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DeckerWright Corporation Blog

DeckerWright Corporation has been serving the Red Bank area since 1984, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Security's Weakest Link: Your Employees

The technology we deploy to our clients to protect them from external threats is pretty powerful. Set up in layers, the defensive system catches potential hacks in the cloud (spam filtering), at the perimeter (firewall), and on the end user’s computer (anti-virus/anti-malware software). The layered approach blocks infected emails and bad websites and prevents evil code from running. While the multi-layered approach blocks most of these threats, the bad guys are constantly devising ways to get around your defenses. They now target the weakest point in your defenses: your users. The bad guys can easily trick employees into opening infected emails and links. Most infections are the result of an employee inadvertently infecting their computer by clicking a link they shouldn’t click on. The recent breaches we've investigated were caused by employees either opening bad links or using weak passwords. 

How does an employer protect themselves in today’s cyber-crime environment? Employee training should be at the top of everyone’s list. We offer free cyber training to our ActivMaintenance clients to help educate their employees. Our presentation has impacted employee behavior and led to a safer computing environment. Once employees understand the threats and become Cyber Deputies, there is a marked reduction in reported cyber threats on clients’ networks.

If you are a current ActivMaintenance client, reach out to us at (732) 747-9373 option 1 to schedule your FREE cyber training.  If you are not a current DeckerWright client, check with your vendor to see if they can provide you with training. If not, it may be time for a change.

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Internet Safety and You

The internet is a wonderful thing. A few swipes of the finger are all that separate us from the largest assemblage of information in history. We can watch movies, order food, start our car, open the garage door, chat with friends on opposite ends of the globe, and look up that one actor’s cousin’s dog’s birthday all without having to get up from the couch.

However, for all the good the web brings, there’s also a lot of bad. Each device you connect to the web opens another door into your life. More doors mean more entrances for intruders. Then there’s the Dark Web, a large chunk of cyberspace lurking unseen like the submerged mass of an iceberg beneath the digital waves. The number one commodity: your data.

I’m not going to sugar-coat it: there is no such thing as being perfectly safe on the internet. Any device connected to the internet can be compromised. If large companies and highly-secured government agencies can be hacked into, so can you. The only way to prevent a hack is to cut yourself off from the internet entirely and live off the grid. I don’t know about you, but I need my daily dose of cat videos, so that’s not an option.

Since there’s no way to be completely safe, the best you can do is make it harder for the bad guys to get in. Here are some ways to minimize the chance your devices become compromised:

  1. Use complex passwords. I can hear your eye roll from here. Passwords are the bane of everyone’s existence, but they’re a common vulnerability exploited by hackers. A complex password is like a good, sturdy deadbolt on your front door. A simple password–e.g., any variation of the word ‘password’ – is like leaving your front door unlocked while you’re away on vacation.
  2. Change your passwords every few months. Complex passwords are good, but the longer they’re in place, the more time the bad guys have to crack them. Changing your password makes it less likely it will be cracked.
  3. Use two-step verification. No, I’m not trying to make your life more difficult. Two-step verification, or multi-factor authentication, requires two of the following pieces of information for a login: something you know (e.g., a password, a security question), something you have (e.g., a call/text to your phone, a security token), or who you are (e.g., a fingerprint, face recognition). This method, though not foolproof, is difficult to circumvent.
  4. Beware of suspicious emails. Another common entry point into a network is through email. You should by now know not to respond to the Nigerian prince asking for financial help. The latest trend is email spoofing: hackers spoof emails to make them appear as if they were sent from a superior. These emails often contain attachments which are nothing more than Trojan horses riddled with malware. If you receive an unexpected email from someone, especially one with an attachment, call the sender before opening the email to make sure they sent it. If they didn’t send it, delete the email immediately.
  5. Install updates. I know, I know, another roll of the eyes. But updates, at least most of them, are important. Many go toward patching holes in your software. Software is made up of thousands or even millions of lines of code. That code is written by humans who, as we are all well aware, are not perfect. Mistakes in the code can be exploited by hackers to gain access to your network or device. The more unpatched mistakes there are, the more ways a hacker has to infiltrate your system.
  6. Don’t use unprotected public wifi. ‘Free’ and ‘wifi’ are two of everyone’s favorite things, and put together they sound like a dream come true. The reality, though, is that they go as well together as tartar sauce and chocolate cake. Public networks, even protected ones, are prime stalking grounds for those with mal intent and are commonly scanned by hackers for unsuspecting prey. The wifi at Starbucks might be password-protected, but hackers are just as capable of asking the barista for the password as you are. Your best bet is to use a VPN. VPNs encrypt all traffic moving through them, adding a nearly impenetrable layer of defense from the bad guys.
  7. Back up your data. In the event a device does become compromised, you need a way to quickly restore your data. The best way to keep your things safe and readily accessible in the event of a disaster is to back up your stuff to the Cloud. There are myriad options available, including Apple’s iCloud, Google’s Drive, and Microsoft’s OneDrive.
  8. Use virus protection. Make sure your computer has virus protection. Don’t use free versions; free programs lack many of the important features that keep you safe. Products from Webroot, Norton, and McAfee are all good options.
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Dek Takes A Bite Of The Apple...

So I did it. I drank the Kool-Aid. I am now the owner of a space gray MacBook Pro laptop. What drew me over to the Dark Side? Service requests for Macs. I figured that if clients were going to ask me to do work on their Macs, I should know how to use one. Plus, they’re supposed to be great for photo editing. As a photographer, that’s a bonus.

The first time someone showed me a Mac, I came close to re-enacting that scene from Zoolander in which Hansel and Derek try to figure out how to turn on the computer. It took nearly five minutes for me to realize that the power button was on the keyboard. My triumph was short-lived as I was humbled once again after I logged in. I had to Google (from a different computer) how to perform simple tasks like a Windows right-click, cut/copy/paste, and delete a program. Navigating app and browser windows was like driving in Britain: everything was on the wrong side.

So far–except for the lack of traditional USB ports (don’t even get me started on Apple and their stupid dongles) – I like my Mac. It looks nice, feels nice, and works well. I’m still hiking up the learning curve and I probably have a long way to go before I earn my hipster glasses and become a “proficient” Mac user, but at least I now know where the power button is. Baby steps.

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New Health Report & Client Portal

Beginning in May, our ActivMaintenance clients will receive a new monthly Network Health Report. The new report includes more information about the client’s network and represents a snap shot of the new client portal. The new client portal provides active gauges which allow our clients to quickly drill down from high level summary data to lower level information. The new report and portal include ticket information in addition to the regular Network Health. As in the past, we will review the monthly reports and will report any findings that we think need our client’s attention. With the new system, we will be able to update the report and portal contents to meet our client’s information needs.

CLICK HERE FOR LOGIN PAGE

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OPEN HOUSE - You're Invited!

spring open house

Please join the DeckerWright Team for appetizers and refreshments!

DATE:  Wedneday, May 16, 2018

TIME:  5:00 PM - 6:30 PM

PLACE:  DeckerWright Corporation | 628 Shrewsbury Ave, Ste E, Red Bank NJ 07748

RSVP:  CLICK HERE to email Courtney Zatorski or call (732) 945-9557

We look forward to seeing you!

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The Facebook Scandal

I’m sure by now you’ve heard of the data use scandal involving Facebook. If not, here’s the skinny on it: a company was able to mine and use the personal data of 50 million Facebook users without their knowledge or consent. The revelation sent the internet into a tizzy and forced many users, including celebrities, to delete their Facebook accounts.

Why is this a big deal? People don’t want companies using their personal information without their consent. It’s a breach of privacy. Sure, people are okay with posting information to sites like Facebook, but only because those sites (should) control who has access to that information. If you post something to Facebook, you hope that only your friends can see it. It’s all about trust: users trust that sites will share their information with only the people they allow.

Data use is a tricky subject. On the one hand, if you don’t want companies using your data, don’t post it. Some people put fake birthdays on their social media profiles for exactly that purpose (and to find out who their real friends are). On the other hand, the sites to which you do post should have protections in place for your data so it doesn’t get misused.

The problem is that “personal” no longer means “personal”. Every major site, from Google to Amazon to Facebook, analyzes every bit of data you put online to learn more about you. They track website visits, viewed and purchased items, and web searches, among other things. To these sites you’re not a user, you’re a commodity. Personal data is the currency of the internet.

The best way to prevent your data from being shared is to minimize your digital footprint. Nowadays, though, it’s tough not to put information online. More and more devices and services are connecting to the internet. Since it’s nearly impossible to live offline in today’s connected world, the best you can do is be wary of what data you share and where you share it. If ever you’re prompted by a site to give consent for data use, take a minute or two to read through and see what they’re doing with your data. Just keep in mind that, as is the case with Facebook, you might not be getting the whole picture.

Am I going to follow suit and delete my Facebook? No. I’m not okay with what happened, but I know that events such as this are the price we pay for being online. Like it or not, this is the world we live in and this is how the internet works. As the old saying goes: if it’s free, you are the product.

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Facebook and Your Life

News broke this week that data collected on Facebook for 50 million users was used by a company to help the Trump campaign in 2016. Facebook was surprised by the revelation, but we shouldn’t be. Personal data is the currency of the internet today. What Google, Facebook, and any other website knows about each of us is a valuable commodity available for sale. All of the major websites track customers and use powerful software to draw conclusions on our future behavior. Couldn’t they use this technology for something useful like stopping school violence? When searching for something on the web, have you ever noticed similar ads popping up on seemingly unrelated web sites? Ever wonder why and how? Stop wondering: your data is everywhere almost immediately. They know you and what you want better than you do.

The false hope that somehow today’s technology companies are socially responsible and care at all about protecting our personal data was shared by a lot of naive people. Big data means big money. That’s why the most valuable companies on the planet don’t make anything except use of data about you. The more you post online, the more you do online, the more the super brain in the cloud knows about you, the more they can share that data with anyone they want. Think George Orwell on steroids. 

The house in the country with no internet is looking better all the time.

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Windows Server 2008 R2 Nearing End of Life

Microsoft has announced they will stop supporting Windows Server 2008 as of January of 2020. While this is still two years away, it is well within the planning window for most businesses. 

If your company has servers running Windows Server 2008, you should be working on plans to replace the servers, either by moving the applications and data to the cloud or by replacing the servers. A decision to move to the cloud is more than dollars and cents. In general, the long term cost of going to the cloud is higher than keeping the systems locally. This is true since most businesses keep their equipment five or more years with few updates. If you plan on running the servers until the “wheels fall off”, getting a replacement server is the right economic decision. If your business is going virtual, with employees working remotely, then a cloud solution may make sense despite the extra monthly costs. DeckerWright works with multiple cloud providers including AWS, Microsoft Azure, Green Cloud, and Tetherview. 

Many software companies offer their line-of-business applications as cloud solutions, so a company’s network architecture becomes a hybrid, with some applications running locally and some applications running in the cloud. DeckerWright’s systems are setup in a hybrid fashion. The hybrid approach has the added benefit of supporting our Business Continuity Plan should our facility become unusable. Contact DeckerWright Corporation for help in deciding the best method for replacing Windows Server 2008.

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Computers Don't Run Without Electricity

One of the greatest lessons we learned during Super Storm Sandy was that computers don’t run without electricity. That truth was revisited during the month of March when New Jersey was pounded by a series of late-season Nor’easters. The heavy, wet snow from these storms toppled trees and power lines, leaving thousands of people and businesses without power for days. Loss of power is the most common disaster businesses face. Without power to run computers and networking equipment businesses are separated from their systems and data, making it impossible to conduct business. 

Any Business Continuity Plan should include provisions for what to do if the power is out for an extended time. The system architecture should include a cloud component, with either some or all of the systems running in the cloud. If your facility is without power, the systems either need to be brought to life in the cloud through a disaster recovery solution (like DeckerWright offers), or the servers need to be moved to a location with power. Alternative facilities with backup power for hosting your data and housing your employees can help keep your doors open when the power goes out. These facilities must be identified and secured BEFORE the lights go out. 

Communications to employees, vendors, and clients need to be mapped out and tested to make sure that when the lights go out, your business doesn’t stop, too!

Click here for the FEMA Disaster Recovery Framework.

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Save-The-Date...Wednesday, April 18th

Join the DeckerWright team, our clients and friends for our annual Open House on Wednesday, April 18th from 5 - 6:30 PM.

This year we're celebrating the long awaited spring weather!

Refreshments will be served.

Please bring a friend - and be sure to RSVP to sales@deckerwright.com

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The technology we deploy to our clients to protect them from external threats is pretty powerful. Set up in layers, the defensive system catches potential hacks in the cloud (spam filtering), at the perimeter (firewall), and on the end user’s computer (anti-virus/anti-m...

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