Before You Upgrade to iOS 11

Shows a list of apps that won't work with iOS 11.If you’re an iPhone user, you likely have heard that iOS 11 is coming out soon. Apple has said they will release it tomorrow, September 19th.

There is one thing you need to do before you upgrade: Check for app compatibility!

iOS 11 requires apps to be 64-bit and this means that some apps won’t work with the new OS. You should have received a warning when launching these soon to be unsupported apps, but you may not have seen the notice in a while and certainly aren’t thinking about it when you’re focused on the fun new features coming to your iPhone or iPad.

To check for Apps that won’t work with iOS 11, open the Settings App. Then go to General > About and click on Applications. You should now see a list of apps that will not work with iOS 11 if they are not updated. If you aren’t terribly concerned with managing your apps you might find a lot of apps you haven’t used in a while like Flappy Bird! You might also find some apps that have released completely different versions. For example, in my list is the video player VLC. That app is no longer available in the App Store, but they have released a new app “VLC for Mobile” which I would need to download. If you rely on an app to monitor security cameras like Ocularis, you’ll find it doesn’t work with iOS 11. Maybe the newer “Ocularis 5 Mobile” is the answer.

Bottom line, you’ll probably find that most of your apps are compatible, but you want to take a few minutes to check before upgrading and finding out that one app that you really need hasn’t been updated since iOS 6 was released!

Larilyn’s Tip of the Week

We all use Google, right? For everything from the best chocolate cake recipe to which is the best microwave/dishwasher combo to buy (there’s a chance that might not be a thing).

Did you know that there are companies who pay for their name to come up in a Google search? It is pretty much guaranteed that when you search a topic, you will see sponsored results pop up among your legitimate results. This probably isn’t the most harmful thing most of the time, but it’s something important to be aware of.

For example, if I’m searching for that best chocolate cake recipe, it doesn’t matter that ten or eleven sites down on the list, there is a sponsored link from Kraft (you can tell it’s sponsored because of the ad box on the left). I might look at their recipe, I might not. Either way, no harm, no foul.

However, if I’m having issues with my Mac computer, and I can’t find the number to the local Apple store (why you wouldn’t call US is beyond me), I might google Apple tech support. And look at what is the very first result:

A link to a company with no affiliation to Apple whatsoever. Could possibly still be harmless, but it could also be a Phisher just waiting for a bite from someone willing to pay any price to get their computer back up and running.

So keep this in mind the next time you’re Googling!

Urgent Ransomware Alert

You may have seen the news this weekend. Criminal hackers have released a new strain of ransomware that spreads itself automatically across all workstations in a network, causing a global epidemic. If you or a co-worker are not paying attention and accidentally open one of these phishing email attachments, you might infect not only your own workstation, but immediately everyone else’s computer too.

Be very careful when you get an email with an attachment you did not ask for. If there is a .zip file in the attachment, do not click on it. When you see a suspicious email, click on the Phish Alert Button, which forwards this email to the IT team and safely deletes it at the same time. If you don’t have the Phish Alert button, delete the whole email. Remember: “When in doubt, throw it out!

Background

In case you haven’t heard, the NSA developed software to exploit a vulnerability they found in Windows Operating Systems. This exploit, which should have been protected like our nuclear arsenal, got into the hands of some cyber criminals and they have used it to infect over 200,000 systems worldwide. The number of infected systems is increasing as you read this! This doesn’t just install a backdoor as the NSA had designed, it uses ransomware to lock the files on your computer and other systems it can find. Your only option is to pay the ransom to get your files back or wipe the infected computers and hope your backups are working properly.

While we are taking all precautions possible on managed systems, it is imperative to not click links or open attachments in suspicious emails. If anything seems off, use the phish alert button or delete the message. If you are expecting an attachment from someone and the message content, links or attachments seem off, use another method to communicate with the sender (phone, text, etc.) and verify the content of what they sent you. You are the first and last line of defense!

If you are interested in reading more about this attack, please see Ransomware Attack Uses NSA 0-Day Exploits To Go On Worldwide Rampage.

6 steps to keep yourself safe online

We all use the internet, and nothing is going to change that.  But can we all use it safely?   

Avoiding sketchy websites used to be the key to protecting yourself online, and for the most part, it was rather easy to do.  But now, avoiding malicious websites is only part of the gig.  You can be infected with viruses, spyware, trojans, and other ruthless malware simply by opening up the wrong email, clicking on the wrong link, or landing on the wrong website (whether it’s a sketchy website or not).  However, this doesn’t mean safeguarding your online world is a lost cause.  

Protecting yourself online involves some work on your end, as well as a high degree of good ol’ fashioned suspicion.  Here are six basic steps you can take to better protect yourself online.      

Use strong passwords.

Craft your passwords to be strong, and you’ll easily sidestep a vast majority of online threats.  In the event of a serious data breach, the stronger your password, the less likely it is that your account information will leak out.  But what does a strong password look like?  Try a phrase with capital letters, numbers, and symbols.  Just make sure the phrase is altered from account to account.  Here are two examples:

  • EyelookGood9032!
  • CookiesRprettyGud*89

 

Be suspicious of emails.

When it comes to emails, always be skeptical of who messages come from and what they’re asking you to do.  Malicious emails can be extremely targeted, making them very believable.  It’s important never to click on links, download files, or follow through with a request until you validate the email and its contents.

 

Shop only on trustworthy websites.

Sometimes it might be tempting to purchase products on obscure websites—maybe the product you’re looking for is hard to find, or it’s considerably cheaper on other, less popular sites.  But is it worth losing your financial information to a thief or infecting your computer with a virus because you found a tee-shirt two dollars cheaper on an obscure website?   

 

Install a good anti-virus.

There’s no reason you shouldn’t have a good anti-virus installed on your devices.  You can purchase software for a relatively decent price and install it on all of your connected devices.  Even though operating systems and browsers come with their own security, it’s important to layer on the security as much as possible.   

 

Lock your device.

You should always have your connected devices locked—PC, laptop, tablet, phone, and anything else you may have.  There should be a password to access your device and then additional passwords to access applications and online accounts.  

 

Know the settings on your browser.

Your browser’s settings can help you protect yourself online if you know what to look for.  You can block pop-ups, secure your privacy, turn off search history, and ask the browser to notify you of malicious sites.  To learn more, do an online search of your specific browser, and you should be able to find a comprehensive how-to list.  Here’s a useful list of security settings for Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.   

Gift Card Winner Announced

Thanks to all those that warmed up with some hot chocolate at our booth at the Chamber Mega Mixer last week.

We are pleased to congratulate Dominic Gomez of Decals by Design for winning the $100 gift card.

Come Warm Up with Hot Chocolate & Win $100 Amazon Gift Card

Come warm up with us today at the Murrieta Chamber of Commerce’s Mega Mixer! We will be hosting a hot chocolate bar with all the fixings.

Warm up and find out how you can win a $100 Amazon gift card!

Today – Thursday, January 26 from 3:30 to 7 p.m.

Murrieta Spectrum
25125 Madison Ave #105
Murrieta, CA  92562

Be sure to bring your business cards, as the entrance fee is just a business card or $1.

For more info: see Facebook event or Murrieta Chamber’s website.

How Managed IT Services Can Help Your Business Save

You may have heard the term managed service, but do you know how it can help your business save?

In its most simple form, managed service means that the service you’re purchasing is maintained by the vendor. Ideally this means that the vendor is taking steps to proactively keep your service up and running, monitoring to make sure it is and reacting when problems arise. Typically the service provider is being proactive instead of only reactive. Instead of waiting for you to call and report a problem, they should already be working on it. Alternatively you could look at it as your IT company installing updates and maintaining backups instead of leaving it to you.

Businesses in all industries are benefiting from managed services by saving money, time, resources and even their reputations. By partnering with the right company your business can be further ahead on the road to success!

Save Money

Typically managed service providers work on a fixed monthly fee. While the specifics may vary by company, generally everything is included including your ongoing maintenance and support issues. Sometimes hardware repairs are also included and even some projects like setting up new computers or migrating servers.

Gone are the days of variable bills from your computer support company. You’ll receive your all you can eat service at a prearranged price without any surprises. Finally you can budget for your IT expenses and have a predictable result.

This frees up money that could be used for other business investments like marketing, staffing, education or process improvement.

We help you succeedSave Time

Your managed service provider can respond to issues faster than your brother’s nephew’s next door neighbor. Monitoring allows the provider to know about problems often before you find out about them. Imagine being able to sleep soundly at night knowing you have a team working to safeguard your business. Specialization in the staffing at the MSP helps them resolve issues quickly and the incentive is on keeping your computer network running instead of increasing billable hours.

Have you ever thought about trying to solve something yourself for fear of getting a big bill from the IT company? Not only can you save money with managed service, but you can save time and stay productive by letting the specialists solve the problem and not worry about getting a big bill. When your employees can quickly report a problem or ask for advice when they need it, they can stay on task.

Many managed service providers have support available 24/7 which also means less sitting around and waiting.

Save Resources

Trying to fix things in-house is hard for most businesses. Sure, you might have a knowledgable person on your staff that thinks they can solve every problem with the help of Google, but chances are they don’t have formal training or the processes to really support your business. They probably have another job they were hired for and they are more productive at than stabbing in the dark trying to put out fires.

Your managed service provider has a team of experts. This means the right specialist can be assigned to help prevent issues regularly and resolve issues should they arise. Your staff can work on the things they are specialists in and will have to go back to the dog ate my homework excuse for missing project deadlines.

With proactive services included your team can arrive every morning and get right to work knowing that they have the proper resources to effectively complete their duties.

Save Reputation

Utilizing managed services can help your business gain a competitive edge. No longer will outdated equipment be slowing your team down and turning off prospective buyers. Instead the business consulting services included can help your business use technology to improve customer relations and the proactive services can make sure your team and office technology runs like a well-oiled machine. This will help lead to a more positive reputation for your business.

With all the time, money and resources you’ll be saving you can work on growing your business.

Ready to take your business to the next level? Contact us today to schedule a free business evaluation and find out how our process can deliver predictable, problem-free results for your business.

Importance of Secure Passwords

I recently wrote about password managers and some of the benefits of using a program to manage your passwords. Password managers help keep you secure and I can’t imagine not having one for all the passwords we have to manage.

Deciding to go it on your own and not use a password manager? Here’s a few items to keep in mind.

Bad guys are everywhere and are constantly looking for ways to get access to systems. They may not even care so much about the data on your computer or system as they care about using your identity to get to the bigger fish or use your systems to launch a distributed denial of service attack (where they use a lot of individual systems to overload some other system) like what happened a few weeks ago.

hackernews

Let’s face it. Passwords are everywhere. That IP camera you bought and thought you’d just plug-in so you could watch your dog while you’re at work; It has a password. Did you change the password before putting it online? Did you look at its out of the box security settings? What about that network printer that magically lets your print from anywhere? Or that network attached storage?

We live in an Internet of Things where everything from our thermostat to our garage door is connected to the Internet. Any one of these devices could be compromised and be a way into your network or your other accounts. Most of these devices need a password somewhere. It might be on the physical device or it might be to get access to the service that the device is connected to. Either way we can’t afford to reuse passwords between devices or services because if one gets compromised it opens the door for everything to be compromised.

businessman in blue room with doors open

We need to use complex passwords because computers can scan through entire dictionaries or lists of words in minutes. Putting two words together doesn’t make them secure. You have to come up with things that aren’t based on lists of words that others (including computers) are going to easily find.

Sadly, the most common passwords used today, in 2016, are still 123456, password, 12345678, qwerty, football, baseball, welcome, abc123, mater, letmein, login, etc. Think you’re getting smart by using passw0rd? Not so fast, it still makes the top 25 most used passwords. While changing a few letters is an improvement, I think the bad guys have figured out that we often switch the i’s and o’s to 1’s and 0’s. Plantr0n1cs and D1g10m are not great passwords, although either would clearly be better than anything in the top 25 frequently used passwords.

fimcpig

Bottom line: a password manager will let you create discrete passwords for each site that are not based on dictionary words or if they are, they include enough other random numbers or characters to make them secure. For example, here’s some random passwords generated by Apple’s Keychain Password Assistant:

  • OEM57(alkyls
  • Elvis80_belt
  • star68*mauve
  • king394]lungremember

The good thing about these possible passwords above is that if you type it a few times you’ll probably remember it eventually. Even better are passwords that are really random, but there is little chance of us being able to remember them:

  • rworehahkikt
  • demeojnircuv
  • M8{X’G}VQgJy
  • FCV”6bK”&eMS

Please help keep your employer’s systems and your personal accounts secure by using complex passwords and not repeating passwords or password patterns. We must stay vigilant!

Managing Passwords

Passwords can be a pain. There is a battle between having a password that can be easily remembered and one that can’t be guessed or otherwise hacked.

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How many of us have ever used the same password over and over again on multiple sites? I can say that I used to be guilty of this. I’m not letting those of you who may have a slight variation of the password for various sites off the hook either though. MyPassword becomes MyFacebookPassword or MyGooglePassword or MyApplePassword. While you might get a point or two for not using the same password, as soon as an attacker (someone you don’t know OR someone you do know) figures out the pattern they are going to have access to MyBankAccountPassword too!

worst-passwords-1

Fortunately there are tools out there that will help you manage and keep up your passwords. Your managed service provider or computer support company might have a tool that they use and support, so check with them first. Here are some things a password manager should be able to help you with:

Generating secure passwords: Let’s face it, you can only think of so many memorable passwords. Looking around the office for clues for what to use for your next password, you might end up with something like my1stiPad or 1BIGflower. While these might be better than my dog’s name or my kid’s date of birth, they are fairly easy to brute force (or crack by a computer). A good password generator will quickly and easily generate a password like [email protected] or even better something like 4;EUWVG9JFJFkV!

password-security

Remembering your secure passwords: Now that you’re creating passwords that are harder to memorize you need to be able to track all the different passwords you’ve created. This is an obvious feature.

Automating login: When you have hundreds of unique passwords you’re not going to want to go through the effort of finding the password each time you want to sign in to facebook. Fortunately, most password managers have plugins or extensions for popular browsers to automate login. When the password is saved with the website or URL, you can generally fill the password with one or two clicks and you don’t even have to leave the browser.

Phishing protection: Because the password manager is going to make sure you’re actually on the correct page (or at least website) and not an imposter, it helps protect you from providing your credentials to hackers who have made a fake login page for the site you’re trying to reach. (Note that nothing is 100% effective, but this is a big step in the right direction and when combined with other security can yield very effective protection.)

google-phishing-study

Automating saving passwords: Just like it is possible to automate login, password managers will prompt you when you’ve manually typed a password to enable you to quickly save the password. This helps get your passwords into your application.

Auditing your passwords: A great feature of 1Password is the security audit which contains a number of features itself:

  • Watchtower maintains a database of sites that may have experienced a vulnerability and it identifies those passwords that should be changed as a precaution.
  • Weak passwords which don’t meet the recommended complexity (something like password or 1234).
  • Duplicate passwords shows passwords that have been used for more than one website. It’s not recommended to reuse passwords because if Netflix or Amazon gets breached you don’t want the attackers getting into your bank. Likewise, you don’t want one vulnerable bank account to allow access to your other bank accounts (at a different bank using the same username and password).
  • Old passwords that haven’t been changed in a time period like 6-12 months, 1-3 years and over 3 years old. There are differing opinions on how frequently you should change your passwords, but let’s just say that after three years it’s probably time for a change.

Secure storage of sensitive or important information like credit cards, bank accounts, driver licenses, social security numbers, software licenses, etc. Most password managers have the ability to hold these types of data and other items including secure notes. When combining the auto filling capabilities of the password application and storing your credit card or address information it is now easier to check out when purchasing items online.

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Mobile access: We all need to be able to access our passwords and other sensitive information when we aren’t in front of our computers. Most applications provide mobile applications or mobile websites where secured information can be accessed.

Sharing: While we need to be careful who we share passwords with, it’s an unfortunate reality that other people sometimes need to access sites using our credentials with our permission. We don’t want to simply email the password in plain text to someone as this would allow our secure password to be viewed by others. Some applications have the ability to securely share a single password or an entire folder/vault with those that need access.

 

If your technology company doesn’t provide a managed password service, or you are looking for something for use outside of business hours, we recommend looking at 1Password. It’s available via a few different methods including one time purchase, families, teams and individual licenses.

1Password Logo

Slow Internet or Slow Site – Part 2

In the first part of this post I detailed how we actually get on the Internet and started detailing how you might have to drive to your favorite restaurant in another city.

The Internet is actually very much like getting to these retail locations and restaurants. Much like driving to downtown Los Angeles, you have some choice over the freeways you take. Much like driving into downtown Los Angeles, there is a chance (or certainty) that you’re going to hit some traffic along the way. Much like we use our GPS or routing app to select the best freeway, our ISP has tools to send your traffic on the best route. If we need to get to Phoenix, hopefully they aren’t going to send us there via Chicago.

Speedtest from Fast.com showing 150 Mbps.

Speedtest from Fast.com showing 150 Mbps.

When we feel that the Internet is slow, we need to get a bit more specific in order to troubleshoot this. One of the first things we will likely want to do is run a speed test on the connection. While this test is subjective to its own set of limitations, it can be a good indication of where problems might be. Two sites that I use are fast.com and speedtest.net. Fast.com is powered by Netflix and it works on any device and works as soon as you go to the page. It also gives you a single measurement. Think of this like taking your temperature. Speedtest.net gives you a bit more information about the quality of your connection to their servers. Most ISP’s have their own test that measures the speed on their network, which is most relevant if you’re concerned about your local connection to their network.

If these tools show the speed is what we are expecting, i.e. what we are used to seeing on a good day, then it seems that our Internet connection is working fine. If the tests are abnormally below our standard speed or what we are expecting, it might indicate that something in your connection is congested (much like I-5 in Los Angeles). If you’re in an office with other users, it is possible that other users are downloading large files, watching 4k videos on YouTube or binge watching their favorite shows on Netflix. Business or enterprise class networking devices will have reporting abilities to show what connections are being utilized.

In the event that speed tests are showing good results, but you’re having problems accessing a site or the site is slow, the problem could be with the site you’re trying to connect to or the road the traffic is taking to that destination. It might be best to try and contact the company of the site you’re trying to reach or find out if it is slow from another location that uses a different Internet connection (typically in another area or state). We can also work with the ISP to try and identify issues, but once the traffic leaves their network they can’t control it.

Your IT managed service provider should be able to monitor the ongoing Internet usage and see troublesome signs indicating that additional bandwidth is needed or controls need to be put into place to conserve the available bandwidth for business activities.