Majority of firms struggle with security as new technologies are adopted

New research from the Ponemom Institute and Lumension , shows that a majority of firms are struggling to secure data as users quickly adopt new and emerging technologies such as mobile, cloud computing, and collaborative Web 2.0 technologies. The study, which surveyed IT security and IT operations practitioners, shows that many (44 percent) feel that their IT network is less secure than a year ago or that their IT security policies are insufficient in addressing the growing threats arising from the use of new technologies. Budgets are also a limiting factor, with many feeling that IT security budgets still aren’t what they need to be to fully support business objectives and security priorities. Other findings from the report: 56% said mobile devices are not secure, representing a risk to data security 49% said data security is not a strategic initiative for their company 48% said their companies have allocated insufficient resources to achieve effective data security and regulatory compliance 47% cited a lack of strong CEO support for information security efforts as a reason for ineffective data security programs 41% said there was a lack of proactive security risk management in their organization Just as large companies worldwide struggle to keep up with security, many small businesses do so even more. If you need help understanding the security implications that new technologies bring to your organization, contact us so we can help. Related articles: Companies face IT attacks in uncertain economy: Ernst & Young (newswire.ca) Keeping America’s information safe offers a secure career (techburgh.com) Cloud Security and Privacy (oreilly.com) Computer Security Challenged By Web 2.0 ‘Endpoint’ Growth (Investor’s Business Daily via Yahoo! News) (slumpedoverkeyboarddead.com)

Entrepreneur Magazine Shares 10 Reasons for Small Businesses to Use Windows 7

Entrepreneur Magazine ‘s Scott Steinberg shares in his online column Top Ten reasons why Small Businesses should use Windows 7 . Among them: lower system requirements than Vista, better multitasking, and enhanced security. And while he says not everything is perfect (for instance, confusing multiple versions, and separate download and installs for email and calendar programs) he says “ Windows 7 provides a welcome evolutionary step forward for the platform, significantly improving security, stability and everyday convenience.” Also check out an online slideshow from bMighty.com which shows 10 Windows 7 Features SMBs Should Love which provides a more visual guide for businesses evaluating whether to upgrade to the new Windows Operating System. Need help evaluating or migrating to Windows 7 for your business? Contact us today! Related articles: Transfer files and settings from XP to Windows 7 (helpdeskgeek.com) Windows 7 may be secure, but are Windows users safe? (infoworld.com) How To Reduce Aero Peek’s Delay Time (techie-buzz.com)

Cyber-crime through the ACH system continues to spread

If you are using an automated clearing house (ACH) system to manage your funds, then you had better be extra careful. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has warned ACH users – particularly small businesses – to be on the lookout for ACH system fraud, which has already scammed as much as $100 million from unsuspecting victims. The FBI is working with the National Cyber Forensics and Training Alliance (NCFTA) to determine a solution for the problem and to catch the criminals behind these multi-million dollar scams. All it takes is a seemingly harmless email to an organization’s bookkeeper or accountant to give hackers access to all their accounts. In a technique called “phishing”, these criminals send electronic correspondence laced with attachments disguised as documents or genuine applications (like an update for Windows, for example), or links to supposedly legitimate websites. Once a recipient clicks on these links or installs the software, the hacker installs a keylogging program in their system, giving them access to passwords and other sensitive account information. The siphoning off of funds happens fairly quickly. Some hackers set up ACH transfers to unaware third party groups that typically do payroll processing tasks for international companies, which in turn transfer the money overseas. Others create fake names on a payroll system which automatically siphons off money into preset accounts enrolled in a similar system. According to the FBI, the usual victims are small businesses because of their tendency to work with smaller, less secure banks. It’s the FBI’s conclusion, indicated in a report by their Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), that smaller banks lack the proper security measures, which gives hackers the capacity to abuse the ACH system. “In several cases banks did not have proper firewalls installed, nor anti-virus software on their servers or their desktop computers. The lack of defense-in-depth at the smaller institution/service provider level has created a threat to the ACH system,” the IC3 report reads. More details about this story can be found here. (http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9140308/FBI_warns_of_100M_cyber_threat_to_small_business?taxonomyId=17&pageNumber=1)

Survey Shows Poor Security Awareness Among SMBs

The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and  Symantec recently released the results of a survey they did as part of National Cyber Security Awareness Month to assess the awareness and preparedness of small businesses (51 or fewer employees) in countering cybersecurity threats. Some notable findings: Only 28% have formal Internet security policies in place Only 25% provide even minimal Internet use/Internet security training to employees Those companies that do train spend less than 5 training hours per year on average 86% do not have an employee focused on Internet security More than 90% believe they are protected from malware and viruses However: Barely half of the businesses surveyed check their antivirus software weekly to insure they’re up to date 11% never check security tools to make sure they’re current For many, it seems, online security is simply not a top priority, falling far behind other issues such as meeting payroll and managing cash. But this is dangerous thinking, since more and more companies’ operations have become highly dependent on their IT infrastructure and the Internet for communications and business transactions. How about your business? Is it secure? Call us today and find out how we can help. Related articles: Fake security software ‘installed on millions of PCs’ (telegraph.co.uk) Celebrating National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2009 (googleblog.blogspot.com) Symantec lists “Dirtiest Web Sites” (canada.com)

What You Should Know Before Embracing Social Networking

If you have decided to use Social Networking technologies for your business in your marketing, public relations, employee relations, or any other initiative, congratulations – it’s a good move. However, bear in mind that there are some issues you should be aware of before starting. As we pointed out in a previous post, social networks allow people to create communities on the Internet around shared relationships, interests, and activities. In business, social networks can be used as tool for marketing, public relations, sales, customer service, employee relations, and more. Many case studies show how companies are able to use social network services to generate new leads, strengthen relationships with customers and employees, and improve their business operations. Here are some guidelines for avoiding pitfalls when implementing a social networking campaign: Filter information. Actively filter personal or private or sensively information about yourself, your company, your employees and partners, and your customers from the information you or your employees post online. Make sure that none of the information you post is covered by any non-disclosure, patent applications, or contractual agreements, which could quickly get you into hot water. Provide value. Post only information relevant to your audience online. Before any post, ask yourself: Is this information interesting and useful to my audience, or does it only serve us? Your audience will quickly tune you out if you continually post marketing fluff and self-serving promotional ads. Be truthful. Be as forthright and honest as possible. Remember that these types of media are interactive and can quickly get around. You’ll find that unhappy customers and disgruntled employees are not shy in posting negative comments about you and your company for all to see – especially if they find you evasive or less than truthful. Be vigilant. Social networking sites are a target for malware, hackers, and all sorts of online fraudsters. Before joining a social networking site, make sure to read their terms of use and privacy guidelines. How secure is their setup? Are they vetted by third-party security and privacy assurance services? Will they share your information with third parties?  Do mechanisms exist to allow you to control who can and cannot see what you share online? Find out and to protect yourself. Provide clear guidelines. Take a cue from IBM and provide clear guidelines on what is and what is not acceptable, and who does and does not speak in behalf of your company. Make sure your employees know the guidelines and follow them. Let them know that whatever they post online can remain there for years to come and could come back to haunt them later on. Despite the risks of using social networking services, there are risks of not using them as well. If you don’t shape your image on the Web, people will do it for you. Social networks make it quick and easy to set up a basic profile, and that’s the first step toward gaining control of your business’s reputation online.

Windows 7: Everything that Vista Was Supposed To Be

Highly respected technology writer Walt Mossberg from the Wall Street Journal calls Windows 7, “A Windows to Help You Forget” – and with good cause. We all remember Vista and the horror it continues to be for users. Expected to be a welcome upgrade from Windows XP, Vista was instead, from the very beginning, plagued with problems and all sorts of bugs, and was only slightly made more palatable when the Service Pack 1 was released. Many opted to stick with the more ancient yet much more reliable Windows XP and wait for better things to come. And come it did. With Windows 7, Microsoft has produced the operating system that many thought Vista would be, leaving the predecessor a memory most would rather not revisit. Faster, lighter, simpler, and easier to use, reviewers have compared this recent instalment of Microsoft’s flagship operating system to a more efficient and generally accepted-to-be-better OS: Mac OS X. While Microsoft does have a stake in Apple, it doesn’t erase the fact that the two have for years been – and continue to be – the most bitter of rivals. With the release of Windows 7, the competition has become very stiff indeed. Mossberg writes, “In recent years, I, like many other reviewers, have argued that Apple’s Mac OS X operating system is much better than Windows. That’s no longer true. Now, however, it’s much more of a toss-up between the two rivals. Windows 7 beats the Mac OS in some areas, such as better previews and navigation right from the taskbar, easier organization of open windows on the desktop and touch-screen capabilities. So Apple will have to scramble now that the gift of a flawed Vista has been replaced with a reliable, elegant version of Windows.” Key features of Windows 7 include UI and visual improvements to the taskbar, desktop, file, and networking systems. The overall speed of the OS has also been improved over Vista, which required a lot of hardware to run properly. Now, Windows 7 users are treated to much lighter spec requirements to make the OS run smoothly. Compatibility, especially with third party programs, has also been enhanced, with some touch screen features available for compatible hardware. In a nutshell, Windows 7 is what Windows Vista was supposed to be in the first place. And because there’s no sense in crying over spilled milk, Microsoft has whipped up quite the replacement mix this time around. And we mean that in a good way. To read Walt Mossberg’s full review, go to: http://ptech.allthingsd.com/20091007/a-windows-to-help-you-forget/ .

5 Things to Love about Windows 7

The recent release of Windows 7 has seen much more good than bad – which cannot be said for its predecessor, Windows Vista. Even in the early stages of testing, many were impressed with the improvements Microsoft included in this relatively early upgrade to its OS, and many were hopeful that this time around, Windows would not be such a pain to use. And they were not disappointed. Here are a few things you’ll love about Windows 7: 1. Faster boot up times Vista was plagued with slow boot times, owing to its demand for high-end hardware in order to function smoothly. Windows 7, on the other hand, does more with less. 2. Lighter spec requirements Speaking of hardware requirements and more for less, Windows 7 needs less power from your rig to function properly. This means that even hardware systems with bareback specs can run Windows 7 decently. 3. A new taskbar The new taskbar is a combination of the old taskbar and the quick-launch icons of previous instalments. Frequently used programs are pinned as icons onto the taskbar, and can be used as both a launcher and as a preview for any running windows under that program. 4. File organization The file system in Windows 7 is more unified now, and enables you to group similar programs together regardless of which hard disk it lives on. 5. Less nagging One of the most annoying features of Windows Vista was the perpetual reminders about this and that mundane task. Windows 7 lets you configure the warnings to pop up only for issues you feel are important. UAC (User Account Control) also adopts this principle, eliminating that annoying Vista permissions window that popped up even for the most ordinary procedure.

Ready to upgrade to Windows 7?

If you’re excited about upgrading to Windows 7 , you’re not alone. Reactions are coming in from people who have tried the new operating system and so far, the reviews have been positive. From the new and improved UI , to enhanced features such as Live Taskbar previews , easier file sharing , wider hardware support and others , Microsoft has made the upgrade compelling for many Windows users, especially those who skipped Vista and held on to XP. If you’re using an older computer running Windows XP , we suggest you first head over to Microsoft’s Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor . After downloading the free tool, run it to scan your PC for potential issues with your hardware, devices, and installed programs. The tool will recommend actions you should take before you upgrade. If your PC is running Windows Vista without problems, chances are it’s ready to run Windows 7. If you bought your copy of Vista or a PC running Vista after June 26, 2009, you might be qualified for a special upgrade offer to Windows 7, so make Microsoft’s official Windows 7 Upgrade and Migration page your first stop to find out. Once you’re ready to take the plunge, get ready to do some homework first. Just like Vista, Windows 7 comes in different editions . Weigh your options and find out which edition is right for you . Also, PC World has put together a nice article on the five things you should know before upgrading to Windows 7 from XP . For a more detailed guide, visit Engadget blog’s excellent post on how to install Windows 7 and live to tell about it . If you find the process too complicated, don’t have the time, or if you’re thinking of upgrading many computers, why not contact us? We can help you sort out your options and ensure a smooth upgrade. Related articles: Seven things to know about Windows 7 (cnn.com) 27 Takes on Windows 7 [Roundups] (gizmodo.com) Windows 7 Launch, what the Experts say + Microsoft store grand opening. (domkop.co.za)