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Ensuring Security Protocols Are Met Throughout The Organization

There was an interesting article recently where a Madison County company was hacked due to the fact that an employee opened a phishing email asking for money, thus allowing the hackers access to the company computers.  This is one of those situations where, even if you have the best, most up to date security systems in place, they can never stand up to employee errors such as this.

This is why we at AMA Networks always preach about creating a culture of responsibility with employees and educate them on best security practices.  It’s all too easy to fall victim to these ever improving scams.

Email and phone scams are getting more and more difficult to defend against thanks to the fact that some hackers or scammers might already have a lot of information about you.  Hearing someone read out your address over the phone can be rather convincing to some people.

Additionally, if a hacker can gain access to an email account, it can be very easy to pose as another employee in the company and trick others to open emails or respond to requests for information.

Another big issue is making sure that employees are aware of security protocol with files in the cloud.  When employees can make sharable folders they sometimes inevitably make these folders public, whether by accident or ignorance.  This is something that happened with All American Entertainment, a public speaking management company that inadvertently left an Amazon AWS cloud bucket in the “public” access controls.  A security researcher found this vulnerability and outed the company.

However, many companies, despite the fact that they can and do “know better” still manage to make mistakes like this, and leave potentially damaging files out in the open.  Many times hackers will snatch these files and hold them for ransom in exchange for not releasing them to the public which could be incredibly damaging to those affected as well as the company.

We always give our clients a list of AWS security best practices to follow, and we advise the companies to instruct their employees on these issues.

The nature of cloud storage makes it so easy to share files and collaborate, however keeping up with how to even use the technology is hard enough, let alone ensuring that you have an adequate grasp of how to properly share files with good security.  This is why outsourcing IT security to a quality company is a good idea to ensure that these best practices are being followed and to help educate the company on how to do things differently if there are holes.

The importance of ensuring that systems are up to snuff in terms of security is growing more and more mainstream as big name companies fall victim to major data breaches and expose millions of customers to potential hacking and theft.  Don’t let yourself become one of those companies on the shortlist of security fails!

IT security might cost money but it’s cheaper than the consequence of getting breached or hacked.

Viruses And Virtual Reality

The movie “Ready Player One”, based on the book of the same name, is a popular novel about a world where most of one’s life is lived online in a virtual reality space that mimics real life extremely well.  Users plug into the net in various ways, from shunts into their brain to suits and glasses.

In the last few years virtual reality has made huge strides and there are multiple goggles and games that you can play.  However, there are still some drawbacks.  For instance, controlling characters still requires the use of a stick or controller of some sort, and the movement of specific VR games is limited.  For instance, in the DOOM VR game you can’t move freely around the levels.  This is a hurdle for developers of the technology as well as the games.

If you could get the VR system to read your intent, aka read your mind, then we would be well on our way to solving this problem.  But how to do that?  Will we be able to develop a computer system that could read our minds?  And if so, then what would be the implications of such a system?

The other thing to think about is whether or not viruses would affect a virtual world.  You would have to imagine that they would, as it’s all computer based.  Would these viruses then be able to affect your brain, should the brain/computer gap be breached?  Since our brains are simply electrical impulses and are already susceptible to chemical and electronic interference, you would have to think that this could be a definite possibility.  Tad Williams’ books “Otherland” address this very issue.

Present antivirus software are now focused on stopping threats before they get onto your computer.  In a recent Avast Internet Security Review it was mentioned that Avast was able to get in front of Malware by noticing certain program behaviours.  This is above and beyond technology that was available even 3 years ago.  So the progress on the AI front is huge.

Stopping viruses from entering your brain will probably require a lot of internet security – I’m sure VR networks will require that you maintain some level of personal security.  However, would you trust your brain to a program such as Avast right now?  That’s what people in the future will have to do — trust their brains to third party software protection.

It’s an interesting time that we live in – technology is increasing rapidly and humans are struggling to catch up to in in a psychological sense.  Just look at the political warfare being waged by Russia in order to interfere with elections via social media engineering.  They are already using technology to change our brains in small and subtle ways.

There is no doubt in my mind that VR tech is good and necessary.  However it will be interesting to see what bad comes from it as well – there are always two sides to the coin.  Hopefully there will be adequate protections in place.

Avoiding Computer Problems Through Good Habits

If you’re trying to avoid computer problems then the best things that you can do are to get into good habits.  There are so many things that you can do in order to avoid the worst things that can happen; it’s really very simple.

First off, back up your data.  I can’t stress this enough.  You really need to back up your data in order to avoid the worst disaster possible.  Losing data or hard drives can happen anywhere, anytime, and at the WORST times.  Actually, it always happens at the worst times :(  Anyway, always make sure you’re doing round the clock backups. And the best way that I’ve seen that you can do that is through using a service such as Backblaze.  This service saved my butt one time when my hard drive got fried by a failing power supply unit.  It was awful but at least I had a backup!!!  If I didn’t have that, I’d be royally screwed or I’d have to shell out megabucks for a data recovery service that may or may not have even worked.

Avoid internet bad neighborhoods.  If there’s any surefire way to get a virus or malware onto your computer it’s by cruising these shady areas on the internet.  Andy by bad neighborhoods I mean gambling sites, adult sites, and hacking sites.  Even shady message boards can be a bit of a bad news area.

Protect your PC with a vigilant and well reviewed antivirus software program such as Norton.  I use Norton 360 and it works pretty well I must say.  It has helped me out on many occasion.  You can’t skip this!  You could be fine for years and then all of a sudden you’ll get a devastating virus on your computer that wipes out everything.

Always keep your software up to date as well.  If Windows wants to update itself, let it!  Always turn on the auto update feature too, because you WILL forget.  Updates for flash, for example, will patch security holes that could leave you vulnerable to infection with viruses and malware. You could be up shit creek without a paddle if you don’t let your software keep itself up to date.  Browser updates are another form of this of course.

In other news, ensure that you keep your hardware up to date as well.  Drivers can help improve the speed and stability of your computer.  Video card drivers are notorious for this – increasing performance by up to 50% in some cases.

Don’t download weird software.  Try not to download torrents.  Don’t download ANYTHING unless it’s absolutely necessary.  That’s my rule of thumb at least.  The one time I ended up downloading a software program from one of those shady “free” software sites I immediately got hit with a virus.

Other than that it’s pretty easy to maintain a computer.  Just keep it simple and maintained.

Protect Your PC and Your Safety

Attacks targeting home and business computers are increasingly common, with the tactics used often very sophisticated. That, in turn, suggests computer users need to take advantage of available software to protect their hardware, software, and sensitive data. There are a few basic solutions everyone can use to minimize the odds of a malicious attack being successful. While a few may require an investment, others are totally free.

Install Virus and Malware Protection Software

Here, there is a constant battle among software providers to provide the best protection. Reviewers are constantly testing new offerings from both free and fee-based systems to determine which offer the highest level of protection. Computer users owe it to themselves to monitor the reviews and, when necessary, install the best protection available. Oddly enough, some of the free offerings are often highly rated. PC Magazine and CNET are two sources users can access that provide reliable reviews.

Update Existing Software Often

Operating systems and browsers are routinely updated as new threats are identified. Make sure your computer is set to download updates automatically if you are not religious about checking for updates yourself. Other programs, like Microsoft Office, will also provide frequent updates designed to keep your system running properly and minimize the potential for intruders gaining access to your computer.

Take Advantage of Backup Services

Cloud-based backup services offer users an easy way to securely backup files. They require little in the way of software to set up and ensure your files are regularly saved to a remote location. In the event something happened that destroyed your resident file system, the data can be easily restored. On-site backup systems are also an option, but an on-site backup system is subject to theft or loss in the event of a fire. Those are not issues when the backup system is cloud-based.

It’s important to remember that data security best practices are constantly evolving. That means computer users should always stay up to date with the latest security strategies. By staying on top of ever-changing security software and updates, users can avoid many threats to the safety of the data on their computers.

If Something Goes Wrong

If something goes wrong with your computer then there are a few options that you can take advantage of in order to get it running again.  Depending on whether or not it’s a software issue or a hardware issue should determine your course.  If it’s caused by a physically broken piece of hardware then you’ll have to go the repair route – either replacing the part or taking it in to a tech repair place.  However if it’s software related you can often take steps to fix the problem on your own.  If the Windows operating system has been corrupted or damaged in some way (such as by a virus or malware program) you can use software such as Reimage PC Repair in order to fix the issues.  This program does a great job at fixing Windows from the inside out so you don’t have to worry about having to reinstall the operating system.

Basically prevention is the best thing when it comes to computer issues, but if you can’t prevent it then there are a number of good malware removal tools and PC repair tools that can help you get back up and running again.  I suggest a quick Google search as well to see if people haven’t found a solution to a particular problem already!

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