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Brian's Blog


March 2014 - Network Innovations

20 Mar

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March 2014

March 20, 2014 | By | No Comments

May 2014

Are you leveraging social media for your business? Along with this monthly newsletter, I maintain a company facebook page and twitter account. I try to make a relevant post every couple of days. This keeps us engaged and top of mind with our clients. I got a call out of the blue last week from the Kansas City Star, who noticed one of my timely tweets and interviewed me for a short article! It’s easy and it works.

You’ll notice on my regular tweets and posts, as well as the newsletter below, that very little of the content is my own. I certainly do provide my own content from time to time, especially in this monthly blog post. However, I am too busy to prepare an entire newsletter or regular technology posts on my own. I can prove with many years worth of history, that if I tried to bite off that much work, nothing would get sent out. I am able to share good content from others with just a few clicks. I have several sources for that content:
• Industry partners (you’ll note articles in my newsletter from Microsoft, Lenovo, Cisco, HP, etc.)
• Subscriptions (There is an industry group that has a searchable content database that I subscribe to, so I can quickly provide articles on specific topics)
• My own surfing – I read many other blogs and IT news sites for my own benefit, and often share from those
• Peers – Every day I see posts in my feed from other IT professionals that are great. We all borrow from each other from time to time

I don’t get a lot of feedback from these posts, but don’t get discouraged. The point is to keep our name out there, so many will see the post and move on. That’s fine! I do hear from many of you that enjoy the newsletter. However, providing the relevant content will pay off in time, just as this news article came along for me.

The news article was about the ebay password breech, and the interview and article tied in nicely with last month’s blog post about passwords. You can read the article at the Kansas City Star.

I do use a couple of tools that help. Constant Contact manages the mailing list and sends out my newsletter each month. Can you believe some people do unsubscribe from my list? Well, at least I don’t have to manage that as Constant Contact does it for me. Sendible allows me to share content on Facebook and Twitter at the same time. I also link all of my monthly newsletter blog entries to my blog on WordPress for extra exposure. Let me know how I can help!

April 2014

Well that didn’t take long. We didn’t make it out of April and there is already a serious vulnerability that won’t be patched for Windows XP – a serious Internet Explorer flaw. US-CERT, a division of the Department of Homeland Security has advised US citizens to stop using Internet Explorer until it is fixed, as they could find no practical workaround.

I try to be neutral about such things, but I gave up Internet Explorer long ago for Google Chrome. It’s faster and more stable, and I wouldn’t go back for anything. There are very few sites that won’t work with Chrome so I recommend you check it out.

It’s been a busy month as I also sent out an advisory a couple of weeks ago about the Heartbleed vulnerability which affected secure websites.

With Heartbleed, it’s important to note that there have still been no confirmed instances where the vulnerability was successfully exploited, so while a very serious issue, it seems maybe it was caught before real damage was done. However, there are two important steps you should take just to be safe:

1. Change your password on all secure sites
2. DON’T use the same password – each site needs a strong and unique password

I know, I am groaning right along with you. Multiple passwords are a headache. However, the way most of these hacks work is they break into some silly meaningless site where security doesn’t seem to be important. Maybe you signed up for a rewards card or you posted a question in an online support forum. They get your name and password, and then they follow the money – bank sites, shopping sites where your credit card info is saved, financial sites, etc. And guess what – you used the same login and password on one of those sites, I guarantee it.

What I do is I use a strong and unique password on all sites of concern. I do compromise and reuse the same password on many of those other sites, as long as I am sure there is no personal information or financial information attached.

The best way to manage all these passwords is to use a tool like LastPass. It securely manages the passwords for you. I’ll be honest, it is an added risk, because if my LastPass account is ever compromised, I’m in real trouble. But my LastPass vault has over 150 entries – I couldn’t possible manage without it.

Let me know if you have questions or need any help!

March 2014

I think Spring might be coming. Got a glimpse of it this weekend! I’m excited about the forecast this week – I’m not sure how many would agree with me, but I just love a good spring day-time thunderstorm. Dark outside with rumbles of thunder and the rain pouring down – of course it’s like snow, the first one or two are fun, and then I’m ready to move on.

Don’t forget that Microsoft ends support for Windows XP next week. Despite what some are reporting, there has been no meaningful extension of support. They have agreed to extend malware updates for 1 year, but that is only one small piece of the puzzle, and certainly it’s intended to help home users buy a little more time. There is no justification for using XP in a business setting any longer, and we haven’t come across any compatibility situation that could not be addressed.

We’ll get to start this process over again, as support for Windows Server 2003 ends next spring, and it is also still widely in use for small businesses. I am a strong proponent for making wise investments in technology and ensuring that you get the most return out of that investment that you can, but in the case of XP and Server 2003 it is time to move on, and the benefits will justify the expense. Let me know what questions you have.

Don’t forget that spring time is a great time to review your Internet & Phone service bills. These recurring charges add up to a significant expense. Let me help you review your current situation and advise you on the new options available. It’s not unheard of for us to help a client to increase bandwidth and save thousands of dollars at the same time, many times with the same carrier. I’m happy to review your bills and help, just give me a call!

Toll-Fraud is still a big issue we are seeing out there, so it is extremely important to make sure that you have the proper security measures in place on your phone system. I’ve listed some guidelines below to assist you in securing your system. Please note there may be other factors to consider, and if you would like us to audit your security, we are happy to help.

Use strong voicemail-box passwords and change them routinely. Do not keep default passwords. Consider passwords longer than 4 digits.
Consider not allowing your users to make calls from their voicemail-box.
Review user rights and limit the ability to forward or conference to an outside number to only those users needing that feature.
Phone systems should be behind firewalls or have the built-in firewall enabled. Review your firewall configuration for maximum security.
Contact your PBX vendor to discuss the proper security measures to be taken on your system.