IT-Support-Miami-Cybersecurity-Blog

Miami Cyber Attacks Happen: Build Resilient Systems

You can’t stop all attacks or build the perfect defense system. The higher-level objective is resilience.

Every week, billions of cyber-events batter government networks. Millions of these attacks hit at network speed, and thousands succeed, as reported by the Homeland Security Department’s US Computer Emergency Readiness Team. The US Navy alone was attacked more than 1 billion times in 2016. Although security analysts strain to counter these breaches, mostly with manual processes, it’s likely terabytes of data are stolen.

Given this dynamic landscape, you might think federal CIOs are getting more resources to defend against mounting cyberthreats. They’re not. Money and security expertise are in short supply, meaning agencies need to innovate. First and foremost, they can no longer take a piecemeal approach to information security. A holistic strategy that incorporates real-time risk management and continuous monitoring is the only way to go.

To help companies build these more-resilient systems, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, in collaboration with the Defense and Homeland Security departments and private sector intelligence communities, has come up with security controls that focus on mobile and cloud computing, application security, the insider threat, supply chain security, and advanced persistent threats.

So it comes as no surprise that more than half of the respondents to Information eek’s 2014 Federal Government IT Priorities Survey say cybersecurity/security is the top priority in their agencies. Seventy percent rate security as “extremely important,” with another 16% viewing cyber-security/security as “very important.”

Federal managers want to know “how to stop the bleeding,” says Ronald Ross, project leader of NIST’s FISMA Implementation Project and Joint Task Force Transformation Initiative. You can’t stop all attacks or build the perfect defense system. The higher-level objective is resilience. “What does it mean to have an adequate degree of resilience in a modern information system that supports critical missions?” Ross asks, in a question that’s neither rhetorical nor unique to federal agencies. State and local governments as well as private sector companies are struggling, too — anyone with valuable information and using very complex high-end technology is subject to the same types of threats.

Resiliency means “becoming healthy after something bad happens,” says Bret Hartman, VP and CTO of Cisco’s security business group. “That is a good way to think of security because it’s impossible to stay healthy all the time.” Agencies should consider the attack continuum and which technologies they need in place before an attack occurs, during an attack, and after the attack to do systems remediation. This last area is still maturing and is where the biggest challenge lies today, Hartman says.

Time for better cyber “hygiene” in Miami 

To address resiliency in Miami, South Florida, federal government, NIST and its partner agencies are focusing on two tracks: improving “cyber hygiene,” and designing IT system architectures that can bounce back from damage and contain attacks. A good way to view cyber-security, says Ross, is to have a way to address areas “above the water line,” such as known patching and maintenance, and those below the water line — problems you can’t see that could cause trouble and inflict serious damage without warning.

Cyber hygiene focuses on tasks that security administrators deal with daily, such as promptly updating operating systems and applications with the latest security patches or making sure all operating systems and network devices are configured properly to close down attack vectors that could be exploited. IT must also assemble and maintain a complete inventory of everything on the agency’s network and the information it has to protect.

With NIST 800-53 R4, the government is starting to address security below the water level, too. Specifically, we’re talking about contingency-planning types of controls, which allow agencies to define alternate processing capabilities, storage sites, and communications plans in case of a natural disaster, like a hurricane, or a cyber-attack. “We have contingency plans in place and run those exercises as frequently as we need to, so when the event happens, we can move smoothly into that backup scenario,” Ross says.

Secure Your Miami Business in Five Ways

Most computer users, including business owners and managers, know that while computers are incredibly useful, they can pose a security risk. While a security breach for personal users can be serious, it is potentially even more so for businesses. This is why, when it comes to company use, those in charge want to make sure that their systems are secure. The problem is that this is seen to be not only expensive but a drain on time and other valuable resources. In truth though it doesn’t have to be.

Here are five low-cost things you can do to ensure that your business is secure.

1. Communication is key
Many companies take adequate steps to ensure that their systems are adequately protected. The thing is, many security breaches come from within the company. If your employees keep passwords written on pieces of paper that they leave lying around their desks, this is a security issue. It is a good idea to agree with employees where to keep important information and ensure they follow these rules.

Beyond that, if you implement security changes or new systems e.g., new virus scanning software, it is important that you talk to your staff to ensure they know how the system works and how they can use it. You would be surprised at how much effective communication can help to minimize security issues, and best of all? It’s free!

2. Educate your staff
One of the more common security issues comes from spam and malware found in emails. It is a good idea to educate your staff on how to spot these different types of emails and other malicious websites, as well as how to avoid them.

It is worthwhile ensuring that your employees know their roles when it comes to security too. If you have a secretary who you believe is responsible for ensuring the office is locked at the end of the night, take steps to ensure that this person understands their responsibilities. The same goes for computers your staff use: If they are responsible for conducting security scans let them know this. While this may take some time, the cost is low to free.

3. Keep track of your keys
To ensure the security of your IT systems and your physical office, you should keep control of your keys. That is, both the physical keys and those associated with your software (the codes you enter to verify software and unlock full versions).

Keep track of which staff members have a key to the office and if possible number them. The goal here is to know where your keys are at any given time, and if a staff member changes employers make sure you ask for them back.

Many software keys or licenses are single use only. If you invest in software and an employees steals this along with the key, you will likely have to purchase the software again. A good tip is to keep software keys secure and separate from the software itself. The best part about this step is that the cost of doing this is minimal.

4. Keep your software updated
Hackers can be a lazy bunch. They will often target those with out of date software, because it’s usually easier to hack. To reduce the chance of being hacked, you should take steps to ensure that your software is up-to-date. This includes your virus and malware scanners, as well as browsers and even software you don’t use.

Get your staff to perform a ‘software audit’ on their computers on a regular basis. This means going through their computer and properly uninstalling software that they don’t use, while also taking time to ensure their system is completely updated. This step is easy to implement and will cost you next to nothing.

5. Keep important systems off site
Many small to medium businesses keep their servers on site. While this is convenient as your systems are right there and easily accessible, this could also create a security issue. One way to minimize this is to work with an IT partner who can host your systems or servers off site or in the cloud. While this involves some cost, working with an IT partner could save you profits and productivity in the long run, as good providers will ensure that your systems are secure and working properly.

If you are looking to make your systems more secure, please contact us today. We may have a solution that will work for your business.

Nerds Support Instant Messaging

Instant Messaging for Your Miami Business IT Support

For a business in a competitive industry, effective communication can be the difference between massive success and complete failure. Being able to effectively communicate both inside and outside of the office is a massive asset that shouldn’t be underestimated when building your organization. Video conferencing technology is continually advancing, but in most cases, you can fall back on a classic tool: instant messaging. Originally popularized in the 90s, instant messaging has been a social tool for decades but is just beginning to see real use within organizations as a legitimate communications tool.

Instant messaging in your business is a powerful digital solution that can make life just a little bit easier for you and your employees.

Instant Messaging is a Gateway to Other Digital Solutions for Business IT Support

If your business is in the early stages of going digital, acclimating your employees to communicating through instant messaging is a great way to build a culture that is open to more digital solutions in the future. Instant messaging can make employees more open to video conferencing, file sharing, and integrating their personal devices into their work life.

If your business is split between multiple locations or relies on employees working from home or freelance employees working from out of town, instant messaging is a great way to bring employees closer together without having to cram them in the same physical location or cause unnecessary noise with telephone conversations and physical meetings in the office.

Instant Messaging Creates Organizational Efficiency

Imagine trying to relay information in the office without instant messaging. Unless your desk is in the same room as the person you need to speak with, your options are limited to a phone call, a trek to a different part of the building, or shouting, all of which can be disruptive to you and those around you, and none of which are necessarily clear and concise.

Instant messaging is a simple way to communicate clearly and effectively with employees at your business without disrupting the workplace, and most instant messaging services are native to your desktop and don’t require a glance down at a phone or tablet.

When properly implemented, instant messaging can also facilitate enterprise mobility efforts. When employees can communicate quickly and quietly with those in the office, it becomes feasible to let employees work remotely once or twice a week. Working from home or a local coffee shop can be a relaxing alternative to spending time in the office as long as employees are reminded that time spent working remotely is still a time for work.

When preparing a Miami business for the future and optimizing it for the present, instant messaging is an ideal place to start. At Nerds Support, we’re committed to helping your business run as smoothly and intelligently as possible. If you’re thinking about moving forward with instant messaging or any other digital solution, get in touch! We can’t wait to help you get moving.

Nerd Support Backups

The Importance of Automatic Backup for Miami Businesses

Let’s start off with a joke –

A woman calls a computer help desk to inquire about a problem. She explains her problem to the IT consultant, and he eventually figures out a few files were lost from a USB disk. “Do you make backups?” he asked hopefully.

“Oh, yes, we were instructed to copy all of our USB disks every day.”

“Well, put the backup copy in the computer, and I’ll show you how to restore the files.”

“You mean put it in the printer?”

“Huh? Put it in the disk drive.”

“How am I going to do that?”

You see, each night they used a Xerox machine to copy their USB’s, and neatly store pictures of them in a filing cabinet.

But as every Miami business owner should know, automatic backups are no joke. Imagine this as a real scenario – incorrect storage of critical data. Can you afford to lose your business’s intellectual property? The process of backing up refers to the copying and archiving of computer data. The importance of automatic backup is the restoration of original data. In case of emergency, backups provide companies with the reassurance that their files are safe and sound.

Why Should Miami Business Owners Care?

Eliminate the time spent backing up your data by automating the process. You can locally store your backups on-site, or choose to save them online. If you’re searching for reasons to care about the safety of your entire hard drive – you can begin with taking into consideration how inexpensive the process is. It’s extremely convenient which means you have more time to focus on your business objectives. It provides constant support and notifications to give you accurate reports on your infrastructure.

Nerd’s Support Are the Jocks In IT Support Miami

Don’t let your business become another victim of critical data loss. When you work with Nerds Support for business continuity planning, backup and data recovery, you are working with a team of dedicated industry experts who have the skills and knowledge to help you retain your data, no matter where your business takes you. Connect with us today!  

Four Tips to Help Sluggish Business Computers in Ft. Lauderdale

Four Tips to Help Sluggish Computers in Ft. Lauderdale

Computers are complex machines. If you’ve ever looked inside one you know it’s a confusing mess of wires and components. Like all machines, over time they will start to slow down and run slower than before. When this happens it can be troublesome for your productivity, and you may not be able to afford to purchase a new machine or afford Miami computer repair. Luckily, there are steps you can take to keep your machine running smoothly.

Below are four things your Miami business employees can do to keep your PC running smoothly.

1. Shutdown properly
If you turn your computer off at the end of the day, or it freezes, it may be tempting to flick the off switch on the power bar, or press the power button until it turns off. This isn’t ideal for your computer’s health because when a computer is unexpectedly shut down, there could be damage to the operating system.

You may notice that when your computer crashes, it takes longer to reboot. This is because Windows is actually searching for, or trying to repair any damage that may have been done. There is a chance that powering down improperly could cause files to become corrupted which may make the system inoperable.

Therefore, you should follow proper shutdown procedures. If you need to shut down quickly, try pressing Control+Alt+Delete and selecting Shut Down from there.

2. Close unnecessary programs running in the background
Some programs are written to be always running in the background. If you look in the bottom right of your screen, you should see programs running beside the clock. In truth, most of these likely don’t need to be open. You should be able to right click on the icon and close them. This will save computing resources and make your computer run smoother.

A word of warning: It’s best not to shut down the antivirus or security software as this will leave your computer open to attack. Also, don’t shut down anything from NVIDIA or AMD as this is your video card software. Closing programs like this could cause your computer to crash.

3. Utilize Add/Remove on a regular basis
Chances are high that you have installed a fairly high number of programs on your computer, some of which you may not use anymore. Those you don’t use just take up valuable hard drive space, and should be removed on a regular basis. You can do this by:

  1. Clicking on Start or the Windows Orb.
  2. Selecting Settings followed by Control Panel.
  3. Opening Add/Remove Programs.

It may take a few minutes to scan your system for programs, but a window will open with all the programs you have installed. Click on those you don’t use anymore and remove them. We strongly recommend that you do not go into different files and delete programs, this could damage your system.

4. Use a malware scanner and antivirus program
This may sound like a no-brainer, but it is still worth mentioning that having an antivirus program and malware scanner is a good idea. Many viruses and other malware often hijack system resources causing the computer to run slower, or crash. A regular scan can go a long way in minimizing this, which means your computer will likely run better for longer and you can avoid Miami computer repair.

If you are looking for ways to keep your older systems up and running at their optimal levels, please contact us today to see how Nerds Support’s Computer repair & Business IT Support can help you.