Watch out for “dirty” websites

In a previous post, we pointed out how just browsing the web these days can possibly infect your PC with malware . To show how dangerous surfing can become, Symantec recently released their list of the “Dirtiest Websites of Summer” – the top 100 infected sites on the Internet based on number of threats detected by their software as of August 2009. The list identifies websites that could compromise security with risks including phishing , malicious downloads, browser exploits, and links to unsafe external sites. Some interesting findings from the study: The average number of threats per site on the Dirtiest Websites list is roughly 18,000, compared to 23 threats per site for most sites 40 of the Top 100 Dirtiest Sites have more than 20,000 threats per site 48% of the Top 100 Dirtiest Web sites feature adult content 3/4 of the Top 100 Dirtiest Web sites have distributed malware for more than 6 months Viruses are the most common threat represented on the Dirtiest Websites list, followed by security risks and browser exploits You can read more about this research at Symantec’s website. If you suspect your PCs are at risk, or if you want to ensure your website doesn’t get hijacked by cybercriminals, contact us. We can help. Related articles: Symantec lists “Dirtiest Web Sites” Virus Security By Leveraging Community And Clouds Smartphone users need more security

More SMBs Using the Internet to Promote their Business

A recent study by the Kelsey Group reveals that more small and midsized businesses are using digital media, specially the Internet, to promote or advertise their business. Their study , conducted with research partner ConStat, indicates that the penetration of digital/online media increased from 73 percent in August 2008 to 77 percent in August 2009, while that of traditional media such as TV, radio, and print decreased from 74 percent to 69 percent during the same period. This is a clear indicator that the Internet has become an important source for many businesses to generate and manage their business. Potential business can come anywhere – from their website, queries in search engines, online ads, and lately even social networking sites. According to the study, for businesses that track lead sources, the percentage that does so using the Internet has increased from 22 percent in 2008 to 30 percent in 2009. Although the Internet can often be a scary for many SMB’s and their prospects place with threats such as spam, malware, phising, and more, this study reveals that it is still a source of tremendous value for those who know how to use it effectively. Related Information: If you’re a Microsoft Partner you can access my 5W50 Webinar “Building Your Online Marketing Engine” If you’d like a copy of the presentation don’t hesitate to drop me an email and request it Online Media Ad/Promo Use Eclipses Traditional Among SMBs

Small US Firms the Target of Online Fraud

Organized criminals believed to be based in Eastern Europe are robbing small to midsized US businesses of millions of dollars via an elaborate scheme aided by malicious software . Recent reports reveal that over the past few months, several businesses have fallen victim to unauthorized fund transfers whereby hundreds of thousands of dollars from the businesses’ bank accounts have been transferred to accounts in Europe, and in some cases, to the accounts of willing or unwitting accomplices in the United States. According to the reports the victims, usually the company CFO or owner, were sent malicious software as attachments to email, which when opened remained resident on the victims’ machines and stole the victims’ passwords to their online banking websites. The cybercriminals used this information to initiate transfers from their accounts of up to US $10,000 at a time to evade notice and detection from their bank’s anti-fraud or money laundering detection systems and protocols. Your business might be at risk. Make sure you are protected from this type of fraud by securing your PC and network from malicious software. Do not open suspicious-looking attachments and make sure you have the necessary protection in place, such as firewalls, antivirus software, and other methods of protection. Need help? Contact us today. Related articles: Comment: online banking? No thanks Know When Something is Being Installed on Your Machine Cybercrime victim? 3 telltale signs and what to do

Remote IT Support Helps SMBs Save Money and Keep Moving Forward

As a result of the past year’s economic climate, many small and medium-size businesses have increased their efforts to mitigate risks and lower costs—and more and more are turning toward remote IT support to fulfill those goals. Remote support tools allow IT providers to support an entire company’s computing infrastructure, wherever and whenever needed, from their own offices. This helps address the needs of a market that significantly benefits from doing more with less— small and medium businesses. Some of the benefits of remote support include: No travel time. As long as the issue doesn’t require on-site support, you won’t pay for time spent traveling to your site. No waiting. Response time is faster because support staff can address your needs immediately with online access to your machines and servers. Less work interruption. Because support can be done remotely, much support work can be done after hours, or behind the scenes as you continue to work. No more downtime while support staff takes over your physical desk. Lower costs. IT support staff can work on all of your computers simultaneously from their own offices, saving time – and therefore money. Proactive monitoring prevents problems from ever happening. Instead of waiting to come out and fixing your infrastructure when it’s already broken, remote support provides ongoing network monitoring, management, and unlimited remote support that prevents problems from occurring in the first place – all for one fixed monthly fee. Contact us today for details on how our remote IT support solutions can help your business stay on track.

What is Virtualization and What Can It Do for You?

Virtualization is generating a lot of buzz in IT circles these days because it promises to dramatically change the way many companies manage and operate their IT infrastructure. Virtualization is a broad term that covers the creation of virtual computing resources—such as storage, the network, or even an entire machine. For example, using virtualization you can create virtual machines on one computer, each running its own operating system. According to research from the Yankee Group, 26% of medium businesses (100-499 employees) and 43% of enterprises (500+ employees) are using server virtualization today, and within 24 months, the percentage for medium-sized businesses is expected to increase to 69%. Among small businesses (20-99 employees), 23% are using server virtualization in production servers, and 8% of very small businesses (2-19 employees) are following suit. Here are some examples of how you can take advantage of virtualization: Reduce capex and opex. If you run a fair-sized organization with multiple servers, you can reduce your capital expenditures for new equipment or upgrades by purchasing a smaller number of machines and running your server workload off of them. Over time, this will reduce operating expenses because you’ll have fewer machines to maintain, less power and space consumed, and more machines more fully utilized. A cost-effective way to keep IT running. Some virtualization solutions include features that allow virtual machines to quickly recover in case of disaster or application downtime. Virtual machine loads can be transferred in real-time from one physical machine to another. This means that your accounting application or warehouse management system will always run even if the original machine it’s installed on goes down – if it’s installed on a virtual machine that can intelligently transfer the application to a standby system. Test multiple types of machines and run multiple applications on different operating systems. With machine virtualization, you can run multiple operating systems on a single PC. Thinking of running Windows 7 but are afraid some applications might not run properly on it? Use virtualization to run Windows XP within Windows 7. Want to use a Mac but your email is tied to Outlook? No problem! Buy a Mac, and use third party software to run Windows inside it. Curious about virtualization and how it can help your business? Contact us today to explore ways that virtualization can increase your efficiency and lower your costs.

Healthy Computing Tips

Carpal tunnel syndrome and eyestrain are two of the most common conditions that affect habitual computer users. Whether or not these conditions pose serious health risks remains a subject of debate, but it’s safe to say that no one wants to suffer them. Both conditions are painful, and can affect your productivity. The good news is that there are simple ways to prevent suffering from either condition. How to prevent eye strain: Never stare too long at your monitor. Blink occasionally and use eye drops to avoid dry eyes. Rest your eyes regularly for about 2-3 minutes. If you have time, take a power nap (5-15 minutes) – this not only gives your eyes a rest, but also gives your brain and body a well-deserved break. Use glare-resistant glasses or a glare reduction screen for your monitor. Avoid working in too-bright environments. Reduce the brightness of your computer screen. Place your monitor at least 20 inches from your eyes. If you can’t read the screen, increase the size of your windows. You may also want to visit an optometrist to see if you need glasses or a new prescription. How to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome: Adjust the height of your chair so that your arms and wrists are level with the keyboard. Move and click on your mouse lightly. Perform this wrist exercise several times throughout the day: Stretch your arms out in front of you, palms facing out – as if you were doing push ups. Hold for 5 seconds. With arms still stretched, straighten your wrists and relax you hands. After a few seconds, make tight fists and point them downward with your wrists. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat step 2. Let your arms hang at your sides and then give them a gentle shake Try incorporating these easy, quick, and safe tips into your daily routine. If they become habits, they’ll help you avoid the inconvenience and pain of carpal tunnel syndrome and eyestrain.

Phishers Siphon Off Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars in Minutes

Another reason to keep your computer malware free: cyber-pirates raided several businesses as well as a school in recent attacks through the Automated Clearing House (ACH) Network. The losses, which ranged from $150,000 to more than $400,000, were accomplished by the crooks in mere minutes. Luckily for these companies, the banks managed to reverse some of the transfers. If they hadn’t, the losses would have amounted to $700,000 up to a whopping $1.2 million. The modus operandi of the hackers is simple. Making use of the ACH network, they send out “phishing” emails to account holders. When the recipient clicks on the link, malicious software – a Trojan horse or virus – automatically downloads itself to the recipient’s computer, allowing the hacker to infiltrate the system. Keylogging software (software that tracks keystrokes) is installed, which gives phishers access account numbers, names, and passwords. They then divert the company’s funds into their own accounts. ACH fraudsters can also use the same method to not only siphon off money into their own pockets, but also to establish “ghost employees”, which they insert into the payroll and qualify to receive regular paychecks. While banks are doing their best to strengthen the system, they can only do so much, and experts admit that the ACH network is a very old system compared to today’s standards. The volume of money that flows through the ACH is also so massive that it is difficult to keep track of specific amounts for specific accounts. Despite its shortcomings, the ACH system still remains widely used, and the best defence is to guard your system well. For our clients, we have firewalls and anti-malware software in place, but you should also make sure your bookkeepers and staff are briefed on how to avoid being the victim of fake phishing emails. If you have any questions or concerns please give us a call. For more details about this story, visit http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9136334/Cyber_attackers_empty_business_accounts_in_minutes?taxonomyId=17&pageNumber=1.