27 Feb 2020

Finding the Right Computer Support Service Provider

Many small and medium-sized businesses choose to hire IT management and computer support service providers for their ongoing technology needs. Contracting out your IT and computer needs comes with several benefits, including: 

  • Lowered overall costs for hours spent 
  • More advanced employee training & support
  • Faster service and less down-time for the business
  • Services that are geared less toward “break and fix” and more toward prevention and maintenance 
  • Services that help your business operate more smoothly and efficiently

If you’re considering hiring a managed service provider, choosing the correct provider is essential. You want to make sure that your company’s computer system is in the best possible hands, so you never have to worry about something going wrong. Here are our top tips on selecting the perfect computer support service provider in Edmonton for your business.

 

What Does a Computer Service Provider Do?

Computer service providers are experts at ensuring that your business runs smoothly. They have many roles in the inner workings of your business, from installing and maintaining software to providing support for all of your IT-related issues. 

For a small to medium-sized business, using a managed service provider (MSP) may be more beneficial. An MSP helps you outsource your business’s IT infrastructure, making it far less costly for you. Many SMBs don’t have access to the full scope of IT services when they’re managed internally, so an MSP is often a better choice. MSPs help your business stay on top of things and protect you from threats like ransomware, which can easily cost businesses thousands of dollars. 

 

Our Tips For Finding the Perfect Computer Service Provider

Do They Provide the Services You’re Looking For?

One of the first things to do when researching potential service providers is to check exactly which services they provide. Find out when they’re available to provide support, which programs they work with or specialize in, and if they can help you meet your specific expectations and business goals. It’s good to find a company that delivers a diverse number of services as well, as it’s never a bad thing to have more versatility and options as your business grows.

 

What Does Their History Look Like?

You can see a lot about a company by looking at their background and who they’ve worked with before. Customer testimonials and reviews give you an inside look at the company from people who have worked and dealt with them before. If you feel hesitant or you’ve been burned by other service providers before, don’t be afraid to ask specifically for a business’s qualifications (and the qualifications of employees) to be sure they have the quality training and education you’re looking for. Think of it as if you were hiring an employee and conduct your research and meetings like you would for a job candidate.

 

What Are Their Prices and How Do They Work?

 Being unsure about any aspect of pricing is a surefire way to be disappointed. Be upfront with your potential providers about their pricing and the costs of working with them. Your provider should offer their services for a fixed fee that you can trust. Also peak with the provider about when you’ll be paying for their services, and whether it’s on an ad-hoc or scheduled basis. 

 

What Are Their Response Times Like?

When you have an IT-related issue, you want to get it solved as soon as possible, and you’ll want to know how long it will take to get these problems fixed and get up and running. The amount of time it takes for a response is partially dependent on how much you’re willing to pay, so be sure to talk to your provider about finding the balance between cost and response time.

 

Finding The Perfect Managed Service Provider

Be sure to reach out and ask your potential computer support service providers in Edmonton any questions you have before you begin working with them. You want a service provider that is dedicated to prioritizing your business’s success, and is willing to offer high-quality work to help you get the most out of your technology infrastructure. 

If you’re looking for a well-reviewed managed service provider in Edmonton for your small business, contact Alt-Tech to learn more about how we help our clients strengthen and grow their businesses through computer, cybersecurity, and IT services.

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21 Feb 2020

The Top 3 Security Risks for Mobile Payment Methods (& How to Stay Safe)

Technology is making payment methods more convenient every decade. First, there was chip technology in credit cards. Now, the newest payment options have done away with physical plastic altogether.

Mobile wallet options like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Chase Pay cut down on the need to carry a wallet around in addition to a cell phone. However, many individuals and business owners alike are worried about the cost of that convenience when it comes to online security.

Are Mobile Payment Methods Safe?

Depending on the situation, almost any payment method can be risky. Schemes in which fake credit card readers are fitted over regular card readers in locations like gas stations aren’t uncommon. It can be unsafe to carry too much cash because you become a better target for mugging. For a while, chips in credit cards and some debit cards caused concern because people were worried about others carrying around chip readers that could steal their information from a short distance. 

The newest technology always comes with this question: is it safe? The short answer is that mobile payments aren’t 100% threat-free, but there are some easy ways to manage the small risks that do exist. In fact, some would say mobile payment options are more secure overall than a physical credit card or cash, as long as you have security measures in place. 

 

Risks & Security Tips for Mobile Wallets

1. Losing your devices

These days, losing your phone is just about as dangerous as losing your credit cards. And, when you have multiple devices in the hands of multiple employees, that threat feels a little too close for comfort.

The good news is, a lost device with security precautions in place isn’t usually a big deal for businesses. Here are some questions to help you assess how great your risk is, and a few simple solutions to increase security in case of a lost device.

Questions to Consider:

  • How many devices do you have?
  • Who has access to your devices? 
  • Which devices are connected to payment methods? 
  • Are your mobile devices locked?
  • Do you have a password manager in place?
  • Do you have policies in place about using personal and business devices? (i.e. not allowing business use on personal devices and vice versa)
  • Do your employees understand those rules? Have they been trained on how to protect their devices?

 

Tips for Mobile Device Security:

  • Create an inventory of your devices and who has access to them. Keep track of what apps are used where (and which are allowed in certain places). This way, if a device goes missing, you have all the information on hand to intervene and protect your financial data.
  • Use a biometric locking feature on every mobile device (such as facial or fingerprint recognition) for the highest level of security 
  • Require multi-factor identification on your devices. Or, if that’s too inconvenient, you could require a second verification before you can activate payment methods on your phone.
  • Spend time on educating and training your employees about the safe use of mobile payment options. Set parameters and guidelines and make sure you’re monitoring credit card accounts and business accounts for inconsistencies.

 

2. Malware

In the past, malware mostly only infected computers. However, the threat to mobile users is growing quickly. In fact, mobile cyber incidents are becoming more common than those aimed at desktops. 

Here are a few ways to help prevent your device from being affected by malware:

  • Be careful when clicking on suspicious links on your phone (again, ensure you have employee training in place to help employees spot phishing and malware)
  • Install an antivirus on your phone. 
  • Keep your apps fully up to date to avoid being a target for hackers. Outdated app versions aren’t as well protected against attacks.
  • Look out for app clones when you’re downloading your apps, especially when it comes to banking apps or apps that require a purchase with a credit card number.

 

3. Stolen Card Numbers

This is the last point here because it’s actually fairly rare. E-wallets on smartphones are typically designed to encrypt your data. For example, Apple doesn’t store or have access to your credit card information just because you uploaded it to your iPhone. 

However, one tiny exception to this can happen when you use a public Wi-Fi connection to upload your cards. In this instance, hackers can intercept and decode the information if they’re nearby and on the same network. 

Although it’s a very small chance that your financial details will be stolen this way, be sure to use your own network (a virtual private network is best) to upload credit card information into a mobile wallet.

Get Mobile Smart & Stay Protected

If you’re nervous about mobile payment methods or want to know more about how to use the technology safely, get in touch with an expert managed service provider in Edmonton. Our IT specialists can help you design a simple safety plan for all your mobile devices. 

 

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18 Feb 2020

Why & How to Use Password Managers Like LastPass

Up to 80% of hacking-related incidents are the result of weak or stolen passwords. 

 

Stop for a minute and consider how many online business accounts you have. Be sure to think about all your programs, software, apps, email accounts, and cloud accounts. Even if you only have a few employees, it’s easy to think of a dozen off the top of your head. 

 

When you think about all of these accounts as your “network,” you start to see that a password is not just a single gateway to a single account; it can actually be an entry point for your entire network. 

 

What are your Credentials Worth to You vs. a Hacker?

 

Weak passwords, reused passwords, password sharing, and unprotected password storage are three major security issues in many small businesses in Canada. In fact, information from leaked passwords in 2018 showed that plenty of people still use terrible passwords

 

So, what are the costs vs gains when someone steals your information? Individual businesses spend an average of $34,604 per year on cybersecurity incidents. Meanwhile, login credentials being sold on the dark web cost as little as $2. 

 

It’s worth getting to know how you can protect your organization’s passwords (without losing access to accounts or making it difficult for employees to login).

What is a Password Manager? 

Think of a password manager as a vault for all of your passwords. It creates and stores difficult passwords for your accounts, locking the whole thing with a single master password. That means you only need to remember one password to get access, and that you’ve taken those multiple access points and brought them into a single access point, leaving less room for hackers to get in.

You also have more control over who has access to your accounts. If an employee leaves, you can change the master password without going through and changing every individual account.

Options for Password Managers: 

LastPass

Our top pick for a password manager for small businesses is LastPass. There’s a free version that allows you a ton of range, but the premium version offers a lot more features to increase security and convenience.

1Password

This is another great option for a subscription-based password manager. If you’re a solopreneur and you want to use touch or face recognition as your master password on Mac/iOS devices, 1Password is the perfect option.

Dashlane

Dashlane is another great option, but it tends to cost more, and the free version is limited to one device and 50 passwords, making it a bit less cost-effective for small businesses.

 

Are Password Managers Secure? 

Yes, password managers are secure and they’re still your best bet for password protection. According to How to Geek, LastPass and 1Password have both passed third-party audits and code reviews. They state that these companies don’t actually have access to your master password, which stays on your device, meaning they don’t have access to any of your stored passwords. 

 

One of the best features of any manager you choose is the ability to share passwords with others without typing them in. This means you never have to reveal the passwords under those big black dots, which adds a thick layer of security, especially if you have an extensive team or deal with multiple contractors.

 

Other Ways to Protect Your Business Passwords

Although password managers come highly recommended by most managed service providers in Edmonton, there are plenty of other ways to boost your password security. One way is to include multi-factor authentication on your accounts (which you can also typically do with your master password in your manager). 

 

Never write down passwords or share them over a device. Never reuse passwords across accounts as this creates a major point of entry into your entire database, even if it’s spread across multiple accounts. 

 

Finally, be sure to have a security audit and staff training from a trusted MSP in Edmonton. This can help kickstart a cybersecurity program that can easily save your business thousands of dollars, many hours of lost time, and other major risks.

 

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10 Feb 2020

10 Tech Trends for Businesses to Watch in 2020

Technology is advancing faster than ever before, and there are plenty of new game-changers working their way into the technological trends for 2020 and beyond. Here are the top ten tech trends that will help you optimize your business this year:

 

1. The Release of 5G

The race for 5th-generation mobile networks has already begun. While 5G became available in some areas during 2019, the tech still has a low availability. In 2020, it’s expected to become far more widespread. 5G allows for much faster downloads and uploads plus a more stable connection than its predecessors, as well as an easier way for other trends like autonomous driving to advance and develop. 5G will make your work more time-efficient and productive.

 

2. The Multi-Cloud

Using a multi-cloud strategy involves using multiple different cloud providers to meet separate requirements. Multicloud is becoming more and more commonplace every day thanks to multiple benefits. One reason you may decide to use multi-cloud strategies is if you want to avoid getting ‘locked in’ to the infrastructure of a single cloud provider. Another reason may be the security and recovery – putting all your data into one cloud can hurt if that cloud suffers an outage or something similar. Overall, it can make your work more efficient, and you’ll have fewer problems accessing your information. Keep in mind that it’s important to have a strategy before you migrate your data to the cloud successfully

 

3. AI Security

Cybersecurity is key, especially with new and improved technological developments. Businesses are beginning to discover that using AI can be a fantastic way to combat security issues and keep your servers and data safe. This AI can be used in multiple different ways, from analyzing data to defending against network attackers, protecting your business from harm.

 

4. Digital Twinning

Digital twins are ideal for developing and operating assets and infrastructure. A digital twin is a software model of a physical object, essentially a replica of a real-world object designed to predict accurate outputs for the inputs you provide. This tool can be used for many different issues, with manufacturing being the most common; it even includes the healthcare sector, with accurate replicas of human patients. Being able to understand how a structure will react in different situations allows for a safer and easier work process.

 

5. Autonomous Vehicles

You’ve probably already heard the buzz around autonomous driving. Companies like Tesla are testing the limits around intelligent driving, and the concept is becoming more and more rational. It’s not just driving, either – concepts like drone delivery are finally becoming possibilities instead of fantasies. These autonomous devices can lower the safety risks in your work environment and improve your efficiency.

 

6. The Rise of Blockchain

A blockchain is a form of database used to record transactions in a more encrypted and safe way. A popular form of blockchain you’ve likely heard of is Bitcoin, but other blockchains are likely to rise in 2020. Blockchains use technology, making it impossible to alter or manipulate your transactions, making it an attractive choice as it allows for complete safety in your business’s transactions.

 

7. Quantum Computing

Quantum computing is a relatively new concept in the technological world, but the appeal is growing fast. A quantum computer uses aspects of quantum mechanics to work. Quantum computers would be able to store far more information than a classical computer today and would solve problems today’s computers can’t even begin to handle.

 

8. Edge Computing

Edge computing essentially brings the cloud to you. Instead of your data needing to be sent to a data centre, it can be processed much closer to you. This means your data can be prospered even faster; whether it’s going to a website or talking to a voice assistant like Google Home, you’ll get a response faster than the speed of light. Efficiency is incredibly important in a business environment, and this is a great way to take advantage of it.

 

9. Medicine and Health Advancements

Health technology is developing more and more every day. Advancements in tech like AI and double twinning now allow for multiple new possibilities in the world of medicine. We are constantly gaining a better understanding of how our bodies respond to diseases and illnesses as well as medication. This year we will be able to see more personalized healthcare as well as new breakthroughs in medicine.

 

10. Extended Reality

Extended reality (XR) is an umbrella term for all kinds of immersive realities, like augmented reality or virtual reality. These technologies have been mostly used for entertainment purposes but are quickly becoming more useful for businesses, particularly in terms of training. Training through simulation allows for a consequence-free learning environment for any new workers.

 

Stay Up to Date on Technology in Your Business

2020 is a year of great opportunities for your business. Staying caught up on new tech trends and implementing them into your business is a fantastic way to stay in the market. The way you use technology has the potential to change the future, so use it to your advantage. 

To learn how to bring new hardware and software solutions into your business, get in touch with Alt-Tech’s experts. There’s nothing we love more than helping a business take their technology capabilities to the next level. 

 

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28 Jun 2019

4 Reasons to Use a Multi-Cloud Strategy for Your Data

Data Management on Multiple Cloud Platforms

Plenty of IT providers have been moving toward multi-cloud strategies, both internally and for their clients. Why is that? We’ll dive deeper into the benefits of multi-cloud strategies. But first, let’s define exactly what they are.

Multi-cloud strategies provide data management across several cloud platforms. This may include any cloud deployment model, including private cloud, public cloud, community cloud, or hybrid cloud services. The multi-cloud approach prevents single-vendor dependency. That means more options so you can really optimize your digital systems for your business. That’s just one benefit, though.

According to CIO, “the drivers behind the trend are crystal clear. Benefits, such as avoiding vendor lock-in, cost savings, performance optimization, a lowered risk of DDoS attacks, as well as improved reliability, are all critical as businesses jockey for position in today’s new digital economy.”

 

The Top 4 Benefits of Multi-Cloud Services

 

1. Security

There are pros and cons to security in multi-cloud strategies. It’s not necessarily safer overall to use a multi-cloud strategy. Just like in a house, multiple entry points provide more room for intruders to get in. However, when you have your business spread out over multiple platforms, it also becomes more difficult for intruders to take everything. Plus, disaster recovery is often faster and more effective in this scenario.

 

2. Leverage

Single-service cloud providers hold a lot of control when you only use one. You’re at their mercy, and you often don’t have a fast alternative. That means switching to new cloud technology can cost you a lot of downtime.

Meanwhile, when you use different cloud services, you get to keep more control within your business. From a cost-savings perspective, that’s a major advantage. If one provider suddenly skyrockets their pricing, you can quickly make a switch to your other providers. The same goes for providers that add or remove services, or make significant platform changes.

 

3. Performance Optimization

Working with multiple cloud providers offers a ton of benefits for businesses. It’s not the right system for everyone, but for those it does work for, it can easily optimize many different components of the business. That’s because you can custom fit features of different platforms to suit your operations, finances, R&D, CMS, CRM, and more.

Different aspects of your business may function better in distinct cloud environments. For example, Google could be optimized for your operations, while research might function better with Microsoft Azure’s cloud computing system.

 

4. Multi-Feature Functionality

In a lot of cases, when businesses try out software, it’s like all the ladies of the kingdom trying on Cinderella’s glass slipper. Machine learning can only go so far in some cases, leaving you with single cloud solutions that only work half the time.

A multi-cloud environment combats this by giving you more selection for the features you need or combining features of different systems to integrate your own custom solution. You can keep most of your data in your data center, but shop out different features of other solutions.

 

Getting Started with a Multi-Cloud Database Strategy

It’s important to have the right developers and IT technicians in place to help you manage your cloud services.

If you want to find out what a multi-cloud strategy would look like for your business, book a consultation with Alt-Tech’s IT professionals and software developers. We’ll map out your best options, your best and worst case scenarios, and a cost-benefit analysis to help you decide if it’s the right move. Then, we’ll help you implement your custom solution.

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14 Jun 2019

3 Tips to Destroy Sensitive Data & Information

Data destruction used to be simple. You’d take your files to the office shredder, toss them in, and they’d be effectively destroyed.

Unfortunately, it’s much harder to destroy electronic files. You might think you’ve completely destroyed your files by emptying the trash folder, but that’s usually not enough to permanently delete files from your computer. Emptying your recycling bin appears to delete sensitive information, but really, all you’re doing is erasing the file’s “easy to find” location. It still exists on your computer.

 

Why Can You Still Recover Files?

Have you ever felt that moment of panic when you accidentally delete an important document? Or when you can’t find Monday morning’s presentation? We’ve all accidentally deleted files before. That’s why our computer systems are designed to protect our files. According to How to Geek, this is how it works:

Your operating system keeps track of the files you have on your computer with pointers. These pointers show your computer where each file lives. When you delete a file, there’s free disk space where the old file once lived. That space can now be used to store a new file. However, until your computer saves another file in that free space, the previous file still has a footprint there and can be recovered.

 

Why is it Done this Way?

For speed and recovery. Deleting a file’s pointer and marking the space as available is a much quicker process than rewriting or writing over large files. It also means we have the chance to recover files if they’re accidentally deleted.

So how can you permanently delete documents from your computer?

 

  1. Overwrite It

When you delete sensitive files, they can still be recovered from your hard drive. Fortunately, there’s a simple way to prevent recovery: by overwriting your sensitive data.

Overwriting is usually done with a specialized program or software. When you’re overwriting, you’ll be literally writing over sensitive information with unimportant, meaningless data. The more times a file is overwritten, the harder it is to decode. There’s still some debate about how many times you need to overwrite to effectively wipe the file, but it’s generally recommended that you overwrite a file 3 times, if not more.

 

  1. Degaussing

Degaussing is a process where your hard drive is passed through a powerful magnetic field to make it completely unreadable. While this method doesn’t actually delete your files, the magnetics scramble the magnetic fields of your electronics to the point that data recovery is nearly impossible.

Unfortunately, you can’t just run a fridge magnet over your hard drive. This method requires you to use a trained professional to ensure the magnetic fields are properly shuffled. Which means it probably isn’t the go-to method for most small businesses.

 

  1. Destroy It

If you store sensitive information on a hard drive there’s one sure fire way to permanently destroy the data: physically destroy the hard drive. It’s kind of like shredding a paper document – except you’ll be shredding the electronics inside your hard drives.

Some companies offer this service for you, but it’s simple enough to do on your own. All you need to do is stop the electronics from running completely. You can do this by nailing through the drive, crushing it, or cutting it into pieces – however you can safely manage it. And this can be done for any electronic device, including memory cards or flash drives. The only downside? You’ve lost your entire storage device in the process!

It’s not the ideal destruction method for files, so if you’re about to head in this direction as a last resort, come see the professionals at Alt-Tech for a security consultation first. We can save you money and make sure all your sensitive files are securely stored or deleted.

 

To learn more about securely deleting files from your hard drive or if you need help recovering a file, schedule your free consult. We’re ready to help you with all your managed cyber security needs, big or small.

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24 May 2019

How to Prepare Your Business for a Phishing Scam

Working online comes with certain risks. There are computer viruses, malware, spyware, worms, Trojan horses, and ransomware – just to name a few. With all of these potential threats, how can you keep your company safe online?

According to a 2017 study, 90% of online attacks can be traced back to phishing scams. Even though so many attacks are related to phishing, many companies still aren’t sure how to identify and avoid phishing scams. To help, we’ve put together some of the best ways to identify and prepare for a phishing attack.

 

What is a Phishing Scam?

A phishing scam is one of the most common cyber attacks we face. In a phishing scam, the hacker will usually disguise themselves as a reputable company and contact you through email. The phishing message will ask you to click a link or download an attachment, which allows the hacker access to your personal information like credit card numbers, account numbers, login credentials, and other sensitive company information. This also leaves you vulnerable to malware attacks.

While phishing emails are most common, there has been a spike in phishing attacks using text messages and direct phone calls. We’ve also seen an increase in spear phishing, which is a targeted phishing attempt directed at and personalized for a specific individual. These attacks are typically geared toward identity theft, so make sure to pay close attention to suspicious texts and phone calls.

 

How Can You Detect Phishing?

Phishing emails used to be littered with spelling errors and obvious mistakes that made them easy to identify. Scammers have gotten a little smarter over the years. Fortunately, there are still a couple simple ways you can detect a phishing attack before it strikes.

 

Read Closely

While it isn’t common anymore, it’s still best to double check all emails for spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, or other red flags. These are all signs of a phishing scam. Remember, if an email seems ‘phishy’, it probably is.

 

Look For Urgency

A phishing scam will usually want you to act now. Maybe it’ll say that your account is about to be closed or that there’s a limited time offer. Either way, their goal is to make you feel as if you need to act quickly. Remember, most companies won’t close your account without ample warning, so don’t panic. This urgency could indicate a phishing scam.

 

Double Check the Information

While it might look like it comes from a legitimate site, a phishing email will be coming from a less than reputable source. You can verify the legitimacy of the email by looking at the sender’s email address, the phone number and contact information, by contacting the legitimate institution to verify, or by typing the alleged web address in a search engine.

 

Protect Your Business

The best way to protect yourself from phishing scams is through preparation!While you can usually identify a phishing scam using the tips above, it’s still best to have a little extra protection in place.

 

Update and Install Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware Software

You can keep your personal information more secure by keeping your computer’s operating system and anti-virus tools completely up to date. And this helps with more than just phishing attacks. Having anti-virus and anti-malware in place will help protect your business from all kinds of online attacks.

 

Educate, Educate, Educate!

Your employees are your best defense against online attacks. To get them on board, train every employee on what a phishing scam is, how to detect it, and what the proper response is.

 

By following these steps, you can help prevent phishing scams from harming your business. If you want to improve your business’ online security, call Alt-Tech’s security team and learn how we can help protect your business online.

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14 May 2019

Is it Safe to Use Public WiFi?

Using public WiFi is like having a conversation in public. You never really know who is listening in. Having someone eavesdrop on your conversation probably isn’t a big deal. Having someone gain access to all your computer files, however, is a real security issue.

If you’re on a public network, someone may be able to access your personal information, passwords, and more. We do our best to protect our work and home networks with WiFi protected setups, passwords, and even hiding our networks. But, many of us don’t worry about WiFi security on public networks in the same way.

While you can’t guarantee public WiFi security, there are a few ways you can help keep your information secure on public networks.

Know Which Networks to Trust

The best way to stay safe when using free Internet is to know the network. You’re going to have to use your best judgement for this one, but usually the best networks are the ones that seem the most trustworthy.

Familiar networks are probably safer than ones you’ve never heard of or used. Some WiFi networks are much more secure than others. For example, you probably shouldn’t trust the network named “FREE WIFI HERE”. The WiFi at a well-known coffee shop, like Starbucks, however, is probably fairly secure.

Only Use Secure Networks

Unsecure WiFi networks are ones that have no security protocols in place to stop people from accessing them. If you don’t need to enter a password to join a network, it probably isn’t very secure. Using unsecure networks can leave you vulnerable to “man in the middle” attacks. Of course no WiFi network is completely secure, but using networks with more security (like logins or passwords) are generally safer.

Don’t Connect Automatically

Many of us have our mobile devices configured to automatically connect to different WiFi networks. The problem is you have no way of controlling which wireless networks your device connects to. There are two options to mitigate this:

  1. Set your device to never automatically connect to WiFi networks
  2. Set your device up to ask you before it connects to unknown networks

Turn Off File Sharing

File sharing and AirDrop are incredibly convenient. You don’t want your computer to be automatically sharing things with strangers. Fortunately, you can avoid this by turning your file sharing off before you connect to a public network. Once your file sharing has been shut off, cyber criminals can’t just reach out and take your files.

Keep Your Computer’s Antivirus Updated

This may seem obvious, but it’s always best for your computer and antivirus software to be up to date. If you can take ten minutes and update your computer or install antivirus software, your system will be much more secure. Working on public networks without any protection increases your risk of cyber attack. If you plan on using public WiFi frequently, it’s best to have antivirus or antimalware on your computer.

Use a VPN

The best way to ensure public WiFi safety is to install a Virtual Private Network (VPN) on your device. VPN services encrypt your data and mask your IP address, keeping your information hidden. Installing a VPN hides your personal information from other people using the same network.

It always feels good to know you’re staying safe online. These easy tips will help you keep your data secure the next time you’re using a public WiFi network. Remember, if a network isn’t up to your security standards, don’t use it! You can always improve your online safety by investing in your own portable WiFi router or using your own hotspot.

Want to learn more about cyber security? Check out our recent post on the 5 Best Practices to Improve Cyber Security. Or get in touch with our team at Alt Tech to learn more about cyber security and get IT service you can count on!

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26 Apr 2019

Digital Disasters Happen: Do You Have a Cyber Attack Plan?

We live in an online age. As a business owner, you rely on your computer systems to keep your company running. Unfortunately, with an increased reliance on computer networks comes the increased risk of cyber security incidents.

You might think that data breaches, stolen credit card information, and ransomware attacks won’t happen to your business, but cyber criminals target businesses of all sizes in all industries. When disaster strikes, preparation can make a major difference in how these situations play out.

Why Do You Need to Be Prepared?

You might think that your company isn’t at risk of a cyber attack, but every business today faces the risk of a cyber attack. Cyber criminals target the information systems of any business. Annually, nearly 70% of Canadian organizations face some form of cyber attack. To guard against the threat of cyber attacks, many businesses will:

  • Increase online security
  • Educate employees
  • Have ongoing cyber monitoring
  • Stay on top of current cyber trends and threats
  • Invest in cyber insurance

These actions all help mitigate your risk, but sometimes risk management isn’t going far enough. Every business also needs a cyber plan. In case of a cyber attack, this action plan can guide your company through the aftermath.

Create an Incident Response Plan (IRP)

Cyber attack preparedness means having a plan in place. An Incident Response Plan (IRP) should help your incident response team know how to respond and react in the event of a cyber incident. This plan will need to be reviewed and refined over time, but it should generally:

  • Assess your business needs by considering your key assets, potential weak points, and what data is at risk. From this you can determine where to focus your plan and your security efforts.
  • State which employees or departments will look after potential incidents and what each team member’s role will be. This will help you train employees in case of an attack and help them know how to react during an event.
  • Set up a detection and monitoring system so you can catch malicious software as quickly as possible.
  • Define the difference between a major and minor incident and lay out the different processes for each.
  • Lay out recovery steps. Explain how you’re going to remove the infection and deal with the recovery actions. You’ll need to have several different scenarios laid out. Try creating general guidelines and considering the attacks you’re most likely to experience.
  • Decide on your follow-up actions. How will you explain to customers that their information has been compromised? What steps will you take with employees to help education and prevent future attacks?

This is a very general outline of an IRP; you’ll need to go more in-depth based on your specific business so that your team knows exactly how to respond, no questions asked. Having this plan ensures your team can act quickly in case of a cyber attack. Remember that every business faces unique cyber risks. So make sure to take the time to consider your businesses specific risks so you can tailor your IRP to your company’s needs.

 

While you never want a cyber incident to occur, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Having an incident response plan in place will help your business know how to respond and help you recover from an attack much faster than you would without it.

At Alt Tech, we can help protect your business from online attacks. From around the clock monitoring to data recovery, we help give you peace of mind online. Contact us today to find out more about putting a specific IRP in place for your business.

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12 Apr 2019

Why Your Organization Needs Vulnerability Management

From antivirus software to firewalls and VPNs you’ve done your best to ensure your company has incredible network security. But no matter how many security measures you put in place, there are still vulnerabilities in your network. One of the best ways to stay ahead of online threats is by regularly completing vulnerability assessments.

What is a Vulnerability Assessment?

A vulnerability assessment is a form of online risk management. Essentially, you run a network scan in order to identify any potential weak points in your network. Most vulnerability assessments will then rank the vulnerabilities according to the level of risk they pose. From that information you can make a plan for remediating and mitigating potential threats before your system is compromised.

Why Complete Vulnerability Testing?

Online threats and information security are a concern for all businesses today. So why wouldn’t you want to help improve your online security any way you could?

Vulnerability testing will find the gaps in your current security systems – hopefully before hackers do. This gives you an edge in protecting your business online. Some of the benefits of performing regular vulnerability assessments include:

  • Identifying security risks before they become a liability
  • Determining what devices face the most risk
  • Determining the level of risk your business faces
  • Creating an inventory of risks on every device
  • Establishing where you need to focus your cyber security efforts

Vulnerability testing can be an excellent way for you to assess and improve your business’ security online. But a vulnerability test is only an assessment, not a solution. You will most likely need to take action after your assessment to improve your business’ cyber security and put protections in place.

What to Do After Your Assessment

After your assessment, you can begin creating a vulnerability management plan for your business. Some of the basic steps to take following your vulnerability assessment include:

  • Looking at and ranking all the threats identified in your assessment according to the level of threat.
  • Deciding which vulnerabilities pose the greatest threat to your business. You can determine this by considering: which systems are affected; what data is at risk; what business functions are at risk; the ease of attack; and the potential damage.
  • Allocating your resources to fix the areas of greatest concern first.
  • Repairing the weakness so it’s no longer a concern.
  • Introducing new programs or changing current programs and practices to further prevent future vulnerabilities.
  • Having your business reassessed in the future.

When you’re creating your own vulnerability management process, remember that discovering vulnerabilities doesn’t mean you’ve solved the problem. A truly effective vulnerability management system goes beyond simply running scans on your system; it includes implementing steps to strengthen vulnerabilities.

Extra Considerations

When you begin looking at different vulnerability management tools there are a couple things to consider:

  • There are different types of assessments that focus on identifying vulnerabilities in different areas of your network. For example, vulnerability scans that focus on your host system, your network, or your database. When you’re choosing an assessment, make sure it’s the right one for your business.
  • They don’t actually test; they only assess. Vulnerability assessments don’t truly test the strength of your system. They’re simply there to identify and shed light on potential weaknesses. If you’re interested in assessing the identified weaknesses, you may be interested in penetration testing. In a penetration test, a trusted IT professional will actually attempt to hack your system. This will let you know how vulnerable your critical assets are to a hacker.

Do you want to stay on top of your network’s online security? Or are you interested in learning more about the benefits of vulnerability assessments? At Alt Tech, we have vulnerability solutions that will help you understand the threats your company faces. Contact Alt Tech today to begin employing our vulnerability management solutions and get better protection for your business systems in place today.

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