Web browser cybersecurity, ranked

Cybersecurity didn’t become more important in light of the WannaCry ransomware epidemic, it just became more visible to the average internet user. If like so many others, you’re auditing the security of business’s software, web browsers are a great place to start. Learn more about how your browser choice stacks up in your security comparison.

Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE)/Edge

Despite their nearly identical logos, Edge and IE are actually different browsers with vastly different security strategies. Microsoft’s legacy browser, IE, isn’t even fully supported anymore. The most recent version still gets occasional updates, but experts don’t expect that to last for long. If any website or services claims to require IE to run, consider that a possible red flag.

Windows 10’s default browser, Edge, is a different story. This browser uses a technology called virtualization to create safe spaces to open and test links before granting a website’s programming code full access to a computer and user. Edge is based on the same software as IE, and the majority of its security improvements come from scrapping the browser’s customizability. If you’re okay with a fairly inflexible browsing experience, Edge is a good option.

Apple Safari

Safari is to Macintosh computers what IE is to Windows machines. Safari comes pre-installed on OS X and it has a long history of battling malware. Its security programming has been bested a number of times, but usually in research settings. The commonly held belief is that Safari just doesn’t have enough users to make it a profitable target. Apple has a history of responding quickly to malware, but we don’t recommend leaving anything to chance.

Mozilla Firefox

One of the earlier third-party web browsers to gain popularity was Firefox. Unfortunately, it just can’t keep up with the competition. In just one example, all the data from browser plugins is stored in the same location, which means a compromised add-on could easily gain access to the data stored in a password manager.

One of the reasons that Firefox continues to stick around is its commitment to privacy. All the other browsers on this list profit from analyzing (and sometimes selling) your browsing habits, while Firefox has cornered the market on privacy. Security and privacy should never be confused, but if the latter is more important to you and you aren’t installing third-party plugins, Mozilla is an OK option.

Google Chrome

Chrome is used by almost two-thirds of all internet users, and for good reason. Like Edge, Chrome also uses virtualization to create a quarantined space between the internet and your computer. Additionally, Google issues routine security updates to its browser more frequently than any of the others on this list. There is near unanimous consent among experts that Chrome is the safest of all web browsers.

Privacy however, is a whole other ball game. Pretty much every action you take using the Chrome browser is tracked, stored and analyzed. That’s not to say that your email isn’t encrypted or your saved passwords aren’t safe, it just means you have much less control over your internet identity.

Being aware of how your web browser stacks up against its competitors is only a fraction of the battle. WannaCry spread to uninfected systems through a gap in the Windows security framework, and most other ransomware infections prey on human error. What your business needs is a comprehensive security audit. For more information, call us today.

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Choosing a web browser: Which one is safest?

Managing business-level cybersecurity is no simple task. Tens of thousands of users are finding that out the hard way as they confront the issue head on in the wake of an international ransomware epidemic. Although many cybersecurity strategies require professional IT support, a great place to start is assessing the security of your web browser.

Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE)/Edge

Despite their nearly identical logos, Edge and IE are actually different browsers with vastly different security strategies. Microsoft’s legacy browser, IE, isn’t even fully supported anymore. The most recent version still gets occasional updates, but experts don’t expect that to last for long. If any website or services claims to require IE to run, consider that a possible red flag.

Windows 10’s default browser, Edge, is a different story. This browser uses a technology called virtualization to create safe spaces to open and test links before granting a website’s programming code full access to a computer and user. Edge is based on the same software as IE, and the majority of its security improvements come from scrapping the browser’s customizability. If you’re okay with a fairly inflexible browsing experience, Edge is a good option.

Apple Safari

Safari is to Macintosh computers what IE is to Windows machines. Safari comes pre-installed on OS X and it has a long history of battling malware. Its security programming has been bested a number of times, but usually in research settings. The commonly held belief is that Safari just doesn’t have enough users to make it a profitable target. Apple has a history of responding quickly to malware, but we don’t recommend leaving anything to chance.

Mozilla Firefox

One of the earlier third-party web browsers to gain popularity was Firefox. Unfortunately, it just can’t keep up with the competition. In just one example, all the data from browser plugins is stored in the same location, which means a compromised add-on could easily gain access to the data stored in a password manager.

One of the reasons that Firefox continues to stick around is its commitment to privacy. All the other browsers on this list profit from analyzing (and sometimes selling) your browsing habits, while Firefox has cornered the market on privacy. Security and privacy should never be confused, but if the latter is more important to you and you aren’t installing third-party plugins, Mozilla is an OK option.

Google Chrome

Chrome is used by almost two-thirds of all internet users, and for good reason. Like Edge, Chrome also uses virtualization to create a quarantined space between the internet and your computer. Additionally, Google issues routine security updates to its browser more frequently than any of the others on this list. There is near unanimous consent among experts that Chrome is the safest of all web browsers.

Privacy however, is a whole other ball game. Pretty much every action you take using the Chrome browser is tracked, stored and analyzed. That’s not to say that your email isn’t encrypted or your saved passwords aren’t safe, it just means you have much less control over your internet identity.

Being aware of how your web browser stacks up against its competitors is only a fraction of the battle. WannaCry spread to uninfected systems through a gap in the Windows security framework, and most other ransomware infections prey on human error. What your business needs is a comprehensive security audit. For more information, call us today.

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How good is your web browser’s security?

Recently, an unprecedented strain of ransomware known as “WannaCry” infected hundreds of thousands of computers across the globe. This horrible campaign has forced small businesses to revisit the security of their IT infrastructure. It’s a complicated endeavor, but reevaluating your web browsers is a quick and easy place to start.

Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE)/Edge

Despite their nearly identical logos, Edge and IE are actually different browsers with vastly different security strategies. Microsoft’s legacy browser, IE, isn’t even fully supported anymore. The most recent version still gets occasional updates, but experts don’t expect that to last for long. If any website or services claims to require IE to run, consider that a possible red flag.

Windows 10’s default browser, Edge, is a different story. This browser uses a technology called virtualization to create safe spaces to open and test links before granting a website’s programming code full access to a computer and user. Edge is based on the same software as IE, and the majority of its security improvements come from scrapping the browser’s customizability. If you’re okay with a fairly inflexible browsing experience, Edge is a good option.

Apple Safari

Safari is to Macintosh computers what IE is to Windows machines. Safari comes pre-installed on OS X and it has a long history of battling malware. Its security programming has been bested a number of times, but usually in research settings. The commonly held belief is that Safari just doesn’t have enough users to make it a profitable target. Apple has a history of responding quickly to malware, but we don’t recommend leaving anything to chance.

Mozilla Firefox

One of the earlier third-party web browsers to gain popularity was Firefox. Unfortunately, it just can’t keep up with the competition. In just one example, all the data from browser plugins is stored in the same location, which means a compromised add-on could easily gain access to the data stored in a password manager.

One of the reasons that Firefox continues to stick around is its commitment to privacy. All the other browsers on this list profit from analyzing (and sometimes selling) your browsing habits, while Firefox has cornered the market on privacy. Security and privacy should never be confused, but if the latter is more important to you and you aren’t installing third-party plugins, Mozilla is an OK option.

Google Chrome

Chrome is used by almost two-thirds of all internet users, and for good reason. Like Edge, Chrome also uses virtualization to create a quarantined space between the internet and your computer. Additionally, Google issues routine security updates to its browser more frequently than any of the others on this list. There is near unanimous consent among experts that Chrome is the safest of all web browsers.

Privacy however, is a whole other ball game. Pretty much every action you take using the Chrome browser is tracked, stored and analyzed. That’s not to say that your email isn’t encrypted or your saved passwords aren’t safe, it just means you have much less control over your internet identity.

Being aware of how your web browser stacks up against its competitors is only a fraction of the battle. WannaCry spread to uninfected systems through a gap in the Windows security framework, and most other ransomware infections prey on human error. What your business needs is a comprehensive security audit. For more information, call us today.

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4 Tips for better server management

With so much technology moving to the cloud, onsite servers aren’t getting as much attention as they used to. Optimizing this critical piece of business technology is no small task, but there are a few simple things you can do to ensure the success of your in-house servers.

Mount your servers properly

Small businesses are usually forced to prioritize the here and now over long-term planning. Not for lack of caring, it’s just a fact of working on tight budgets and with small teams. This is especially evident when it comes to server planning. When your business first sets up shop, it’s tempting to plug in a server right next to your workstations — but doing so puts your hardware in harm’s way.

Mounting servers in a rack protects them from the accidents commonly associated with highly trafficked areas: spills, crumbs and tripping hazards. Server racks keep your most essential hardware safe by organizing everything in a space that is more accessible for cleaning and management but less exposed to the day-to-day wear and tear of your office.

Server planning is all about leaving room for the future. When choosing your rack mount, make sure to leave room for the hardware you will need to expand in the future. Unless office space is a serious concern, it’s better to have a half-empty server rack than to be forced to tear the whole thing down and redesign it the moment you need to expand.

Keep servers separate from the main area

Depending on what type of servers you are running, they can create quite a bit of noise. This coupled with the fact that they are comprised of valuable hardware means that you should do everything in your power to keep your servers physically separate from your working space. If you don’t have room for a server room, consider investing a little extra in a secure rack mount with built-in sound reduction.

Never skimp on cooling

Even when your business first opens its doors, server cooling is a crucial consideration. These computers are designed to work at peak capacity and need optimal conditions to do so efficiently. Even if your equipment seems to be performing just fine, too much heat can drastically reduce its lifespan.

Make sure that your cooling solution operates outside the confines of your building’s infrastructure. If the central air gets shut off at night, or if your office experiences power outages, you need a cooling solution that switches over to backup power with your servers.

Keep wiring neatly arranged

For anyone without hands-on experience with server hardware, the number of wires going into and out of your setup is shocking. Getting the whole mess organized isn’t just about cleanliness, it also affects the performance of your current setup and the viability of installing future upgrades. Any time you are installing, removing, or rearranging your server cables, check that everything is neatly labeled and safely grouped together.

Managing any type of hardware comes with dozens of important considerations, and that goes doubly so for servers. The best way to guarantee your IT investments are getting the care they require is by partnering with a managed IT services provider. To learn more about our services, give us a call today.

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4 Ways to take better care of your servers

For all the talk about server hardware and capacity, none of it means a thing if you aren’t carefully managing the physical space surrounding your server. If you’re worried about getting the most out of your investment, follow these four tips for taking better care of your hardware.

Mount your servers properly

Small businesses are usually forced to prioritize the here and now over long-term planning. Not for lack of caring, it’s just a fact of working on tight budgets and with small teams. This is especially evident when it comes to server planning. When your business first sets up shop, it’s tempting to plug in a server right next to your workstations — but doing so puts your hardware in harm’s way.

Mounting servers in a rack protects them from the accidents commonly associated with highly trafficked areas: spills, crumbs and tripping hazards. Server racks keep your most essential hardware safe by organizing everything in a space that is more accessible for cleaning and management but less exposed to the day-to-day wear and tear of your office.

Server planning is all about leaving room for the future. When choosing your rack mount, make sure to leave room for the hardware you will need to expand in the future. Unless office space is a serious concern, it’s better to have a half-empty server rack than to be forced to tear the whole thing down and redesign it the moment you need to expand.

Keep servers separate from the main area

Depending on what type of servers you are running, they can create quite a bit of noise. This coupled with the fact that they are comprised of valuable hardware means that you should do everything in your power to keep your servers physically separate from your working space. If you don’t have room for a server room, consider investing a little extra in a secure rack mount with built-in sound reduction.

Never skimp on cooling

Even when your business first opens its doors, server cooling is a crucial consideration. These computers are designed to work at peak capacity and need optimal conditions to do so efficiently. Even if your equipment seems to be performing just fine, too much heat can drastically reduce its lifespan.

Make sure that your cooling solution operates outside the confines of your building’s infrastructure. If the central air gets shut off at night, or if your office experiences power outages, you need a cooling solution that switches over to backup power with your servers.

Keep wiring neatly arranged

For anyone without hands-on experience with server hardware, the number of wires going into and out of your setup is shocking. Getting the whole mess organized isn’t just about cleanliness, it also affects the performance of your current setup and the viability of installing future upgrades. Any time you are installing, removing, or rearranging your server cables, check that everything is neatly labeled and safely grouped together.

Managing any type of hardware comes with dozens of important considerations, and that goes doubly so for servers. The best way to guarantee your IT investments are getting the care they require is by partnering with a managed IT services provider. To learn more about our services, give us a call today.

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Server management: 4 essentials

By their very definition, servers are tasked with managing significantly higher burdens than the average desktop workstation. If your business has a server onsite, there are so many things you need to consider to get the most out of your investment. Read on for a few of them:

Mount your servers properly

Small businesses are usually forced to prioritize the here and now over long-term planning. Not for lack of caring, it’s just a fact of working on tight budgets and with small teams. This is especially evident when it comes to server planning. When your business first sets up shop, it’s tempting to plug in a server right next to your workstations — but doing so puts your hardware in harm’s way.

Mounting servers in a rack protects them from the accidents commonly associated with highly trafficked areas: spills, crumbs and tripping hazards. Server racks keep your most essential hardware safe by organizing everything in a space that is more accessible for cleaning and management but less exposed to the day-to-day wear and tear of your office.

Server planning is all about leaving room for the future. When choosing your rack mount, make sure to leave room for the hardware you will need to expand in the future. Unless office space is a serious concern, it’s better to have a half-empty server rack than to be forced to tear the whole thing down and redesign it the moment you need to expand.

Keep servers separate from the main area

Depending on what type of servers you are running, they can create quite a bit of noise. This coupled with the fact that they are comprised of valuable hardware means that you should do everything in your power to keep your servers physically separate from your working space. If you don’t have room for a server room, consider investing a little extra in a secure rack mount with built-in sound reduction.

Never skimp on cooling

Even when your business first opens its doors, server cooling is a crucial consideration. These computers are designed to work at peak capacity and need optimal conditions to do so efficiently. Even if your equipment seems to be performing just fine, too much heat can drastically reduce its lifespan.

Make sure that your cooling solution operates outside the confines of your building’s infrastructure. If the central air gets shut off at night, or if your office experiences power outages, you need a cooling solution that switches over to backup power with your servers.

Keep wiring neatly arranged

For anyone without hands-on experience with server hardware, the number of wires going into and out of your setup is shocking. Getting the whole mess organized isn’t just about cleanliness, it also affects the performance of your current setup and the viability of installing future upgrades. Any time you are installing, removing, or rearranging your server cables, check that everything is neatly labeled and safely grouped together.

Managing any type of hardware comes with dozens of important considerations, and that goes doubly so for servers. The best way to guarantee your IT investments are getting the care they require is by partnering with a managed IT services provider. To learn more about our services, give us a call today.

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Google adds phishing defenses for Android

Although hackers are known for unleashing a host of malware to infiltrate critical networks and devices, phishing emails are their most effective attack method. This scam preys on the trust of computer users with seemingly innocuous emails that request for login credentials or prompt a file download. Unlike other attacks, phishing requires only a convincing email to evade antivirus detection. If you have Gmail on Android, however, Google has added new anti-phishing protections.

Phishing warnings
The new Gmail app feature uses Google’s Safe Browsing technology to examine billions of URL links per day and identify websites impersonating legitimate ones, like an online store, bank, or social media. It will then check whether these websites are embedded with malware or have elements of a phishing attack (e.g., asking for login credentials, private information, etc.).

If it has reasonable evidence to think that the website is indeed malicious, Gmail will display a warning prompt: “The site you are trying to visit has been identified as a forgery, intended to trick you into disclosing financial, personal, or other sensitive information.”

Keep in mind that Gmail may come up with false positives, and for this reason, Google does not completely block access to using a link but advises that you take extra caution if you choose to proceed.

The tech giant also reported this update is available only for Android users and will eventually reach other devices; so if you have an iOS, be extremely careful when interacting with any links in your Gmail accounts.

Safety for Gmail and Google Docs
In other news, a widespread phishing attack affected thousands of Gmail and Google Doc users earlier this month. The attack uses a spoofed email from a known contact attempting to share a ‘document.’ If opened, the fraudulent link redirects victims into an innocent-looking Google page that asks for account permissions. If users grant access, a worm collects your contact list and proceeds to attack other users. Fortunately, Google quickly responded to the scam, removed the fake pages, and updated anti-phishing detection to account for similar threats.

Security training
While Safe Browsing features are extremely helpful for Android Gmail users, they shouldn’t be a total substitute for good security awareness. Remember, phishing exploits human trust, so make sure to train your employees to have a healthy skepticism of every unsolicited link or file and download security updates whenever possible.

For more information and advice on security training or Android-related news, give us a call today. We’ll make sure your business is completely up to date with shifting mobile security trends and issues

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Android Gmail gets phishing protections

Phishing scams, whereby cybercriminals masquerade as trustworthy entities to fool victims into disclosing private information, have had a recent surge in popularity. This is largely because hackers realize the best way to infiltrate a system is by exploiting people’s trust. Although these attacks bypass network security systems, there are some tools you can use to defend against them. One is Google’s new anti-phishing feature for Gmail apps on Android devices.

Phishing warnings
The new Gmail app feature uses Google’s Safe Browsing technology to examine billions of URL links per day and identify websites impersonating legitimate ones, like an online store, bank, or social media. It will then check whether these websites are embedded with malware or have elements of a phishing attack (e.g., asking for login credentials, private information, etc.).

If it has reasonable evidence to think that the website is indeed malicious, Gmail will display a warning prompt: “The site you are trying to visit has been identified as a forgery, intended to trick you into disclosing financial, personal, or other sensitive information.”

Keep in mind that Gmail may come up with false positives, and for this reason, Google does not completely block access to using a link but advises that you take extra caution if you choose to proceed.

The tech giant also reported this update is available only for Android users and will eventually reach other devices; so if you have an iOS, be extremely careful when interacting with any links in your Gmail accounts.

Safety for Gmail and Google Docs
In other news, a widespread phishing attack affected thousands of Gmail and Google Doc users earlier this month. The attack uses a spoofed email from a known contact attempting to share a ‘document.’ If opened, the fraudulent link redirects victims into an innocent-looking Google page that asks for account permissions. If users grant access, a worm collects your contact list and proceeds to attack other users. Fortunately, Google quickly responded to the scam, removed the fake pages, and updated anti-phishing detection to account for similar threats.

Security training
While Safe Browsing features are extremely helpful for Android Gmail users, they shouldn’t be a total substitute for good security awareness. Remember, phishing exploits human trust, so make sure to train your employees to have a healthy skepticism of every unsolicited link or file and download security updates whenever possible.

For more information and advice on security training or Android-related news, give us a call today. We’ll make sure your business is completely up to date with shifting mobile security trends and issues

Posted in Android, General Articles B | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

New phishing protection for Gmail on Android

One of the most common ways hackers infiltrate networks is by using phishing scams — fraudulent emails to trick unwitting users into giving away login credentials or downloading malware. Although this is the oldest trick in a hacker’s arsenal, it’s still an incredibly effective attack method. To blunt the potency of these scams, Google released an anti-phishing feature for Gmail apps on Android devices. Read on below to find out how it works.

Phishing warnings
The new Gmail app feature uses Google’s Safe Browsing technology to examine billions of URL links per day and identify websites impersonating legitimate ones, like an online store, bank, or social media. It will then check whether these websites are embedded with malware or have elements of a phishing attack (e.g., asking for login credentials, private information, etc.).

If it has reasonable evidence to think that the website is indeed malicious, Gmail will display a warning prompt: “The site you are trying to visit has been identified as a forgery, intended to trick you into disclosing financial, personal, or other sensitive information.”

Keep in mind that Gmail may come up with false positives, and for this reason, Google does not completely block access to using a link but advises that you take extra caution if you choose to proceed.

The tech giant also reported this update is available only for Android users and will eventually reach other devices; so if you have an iOS, be extremely careful when interacting with any links in your Gmail accounts.

Safety for Gmail and Google Docs
In other news, a widespread phishing attack affected thousands of Gmail and Google Doc users earlier this month. The attack uses a spoofed email from a known contact attempting to share a ‘document.’ If opened, the fraudulent link redirects victims into an innocent-looking Google page that asks for account permissions. If users grant access, a worm collects your contact list and proceeds to attack other users. Fortunately, Google quickly responded to the scam, removed the fake pages, and updated anti-phishing detection to account for similar threats.

Security training
While Safe Browsing features are extremely helpful for Android Gmail users, they shouldn’t be a total substitute for good security awareness. Remember, phishing exploits human trust, so make sure to train your employees to have a healthy skepticism of every unsolicited link or file and download security updates whenever possible.

For more information and advice on security training or Android-related news, give us a call today. We’ll make sure your business is completely up to date with shifting mobile security trends and issues.

Posted in Android, General Articles A | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Windows Server 2016 and virtualization

Virtualization is a great way to save money and increase the efficiency of your existing IT hardware, but how exactly do you implement a virtualization solution? There are several vendors that provide software solutions, but there’s one almost everyone has already worked with: Microsoft. In its latest operating system release there are a few ways to virtualize your office.

A brief history of Windows Server

The Windows Server operating system has been around for decades. As an advanced option for onsite servers, this operating system grants access to high-level access management settings, DNS customizations, and network configuration management. In fact, it’s such a complicated solution that Microsoft offers certification courses for each version of the operating system.

The most recent iteration of this operating system is Windows Server 2016 (WS16). Released on October 12th, 2016, Microsoft’s latest server software included countless improvements to its networking and user management features. Where it really shines however, is in the ways it handles virtualized computing.

Virtualization in Windows Server 2016

As with just about anything in the virtualization world, containers dominate the WS16 conversation. Containers use software to aggregate the bare minimum requirements that one application needs to run — hardware, software and operating system — and deliver that package across a network to computers that lack one or more of those requirements. For example, if you want to run a Mac application that requires a huge amount of processing power on a bare-bones Windows workstation, you can create a container with the necessary components on your server and let the workstation access it remotely.

WS16 users have access to two types of container deployments: Hyper-V and Windows Server containers. To the average business owner, the differences between these two options is minute, but what is important is Microsoft’s commitment to compatibility. If virtualization is important to you, choosing WS16 is a great way to ensure that you’ll be ready for whatever develops among the disparate providers.

Another great virtualization feature in WS16 is software-defined storage (SDS). It’s a complicated solution, but it essentially allows you to create hard drive partitions outside of the confines of hardware limitations. You can create a single drive by pooling storage space from three different servers, or you can create several separate drives for virtualized workstations to access.

Obviously, managing a server is no easy task — regardless of whether or not you implement a virtualized infrastructure. That complexity comes with some compatibility issues; if your business relies on old software, it may not have been updated to run with WS16. For everything from creating a transition plan to managing your virtualized framework, give us a call today.

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