MFA multifactor authentication for SMB business bay area SFIllistraition_Final

Back 2 Basics: Prevent Data Breaches with Stronger Authentication

Identity security is one of the most significant challenges that IT organizations face. An identity compromise can ruin an organization, and it is the number one attack vector for hackers. Your traditional, not so secure way to log in, consists of entering your username, and that familiar password. You know, the one you probably use […]

operating system security updates baseline

July Patch Updates: Correcting the Windows 10 Operating System’s Baseline Security

One of the focuses of the Windows 10 operating system was its improved security overall. While it does still dwarf it’s older versions in comparison; one aspect even your Operating System can’t fix by itself is – user behavior.

That’s right, your operating system, can only assist, guide, or require you to change your password, never focusing on its complexity. Microsoft has long stood-by their policies, that passwords should expire after so many days, to prevent compromised credentials. Having done numerous studies, when push comes to shove in most cases employees are forced to change passwords, they make a small alteration to the existing password and hit save. For many, this includes symbols and numbers tagged to the begging or end of our credentials, to fulfill this task, before beginning our work.

In Microsoft’s latest release Feature Update #1809, they’ve updated password policies in the operating system’s including many changes to native application’s security baseline, making ALL passwords expire by force. Although this doesn’t impact password length, history, or complexity we’re moving towards much more secure environments. As many of these vulnerabilities, 77 in total related to business-line products used in our everyday working life. These won’t be the only changes, those utilizing the following Microsoft Solutions will receive security updates for two zero-day events: Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Microsoft Office, Azure DevOps, .NET Framework, Azure, SQL Server, ASP.NET, Visual Studio, and Microsoft Exchange Server.

Business’ and their employees should always focus on having a security-focused mindset, whether from Security Awareness Training, or just knowing what role passwords play in an attack. To sufficiently secure your data, organizations seek updated security tools to address their concerns and look towards in-house experts and close working relationships to build the latest guidance for securing employees and business data.

  • Banned Passwords
    Built to battle simple passwords, sticking with default passwords, makes it much less frustrating to hackers. By stopping employees who are using passwords like “123456” and “1Password!!” your organization can block the use of these commonly stolen credentials, making it more secure for the employees.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication
    Known by many as “MFA,” it’s grown common practice for most industries to require every employee within the organization to utilize more than one path for authentication. This company stance should be leveraged across your entire business, even if they ONLY have access to email.

By employing the use of these alternative controls, businesses can begin leveraging employees as their first line-of-defense. Begin to offset the potential for increased security vulnerabilities and risks, commonly seen today, educating your employees on proper password hygiene, length, and complexity, your business can easily meet the security needs of your customers and your employees.

Want the experts to educate your staff and assist your network hygiene efforts – give us a call today!

Close operating system exploits and vulnerabilities

Microsoft Patching Addresses 88 Vulnerabilities & Risks Found in Systems Today

Patching can prevent many of the most-used exploits, risks, and vulnerabilities are seen in major applications, software, and even operating systems. These patches typically contain updates to your current software suite. In recent years, Microsoft has transitioned they focus from new features and updates to focusing on the vulnerability of business’ and employees utilizing the Windows Operating System.

Microsoft releases updates to address and fix 88 security risks and vulnerabilities in it’s Windows Operating Systems, specifically relating to software and applications. The most lethal of these include 4 vulnerabilities, that exploit code has already been created and distributed on the Dark Web. It’s these bugs that can affect ALL versions of Microsoft Office and trigger malicious links, including what feels like too many, as a customary security update for Adobe’s Flash Player.

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SF Bay Area Law Firms hit by ransomware and hackers

Phishing Attacks Begin Leveraging Legal Threats From Local Law Firms

By far the most convincing email phishing and malware attacks come disguised as your “typical nastygram” from local businesses. These emails have grown in popularity with cyber-criminals. By making minor customizations to these campaigns, these phishing attacks are now being spoofed as though, local organizations are the culprits! These emails notify recipients that he/she is being sued and instructs them to review the following attached files, with a directive to respond within a specific time frame, or penalties will occur… Here’s a look at a recent phishing campaign that peppered more than 100,000 business executives. With the goal of phishing for employee personal information and exploiting data systems, by utilizing a local law firm’s system to send infected data to partners.

In May, two well-known anti-virus firms began detecting compromised files, specifically within Microsoft Word. Emails with attachments were sent with a simple variation of the message below. This exact kit is now being traded alongside others on the “dark web,” therefore we have numerous business names outlined in brackets below.

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Windows Server 2008 End-Of-Life Support Begins Looming as Business Scramble to Act

It seems like we just went through this with Windows Server 2003, but we’ll soon be losing yet another Microsoft flagship product. Windows Server 2008 R2 and Exchange 2010, reached it’s “end-of-mainstream support” on January 13th, 2015 but the final blow will come January 14th, 2020. The exact same date for the end-of-support for Windows 7 Operating Systems. Microsoft will officially end its support for Windows Server 2008 and the 2008 R2 editions. It’s a sad beginning but read on and I will point you towards a few transformative paths for on-site, or cloud use.

Although 2020 seems like its lightyears away, update in an IT Infrastructure is a large task, one that will be here before you know it. So, if you’re still running Hyper-V on a Windows Server R2 platform, or worse your still running Windows Server 2003, then you need to start strategizing now, to ensure your company is protected and infrastructure is secure while moving forward.

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Extended Support Dates in Effect

Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 variants are already on their extended support phase now. As of July 8th, 2019, will be the final date for SQL Server 2008, while January 14th, 2020 will come shortly after. Once these dates hit, you will be running machines at your own risk in this saturated age of cyber-attacks. The good news is the fate of these dinosaur systems isn’t as bad as it would appear. It’s true this date cannot be moved, changed or deflected, but Microsoft has opened several more, cost-effective paths for businesses to begin their infrastructure evolution.

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Little-to-No Support Leaves Your Operating System Vulnerable

You can continue to use Windows Server 2008 R2 safely in your environments, at least until the expiration date. By doing so, you stand the risk of missing out of several new features being introduced to the Hyper-V family on any Server 2012 operating systems. These features alone warrant an upgrade to your infrastructure prior to the end-of-life support dates.

Remember that once a product reaches its end-of-life, no new features, fixes, or updates will occur. While Microsoft continues to provide what little help for customers with Server 2008 through extending support agreements, they too will no longer be able to receive any form of support from Microsoft come January 14, 2020. Leaving many business systems open and exposed to outside infiltration. All three Windows Server 2008, 2008 R2 (Datacenter, Enterprise, and Standard) will be affected, also including the Hyper-V role.

Post-Upgrade Solutions for Managing Your Old Servers 

  • Path #1:  Seen by many as the traditional evolutionary path, upgrading to a newer version of Windows Server, and SQL Server. This is where you get the most updated features in today’s security landscape. The latest version of Windows Server 2019, and SQL Server 2017.With the only caveat being to host on-premises versions or move to the cloud.
  • Path #2:  Not interested in upgrading to the latest server versions for some reason? We’ve got you covered, with a few options for those who wish to continue using Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2. To save you money, you could move these workloads into the Azure cloud, using Azure’s Hybrid Use Benefits. The only cost incurred is the computing instance and infrastructure. With the use of Azure Reserved Virtual Machine Instances for Windows Server, you can save further on computing costs.
  • Path #3:  The last path is the most grim for many, it’s the choice to not evolve at all. This leaves many servers including file, or database to receive the updating needed to stop cyber-attackers. For business’ that have already purchased “Software Assurance or Enterprise Subscription,” will receive security updates for a prolonged period of time. We should note, Microsoft has discontinued its assurance agreements, but with more than 90% of affected business’ operating under a “Standard License,” this path doesn’t work for the vast majority of businesses. Once again leaving many without a clear-cut choice.

This is still YOUR Choice

We hope all the information from Clare Computer Solutions, will assist in making sense of the dynamic landscape in technology. If your business wants a second opinion or just a helping hand, any of our team members would be happy to assist you with making your transition as smooth as possible. Reach out today to begin discussing your options in greater detail today.

 

Begin Making Your Plans to Migrate, as Windows 7 End -Of-Life Is Coming January 14th, 2020

managed service resources for building SMBs technology stance

8 Warning Signs You’re Using the Wrong IT Service Solution

Dreading your company’s technology review because you can’t show how your technology is performing? Have a provider suffering from a lack of ideas on how to truly accelerate technology?  You’re not alone – these are common symptoms for Bay Area businesses having selected the wrong managed IT service solution.

Who could blame you? The marketplace is crowded with vendors and tools that promise to deliver exactly what you need. Even the “do-it-yourself” path, with homegrown systems or spreadsheets, can seem like you’re moving in the right direction.

Sooner or later, you will sense “something is wrong,” but you can’t quite put your finger on what exactly. If that’s you or could become you, check out these 10 warning signs that your company needs to make a change:

8 Warning Signs You’re Using the Wrong IT Service Solution:

1)  Lacking a consolidated point-of-service for all technology related matters

2)  Tired of burning service hours on re-active support instead of proactive thinking?

3)  Bouncing between different relationship and account managers within your IT support’s organization?

4)  Weeks have passed without any word from your account manager or that IT Guy you hired

5)  There’s no personalization – Your IT support never seems to know your network, let alone, your name

6)  No one owns the roadmap for projects, unplanned work, updates, and changes

7)  The “out-of-the-box” support solutions were over positioned, and  don’t deliver

8)  Your “good enough,” functionality isn’t good enough for your management team

Coming to the Realization That You Didn’t Make the Right Choice?

Make a change — your next quarter doesn’t need to be a repeat of this quarter. The bottom-line is that executives need to know technology is being supported by scalable trustworthy, technology partner. This includes building a check-list of “would-like-to-have” features, “must-have” features and “deal breakers.”

Reference your list closely as you vet future products and solutions. Finally, it’s smart to secure feedback from others in your industry or channel. Consider inviting potential solution providers to your site, to your team a solution demo.

There’s no doubt this process is rigorous. But, it’s what’s required to find the best IT support and service solution for your organization. Contact Us – for a no-cost, no-obligation, conversation regarding unlocking the true potential of your business network and managed IT service solution.