Spectre & Meltdown safety for Apple devices

Undoubtedly, 2018’s first set of truly bad news involves reports about the Spectre and Meltdown bugs, fundamental flaws in computer processors that can leak highly sensitive data. Researchers say they affect a majority of modern computers, and chances are your business’s devices are also affected. Luckily for Mac, iPhone and iPad users, there are ways to stay safe.

Download and install security patches ASAP

Apple has already released software updates for all affected devices, and you need to install them now. Here’s how:

  • macOS – Click the Apple icon on the topmost part of your screen and check whether your system has been updated to macOS 10.13.2. If not, click the ‘Software Update…’ button to go directly to the App Store, then click the ‘Update’ button for macOS High Sierra.
  • iOS – To update to iOS 11.2, go to Settings > General > Software Update and download and install the new software.
  • tvOS – To update to tvOS 11.2, go to Settings > System > Software Updates and follow Apple’s step-by-step instructions to update your software.

The company hasn’t confirmed whether they would release patches for devices running on outdated software, so if your business still uses previous versions of Macs, iPhones, or iPads, make sure they do not have critical company data stored on them. Better yet, upgrade to new devices so that they’re better protected against legacy system vulnerabilities.

Practice browser safety

The Spectre bug could also exploit vulnerabilities in browsers, so make sure you update Safari too. Apple is set to release Safari updates for Macs and iOS devices soon, and it’s highly recommended to download and install them as soon as they become available.

You should also avoid using non-Apple browsers like Chrome, Microsoft Edge, or Firefox, as they have yet to release security patches against the bugs.

Download applications only from the App Store

Downloading apps from the App Store is one of the best ways to ensure you install only secure apps. Third-party stores are prone to malicious apps that could be disguised as legitimate and harmless — or worse, an exact copy of a well-known app.

The App Store has had incidents of malicious applications targeting iPhones, but these cases are rare. It is also much better at vetting suspicious apps and is relatively safer than other open-source platforms.

Moreover, avoid jailbreaking your devices, as this just makes them and your systems more prone to malware. And regardless of where you’ve downloaded an app, practice extreme caution when running new, unfamiliar apps, whether on Macs or iPhones.

Because of the sheer scale of Spectre and Meltdown, there’s a greater need for businesses to consult with IT professionals who can install powerful security software and other protections. Our cyber security team is ready to answer your questions about these and other system bugs. Call us today for professional advice.

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How to stay safe from Spectre & Meltdown

Like many security flaws, the Spectre and Meltdown bugs can leak critical data from computers and mobile devices for hackers to exploit. What makes them unique is the vast number of PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones they affect. But if you use an Apple device, there are fixes that can help you temporarily protect against them.

Download and install security patches ASAP

Apple has already released software updates for all affected devices, and you need to install them now. Here’s how:

  • macOS – Click the Apple icon on the topmost part of your screen and check whether your system has been updated to macOS 10.13.2. If not, click the ‘Software Update…’ button to go directly to the App Store, then click the ‘Update’ button for macOS High Sierra.
  • iOS – To update to iOS 11.2, go to Settings > General > Software Update and download and install the new software.
  • tvOS – To update to tvOS 11.2, go to Settings > System > Software Updates and follow Apple’s step-by-step instructions to update your software.

The company hasn’t confirmed whether they would release patches for devices running on outdated software, so if your business still uses previous versions of Macs, iPhones, or iPads, make sure they do not have critical company data stored on them. Better yet, upgrade to new devices so that they’re better protected against legacy system vulnerabilities.

Practice browser safety

The Spectre bug could also exploit vulnerabilities in browsers, so make sure you update Safari too. Apple is set to release Safari updates for Macs and iOS devices soon, and it’s highly recommended to download and install them as soon as they become available.

You should also avoid using non-Apple browsers like Chrome, Microsoft Edge, or Firefox, as they have yet to release security patches against the bugs.

Download applications only from the App Store

Downloading apps from the App Store is one of the best ways to ensure you install only secure apps. Third-party stores are prone to malicious apps that could be disguised as legitimate and harmless — or worse, an exact copy of a well-known app.

The App Store has had incidents of malicious applications targeting iPhones, but these cases are rare. It is also much better at vetting suspicious apps and is relatively safer than other open-source platforms.

Moreover, avoid jailbreaking your devices, as this just makes them and your systems more prone to malware. And regardless of where you’ve downloaded an app, practice extreme caution when running new, unfamiliar apps, whether on Macs or iPhones.

Because of the sheer scale of Spectre and Meltdown, there’s a greater need for businesses to consult with IT professionals who can install powerful security software and other protections. Our cyber security team is ready to answer your questions about these and other system bugs. Call us today for professional advice.

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

Spectre & Meltdown: how to protect yourself

Spectre and Meltdown are critical security flaws that affect a majority of computers today, including the one you’re using to read this. They can leak your passwords and other sensitive data, which is why software companies are working on security patches. The good news for Apple users is that fixes are now available to keep their devices temporarily safe.

Download and install security patches ASAP

Apple has already released software updates for all affected devices, and you need to install them now. Here’s how:

  • macOS – Click the Apple icon on the topmost part of your screen and check whether your system has been updated to macOS 10.13.2. If not, click the ‘Software Update…’ button to go directly to the App Store, then click the ‘Update’ button for macOS High Sierra.
  • iOS – To update to iOS 11.2, go to Settings > General > Software Update and download and install the new software.
  • tvOS – To update to tvOS 11.2, go to Settings > System > Software Updates and follow Apple’s step-by-step instructions to update your software.

The company hasn’t confirmed whether they would release patches for devices running on outdated software, so if your business still uses previous versions of Macs, iPhones, or iPads, make sure they do not have critical company data stored on them. Better yet, upgrade to new devices so that they’re better protected against legacy system vulnerabilities.

Practice browser safety

The Spectre bug could also exploit vulnerabilities in browsers, so make sure you update Safari too. Apple is set to release Safari updates for Macs and iOS devices soon, and it’s highly recommended to download and install them as soon as they become available.

You should also avoid using non-Apple browsers like Chrome, Microsoft Edge, or Firefox, as they have yet to release security patches against the bugs.

Download applications only from the App Store

Downloading apps from the App Store is one of the best ways to ensure you install only secure apps. Third-party stores are prone to malicious apps that could be disguised as legitimate and harmless — or worse, an exact copy of a well-known app.

The App Store has had incidents of malicious applications targeting iPhones, but these cases are rare. It is also much better at vetting suspicious apps and is relatively safer than other open-source platforms.

Moreover, avoid jailbreaking your devices, as this just makes them and your systems more prone to malware. And regardless of where you’ve downloaded an app, practice extreme caution when running new, unfamiliar apps, whether on Macs or iPhones.

Because of the sheer scale of Spectre and Meltdown, there’s a greater need for businesses to consult with IT professionals who can install powerful security software and other protections. Our cyber security team is ready to answer your questions about these and other system bugs. Call us today for professional advice.

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

3 simple and easy cyber-security tips!

Data security and privacy should be a top priority in this age of constant and downright dangerous cyber attacks. However, in your quest for ultimate security, don’t forget to implement these non-technical steps to shield your business’s IT resources.

Cover up your webcam

There must be some credibility to doing this if Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, former FBI director, James Comey, and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden all believe their webcams could be compromised. This is not just another paranoid celebrity reaction to ruthless paparazzi, there’s a genuine reason behind it. Kindly take a moment to consider the following scenario: hackers using your webcam to spy on you.

Though it might sound unrealistic, this actually happened on several occasions. Sometimes for purely voyeuristic reasons and sometimes what appeared to be espionage. This is a very real threat with disturbing repercussions. Hackers aim to gain personal information based on your surroundings, deduce your location, as well as spy on the people you’re with, ultimately using this information to hold you ransom, threatening to broadcast your most intimate and vulnerable moments if you don’t pay up.

Fortunately, guarding yourself against such danger is really easy and some painter’s tape over your webcam should do the trick. If you’re not confident about regular tape, you can purchase a cheap webcam cover online or at any hardware store.

Purchase a privacy shield

Think of privacy guards as those iPhone scratch protectors, but with an anti-snooping feature. These are thin covers you put on your computer, laptop or smartphone screen to limit viewing angles. Once installed, anyone trying to look at your screen from anywhere — except straight-on — sees nothing. Privacy filters are commonly used to protect work devices, particularly which display or contain critical files with sensitive data or confidential information. However, less sensitive, personal devices are still vulnerable to ‘shoulder surfing’ — the act of peeking at someone else’s screen, with or without ill intent, which is why we recommend using these protectors on all your devices.

Use a physical authentication key

Requiring more than one set of credentials to access sensitive resources is common sense, and has become standard practice for established online services. With something called two-factor authentication in place, you gain access to your account only after you’ve entered the authentication code, which the website sends to your smartphone once you’ve entered your account credentials. Until recently, two-factor authentication relied mostly on text messages that were sent to mobile phones. But professionals have now realised that phones can be hijacked to redirect text messages.

Moreover, authentication codes can be stolen, or users can be tricked into entering these codes via a convincing phishing website. If you’re looking for authentication services that cannot be hijacked, stolen or lost, your best bet is a USB or Bluetooth key you can carry on your keychain. This means nobody — not even you — will be able to access your account without the physical key. Ultimate security at your fingertips.

If you need help setting up two-factor authentication, or any IT security services, contact our experts and experience true peace of mind as we fortify your data to no end.

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Fortify your data, physically

Truly optimized security settings and software are beyond the capacity of most business owners. You just don’t have time to tinker with your office IT. Instead, try these quick and easy tips before calling us.

Cover up your webcam

There must be some credibility to doing this if Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, former FBI director, James Comey, and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden all believe their webcams could be compromised. This is not just another paranoid celebrity reaction to ruthless paparazzi, there’s a genuine reason behind it. Kindly take a moment to consider the following scenario: hackers using your webcam to spy on you.

Though it might sound unrealistic, this actually happened on several occasions. Sometimes for purely voyeuristic reasons and sometimes what appeared to be espionage. This is a very real threat with disturbing repercussions. Hackers aim to gain personal information based on your surroundings, deduce your location, as well as spy on the people you’re with, ultimately using this information to hold you ransom, threatening to broadcast your most intimate and vulnerable moments if you don’t pay up.

Fortunately, guarding yourself against such danger is really easy and some painter’s tape over your webcam should do the trick. If you’re not confident about regular tape, you can purchase a cheap webcam cover online or at any hardware store.

Purchase a privacy shield

Think of privacy guards as those iPhone scratch protectors, but with an anti-snooping feature. These are thin covers you put on your computer, laptop or smartphone screen to limit viewing angles. Once installed, anyone trying to look at your screen from anywhere — except straight-on — sees nothing. Privacy filters are commonly used to protect work devices, particularly which display or contain critical files with sensitive data or confidential information. However, less sensitive, personal devices are still vulnerable to ‘shoulder surfing’ — the act of peeking at someone else’s screen, with or without ill intent, which is why we recommend using these protectors on all your devices.

Use a physical authentication key

Requiring more than one set of credentials to access sensitive resources is common sense, and has become standard practice for established online services. With something called two-factor authentication in place, you gain access to your account only after you’ve entered the authentication code, which the website sends to your smartphone once you’ve entered your account credentials. Until recently, two-factor authentication relied mostly on text messages that were sent to mobile phones. But professionals have now realised that phones can be hijacked to redirect text messages.

Moreover, authentication codes can be stolen, or users can be tricked into entering these codes via a convincing phishing website. If you’re looking for authentication services that cannot be hijacked, stolen or lost, your best bet is a USB or Bluetooth key you can carry on your keychain. This means nobody — not even you — will be able to access your account without the physical key. Ultimate security at your fingertips.

If you need help setting up two-factor authentication, or any IT security services, contact our experts and experience true peace of mind as we fortify your data to no end.

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

Data safety: The non-technical way

Keeping up with advancements in technology as a business owner is tough, especially when those advancements relate to information security. However, it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few physical security tips you can implement to protect your data before calling us!

Cover up your webcam

There must be some credibility to doing this if Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, former FBI director, James Comey, and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden all believe their webcams could be compromised. This is not just another paranoid celebrity reaction to ruthless paparazzi, there’s a genuine reason behind it. Kindly take a moment to consider the following scenario: hackers using your webcam to spy on you.

Though it might sound unrealistic, this actually happened on several occasions. Sometimes for purely voyeuristic reasons and sometimes what appeared to be espionage. This is a very real threat with disturbing repercussions. Hackers aim to gain personal information based on your surroundings, deduce your location, as well as spy on the people you’re with, ultimately using this information to hold you ransom, threatening to broadcast your most intimate and vulnerable moments if you don’t pay up.

Fortunately, guarding yourself against such danger is really easy and some painter’s tape over your webcam should do the trick. If you’re not confident about regular tape, you can purchase a cheap webcam cover online or at any hardware store.

Purchase a privacy shield

Think of privacy guards as those iPhone scratch protectors, but with an anti-snooping feature. These are thin covers you put on your computer, laptop or smartphone screen to limit viewing angles. Once installed, anyone trying to look at your screen from anywhere — except straight-on — sees nothing. Privacy filters are commonly used to protect work devices, particularly which display or contain critical files with sensitive data or confidential information. However, less sensitive, personal devices are still vulnerable to ‘shoulder surfing’ — the act of peeking at someone else’s screen, with or without ill intent, which is why we recommend using these protectors on all your devices.

Use a physical authentication key

Requiring more than one set of credentials to access sensitive resources is common sense, and has become standard practice for established online services. With something called two-factor authentication in place, you gain access to your account only after you’ve entered the authentication code, which the website sends to your smartphone once you’ve entered your account credentials. Until recently, two-factor authentication relied mostly on text messages that were sent to mobile phones. But professionals have now realised that phones can be hijacked to redirect text messages.

Moreover, authentication codes can be stolen, or users can be tricked into entering these codes via a convincing phishing website. If you’re looking for authentication services that cannot be hijacked, stolen or lost, your best bet is a USB or Bluetooth key you can carry on your keychain. This means nobody — not even you — will be able to access your account without the physical key. Ultimate security at your fingertips.

If you need help setting up two-factor authentication, or any IT security services, contact our experts and experience true peace of mind as we fortify your data to no end.

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

Critical browser vulnerabilities discovered

According to security researchers, a bulk of the world’s computer processors have gaping flaws. The flaws, grouped under the term ‘Spectre,’ affect many critical systems including web browsers like Chrome, Safari, Microsoft Edge, and Firefox. Here’s a quick rundown of these major vulnerabilities and what you can do to secure them.

What is Spectre?
To understand this unprecedented vulnerability, you need to know some computer chip basics. Modern chips try to speed up their work by storing information related to predictable and repetitive processes. Whenever CPUs perform calculations ahead of time that end up being unnecessary, the data is thrown away into a supposedly secure storage cache.

Hackers can gain access to the discarded data by using malware to create digital backdoors. From there, they can simply sneak in, sift through the private information, and even trick the processor into throwing away even more sensitive information. This is known as a Spectre attack.

Though the exploit is highly technical and difficult to execute, researchers said Spectre affects all modern processors, including those developed by Intel, AMD, and ARM.

How does it affect browsers?
As mentioned, hackers would need to install malware on a device to perform a Spectre attack. One tactic experts found effective is if hackers build a malicious program and embed it on a website. Should anyone visit the rogue website, their browser will automatically run the malicious program.

Once inside, the attacker can use Spectre to gain full access to keystrokes, encryption keys, and login credentials.

So far, there is no evidence of Spectre attacks actively being used to steal data from web browsers, but they are difficult to detect. Experts also predict hackers will likely develop specialized malware now that this information is available to the public.

Is there a way to protect myself?
Fortunately, major browser developers were quick to release updates as soon as the Spectre attack was discovered.

Mozilla also has security features to prevent some Spectre attacks, but announced a full-blown solution is in the works.

As for Chrome, users can expect an update as early as January 23. But for the time being Google recommends enabling the Site Isolation feature, which limits how much access browser plugins have to your computer. This feature can be enabled by going to your address bar and entering: chrome://flags/#enable-site-per-process.

Even though the updates may affect browser performance, it’s a small price to pay compared with having your credit card or social security number stolen.
Like it or not, Spectre is just one of the many threats targeting your web browsers. That’s why you should call us today. We offer expert advice and cutting-edge solutions to make sure your browsing experience is a pleasant and safe one.

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Hardware flaws affect browser security

In the first week of 2018, security researchers announced that modern computer processors have a fundamental flaw called Spectre. If exploited, hackers could gain access to systems that store confidential information. And the most vulnerable to these attacks are outdated web browsers like Chrome, Safari, Microsoft Edge, and Firefox.

What is Spectre?
To understand this unprecedented vulnerability, you need to know some computer chip basics. Modern chips try to speed up their work by storing information related to predictable and repetitive processes. Whenever CPUs perform calculations ahead of time that end up being unnecessary, the data is thrown away into a supposedly secure storage cache.

Hackers can gain access to the discarded data by using malware to create digital backdoors. From there, they can simply sneak in, sift through the private information, and even trick the processor into throwing away even more sensitive information. This is known as a Spectre attack.

Though the exploit is highly technical and difficult to execute, researchers said Spectre affects all modern processors, including those developed by Intel, AMD, and ARM.

How does it affect browsers?
As mentioned, hackers would need to install malware on a device to perform a Spectre attack. One tactic experts found effective is if hackers build a malicious program and embed it on a website. Should anyone visit the rogue website, their browser will automatically run the malicious program.

Once inside, the attacker can use Spectre to gain full access to keystrokes, encryption keys, and login credentials.

So far, there is no evidence of Spectre attacks actively being used to steal data from web browsers, but they are difficult to detect. Experts also predict hackers will likely develop specialized malware now that this information is available to the public.

Is there a way to protect myself?
Fortunately, major browser developers were quick to release updates as soon as the Spectre attack was discovered.

Mozilla also has security features to prevent some Spectre attacks, but announced a full-blown solution is in the works.

As for Chrome, users can expect an update as early as January 23. But for the time being Google recommends enabling the Site Isolation feature, which limits how much access browser plugins have to your computer. This feature can be enabled by going to your address bar and entering: chrome://flags/#enable-site-per-process.

Even though the updates may affect browser performance, it’s a small price to pay compared with having your credit card or social security number stolen.
Like it or not, Spectre is just one of the many threats targeting your web browsers. That’s why you should call us today. We offer expert advice and cutting-edge solutions to make sure your browsing experience is a pleasant and safe one.

Posted in General Articles B, Web & Cloud | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Is your browser safe from Spectre?

The Chrome, Safari, Microsoft Edge, and Firefox browsers may not be as safe as you think. Security researchers recently discovered that computer chips manufactured in the past two decades contain major security vulnerabilities. One can be used by hackers to gain access to sensitive data. Read on to learn more.

What is Spectre?
To understand this unprecedented vulnerability, you need to know some computer chip basics. Modern chips try to speed up their work by storing information related to predictable and repetitive processes. Whenever CPUs perform calculations ahead of time that end up being unnecessary, the data is thrown away into a supposedly secure storage cache.

Hackers can gain access to the discarded data by using malware to create digital backdoors. From there, they can simply sneak in, sift through the private information, and even trick the processor into throwing away even more sensitive information. This is known as a Spectre attack.

Though the exploit is highly technical and difficult to execute, researchers said Spectre affects all modern processors, including those developed by Intel, AMD, and ARM.

How does it affect browsers?
As mentioned, hackers would need to install malware on a device to perform a Spectre attack. One tactic experts found effective is if hackers build a malicious program and embed it on a website. Should anyone visit the rogue website, their browser will automatically run the malicious program.

Once inside, the attacker can use Spectre to gain full access to keystrokes, encryption keys, and login credentials.

So far, there is no evidence of Spectre attacks actively being used to steal data from web browsers, but they are difficult to detect. Experts also predict hackers will likely develop specialized malware now that this information is available to the public.

Is there a way to protect myself?
Fortunately, major browser developers were quick to release updates as soon as the Spectre attack was discovered.

Mozilla also has security features to prevent some Spectre attacks, but announced a full-blown solution is in the works.

As for Chrome, users can expect an update as early as January 23. But for the time being Google recommends enabling the Site Isolation feature, which limits how much access browser plugins have to your computer. This feature can be enabled by going to your address bar and entering: chrome://flags/#enable-site-per-process.

Even though the updates may affect browser performance, it’s a small price to pay compared with having your credit card or social security number stolen.
Like it or not, Spectre is just one of the many threats targeting your web browsers. That’s why you should call us today. We offer expert advice and cutting-edge solutions to make sure your browsing experience is a pleasant and safe one.

Posted in General Articles A, Web & Cloud | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Should you use UPS for your network gear?

Smart business owners use uninterruptible power supply (UPS) for emergency situations like a storm, fire, or other disasters. Often, a UPS is deployed for desktop computers to give employees ample time to save their work and prevent losing unsaved work. An even better power-saving strategy in emergency situations, however, is to use UPS for networking equipment.

UPS for network equipment

UPS systems provide backup power in case of outages and protect against power surges, which don’t just damage computers but also make you lose unsaved work. Deploying them for Wi-Fi routers and modems allows you to stay connected to the internet in what is typically a chaotic time.

Moreover, it makes sense to not just keep your PCs powered up, but to also have internet access during a disaster. This strategy works relatively well if your staff are predominantly laptop users, as that means you only need to juice up your Wi-Fi gear.

Better than generators

Although generators are indispensable for certain businesses, they also require greater upkeep. Small- and mid-sized businesses may not have enough capacity to maintain them because they typically require a utility crew who can manage high-maintenance equipment.

What’s more, extreme mishaps when misused or mishandled could result in generator-related fatalities. On the other hand, misusing a UPS unit could result in the loss of a day’s work, but it’s unlikely to lead to anything as extreme.

Why internet access is important during a disaster

UPS-supported modems or routers help you stay online for as much as 90 minutes, which should be enough time to get your bearings before power finally runs out. Internet service providers are usually prepared for catastrophes and would normally have an emergency power source to stay operational. And if you can stay online via Wi-Fi during an emergency, you get the following benefits:

  • Internet speed that’s faster than cellular access
  • No extra telecom costs resulting from overreliance on cellular data
  • All devices stay online using a stable Wi-Fi connection
  • Devices don’t have to rely on cellular data-equipped phones for internet connection

Plug in your network gear now

Businesses that aren’t located in disaster-prone areas probably don’t give much thought to installing UPSs for their computers, let alone their modems. But accidents and emergencies are inevitable. And when they happen, you’ll find that having internet access is one of the most important things you need to ensure business continuity.

Think of an emergency power supply source like a UPS as an investment that not just protects your systems from data loss but also keeps your Wi-Fi equipment functioning in emergency scenarios. Call us today for productivity-saving tips and other hardware hacks for your business.

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