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June 26th, 2014

Security_June23_BVirtual machines are just gateways to a server, and cyber criminals want access to data on those servers. While you might think you’re keeping your virtual environment safe, there are several virtualization security myths which if believed can have a serious impact on your platforms, leaving them susceptible to attack. It’s vital that you are aware of these untruths to make better decisions about your business’s virtual environment.

Myth No.1: Existing endpoint security will protect our virtual environment

Most traditional endpoint security solutions are virtual-aware and provide low levels of protection. This simply isn’t enough. Depending on the virtualization platform used (VMware, Microsoft, etc.), your traditional endpoint security suite can probably recognize virtual endpoints. However, this physical software often can’t bring its full tool set of anti-malware to the virtual world, meaning it can only perform basic tasks such as on-access scanning.

Therefore what you need is a solution that has been designed to keep both virtual and physical computing environments secure. There are a wide-number of solutions out there, and the best one for your business will depend largely on the virtual environments you employ. We strongly recommend talking to IT experts like us, as we can help determine, or even offer, the strongest security based.

Myth No.2: My existing anti-malware doesn’t interfere with my virtual operations

Performance issues can create security gaps that don't exist in your physical environment. Traditional endpoint security uses an agent-based model where each physical and virtual machine has a copy of the security program’s agent on it. This agent communicates with the server while performing security tasks. This is fine for physical machines, but if you have 100 virtual machines running off of one main environment that has been infected with malware, you’ll also have 100 instances of malware running on the machines.

This high level of duplication can cause massive performance degradation and waste tons of storage capacity. Therefore, you should make an effort to ensure that all of your systems including the main ones are without malware. This not only makes every system secure, but can also speed up overall operations.

Myth No.3: Virtual environments are inherently more secure than physical environments

Sadly, this just isn’t always true. Virtualization is designed to allow software, including malware, to behave as it normally would, and malware writers will target any and all weak points in a business’s network to accomplish their goals. An attacker who compromises one virtual machine and finds a way to jump to the hypervisor - the system that enables the virtualization - then has access to every virtual machine on that host.

Therefore, malware scanners on both the user and main systems would be a good idea. If it does happen to get on a system, the chances of it spreading are drastically reduced.

Myth No.4: Using non-persistent virtual machines effectively secures a network

In theory, any machine that encounters malware is wiped away and recreated cleanly. However, we are now seeing malware that is designed to survive teardown of individual machines by spreading across the virtual network. This allows it to return when new virtual machines are created.

Additionally, being too eager to create new machines on demand can result in virtual machine sprawl, which happens when virtual machines are created but then forgotten. This leads to an unmaintained virtual endpoint operating without your knowledge. Even if the rest of your virtual machines are secure, it’s possible for one machine to eavesdrop on the traffic of another virtual machine, leading to privacy and security risks.

The best solution to this is to employ an IT manager who can track and maintain systems. Many IT partners offer a solution like this, so experts like us may be able to help ensure your systems are secure.

Myth No.5: Specialized virtual security programs are more or less the same

There are various approaches to virtualization security and your network will probably need a blend of available options. This all depends on what you’re trying to protect.

A non-Web-connected server is going to have entirely different security needs than a virtual desktop of a server that manages customer information. Implementing one without the other simply just won’t do in today’s world, where attackers are set on getting their hands on your data.

Proper security is vital in making virtualization a critical component of your business IT infrastructure. Looking to learn more about virtualization and its components? Contact us today and see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
June 25th, 2014

Productivity_June23_BNo matter what business you operate in, today’s fast-paced world calls for a speedy Internet connection to help boost productivity and efficiency. Still, many businesses seem to be saddled with a slow Internet connection which not only frustrates everyone but can hold back performance too. Let’s take a look at five ways that’ll help speed up your Internet connection and hopefully increase your business’s productivity.

5 ways to combat a slow Internet connection:

1. Control devices that interfere with the connection:

Wireless devices can be one of the reasons for a slow Internet connection. It’s wise to talk to us about a wireless network analyzer so that you know the sources of interference. Believe it or not, most of these sources might be coming from the company kitchen!

Good examples include the microwave, cordless phone, security alarm, and other wireless devices which use the 2.4GHz band. These can interfere with 802.11g or single-band 802.11n routers. The best solution is to reposition these household electronics to either help solve the problem completely or at least minimize the chances of interference.

2. Control applications that hog bandwidth:

Without your knowledge it’s most likely that employees are using applications that are hogging the bandwidth. It’s vital that you are aware of these applications, especially ones that have video conferencing and streaming abilities which tend to be responsible for weak bandwidth in corporate environments. Other applications such as torrent and gaming apps can also be responsible. It is best to make sure that these apps are not installed on your company computers, of if they are, make sure their use is regulated.

Believe it or not, one of the biggest bandwidth hogs is YouTube. Some companies, when they audit their network usage, have noticed that streaming services like YouTube can take up more than half of their total bandwidth. While in some positions, video streaming may be necessary, it's likely not for the majority of roles. Therefore, it would be a good idea to implement a rule about the use of YouTube during business hours e.g., it should only be used for necessary tasks.

Some would recommend blocking services like this, but if your business uses Google's other services, blocking YouTube could actually end up blocking access to other Google services. It would be a good idea to consult with us as to the best way to limit use.

3. Reposition your router:

As simple as this might sound, your router might also have to be repositioned to help increase your Internet speed. You might want to try raising your router so that broadcast range can be more effective. If this doesn’t work, which sometimes it doesn’t, try placing your router in the center of your office for a more equal signal distribution. The best solution however, is to place your router as near to computers and other receivers as possible.

4. Consider an upgrade:

If your wireless networking equipment is old then it probably needs an upgrade. Keep in mind that technology moves at an extremely fast pace and your wireless network might be outdated in just a few years.

We strongly recommend talking to us, as we can help recommend the best upgrade solution. For example, the two most common upgrades include installation of a new repeater or wireless amplifier and replacement of your current antenna. Because antenna's are so varied, we can help make sure that the antenna being installed is compatible with your router.

5. Use the latest network technologies:

As mentioned earlier, technology moves fast which is why it is essential that you become familiar with its recent advancements, particularly in the area of wireless networking. There are countless apps, software, and hardware out there that can help boost the speed and performance of your router, some of which can even be downloaded for free. Our networking experts can help ensure your business has the latest and greatest, so be sure to consult with us first.

Dealing with a slow Internet connection can be a huge pain. If not taken care of right away, it can have immense impact on your overall work output. Looking to learn more about ways to improve your Internet connection for maximized productivity? Connect with us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity
June 25th, 2014

iPhone_June23_BThere is a good chance that the most popular mobile device in your office is the iPhone. Known for its easy to use system and powered by iOS, it is one of the most useful business devices around, not to mention popular in the personal phone market too. Back in early June, Apple announced a new version of iOS - iOS 8 - that will be available in the fall for most iPhone users. This new version will introduce a number of new features, including a drastically improved Notification Center.

About the iPhone's Notification Center

The Notification Center feature was introduced with the release of iOS 5 and is available on every Apple mobile device. The idea behind it is that it can show you an overview of alerts and updates from specific applications. On iPhones and iPads this is an area where all of the most important information can be accessed quickly.

You can access your Notifications Center by swiping down from the top of your screen. When it is open you will see three views:

  • Today - Important information about the day, including upcoming calendar events, the weather, and other relevant information.
  • All - All alerts, including emails, messages, and updates from apps like Twitter.
  • Missed - Notifications that you have missed in the past 24 hours.
If you tap on any notification or alert, the app associated with it will be opened and allow you to view the content or update in full. For example, when you get a new email, Notification Center will alert you and show who it's from and even some of the content. Tapping on the message will open the Mail app, allowing you to interact with it directly from the main app.

For many users, this is among the most useful iOS features, but many have commented that it feels unfinished. Sure it provides a way to quickly access important information but it is largely static and limited in use. Apple aims to change this with the release of iOS 8.

Notification Center's iOS 8 update

When Apple introduced iOS 8 in early June, they announced that the Notifications Center will be getting widgets that will help make the Center even more functional - providing you with greater information all in one place. Those who have used an Android device before are likely well aware of widgets. These tiny versions of apps display useful information without having to open the app itself.

For example, on Android devices you can add an email widget to your main screen that allows you to read and reply to emails directly from your home screen without having to open the full version of the app.

Apple has decided to take another path with the implementation of widgets, instead baking them into the Notifications Center. With iOS 8, you will still be able to swipe down to access your Notifications Center, only now there will be way more information. In the example Apple demonstrated, there were widgets showing the latest scores of a baseball team and eBay auctions that you could bid on directly from the screen, without having to open the eBay app.

Of course this was just a demo, but you can bet that when iOS 8 is launched, you will start to see useful apps updated with widgets that you can add to Notification Center. If for example you use a note app like Evernote, there is a good chance that you will be able to create or edit a note in the Notification Center, without having to open the app itself.

It is clear that with the impending update, Apple is striving to implement a better and easier way for you to interact with your phone. For many business users this will mean less time having to open apps and search for the information they need. It will be interesting to see what business-oriented apps developers come up with next in terms of making the iPhone an even more effective business device.

Contact us today to learn more about the iPhone and how it can help improve your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic iPhone
June 24th, 2014

GoogleApps_June23_BFor many businesses, the main way employees communicate is no longer by getting up and walking over to another desk to have a chat but instead through social media platforms such as Google+. In order to facilitate this style of communication and collaboration, many companies have been implementing a network based on Google+. In order to make the service even better for businesses, Google has recently announced a key update.

In mid June, Google announced that they had implemented a number of new premium features for Google Apps users who use Google+. These so-named 'Google+ premium features', could prove to be just what businesses are looking for, especially when it comes to establishing internal social networks that are for your employees only.

About Google+ premium features

If your business uses Google Apps and Google+, and you are the admin for your business, you may have noticed an extra option in the past half year or so labeled premium features. These features were tested by select Google Apps users, and proved to be successful. So much so in fact that Google has announced that premium features are now turned on for all new Apps users, with existing users getting them by mid July at the latest.

The goal of these features is to enable a more customizable social media platform for businesses who may want to create and maintain a secure internal social network with users who can also join an external network or work group.

In a broad sense, these features influence two key aspects of Google+:

  1. Control options - With these features admins have greater control options over employee accounts. For example, you can set it so that all posts are shared only with your domain and made inaccessible to outside users. You can also set it so that certain employee profiles will not show up in public search results. Essentially, these features give you better ability to tailor how your business uses Google+, and the overall security of the network.
  2. Hangouts - The biggest boon this set of features offers is the ability to host larger hangouts and video calls - up to 15 users on the same call (instead of the normal 10). Users can also initiate or join a Hangout right from Google Calendar, email invitation or a URL. You can also set the privacy level of Hangouts to ensure that they can't be accidentally opened to the public, ideal if you need to discuss sensitive information or projects for example.

Activating premium features

If you are an administrator for your company's Google Apps account, then you can enable these features by:
  1. Signing into your Google Admin panel. This can be accessed by typing 'admin.google.com' into the URL bar in your browser.
  2. Clicking on Other Google Services followed by Google+.
  3. Scrolling down to the premium features section and clicking on Enable Google+ premium features.
  4. Clicking on Sharing Settings and modifying or enabling the different premium features.
If you are looking to learn more about using these features or Google+ get in touch with us today to see how we can help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 20th, 2014

Office_June18_BThough primarily used as an email application, Microsoft Outlook can also be used to handle a wide range of extra business matters. One such functions is the address book, which enables you to create a database of contacts with details which are deemed to be significant to your business. It is also commonly used to organize client details and sync to other applications that are compatible with Outlook.

Since Outlook's Address Book is the go-to application for many distribution lists, email addresses, and other important contact details, knowing how to use it can be really useful. However, before you create a new address book, it is a good idea to keep in mind that Outlook Address Book is NOT your list of contacts but a collection of different folders containing different sets of contacts.

This does sometimes confuse, so to help you understand more easily, here are the types of address books you can create in your Outlook profile:

Global Address Book

This can only be used in conjunction with a Microsoft Exchange account. Global address lists are a collection of all the names connected to your account in Microsoft Exchange Server.

Outlook Address Book

This is used interchangeably with Contacts although they are different in context to each other. Your Outlook Address Book is a collection of your contacts with details added in the e-mail and fax number fields.

Internet Directory Services (LDAP)

The Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, or LDAP, is used to find email addresses that are not in your local directory. This can only be accessed with the use of a steady Internet connection.

Third-party address books

You can set up address books from third party service providers through their given setup program.

To create an address book for a specified list of clients you can:

  1. From the Info tab, go to File then click Account Settings.
  2. Two options will be listed in the dropdown menu – Account Settings and Social Network Accounts. Choose Account Settings and click Address Books from the pop-up window.
  3. Tick on New then Add Account.
  4. In the Add Account dialog box, more options will appear – Internet Directory Service (LDAP) and Additional Address Books. Choose Additional Address Books and click Next to continue.
  5. You will be directed to the next window with options Outlook Address Book or Mobile Address Book. Mobile address books will create a list of names with the mobile number field filled in. Choose between the two and hit Next.
  6. Your chosen type will be automatically saved to your Outlook profile and to be able to use this, you will have to restart your program first.
Outlook Address Book not only helps sync your business database to several applications but also makes the client database organization an easy task. Understanding how to work this to your advantage can really help streamline and organize your contacts.

We can help you apply better technology tools to your business, so get in touch!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 19th, 2014

GoogleApps_June18_BIt's essential that businesses are able to surf the rising tide of modernization. The effort to be knowledgeable about the latest technology can help improve company productivity and often manipulation of several devices is necessary to optimize performance. For example, computers are capable of being used to easily send and install apps directly to your Android phone.

How Google enables you to control your mobile phone via a computer is often overlooked by many users. This tutorial will show you how you can download, send, and install a new app to your Android device without even touching it. Sound like magic? It’s the marvel of technology.

To begin, make sure your phone is logged into your Google account. This account is an all-inclusive one, with which you can access your email, blog, Google+ account and even Google Play, Android’s marketplace for all its mobile apps. Your Google account is also your gateway into the installation of a new app from your desktop.

To log into your Google account from your smart phone, follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to Settings > Accounts > Google > Add Account.
  2. Type your email address and password to connect through the sign-in page.
  3. On your computer go to Google Play and check the upper right corner of your display and click Sign in.
  4. Sign in again to your Google account to be able to connect with your mobile phone.
  5. Check the left panel of your display and click Apps.
  6. Go to the Categories section and choose from the option that suits you in the drop down menu.
  7. A number of apps will be displayed, so choose the one which you would like to instal on your phone.
  8. Click Free (or the price of the app). Remember not to click the app itself but the underlined price under each application.
  9. You will be directed to a list of devices logged into the same Google account. Choose from these devices where you want the app to be installed. Hit Install for free apps and Buy for paid ones to install directly to your mobile device.
  10. Voila! You have just downloaded an app from your computer to your phone. Keep both devices logged in for easy access anytime, anywhere.
The continuous development of technology means that we should strive harder to learn and be acquainted with new tools we can use to improve business. This can yield big benefits for your company and enable you to accomplish more tasks in a shorter span of time.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 18th, 2014

osx_June17_BMac users who missed out on coverage of the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2014 will be pleased to know that Apple introduced their latest operating system; the OS X Yosemite. Although some features aren’t fully-formed, some of the most obvious changes in the OS X Yosemite are very present. With that in mind, it’s time you took a look at the most dramatic redesign of Apple’s operating system to date.

Design

Right from the start you can tell that OS X Yosemite is all about aesthetics. Apple manages to make the operating system look both vastly different yet not entirely unfamiliar. The button and icon design has been flattened so that there are no false contours, making everything look sharper.

For the first time ever, the operating system’s font has been changed from Lucida Grande to Helvetica Neue which is a little easier on the eyes. Finder window menus are now translucent, matching up with the image backgrounds on your desktop. The refreshed dock has gotten a slight makeover with newer flatter-looking icons as well as a new trash can. Yosemite also features a “dark mode”, which gives you the option to eschew translucency for dark gray toolbars.

Notifications

Notification Center has been updated with a new look that borrows its black transparent design from iOS’s pull down notification pane. Apple has divided its Notification Center into two different categories. One shows notifications as you were used to them before, the other shows a “Today” view with a combination of upcoming events, current weather, reminders and stocks. To swap between the two, Apple’s added in tabs at the top to let you minimize the information shown at a glance.

Spotlight

The new Spotlight search and file browsing in general have been greatly improved. Previews of animated GIFs now automatically animate in the preview pane. And if Spotlight is your default application and file launcher, you can hit Command + Space to pull up the search bar and pick out your query instead of hunting for the exact location of the file you’re using. When you go through this, the search pops up in a small pane directly at the center of your screen which makes more sense than the old search bar which was in the top right corner of your screen.

The new update isn’t just conveniently situated, but it could turn Spotlight into your default way of searching for information that you’d normally go to a browser for. You can now convert units, bring up full contact info, look something up on Wikipedia or even search for food nearby. Apple’s even worked Spotlight into the address bar of the revamped Safari browser to give users a one-stop shop for search across the web and local files.

Mail

OS X Yosemite’s Mail app gets a cleaner design as well as a slick new feature, Mail Drop. This allows you to bypass attachment size constraints by uploading files that are too big and sending the recipient a link.

Safari

Safari browser has been updated for continuity with the browser’s window carrying over the translucency seen in other areas of the operating system. Favorites are now hidden by default, but you can access these by clicking on the address bar.

Sharing links to social networks has been simplified with a one-click process and RSS feeds will show in the browser's sidebar.

AirDrop

AirDrop in Yosemite now works with iOS so iPhone owners can easily transfer files to the Mac and back. OS X Yosemite features the ability to recognize work being done in iOS that you might want to continue on the desktop. Once an action is detected on iOS, Yosemite will create an icon on the desktop to remind the user to complete the task. This sensing ability also extends to creating a tethered connection, as your iPhone will now appear as a connection option in the WiFi dropdown.

Make and receive calls

Once connected to your iPhone, Yosemite will prompt you with notifications to answer or ignore incoming calls, both audio and video. The OS will even allow users to click on a number within a website to dial it directly.

OS X Yosemite isn’t finished, but overall it demonstrates a more mature and subtle approach in its user interface as well as a more versatile operating system. For now, Apple is making OS X Yosemite available as beta for developers, but you can expect the full version this fall, when you will be able to download it for free. Looking to learn more about Apple and their products? Call us today for a chat.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple Mac OS
June 17th, 2014

office365_June16_BOffice 365 offers various selections of business apps that place emphasis on being versatile and practical. Having promised to bring analytics to users around the world, Microsoft keeps its word with Power BI’s latest upgrade featuring predictive forecasting. The real question is: What is it and how does it work?

Predictive forecasting uses a variety of statistical techniques, from modeling to data mining, that analyze current and historical facts to make predictions about the future.

The predictive forecasting function of Office 365 provides users with the skills to generate reports, interactive charts, and 3D visualizations of business performance. Simply put, users can perform advanced forecasting without the complexity that usually accompanies these kinds of processes.

The new forecasting tool utilizes built-in predictive forecasting models to automatically detect seasonality in the data. It also enables users to see how results are affected by adjusting the parameters of the time or confidence interval assigned to be analyzed.

Power BI’s predictive forecasting can also help fill in gaps with data. Power View, an interactive data exploration and presentation tool, fills in missing values from a data set before carrying out a forecast for a more accurate result.

A few things you need to keep in mind before using the feature:

  1. The line chart has to have one line as multiple line charts won’t work.
  2. The line chart has to have fewer than 1,000 values.
  3. The x-axis value needs to have a date/time format or be a uniformly increasing whole number. It cannot contain text or decimal numbers, and the interval between values has to be at least one day.

How to use predictive forecasting in Office 365:

  1. Simply upload a workbook with a Power View time series line chart to Power BI for Office 365.
  2. Open the file in Power BI and switch to Power View in HTML 5 by clicking Try the HTML 5 version of Power View in the lower-right corner.
  3. Click on the forecast arrow or drag the forecast dot in the line chart and you’ll see the forecasting options appear in the analysis pane to the right of your report.
Do keep in mind that Power View automatically detects what appears to be the seasonality of the data. In other words, a complete cycle of peaks and drops. Note that this works best if the chart has at least four times more values than the data cycle.

Here’s how to override automatic seasonality detection:

  1. Start a forecast by dragging the forecast handle in a line chart.
  2. The Analysis pane will automatically pop up on your right hand side. If you can’t find it, look for Analysis in the upper-right corner.
  3. In the Analysis area, manually set the seasonality to 0, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 12, 24, 52, or 365.
Predictive forecasting, if used properly, can immensely help with the overall strategic planning, market penetration and operation of your business.

Looking to learn more about Office 365 and its features? Call us today for a chat.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 13th, 2014

security_June13_BThanks to rapid technological advancement over the past decade, businesses have been able to flourish with great tech tools at their disposal. But the widespread adoption of new, smarter technologies has also given rise to security issues and the ability to infiltrate networks. These threats, if not taken care of appropriately and at the right time, can have an adverse impact on the success of your company. Having a basic security system in place is no longer enough. Businesses need to act quickly to protect themselves and deploy the best security practices to ensure smooth business operations.

10 Security practice guidelines for businesses

  1. Encrypt your data: Encryption of stored data, filesystems, and across-the-wire transfers is essential to protect sensitive data as well as to help prevent data loss due to equipment loss or theft.
  2. Use digital certificates to sign all of your sites: You should obtain your certificates from a trusted Certificate Authority, and instead of saving your certificates on the Web server, save them to hardware devices like routers or load balancers.
  3. Implement a removable media policy: Devices like USB drives, external hard disks, external DVD writers or any writeable media facilitate security breaches coming into or leaving your network. Restricting the use of those devices is an effective way to minimize security threats.
  4. Implement DLP and auditing: Be sure to use data loss prevention and file auditing to monitor, alert, identify, and block the flow of data into and out of your network.
  5. Use a spam filter on your email servers: Using a time-tested spam filter such as SpamAssassin will remove unwanted email from entering your inbox and junk folders. It is important that you identify junk mail even if it’s from a trusted source.
  6. Secure websites against MITM and malware infections: Start using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) which creates a secure connection between a user and server, over which any amount of data can be sent securely. Through SSL, you’ll be able to scan your website daily for malware, set the Secure flag for all session cookies, as well as use SSL certificates with Extended Validation.
  7. Use a comprehensive endpoint security solution: Using an antivirus software alone is not enough to provide defense against today’s security threats. Go for a multi-layered product to prevent malware infections on your devices.
  8. Network-based security hardware and software: Start using firewalls, gateway antivirus, intrusion detection devices, and monitoring to screen for DoS attacks, virus signatures, unauthorized intrusion, and other over-the-network attacks.
  9. Maintain security patches: Make sure that your software and hardware defenses stay up-to-date with new anti-malware signatures and the latest patches. If your antivirus program doesn’t update on a daily basis, be sure to set up a regular scan and a remediation plan for your systems.
  10. Educate your employees: As simple as it sounds, this might be the most important non-hardware, non-software solution available. An informed user will more likely behave more responsibly and take fewer risks with valuable company data resulting in fewer threats to your organization.

Businesses cannot afford to take chances with security. Why? Because doing so can trigger a domino effect, causing a cascade of problems that can lead to operational outages, data loss, security breaches, and the subsequent negative impact to your company’s bottom line. Looking to learn more about security for your business? Call us today for a chat.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
June 13th, 2014

osx_June13_BAsk many Apple users about the security of the devices they are using and they will likely scoff at the question, insisting that their computer or phone is secure and always has been. While it is true that there are fewer security issues facing Macs, there are still security threats out there and it is a good idea to know about them and also how to prevent them.

The Apple security myth

It is true that many myths are based on fact. However, the problem is trying to distinguish fact from fiction. Take a look at the most recent security threats, and you'll see that the vast majority are focused on systems running Windows, while there are few that seem to focus on Macs.

It used to be that this was simply because there were an exponentially larger number of Windows users compared to Mac users. This large user base makes it easier for hackers to exploit, therefore hackers usually go after Windows machines leaving Macs to the side.

As a result, this has created the general idea that Macs are more secure than Windows. In truth, Macs are really no less or more secure than other systems and devices and users need to ensure their systems are protected. There are a growing number of Mac users and if you throw into the mix the fact that Apple's mobile devices like the iPad and iPhone are among the most popular devices out there you can bet that it's only a matter of time before hackers start to really try and exploit these systems in increased numbers.

How do I ensure my Mac or Apple device is secure?

Talk to 10 different people and you will likely get 10 different answers as to what you should do in order to ensure the security of your computer and mobile device. To make things a little easier, here is our list of five things you should do.

1. Educate yourself about security threats

The first thing you should do is to keep abreast of current security threats. Many of the top mobile and security oriented companies have blogs that cover the most recent security threats that all users should be aware of. Of course, we try to keep this blog updated with these threats as well so be sure to check here as well.

You can take this even further and educate yourself about the most common ways systems are infected or hacked. For example, here are two of the most recent threats your device and computers face: (i) iPhones - At the end of May, news came out of Australia about how a number of iPhone users had been infected by ransomware. This style of malware hijacks a device and demands payment from a user before they can use their phone again. In this specific case, it appears that the hacker is compromising the user's iCloud accounts, then blocking the device using the Find my iPhone feature and showing a message demanding payment for the code to unlock it.

Keeping your passwords secure and changing them may help prevent your device from being infected.

(ii) Macs - One of the latest ways Macs are being infected with malware is through programs that are installed when people download other apps. These programs can do any number of things, with the most problematic (for the time being) setting your browser's home page to the developer's own search engine. The engine will then show paid ads in results. While Google also features ads, it is up to you whether you use Google or not. This specific program doesn't give you a choice.

These are just two existing threats, there are countless more out there that you should be aware of.

2. Practice safe browsing

One of the best ways to stave off infections and security breaches is to be proactive. This is because the vast majority of security breaches happen when a user installs programs, knowingly or unknowingly, or clicks on links in emails or on the Web that contain malware.

These forms of intrusion can be nearly stopped in their tracks in a five ways: (i) Never open email attachments from unknown senders. This is especially the case if the file extensions are for programs i.e., DMG, This includes attachments in emails from large companies and financial institutions. If you are in doubt, try contacting the sender for verification.

(ii) Always hover over links before you click on them. Doing this should cause a popup to appear displaying the full address of the link's location. If for example you get an email from your bank with a link in it, hover over the link to see where it goes. What you are looking for is spelling mistakes, grammar issues or even straight up wrong links. Should any of these be present, the link location could lead you straight to malware which could then be installed on your system.

(iii) Don't automatically open any downloaded apps. It is a good idea to verify any apps first by looking at an app's name by right-clicking on it and selecting Get Info. Look at the source information for the app. If the site is weird or seems different from where you downloaded it from, you may not want to install it.

(iv) Be wary of installing apps from streaming sites. When you try to watch content many sites will ask you to download a plugin or video player. The links shown can sometimes be malware and you will find your systems infected before you know it. In fact, it's a good idea to avoid these sites altogether, especially since some of them are known to host malware that can install itself without your permission or even without you knowing it has been installed.

(v) When in doubt, don't touch anything. If you are unsure about a link or app you are being asked to download, simply don't click on it or download it.

3. Watch where you connect

Apple's products are almost all highly mobile. From featherlight laptops to tablets and phones that fit in almost any bag and pocket you can connect to the office from nearly anywhere. The way most do this is by connecting to their systems via an Internet connection. In many public spaces, shops, and even airports you are never far from a public connection. While this may seem like an ideal way to connect to the office, public connections are notoriously easy to hack.

Anyone with even a basic understanding of networking and tools can hack a public network, accessing data that goes in and out; data which could be sensitive. Once this is captured and possibly decoded, your systems could be breached and even hijacked.

Therefore, it is a good idea to never connect to public networks on any device. Of course, this may not be possible all of the time. So, if you do have to connect to a public network be sure to never enter any passwords or go to sites where you need to log into systems.

4. Install antivirus scanners

It really is amazing how many Mac users simply don't bother with an antivirus scanner. These tools are indispensable for keeping your systems secure and the data stored within them secure. Sure, the chances of your iPhone being hacked or your Macbook's data being exposed are less than other systems and devices but the threat is there, and very real.

There are a number of excellent scanners out there, just be sure to pick a solution that covers both desktop, and mobile devices to ensure optimal security. We can help you pick the best solution for your business, so be sure to talk to us before installing any scanners.

5. Work with an IT expert

Finally, possibly the best way to ensure the security of your Apple products is to work with an IT expert like us. We take the time to get to know how you use your devices to discover your security needs. From here, we can help integrate an effective solution that you can rely on. On top of this, we can also manage your IT, so should new security threats be found, you stand an increased chance of not only being secure but avoiding the threat altogether.

Contact us today to learn more.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple Mac OS