PCS Blog

Tip of the Week: Simple Windows 10 Tips

Tip of the Week: Simple Windows 10 Tips

Windows 10 is the benchmark in PC operating systems. It offers users all types of great options from previous versions of Windows while integrating some of today's most dynamic technology to provide users with the very best in organization and ease-of-use. Today, we will talk about five very simple tips that will get you started getting the full function of Windows 10.

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A Story of Caution

caution

A couple of months ago, I shared some content on LinkedIn. It was something that Gary Vaynerchuk had posted. I have been listening and reading his content off and on for the last 7 or so years. What happened next was really unexpected. Within a couple of minutes of sharing that post, I was sent an invitation to connect. I thought this was really exciting that someone I had been following for so long had wanted to personally connect. Next, he sent me a message via LinkedIn. I started down a conversation that was pretty involved and well played. Spoiler, it wasn’t Gary V.

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Tip of the Week: 4 Tech Questions, Answered

Tip of the Week: 4 Tech Questions, Answered

Have you ever thought about why we use certain techniques to get the most out of our technology? Believe it or not, there is often a rhyme and a reason for why certain tactics are most useful for business technology solutions. We’ll try to get to the bottom of some of the strangest questions you might have about how to use your business technology.

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Why (and How) You Need to Maintain Your Servers

Why (and How) You Need to Maintain Your Servers

It is impossible to understate the importance of a server to today’s businesses. We talk a big game as to how important data is, but we don’t often broach the topic of how important it is to ensure that your server is well-maintained. Below, we discuss how to determine what your servers need for optimal performance, and how you can be sure that they get it.

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Faxploit: Hundreds of Printers Putting Businesses at Risk of Malware

Faxploit: Hundreds of Printers Putting Businesses at Risk of Malware

Printers, along with every other piece of equipment that is on your network, require careful configuration and regular upkeep to ensure that they aren’t putting your data and users at risk. Security researchers recently discovered two massive vulnerabilities in HP Officejet All-in-One printers that make it incredibly easy for hackers to spread malware and gain access to a company’s network.

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You Deserve a Better Way to Manage Your Business Documents

You Deserve a Better Way to Manage Your Business Documents

A file cabinet might seem like it’s necessary for operations, but it’s actually not as useful as it used to be in the past. This is primarily due to the implementation of new solutions such as the document management system. By taking advantage of a new digital storage system for your business’ documents, you can optimize operations and ditch that filing cabinet for good.

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Which Authentication Option is Best?

Which Authentication Option is Best?

Smartphones have steadily increased in their capabilities, and as they have done so, they have resultantly gathered more and more data that needs to be secured against potential security threats. Fortunately, there are also more ways to protect your smartphone than ever before. For today’s blog, we’ll take a look at the options you have to secure your devices.

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IRS to CPAs - Hackers are Targeting You

IRS to CPAs - Hackers are Targeting You

The IRS has issued a warning to tax professionals to step up their cyber security to prevent sensitive taxpayer information from being stolen. CPA firms, large and small, are being targeted by hackers and identity thieves, especially during the high traffic tax season.

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Can Chargers Be Interchanged Between Devices?

Can Chargers Be Interchanged Between Devices?

One of the major benefits of a laptop is the mobility that it permits--but this is a double-edged sword, as this mobility means that you are relying on the device’s battery life. Of course, if your laptop begins to die, you can always borrow someone else’s charger, right?

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ALERT: Major Wi-Fi Vulnerability Discovered - What You Should Know

ALERT: Major Wi-Fi Vulnerability Discovered - What You Should Know

A major vulnerability has been discovered that affects everyone that uses Wi-Fi. Key Reinstallation Attack, or KRACK, affects the core encryption protocol that most Wi-Fi users depend upon to shield their browsing from others, Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2).

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3 Ways Your Business Can Prioritize Data Security

3 Ways Your Business Can Prioritize Data Security

In the wake of the Equifax data breach, which placed the personal information of 143 million users at risk, the issue of data security is at the forefront of social consciousness. Your organization needs to go about its daily business as if it will experience a data breach at any given moment. This involves looking at the worst-case scenario, and planning for it so that you’re never caught unaware.

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Tip of the Week: How To Enable Flash In Google Chrome

Tip of the Week: How To Enable Flash In Google Chrome

Flash is going the way of the dodo, with support from Adobe expected to end in 2020. Many popular browsers like Google Chrome have started to do away with Flash by default. However, there are still websites and online tools that use it. Here’s how you can enable it when you need to.

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Why Spam Is So Bad For Your Inbox

Why Spam Is So Bad For Your Inbox

Spam. It’s detrimental and all businesses have to deal with it. But many don’t know the first thing about how to identify it, or how to work around it. The truth of the matter is that spam can be dangerous for your organization if it’s not dealt with properly, but dealing with it can also be a major waste of resources. We’ll walk you through what constitutes spam and how you can identify it from legitimate messages in your inbox.

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3 Time-Saving Benefits to Outsourced Email Management

3 Time-Saving Benefits to Outsourced Email Management

You don’t have time to worry about managing your email solution, but it’s still a vital aspect of your business’s operations. You never know when someone will fall for a spam message, and you certainly can’t look over the shoulders of each employee to make sure they don’t. What’s the busy business owner to do? How can you get quality email management without it eating up too much time and effort on your part?

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Four Ways to Secure Your Printer Right Now

If you were in South Korea in the summer of 2016, you may have noticed a startling sight: a drone armed with strange equipment hovering outside office windows. This drone wasn't getting panoramic views of the Seoul cityscape, however—it was hacking office printers.

Fortunately for Seoul's office dwellers, those printers didn't stay hacked. A group of academic researchers were simply using a drone to gauge the average vulnerability of office printers. What they found was alarming—they could fly up the side of a skyscraper and hack machines as they went, as easy as connecting to WiFi.

The lesson is clear—if businesses don't lock down their printers soon, they'll find themselves staring down their own hacking drone (or, more likely, some less-flashy equivalent), and it won't be operated by friendly academics. Here's how you can protect your multi-function printers from cyber-attack.

  1. Hide your printer's IP address.
    In the United States alone, there are
    more than 12,000 printers publically accessible on the internet, protected by no safeguards whatsoever. Is yours one of them? Using your printer's publically available IP address, hackers can log in and steal data from a printer, especially if you haven't changed its default password.
  2. Update your printer's firmware.
    Even if you've taken the basic step of keeping your printer out of sight from hackers, they may still find a way in. According to HP, unpatched vulnerabilities in software accounted for
    44% of all cyber-attacks in 2014. If your printer's firmware is out of date, you could still be leaving a window open into your wider network.
  3. Delete your printer's internal cache.
    Business printers can contain a hard drive with memory in the gigabyte range. Unlike consumer-grade printers, this memory doesn't get wiped when a printer gets turned off. If you dispose of a device that contains sensitive data without destroying or erasing its hard drive, then compliance regimes such as HIPP will consider this a data breach.
  4. Implement strong access controls.
    In the wake of a widespread attack in which a hacker took over printers and used them to
    send offensive messages, many companies have decided that their printers need stronger authentication. Businesses can require users to input passwords, type in a PIN, or swipe an ID card before using a device. Not only will this prevent hackers from hijacking your in-tray, it can also ensure strong compliance—no one who isn't authorized will be able to print sensitive documents.

It's admittedly difficult to try and lock down printer security, especially in light of all the other attack surfaces that administrators need to safeguard. Let PCS design a solution for you that protects itself. PCS is a Silver HP partner with decades of experience setting up secure print solutions that perfectly match your business needs. View our infographic and contact PCS to learn more about how we can make printer security headaches go away.

 
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Tip of the Week: Ways to Be Active and Proactive With Your Network Security

Tip of the Week: Ways to Be Active and Proactive With Your Network Security

Security troubles have many causes, but the only way to protect your business from any of them is to implement a comprehensive enterprise-level security solution. There are two other ways that you can work to protect your business, implementing software patches, and avoiding social engineering attempts.


Applying Software Patches
It should be clear that software patches are designed to fix security problems and improve the functionality of the software, but some organizations simply don’t have time to implement them manually, or they simply don’t understand the purpose for them. Part of the problem is that sometimes the developers aren’t necessarily clear that patches are available, while other times those within your organization may not even know how to administer them. Regardless of the reason, there are usually problems on a network that will go unattended for extended periods of time.

Most hackers only want to take advantage of the issues they can detect. Thus, there could be countless threats out there designed to target countless unpatched vulnerabilities on your network that not even the hackers can know about. It makes sense for a hacker to use just one exploit to target a handful of vulnerabilities. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that all software that you use is updated and patched.

Additionally, your systems shouldn’t be running unused programs. The more software you have, the more ways hackers can take advantage of your organization’s network vulnerabilities. Moreover, you might even be wasting revenue on renewing software licenses that you don’t even need, so it’s best perform a network audit from time to time to get the worthless software off your infrastructure.

Dodging Social Engineering Attempts
Social engineering is broadly categorized as any method that takes advantage of unprepared users or those who are ignorant of solid network security practices. Examples include a phone call or email message claiming that the network has been breached by a foreign entity and that “tech support” needs to remote into the computer and resolve the issue. There are other, more subtle methods as well, such as targeted spear phishing attacks that go after specific users with personal information that convince them that the hacker is someone in authority.

These types of attacks vary in sophistication, but they can range anywhere from an employee receiving a message claiming that they’ve won a prize, to the intruder physically following your employees into the office and stealing sensitive data manually. In instances like these, a little bit of employee training can go a long way. Teach them to look for anything suspicious, and inform them that vigilance is incredibly important in the workplace.

These two security improvements barely scratch the surface of what your organization should be focusing on for network security. If you want to fully protect your business to the best of your ability, give us a call at (865) 273-1960.

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Tip of the Week: Activate These Solutions Now Before You Misplace Your Mobile Device Later

Tip of the Week: Activate These Solutions Now Before You Misplace Your Mobile Device Later

Can’t find your mobile device? If you’ve taken precautions and enabled solutions designed to track the whereabouts of your device, then you’ve got no reason to panic. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, so you’ll want to make sure you activate a phone-finding solution now (while you’ve got your device in your sights).


For an iPhone or Apple Device
If you’re an Apple enthusiast, you can use the Find My iPhone feature to locate any device connected to your Apple account. Log into your iCloud account or download the Find My iPhone app (before you lose your device, of course), which will help you keep track of your devices should you lose them. You can even track where your device is and where it has been. You can even lock the device and send it a message telling whoever finds it how to contact you! 

For an Android Device
Android makes finding your lost device as easy as performing a Google search. If you’re signed into your Google account, and you have your device linked to it, all you have to do is type into the search bar, “Find my Phone.” As long as there’s a device connected to your Google account, you’ll be shown a small map in the search results which shows you where the device is located. You can then proceed to ring the device and find it, if it is turned on and nearby.

For Other Devices
If you lose a more obscure device, you might have a little more trouble locating it. Thanks to a great app called Prey, you can find just about any laptop or smartphone that may be missing. You can install Prey for free on up to three devices, and as long as a thief hasn’t completely wiped your device, you’ll have a decent shot at discovering who has found it. Provided that your device has a Wi-Fi chip, a webcam, and the app installed, Prey can take a picture of whoever has found the device as well as where it is located.

Any devices that have Prey installed on them will automatically issue a report to you every so often, starting at 20 minutes. This can tell you exactly what’s happening with your device. This includes webcam snapshots, desktop captures, program installations, changed files, and so much more. Of course, if you think that maybe someone has just found your device and hasn’t stolen it, you have the option of letting them know how to contact you through various methods. Worst case scenario, you can lock it or remotely wipe it to secure any data located on it.

For more great tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your technology, subscribe to PCS’s blog.

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Tip of the Week: How to Prevent Windows 10 From Restarting While You’re Working

Tip of the Week: How to Prevent Windows 10 From Restarting While You’re Working

How many times has this happened to you: you’ve walked back to your home or work PC after taking a break, only to find that Windows 10 installed new updates and automatically restarted? Thanks to Windows 10’s notoriously aggressive update behavior, any work that wasn’t saved was lost forever. It can be very frustrating to lose a project that you’ve spent hours on, through no fault of your own. Luckily, there are steps you can take to easily create a restart schedule.


In the fall of 2016, Microsoft issued an Anniversary Update to the Windows 10 OS. With this update, Microsoft included a new feature called “Active Hours.” Active Hours was created to let users specify the times when they’re more likely to be using their computers. In order to set up an Active Hours restart schedule, ensure that your computer has the Anniversary update installed (check your PC settings to see if it has already present). If you need help installing Windows 10 Anniversary, you can download this Update Assistant on Microsoft’s website: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/features.

After Windows 10 Anniversary is properly installed, follow these steps to setup Active Hours on your PC:

 

  1. Click on the Start menu and then the Settings. As a shortcut, you can also use Windows key + i on your keyboard.
  2. Next, select Update & Security.
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  3. Under the Windows Update tab, which will show up automatically, you’ll see a link to Change active hours. Click that.
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  4. From there, you can set your active hours (note: time lengths exceeding 12 hours will be marked as invalid).
    ib win 10 3
  5. Click Save to confirm your changes.

Now your PC will not install updates during those specified hours. But again, at most, you’re only covered for a 12-hour period. So, what about those times when you need to pull an all-nighter to complete a project? Not only can Windows 10 updates interrupt your productivity, they can also take a long time to install. To further prevent unwanted installations and restarts, you can also adjust your restart settings.

To change your restart settings, you’ll need to stay in the Update & Security section of your PC settings. Next:

 

  1. Click on Restart options, which is located under Change active hours.
    ib win 10 4
  2. Turn the feature On.
    ib win 10 5
  3. Next, set the day and time when you’d like Windows to finish installing updates. There is no need to save anything. As long as the switch is set to On, you’re all set.
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If you find that the On/Off switch is grayed out and you aren’t able to adjust it, this means that there are no new updates available at that time. In other words, you won’t have to worry about updates finishing up and forcing your PC to restart. Be sure to keep an eye on your restart options if you are planning to burn the candle at both ends.

There you have it. Windows 10 will no longer be able to bully you into halting your productivity! 

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Study Finds that 45% of Virtual Machines Would Run More Efficiently in the Cloud

Study Finds that 45% of Virtual Machines Would Run More Efficiently in the Cloud

By now you’ve surely heard about the benefits of cloud computing, but a new survey by TSO Logic might be just the proof you need to make the leap to the cloud. The survey analyzed 10,000 physical servers and 25,000 virtual machines, and the results are quite revealing!

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Download the Wrong App and Have More Than Pokémon Fever Infect Your Device

Download the Wrong App and Have More Than Pokémon Fever Infect Your Device

There’s a new augmented reality game on the market these days. Perhaps you’ve heard of it - a title called Pokemon Go, which lets you capture virtual monsters that “appear” on your smartphone’s camera. However, hackers have seized this opportunity to infect players’ mobile devices with a backdoor called DroidJack, which uses the mobile app’s immense popularity to its advantage.


As one of Nintendo’s most popular gaming franchises, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Pokemon Go has experienced such a warm reception amongst both new and old fans of the series. It’s ranked as the #1 most downloaded app on both the Apple Store and Google Play store, and was so wildly successful that Nintendo’s stock surged following its release. With over 75 million users worldwide, it has more users than some of the most popular smartphone apps, including Tinder, Twitter, and Google Maps.

Of course, hackers have to ruin the most popular of things, and they made an attempt to exploit this in the form of a malicious APK (Android application package). The game experienced a soft release, probably in order to ensure that the servers (which many Pokemon Go gamers suspect is simply a closet full of potato electrodes due to frequent crashes) could handle the traffic volume, which left many countries around the world without access to the game at first.

Thus, impatient fans made attempts to download the APK file and “side-load” it onto their devices - a major no-no for any security-minded mobile device user. Basically, you have to allow app installation from unknown sources, which is frowned upon due to some apps containing malware, or unnecessary permissions. Yet, those who wanted to play the game didn’t think for one second that what they were really downloading was a backdoor into their devices.

Due to the exclusivity of the application in the days before its release, many users outside of a select few countries chose to download the APK from an unknown source and just rolled with it. Today, the app is available in many countries, but a modified APK that was released online prior to the official release allowed remote access to the device, and can provide full control over the victim’s phone. In worst-case scenarios, this vulnerability extends to the rest of any network that the device is connected to. Security firm Proofpoint suggests that it’s entirely possible that, should infected devices connect to your network, networked resources can also be put at risk.

Take a look at the DroidJack-infected app’s permission request, and see for yourself just how strange they might look.

https://www.proofpoint.com/sites/default/files/users_content/10/pokemon-fig2.png
https://www.proofpoint.com/sites/default/files/users_content/10/pokemon-fig3.png

This is a valuable lesson to anyone who uses a smartphone. Be careful of what apps you download, and ensure that you aren’t giving your apps too many permissions. There’s almost no reason that a game of any kind should be able to access your text messages, make phone calls, modify your contacts, record audio, or anything else of the sort. Exploitation of the APK hasn’t necessarily been observed in the wild, but a development such as this, where hackers use popular apps to spread their infections, sets a dangerous precedent that cannot be ignored.

You should never install apps from unknown sources in the first place, especially on company devices and smartphones. It’s especially important that you only download apps from reputable sources, like the Apple store and the Google Play store.

After all, “Gotta catch ‘em all,” shouldn’t refer to malware infections.

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