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Posts Tagged IT Support Phoenix

Tip of the Week: 4 Signs You’re in an APT Hacker’s Crosshairs

b2ap3_thumbnail_apt_hackers_are_dangerous_400.jpgHackers come in all shapes and sizes, with varied levels of skills to boot. The generic garden-variety hacker will probably only try to hack your email and send spam, or steal your personal information. However, there are much worse threats out there, like APT hackers. This week, we’ll cover how you can spot these wolves in sheep’s clothing.

An Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) hacker has no interest in your email password or personal information. Instead, they have their sights set a little higher: your business, and everything it’s built on. APT hackers will try to make off with any valuable or confidential information they can find, then sell it to the highest bidder; or, they hijack enough information to steal your business’s identity, making fraudulent purchases of incriminating or expensive merchandise. Whatever their reasons, they want to ruin your business, and without proper precautions, your company can collapse in the event of one of these attacks.

An APT hacker is a serious threat that must be dealt with. Unlike the lone wolf hacker, APT hackers tend to work in packs, taking advantage of their numbers to prey on whoever is most vulnerable. Even the most powerful of networks can be overwhelmed by numbers. Just like the typical worker, these APT hackers are even known to work regular hours in an office, not unlike yourself.

The signs of an APT hacking attack are far more diverse than if a single hacker tries to break into your network. Though the signs might be stronger or more noticable, an APT hacker uses the same techniques as the lone wolf hacker, including phishing emails, or malicious websites which download malware or spyware onto your PC. Here are four signs from InfoWorld that can sound the alarm for an APT attack:

  • More late-night logins: A covert operation like an APT hack is likely being done from the shadows, when nobody will notice what is going on. Take note of when your logins are occurring, especially if they are during the wee hours of the night by high-level users.
  • Finding backdoor Trojans: Ordinary hackers will only want to access your account once, but APT hackers will want to get back in and steal more of your data. Trojans are a reliable back door if they need to return to the network, even if the login credentials have been changed.
  • Unexpected information flows: Large, unexpected flows of data from internal origin points can be problematic, especially if they come from somewhere else entirely (i.e. a different country).
  • Discovering unexpected data bundles: If an ATP hacker wants your data, they may gather it in one location before moving it outside of your network. This makes large data packets easier to transfer. Look for information gathering where you know it shouldn’t be.

Think of APT hackers as the white-collar workers to the blue-collar ordinary hackers. These people are professional hackers who want nothing more than to take your business out. You need a powerful solution to keep them at bay. Total Networks can equip your business with an enterprise-level security solution called a Unified Threat Management (UTM) device. The UTM is designed to keep threats out of your network so your business can live to see another day.

Total Networks also offers remote monitoring and maintenance solutions for your business. These proactive managed IT services are designed to detect suspicious activity before it causes major problems. We can fix any issues remotely and efficiently. For more information about how to protect your business, contact Total Networks at (602)412-5025.

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Posted in: Security

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Getting a Computer Virus is Like Catching the Flu

b2ap3_thumbnail_under_the_weather_virus_400.jpgGrab your tissues, it’s flu season! Just like biological viruses such as the flu can cripple an entire office, digital viruses can cause a lot of trouble for businesses too. Both downtime-causing virus scenarios can be prevented if proper safety measures are followed, like sanitation and cybersecurity.

The point of cybersecurity is to keep the viruses (and other threats) out of your network. One would think that keeping viruses out of your network wouldn’t be too difficult. If you have a reliable firewall solution, then, for the most part, it’s simply a matter of not clicking on malicious links or downloading files attached to phishing emails. However, in the same way that the flu virus spreads because one person does something stupid, like fail to wash their hands or sneeze all over the place, all it takes is one employee on your network to be dumb and download a computer virus for it to spread and infect every company workstation.

While a computer virus won’t leave you gripping your porcelain throne in the middle of the night, it can certainly prove to be unhealthy for your business. Malware can do several different things, all sickening in their own ways: destroying network files, stealing sensitive information, or even holding your data ransom. Whatever hackers try to do with your systems, you can bet it’s a big, warm chunky mess that you won’t want to clean up.

The spread of the flu virus in the office is a perfect example of how a virus can cause serious downtime. All it takes is one unsanitary employee to sneeze on a door handle, and then another worker catches it, then another. Before you know it half your staff has called out and the other half are shuffling around the workplace like a bunch of zombies. Translation: a microscopic virus just decimated your operations. In the same way, all it takes is one small and malicious code to breach your company’s firewall, infect your computers, and cause serious downtime. In a worst-case scenario, your business is hit with both virtual and biological viruses.

When it comes to viruses, you need to take preventive measures and keep as far away as possible. As seen by real-world viruses, as soon as they infect one person, they can spread if not controlled properly. Therefore, the best approach to cybersecurity is to keep viruses outside of your network at all times.

One of the best solutions out there to protect your company from digital threats is to integrate a Unified Threat Management device (UTM) into your tech infrastructure. Total Networks can provide your business with this comprehensive security solution, which includes a firewall, antivirus, web content filtering, spam blocking, and more. It’s engineered for the sole purpose of protecting your network from the dangers that lurk in the underworld of the Internet. The firewall protects your network on the outside, while the antivirus and anti-spam technology protects your business on the inside.

It’s also important to emphasize the importance of security best practices with the rest of your team. All it takes is just one mistake to undermine your entire security infrastructure. If you’re not careful, a virus infection could turn into an epidemic. Call in the IT paramedics at Total Networks. We’ll help you integrate powerful security solutions to keep your business infection-free.

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Posted in: Security

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3 Ways the Future of the Internet of Things will Shape Up

b2ap3_thumbnail_future_of_internet_of_things_400.jpgThe Internet of Things is changing the face of web-connected devices as we know it. Some would argue that the world isn’t ready for the IoT, but it’s on its way nonetheless. But what really constitutes the Internet of Things? InfoWorld suggests that a lot of what the public sees as the Internet of Things shouldn’t be classified as IoT devices. Therefore, we need a more substantial definition for this revolutionary phenomenon.

There are three primary categories of what the public deems to be IoT devices:

  • Machine-to-machine technology.
  • Smart systems.
  • Ad hoc Internet of Things.

Machine-to-Machine: Efficiency to the Max
We live in an information age, and machines have to communicate with each other in order to function properly. This is especially important for medical, industrial, and office-operational equipment. This is called machine-to-machine communication (M2M). This makes sharing easy between systems. Variables, like heart rate or temperatures, can be shared instantaneously if need be.

But should M2M technology be considered part of the Internet of Things? Arguably not. In terms of principle, M2M technology isn’t changed by the IoT, but it has been made more affordable and readily available. According to Bernie Anger of General Electric, the spread of M2M technology can be attributed to several changes:

  • Cheaper Open Database Connectivity(ODBC): Having multiple devices connected to the same database is now cheaper than ever before, and even non-Windows devices can run ODBC User Agent now.
  • Cost-Effective Mass Scale Data Processing Technologies: Open source data processing technologies are effective for data collection on a budget. Companies were previously limited by the sheer cost of data collection, but that isn’t the case anymore.
  • Client User Interfaces are Much-Improved: The inception of the coding language HTML5 has brought about significant changes in the way that the user interface of many devices is designed, making them easier and more efficient to navigate.

Smart Systems and Bluetooth
One other technology that’s been around for a while, but not necessarily changed by the IoT, is what can be called a “smart system.” These communication systems are generally used for diagnostics or repairs, such as oil rig engineers using iPads while in the field to communicate with home base via a satellite signal.

That seems a lot like Bluetooth technology, doesn’t it? Bluetooth uses a device to communicate with another via a wireless connection, not unlike the above situation. Consumer-grade devices are basically just using this same technology (sort of like an IoT product) for new and improved purposes. It’s as simple as innovation versus rebranding. Innovation is taking something old and using it for new purposes, which doesn’t necessarily qualify as Internet of Things worthy.

The Internet of Things is Simply Complicated
One of the most important characteristics of the Internet of Things is that it’s sporadic and prone to change. It’s volatile and chaotic in its very nature. All of these ad hoc Internet of Things devices are designed for one function, and when so many different devices are involved, the situation quickly grows messy and complicated. While some of this technology has the capabilities to communicate with other systems, some don’t. The chief difference between these devices and older ones is that these devices are connected in a different manner.

The main idea behind the Internet of Things, for most companies, is that they want to create an environment where their new technology can thrive, and they want to control all of these devices from one central location. One example of this is Google Chromecast. Most major technology companies want to be at the head of the pack for the Internet of Things era.

So, if none of these devices fall under the category of “Internet of Things,” what does that mean for this new phenomenon? Basically, the IoT is a mismatched group of technologies being used for new and improved things, given a title which doesn’t really apply to them. If your business is looking to succeed in this new era of mobile technology, remember the differences between these three groups of devices, and you’ll surely be able to find your own definition for the Internet of Things. What are your thoughts on these new tech trends? Let us know in the comments.

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Posted in: Cloud

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Stop Ignoring Unneeded Applications That Take Up Space on Your Network

b2ap3_thumbnail_trash_apps_to_improve_performance_400.jpgThere’s a value to having a neat and tidy office where everything is where it’s supposed to be. In addition to seeing a boost in productivity because you’re not having to fight clutter, you just feel good about working in a space that’s clean and orderly. These same principles of organization apply to your company’s network.

If you’ve been in business for more than a few years, then your system has surely accumulated files and programs that you haven’t touched in a long time. This can make locating a needed file difficult and even slow down the performance of your PC. If every employee on your network is having to navigate a maze of unneeded programs just to do their jobs, then your system is leaking a lot of productivity.

If your network is facing this kind of disorganized dilemma, then you will want to call Total Networks at (602)412-5025 for some organizational solutions. We’ve got just the technology for your virtual mess with our application management service. At Total Networks, we’ll take the time to work with you to find out which programs are the most used by your business and which ones are just taking up space. We will then rid your system of any unnecessary applications remotely, meaning that a visit from a tech isn’t required.

By taking advantage of our application management service, your business will experience all of these benefits and more:

  • Increased flexibility: When your employees aren’t fighting with a system that’s cluttered, they’ll become a workforce that’s more flexible to handle the changing demands of your business.
  • Cut operational costs: When it takes longer than it needs to for your employees to complete a project because unwanted software gets in their way, then operational costs increase on all fronts. When your company’s network is organized, operations are streamlined and the expense of doing business decreases.
  • Increased productivity: With our application management service, we’re able to do much more than simply delete unneeded programs; this service can also be used to organize network files and applications in such a way that productivity is maximized. At Total Networks, we consider ourselves to be productivity experts. We have an eye to organize your systems in such a way that you will get the most out of your technology.
  • Increase customer service quality: Naturally, if employees are able to more efficiently do their jobs, then customers will receive better service thanks to increased response times and quicker access to needed data.

Don’t let a few unwanted programs get in the way of your business being the best it can be. Reach out to Total Networks at (602)412-5025 to take advantage of our application management service and other time-saving managed IT solutions. Now, as far as cleaning up a messy office goes, you’re on your own for that one, but in the quest to get your business organized, sorting out your digital mess is a great place to start.

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Posted in: Business

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