The Essential Guide to Managing Internet Privacy & Security

How transparent is your privacy?  

In today’s world, most people are digitally connected. Have you ever worried about what information you have online, and what others can access about you? Or, have you wondered who else can read your email or chat messages? 

It is estimated that 73% of Americans who use the web are concerned with their online privacy. Nearly everyone has provided their personal information somewhere on the internet. Because the web is playing an integral role in our daily lives, it’s important to ensure internet privacy and security are maintained. Our 5 tips can help you and your friends manage your digital footprint across the web.  

1. Antivirus  

Antivirus software is used to protect your computer against potential threats, invaders, and cybercrime.  Often these malicious attacks are performed to gain personal information such as credit card info and email addresses, or even to hijack your computer. By using a reliable and updated antivirus, you add an extra layer of protection for your device. If a hacker DOES decide to attack your device, your antivirus will step in and keep you safe.   

At KNS, we use Webroot. Learn more about this antivirus software by reading our July 2018 blog post, Benefits of Managed Services: Antivirus Protection.

2. Clear Cookies and History 

Cookies and history are stored files used to help you access information on the web faster. Although they do make searching the web quicker and more efficient, they can have a negative impact on your online privacy.

If you are concerned about how websites are using your personal data, clearing your cookies and web history can help to reduce your digital footprint. By clearing that data, you can prevent websites from storing important personal information.  

3. Change Passwords 

Changing your account passwords helps to limit the potential threat of a breach. In some cases, when hackers gain access to your device, they monitor your account for data to steal over time. Changing your password every month will drastically help to prevent unauthorized account access to your accounts.  

4. Lock Your Device 

Locking your computer is a great way to protect your data while you are away. When you press CTRL + ALT + DEL on your keyboard, you will see the option to lock your device. This option does not close any programs that you are currently working on – it will simply prohibit others from accessing your device unless they have the correct credentials. When you are ready to use your device again, just press CTRL + ALT + DEL and log in.  

5. Public Wi-Fi  

Public Wi-Fi can be found in popular areas such as coffee shops, airports, restaurants, and hotels. While public Wi-Fi allows you to access the internet for free, it also opens the door to other users who are connected to the same network. It can be an opportunity for hackers to hijack information you are transferring through the network. Typically, public Wi-Fi networks have minimal and even flawed security.

If you choose to use a public network, there are a few things you can do to minimize risks:  

  1. Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) whenever you connect to a Wi-Fi network on any device (learn how by reading How to Connect to a VPN in Windows 7). 
  2. Disable file sharing (Control Center > Network and Sharing Center > Change Advanced Sharing Settings> select “off” for all options listed). 
  3. Only visit websites that use HTTPS encryption (each website URL should start with “https”, which means the all communications between your browser and the website are encrypted/secure). 
  4. Log out of all accounts when done.

Top 10 Tips on How to Avoid Phishing Scams [Successfully]

Our email inboxes are constantly under attack. 76% of organizations say they experienced phishing attacks in 2017, and those attacks have cost organizations over $600 million¹. It’s important to educate yourself (and your employees!) on the logistics of phishing attacks so you can fend them off.  

Phishing is when criminals pretend to be a valid sender or organization and attempt to steal your important information. One method phishers use to steal information is through fake emails. These emails contain links to authentic-looking websites, and attempt to lure people into revealing personal information.  

According to Symantec’s 2018 Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR), over 14.5 billion phishing emails are sent every day all over the world.   

So how can you avoid being a victim of these rampant phishing scams? Follow these 10 basic tips: 

1. Examine Email Addresses

Email scams come well-disguised. While some are easy to spot (e.g. containing misspelled words, or odd sender names), others are deceptive and closely resemble emails sent from a valid sender. If you hover over the sender name, you can identify what address the email is coming from (see below). If you don’t know the sender, DO NOT click on any links or attachments included in the email.  

2. Examine Links – Hover over links to view actual website address

Often, hackers and malware distributors try to conceal the destination of the phishing site by using hyperlinks. Hyperlinks can disguise an actual link’s final destination (AKA target URL)- for example, an email may say “Pay your bill immediately… click here”, or it may show an actual URL like this: http://instantbillpay.org. But you often can’t immediately see where you will end up if you click on the link.  

Similar to our first tip, it is important to hover over a link to verify the target URL before you click on it. The target URL will appear as a pop out window, or on the bottom footer of your email. If the URL looks fishy (no pun intended), don’t click it!  

3. Watch for Suspicious Requests

Have you ever received an email where the sender requested your email password? Or said you elected to cancel an account (but you didn’t)? This should immediately raise a red flag – the sender could be disguised as a valid entity (such as Gmail), but is actually a hacker attempting to steal your personal information. Before you share your information, pick up the phone and call the entity to verify it is a legitimate request.  

NOTE: Be careful that you call a valid phone number for that entity – some phishing emails may go so far as to list a phone number to call… we recommend locating an official support line for that entity (legitimate numbers are typically found on a company’s website).  

4. Keep your computer and web browser up to date 

Keeping your computer and web browser up to date helps to prevent any vulnerabilities from being exploited. If you are running on a Windows device, you can easily update your computer by navigating into the Control Panel and accessing Windows Update Settings. Browsers are typically upgraded automatically, but in case you needed the latest version you can also download it on the browser’s website. See a few basic browser update links below: 

Chrome Update 

Internet Explorer Update  

Mozilla Firefox Update 

Updating computers can be time consuming, and it is often tough to keep track of updates while handling the many other demands of your business. Hiring a full-time IT monitoring service or employee is a great way to allow yourself to focus on your customers and business.  

5. Check your accounts and change passwords regularly

Phishing scams exploit important information like login credentials. Phishing can be elusive and account hacks often go unnoticed. Therefore, its best to check your accounts regularly for any unauthorized access, and to change your passwords often. 

6. Use professional antivirus software

If someone in your organization does fall victim to a phishing cyberattack, an anti-malware software can assist in preventing a hack from occurring on your network. Make sure this software is up to date with the latest definitions. It is also a smart idea to have someone monitor your software to ensure all updates are made quickly and effectively.  

7. Count on Authenticated Sites

If you visit a website, ensure that your data is encrypted and protected. How can you know? A protected website includes SSL encryption usually signified by a padlock located near the URL of the website. When you click on the padlock, you can see the name of the organization that applied for SSL encryption. If the names do not match, it is probably not a safe site!  

8. Update your Browser and Use Popup Blockers 

NEVER click on a popup! Instead close them from the system tray menu. It’s important to regularly update your browsers and increase browser security settings. Browsers like Google Chrome offer add-ons that help to remove popups from appearing on your device.  

Chrome Pop Up Blocker 

9. Don’t open unknown attachments unless you know the sender and are expecting the document 

Is that email attachment malware in disguise? Spear phishing is an email spoofing technique where the sender targets a specific organization and personalizes their email attack. Even if an email is addressed to your organization, or has your managers name on it, it could contain malware.  

If you are unsure about an email’s content/source and you can’t contact the source via phone, search the email on google. You may find that other users have received the same email, and can assist you to verify the email’s legitimacy.   

10. Stay Informed

In the end, it all comes down to preparation and smart-clicking! If you don’t open the door for a hacker to attack, you will greatly reduce your likelihood of downloading viruses. Be aware of security-related news, consistently monitor and update your networks, and feel free to ask us experts for any advice!  

 

 

Kitsap Networking Services, Inc. is a great, local choice for outsourcing your I.T.  Let us handle your updates, backup, antivirus, and employee technical training… so you don’t have to!  

 

Post Sources

1. “Wombat 2018 State of the Phish”

2. Phishing image courtesy of www.vecteezy.com

 

3 Internet Scams You CAN Protect Yourself From

 

There are many kinds of scams, malware and dangerous files on the internet. Learning how to stay safe while browsing the internet can help prevent vulnerabilities within your computer and network. Several things to watch out for when surfing the web include the following: phishing scams, unreliable downloads, and spoofed links. 

Phishing   

Did you know that 95% of successful cyberattacks are a result of phishing? 1 Phishing is a form of fraud in which an attacker impersonates a reputable entity to gain important personal information. This can come in many forms, including fake websites, emails, or even phone calls requesting personal information.   

How can you protect yourself?   

No one wants to be victim of a phishing scam. We could write a book about how to avoid these scams, but we’ll start with one sound piece of advice: Be sure to validate the sender before giving out your personal information. Interested in learning more? We will be posting a “top 10 basic ways to avoid phishing scams” on our blog later this month!  

Internet Downloads  

Most important data are stored on personal devices such as computers. Because of this, it has never been more important to protect yourself against hackers. One of the many ways hackers can access (and attack) your computer is by getting you to download unsafe files. These unsafe files are not always easy to identify, and if downloaded can infect your device with malware or viruses. These viruses are then used by hackers to obtain important data from your device.   

How can you protect yourself?   

You can prevent the possibility of your device getting infected by malware by (1) running scans on all downloaded software and (2) evaluating the download site. Sites like https://www.virustotal.com/ include free scans to detect if downloaded data includes malware. However, these free sites only include minimal protection. The best route to take is to get an antivirus software and hire someone to constantly monitor your network.  

Beware of Links  

Legitimate companies occasionally email customers with a link asking to verify your personal information. These types of emails are often forged by scammers to steal personal information. If it is a company you often use (i.e. online shopping, subscriptions, previous business communications, etc.), you may be tempted to immediately click the link to verify the requested information. It is important to educate yourself on how to identify a safe link from a spoofed link.  

How can you protect yourself?   

Check the URL provided to ensure it is coming from the exact correct address. Just because an address looks mostly normal, it doesn’t always mean you are on a legitimate site.  

For example, the URL “https://amazonn.com” is a spoofed website that contains a similar look to “http://amazon.com“. The website is fraudulent and will try to capture and steal information that users enter. 

How can you check if a website is verified?

  

Look for signs that the site is secure and encrypted. The beginning of the website should include “https” or a padlock icon like the one pictured above; these indicate that your data on the website is encrypted and protected.  

For more information on safe practices for internet browsing, be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook! We will post each week with alerts about our new blog posts. For our technical services please contact us at (360)-516-6741.  

Sources: 

  1. https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/news/phishing-remains-top-attack-vector/ 

Benefits of Managed Services: Remote Access

On the road but need access to an office computer? Need assistance with installing software onto your device? With TeamViewer Remote Access the process is made simple. With TeamViewer you can remotely control to any computer as if you were sitting right in front of it. All it requires is for your partner to install the application and enable the desktop to be shared with other people over the internet. This simple yet secure solution for online collaboration is accessible by Managed Services Provider but also client staff.

Benefits of Remote Access with TeamViewer

Remotely control your device from anywhere – As long as you have an internet connection you can access your device from anywhere in the world. Traveling for business but need access to your office computer? TeamViewer makes remote connect easy and can be easily integrated for quick access.

Secured Remote Access – Security for your endpoint and end user is very important when allowing access to your computer. With TeamViewer you are able to set passwords to allow secured remote access to only users who know the password.

Remote File Transfer – Need to move files from one computer to another? With TeamViewer you have the ability to drag and drop files from one computer to another. TeamViewer also includes full encryption for safer remote connectivity.

Sharing Features – TeamViewer offers the ability to share training videos, presentations and demonstrations. Some great features include a chat function to communicate with each endpoint user. It also includes a display status to locate different workstations.

Portability – TeamViewer does not require to be installed to the workstation in order to operate. TeamViewer portable version can be ran without installation for one time use. This can be extremely helpful in customer support situations.

At Kitsap Networking Services we offer TeamViewer as one of our highlighted remote access products to provide quick and effective technical services. When signing up with our MSP services we provide an installation of TeamViewer to assist with any remote needs.

Benefits of Managed Services: Antivirus Protection

A common misconception is that many small-medium sized businesses are not at risk for viruses due to their size. In which case, is untrue. Without proper antivirus your organization can be at risk.

Consider some of the benefits of a managed antivirus:

  • 24/7 Monitoring – Managed antivirus ensures that your devices are consistently being monitored for threats all the time. It runs real-time scans to prevent occurrence of attacks and directly communicates with a web console to relay all important aspects of your devices security.
  • Security Coverage – Good malware has to be able to protect against the most dangerous of threats. With consist updates being offered by a antivirus provider you are able to stay on top of potential threats.
  •  Customize Management – Policies can additionally be in place in order to fulfill certain needs of the client. Each workstation can be individually modified in order to provide access to certain programs or files if needed.

At KNS, we offer virus protection through Webroot. Webroot offers many of the features that can assist with defending your devices. Some benefits of using Webroot Secureanywhere include:

  • Online Account Console for Monitoring – Devices can be monitored 24/7 through an online portal. View your devices health and determine which applications or programs are blocked or unblocked. Webroot also allows predictive protection for offline devices.
  • Low Performance Usage – By using Webroot SecureAnywhere you are using less computer performance. This lightweight antivirus ensures that your computer is protected without hindering performance. This means it is 98% smaller and 3.5 times faster than the average antivirus product.
  • Instant Protection from New Threats – Because Webroot SecureAnywhere runs from the cloud it can provide immediate , each file that runs on a device that is protected with Webroot SecureAnywhere is analyzed to validate if the file is good or bad. Webroot also includes web protection against malicious links, web results, or URL’s.
  • Infection Remediation – In case your computer is infected with a virus, Webroot offers automatic infection remediation. That means files are infected can be returned to its original state.

Managed antivirus assists in keeping your devices clean from emerging malware on servers and workstations. Contact Kitsap Networking Services for more information on our managed antivirus at (360)-516-6741.

Benefits of Managed Services: Asset Management & Health Tracking

The backbone to ensuring your business runs smoothly using electronic communication resides in your IT department. Whether your IT may consist of a team or an individual, IT ensures that your companies technology and equipment is running properly and efficiently. With Asset Management and Health Tracking you can rest assured that your devices are governed and managed effectively.

How Asset Management and Health Tracking Impacts your Business?

  1. Better Inventory Tracking – ITAM (IT Asset Management) provides a method to accurately identify, track and classify devices along the network. This provides us with information on what devices are being used, how they are being used, and what can be done to make it more efficient. This also allows for a better picture of how everything works together and allows management to determine best methods of improvement based upon the current environment. This means defining what tools are being used for upgrades, patches and access control as ell as other services that can accompany the existing processes.
  2. Better Provisioning – Is your IT assets providing business value? When you don’t have a clear picture of your IT assets it can be hard to determine if you truly are using them to provide value in your business. Asset Management can be used to identify underperforming resources to establish better methods of business capabilities.
  3. Support Hardware Configuration Monitoring – IT can be complex, but with the right support it can impact your business positively. Health Tracking provides seamless integration that provides better visibility of each system. Is your hard drive failing? Computers going offline? Need to run updates? Proper health tracking ensures that these factors are being managed.

Kitsap Networking Services offers MSP services that provide reliability, scalability and constructive management toward your IT needs. Looking to improve your IT? Contact Kitsap Networking at (360)-516-6741 to schedule your consultation.

Benefits of Managed Services: Updates

With managed services you can reduce the risk, hassle and expense of patching vulnerabilities. Our software patching management provides detection and remediation of Windows and third-party software updates. With consistent updates and hardware management we strive to ensure that your system is running at optimum performance for reliability to your users.

As major breaches are found to be regular subject of news, governmental regulation and compliance are implemented to safeguard personal data. Important legislation, such as HIPAA or DFARS, define strict terms for information technology to protect data. With compliance being essential to how businesses run, a managed service can make following these regulations easy. With scheduled updates and on-going monitoring, an MSP (Managed Services Provider) can deliver cutting edge technology and security to ensure compliance measures.

Benefits of Updating with a Managed Services Provider include:

  • Compliance – Patching updates assure that compliance practices are followed and reduces risk.
  • Security – Computers receive automatic updates which are an essential component for security.
  • Competition – Windows and third-party software are updated to the latest version giving you latest software features and capabilities.
  • Productivity – Computers are most productive when they receive the latest software fixes and improvements.

Kitsap Networking offers managed services including security patches and software updates to ensure your time is focused on your core business that provides value to your members.

Our Approach

  • Discovery – Initially, we perform a discovery that locates information about the device and gather details for the implementation process.
  • Implementation – Next, we define the software update and patching policies. This includes scheduling computer roles or user groups that fits your needs.
  • Remote Monitoring and Management – Finally, we analyze and evaluate patches and update computers and software based on predefined patching policies and schedules. We manage updates to minimize business impact and maximize productivity.

For more information on our MSP services please contact Kitsap Networking Services at (360)-516-6741.

Outsource IT Support

Why Outsource your IT? Our networks play a huge role in the performance of an organization. Communication, accessing software, and consumer relations often are reliant upon the network performance. A company with poor network performance could easily take a loss if they frequently experience outages. Among these reasons is why outsourcing IT has become very common.

Downtime Costs Businesses
While downtime can not be prevented, a good plan of action can easily reduce the amount of downtime that occurs. Planning includes settings up backups, power backups, and determining update schedules. Outsourcing providers assume and manage the risk for you, specifically with understanding of industry standards and compliance. Outsourcing your IT you are able to improve your network stability and greatly reduce outages or slow performance.

Reduce Costs
Outsourcing your IT allows you to convert fixed IT costs into variable costs, allowing for a more effective IT budget. Simply put, you only pay for what you use. Training and hiring an in house IT can be expensive yet with outsourcing you are able to get an experienced IT professionals. Instead of having just one person managing your IT needs you have the benefit of a collective team.

Focus on What Matters Most
Outsourcing your IT allows you to focus on what matters most. Your business! You will have the peace of mind knowing your IT needs are in dependable hands.

Contact Kitsap Networking Services at (360)-516-6741 for more information on outsourcing your IT needs for your organization.

How much am I spending on IT?

Businesses often overlook IT costs and do not factor these expenses into their operation cost. As a result, it ends up being a surprise when they end up spending more than what they expected. By detailing your IT expenses on a yearly basis it can provide you with expectation of your IT budget.

Some important tips for planning your IT budget include:

  • Defining the scope of your budget.
  • Calculate hard,ware, software and current costs.
  • Considering upgrades, and routine maintenance.
  • Plan for business growth.
  • Extend your budget for support costs.
  • Invest into IT training
  • Examining your spending in previous years.

Need help planning your IT budget? Let Kitsap Networking assist you in developing an IT budget that fits your companies goals. Contact us at (360)-516-6741.

Making the Move to Office 365? We can help!

Office 365 acts as a robust email solution that can be significantly beneficial to your organization. In which case, migrating your current email can require some planning.

Determine how many mailboxes will need to be moved over. This will give us an idea of which devices need to have office 365 setup and how much time it will take. While Exchange migrations can be simple, a POP/IMAP migration may require manually uploading through Outlook to the new accounts.

The next step is logging into the DNS host to make the make the necessary changes. After this is complete the email should be routed to Office 365 instead of the old email. The transfer from your old mail system to Office 365 can take time to complete. It is usually estimated within a few hours or days to make the transition.

Once the email migration is complete it is also important to setup features and settings appropriately. This includes setting up signatures, auto-complete history in Outlook and adjusting settings. Finally, other devices, such as phones can be setup and automatically configured to sync with Office 365 settings.

Are you looking to migrate to Office 365? Kitsap Networking Services offers Office 365 Migration solutions for businesses. Please give us a call at (360)-516-6741 for your information technology needs.