Security | CranstonIT - Blog

Protect Your Data When Traveling

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There is nothing more unsettling than being separated from your computer, if only for a few moments. And with the advent of the summer travel season, especially if flights are involved, it’s almost inevitable that separation will happen.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the TSA have recently announced new regulations that ban technology larger than smartphones on certain flights heading in and out of the country. In fact, the Trump administration ordered nine airlines to prevent passengers from bringing computers and tablets into the cabin for U.S. bound flights. Instead, those devices must now be carried in the hold.

In addition, many airlines now specifically state they will not be held liable if these devices are lost, broken ... or breached.

If you encounter a situation where your personal computer is required to be stored in a checked bag, there are several steps you can take to protect your device and your data.

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Beware of Sophisticated Email Scams

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Social engineering scammers are becoming more sophisticated every day. This past month, some of our clients got hit with a well-designed scheme to trick users into transferring money into a bogus bank account.

Here is how the scam worked:

The scammers first did some research on the company and found the names of the President and Controller, most likely using the company’s website or LinkedIn profile. Though email addresses for these individuals were not listed on the website, most companies use a standard naming convention for email addresses and guessing a user’s email address is not difficult.  Read More...

1Password Is the Solution for Password Protection

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The standard rule of thumb for creating a password requires that we use a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and punctuation marks. Preferably, it should not relate to any easily-accessible personal information like birthdates. If you really want to be extra safe, it should not include any names, either. Passwords should be a random string of letters, numbers and punctuation with no personal significance to the user. And they need to be unique for each and every site where a password is required.

Every. Single. Site.

You’re doing that, right?

Most of us use our pet’s name with a birthdate stuck on the end or something similar. And we use the same password for multiple sites because 1) it’s too difficult to remember a different password for every site, 2) we don’t keep a record of every password we create, and 3) we’re just plain old lazy. Read More...

Two-Factor Authentication Adds Extra Protection For Your Apple Account

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Protecting your identity and account information from theft and misuse is becoming more and more challenging. For Apple and Mac users, where all activity revolves around an individual Apple ID, protecting the information stored in your account is especially critical. Apple has added an extra layer of security to the log in process on new devices—in addition to the standard password protection--to do just that.

Two-factor authentication is designed to ensure that your account can only be accessed on devices you trust, such as your iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and only by you. When you sign in to a new device for the first time, you need to provide not only your password (factor 1), but also a six-digit verification code that is automatically displayed on one of your trusted devices (factor 2). This extra layer of security ensures that only you can access your account, even if someone else knows your password. By entering the code, you’re confirming that you trust the new device. Think of it like an electronic version of a job reference. Your trusted device is providing a reference by indicating that the newcomer is ok.

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Endpoint Protector 4 Protects Your Company’s Greatest Assets

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You and your staff work hard to do what you do. Sometimes, when everyone is at the top of their game and everything just clicks, it can almost seem like there’s a little magic in the air. You all are just that good. It would be a shame for the product of all that collective brain power and teamwork to be compromised either through harmful files on storage devices or unauthorized data being taken outside the company via cloud services, mobile and portable storage devices, smartphones, and tablets.

Endpoint Protector 4, a full Data Loss Prevention (DLP) and Mobile Device Management (MDM) product available for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, iOS, and Android mobile devices, can help eliminate the risk by protecting your network and sensitive data from these types of threats. It will also help your company maintain compliance with HIPAA and other privacy regulations. The product provides protection in several different ways depending on the system or device. Read More...

CranstonIT No Spam Gets to the Root of Your Spam Problem

NoSpam-FilterSpam has an unfortunate similarity to gray hairs. Pull one, and two more seem to pop up in its place. Besides being just plain old annoying, spam can also present a major threat to security via the viruses and malware that often accompany it. Managing it is a colossal time suck that no one enjoys. To stop it, you need to get to the root of the problem.

If spam has you pulling your hair out, we’ve got an easy solution available to our clients. CranstonIT No Spam is an email security system that stops spam before it reaches your inbox or the inbox of your staff and family members. Because it’s cloud-based, there is no software to download, making it super simple to set up and manage. That’s right. It’s a hassle-free, no-need-to-waste-hours-figuring-it-out solution. And, it detects 99.7% of spam while also blocking nasty malware and viruses. Read More...

Pulling the Curtains on Your Electronic Window

Everyone wants to be liked. We want others to appreciate who we are, what we do, and what we’ve accomplished. We want them to want to get to know us and to learn what makes us tick. It’s basic human nature.

Today is your lucky day! There are more people than you can possibly imagine who want to know everything about you and are willing to pay for this information. They’re just not willing to pay you. And you’ll never actually meet them, either.

Have you ever noticed that immediately after shopping online for area rugs, you start to see rug ads in the margins of the web pages you visit or in the ads that appear in your Facebook timeline? Spyware and trackers are used by many companies as a marketing tool. It’s a form of adware that tracks your internet browsing habits and uses this data to deliver in-page ads targeted specifically to you. Read More...

Be Ware of Ominous Pop Up Warnings in Your Browser

Scammers are a clever bunch. They capitalize on fear and lack of knowledge. Unfortunately, when it comes to understanding the complicated inner workings of computers and software, many of us have those traits in spades. It’s not that we’re ignorant, but technology is constantly changing. Unless you’re actively studying or working in the field of computer technology, it’s just plain hard to keep up with these changes. The scammers, however, seem to have no problems with this.

One popular way these internet scumbags attempt to lure us into their evil web is to plant an ominous warning that pops up on our monitor foretelling of grave danger ahead if we don’t act fast.
“Warning!” it says. “Your computer has a malicious virus.”

The message is almost always accompanied by a tech support phone number. Call this number and they are only too happy to bill your credit card a hefty sum. Read More...

Drowning in spam? Here’s how to send those spammers running.

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Years ago, there was a commercial encouraging consumers to tell two friends about their shampoo. The theory was that these two friends would tell another two friends, and so on, until eventually the whole world would know about the shampoo. If you use that analogy and apply it to your email address, you begin to see how easy it is for spammers to find you.

Spam, or unsolicited emails sent to a large number of recipients, is an unfortunate byproduct of our online activity. Anytime you share your email address, you increase your chances of receiving spam. This includes posts made to online forums or web sites, online order forms that require an email address, web site registrations, job inquiries, blog subscriptions, and even emails sent to friends. Some companies share your information with partner vendors, while others sell it to the highest bidder. Even if you only share your address with a select few, if your friend’s account is hacked, the spammers gain access to their address book.

It’s easy enough to stop legitimate spam received from companies you know. Simply click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email to be removed from the mailing list. This will either unsubscribe you immediately or take you to a preferences page where you can unsubscribe altogether or limit the number and frequency of emails you receive. Marking this type of message as “Junk” often doesn't work well because businesses try very hard to craft messages that ensure their emails do not end up in a Junk folder. Read More...

iOS Security Issue Attempts to Steal Username/Password Information

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If you’re using the latest version of Apple iOS on your iPad or iPhone, you need to be aware of a bug in the system that makes it easy to steal your iCloud password. According to reports, the bug allows attackers to send you an email that mimics a legitimate iCloud log in panel but with bogus html code embedded. When you enter your username and password, the information is sent back to the hacker. Apple does not yet have an official fix for the problem, but there is a workaround. If you get a popup window asking for your username and password when using Mail, simply press the Home button.  If the request is legitimate (Mail can't connect to your server so it's asking for the password) the dialog box will not go away.  If the request is caused by a bad email, the dialog box will close when the Home button is pressed.

To remove the threat, return to Apple Mail and click Cancel on the login window if it reappears, then delete the email message that you were viewing when the login window appeared. As long as you don't enter your username and password into the window, you are safe.

If you have any questions about this security issue, give us a call at (888) 813-5558. Read More...

Clean Malware Off Your Computer with Adware Medic

For years Macs have been more resistant to getting computer viruses and other types of malware then their Windows counterparts. While this is generally still true, it is possible to have malware installed on a Mac. The most common way for this to occur is for a program to be disguised as something else so the user thinks that are installing one piece of software but they are really installing software that is bad for their computer. For example, an update to Adobe Flash is needed so a user does a google search for Flash. They click on a link for the Flash update but instead of it being a link from Adobe’s website it’s a link to another site. The user downloads the software and gives permission for it to be installed. Flash might be updated but other software is also installed at the same time. Read More...

Apple Pay - Revolutionizing the Way We Pay

Apple’s goal is to make the lives of their users easier. From laptops, to the App Store, and the new Apple Watch, they certainly are doing so, but Apple’s newest software integration is about to change the way we pay. Apple Pay is basically a virtual wallet that lets you pay with just your device and your fingerprint.
Apple Pay works both in physical retail stores and online. The Near Field Communication antenna that is built into the iPhone 6 enables you to pay simply by placing your finger on the fingerprint scanner and being near a contactless reader. Your iPhone will then vibrate or beep, letting you know your payment was successful. Apple Pay will also be available on the Apple Watch when it is released in April. You can also use Apple Pay on your iPhone 6, iPad Air 2, and iPad Mini 3 at select online retailers, such as Airbnb and Target. Read More...

SSL Poodle Bug

One of the advantages to being an Apple user is the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you are protected against the viruses that plague many other machines. While Macs are far safer than most other computers, they are still susceptible to some problems. The SSL POODLE bug is a flaw in encryption software that can allow a hacker to monitor the encrypted information that is sent over a network between your browser and secure sites. This means that sensitive information such as account information that you send encrypted over the internet could be seen and gathered by others. While the SSL POODLE bug may seem scary, it really only poses a threat when using public wifi networks. Often hackers create fake public wifi networks at places like coffee shops or restaurants. When logged into these networks, hackers can gain access to the information sent via your browser. Read More...

Protecting Against Malware on OS X

One of the advantages that Apple computers offer over Microsoft is their resistance to viruses and other software that can have potentially devastating affects on your computer. While your computer may not be in imminent danger, there is potential for annoying programs such as adware and malware to affect the function of your machine. Malware is software that is installed on your computer and written to do harm like steal or erase data. Adware does not have such damaging consequences, but once installed it can be very annoying by causing popup windows with ads to appear continually on your computer, often trying to get you to purchase software to remove the ads it’s causing. In addition, these popup windows can cause your computer to run more slowly. Read More...

Stolen MacBook Returned Using Find My iPhone

“Where’s the laptop?” That was the haunting question one of our own employees, Kelsey Lewis, was asking after her apartment was broken into one night during a recent visit to Thailand. While she was out, burglars had gotten away with a MacBook Air and iPad. After confirming that they had been stolen, she didn't panic, instead she turned to Find My iPhone. Read More...

Common Internet Scams

The internet is a powerful tool that has transformed and enriched our lives. With new ways to communicate, it’s good to be aware of potential danger that could cost you. Internet scams are nothing new, but with ever changing technology and smarter scammers, it’s becoming more difficult to tell when someone might be trying to pull a fast one. Below are some of the most common internet scams and ways to detect and avoid future threats.

Phishing is an email scam that uses well known companies to trick you into giving sensitive information. Here’s how it works: you get an email for a company, such as your bank, saying they need you to immediately sign into your account and provide a link for you to do so. Once you click on the link, you are taken to a website that looks like that of the trusted site. If you provide your login credentials, they are saved and used to access your account. If you receive an email requesting sensitive information, it is probably a phishing scam. Read More...

Introducing Watchman Monitoring for Contract Customers

There's no question that the information stored on your computer is of the utmost importance. Often your life is greatly affected when your computer is out of commission, no matter the duration of time. Here at Cranston IT, making sure that you have as few problems as possible and ensuring that the problems that do arise are solved quickly is our main goal. We’re always trying to give you “peace of mind” when it comes to your Apple products and with our new program, Watchman Monitoring, you can be even more worry free.
 
Watchman Monitoring is a new program available to all our residential and business customers using Macs. The program operates under a simple idea: catch a problem quickly when it occurs, and that’s exactly what Watchman Monitoring does. We install the Watchman program on your computer and it runs hourly checks to ensure that everything is running smoothly. Read More...

1Password - Effective Password Management

In a growing online world, passwords are required for everything. From email, to e-commerce sites, and online banking, we’re bogged down with tons of passwords to commit to memory. Unfortunately, this often leads to using the same password for multiple sites along with passwords that aren’t always as strong as they should be. There is a solution. 1Password is an application for your Mac, iPad, and iPhone, that not only remembers all of your passwords for you, but also generates secure ones that will help protect your accounts from getting hacked. Read More...

Stop Computer Theft

Laptop theft is on the rise. Sadly, the majority of stolen laptops are never found. As you can guess, the ever-popular Macs are one of the prime targets.

How do you protect yourself? The most important actions must be taken before your laptop is ever stolen.

First, think about your data. For many of you, your data is more valuable than the computer itself. So, you must frequently backup to an external hard drive or a cloud based service like ClouDox. This helps ensure that your data is backed up and can be restored if needed. Read More...

Managing Your Mail

Confused by email mailboxes and storage options in Apple Mail? It’s actually pretty simple. You can keep your email in three different places: on the server, in local mailboxes in Mail, or in a saved archive on your computer. Where you choose to store your messages will depend on how easily you need to be able to access them, how important they are, and how long you want to keep them. Read More...

Keeping your Mac Safe with Mountain Lion's Gatekeeper

Accidentally downloading malicious software can cause countless problems on your Mac. That’s why the Mountain Lion operating system includes a new Gatekeeper feature. It helps protect you from inadvertently downloading software that may look safe, but will actually damage or steal your data. Read More...

Keep Track of your iPhone, iPad and iPod with Find My iPhone

A missing iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch is more than a lost device.  Its also lost personal information.  The solution?  A free service from Apple called Find My iPhone that can locate a lost or stolen iOS device.  

The Find My iPhone service is built right into your iPhone 4, iPad or fourth generation iPod Touch.  All you need to do is activate it.  Then you can track a lost device from any computer. Read More...

Understanding Malware and Mac Security

Malware, short for “malicious software”, is a fact of life on the Internet.  It can come in any form including viruses, trojans and phishing scams.  

One malware scam is specifically targeting Mac users.  Hiding behind names like Mac Defender, Mac Protector or Mac Security, this phishing scam convinces people to download harmful software. Read More...
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