Langley IT Professionals

Top 6 Tips to Protect Your Business Technology & Data From Theft | Chilliwack & Abbotsford IT Consultants

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We have talked a fair bit, before, about protecting your business against online threats – with all sorts of scammers constantly trying to steal passwords, identities, data or money. But what about the good old-fashioned real-world threats of theft? No matter how safe you think your location is, break-ins and property theft are also still a concern that you should take into consideration for your business.

Here are our top 6 tips to help you protect your data, and keep the impact to a minimum, if your business is broken into…

1. Anchor or tether equipment to immovable objects

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A laptop is stolen every 53 seconds (according to tech research firm, Gartner). Stats suggest that the vast majority of these are actually stolen from public places, but they are still a quick payday from an office-interloper too. Did you know there is a way that you can lock up your laptop to protect it from light-fingered visitors? Almost all laptops, for quite a while now, have a small opening on them where you can attach a locking cable. (Like this one , available at Staples) So, you can use this to lock your laptop to an immovable object! You can also do something similar with desktop units in the office.

2. Lock computer cases to prevent removal of hard disks.

For the smart thief, yanking out hard drives makes a quicker & lighter getaway. To thwart them, locking a computer case completely shuts them out – and adding that to a machine already tethered, your data is far safer!

3. Back-up data to online storage

Our favourite phrase does seem to be back-up, back-up, back-up… but we just can’t stress this one enough! Back-ups can save so much time and money in cases of data loss, whether it is from a theft or natural disaster. Using online server storage will also protect precious data in the event of a hardware theft, since that precious data was never on the machine to begin with!

4. Encrypt your hard disk

If you do have to keep important data or files on your PC/laptop, then encrypting your hard disk is a great way of keeping non-authorized eyes away from the goods! (Particularly if you are on the road a lot and not always able to tether your machine). If you are using Windows 7, 8 or 10, then this is actually a really easy thing to do yourself. You can see how, by checking out our quick tip video…

5. Keep servers & network storage devices locked away.

If you do use physical storage devices in your business, make sure they are kept in a locked room or cabinet. Key/combination holders should be kept to a minimum, with access given to only those people who really need it.

6. Install tracking software

If you are the kind of business that is on the move a lot, you may want to consider installing tracking software or services to your mobile devices. Sadly, the chances of retrieving a stolen device are slim, but this could give you a fighting chance… and many will, at least, give you the opportunity to wipe the data from the wandering device! Prey and LockItTight are 2 such services who can help you to track your devices and secure or delete data, or even see what the thief is up to.

If you are an Apple consumer, you have the Find My Mac or iPhone options in the iCloud settings, which also allow you to lock or wipe the devices. Make sure the setting is on.

If you are in Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Langley or the surrounding areas of the BC Fraser Valley, and would like more advice on how you can protect your business technology both online and in the real world, our team will be happy to help! Call us to book a consultation at 778-771-0184 or email help@wildfrogsystems.com.

Top 5 Reasons Why You Need a Disaster Recovery Plan | Fraser Valley Business IT Consultants

Running a business is already a lot of work on a day-to-day basis, so it’s not surprising when we come across businesses who have not had chance to put together a disaster plan. Most have probably thought about it at some point, but the hustle and bustle of getting things going, or keeping the money rolling in, has taken precious time from turning those thoughts into an actual plan.

So, how important is a disaster plan? The answer is VITAL! If your business does not have a plan for these top 5 scenarios, stop now and start getting one sorted before it is too late and very costly.

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1. Natural disaster

We may not be directly on an earthquake Fault-line, (we are kinda close, though) or in the shadow of an active Hawaiian volcano, but there are still plenty of potential natural disasters that could cripple a business either short or long term. It can range from temporary power failure from a wind/ice storm, all the way through to permanent loss from fire. (A particular concern, locally, with our summers yielding increasingly-worse forest fire seasons.) So, from an I.T. perspective, things to consider here definitely include off-site back-ups, as well as power and office-space alternatives.

2. Virus/Crypto-attacks

You hear about them all the time – and you probably see a heap of Spam attempts in your inbox everyday. The internet is a disease-infested stew of malicious pirates on a mission to plunder your ship of its spoils. Attacks are daily (in fact, businesses are targeted approximately every 14 seconds, resulting in a new ransomware victim every 40 seconds!) and is estimated to cost companies somewhere in the region of $11 billion, this year alone. If any of your technology is somehow connected to the world outside your office, you need protection AND data back-ups!

3. Malicious Employees

So, you may work hard to protect against those external attacks, but what about internal ones? It just takes one disgruntled (probably soon-to-be-ex) employee to do all sorts of damage. That damage can be anything, from simply downloading software for personal use (and compromising your legal license agreements) to a full-on data breach with intent to sell to a competitor. Do you have the steps in place to protect your company finances and data? It may be time to look at access policies and your exit procedures for leaving employees.

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4. Accidental Employee Damage

As much as a person may really love their job, and really work hard, they are still human. Humans make mistakes. It could be a spilled coffee, a cleaner unplugging a server, or an innocent click on an emailed resume (coincidentally sent during a recruitment drive) that turned out to actually be a ransomware Trojan virus. The magic words here are back-up, back-up, back-up… oh and good education!

5. Equipment Failure

No matter how good your I.T. crew is, there will come a time when a piece of equipment dies. It can be a tiny little component that wasn’t quite fitted right during the manufacturing process, or something as common and simple as an old-age issue. Regular maintenance and monitoring will help, but back-ups are key, as well as understanding the expected lifespan of your equipment and budgeting for replacements before you reach those dates.

Hopefully, you will never need your disaster plan. But, like home insurance, it is very wise to have it, just in case. If you do not have a good (up-to-date!) IT Disaster Plan in place and would like help, you can give our team of tech experts a call at 778-771-0184 or email help@wildfrogsystems.com. We will happily send one of our knowledgeable tech support consultants to give your business a disaster health check-up, and advise you on the best options to have a water-tight plan in place.

Windows 7 End of Support Announced - What To Do Next! | Chilliwack & Abbotsford Tech Support Experts

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Windows 7 may be close to hitting it’s 10th birthday (that’s about 72 in tech years!), but it still remains a fairly popular operating system. Well, we have some sad news for you, if you own 1 of the almost 40% of PCs still running Windows 7, – its End-of-Life has been announced. January 14, 2020 is the day that Microsoft will cease to update or support Windows 7, and it is now on the “extended support” phase.

So, since the date has been announced and rapidly approaches, now is time to start thinking about upgrading to Windows 10. (And just in case you forget, Microsoft is releasing a Windows 7 update which will give notifications to tell users to upgrade before January!)

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What happens if I don’t upgrade?

Your Windows 7 will carry on working BUT you will no longer receive any security or feature updates, meaning you are VERY vulnerable to attack from new viruses or hacks.

What do I do to upgrade?

Upgrading is easy. If you want to stick with the comfort and ease of staying on a Microsoft platform and upgrading to Windows 10, you just need to buy a copy of Windows 10, download the installation file and run it. If you are an Office 365 Business subscriber, though, the news is even better – you can upgrade all of your licensed devices for free!

 A cheaper option is Windows 8, but that’s not really a smart option when you are going to just run into the same End-of-Life problem in a short while anyway… plus Windows 10 is simply better!

There are other options:

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Linux – Free but does work quite differently, so will come with a bit of a learning curve, plus it will not run your favourite Windows Office apps, like Word. There are Linux alternatives though.

Mac – Apple machines do typically age better than PCs but it is the most expensive way to go. Many of your favourite apps/programs are also available for Macs, but you will have to purchase them again too, thereby upping your budget again.

Whatever route you choose, we STRONGLY recommend backing up all of your files first… even though the Windows 10 upgrade asks if you want to keep your files.  

Will my old computer run Windows 10?

That depends on what is in your computer, of course… and there is a chance that it may not have the spec, in which you case you may need to look at upgrading your machine. According to Microsoft, the minimum requirements for Windows 10 are:

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or System on a Chip (SoC)

  • RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit.

  • Hard disk space: 16 GB for 32-bit OS or 20 GB for 64-bit OS. (And the upcoming new version - 1903 - actually requires this to go up to 32 GB)

  • Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver.

  • Display: 800x600.

Realistically though, if your computer does need a hefty hardware upgrade, by the time you add up the parts and effort, you may want to just consider investing in a new PC.

This sounds scary… I have a whole office of computers that need to upgrade!

Don’t panic… that’s what we are here for! Our skilled IT Support Team can take a look at your current machines, and let you know what options are best for you, along with how much they will cost and how long it will take. Then you can just leave the rest to the pros! Give us a call on 778-771-0184 or email info@wildfrogsystems.com and we will be happy to help.

Is AI as scary as it sounds? | Fraser Valley IT Consultants

AI (or artificial intelligence) is such a big buzz word/phrase, right now, as more and more new products are claiming to use the technology, with plenty more predicted to come. AI is everywhere… from transportation to healthcare. This year’s CES even featured a few products claiming to be AI-infused, although how many of these products are actually AI? Should we be worried about the rise of the machines? Well, it really depends on what your definition of AI is.

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To many of us, you say AI and you immediately conjure up scary images from movies like Terminator or iRobot, with a real fear that one day machines will eclipse mankind and relegate us to some form of servitude or post-apocalyptic society. In reality, the version of AI that we are now seeing is actually a subcategory called machine learning. It is really a form of coding that is allowing a machine to finish its programming by learning from various patterns and behaviours that it observes. It really doesn’t have an awareness of self or independent thought beyond the given task. (Big sigh of relief there!)

So, looking at real world examples, take the self-driving car. It uses the data, rules and parameters that it was given (highway code laws, maps, your chosen route, collision avoidance rules) to navigate roads it hasn’t travelled on before and get you to a destination. It may use AI to make an instant decision to avoid a collision or choose a better route in a heavy traffic situation, but it doesn’t actually think spontaneously for itself and only seeks an outcome to arrive at a predetermined destination in one piece. No sudden distracted diversions because of its personal opinion that it thought the little red hatchback was cute and wanted to see where it was going! (On the very rare occasions when these cars have been involved in an accident, reports have shown that 94% of those cases were, in fact, as a result of human error, not the technology).

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It really does have some great benefits, as a computer’s black or white “thinking process” can see patterns that the human brain can miss, leading to better results. The learning process also means far less initial programming, as you are not giving it every single scenario or piece of data to work out its results – it is figuring that out on its own. Used right, machine learning can make more accurate predictions, so companies can make business decisions based on that data-driven outcome.

Machine learning technology can save lives –medical tech that requires action when it knows body chemistry isn’t correct (eg an insulin pump that uses data to know when to deliver a dose). It can save time and money – predicting a product’s performance success & making design adjustments in the early development stage, rather than having to spend more time finding those flaws at the prototype stage. The benefit list goes on.

Of course, research and development into AI is still very much ongoing, and its definition (& role in our society) will definitely change over the next 10, 20 or 50 years. It may replace the jobs of some, but it will create jobs in other areas. For now, though, it is very much at the forefront of current technology development trends and is something to embrace rather than fear.

Massive New Data Breach Found! | Chilliwack IT Support Professionals

Troy Hunt, the man behind the popular data breach website, Have I Been Pwned, has recently reported a huge new collection of user data has been found on one of the hacking forums. Now, when I say huge, I mean massive… enormous… gigantic… colossus… well, I think you are probably getting the picture. So, exactly how big was it? This data breach contained 2.7 BILLION records, from over 770 MILLION compromised accounts!

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The breach is the largest single one ever to have been loaded onto the Have I Been Pwned website and contains a staggering 21+ million unique stolen passwords. The exact origins of where the data was taken from is a little harder to pinpoint, but experts believe that most are from a collection of older websites and breaches. So, if you are the smart sort of person, who regularly updates their passwords and uses lots of different ones, you shouldn’t be too concerned. However, it will still be a good idea to head to the Have I Been Pwned website and enter your email address. If it tells you that your address has been found in any data breach, it will list them for you. (So, you can then go to these sites, if you do still use them, and change your details.) This huge breach, mentioned above, will be named Collection #1.

Of course, as long as there are hackers, data breaches will continue to happen. The best way to protect yourself is follow these tips:

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  1. Use unobvious complicated passwords. The best ones are the ones made by random password generators. (Even some browsers like Chrome have these built in). Make them at least 8-12 characters, with a mix of letters, numbers and symbols.

  2. Use a different password for every place you need one! Sounds scary for anyone who can’t remember what they had for breakfast… but tip #3 will come to your rescue on this one.

  3. Keep your passwords somewhere safe like a digital password manager (LastPass, Sticky Password, Dashlane, 1Password etc). If you are “old school”, even a notebook works! (Hey, if your house or office ever gets broken, chances are that they will be skipping out with your TV or laptop and won’t give a scrappy notebook a second glance!)

  4. Update your passwords regularly. They say passwords are like underwear… keep them out of sight and change them often!

Time to Upgrade To Windows 10? | Chilliwack IT Consultants

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If you or your company are still running windows 7 on your desktop(s), now is the time to start planning an upgrade to Windows 10. The clock is ticking as Microsoft begins the one-year countdown to when they cease support for Windows 7.

Whilst mainstream support has already ended, the extended support will come to an end on January 14, 2020. That may sound like a long way away, but for many companies that are running multiple terminals with little to no down-time available, time to upgrade will need to be planned very well… and very soon.

You may be thinking “why do I need to upgrade at all? My computer is working ok”. Well, here are the top reasons to upgrade…

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1. Better security. No system is 100% secure but upgrading to the latest version means far more defense against the nasties of the internet, in its varied forms, whether it is online browsing or just accessing your terminal and files. Plus, you get more regular (and better streamlined) updates as improvements or new threats pop up.

2. Speed! They say time is money, so why do you want to waste time on slow boot-ups and browsing? Windows 10 starts faster, works faster and is more efficient.

3. Compatibility. As new hardware and software is developed and released, it will only work with the latest versions of Windows. Staying with an old version will just limit your ability to keep up with any such advancements.

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4. New features and better functionality. Not only is Windows 10 more user-friendly (and takes consumer feedback into account for future upgrades), but it also comes with better and more powerful media and productivity apps, and more flexibility on how and when you can use them.

If you need help or advice on how to upgrade your business to Windows 10, the tech team at Wild Frog Systems is ready and happy to help! Send an email to info@wildfrogsystems.com or call 778-771-0184.

When Your Email Feels Like Snail-mail... | Chilliwack & Abbotsford IT Support

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Most of us have had “that” moment . You know the one. That moment when someone says to you “yeh, I’ll email it straight over to you”, and then you sit there … and wait… and a couple of minutes pass…which feel like an ETERNITY… and nothing pops up in your inbox. In those dreadfully, long, painful 2 minutes (well… it usually starts after a mere 20 seconds of waiting), a million thoughts pass through your head…

"Is there something wrong with my computer?"

“Did they actually send it?”

“Could it be a problem with my router?”

“Maybe I have a virus!!?!”

"Has the zombie apocalypse started and no-one has told me??!!!" 

Well, before you run off to bug your IT department with a frantic request to test your internet speed and perform a full computer diagnostic scan with a tracking program sent off to find where your rogue email has been intercepted (because… you know… you saw it on that movie once, so you think  they can do that!), first consider this. Whilst we do live in this high-tech world of faster communication, and most emails arrive at super speed without you thinking about it, there could be a heap of reasons as to why your one important email may be delayed.

In most cases, it is simply down to the route that your email has taken to get to you. Your email has had to travel a complicated journey. It has to leave the sender’s computer and email server, and then take a route that makes it pass through several other servers on the way. Each server receives the email, and then passes it onto the next. Who knows what else these servers are also trying to pass on at the same time as your email! Some work faster than others. Some are busier than others. And your email is competing for delivery space with millions of others, including the vast quantities of Nigerian princes trying to offer their wealth to those unsuspecting, lonely victims. (Yes… I am talking about those phishing schemes, not real actual Nigerian princes!)

In truth, email is one of the original, and therefore oldest, services used on the internet. When email was designed, we didn’t keep our computers connected to the internet 24/7. So, it is pretty resilient. If it hits a legitimate blockage, like a full mailbox, it’ll typically keep trying or just bounce it back to the sender.

However, if you REALLY have been a patient person, and your expected email has definitely not shown signs of arriving after a sensible amount of waiting time (actual, real, measured time and not the mysterious void of slowed-down time you can experience while waiting for a kettle to boil, when you are desperate for a coffee on a Monday morning!), we advise that you...

  1. Check your junk folder. The simplest term or word can make a filter think it is spam, and redirect it.

  2. Ask the sender to try again, checking the email address (a VERY common error, and it only takes 1 wrong character to mess up completely!)

  3. Check your internet connection.

  4. Try using a different provider/browser or an instant messaging service instead.