vary per device.

Download applications only from official stores

For iPhone users, download only from the App Store, and for Android phones, Google Play Store. Downloading apps only from these platforms doesn’t guarantee that your phone will be 100% safe from malware, but doing so greatly reduces the likelihood of you downloading malicious programs disguised as legitimate apps.

Even Apple, which used to be the gold standard for software security, is no longer immune to system vulnerabilities. Despite having a strict policy on downloads (iPhone users can download only from the App Store), those with ‘jailbreak apps’ are exposed to a multitude of malicious entities. As a further precaution, download only apps that have high ratings and steer clear of downloads from unknown links.

Check your apps’ permissions

When you download certain apps, you’ll be asked to grant permission for it to access your data (files, contacts, photos, etc.). What most users don’t know is that some of these permissions also gain access to hardware controls such as those found in the device’s camera and microphone. And if a malicious app happens to slip through the cracks, these permissions can serve as a gateway for hackers.

Android and Apple have already improved their respective OS’s mechanisms to control what apps can access, but you can take it up a notch. Follow these steps to manage what apps can access on your phone:

  • iOS – Go to Settings > Privacy to see your apps’ access level. For example, if you tap on Microphone, you’ll see all the apps that have access to your iPhone’s Microphone. If you wish to deny access to it, you can do so by turning privacy off.
  • Android – Go to Settings > Apps, select an app, then tap ‘Permissions.’ From here, you can control every individual app’s access to your devices’ files.

Update apps and security software

We cannot stress this enough: As soon as they become available, download and update your OS and apps’ software.

In exceptional cases where certain versions of an OS are known to have bugs, not patching your device doesn’t make it any less exposed to risk. And here’s why: Most older OS versions have had to be patched because of a software vulnerability, and delaying its update to the latest version doesn’t make it safer. In fact, it’s far riskier to remain unpatched and wait for the next update.

These basic yet critical tips will help keep all your gadgets safe and your business data unharmed by cyber criminals. Boost your devices and your business’s defenses with dependable cyber security from our team — call us today!

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Update your Mac ASAP

By EDITOR 

With new vulnerabilities discovered every day, it’s important for users to keep their computers up to date. The problem is many find this process tedious and sometimes ignore it altogether. But if you’re a Mac user, we urge you to install the latest patch as soon as possible.

Serious bug
On November 28th, security researchers reported a serious bug in macOS High Sierra that allows anyone to easily take control of any Mac computer. Normally, users are asked for their username and password before logging into their Mac, installing a new application, or changing settings. However, this recent bug allows users to simply type “root” as a username, leave the password field blank, and click “unlock” to gain full access.

This means if hackers have physical access to a machine, not even passwords can stop them from getting inside. They could, for instance, log in with “root,” reset the username and password, and enjoy future access to the machine at any time. They could also install spyware with ease and monitor your activity 24/7 without being detected.

The bug was so alarming that Apple released an emergency patch within a day. But even the fix had problems, and when users installed the next major macOS update, High Sierra 10.13.1, the bug reappeared.

Luckily, Apple was quickly made aware of this secondary problem and rolled out a 10.13.2 update on December 6th to completely resolve the issue.

Other threats to Apple security
This wasn’t the only problem Apple had to deal with recently. In October, Apple released an update for Key Reinstallation Attacks (KRACK) — a type of attack that essentially breaks the encryption protocols between a router and a device, allowing hackers to read private messages and steal other sensitive data.

And last week, an iOS 11 update was rolled out to fix glaring weaknesses in Apple’s HomeKit Internet of Things framework, which enables hackers to exploit smart devices like security cameras and door locks.

How to protect yourself
The importance of checking for updates and installing them as soon as possible cannot be understated. Hackers are more active than ever and will use any means necessary to breach your network. Updating your software is the best way to reduce the number of exploitable entry points into your business.

To install updates for Apple devices, open the App Store, and click on Updates. All critical updates should be displayed on the window, but if you don’t see the one you’re looking for, use the Search field to find it.

Even though the potentially devastating High Sierra bug has been fixed, you should consider creating a genuine root user password to prevent others from gaining access to your machine just by typing in “root.”

To do this, open Directory Utility, which can be found in the Users & Groups tab in System Preferences. From there, click on Edit and select Enable root user, where you will be prompted to set a password. And last but not least, make sure you set a strong password.

Protecting your systems is a full-time job, so if you’re not experienced with computers, call us today. We’ll give you the tools and services you need to stay safe from a wide range of cyberattacks.

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2017’s most valuable IT solutions

By EDITOR 

It’s the perfect time of year to evaluate last year’s technology investments and make adjustments for the year to come. Whether 2017 left you with extra cash in your pocket or desperate for a better way to get work done, here’s a roundup of the best IT news from the past year.

Small businesses love the cloud

According to research from IDC, more than 70% of businesses with 10-99 employees took advantage of cloud technology in 2017, and that number is expected to rise this year. This is largely due to IT providers demonstrating that the cloud is just as, if not more, secure than on-premises solutions. The list of possibilities for what can be hosted in the cloud on a small-business budget is getting longer every day — if you’re not devoting resources to this technology, it’s time to jump onboard.

Mobile payments earn users’ trust

Like the cloud, making credit card purchases using a mobile device suffered from a trust deficit in its early stages. For good reasons, consumers have been conditioned to treat IT security with caution, and storing financial information on a smartphone that could wirelessly transmit that information to cashiers sounded dangerous.

However, after two years of availability without any major incidents, the number of users who have used smartphone-based wallets like Apple Pay has doubled. Accepting these payments is relatively simple for small businesses and opens up new business opportunities.

Cybersecurity becomes affordable for SMBs

Ransomware had yet another year of explosive growth, and small businesses were a primary target. Thankfully, managed IT services providers met the increased demand for cybersecurity services with intelligent data backup and network protection solutions tailored for SMB budgets. There will be even more ransomware attacks in 2018, which means you should be investing in more cybersecurity services than you did last year.

The Internet of Things gains popularity

Just a couple years ago, Internet of Things (IoT) devices were novelty gadgets for people with money to burn. Everything was being connected to WiFi networks: egg trays, pet-activated video chats, belts, you name it. But due to more useful applications in 2017, nearly a third of US businesses are now taking advantage of IoT gadgets. Connected thermostats, door locks, and AI assistants make it easy to save money, increase security, and boost productivity.

“Artificial Intelligence” is widely adopted

Although we’re still far from building computers that can truly think for themselves, 2017 was the year that computers got much better at creatively organizing and interpreting data for us. From digital assistants that answer your phones to customer relationship management platforms that intelligently uncover sales opportunities, IT solutions for business are getting significantly cheaper and smarter. Experts predict that more than 30% of businesses will use AI by next year and we recommend you join their ranks.

Technology investments are no different from any other investment. There will always be risks and you should always consult with an industry expert first. When you’re ready to get more value out of your IT, give us a call and we’ll get started on your 2018 plan!

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How to master Microsoft Office!

By EDITOR 

Despite Microsoft Office’s easy-to-use interface, mastering all the features in this suite of productivity tools requires time. But fret not, the following training videos will help you become a Microsoft Office expert fast.

Office Basics is a series of free Office training videos from Microsoft which cover different features and functionality.

Intro to Office Basics

This training video will help you use templates to create professional documents, learn the ins and outs of SmartArt and Charts to express complex data and ideas, and collaborate in shared documents whether you’re working online, offline, or simultaneously with others.

What is Office 365?

Discover the features and upgrades within Office 365 that aren’t available anywhere else, and learn how cloud versions of applications like Word, Excel, and Outlook differ from their desktop counterparts.

Word Training

These training videos will show you how to create and edit documents as well as create and format tables in just a few clicks. They also cover document makeovers, how to organize documents, creating mailing lists, and how to translate text instantly.

Excel Training

Creating, organizing, and analyzing data from charts and tables can be quite complicated, which is why these training videos are perfect for anyone looking to design workbooks, add text and data, format and analyze charts, and create pivot tables and formulas. Other tips include how to slice data and locate them using VLOOKUP.

PowerPoint Training

There’s more to PowerPoint than adding text to slides. These training videos will show you how to create presentations, add and format text, design presentations, add audio, video, and animations, and format images. You’ll also learn about nifty features such as how to match slide colors using the Eyedropper and how to export slides to videos.

Outlook Training

Organize your Outlook inbox with ease and learn how to add and format text and images, manage contacts, calendars, meetings, and to-do lists, as well as other tips such as how to spice up your email signature, keep your inbox clean, and hold meetings using Skype and OneNote.

Microsoft’s new training videos might not be jaw-dropping, but they will surely help users do more with Office. If you are interested in an onsite training for your team, give us a call to get started!

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VoIP trends that will take over 2018

By EDITOR 

Voice over IP (VoIP) phone systems are over two decades old, and still going strong. That’s because it provides businesses with unparalleled mobility. What’s more, VoIP developers are constantly improving the technology, which means we can expect some exciting new trends for telecommunications in 2018. Here are just a few of them.

Faster networks will improve call quality
With more 5G mobile networks expected to go online in 2018, the quality of VoIP calls will get even better. 5G offers wireless speeds ten times faster than 4G, significantly reducing common issues like call jitter, echoes, and packet loss. Faster upload and download speeds also allow for stable, high-quality video streaming from anywhere with a strong 5G signal. All in all, this new mobile network will definitely empower more users to work remotely.

Artificial intelligence will enhance telecom systems
AI technology has huge implications for VoIP phone systems.

Before a call, AI could be used to recognize poor call-quality and fix it immediately — like a self-healing network. This means issues like low bandwidth, improper network configuration, and high latency can be resolved in real time, guaranteeing crystal clear calls and minimizing the need for human intervention.

We also anticipate AI-powered unified communications programs that will analyze conversations, email correspondence, and speech patterns also in real time to produce valuable insights into customer behavior and sales performance. With this information, marketing firms will be able to improve their sales tactics and customer service.

So far, major developers and telecom providers are still working on prototypes of this technology, but more AI functionality will likely appear in 2018.

Voice assistants will get smarter
In addition to providing customer-behavior analytics, we predict that AI will also be used to answer calls. Thanks to improvements in language processing, voice assistants like Siri and Alexa are getting better at interpreting simple commands and interacting directly with customers.

For example, voice bots can handle simple queries that would normally be found in FAQs, while customer service agents resolve more complicated issues. If implemented correctly, this has the potential to increase resolution rates and reduce time spent on basic tasks.

Plain old telephone systems will die out
Given the popularity of VoIP phone systems, telecom analysts predict that the demise of traditional landlines is well underway. Of course, support for old-school phone systems will still be available, but the businesses that use them will be a minority.

VoIP offers enterprise-level features, hardware, support, and upgrades for a fixed monthly fee, making it a smarter choice for future-proofing business communications.

This is why you should consider VoIP migration your goal for 2018. As a professional VoIP provider, we can help you with this process. Simply contact us today to learn about all the benefits of a futuristic phone system.

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Phishing alert: scammers now use encryption

By EDITOR 

When you visit an encrypted website, the connection between the source of the web page and your browser is secure. Encryption ensures users’ browsing habits are safe from hackers’ prying eyes, but phishing scammers have found a way to adopt it for their own schemes.

How hackers use encryption to carry out phishing scams

According to recent research, 24% of phishing scams in 2017 use web encryption — an astounding increase from last year’s 3%. This means more HTTPS sites may not be truly safe.

Phishing scammers rely on their victims to do what they ask, which is why it’s so effective. And with this new trick, unsuspecting users are more likely to be deceived. What makes this encryption-aided scam even more effective — and dangerous — is that it makes hackers’ phishing email or text that much more authentic-looking.

For example, if you receive an email that purports to be from Amazon and includes a link to an encrypted site, there’s now a slightly higher chance you’d believe this email is the real deal. Clearly, if you’ve never purchased anything from Amazon, you’d know that this is a fake. But then again, there are millions of Amazon customers who could be misled into thinking that that email is legitimate.

Does encryption mean a safer internet?

With organizations like the Internet Security Research Group and Google promoting encryption, the world wide web should be a safer place, but that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, encrypting more legitimate websites could simply result in an increased number of encrypted phishing sites.

It may also be useful to know that not all phishing sites use encryption. Many phishing scams are still carried out using websites that may or may not be encrypted.

What you can do to ensure safety

This isn’t meant to cause panic, and despite this new phishing tactic, encryption is still an essential security tool that every business must implement.

Websites with HTTPS are still much safer than unencrypted ones. This is why it’s more important than ever to be vigilant when visiting suspicious sites and clicking on links. If you receive an email from PayPal asking you to verify your bank account details or password to a seemingly secure link, be wary. Some phishing scams are easy to detect, but some are not.

Practice extreme caution when responding to requests for sensitive data. Consider the source of the message, think before clicking, and don’t hesitate to seek the advice of an expert in case you have doubts. Phishers succeed only if you do what they ask you to do.

Phishing and other cyber scams are constantly getting upgrades, and no single solution can prevent hackers from attacking you. But your business could be much safer with the right cyber security protections in place. If you would like to get to know more about how to properly secure your network against encrypted attacks, contact your Lanlogic account manager today.

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Mobile devices and HIPAA compliance

By EDITOR 

Mobile devices have revolutionized the healthcare industry: They’re convenient and significantly improve work efficiency and patients’ satisfaction. Yet they also come with risks. Patient data handled by those devices can be leaked. That’s why every healthcare provider needs to be extra careful about data security when using mobile devices.

Why does data security matter so much to healthcare providers?

As a healthcare provider, you’re subject to regulations by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which governs how medical data is stored, accessed, and transferred. HIPAA’s objective is to protect patient privacy.

Under this regulation, you’re required to take security measures to ensure your patient data — including those handled by mobile devices — are private and secure. If your practice suffers a data breach or fails to comply with HIPAA regulation, you will be subject to heavy fines ranging from $50,000 to $1.5 million.

Some tips to help you stay compliant

It’s important to make sure your IT policies and practices adhere to HIPAA standards, and the following is what you have to do:

Risk assessment:

This is required under the HIPAA Security Rule. You must regularly audit your entire IT infrastructure, including the equipment and systems that store, transmit, or handle electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI) as well as your company policies.

Data encryption:

Even though encryption for data “at rest” isn’t required by HIPAA (only data “in motion” is governed), encryption is one of the best ways to ensure data privacy and security. It’s crucial to protect your patient data on all mobile devices with end-to-end encryptions.

Anti-virus software:

All mobile devices need to have the latest versions of antivirus software installed.

Information Access Controls:

It’s recommended that you allow only devices that have security controls to connect to your healthcare data network, and all devices must be scanned before making the connection. For certain data — especially one that is highly confidential — you can prevent it from being accessed by certain staff or being downloaded into individual devices.

It’s also a good practice to keep your employees’ personal and work data separate, so when you eventually have to delete ePHI from their devices, you can do so without wiping out your employees’ personal contacts and apps.

In case your employees’ devices are lost or stolen, you also need an app that allows you to remotely delete data stored on mobile devices.

No to SMS:

Never pass ePHI and other critical information via Short Message Services (SMS) since SMS networks are not secure. If you need to send short messages, use secure text messaging apps instead.

Employees:

You need to enforce a secure password policy within your workplace, which compels your employees to create and maintain strong passwords. As for applications, since many apps may contain malware or security flaws, you also need to control which apps your employees can download.

What’s more, public Wi-Fi networks are highly insecure, which means your employees need to be aware that accessing data via these networks are not safe and, if unavoidable, they must use VPN when accessing the data, and use secure text messaging apps to communicate via public networks to avoid communications being intercepted.

It’s also recommended to have regular security awareness training seminars and build a strong, security-focused culture. When an employee resigns, you have to delete ePHI from their devices and terminate their access rights to data immediately.

Healthcare IT security is complex and the stakes of non-compliance are high. This is why it’s important to partner with an experienced IT provider who can help protect your data and ensure your practice is cmpliant with HIPAA standards. Contact us today!

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Google improves Chrome’s security settings

By EDITOR 

Most web browsers have built-in security measures to protect users, but some of those aren’t enough to ward off unwanted software. To improve Chrome’s security, Google rolled out some changes in its Chrome Cleanup tool for Windows. Here’s how the enhanced tool protects you.

Detect hijacked settings

Many users prefer to enhance their browsing experience by installing extensions or plug-ins, some of which could be malicious. When these extensions are installed, they could inject harmful ads into web pages or allow access to third-party servers without the user’s consent.

Google’s new hijacked settings detection function prevents this from happening. Once it detects an attempt by a third party to change your browser’s settings, it will automatically revert to Chrome’s default settings. And in case you suspect any unauthorized change in your browser, you can manually reset settings in Chrome.

Simplify cleanup

You probably don’t remember downloading many of the files in your Downloads folder, but these are actually software and other attachments that were bundled with the software that you do use.

Chrome Cleanup’s newly simplified feature makes it easier for you to determine harmful files, easing the pain of sorting through and deleting tons of downloaded files. Whenever it detects a malicious software, users will get a pop-up message that offers them an easy way to remove the potential threat, get more details about it, or disregard it in case of false detection.

Maximize removal of nonessential software

Aside from the simplified interface, Google also made some much-needed improvements in Chrome Cleanup’s performance, so it’s now capable of eliminating more junkware.

Tricking users into installing a program without their consent is one of the many characteristics of unwanted software that Google lists under its Unwanted Software Policy. To help fight against this and other browser security risks, the company has partnered with an IT security team to strengthen Chrome’s ability to detect and remove unwelcome add-ons.

It’s important to note that these upgrades don’t affect Chrome’s performance and speed because they work in the background. In addition, these changes are now available in Windows devices but will soon roll out to other platforms. In the meantime, if you want to find out more about browser and application security, contact our security specialists today!

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Useful keyboard shortcuts for Mac users

By EDITOR 

Did you recently switch from Windows to Mac? If so, you’re probably still getting used to the Apple keyboard. The good news is it’s only slightly different from a non-Apple keyboard. The bad news is you’ll have to learn a whole new set of shortcuts. Although some basic shortcuts are the same in both Apple and Windows computers, there’s plenty more that you ought to use.

Minimizing (or ‘Docking’) the front app window: Command M

Use this combination when you have several apps, browsers, or Finder windows open and want to minimize the active one. To minimize all open windows at once, press Command + Option + M.

Closing an active window: Command + W

This shortcut lets you close active apps or programs like browsers, Finder, Thesaurus, or any app that allows multiple tabs to be open simultaneously. To close all tabs without quitting the program entirely, press Command + Option + W.

Quitting a program: Command + Q

Clicking the red X button in most Mac apps and programs, like Mail, only puts them in the dock. This shortcut lets you fully quit an application.

Force quitting a program: Command + Option + Escape

If an app becomes unresponsive, you can shut it down by using the force-quit shortcut, which displays all your open applications. Select the one you want to quit and hit ‘Force Quit.’ In some instances, you might need to press Command + Tab to switch to another app, then press Command + Shift + Option + Escape to quit an active app.

Hiding apps: Command + H

With this trick you can hide an active window, which is particularly useful when you want to quickly conceal what’s on your screen. It’s also great for decluttering your screen by keeping only one app active. Simply press Command + Option + H.

Opening folders in Finder: Command + Shift + A/U/D/H/I

These combinations offer faster ways to view your Applications (A), Utilities (U), Desktop (D), Home (H), and iCloud (I) folders without having to click several apps.

Shutting down a Mac: Command-Alt-Control-Eject

In a hurry and need to power off quick? This shortcut shuts down everything — apps, operating system, and power.

Taking a screenshot:

  • Command + Shift + 3 – Use this to take a snapshot of your entire screen.
  • Command + Shift + 4 – This combination will turn your cursor into a set of crosshairs that will let you select a specific area of your screen.
  • Command + Shift + 4 + Spacebar – Hit these keys to screenshot only your current window (browser window, Notes app, etc.) without altering its dimensions.

Other little-known shortcuts:

  • Command + Spacebar – Press these keys and the Spotlight Search bar will appear in the upper center of your screen, which you can use to search for files or programs.
  • Command + Option + D – Use this to hide the Dock.
  • Command + Shift + [ or ] – Cycle through tabs in Safari by pressing [ when moving right or ] when moving left.
  • Command + Shift – See all your open tabs in an active browser.
  • Command + , (comma) – Open the active app’s settings.
  • Command + Shift T – Opens the last closed tab in the active browser.

Everyone uses hotkeys to work faster and more efficiently. If you need more usability and productivity tips and tricks on MacBook, iMac, MacBook Pro, or any of your business devices, call our experts today!

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Google weighs in on account hijacking

By EDITOR 

According to experts, passwords shouldn’t be the only way you defend your accounts. After all, hackers have plenty of tricks and tools to steal them. So to help businesses fully understand the risks involved, Google conducted a study on the causes of account hijacking.

The results
From March 2016 to March 2017, Google and UC Berkeley researchers examined three main ways hackers hijack accounts:

  • Keylogging software – a malicious program that records computer users’ keystrokes
  • Phishing emails – to lead people into dangerous websites
  • Stolen passwords – available to the highest bidder

In just one year, Google found 788,000 successful keylogging attacks, 12.4 million victims of phishing attacks, and 1.9 billion accounts exposed via login credentials sold on the black market.

Researchers suggest the reason so many accounts are hacked is because people tend to reuse their passwords, which means if one set of login credentials is exposed, other accounts could be compromised.

Phishing is also a big threat because it targets users — the weakest links in your cybersecurity. The strongest password or security system won’t mean anything if your employees constantly fall for online scams.

Protecting your accounts
There are several things you can do thwart account hijacking. For starters, you should set strong and unique passwords for each account to minimize data breaches.

While the general rule in the past was to set a complex password — a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols — recent studies suggest that longer, 20-character “passphrases” are much tougher to crack. If you find it difficult to remember several passwords, consider using a password manager, which not only stores all your passwords, but can generate strong passwords, too.

To deal with phishing attacks, you should activate multi-factor authentication on your accounts. This adds an extra layer of identity verification to your password (e.g., a fingerprint scan or a temporary security key sent to your phone), making your login details ‘unphishable.’

Security training is also crucial. This includes teaching your employees about what phishing attacks look like and instructing them on password protection best practices so they never fall victim to account hijacking.

The bottom line is not only that strong password security requires strong defense mechanisms; you and your employees must be vigilant, too.

Need more advice on keeping your business safe? Call us today! We provide critical security updates and comprehensive support services to help you stay well ahead of cybercriminals.

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