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When Looking for Reliable I.T. Look for a Manged CIO

How Can You Find A Reliable IT Support Company That Will Customize Their Services To Meet Your Business Needs?

This isn’t a fairy tale. It’s a true story. 

 

Once upon a time, in a story that might sound awfully familiar, there was a business owner who wanted to find a trustworthy and reliable technology support provider. First, she tried this IT company.But they never returned her phone calls.

Then she tried another IT company.  But their prices were way too high.

 

Finally, she found an IT company that would customize their services especially for her business. And it was just right.  Now, what’s the moral of the story? Don’t put your trust in just any IT company. But, how do you begin your search?

 

How long have they been in business?  How large is their IT company?

 

Don’t use any company with less than three years of experience in the solutions you use. This will weed out a few right away.

 If it’s a small IT company, your business will probably be higher on their priority list, although, large IT companies can offer a broader base of experience and knowledge.  Their resources will be more expansive as well. It’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons here according to your organization’s requirements.  

What are their IT staff’s qualifications and certifications?

A reliable IT provider should have lots of info regarding the certifications their technicians hold. Why are certifications important?

According to CIO magazine, using certified professionals is beneficial to your business:

 

“44 percent of IT decision-makers say certifications result in employees performing work faster, 33 percent said it results in more efficiency when implementing systems and 23 percent say it helps deploy products and services faster with fewer errors.” 

 

If you use both Apple and Microsoft solutions, make sure they are certified on both. 

 

Also, ask if they provide continuing education for their techs. Do they attend industry events to update their skillsets?

 

Have they served businesses in your industry? Can they support the applications you use?

 

Ideally, your technology support provider should have experience in what you do. Find out if they’ve worked in industries and with businesses of the same size. Ask them for a reference list of customers from your industry to be sure.  If not, determine if the work they’ve performed for others may align with your needs.

 

Also, think about your employees, the type of work they do, and which applications they access in the typical workday. Can the IT company support these applications?

 

You may use specially-built applications to handle workflows. Your IT provider should understand how your business works, the technology you use, and be able to support it.

 

How will they help you grow your business with technology? Do they offer outsourced CIO services?

 

Ask how they’ll help to support your growth goals. Just as you have a one-year, three-year, or five-year business plan, they should provide strategic IT planning that aligns with your business objectives.

 

An Outsourced CIO will ensure that your technology meets your growing business demands. 

  • They will develop a thorough understanding of your company and technology infrastructure.
  • Offer suggestions for new IT solutions that can promote your success.
  • Develop an IT Strategic Plan that aligns with your goals and your budget.
  • Perform ongoing evaluations and performance metrics to ensure your business stays on track with your tactical technology plan.

 What kind of service can you expect? 

  • Do they offer 24/7 service with a live person on the other end of the phone, chat, or email?
  • Is their help desk staff qualified to address your issues right away?
  • Will they remotely monitor and maintain your IT system 24/7?
  • If they can’t fix your problems remotely, how long will it take for a technician to come to your site? Is this backed by a written Service Level Agreement?

What is and isn’t covered in their contract?

 

Do they provide fixed-fee services? What’s included? Find out what they don’t offer that you might require. 

 

Are there extra costs for services, and if so, how much are they? You deserve a reliable IT partner who will work to provide an IT system that’s secure, efficient, and increases your staff’s productivity.

 

What about cybersecurity? How will they protect your IT assets and data? 

  • Be sure they provide a layered cybersecurity solution to protect all of your computers and network from unauthorized access, malware, spam, viruses and other forms of cybercrime.
  • Will they provide Security Awareness Training for your employees to ensure they don’t fall victim to hackers and phishing emails?
  • Will they remotely monitor your network for security threats on a 24/7 basis, block these threats and eliminate them?
  • Do they provide vulnerability assessments?
  • If you are in healthcare, are they HIPAA compliant themselves? As a business associate, they must be. Will they provide HIPAA or other industry regulatory compliance support?
  • What about your mobile devices? Do they provide Mobile Device Management?

With the increase of more sophisticated cyber-attacks today, make sure you’re educated about cyber threats. Your IT company is responsible to ensure that you are armed with the best protection available to safeguard your data and IT infrastructure against cyber-crime.

 

Ask about Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery – and the Cloud

 

Do they provide a secure cloud-based backup service?  How often do they test the disaster recovery plan? Will they perform tests to estimate the recovery time and the impact of potential failure?  

 

Speaking of the Cloud, do they have Cloud Consultants on staff who can help you choose the right solutions for your business? Can they migrate your technology to the Cloud?

 

Finally, ask them how much everything will cost. 

Make sure their IT Service & Support Plans align with your budgetary requirements.  

If they won’t customize their services to meet your needs, the story’s not over yet.  Keep looking for the reliable IT Support Company that’s right for you.

Call Today 570-634-5350

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Bots turning your Computer into a Zombie

Hello Everyone! Carmine Corridore of Underdog Computer and Network Support! Back with another video blog. This week I will be teaching you about BOTS! Turning your computer into a Zombie! This is part 3 of my 3 part educational series on keeping safe on the internet.

Let’s get started!

BOTS! You may have heard of Bots before or this may be your first time but Bots are just as dangerous as malware and phishing if not more than because, it makes you unwillingly involved in criminal acts!

So what is a BOT? A bot is a piece of software that performs automated tasks by running scripts over the internet. It performs these simple and repetitive tasks much more quickly than a human sort of like a roBOT. I am sure this is where the term comes from. Most bots are harmless and crucial for making the internet useful like chat bots, auction bots, web crawlers or spiders. Like anything else, Bots can be “weaponized” or turned malignant and destructive when deployed by cyber criminals.

I am a history buff and I use history to see how something evolved.  You know the old saying if you don’t know your history you are doomed to repeat it. I love to look back and see how certain technology came to be and how it evolved in this case into something bad.

Some say Bots began all the way back with Greek Mythology. But we are not going that far back. Lets go to 1950’s.

In 1950, computer scientist and mathematician Alan Turing developed the Turing Test, also known as the imitation game It’s most primitive format required three players — A, B, and C.

Player A was a machine and player B was a human. Player C, also a human was the interrogator, by asking a series of questions would try to determine who the human was. However, there was a problem. At the time, databases were highly limited, and could therefore only store a certain amount of human phrases. That meant that the computer would eventually run out of answers to give Player C, eliminating the challenge and prematurely ending the test.

One of the most significant AI developments of the 1960s was the development of ELIZA — a bot, named in part for the Pygmalion character, whose purpose was to simulate a psychotherapist. Created in 1966 by MIT professor Joseph Weizenbaum, the technology was limited, to say the least, as was ELIZA’s vocabulary. AI continued advancing in the 80’s and 90’s but most of it for scientific and government focused.

In the 90’s the shift began towards the consumer market, if you remember some of the games from the 90’s Simon Says, I took a lickin from a chicken and others. Then in the late 90’s around 1996, Tamagotchi a computerized handheld pet hit the market, which required digital care to keep it alive.

As the internet became popular so did the use of bots. As I mentioned earlier you had internet bots called crawlers or spiders that went and “crawled” through a website and harvested all the links to categorize in a search directory(remember those).

So that doesn’t sound so bad, when did it go wrong? Remember I said earlier – Most bots are harmless and crucial for making the internet useful like chat bots, auction bots, web crawlers or spiders. Like anything else, Bots can be “weaponized” or turned malignant and destructive when deployed by cyber criminals. Something called the BOTNET was developed. What the heck is that? Botnets are nothing more than an army of infected computers, which grow by infecting other computers. How that happens is the reason this is part of my 3 part series. It happens through Trojan horses, infected emails, viruses, etc.. who controls them, how do they get their instructions?

So how does it work? First it starts with an infection generally called a Trojan horse. It is called a Trojan horse because it was let in by YOU! That’s right I said you. A free download from a website, Freeware installation of some software. Your reboot your computer and boom you are infected! Your antivirus usually does not pick it up because it is made to install before the av has a chance to start and is not smart enough to know it is a malicious program. Once on your computer it begins reporting to a C2C or a command to control center for instructions. That is it your computer is a zombie now reporting to a Botmaster for instructions and mindlessly infecting other computers. Most of the times you will not know it is happening it doesn’t take a super amount of resources to get done. Most of the times it is only when alerted by your ISP that a Honeypot has flagged your network.

A C2C is one way that a botnet is created a second way and most recent way is a peer to peer. So rather than each zombie communicating back to the botmaster, each computer becomes both the master and the slave, Woooo! Think Skynet! As you can imagine the Peer to Peer method is much harder to kill.

 

How to prevent! Prevention becomes 2 parts education 1 part technology and a good Technology Partner!

Underdog Computer and Network Support will educate you and your staff on good surfing habits and the warning signs. Using proven technology securing your network and making sure your computers are up to date with the latest patches. Our professionals have been doing this for 26 years. Give us a call today 570-634-5350 for a free review of your network. And….. Never Fear, We Fix I.T.

 

 

Hello Everyone! Carmine Corridore of Underdog Computer and Network Support! Back with another video blog. This week I will be teaching you about BOTS! Turning your computer into a Zombie! This is part 3 of my 3 part educational series on keeping safe on the internet.

Let’s get started!

BOTS! You may have heard of Bots before or this may be your first time but Bots are just as dangerous as malware and phishing if not more than because, it makes you unwillingly involved in criminal acts!

So what is a BOT? A bot is a piece of software that performs automated tasks by running scripts over the internet. It performs these simple and repetitive tasks much more quickly than a human sort of like a roBOT. I am sure this is where the term comes from. Most bots are harmless and crucial for making the internet useful like chat bots, auction bots, web crawlers or spiders. Like anything else, Bots can be “weaponized” or turned malignant and destructive when deployed by cyber criminals.

I am a history buff and I use history to see how something evolved.  You know the old saying if you don’t know your history you are doomed to repeat it. I love to look back and see how certain technology came to be and how it evolved in this case into something bad.

Some say Bots began all the way back with Greek Mythology. But we are not going that far back. Lets go to 1950’s.

In 1950, computer scientist and mathematician Alan Turing developed the Turing Test, also known as the imitation game It’s most primitive format required three players — A, B, and C.

Player A was a machine and player B was a human. Player C, also a human was the interrogator, by asking a series of questions would try to determine who the human was. However, there was a problem. At the time, databases were highly limited, and could therefore only store a certain amount of human phrases. That meant that the computer would eventually run out of answers to give Player C, eliminating the challenge and prematurely ending the test.

One of the most significant AI developments of the 1960s was the development of ELIZA — a bot, named in part for the Pygmalion character, whose purpose was to simulate a psychotherapist. Created in 1966 by MIT professor Joseph Weizenbaum, the technology was limited, to say the least, as was ELIZA’s vocabulary. AI continued advancing in the 80’s and 90’s but most of it for scientific and government focused.

In the 90’s the shift began towards the consumer market, if you remember some of the games from the 90’s Simon Says, I took a lickin from a chicken and others. Then in the late 90’s around 1996, Tamagotchi a computerized handheld pet hit the market, which required digital care to keep it alive.

As the internet became popular so did the use of bots. As I mentioned earlier you had internet bots called crawlers or spiders that went and “crawled” through a website and harvested all the links to categorize in a search directory(remember those).

So that doesn’t sound so bad, when did it go wrong? Remember I said earlier – Most bots are harmless and crucial for making the internet useful like chat bots, auction bots, web crawlers or spiders. Like anything else, Bots can be “weaponized” or turned malignant and destructive when deployed by cyber criminals. Something called the BOTNET was developed. What the heck is that? Botnets are nothing more than an army of infected computers, which grow by infecting other computers. How that happens is the reason this is part of my 3 part series. It happens through Trojan horses, infected emails, viruses, etc.. who controls them, how do they get their instructions?

So how does it work? First it starts with an infection generally called a Trojan horse. It is called a Trojan horse because it was let in by YOU! That’s right I said you. A free download from a website, Freeware installation of some software. Your reboot your computer and boom you are infected! Your antivirus usually does not pick it up because it is made to install before the av has a chance to start and is not smart enough to know it is a malicious program. Once on your computer it begins reporting to a C2C or a command to control center for instructions. That is it your computer is a zombie now reporting to a Botmaster for instructions and mindlessly infecting other computers. Most of the times you will not know it is happening it doesn’t take a super amount of resources to get done. Most of the times it is only when alerted by your ISP that a Honeypot has flagged your network.

A C2C is one way that a botnet is created a second way and most recent way is a peer to peer. So rather than each zombie communicating back to the botmaster, each computer becomes both the master and the slave, Woooo! Think Skynet! As you can imagine the Peer to Peer method is much harder to kill.

 

How to prevent! Prevention becomes 2 parts education 1 part technology and a good Technology Partner!

Underdog Computer and Network Support will educate you and your staff on good surfing habits and the warning signs. Using proven technology securing your network and making sure your computers are up to date with the latest patches. Our professionals have been doing this for 26 years. Give us a call today 570-634-5350 for a free review of your network. And….. Never Fear, We Fix I.T.

 

 

 

Viruses or Malware, What is the Difference?

There has been a Computer Virus Outbreak! Hello I’m Carmine Corridore of Underdog Computer and Network Support here to talk to you about Viruses or Malware, what is the Difference?

 Let’s get started. Malware, Spyware, Viruses, hijackers, junkware, Trojans and Worms What are the difference between these classifications? Well believe it or not malware and viruses are not different things but instead viruses, spyware, Trojans, worms, hijackers and spyware are all different types of Malware. Malware is a broad term of software that is used cause malicious harm to a computer. Viruses is a type of malicious software that is meant to replicate and spread like an actual human virus. Because viruses are more popular especially early on in the computer age. Companies concentrated and coming up with “Antivirus” software it wasn’t until recently that other types of malware has shown up and viruses are now a minority.

So let start with a little history, when was the first computer virus? Computer viruses date back all the way to 1949 when John von Neumann, who is known to be the “Father of Cybernetics”, wrote an article on the “Theory of Self-Reproducing Automata” that was published in 1966.

Later in 1971 Bob Thomas developed an experimental self-replicating program. It accessed through ARPANET (The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) and copied to a remote host system with TENEX operating system. A message displayed that “I’m the creeper, catch me if you can!”. Later the first antivirus called the “REAPER” was created to seek out and delete the creeper.

In 1974 Wabbit was an infectious program developed to make multiple copies of itself on a computer clogging the system reducing the performance of the computer. In 1981, A program called the “Elk Cloner” was developed by Richard Skrenta for the Apple II Systems. This was created to infect Apple DOS 3.3. These programs started to spread through files and folders that are transferred to other computers by floppy disk.

In 1983 Virus was first coined by Frederick Cohen for the computer programs that are infectious as it has the tendency to replicate. But it really wasn’t until mid to late 80’s the first antivirus program was made.

So now that we know Viruses are just a type of Malware. The question becomes what should you use antivirus or antimalware? Do they really work? Who do I trust?

Like the Reaper from 1971 it specifically was designed to detect the creeper and eliminate it. IF there was a different type of malware back then it wouldn’t have been able to find and remove it only the one it was targeted to eliminate. That is similar to how vaccines are made that fight human viruses. So antivirus programs contain many signatures or vaccines of known viruses. The traditional antivirus programs used signature based detection. It is hard to remember the world before the internet but early on the big names of the time all subscribed to a bbs mailing list where they tracked and detected new malware. They essentially would reverse engineer the virus and come up with a way to stop them.

Many “ANTI” programs detect all kinds of malware. They now deploy different scanning techniques in addition to signature based. There is heuristic which detects variants of malware, behavioral base detection which looks at the behavior of a program and it if acts like a virus it will isolate the program.

There are a lot of antivirus/antimalware and they are not all the same, some do a better job than others. None claim to be 100%. Over the years I have seen my fair share of antivirus applications and when I was starting Underdog I wanted to make sure the antimalware application we deploy can be trusted and is reliable. After careful consideration, we decided to offer Webroot Secure Anywhere Cloud Antivirus. Webroot uses Machine learning to detect malware. Machine learning is the next level of detection and Webroot has been doing it longer than most. If you remember me saying signature based detection requires a human to get a malware, dissect it and then come up with an “antibody”. Machine learning removes the human from the equation thus making it faster and more precise to create “antibodies”.  To keep your computer safe and your company safe you need to have a antimalware program that deploys machine learning like our Cloud Based Solution using Webroot. Cybersecurity is more important today and will be in the next decade. Call me today 570-634-5350. Stay tune for Part 3 BOTS turning your computer into a Zombie! Underdog Computer and Network Support. Never Fear, We Fix I.T. here!

Learn What Phishing is and
How to avoid being Scammed

Part 1 of a 3 part Series on How to keep your Computer Safe

Hello Everyone! Carmine Corridore of Underdog Computer and Network Support! Back with another video blog. This week I will be teaching you about PHISHING! This is part 1 of my 3 part educational series on keeping safe on the internet.

Let’s get started!

Oh you thought I meant actual fishing, well close! Lets start with what is Phishing, as the homonym implies it is a way for a hacker to “Fish” for information using social engineering and human behavior to get information about you that allows the hacker to gain access to something. Most of the Times it is bank account information, passwords, credit card information, etc..

So how does it work, how do they fool you so easily? Don’t feel bad about phishing, 76% of organizations say they were effected by some kind of phishing scam in 2017 and that number is rising. That is why it is important for you to be aware of how to recognize phishing and how to avoid it.

A Phishing attach can occur in different formats, the earliest of the phishing scams were those emails coming from the famous Nigerian Prince. There were several of them but the concept was always the same, it included a large sum of money he had but for some reason needed your help to transfer funds into your bank account, so all he needed was your banking information. Straightforward right?

That wasn’t too sophisticated but it was early on in the age of the internet so it was easier to fool people. People became wise, so hackers changed up their play. Now Phishing comes in all different types of emails. There is my favorite you get an email from your boss or supervisor they need you to run to the store for them and pick up hundreds of dollars of Itunes gift cards for some reason and then when you get back email the card numbers. But don’t bother confirming this in person with me because I am in a meeting. For this type of phishing scam. Its vague enough because it probably has your boss or supervisors email address or name, and it lends to credibility because they probably are in a meeting. Once you email those gift card numbers that’s it your money is gone.

Then there are the straight up emails from trusted sources like Amazon, Apple, UPS, Microsoft, Google, Fed Ex and my favorite IRS.

They will use the very accessible and famous logos of the company they are trying to impersonate, make it sound as official as possible with just enough social engineering to convince you. Either there is an attached document or in most cases a link that takes you to a website in an attempt to further harm your computer. Some will ask you for credit card or banking information.

Ok, so what do you do? Well it takes some careful habits and common sense. Don’t just respond to the email or click links or open attachments and good god don’t go out and buy those gift cards! Then think about it did you send out a package recently that fedex or ups is contacting you? Do you have a Microsoft or Google account? The IRS and I repeat the IRS will never email you. Second look closely at the email, something will be off about it. Look at the return email address is it the same domain as where it is coming from. For instance is it from Microsoft.com or IRS.gov or ups.com, chances are it is some random generated email account name. Hover your mouse over the name it will reveal the full email address. You can also click reply, which usually will reveal the name. If there is a hyperlink it wants you to click on, again hover your mouse over it and you will see where it wants you to go. Does it make sense is it the companies domain or again some random domain address. Last but not least if you get an email with some kind of attachment be it from someone you know or a trusted company. Ask yourself if you are expecting it. If you are not sure and that person is reachable by phone. Call them or sometimes I will send a fresh email to that person asking them if they meant to send the questionable email.

When in doubt, ask your I.T. professional. Here at Underdog we have trained our customers on these techniques and when in doubt they will reach out to me when they have a questionable email and I will instruct them on what is best to do and sometimes I will reach out to the source myself to follow up. At Underdog Computer and Network Support we believe an educated customer is our strongest ally in combating viruses and malware and keeping everyone safe. If your I.T. provider isn’t doing this for you give us a call.

Underdog Computer and Network Support! Never Fear, We Fix I.T. here! And come back next week for part 2 Viruses and Malware