4 Proactive Steps to Prepare Networks for Ultimate Agility

Growing in rapid popularity, networking professionals identified improving network agility as a top business goal for the year. Considered the future of networking and business computing, “Network Agility” itself has become a popular buzzword. With everyone talking about it, no one seems to agree on one definition or the next.

So what does network agility actually mean? We reached out to some of the most well-known brands in information technology, to gather and break down a jargon-free explanation. Hopefully, this will provide you some insight on network agility and answer any questions you may have.
Network Agility, So what is it?

To build agility in someone’s network, you need the ability to respond to network changes in real-time, while keeping pace with the evolving needs of your business. Agile Networking adapts to changes – like a rise in traffic, or newly-deployed devices as they happen, remaining flexible, secure, and easier to manage.

For a network looking to become more “agile,” it will need these three characteristics:

    • Scale Quickly: In standard network designs, the rules and configurations demanded to expand a network are coded by hand. In agile networking, scaling becomes a more hands-off process with network templates being deployed to address the reconfiguration of existing devices, with a more logical layout.
    • Total Visibility into the Network: In your current network, data is everything to you. All data from an endpoint, network devices, including performance data, alerts and more; must be collected and stored somewhere. This data is analyzed by machine learning and artificial intelligence in the background to work out maintenance and troubleshooting.
    • No Strings Attached: Using data collected, an agile network will discover root-causes behind specific alerts and notifications, with emphasis on the appropriate steps to troubleshoot issues. Trying each step until successful, agile networks further refine and focus their abilities in fixing problems. Eventually, leaving the entire network to find and fix issues on its own, without any interruption from the added workloads or constant human intervention.

Unless your 100% certain your network was built using modern architectures and technology, then there is likely a mismatch of different devices, spanning across many vendors.

If this sounds familiar, then achieving network agility, let alone a stable network will require modification. That doesn’t have to be done in one go, in fact, we break this process into 4 proactive steps to prepare networks:

    1. Standardization sounds scary, but limiting a network with fewer than 5 vendors is easier to monitor, and more simple to manage as a network grows diverse over time. The challenge for most businesses is the cost and time, but with a strong focus on expertise, a plan is key to avoid tossing more money at drowning technology.
    2. Become strategic when growing your network, with any modifications it’s important to make sure this is a logical extension of your network, not a cobbled-together hack. The question we always ask our clients is, “Does this position the network for success in the future?” You should be moving forward with resounding decisions, for further improving the automation and less in the difficulty in managing technology every day.
    3. Document Everything: Networks change, and having the ability to review items like topology maps, device inventory, alerts, troubleshooting efforts trending becomes easier, and a managed service provider like Clare Computer Solutions documents these changes progressively, giving access to internal teams or leadership to assist in decision making analytics. These are key when proactively, managing your network infrastructure.
    4. Tight-knit Processes are based on the documentation gained and held to create your helpful process for your internal employees, while we do the heavy lifting. When our alerts trigger, your internal teams will know exactly what is going on and know that it’s being fixed.

The fact is many businesses have already begun taking steps we’ve outlined to prepare their networks for the future. If you don’t start now, then you’ll be scrambling to modify your networks, which is a big task that requires a lot of your internal manpower, where using Clare Computer Solutions we can focus your resources, for next-level efficiency. What are you waiting forTalk to the network experts today!

The 12 Tricks to You Succeeding in Managing Office 365

Although it’s never recommended, some local businesses have taken their chances at managing and manipulating Office 365 configurations. With so much knowledge needed before making any moves, most of the time we only hear the horror stories from how things went from bad to worse. When it comes down to Office 365 management for your business, you need someone with a proven track record of knowing how to monitor, manage and grow your Office 365 tenant effective, this includes not OVER sizing/charging.

If you’re serious about managing more seats and growing your business, the time spent can quickly add up. Luckily for you, with a time-tested procedure, your business can take the pain out of managing mutilate Office 365 tenants or sites. I would not advise anyone, without expert knowledge of these products to tinker with the settings, so our team has pulled together a list of the 12 tricks to you succeeding in managing Office 365. Read more

Phishing: Even Without a Click, Your Employees Can Assist the Bad Guys

Employees can still assist the bad guys in compromising the overall safety of your organization. Over the years, we’ve reinforced these security ideas in our blogs and social media with the idea that clicking or interacting with these criminals only continues to broaden your vulnerability, making your risk of attack that much greater. These criminals are constantly adapting with every failed attempt. The criminals appear to have wised up again, as they have begun focusing more on getting employees to reply.

By drawing people into some form of back and forth email exchanges, employees begin unwittingly training these criminals, through what warrants a potential reply. One of the ways they learn to phish companies is by learning how your employees work. Read more

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 […]

Hackers Execute Ransomware Attack & Encryption on SF Asian Art Museum

In the wake of destruction from an ever-growing threat of cybercriminals, many major municipal branches in Baltimore and Atlanta fell victim to encrypted systems and were extorted for millions. Soon after, the major targets became local school districts and colleges, but it would appear the targets have changed once again. This time to an industry that will surprise many, who think this could NEVER happen to them.

Museums…. That’s right, last Tuesday it was reported that the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco was hit with a ransomware attack back in May. Initially, when I heard this, I was as surprised as you were, why would a Museum be hit with Ransomware? Why would someone search out cultural institutions to attack? The answer lays closer then we think, dealing in lower monetary value, museum donors’ personal information, can be easily stolen, alongside the typical digital footprint of email, phone number, first name, last name, etc.

It sounds like something out of an action movie, the hacking of a museum in San Francisco, came to the surface when the Asian Art Museum refused to pay the demanded ransom, sticking with the city’s official “no-negotiation policy.” Although everyone at the Asian Art Museum has been tight-lipped about the tactic’s used against them, we do know the data was recovered, by utilizing a trusted backup system.  Always making sure technology partners are checking-in, and running tests periodically, making sure systems built for fail-over are fully operational, and providing the museum the confidence needed to NOT PAY the ransom, knowing they can easily restore data, giving everyone at the Asian Art Museum, peace of mind.

Don’t be taken by surprise, protect your business with these five tips to better your data protection:

  1. End-Point Protection – To protect employees and business’ from cyberattacks and encryption, it’s critical to your success to employ up-to-date End-Point Protection (EPP) and Malware Alerting on high-value targets like servers or domain controllers.
  2. Gone Phishing – The human element is what gets most people, and it’s because these phishing examples have been developed to simulate a popular brand or coworker email. Without successfully phishing someone to gain access, the doors on your network can remain closed. Be warry, as social networks have been hit hard with email spoofing.
  3. See Something, Say Something – One of the most important things to teach employees within your network, is if they see a ransomware pop up, you should immediately disconnect this machine from the network. This will prevent the infected system from communicating with other nods on your network, damaging more of your data, and encrypting more technology.
  4. Group Policy Controls – Generate access controls or Group Policy, in case someone does get into one of the computers, they won’t be able to remote into someone else’s PC or system. Making it critical to prevent the spread and damage of further entities.
  5. Prioritize your Vulnerability – How much of a threat can your business take on, with information everywhere on the network, it grows impossible to secure everything, making it imperative to create a layered approach – to further secure financials and company email that could contain personal information.

In today’s cybersecurity landscape, ransomware poses a serious risk to every business. Taking a proactive approach is the key to reducing your risk. You can learn more about disaster recovery planning and reliable backup solutions by consulting a technology partner who understands your organization’s unique needs. Contact a Clare Computer Solutions Consultant today to determine your risk.

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 beginning 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.

Read more

Flipboard News gets hit by data breach in IT Support Blog Clare Computer Solutions

Read Between the Lines: What Your Business Could Learn from Flipboard’s Recent Data-Breach

According to Flipboard, hackers were able to tap directly into the databases where the app-company housed customer information. The information stolen, including customer names, user names, hashed passwords, emails, and digital tokens or API tokens for your favorite social media apps. Although Flipboard does not know how many accounts hackers infiltrated, nor have they fully-assessed the damage, one thing is for sure: It’s time for many companies to begin reading between the lines. While data that was stolen is serious, it’s the number of time hackers were able to go undetected that is cause for concern. Companies need to focus on Endpoint Protection. Read more

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.

Read more

What Exactly Is a Security Posture & What Does It Mean to Your Business

Our business ecosystems have begun rapidly changing, with cybercriminals evolving rapidly, a new vocabulary is developing. A new addition to the lexicon of many is the concept of “Security Posture.” Another techy-word, referring to the strength and security of your IT infrastructure. Putting an increased presence on internet-born vulnerabilities for business technology. How you manage current hardware and software purchases, policy & procedure generation and controls.

What Makes-Up Your Security Posture

Any of these singular aspects are defined under cybersecurity, your security posture develops the likelihood of a breach, and what it would take for hackers to gain access to these critical pieces of network technology, but also the state of your employees, and if they can spot similar threats, making these difficult for many to observe.

In the context of managing cybersecurity, larger organizations, including Directors of IT, Chief Technology Officers, and any compliance officer, must make decisions based on the deliberation and analysis of their security posture. Generating a better understanding surrounding certain aspects of your cybersecurity approach, but this is simply not enough anymore. In today’s connected age a more holistic approach is needed to meet regulations and compliance. Read more