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It’s Important to Keep a Close Eye on Software Licenses

b2ap3_thumbnail_your_business_software_400.jpgYou and your staff require certain software applications to get work done, whether it be your line of business app, your accounting software, or even Microsoft Office. This brings up a crucial question: do you know where all pieces of software you require came from, and are your licenses valid and up to date?

The Ramifications of Software Piracy
Just like any other digital product, software can be stolen, replicated, or altered to suit the needs of hackers looking to make a quick buck. For a business owner however, it’s quite possible to fall prey to the tricks that these software thieves pull. These hackers might try to sell infected copies of software for “discount” prices, spreading threats across networks that might be detrimental to a business’s success.

Even if you don’t intentionally install copies of software without proper licenses, can you say the same for your employees? In a study performed by research firm IDC, the National University of Singapore, and Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit, it was shown that “pirated software infected with malware was projected to cost enterprises $126.9 billion worldwide in 2014, $22 billion in North America alone.” This means that your employees, thinking only to increase their own productivity, could unintentionally put your budget at risk.

What About Expired Software Licenses?
Furthermore, some software licenses are extremely sensitive to expiration dates. If they aren’t renewed in a timely manner, what happens? Consider this scenario; your staff are being productive and are on the last leg of finishing a mission-critical initiative or project. Just when they’re about to apply the finishing touches, the software prevents them from continuing their work at a decent pace. This means that your staff might be forced to finish projects late, all because of a software license expiring at the wrong moment.

One way you can avoid this is by organizing all of your software licenses so that they need to be renewed either on or around the same date. This makes it much easier to remember to do so, considering you’re only remembering one date rather than several. Better yet, ask your vendors (or Total Networks) if auto renewal or alternative licensing is available.

Whose Reputation is at Stake?
It’s not just your business, but the developer’s reputation as well, that will suffer if you’re the victim of a hacked software scandal. Honestly though, using compromised software or even counterfeit or pirated software can incur heavy legal fees. According to CyberTrend, “Many employees in big companies believe that if they steal a program behind a firewall, they may never be found. But many developers have tracking systems that identify who their visitors are and what they’re viewing.”

So, regardless of whether it’s intentional or not, you can expect to be held accountable if your organization ever does take advantage of software obtained through illicit means.

Besides the fact that updating your licenses and end-user agreements should always be done, some companies simply don’t have the time or resources to ensure that it happens in a timely manner. We recommend that you outsource this responsibility to Total Networks. Our dedicated IT professionals can remotely renew your software licenses promptly, so you never have to worry about doing so. Furthermore, our remote monitoring and maintenance solution can make sure that your organization’s systems are operating as intended. This mitigates the chance that unintentional software license failures damage your staff’s ability to remain productive.

For more information, give us a call at (602)412-5025.

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3 Trends to Watch For in Today’s Mobile Industry

b2ap3_thumbnail_mobile_for_your_business_400.jpgMobile devices are changing the way that businesses look at the workforce, but one of the main draws (and possibly detriments) is how the industry continues to change rapidly as new solutions are made available. In order to maximize your business’s efficiency with mobile devices, it’s important to consider these three trends shaping the way that organizations handle modern mobile device management.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
Perhaps the biggest influence that mobile devices will have on your business is the fact that employees are bringing them to the office. In fact, some employees prefer to use their own personal devices for work rather than the workstations that are provided by your organization. This practice is known for increasing employee satisfaction, and people are usually more likely to make sure their own personal devices are working properly when faced with a technology issue.

While allowing employees to use their own devices can save your organization some cash when it comes to purchasing new hardware and software (by not having to), you also have to consider the ramifications of allowing users to use their own smartphones, laptops, and tablets on your network without any semblance of restraint. It could have an effect on the security of your network, and especially the productivity of your workers.

Mobile Device Management
In order to resolve the issues proposed by a BYOD policy, it’s important to make sure your organization has a process set up that allows for the management of all mobile devices that hold (or have access to) corporate data. Blacklisting apps is helpful in keeping certain ones that collect personal information from accessing this data, while whitelisting allows you to pick and choose which ones have this kind of access.

In particular, you want to have control over what applications have access to your business’s corporate data, as well as the ability to remotely wipe mobile devices that hold this data. If a hacker were to get physical access to the device, you’re making it much easier for hackers to steal this information. Therefore, you need the ability to get rid of it in an instant, should a device go missing or is lost.

Cloud Services
More businesses than ever before are turning to the cloud for the storage and deployment of their mission-critical systems, and it’s easy to understand why. They want to make sure that their employees always have access to the information and applications they need to ensure productivity continues without a hitch.

The only issue is that while a cloud platform offers a significant return on investment, integrating a quality cloud solution for your business is knowledge intensive and requires the attention of a trained professional. The same can be said for all aspects of the mobile device revolution. Thus, before integrating any type of mobile device or BYOD policy, it’s recommended that you contact the technicians at Total Networks. We can walk you through the requirements of integrating mobile devices, and equip your business with the infrastructure that’s most hospitable for your success. Give us a call at (602)412-5025 to learn more.

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Criminals Don’t Even Need Malware to Hack You Anymore

b2ap3_thumbnail_networks_security_practices_400.jpgOne of the primary threats that business networks are trying to protect themselves from is malware. We’re all aware of how much damage a stray piece of malware can inflict on a business, as they can perform functions like lock down files, steal sensitive data, and distribute crippling viruses. In recent developments, studies are showing that malware is now involved in less than half of all reported hacking attacks, and that more sophisticated measures are now being taken to exploit unwary users.

So, what are these sophisticated measures? Following a data breach, the majority of security teams will investigate the root cause of the issue, and they’ll find that, more often than not, the issue has to do with either social engineering attacks or through legitimate administrator tools. What this means is that hackers are no longer relying on illegitimate means of accessing networks, and are instead taking advantage of legitimate means that don’t raise a red flag for security systems.

CEO of Crowdstrike George Kurz claims that attackers are using common tools like PowerShell to infiltrate networks. Dell SecureWorks has found that most hackers are using actual legitimate Windows administration tools to access systems. Since these hackers are using real login credentials, detection systems are finding it increasingly difficult to diagnose threatening behavior, putting these organizations at risk at no fault of their own.

Thus, it’s becoming aware that security shouldn’t just be concerned with identifying normal threats that are easily to see. Instead, security protocol should account for problems that can’t be foreseen, a task that seems like it’s borderline impossible. Many hacking attacks will come in the form of spear phishing attacks that directly target users, asking them for login credentials that allow for legitimate access to an account login. Thanks to these troublesome antics, hackers often don’t leave much in their wake, save for a path of destruction. InfoWorld states:

The fact that attackers are using legitimate tools — FTP, RDP, PowerShell — means they are not leaving much in the way of tracks behind them. With no easily found malware artifacts, it’s harder for security teams to determine the initial penetration point. If the company has deployed breach-detection technologies that focus solely on malware and its artifacts, such as command-and-control IP addresses and domain names, then the defenders don’t get the alerts when the attackers are live in the network.

This is why it’s so important to pay attention to who is accessing your network, and when. Businesses often neglect to pay attention to their access logs because they feel that only authorized users will attempt to access the network through legitimate means. However, this simply isn’t the case anymore. Keeping a close eye on access logs can help to ensure that nobody is accessing your network that isn’t supposed to. Furthermore, businesses that haven’t integrated two-factor authentication yet should seriously consider doing so. If access to mission-critical information requires two-factor authentication, this adds an extra step to the hacker’s process which can make it that more difficult to access your company’s data.

Total Networks can remotely monitor your network for any suspicious activity and resolve it before there’s cause for concern. Additionally, we can help your organization integrate two-factor authentication. For more information about how you can keep your business’s network safe and secure, give us a call at (602)412-5025.

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