More Secure Internet Headed Your Way

Posted by Janet Riley on Jul 5, 2018 in Newsletter

Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. ~Steve Jobs

Changes are a coming! Starting approximately July 22, Google will release a new version of it’s popular Chrome web browser, affectionately named Chrome 68. (Good thing Google can’t give birth to real babies! I’d hate to see them named Boy 1 and Boy 2. But I digress.)

The new release is going to mark a lot of web sites as “Not Secure”. Currently there are two types of web sites, HTTP and HTTPS. And just in case you are curious, HTTP stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol. HTTPS stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure.

In English, HTTP means any data being communicated between your computer and the website server is transmitted in plain text. If someone intercepted the communication, they would easily be able to see the information you are viewing and sending. This becomes a huge problem when the data you are transferring contains credit card numbers, passwords, private information.

HTTPS corrects this problem. The Secure transfer uses something called Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) to encrypt and transfer the data, rendering it nearly impossible for spying eyes to read. HTTPS has been a requirement for years on any site that collects credit card data. Google Chrome is already noting HTTP sites that collect data via user forms as “Not Secure”, but starting later this month, they are going to mark all HTTP sites as insecure, regardless of what data is on the site.

What does this mean to you? First, if you are a Chrome fan, you will start to see more “Not Secure” messages popping up as you surf the web. You will also notice faster response from the web. I was delighted to learn that encrypted traffic displays approximately 90% faster than unencrypted traffic. You can test this yourself at: https://www.httpvshttps.com/.

Not a Chrome user? You can expect other browsers to follow suit.

Second, if you have a web site for your business, you will want to secure it. This is done by purchasing an SSL certificate and then working through the steps to install it on your web site. If you would like assistance with the process, please give me a call. I’ve done a few, and have access to affordable SSL’s. You might believe this is a big hassle. You would be right. It is a hassle, but if your web traffic is important to you, I suggest you do it anyway. I was surprised to learn that roughly 60% of all internet traffic is coming through Chrome. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_web_browsers). Displaying a big red warning sign to 60% of potential customers might not be the best decision. I’m here to help if you need me.

Keeping Your Data Safe!

 ~Janet

Because it made me laugh:

 

Learn More

Choosing My Nursing Home

Posted by Janet Riley on Jun 6, 2018 in Newsletter

Don’t downgrade your dream just to fit your reality.   Upgrade your conviction to match your destiny. ~Stuart Scott

It’s June! And for a lot of people that means a vacation is just around the corner. I was searching for an original vacation destination and look at what I found. Affectionately called “The Pad”, this 24-story building in Dubai is scheduled to open sometime this year. It was purposely designed to look like a giant iPad sitting in a charging dock. The building is even tilted 6.5 degrees. James Law is the architect. Law aims to fuse technology, software and architecture to create structures that are more responsive to the needs of people. He calls this approach “cybertecture” (as opposed to architecture).

When finished, this building will host 231 “intelligent” apartments with the ability to monitor health, control air filters, monitor security and each apartment will sport a virtual reality wall. The virtual reality wall can project a variety of different world destinations (like a movie screen) or be used to video chat with friends and family. Lights and music can be customized to mirror the moods of residents. (Watch out, if momma ain’t happy….)

When my kids were little, they had no respect for bathroom time. Seems every time I entered, they would need something immediately. Bathroom privacy was not an option. Same is true of this building. The bathroom will monitor weight, blood pressure, internal temperature and “other metrics” (whatever that means) and then display said info on the mirror. I already know I’m fat. Again, I say: if momma ain’t happy…. Although, I can see this bathroom as a wonderful asset in every nursing home in America.

You can read the full article and see all of the pictures here: https://tinyurl.com/y8p62e75

So why did I choose to write about a building in Dubai? No particular reason. Guess I’m enamored with all things tech, although I have to say, I think this one is a little bit over the top. But it is in Dubai. Rumor has it, Dubai is pretty extravagant.

It doesn’t matter if your tech needs are as extravagant as “The Pad” or more mundane, I invite you to work with Comp-U-Talk. The slower pace of summer can be the perfect time to upgrade/expand servers and workstations, clean out old files and implement offsite backups. And while I don’t recommend you purposely build your offices at 83.5 degrees, I can recommend some fabulous contractors who might welcome the opportunity to construct something that isn’t Plumb-Square! (And then again, they might want to hurt me, for even suggesting such a thing!)

Keeping Your Data Safe!

Janet

 

Because It Made Me Laugh:

Learn More

Encryption Can Be Your Friend

Posted by Janet Riley on May 3, 2018 in Newsletter

“If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.” ~ Thomas Edison, Inventor

April was filled with lots of questions about PCI compliance. For the uninitiated, PCI DDS is the acronym for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. It came about as a result of numerous data breaches at entities like Equifax, Target and Facebook to name a few. When sensitive data is leaked, credit card companies are not happy. Customers are not happy. Criminals are happy. Or at least I presume them to be. I haven’t actually asked them. Maybe I should launch one of those Monkey Surveys and find out. Anyway, the point is:

Any business or person that accepts credit card payments is now required to show due diligence toward protecting customer credit card information. Even if you don’t accept credit cards, you are expected to protect personal data of employees, students, vendors, clients… Personal data includes things like address, phone numbers, social security numbers, account numbers, mother’s maiden name… You get the drift.

So the question becomes, How do you protect this information?

One way to protect is to encrypt. I’ve talked about encrypting before. But only in the negative. Before, I’ve mentioned ransomeware that invades your system, scrambles your data, and leaves you high and dry. But encryption can also be used in your favor.

What is Encryption?

Encryption is the process of encoding data in such a way that only authorized parties can access it.   It requires the use of an encryption key (think fancy password). If you don’t have the encryption key, you can’t read the data.

3 Simples Questions to determine if you should Encrypt the data:

  1. If this data was on piece of paper, would you shred it?
  2. If this data was leaked, lost or stolen, would your business or its reputation be negatively affected?
  3. If this data was leaked, lost or stolen, would your customers, clients, vendors be negatively affected?

If you answered YES to any of the above, then you should encrypt!

How do you Encrypt?

I went searching for tools that will encrypt data. First up is Windows 10 and it’s built in BitLocker.   I would like to say it was a huge success. I experimented with it on three machines and all 3 machines baulked. In order to make it work, I had to create a self signed certificate and edit group policy. That’s a lot of work for something that is supposed to work out of the box. So I went looking for third party apps.

The app I settled on is AxCrypt available at https://www.axcrypt.net. It has a free version and a paid for premium version. It has several small tutorial videos to teach you how to install and use it. And it works. Out of the box. With ease.

If you are needing to protect sensitive data, I recommend you check out AxCrypt.   If you need additional assistance securing your network and data, please give us a call.

Keeping Your Data Safe!

~Janet

 

Because it Made Me Laugh:

Learn More

Sync Services vs Backup Services

Posted by Janet Riley on Apr 2, 2018 in Newsletter

Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value. ~Albert Einstein

Happy Spring! This month I want to talk about the differences between file syncing services and backup services. People frequently tell me they are using sync services for their backup. While that is better than not using anything, it does have some hazards. So what is a sync service?

You might recognize sync services by their more popular names: Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive. With any of these services, you create an account with a user name and password. The process of creating an account will install a specialized folder onto your computer. Dropbox names their folder “Dropbox”. Microsoft names their folder “OneDrive”. Clever, huh? Once the folders are in place, it is just a matter of saving your important files into this folder. If you frequently take work home, this is a major time saver. When you get home, you can login to your sync service and all the files will be there. If you change a file, add new files or delete files, it will update the office automatically. It is slick! I really like sync services. I’ve been a Dropbox user for years.

So what’s the problem? Ransomeware is the problem. Ransomeware is a vicious virus that encrypts all of your data and throws away the key. As it encrypts your sync folder, you lose your data on every device, not just the infected device. Your best defense against ransomeware is a good backup. And while it is true, sync services normally have a “restore to previous version” button hidden somewhere in the service, they do the restore one file at a time. If you only have 10 files to restore, this is not a huge issue. If you have 100 files, it is still doable, but painful. Have, 1000+ files? Don’t call me. I’m not going to volunteer to help you. I’ll feel sorry for you, but NO, I’m not going to help you restore those files, one-by-one. Even Noah loaded the ark two-by-two. Why should you expect anyone to restore huge numbers of files one-by-one?

The solution? True Backup services. A true backup service isn’t limited to just files in one specific folder. It can backup an entire computer, or just your data folders. It can be configured to keep one copy of each file up to infinite copies of each file. And should a time come when you need to restore files, it can restore everything with a few simple clicks. I’ll say it again: It can restore EVERYTHING with a few simple clicks. That’s way faster than Noah!

I’m a fan of keeping both local and cloud backups. That’s because a local backup isn’t going to help me if my house burns down. But a backup in the cloud, that can protect me from fire, theft and all sorts of calamities. This month I’m offering a “Try-Before-You-Buy” get started package. This is how it works: Call (541-756-8770) or email me.  (Please put “Backup” in the subject line.) I will coordinate my schedule with yours so I can install backup and monitoring software onto your computer. The monitoring software alerts me to possible problems like outdated virus definitions and hackers attempting to take over your computer. I will configure your off site backup. Service for the remainder of April is free. If you appreciate the service, on May 1st, you may continue the subscription for $25/month. If you change your mind, the software will need to be uninstalled and there are no hard feelings. This offer is limited to workstations only. Similar service is available for fileservers at varying costs due to the complexity of file servers. If you are interested in backing up a file server, give me a call (541-756-8770) and we can discuss details.

Keeping Your Data Safe!

~Janet

Because it Made Me Laugh:

Learn More

Déjà vu?

Posted by Janet Riley on Mar 5, 2018 in Newsletter

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. —Amelia Earhart

Déjà vu? Remember last month when I told you about the horrors of hard drive recovery? We had another distress call in February.   This time the data recovery process was complicated by the sensitivity of the data. Apparently, if you are working with sensitive data you are not allowed to send your failed hard drive to just any data recovery specialist. And you might need permission from all the people in your database to even start the recovery process. Getting permission is near impossible when the only copy of the data is on a dead hard drive. So, if you missed last months newsletter about how to do a backup, I would suggest you scroll down to the previous post: No Backup? No Problem!  Posted on February 7.

If you are good with keeping current backups, then I would also remind you to check the backup occasionally. Automating backups is a true life saver but if the automation goes wonky it is no better than no backup. Assuming, the backup is good, I suggest doing a sample restore occasionally. You don’t need to do a full restore, just pick a file or two and restore to a new location (so you don’t overwrite the existing files). Having done a practice restore a time or twice, will also give you confidence, if and when the time comes for you to do a real life restore.

Other things that crossed my desk last month:

https://haveibeenpwned.com/ Have I been Pawned? Type in your email address and this site will list the data breaches and what personal information has been exposed for your email address.   The rule of thumb is: if your email address has been exposed, it is a good idea to change passwords. Which is a real pain in the rear, and brings us to the second thing that crossed my desk last month:

https://www.dashlane.com/ DashLane is a password manager, form filler, digital wallet and more. It’s free for use on a single device and for $40/year it will sync your passwords across multiple devices. It has some wonderful features, one of which is the ability to change passwords at multiple sites. It also allows you to share select passwords and give emergency access to someone you trust.

In the past I have recommended LastPass. Available at: www.lastpass.com. It has similar features and is less expensive at $24/year. Both platforms have business editions as well.

That’s all for this month. If you need a good belly laugh watch this 10 second video of a toddler feeding a pigeon: https://youtu.be/T9JudgrUsEI. If you need assistance protecting your data, call Comp-U-Talk. (541-756-8770)

Keeping the New Year Happy!!

Janet

 

Because it made me laugh:


Learn More

No Backup? No Problem! $700 Please.

Posted by Janet Riley on Feb 7, 2018 in Newsletter

If you treat your wife like a thoroughbred, you’ll never end up with a nag. ~ Zig Ziglar

It happened again this past week. The phone call came in. The person on the other end was anxious. One miss click and an entire life time of photos was gone. Nothing left to recall the happy memories. No images of loved ones, now deceased. No financial data available. No more saved documents. And that collections of favorite kitten videos? Just a memory. Too make matters worse: money is tight. Age and health problems prevent finding a better job or a second job. Please, Please, Please? Can you help?

My mother always preached that an ounce of prevention was worth a pound of cure. When it comes to data backup, this is very true.

Data loss can happen in any number of ways. There’s a song running through my head, something about “let me count the ways….”

First, there is hardware failure. How many appliances work forever? That’s right! NONE! Why would you expect your computer to work forever? It’s not going to happen.

Second, is user error. Similar to the individual mentioned above, all it takes is a single confirmation click on the wrong button and what was supposed to be a revert to what the computer was doing last week, suddenly reverts the computer to what it was when brand spanking new.

Third is malicious intent. Everyone is running virus software now days, but did you know, virus software typically doesn’t stop malware? And malware is everywhere. It has infiltrated Yahoo ad servers, it hides on random, unpatched, web sites. You can’t escape it. The idea that you only need to worry if you are surfing porn sites or hate sites, hasn’t been true for years.

Want to know what it costs to recover valuable data? If the data loss is caused by hardware failure, the drive will have to be sent in to a data recovery site with a “clean room”. They typically charge $75 just to open up the drive and evaluate whether or not they can do anything with it. If they can, recovery costs start at $700 plus the cost of new media to put the recovered data onto. Years ago, I was called to an office to assist with rebuilding a server that died. The data recovery charge was $7000 (not including my labor). Have an extra $700 -$7000 burning a hole in your pocket? I would love to help you recover your data!

If you’re the stingy type, and don’t want to cough up $700-$7000 for data recovery, then I would suggest you learn how to do backups yourself.

Windows 10 makes it fairly easy. You will need an external hard drive, available everywhere. Plug the hard drive in. Open the settings app. (the little cog that appears when you click what use to be the start button). Go to Update & Security. Click Backup on the left side menu.

Click the Plus sign to add a drive and choose the external drive.

Click on More Options to choose the folders to include or exclude in the backup.   Double check the settings for how often to backup and you’re done. How easy was that?

And again… Mom was right. A few minutes of prevention and an inexpensive drive can save you $700+ for a cure.

Want even more robust backups?   Ask about our cloud backup and computer monitoring service.

Keeping the New Year Happy!!

~Janet

 

Because it Made Me Smile:

You can see the complete video at: https://biggeekdad.com/2017/01/little-kids-big-dogs/

 

Learn More

Sign up for our newsletter