PCS Blog

PCS has been serving the Knoxville area since 1996, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

The Most Devastating Hacks of 2018… So Far

The Most Devastating Hacks of 2018… So Far

Network security is a crucial consideration for every contemporary business owner, as there are just too many threats that originate from an Internet connection to be overlooked. One only has to look at what businesses of all sizes have dealt with, even within this calendar year, to gain an appreciation for how crucial it is that every business owner consider their cybersecurity.

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UTM is a Strong Solution to Ward Off Hackers

UTM is a Strong Solution to Ward Off Hackers

When your employees think about hackers and network security, do they picture some cloaked or hooded figure in a dark room typing away at a keyboard? Do they see a recluse living in their mother’s basement? Popular culture has given many users a false sense of reality regarding hacking attacks and the culture surrounding them, and it can come at the detriment of your business.

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Android Ransomware Kits on the Rise

Android Ransomware Kits on the Rise

The do-it-yourselfers of the world have enjoyed the autonomy that the Internet brings into their lives. They can now look up how-to guides and YouTube videos on how to do just about anything. However, the Internet has also given hackers and other cybercriminals access to all sorts of technology that makes using malware and other threats easier than ever before - even for inexperienced users.

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How to Spot Three Forms of Phishing Attacks

How to Spot Three Forms of Phishing Attacks

One of the crazy things about hackers is that they will do whatever it takes to ensure that they steal as much information and sensitive data as possible. One of the more innovative ways that hackers spread threats is through spam. Unwanted messages have grown from simple annoyances, to the spread of unwanted software and malware, all the way to sophisticated attacks on targeted individuals known as phishing attacks. Do you have ways to secure your business?

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Tip of the Week: ‘Secure’ Browsing Doesn’t Mean ‘Private’

Tip of the Week: ‘Secure’ Browsing Doesn’t Mean ‘Private’

Internet browsers, by in large, provide enough security for the average user to come out unscathed. Nowadays, people deal with many more threats than they once did, but by in large, users stay secure when using today’s most popular browsers. Privacy, however, is a whole different matter.

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Cisco Bug Ranks as One of the Worst

Cisco Bug Ranks as One of the Worst

A new exploit is making the rounds in the security environment, and this time, it affects virtual private networks. According to Cisco, the flaw affects its Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) tool, and it should be patched as quickly as possible. If you don’t do so, your organization could be subject to remote code exploitation as a result of this vulnerability.

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10th Anniversary of Data Privacy Day

10th Anniversary of Data Privacy Day

January 28th marks Data Privacy Day, a day intended to raise awareness of the importance of data privacy and educate users and business owners of its benefits. Spearheaded by the National Cyber Security Alliance, there are plenty of lessons the NCSA has to share with businesses as this day puts their, and their clients’, privacy in the spotlight.

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11 Ways to Enhance Android Security

11 Ways to Enhance Android Security

It should come as no surprise that hackers are always trying to get ahead of security developers, just as it should be no surprise that these hackers often target the Android operating system. After all, the Android OS is used on mobile devices all over the world. If your business leverages these devices, there are quite a few security considerations you need to keep in mind.

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“It Redirected Where?” -- A Case Study in Security Precautions

“It Redirected Where?” -- A Case Study in Security Precautions

Imagine what it would be like to discover that your website was suddenly redirecting to content that was decidedly more... adult... than what should be representing your business. For a company in Phoenix, Arizona, this was the unfortunate reality after they had let their IT administrator go.

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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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Essential Cybersecurity Tips From The FBI

Essential Cybersecurity Tips From The FBI

In 2016 former President of the United States Barack Obama passed the Cybersecurity National Action Plan that implemented near-term action and developed a longer-term strategy of bringing awareness and protections to public computing systems connected to the Internet. The strategy is to make an immediate effort to empower citizens to protect their own privacy, while also maintaining public safety and national and economic security, as many of the most critical systems this nation utilizes are networked on the web.

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Don't Be Threatened

Computers and computer systems are threatened every day. There are several attacks that computers may experience like viruses, malware, spyware, and ransomware.

So what do all these mean, what is the difference, and how do you protect yourself?

Virus

A computer virus is a type of program that may copy itself and infect other computers on a network. The virus may harm a computer by changing boot commands or autorun scripts, or even Microsoft Office macros. The virus can be destructive and render a computer inoperable.

Malware

Malware (malicious software) is generally used to describe various threats such viruses, worms, spyware, and so on. It can be used to cause computer problems or steal information.

Spyware

Spyware is a type of infection which steals information from your computer. It can include things like keyloggers which captures keyboard commands to obtain login credentials to your websites, or watch your web search habits. Spyware can get installed onto a computer without the user's knowledge, and cause your computer to run slow by adding unwanted web browser toolbars.

Adware

Adware is generally used to track your web browsing habits, display pop-up advertisements, which may entice a user to purchase software with legitimate looking information. Adware infections can cause your computer to run slow, and may capture personal information using keyloggers.

Scareware/Ransomware

These types of infections are appearing more and more. These infections appear as a legitimate ad that may appear on your computer informing you of a possible threat, and offers a solution to fix the infection by purchasing a software license. If proceeded, the virus searches through your computer and encrypts your data files rendering your documents unusable until you pay a ransom.

Other Threats
Other threats exist such as trojan horses and worms. Trojan horse viruses may allow remote access to your computer or use a denial of service attack to render your computer useless. These do not replicate themselves like a virus, they are generally installed unknowingly by the user. Worm infections use the computer network to copy themselves to other computers because of a security vulnerability, causing network problems and computer problems.

So how do you protect yourself from all these threats?

These threats can be malicious to a computer through internet web browsing, email, and sharing files with other users. Be very vigilant when browsing the internet and managing your email. Do not download any email attachments or click on any links unless you are very certain where the email originated from. Verify with the sender if you are uncertain. Protect your computer with antivirus software, scan often, and keep it up-to-date. Ensure your Operating system firewall is enabled. Do not download any software from the internet unless you are 100% certain it is safe. Investigate your web browser security settings to help mitigate any possible vulnerability. Backup your sensitive documents, photos, or other files you do not want to lose to a device such as an external hard drive. Smart web browsing, vigilant email practices, and antivirus software management will help keep you safe against these various threats.

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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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A Few Security Lessons Your Business Can Learn From Game of Thrones

A Few Security Lessons Your Business Can Learn From Game of Thrones

Security is a major concern for anything successful, and television programming is no different. Game of Thrones, the BBC’s epic production based on George R.R. Martin's book series A Song of Ice and Fire, has always been concerned with their security--and with the television series overtaking the book series, that concern has only grown as the production has brand new secrets to keep safe. As a result, the production has seen a steady increase in security.

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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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Don’t Worry, Your Samsung Phone “Winking” at You is Just a Cool Feature

Don’t Worry, Your Samsung Phone “Winking” at You is Just a Cool Feature

If you’re a Samsung smartphone user, have you ever seen a little eyeball symbol appear at the top of the screen? You might notice that it will show up for a minute, and then disappear again. Since this kind of activity usually makes users question what’s going on with their device, let’s get down to the bottom of this weird occurrence.

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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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Three Reasons Why Print Security Is an Achilles Heel for SMBs

Just because your small business isn't handling credit card and social security data for millions of customers, you shouldn't brush information security aside. For SMBs, the effect of hacking is personal: fines, disclosure requirements, and the cost of replacing both data and equipment can be crippling. Within six months after being hacked, 60% of small businesses will be forced to shut down.

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What Does Your Software Have in Common with the Food in Your Fridge?

What Does Your Software Have in Common with the Food in Your Fridge?

It’s a well-known fact that nothing in this world lasts forever (other than Twinkies), and this pertains to your technology more than perhaps anything else. The same solutions that you’ve been working with for years will also need regular updates and improvements in order to stay relevant to your organization.


When you think about it, making sure that your software solutions are always up to date is sort of like keeping your kitchen cabinet full of foodstuffs that haven't spoiled. Both the software developer and the food producer offer resources that are absolutely crucial in the modern world, and both create products that frequently need to be replaced in order to function as intended. Both offer sustenance to something or another; yet, how similar are they really?

A food producer will tend to focus on offering delectable foods that taste great and offer nutritional value, while a software developer will work toward creating user-friendly solutions and patching up vulnerabilities. Any improvements made tend to be focused on security, but often times the developer will add new features or improve the user interface to offer a better experience as a whole. Primarily, the patches issued resolve problems that hackers can take advantage of to infiltrate your organization and cause trouble.

These improvements are one of the reasons why you might receive notifications about updates available every so often. In fact, they are so frequent that if you don’t implement them as they are released, you could quickly fall behind on network maintenance.

Returning to the food analogy, let’s take a look at a convenience that most businesses have: a break room fridge. If each of your employees keeps a single cup of yogurt in this fridge, and it goes uneaten, it will naturally spoil. However, if you keep this spoiled yogurt in the fridge, despite it being practically inedible, someone will eventually try it out. This could result in employees getting sick.

Whether it’s poor productivity from being ill all day or software that’s missing critical software updates, the result is the same: the potential for a really bad time. If you have someone whose responsibility is to “restock the fridge,” you can keep your organization from being exposed by the sudden, gut-wrenching sickness of a hacking attack.

PCS can be the ones to keep an eye out for anything that needs updates or patches on your network, and better yet, we can do all of it ourselves without interrupting operations. This keeps you from taking valuable time out of the day to do it yourself, and you can know for certain that your software solutions are being handled with the care they deserve. To make sure that your business’s network security doesn’t reach its expiration date, reach out to us at (865) 273-1960.

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Your Business Should Be in the Headlines for the Right Reasons, Not for a Cyber Attack

Your Business Should Be in the Headlines for the Right Reasons, Not for a Cyber Attack

Today’s headlines are peppered with stories of major companies and institutions falling victim to a cyberattack. As a business owner, what’s your response to these gut-wrenching stories? If you write them off as fear mongering and believe that these attacks can never happen to your business, well, you’re wrong. They can, and it’s up to you to prevent such a disaster.


One reason why it’s so important to shore up your company’s network security is because the ramifications of a breach extend well beyond the sensationalism surrounding a news story. Take for example one of the biggest stories of hacking in recent memory; the revelation made public last December that Yahoo had more than one billion of its accounts compromised, dating all the way back to 2013. While the headlines focused on the plight of Yahoo and the negative effect this would have on the tech company’s value, what didn’t get reported is how millions of Yahoo users were negatively affected by having their sensitive information exposed to hackers.

In the same way, seeing to your company’s network security goes beyond protecting your corporate image from a negative headline. It’s also about protecting all of those who have entrusted you with their sensitive data. This includes customers and vendors that have provided your business with their financial information, as well as employees that each have a wealth of their personal information connected to your HR department.

We’ve established that there’s a lot riding on your network security and that it’s your job to make sure this is taken care of. If you don’t currently have a security plan in place protecting your company from a data breach, then where do you even begin? Fortunately, you don’t need to be an IT security expert or have a computer science degree to implement adequate security measures. As is the case with many vital responsibilities connected to your business, you can outsource the protection of your network to the professionals.

That said, IT security is such an important and comprehensive matter that it’s not something that you should outsource and then disregard. In fact, IT security works best when everybody in the company understands that they have an active role in its upkeep. Yes, everybody. We’re talking from the C-level executives down to the cleaning lady who connects her smartphone to Wi-Fi. If everyone in your company understands how to avoid the snares laid by hackers, then the cake that is your network security measures will be topped with the icing of best practices.

Remember, securing your network from cyberattacks isn’t something that you have to do on your own. PCS is here to help, and we can do so by implementing proven and comprehensive network security solutions like our Unified Threat Management tool, as well as remote monitoring and maintenance in order to detect and take care of any threats that may breach your defenses. We’re also available to equip your staff with the means and know-how to better understand cybersecurity.

For assistance in all of these areas of security and more, give us a call today at (865) 273-1960.

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