The Office 365 Decision.

Posted by Theresa Hietpas

Dec 9, 2014 9:00:00 AM

Microsoft_Office_365_Logo

In today’s market, subscription based software is becoming more and more popular for software developers. Many prefer to control the use of their software products through a subscription model rather than the traditional outright purchase of the software. Along with the ubiquitous nature of the Internet, this has led to offering software as a “rented” service, SaaS, rather than a product you buy once and may or may not upgrade. Microsoft’s Office Productivity suite, including popular programs such as Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint has followed suit, and for several years now has been offered as Office 365, a truly impressive, cloud-based SaaS, always current and up to date in a variety of sizes and combinations to fit a wide variety of customers.

The adoption rate has been through the roof…but, is it right for you?

There are some network management companies or service providers that actually refuse to sell and support in-house email systems believing that the cloud and SaaS models are the only viable option for their future. Fortunately for you, the client, the decision, at least for now, is in your hands. And River Run Computers will support you regardless of the direction you choose. There are good reasons to take either approach.

So what’s so good about a subscription based software package, like Office 365? Well, as mentioned above, it is the most secure, feature rich version available. If you use more than one device, say a tablet and both a home and work computer, Microsoft’s plans allow you to download their Office Suite software on up to 5 different devices at a single price, even if you have a mix of Apple and PC devices! And the software includes more than just the normal basic 4 or 5 applications you used to get with an Office license. You also get OneNote, Access, Publisher, OneDrive, SharePoint and even Lync on some plans. Each email account includes 50 GB of storage, spam filtering, and soon you will receive unlimited personal cloud storage for your files. The Service Level Agreement is for 99.9% uptime, secured backup and loads of other benefits. The plans are attractively priced and you can always change your mind and download your files and messages to an in-house solution.

So why wouldn’t you want to get rid of some of your servers and in-house network? For some, the idea of cloud storage and continuous payments is stressful and costly. They want the security of controlling their mail, controlling their files, controlling who gets what level of what software. If you have committed resources for your network, why pay for someone else’s server when you already support your own? Why pay for next year’s tweak on Word or Excel when you already have a piece of software that does the job, software that you’ve paid off and understand how to use? Why the hassle and cost for migration of your existing mail? Once you have your own servers and software installed and paid for, the reoccurring costs can be less per user.

How to decide? There are some who lease cars and some who buy and run them into the ground. Different philosophies. But at the very least you should get a full, detailed picture of the benefits and costs of either solution, for your particular situation. River Run Computers can help provide the analysis and whatever your decision, provide the expertise you need.

If you are interested in exploring the possibilities of Office 365 as a business solution, give us a call!
We would be happy to discuss this with you!

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Topics: cutting costs, cloud computing, Microsoft, data protection

Adware Installer Attempts - Take caution!

Posted by Theresa Hietpas

Nov 20, 2014 1:23:42 PM


Hackers are finding more and more ways to manipulate users into installing malware onto your computer. Before clicking on a link or downloading a file, make sure you review the origin of the link. 


 

For example, I was browsing a normal local news web site I read regularly and clicked on an article link on the page. It loaded, then quickly changed to the following:

flash_player_virus

 

The URL in the address bar looked like this:

flash_virus_url_link

Looking at the page, I found the following to be odd:

  1. This is not the normal delivery for a flash plug-in upgrade.  Usually an icon in the system try would appear for this
  2. The browser I use, Google Chrome, has flash built in, so I should not see any updates for this
  3. The screen references Flash Player Pro.  There is no product called Flash Player Pro that I am aware of.
  4. The URL host of easyjavafix.com is not what I would expect an update for an Adobe product.
  5. The disclaimer text states that this page is for installing a download manager that will “install independent 3rd party software that will update the advertised program.”

I looked at the actual source of the data I received to see where the download link was pointed.  It was set to get a file from the host: secure.5-pn-installer.com

Some research on this host found that it has been tracked as a source for the following malware/adware threats:

  •          Backdoor.Win32.Bredolab.zjf
  •          Win32/AdWare.iBryte.BG application

 

Moral of the story, if you receive an update notice, be skeptical. This is only one example of an attempt to install malware. Do not assume that a link is authentic.  Always download updates from the manufacturer, or through an update server you have knowingly installed.

If you are aware of additional threats or malware attempts, let us know! We want to educate and protect all of our clients and friends!

 



 

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Topics: Internet Security, attacks, Malware, vulnerabilites, Virus

CryptoWall 2.0-Shipping Notification Emails

Posted by Theresa Hietpas

Oct 24, 2014 2:16:52 PM

Another method that CryptoWall 2.0 is spreading is through the use of bogus Shipping Notification emails. These emails are coming in and alerting the receiver that their package is being shipped. To view the shipping details, the user must click a link to download the information.

We are alerting our clients not to click on the email link within these emails. We want everyone to be aware of the tactics that these hackers are using to infiltrate your system and keep your network safe from these viruses.

To view an example of the bogus email and to read more on what to look for and how to prevent the spread of CryptoWall 2.0, click here.

 

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Topics: Email protection, Cyber Crime, Virus

HIGH ALERT-CryptoWall 2.0

Posted by Theresa Hietpas

Oct 22, 2014 10:25:20 AM

Similar to CryptoLocker, Cyber Criminals have released another version to the CryptoWall virus-version 2.0. This ransomware is spreading very quickly through unsolicited downloads and file attachments in emails such as pdfs and zip files. As with other ransomware viruses, CryptoWall infects an opening in the system, encrypts the users’ files (pictures, texts, files, documents, etc...) and demands payment in order to recover those files. It is vital to your organization to have policies in place to prevent these types of attacks.

Do not open suspicious email attachments

Alert co-workers, friends and family to avoid opening any email attachments from sources they were not expecting or information they may not have been expecting: banking institutions, credit card companies, faxes, quotes, or purchase orders.

These messages are crafted to spark urgency in opening the files without questioning them. In many cases, these emails contain misspellings, poor grammar, and incorrect information.

Avoid downloading applications from ads online

Once these files are downloaded, the virus is able to get into your system and start corrupting the files. The virus also encrypts any network storage files that you may have access to on the network. If you are unsure if a file should be downloaded, contact your Network Administrator.

What to do if you are infected

In order to minimize the damage already done, the easiest thing to do is immediately shutdown the workstation. If you are unsure what device is infected, it is best to shutdown all work stations in your network to limit the impact the malware is posing to your data. After you shutdown what you feel is the infected device(s) on your network, immediately contact River Run Computers at 414-228-5009.

Click here for additional information on this virus.

 

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Topics: Email protection, attacks, Cyber Security, Tech Support, Virus Alert, River Run Computers

6 Steps To Help Keep Your Computer Virus Free

Posted by Tim Wheeler

Jun 18, 2014 10:00:38 AM

Safe

The world is full of viruses, as well as spammers, trying to get on your system.   Getting infected can happen to anyone, and when it does it can lead to a great deal of stress.  It can never  be guaranteed that you can keep your computer virus free, but there are a number of steps you can take to help a great deal.   Below we have listed some of the steps to help ensure your computer stays virus free.

1)  Install O/S Security Updates

Every operating system has flaws, and as those flaws are detected it is very important that you make sure your computer is protected by installing the latest security update.   There are even tools out there to automatically install these patches.

2)  Install a strong Anti-Virus Application

There are a lot of high quality ant-virus applications available.  Be sure to ask your managed service provider what they would recommend to implement, to help ensure you are choosing the right one.

3)  Be careful of suspicious emails

Today a majority of email is spam, so you certainly should have a spam protector.  You also need to follow basic email common sense.  For instance do not open emails from people you do not know, never send account information to people requesting it, and be careful of suspicious links or attachments that you were not expecting.

4)  Surf the internet safely

When visiting a website be wary when they ask you to install anything.  Never install anything from a website unless you know exactly what it is, and you are certain it is what you are looking for.   Never install free games and stay away from sites that are likely to have the malware on them.

5)  Create a strong password for each online account

A strong password is very critical to keeping your computer safe.  You should not use the same password between accounts, do not use common words, and use a combination of letters, numbers and make some upper and some lower case.  This will make it more difficult to remember, but will be very beneficial in keeping your computer safe.

6)  Backup Your Data

As we mentioned even taking all the right steps does not guarantee you are protected. You need to have a strong backup solution that regularly backs up your files, in the event a virus does destroy your computer, you will be protected.  

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Topics: SPAM, Virus

How To Choose The Right Backup Solution

Posted by Tim Wheeler

Jun 11, 2014 1:40:35 PM

Backup solution Milwaukee

Almost every company relies on their IT network to conduct business, whether it is because of email or accessing applications and documents.  Every company would like to minimize downtime and in order for that to happen a plan must be established. Which backup method to use is one of the most important pieces to consider when formulating that plan.

Today a lot of companies rely on tape backups because it is considered a cost effective solution.  What these companies may not realize is that options like this will not be the quickest option if a restore is ever needed. These backups take longer to restore and it is possible to experience more than two days of downtime in the event of a disaster, such as a server failure.  Factors that contribute to this extended downtime can include: how quickly replacement parts are be available, installing those parts, and the ability to restore data quickly. 

To reduce the possibility of extended downtime it is important to assess your current backup system and know how much downtime is acceptable for your company. There are a number of features to look at when picking your backup solution (to achieve minimum downtime.)  First on that list would be having a backup solution capable of working automatically. This will guarantee your data will be backed up, in the event the very likely “I was working on something else and completely forgot to save that” excuse happens.  Another feature you need to have is storage onsite, this is a key feature because in the event of a server failure, you will have your data readily available.  Transferring data offsite is another critical factor in your backup solution, in the event there is major damage in your server room or entire building, you need to have access to your data at another location.    A very nice feature to have is daily incremental backups, although not critical, this feature will give you up to date information in the event of data loss and the last tape backup had not been for a few days.  A fantastic feature for your backup solution to have in order to avoid downtime would be failover capabilities, which in the event of a server crash would keep your system up and running. 

To keep downtime to a minimum you need to find a backup that can provide you some of the features we have talked about.  Today, a lot of technologies are available that allow you under an hour of downtime, at very little cost.  Many companies cannot afford major downtime to their business, those companies need to check to be sure that their company has a disaster recovery plan that will allow their business to stay up and running and avoid major downtime.  So now is that time to check with your IT department or current IT provider on what your plan is, before it is too late. 

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Topics: backup solutions

How To Stay Safe On The Internet

Posted by Tim Wheeler

Jun 4, 2014 9:49:41 AM

internet-security milwaukee

High speed internet is critical to your business and keeping your employees working efficiently. Every day new threats arise to internet security,  which can risk your financial information, client information,  employee information and much more.  The internet is full of thieves looking to breach security with the end result of earning cash at you or your businesses expense.  If you are not taking the proper steps to protect yourself and your business, you could be exposing yourself to these threats and costing yourself a lot of money.  Please take some of the following steps and be sure your business is implementing them in your strategy to be protected from these threats. 

1)  Use the best anti-malware possible-  Do not use the free software for your business, because as the saying goes, “you get what you pay for.” Your computer should be equipped with the latest security software, web browsers and operating systems.  This will be your best defense against viruses, malware and other online threats that are constantly changing.

2)  Patch when prompted to- When you are told to update your software to the newest version do so as soon as possible, or be sure the company you outsource to is doing this 

3)  Train Everyone in basic Security-  Inform all employees of best security practices, such as avoiding links from unknown emails as well as appropriate internet use and sites. 

4)  Secure your Wi-Fi network-  If your company uses a Wi-Fi network make sure it is secure, encrypted and hidden.  Do not broadcast the network name and password protect your Wi-Fi.  

5)  Firewall Setup and Logs- Setting up a firewall will assist in preventing outsiders from accessing data on your private network.  If your employees work from home, ensure that they will be protected at home as well.  Check your firewall logs for patterns, if a particular IP address is pinging your network or a specific port on your setup it may suggest a virus is present. 

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Topics: Internet Security, Security

How to protect your email from hackers

Posted by Tim Wheeler

May 28, 2014 2:00:00 PM

download-5

For some time now we have heard story after story of security breaches. You more than likely have confidential information on your email account, whether it be your personal or your professional email account.  You do not want hackers, or anyone for that matter, having access to your accounts.   Every day hackers are coming up with new and advanced ways to hack your email account, so taking the steps to protect your account has never been more critical.  As email evolves, it is important to remember the basics behind email security, below is a list of some basic email practices to help ensure your email accounts remain safe.

  • Have a complicated email address.  You do not need to create an email address so complicated that you may forget it, but do not create it as simple as your name either.
  • Don’t be deceived into giving away your password.  If your email provider has emailed you asking for your account password, do not give it to them, this is a scam.  Also, they may send you a link to click to reset your password, often this may be fraud as well.
  • Secure password.   The intent of a password is to keep others out, remember this when you are setting your password.  Remember that using “password” as your password really defeats the purpose of even having a password. When choosing a password try to use a combination of upper and lowercase letters and numbers, that do not form any sort of word or phrase. 
  • Change password frequently. Using the same password on your email account over a long period of time increases hackers chances of guessing the correct password.   You should change your password often, as often as every 90 days. 
  • Set up an email filtering service.  Filtering out spam will greatly reduce your chances of being hacked or accidently giving away information.  If you are not receiving the emails and links to give away your password, your chances will greatly reduce of accidently doing so.
  • Try not to publicize your email address.  Yes, every time you send out an email it includes your email address, but try to leave it on as little websites as possible.  Spammers scan pages all of the time looking for new victims. 
  • Set up a strong security question.  It can happen to anyone, forgetting a password that you set up.  Setting up a strong security question is critical to email security in case spammers try to guess at the password and reset it.  Be sure that your answer does not change, you will always remember it, and that hackers cannot find the answer to the question online (For instance, what year you graduated college).  
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Topics: Email protection

3 Things To Consider For Your Next Server

Posted by Tim Wheeler

May 21, 2014 10:28:09 AM

servers milwaukee

When making a capital investment, such as a server, you need to be sure you are purchasing the best option for your business.   Be sure to consider all the variables to ensure you are getting the greatest return on your investment.  Every business has different needs, so be sure to look at the different variables when purchasing your server.

Growth

Many businesses put together growth plan targets for the coming years, these plans will play a large part in what server you invest in.  You need to be sure when upgrading your server that it aligns with, and will be able to handle, your company’s future growth plans.  You want to ensure that you will be able to get the largest return on your server and a big piece to that is how long this server will be able to be used at your organization.   

What changes are you looking for?

What are some of the reasons you are looking to invest in a new server? Are you adding new employees or are you looking to improve your network speed?  Some companies upgrade because they are looking to fully centralize all of the files and information with their new server.  The first step is deciding what improvements you are looking for.   

Budget

The budget your company has set aside for this investment will obviously play a large part in your decision.  This is an investment and you want to make sure your business will get the greatest return on it.  If you have a smaller budget that may mean getting less space now, but you will want the ability to add on later as needed.  Also remember that there are backend costs, so what looks the least expensive at first may not always be after you include back end fees.  Backend fees would include additional maintenance and service as well as any other additions. 

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4 Important Reasons To Backup Your Files

Posted by Tim Wheeler

May 14, 2014 8:54:55 AM

backup solutions milwaukee

In just a matter of seconds a company can unfortunately lose everything, years of data and hard work. Data lose can be a result of a number of reasons, and very often occur as a complete surprise with no warning.  To protect the organization a company must send files offsite, or else they greatly increase their chances of never getting their information back.   It’s a scary reality, however it can be avoided with different solutions that can recover your files and help your business continue to run smoothly.  

Here are four main reasons to backup your files.

  1. Everyone has irreplaceable files.  Some files may be replaceable, just would require time to replace them.  However, the ones you do not want to lose are those that no matter how much time you spend trying to get them back, you will not be able to.
  2. Even the most up to date hardware can crash.  Mistakes happen, and that is the same for hardware, even if it is the most up to date.  Although  your chances of a an error happening are less if you are updating your hardware and software, there is still always a small chance.
  3. Power failures happen often.  Normally occurring when the weather is bad, they can happen without notice, and just like that all the files are gone.   
  4. The world is full of viruses.  Email, the internet, CD’s, and flash drives can all have them.  They can be harmful and even wipe out all of the data stored on your PC.

 

It is better to save the worry, and your data by backing up your information.  Files can be destroyed in many ways, but having a proper backup will help to mitigate these potential risks and could end up saving your business.    

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Topics: backup solutions

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