Be Aware and Prepared… Not Overwhelmed

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Be Aware and Prepared…

Not Overwhelmed While the threat of data center loss and downtime is acknowledged, ask a group of SMBs how much they lose annually from network and system failure and you’re likely to be met with many blank stares and wild guesses. Perhaps they can sound off the hourly rate they’ve been charged for IT services, or what they’ve recently paid to repair or upgrade software and hardware, but very few can even venture to guess how much is lost in productivity, revenue, services and customer goodwill. The Aberdeen Group (an IT research firm) recently projected the estimated annual cost of downtime to be $25,806 for every small business employing less than one hundred people. Medium-sized businesses, employing anywhere between one hundred to one thousand employees, were hit even harder by failed technology at an estimated $880,600 per year.

Is it any wonder why many smart business owners these days aren’t sleeping soundly at night? They’re stressing over something they feel powerless to address – the stability and efficiency of their IT system and network.

But you aren’t powerless as you may think. Most IT system failures can be totally avoided, or reduced in severity, quite easily and inexpensively. All it takes is some risk assessment, a plan, proactive maintenance and the right sizing of your legacy IT budget.

Are SMBs Keeping Sensitive Data Safe in Bring-Your-Own-Device to Work Era?

Keeping Sensitive Data Safe The global research firm Forrester recently projected that by 2016 there will be over 200 million employees using their own smartphone for work. That’s right, the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) movement is upon us. While BYOD has undoubtedly enabled businesses to better accommodate an increasingly mobile and dispersed work force, how secure is sensitive customer and corporate data in the modern era of work-life integration? Are SMBs doing enough to ensure that networks aren’t threatened by the risk of malware being spread from personal mobile phones? Find out how you can be prepared – Download the eGuide – “Now You See It, There It… Stays: Decreasing the Business Costs and Risks of Data Loss What You Will Learn From this E-Guide Two very common sources of data loss and leakage How new technology can expose your business to data loss and disruption Four critical steps to better secure and backup sensitive data According to the Gartner Group, only 6% of small businesses survive a major data loss. Any small or medium sized business without a data back-up and recovery plan must act now before it’s too late!

Managed Service Providers Benefits

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Managed Service Providers can decrease the overall IT support costs of small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) by as much as 30% to 50%. While a managed service provider can most assuredly assume full responsibility for IT operations, and operate as a remote IT department if desired, they can also be a valuable asset to an in-house technician or team. MSPs can support existing internal IT staff by taking on the more routine proactive and reactive daily responsibilities. Many of which can be automated. This allows in-house IT personnel to focus more on the company’s business needs and revenue generating projects. Download the E-Guide – THE VALUE OF A HELPING HAND – Reducing the Business Costs of Network Failure with a Managed Services Provider In This E-Guide You Will Learn: How to once again focus on core business operations with a managed service provider monitoring and securing your network. The advantage of breaking away from a sure-to-stay-small break/fix mentality with the support of a team of experts helping you accelerate growth The benefit of having access to the expertise, best practices and world-class tools and technologies offered by managed service providers

Keeping up with Technology – Speaker for your event?

With the rate of technology ever increasing and the importance it has on becoming a successful business, Michael is increasing his number of speaking engagements as a value add activity to surrounding communities.   He can easily adapt his talk to the audience or topic and speaks on all things technology and how to maximize it for your desired results.   Please let us know if you are interested in having Michael speak at your upcoming meeting.   Read Michael’s full bio below.   Thanks!

Keeping up with Technology Michael St Martin|Cognoscape|ITServices

Michael St. Martin

Learn what’s up with the latest technology trends and how “Strategic Technology Acceleration” can rocket your business forward.  Is your technology a competitive advantage?  Do you know how to leverage Cloud Computing? Mobile Devices? Is your network secure? Michael St. Martin will provide information and real world tips that you can use immediately to make your systems an asset instead of a liability.

Michael St. Martin is an entrepreneur and founder of Cognoscape, a Business Technology company that specializes in bringing Enterprise Class technology solutions to Small and Medium Business. While Cognoscape is the newest of Michael’s successful business ventures, his experiences include executive positions with Accenture, building sales organizations with NetIQ and Permeo and adding value to multiple IPOs’ and M&A’s.   His current passion resides in assisting business owners to utilize technology and gain a competitive advantage while streamlining their business.  

Michael has spoken to audiences both large and small, always imparting insight into the latest technology and how to apply it to the audience.   “My goal as a speaker is to give the audience something to take away immediately and apply to their business that day, while entertaining them along the way,” says Michael.   So… great and timely content, mixed with Michael’s engaging style motivates the audience into action!

Thoughts of families, friends, folks and oh yeah, business too…

Tornado data loss

With yesterday’s real world tornado examples in the DFW area, we give thought to our families, friends and folks in general.   We hope you are all well and were unaffected by the storm.   This is, of course is the most important of considerations.   At some point your thoughts as a business owner, partner or executive will turn to what effect something like this might have had on your livelihood.   Although secondary to wanting our families to be safe and secure we also want our business to be secure from catastrophe if it can be avoided.   With advances in Cloud Technology and Cloud Hosting Services you can be covered with redundant or failover data sites and Backup and Disaster Recovery solutions.

In light of the recent storm, we’ll provide free Business Continuity, Data Disaster and Backup and Disaster Recovery assessments for companies from 50 – 500 employees in the DFW area. This is a value we want to provide to the community at no cost. Something we can offer that could make a difference in the future of your business.

Contact us for your free assessment at 214 377-4884 or sign up on our website at https://www.cognoscape.com

Most people don’t realize how much they have invested in their data. The data you’ve accumulated over the years is one of your most valuable business assets. From customer contact information to accounting information to inventory, you need your data to operate your business.

Statistics show that on average, over 40% of businesses that do not have a Disaster Recovery Plan go out of business after a major loss like a fire, a break-in, a tornado, or sabotage.

 A successful data recovery in the least amount of time ensuring that your business continues is only achieved by a sophisticated “dual-method” backup and recovery system.

Windows 7 Backup and Restore

Here’s a good article by Microsoft on Windows Backup and Restore.   This is specific to Windows 7 and it’s features  with Windows Backup Restore capabilities.   Check it out.  http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/products/features/backup-and-restore

Backup and Restore—improved for Windows 7—creates safety copies of your most important personal files, so you’re always prepared for the worst.

Let Windows choose what to back up, or pick individual folders, libraries, and drives yourself. Windows can back up files on whatever schedule you choose—just set it and forget it.

You can back up to another drive or a DVD. And if you’re using the Professional or Ultimate editions of Windows 7, you’ll also have the option of backing up your files to a network.

To back up your files

  1. Open Backup and Restore by clicking the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Maintenance, and then clicking Backup and Restore.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • If you’ve never used Windows Backup before, click Set up backup, and then follow the steps in the wizard. If you’re prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
    • If you’ve created a backup before, you can wait for your regularly scheduled backup to occur, or you can manually create a new backup by clicking Back up now. If you’re prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

Notes

  • We recommend that you don’t back up your files to the same hard disk that Windows is installed on.
  • Always store media used for backups (external hard disks, DVDs, or CDs) in a secure place to prevent unauthorized people from having access to your files—we recommend a fireproof location separate from your computer. You might also consider encrypting the data on your backup.

How Do I Remove a Virus?

We often get asked about virus removal. Here’s a great article from Microsoft to get you on the right path…

https://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/Windows7/How-do-I-remove-a-computer-virus

How do I remove a computer virus?

If your computer is infected with a virus, you’ll want to remove it as quickly as possible. A fast way to check for viruses is to use an online scanner, such as the Microsoft Safety Scanner. The scanner is a free online service that helps you identify and remove viruses, clean up your hard disk, and generally improve your computer’s performance.

If you’re not sure whether your computer has a virus, see How can I tell if my computer has a virus? to check for some telltale signs. To try a different online scanner, follow the links to other companies that provide them on the Windows Security software providers webpage.

If you can connect to the Internet

If you can reach a website using your web browser, run an online scan.

To run the Microsoft Safety Scanner

  1. Go to the Microsoft Safety Scanner webpage to download the scanner.
  2. Click Download Now, and then follow the instructions on the screen.

If you can’t connect to the Internet

If you can’t get to the Microsoft Safety Scanner online, try restarting your computer in safe mode with networking enabled.

To restart in Safe Mode with networking enabled

  1. Restart your computer.
  2. When you see the computer manufacturer’s logo, press and hold the F8 key.
  3. On the Advanced Boot Options screen, use the arrow keys to highlight Safe Mode with Networking, and then press Enter.
  4. Log on to your computer with a user account that has administrator rights.
  5. Follow the steps above to run the Microsoft Safety Scanner.

For more information about different startup modes, see Start your computer in safe mode.

If you still can’t access the Internet after restarting in safe mode, try resetting yourInternet Explorer proxy settings. The following steps reset the proxy settings in theWindows‌ registry so that you can access the Internet again.

To reset Internet Explorer proxy settings

  1. In Windows 7, click the Start button. In the search box, type run, and then, in the list of results, click Run.-or-

    In Windows Vista, click the Start button, and then click Run.

    -or-

    In Windows XP, click Start, and then click Run.

  2. Copy and paste or type the following text in the Open box in the Run dialog box:reg add “HKCUSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionInternet Settings” /v ProxyEnable /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f
  3. Click OK.
  4. In Windows 7, click the Start button. In the search box, type run, and then, in the list of results, click Run.-or-

    In Windows Vista, click the Start button, and then click Run.

    -or-

    In Windows XP, click Start, and then click Run.

  5. Copy and paste or type the following text in the Open box in the Run dialog box:reg delete “HKCUSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionInternet Settings” /v ProxyServer /f
  6. Click OK.

Restart Internet Explorer and then follow the steps listed previously to run the scanner.

Remove a virus manually

Sometimes a virus must be removed manually. This can become a technical process that you should only undertake if you have experience with the Windows registry and know how to view and delete system and program files in Windows.

First, identify the virus by name by running your antivirus program. If you don’t have an antivirus program or if your program doesn’t detect the virus, you might still be able to identify it by looking for clues about how it behaves. Write down the words in any messages it displays or, if you received the virus in email, write down the subject line or name of the file attached to the message. Then search an antivirus vendor’s website for references to what you wrote down to try to find the name of the virus and instructions for how to remove it.

Recovery and prevention

After the virus is removed, you might need to reinstall some software or restore lost information. Doing regular backups on your files can help you avoid data loss if your computer becomes infected again. If you haven’t kept backups in the past, we recommend that you start now.

To learn how to help protect your computer against viruses in the future, see How can I help protect my computer from viruses?

Network Security tools are not always enough

Network Security tools and antivirus products do not provide complete protection from the Viruses and Malware that threaten businesses on a regular basis.  Common sense and intuition can help fill the gaps where network security tools leave off.  A recent example comes from a client who correctly DID NOT open the attachment and referred the email to our team for analysis.  Working for a lawfirm, our client knew that such a notification would arrive as a certified letter instead of just an email to a distribution list.  The email came in as follows:

From: Douglas Rosenthal – Attorney [mailto:doug.rose@douglasrosenthal.com]
Sent: Monday, August 02, 2010 3:04 PM
To: Recipients
Subject: Cease and Desist

Dear Sir

It has come to our attention that your website contains a logo thatis identical/substantially similar to our copyrighted Work.
Permission was neither asked nor granted to reproduce our Work and your Work therefore constitutes infringement of our rights.
In terms of the Copyright Statutes, we are entitled to an injunction against your continued infringement, as well as to recover damages from you for the loss we have suffered as a result of your infringing conduct.

In the circumstances, we demand that you immediately:
1. remove all infringing content and notify us in writing that you have done so;
2. credit all infringing content to ourselves.
3. immediately cease the use and distribution of copyrighted material;
4. undertake in writing to desist from using any of our copyrighted Work in future without prior written authority from us.

Attached is a list of the copyrighted material in question.

We await to hear from you.

This is written without prejudice to our rights, all of which are hereby expressly reserved

The email attachment is a Microsoft Word document named 822010.doc with a size of 112,532 bytes.  Opening the document you see what looks like a PDF file named infrige_documents.pdf with the instructions “(double click to view)”.

A quick look at the properties of the embedded file (In Word 2010 – Right Click on the file/Packager Shell Object Object/Properties) shows the embedded PDF file is really an executable named  INFRIG~1.EXE with a description of “Ufouonkt Uvadb”.  The file name was even a misspelling of INFRINGE, another clue that the whole thing is bad.  Launching this file would have launched a virus that would attempt to infect the computer.  When I tested this file, only 17% of the the world’s anti-virus engines would have flagged it as bad.

With any email or pop up message we advise our clients to either call us or forward the email so we have a chance to prevent a much bigger problem.  When in doubt, DO NOT open items or click messages when you can easily pick up the phone and get the help of an IT professional.

Information Security and your Business

A recent study released by Symantec Corporation reveals that many small and mid-sized organizations are recognizing the importance of information security. On average, SMBs are now spending approximately $51,000 per year to protect their company information. This is a substantial increase from last year when one-third of SMBs didn’t even have antivirus protection in place. SMBs risk cyber attacks and loss of confidential data and devices.  In today’s hyper-wired world that could mean the difference between success and having to shut down.

Stephen A. Cox, President and CEO of the National Council of Better Business Bureaus states, “The average cost of fraud for self-employed and small-business owners is about $4,627.” But your bottom line isn’t the only thing at risk. By failing to protect your customer data, you could put them in danger of credit card fraud and identity theft. Below we’ll cover some simple safeguards your company can put into place to prevent information theft:

1. Employee awareness – Employees are the gateway to your company’s information. Create and implement Internet security guidelines. Then, educate your employees and make sure they are following them. This can be as simple as requiring periodic password changes to updating your employees on the latest threats and how they can prevent them.

2. Protect important business information – Use data encryption so prying eyes can’t intrude. Maintain wireless security. Limit employee access to important information such as: credit card numbers, customer information or employee records. Important data in the wrong hands could become detrimental.

3. Create a Backup and Recovery Plan – You can’t predict the future but you can be prepared for it. A virus could spread through your system or a flood could ruin your equipment. Make sure you back up your data to an external source as frequently as possible in case the unexpected occurs.

Information Security is crucial to all businesses. In recent news, the Federal Trade Commission charged social media site, Twitter, for failing to adequately safeguard user information. Their failure to protect user accounts led to account attacks on both President-Elect Barack Obama and CNN host Rick Sanchez.  Twitter has not only suffered monetary losses, but has also lost trust and respect of some of their users.

Invest in protecting your company’s data now so you don’t have to deal with a disaster later.

“When a company promises consumers that their personal information is secure, it must live up to that promise.  Likewise, a company that allows consumers to designate their information as private must use reasonable security to uphold such designations.” – David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.