What Gamers Need to Know About Online Security

Remember when video games were limited to Player 1 and Player 2? The explosion in video game technology has made it possible for gamers to evolve from playing Pong alone in their bedroom to becoming part of a complex online network of games. Massive Multiple Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs), such as World of Warcraft have millions of players online at any given time.

By 2017, the video game industry worldwide is expected to generate over $80 billion in revenue, due largely to online gaming. Like anything that exists on the Internet, there are increased online security risks, questioning the safety of online gaming. Below we discuss the risk assessment involved with playing video games online and how to protect yourself.


Technological Risk Assessment of Online Gaming

There are a number of technological risks to your computer system when one becomes involved with online gaming.


  • Worms and Viruses: Instant messaging programs and email messages can house viruses that arrive as attachments, or are hidden in game files that are downloaded or found in installed software.
  • Malware: Worms and viruses can be used to install malware in order to take advantage of the social networks associated with online games that use email, chat or voice communication. The malware is used to invite you to visit fake websites or to open up email attachments that contain malicious software and install it on your computer. This software is then used to gain access to personal information for financial gain.
  • Compromised or Insecure Game Servers: When software on a game server has been compromised, any computers that connect to it can become compromised. By exploiting vulnerabilities, online criminals can gain access to your computer and control it remotely. Malicious users can use your computer to install Trojan horses, spyware, adware or access personal information on any computer that connects to yours during gaming or communications.
  • Insecure Game Coding: Some game protocols for communicating information between machines are not as secure as other protocols. Game code may not be monitored as well as other commercial software. Erratic behavior on your computer can introduce dangerous vulnerabilities.


Social Risks of Online Gaming

Now that video games involve community chats, talks and instant messaging, a whole new batch of social risks are involved, such as:


  • Identity Theft: Malicious gamers can take information from your profile created in games and use it to set up accounts in your name, access your financial accounts or sell your personal information.
  • Social Engineering: Cyber-criminals try to trick gamers into installing software on your computer that they can use to control it, launch attacks on other devices or monitor your online activities.

General Security Practices for Online Gamers

Here are the most common ways to protect yourself when participating in online gaming:


  • Securely configure your web browsers.
  • Use antivirus programs.
  • Do not open files attached to email or instant messages without being cautious.
  • Use a firewall.
  • Verify the security and authenticity of new software and downloaded files.
  • Update and patch your application software.
  • Identify then back up financial and personal data.
  • Create and use strong passwords that are unique to that system.
  • Use administrator mode only if the vendor is reputable.
  • Play the game at the game site and save web browsing for a later date.


Contact us if you have any questions about security for online gaming or for your personal or business network.

4 Business Tips for the Modern World

In today’s world, businesses enter a harsh arena every day. The challenges that face owners are staggering and constantly changing. So how do you stay competitive while keeping your employees and your customers in focus? Here are four simple things to keep in mind for running a 21st Century business.


  1. The Wide Angle Lens

When it comes to business, it’s easy to get too focused on minute details. Everything seems important. It shows your commitment and your passion, but it can also lead to some shortsighted decisions. This is made all the more complicated if you have clients or customers in the picture making even more demands on your time and attention.

The key is to make sure that you’re occasionally taking a step (or three) back to look at the entire picture. Often this means hiring the right managers. Having the opportunity to keep track of how the many pieces of your business work together is essential.


  1. Apply Technology; Don’t Rely on Technology

This ability to see how systems actually affect each other is critical when it comes to Information Technology. These days, too many businesses think that buying a new platform or productivity suite or cloud-based database is going to make all of the difference. It’s a natural temptation and in some cases it can boost your output.

Here’s the problem with technology: without the right workforce matchup, it’s a tool without a user. Always build IT systems and additions off of your core needs regarding your employees or your customers. If there isn’t a clear problem your tech is solving, it may not be the right tech.


  1. Find the Simple Balance

So what is the right tech? With new options coming out every day, the right tech threads the needle between smart complexity and elegant simplicity. More than ever before, businesses are in the driver’s seat of function. Open source programs like Google’s or adaptive platforms like Office 365 give tremendous control to how that technology gets tailored and used.

The main thing to avoid is overcomplicating your infrastructure. Make sure that as you’re adding that much-needed functionality, it isn’t bloated or needlessly tangled with a host of new procedures.


  1. Don’t Forget the Old School

Lastly, in a world that is obsessed with technology and moving faster and with greater efficiency, be sure not to lose sight of the old ways. It’s true that analytics can cut down the time it takes to find a qualified applicant or new customer preferences, but the human side is what will make the difference. Don’t rely solely on testing for the same reason you wouldn’t hire someone sight unseen because they have a diploma. Make sure what you add works on a human level as well as a big data level.

3 Leadership Lessons Learned From NBA Basketball

It is undeniable that sports offer invaluable lessons and offer essential leadership
roles for people of all ages.

The NBA provides many essential examples for success. Ifyou consider yourself a leader, or you are in the beginning stages of becoming one, at
work, home, in the community, or in an educational setting, the NBA offers more than
entertainment; it is a critical leadership model for every stage of life for high-end results.

1. Adopt the three Cs: charisma, challenge, and control
To be an effective leader, you need to know how to inspire and challenge others
to do their very best. Be consistent when you lead. Charismatic leaders bring as
much energy to the court as they do to the boardroom.
The second C is challenge, empowering others to do their best to become
leaders as well. An effective leader needs a role model from which he/she can
learn and observe. Challenging others is a democratic process that employs
members of the team to make decisions, work together, and to contribute to the
overall success of the company. When employees and/or team members don’t
feel their contributions matter, they are less likely to take pride in or responsibility
for the result. Leaders can challenge without condemning team members.
Control is essential when you are tasked with leading an NBA team or a sales
squad. Being a leader requires rationality, empathy, and an overall sense of
calmness, all without compromising assertive leadership and emotions. Leaders
can inspire confidence in his/her team without feeling exposed or distressed.
Your emotions create the environment in which they are communicated. You
have to decide how you want your message to be heard AND perceived. It’s
okay to be down-to-earth, but fierce when the time is right. Know when to use the
right emotion to inspire and lead.

2. Get the right people on your team and get to know them
You cannot be a good leader without knowing exactly whom it is you are leading.
When you understand your team better, you can utilize the best strategy to
inspire and generate an environment for personal and professional successes.

Every NBA coach knows a player’s position, strengths, weaknesses, goals, pet
peeves, communication strengths and weaknesses, and what inspires them.
Leaders know exactly what it is each team player needs to perform their very
best in a game or at the office, and how to communicate the goals and
aspirations of the team.

3. Treat the team as it is—a team
This idea goes back to grade-school basketball teams: ‘there is no I in team.’ A
leader does not raise one member of the team on a pedestal and ignore the
supporting members who contribute to the success of the team. The goal of the
leader is to look out for team members, help them achieve successes, and ultimately assist them with understating and staying focused on their goals. As a
leader, you must focus on the small victories of the team, as well as the larger

A leader also prepares the team for challenges before the come to fruition
on the court or in the office.


…Can you think of any more leadership lessons learned from NBA Basketball?

Let us know in the comments below!


Top 5 Reasons You Need Network Security At Work

Conducting day to day business can be consuming and stressful. Making sure that your company network is secure does not always rank number one on your list of things to do. There are so many things that need to be tended to! Here are the top 5 reasons why network security should be your top priority:

1. First and foremost, without network security at work your livelihood is at stake. As a business owner, most of your important documentation and records are stored on a computer. Leaving your network unprotected means that at any time your system could be infiltrated by unwanted viruses, trojans or even worse – malicious hackers who could obtain and distribute personal information.

2. Not only can your vital company information can be compromised, your identity could be stolen and used. Different types of computer viruses and trojans do different things. If a virus relays information to a third party your identity could be used by that person or worse. It could be sold to other people.

3. If losing your identity isn’t bad enough, it can get worse. Without network security you could unknowingly provide internet predators with your customer’s information. This means that your reputation as a company is at stake. Any business owner would agree that a good reputation is your best asset and a bad reputation could mean your demise.

4. By having a good network security system in place, you will be saving money in the long run. Companies that are constantly putting out fires and spending unnecessary money to fix problems as they occur. Each time they pick up the phone to call an IT specialist money flies out the door. By being proactive you will keep your budget minimal.

5.  Using network security guarantees that you will be successful in your endeavors. By protecting your assets you will be able to focus on what you do best. Safeguarding your network allows others to trust in your ability to conduct business and do what is best for everyone.

Network security at work is beneficial in many ways. It helps you to save money. It also offers security to your team of employees and customers. Network security prevents unexpected problems. In conjunction with these benefits, network security is necessary to safeguard your personal information and that of your affiliates. Without network security your business could be in serious jeopardy.

Top 4 Ways Cloud Computing Will Make Your Life Easier

Your life if full of decisions. If you own a business, there’s no doubt you have to make several important choices on a daily basis that contribute to the success of your business. With the help of cloud computing, you can rest assured knowing you’re making the right decision for the growth and future of your company. Here’s why:

Financial Savings

You don’t want to spend more money than you need to. Imagine if you could reduce your spending by limiting your need for hardware, IT system maintenance, downtime, and even the amount of electricity you use. Over a period of time, cloud computing can provide you with some AMAZING cost-cutting benefits!


Flexibility is extremely important for a business. To be truly effective, you need to be able to adapt to most situations in a timely manner in order to be successful.

With cloud computing, you have a TON of flexibility. You can access your information from anywhere, at any time, and you can move your information from one server to another – so you’re no longer restricted by the limits of your hardware!

Disaster recovery

Preparation is often the key to success.

With the aid of cloud-based services, you’re not only preparing your company for any future problems, but you’re preparing to succeed. Cloud computing providers will help solve most issues you encounter, and they’ll help you do it quickly and efficiently.

With the cloud, you no longer have to worry about losing your valuable information to power failure, natural disasters, or any other crisis. Once your data is stored in the cloud, you’ll have peace of mind knowing it’s backed up and protected in a secure location.

By utilizing the cloud, you’re making complex and time-consuming disaster recovery plans a thing of the past.

Communication and Collaboration

A lot of important things happen at the work place, and communication and collaboration are often overlooked as necessary tools for company growth.

One amazing benefit of cloud computing is the ability to improve communication and collaboration within an organization. By converting to cloud based services, you and your employees have all the necessary resources they need to work efficiently from almost anywhere. Regardless of where they are located or which devices they’re using, the cloud will allow immediate distribution of relevant information to everyone within your company, ensuring constant productivity.

Overall, cloud services can be a huge asset to your company. Contact Cognoscape today, and let’s work together to build the perfect infrastructure for your business!

How Managed IT Services Can Help You Succeed

As a business owner, you’ve got a lot on your plate. You daily grind probably requires a lot of intense decision-making and planning for the future of your company.

It’s important to take advantage of easy ways to improve your business and make your workday go more smoothly. Here are 4 ways managed IT services can do that:


Managed IT Services Help You Regain Focus

It’s pretty difficult to focus on your actual job duties when technology issues are constantly distracting you. When you hire a managed services provider, you take the burden of IT problems off of your shoulders and let a team of trained professionals handle those problems for you.


Managed IT Services Help You Stay Secure

Managed IT services providers can take care of your security issues so you don’t have to. For example, they’ll make sure your firewall is up to date and work to keep hackers from infiltrating your system.


Managed IT Services Help You Remain Compliant

PCI compliance in your industry is not an option – it’s an absolute necessity. If you are not compliant, you could be fined up to hundreds of thousands of dollars! That’s a lot of money to lose, especially when it is completely preventable. And that’s not all – you could lose the trust of your customers if you put their information at risk by not adhering to PCI compliance standards – hackers can steal debit card and credit card information. With a managed services provider, you can rest assured that you will adhere to all of the PCI compliance standards set for your industry.


Managed IT Services Help You Promote Growth

When you use technology strategically and have experts on your side helping you innovate, it’s easy to grow; that’s what you’ll gain with a managed services provider.


Here at Cognoscape, we are the managed services provider you need to reach success. We take the time to get to know you, analyze your company needs, and create a unique technology solution based on those specific needs. Contact us today for a free consultation!

4 Easy Ways to Boost Your Web-Surfing Security

The internet has become more of a necessity than a luxury. With social networks becoming more popular and the usage of the internet becoming more widespread, it’s important to make sure that you’re secure online.

Here are 4 easy ways you can protect yourself online.


#1) Don’t Overshare

When you’re spending lots of time on your favorite social networks, it can be tempting to post lots of personal information, including your location and your full name. But sharing those kinds of things can really compromise your privacy!

Check out the privacy settings for your online profiles and make sure that your personal information is not available to the public.


#2) Watch Out For Scammers

Have you ever received an email from a random person stating that you were an heir set to receive a huge fortune?

Or maybe you’ve received an email from someone you don’t know that included a sob story and a desperate plea for financial help.

Either way, these types of emails are scams – the scammers use your sympathy or excitement against you, get your credit card information, and steal your money or your identity.

Make sure that you are careful about which emails you take seriously and respond to. Remember – pretty much anyone can email you. Make sure you use discretion so you can keep your money and information secure.


#3) Protect With Passwords

Many popular websites require you to register, create a password, and log in to gain full access. While some people see this as an inconvenience, it’s truly a good way to keep your data secure and private.

Be sure that, when you create a password, you make it one that’s difficult to guess. Use varied capitalization, use numbers, and try not to use a dictionary word. That way, you can feel confident that your accounts are safe from hackers.


#4) Safe Shopping

It’s important to follow best safety practices when you’re shopping online. After all, you’re likely using your credit or debit card. You don’t want that information to get into the wrong hands! Make sure that you never enter your credit card on a page that is not encrypted. When a page is encrypted, the web address will begin with “https” instead of “http.”

Also, make sure you never enter your social security number. No seller should ever need that information – if they do, it’s likely that they’re trying to scam you

Another good practice is to check out the seller’s reviews and policies. You can shop a lot more confidently if you know other people have had a good experience purchasing from the seller.


Why stop there? It’s good to make sure you’re secure when you’re casually using the internet, but it’s also important to make sure that your company networks are secure. I mean, you could lose your money, your clients, or even your business if a hacker accessed and used your data!

Here at Cognoscape, we’ve got the security solutions you need to gain peace of mind and keep your critical information safe. Contact us today, and let’s work together to prevent security breaches.

Is Antivirus Dead? Cognoscape at CompTIA’s Great Security Debate

Charles Tholen, Brian Dye, Chris Johnson, Dan Liutikas

Charles Tholen joins a panel of IT security experts to discuss antivirus software, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and much more at CompTIA’s ChannelCon 2014 in Phoenix.

By Dan Kobialka | Talkin’ Cloud

Several IT security experts discussed antivirus software, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and numerous solution provider concerns during “The Great Security Debate” at CompTIA‘s ChannelCon 2014 in Phoenix.

Panel members discussed a variety of IT security topics, including whether “antivirus is dead.”

Brian Dye, Symantec‘s (SYMC’s) senior vice president for information security, told The Wall Street Journal in May he believed “antivirus is dead” because it is no longer “a moneymaker in any way.”

Cognoscape CEO Charles Tholen compared antivirus solutions to “locks” because both provide security, but there are still questions about whether antivirus solutions and locks deliver sufficient protection.

“Antivirus solutions are still more like the locks on our house, but are the locks on this business really good enough?” Tholen asked attendees.

Tholen noted a risk mitigation strategy is important for businesses, yet this plan should only be one component of their overall IT strategy.

“A risk mitigation strategy around the risks of end users is not a real strategy; you have to look beyond the end users,” he said.

Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) also creates challenges for solution providers, especially since more employers are searching for ways to leverage cloud and mobile solutions.

Chris Johnson, CEO of healthcare IT provider Untangled Solutions, said mobile devices are like “panes of glass,” and businesses need to implement strategies to manage these devices.

“I look at devices like panes of glass … we just assume they will work without human interaction,” Johnson said. “For the most part, a mobile device involves turning it on and it works. That’s where the challenge is for businesses.”

BYOD may create new challenges for both solution providers and end users as well.

“There’s no question that end users have a lot of issues to deal with, [and] the question becomes what role the IT solution provider will play,” CompTIA Chief Legal Officer Dan Liutikas added.

Johnson said antivirus solutions and BYOD, however, can create opportunities, and he pointed out education is key for solution providers and end users to avoid security and compliance issues.

“Security and compliance is not a product; it’s a mix of products and services, it’s a moving target. That education point is so important,” Johnson said.

Is your Antivirus an appropriate “lock” for your business, or is it “Dead”? Click Here to request a security check by Cognoscape.

Cognoscape’s Michael St. Martin on KRLD last week “The Educated Investor”

Michael St. Martin, Cognoscape’s COO visited with Todd Volkman on Todd’s KRLD 1080AM radio show “The Educated Investor” last week to discuss how small and medium business owners and executives can leverage technology to increase revenues, productivity and cost savings. Listen “I had a blast speaking with Todd and hopefully explaining how to wade through the quickly changing and sometimes complex landscape of today’s technology” says Michael.   Topics covered include technology planning, back up and disaster recovery, hosted email, cloud computing, free or low cost web apps, and other nuggets of info for you.   Happy listening!