Monthly Archive June 2009

ByDaniel Gottilla

Does Your Mac Have Vulnerabilities You Aren’t Aware Of?

Sure, we’ve all heard about how safe Mac systems are. Most people think that viruses can’t get to them, that they’re hard to hack and spyware doesn’t have a chance. There’s a bit of truth to all of this, but not for the reasons you think. Macs aren’t inherently safer. They’re just less common.

Think about this from an attacker’s perspective. If you want to get into a system to score some private data, which would you choose? Would you go after the company with a system you know how to hack, or the one that will take more time to get into? What if you want to build a virus? You could be building the virus to destroy data or also to steal it. If you are going to spend hours, days, or weeks of your life working on this attack, wouldn’t you want it to be as infectious as possible?

That, in a nutshell, is why Macs are often safer. Most attackers and viruses target Windows-based systems because of the sheer number of them in the world. Macs are growing more popular, however, and the number of vulnerabilities being exploited on them is increasing. Not only that, but some Macs run Windows applications. The apple on the logo doesn’t protect your system from viruses targeting Windows, if that’s what you’re running.

Do yourself a favor, and invest in some comprehensive security programs and training. You may be safer with a Mac, but you’re not immune. Don’t find out the hard way that you can still be hacked. Just take a few precautions and secure your system, and you can keep your safety record going strong.

ByDaniel Gottilla

Have You Looked Into the National Vulnerability Database?

You have programs in place that are tracking your vulnerabilities. You’re reviewing the data, implementing it, and feeling pretty secure. But what if you had more information at your disposal? If there were a national database of known weaknesses in applications and infrastructure that you could access, wouldn’t you look into it?

Lucky for you, this database exists. The National Vulnerability Database is a government operation that records vulnerability data from systems across the nation. By compiling data, they can help you find the vulnerabilities in your own system that are the most likely to be exploited. Think of your security like a class final. You can study your notes alone, or you can study with a group of overachievers who are all interested in earning the A. Which scenario is the most likely to help you pass?

You can also contribute to the National Vulnerability Database to help others. Your scans and vulnerability tracking data can be added to the database. You get the good feeling of helping others while not having to worry about compromising any proprietary data. It’s a win-win situation when you use the database and share what you find on your own end.

So how about it? Is it time to take your vulnerability tracking to the next level? With viruses and attackers looking for ways to get inside, you need every advantage you can get. The National Vulnerability Database could be a tremendous asset to your company, and every step you take to protect your data protects your business.

Byrgottilla

Should You Develop Your Own Software or Buy What’s On the Market?

Depending on the size of your business and how tight of a niche you fill, you may find that your existing software isn’t meeting your company’s needs. There’s some tinkering you can do with most applications, but it isn’t always worth the headache. Is the loss of time and energy working with lackluster software worth creating a proprietary system that truly meets your needs?

Existing software can be very expensive, and finding and evaluating it takes vast amounts of time. While it’s faster to find software that meets your needs than it is to up and build a new program, how can you be sure you’ve seen all of the options?

  • Working with an experienced IT consultant can smooth out this process. They know the ins and outs of what’s on the market, and may know ways to tweak what’s out there to make it fit your needs. They also may be able to help you piecemeal a system so that you aren’t paying for more software than you actually need.
  • Another option is to build your own software, but that can be time consuming. If it’s the best answer for your company’s productivity, however, then it is absolutely worth the investment. You can focus on the exact specifications you need and build a system tailored to your business. Your IT consultant can help you to evaluate your needs, make suggestions, and walk you through this process. Consultants also have contacts, resources, and knowledge you don’t, all of which can help you decide what option is best for you.

In our tech-heavy business world, the software you run is key to your productivity. It’s important to find a way to maximize your company’s potential efficiently while keeping cost effectiveness in mind. Regardless of whether you buy a system or build it, an IT consultant can lead the way and help you make the right decision.

Byrgottilla

Telecommuters and Data Loss

It seems like most businesses allow telecommuting these days. Your employees are home working in slippers, or are catching up in a hotel room after a day at a conference. Either way, their productivity is growing, they are enjoying their jobs, and you are reaping the benefits.

Sadly, it’s not all a day in pajamas for remote employment. Telecommuting has some serious security risks that you should be considering.

No matter what they are doing, your employees need to be connected to your network. They are sending emails and data and working with others in a complex environment. Your data is at constant risk. It’s not necessarily in more danger than it is being accessed in the office, but the situation has changed. Your company laptops may have extensive security features in place, but they won’t help a bit if your employees are using their home computers for company business. They need to be trained to only access the network from company machines, and to not allow any company data on their home computers.

Another huge risk is a missing laptop. It doesn’t matter if it’s lost or stolen, your data and access to your network are out there hanging. There are a few steps you can take to make this less of a risk, however, beyond chaining the computer to your employees’ wrists.

For example, you could install software that allows a computer to be permanently disabled from the network if it is lost, and you could ensure all applications and the desktop are web-based. If there’s no data on the machine and no way of getting to the network, all you’ve lost is a computer.

Telecommuting is a radical change in how businesses are run, but it’s worth the risk. For a few tweaks in security you get happier employees and greater productivity. Your data can be safe and network can be secure, and all you have to remember to is ask them to change out of their pajamas before the next video conference.

ByDaniel Gottilla

Have You Maximized Your Bandwidth?

You’re cruising down the highway, your music is playing, there are no cars in sight, and there’s not a cloud in the sky. All of a sudden, you hit the brakes because there’s a five car pile up and both lanes are blocked. What’s a driver to do?

Much like driving a car, your bandwidth is all about keeping data flowing and your network speed constant. Occasionally, something can get in the way and slow everything down, sometimes bringing your entire infrastructure to a screeching halt. There are a few steps you can take to avoid this, however. By maximizing your bandwidth you can keep your data moving at high speed.

Some programs put more drag on your bandwidth than others. Streaming music, videos, or even stock quotes can take up a tremendous amount of bandwidth, and they rarely offer much to your business in return. Sure, radios feel pretty ancient in our fast-paced world, but they don’t block the road, either. Removing access to programs and sites that stream data can remove roadblocks, keeping your data moving at high speed.

Keeping the roads clear, however, requires that you know jut where and what they are. Try mapping your system and looking for sudden spikes in usage. If you can pinpoint what is causing a bottleneck, you can find ways to eliminate it and get back to business.

So much depends on how quickly we can send information. By removing the hazards that are slowing down your network, you can keep your business moving and reach your destination with time to spare.

Byrgottilla

Information Security for Your Home Business

So you’re looking to run a business out of your home, but you’re worried about securing your site. If you’re selling goods online, you’ll have access to financial data, names, addresses, and other sensitive data. Thieves would love to get a hold of this information, so how do you keep it safe and your business prospering?

The simplest answer is to make sure you have an adequate firewall and anti-virus software. You may be answering emails from around the world, and if a virus gets into your computer, it could allow an attacker access to all of your data as well as your store. Anti-virus software and a firewall are a bit like having locks on your front door. They work to keep most people out, but what about thieves who won’t stop at a lock?

It’s time to think about a comprehensive security system. Just like in a home, a security system helps keep intruders out, and sounds an alarm if the perimeter is breached. If a thief gets in, protocols are in place to call for help and to minimize what can be taken. Doing the same for your home business is the least you owe your customers. The majority of small businesses that suffer a major data loss never recover—don’t let that be you!

If you’re concerned about implementing greater security features, get a little help. You can ask an IT consultant for ideas that will get your security in better shape and keep the thieves out. Your business is an extension of yourself, after all, just like your home. Doesn’t it deserve the best protection it can get?

ByDaniel Gottilla

Freeware vs. Payware

So you need some new software, but don’t want to pay top dollar. Protecting your bottom line is always a good idea, but just how safe is the freeware out there? Are you better off paying for your software, or are there reliable free options out there?

Like most items on the market, some are good and some are bad, and you often get what you pay for. Freeware, however, can be the exception to that rule. It can solve your software needs without you having to spend a dime, but free software can also be buggy and have little to no support if something goes wrong. Payware, on the other hand, is often well supported, but it’s the money you’re shelling out for it that pays for this service. How do you know which is right for your business?

The truth of the matter is that both options have their benefits, but you still have to know which software to trust. An experienced IT consultant can be your guide in the software jungle. The right professional will know what free software is worth the risk and what payware is overcharging you for the same services. Finding quality software can be risky, especially when you are downloading programs from the internet to place on your network. A consultant can help you navigate through the options and find the best software for your needs.

It’s a jungle out there, but there are ways to make it past the hazards. An experienced consultant can find you what you need and ensure that it is both safe and fits your budget. You don’t have to fear freeware. Get a guide, and enjoy the adventure!

ByDaniel Gottilla

Planning For Scheduled Downtime

Sooner or later, you’re going to have to have a little downtime on your network. You can use the time to install patches, upgrade your hardware, and install some hardware, all of which will be needed in short order. Nobody wants to shut down, and all businesses want to get back up and running as soon as possible, so here are some tips to minimize both your downtime and the headaches associated with having it.

  • Always try to schedule your downtime for when your system is the least busy. Planned downtime, by its very name, is something you plan. It’s not about averting a crisis or mitigating damage and hoping to get things back up soon – it’s about scheduling time for the system to be down while you do a little maintenance. Only you can know when you are least busy, but chances are that midnight on a weekend is a better time than 9:00 am on a Monday morning. You don’t want your staff out of work or your clients and customers to have to wait, after all.
  • All the same, there will likely be those few people who want to access the network when it is down, even in the middle of the night. Be sure to warn your employees, clients and customer that this down time is coming. That was they can plan around it and know that it’s not a security issue. Tell them when you’ll be back up and running, and that the system will be operating even more smoothly than before.

It’s better to have a little planned down time now than an unplanned emergency later, but it doesn’t have to be a big hassle, either. Plan and give notice, and you’ll be back to business in no time.

ByDaniel Gottilla

Can Hacking Tools Improve Your Security?

Right now, someone is scanning your network, looking for gaps in your security. They are reviewing your system for any weaknesses to exploit, hoping to find a few ways into the system that they can use to get inside. The software to do this is easily available if you know where to look, and it’s almost as easy to use. A download, a few keystrokes, and they have a chance of worming their way in and accessing your data and resources. If it’s this easy, why not just do it yourself?

You can get the software, run it, and get intricate details of your capabilities and vulnerabilities. Better yet, since it’s your system, it’s perfectly legal to run the scan. You can discover holes in your security, uninstalled patches, you name it—and fix them before an attacker finds the same loopholes. Think of it as a game, and discover how many ways into your network you can plug. If you find these gaps before they are exploited you can firm up your security with a minimum of effort. It’s amusing as well as useful, so why let the hackers have all the fun?

If you’re worried about how to find these vulnerability exploitation programs, contact an IT security consultant. They can help you find the best programs to safeguard your information network and provide routine checks to make sure everything remains in good working order.

Byrgottilla

Can Hacking Tools Improve Your Security?

Right now, someone is scanning your network, looking for gaps in your security. They are reviewing your system for any weaknesses to exploit, hoping to find a few ways into the system that they can use to get inside. The software to do this is easily available if you know where to look, and it’s almost as easy to use. A download, a few keystrokes, and they have a chance of worming their way in and accessing your data and resources. If it’s this easy, why not just do it yourself?

You can get the software, run it, and get intricate details of your capabilities and vulnerabilities. Better yet, since it’s your system, it’s perfectly legal to run the scan. You can discover holes in your security, uninstalled patches, you name it—and fix them before an attacker finds the same loopholes. Think of it as a game, and discover how many ways into your network you can plug. If you find these gaps before they are exploited you can firm up your security with a minimum of effort. It’s amusing as well as useful, so why let the hackers have all the fun?

If you’re worried about how to find these vulnerability exploitation programs, contact an IT security consultant. They can help you find the best programs to safeguard your information network and provide routine checks to make sure everything remains in good working order.