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Are Your Apps Dangerous?

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Apps make the modern technology world go ‘round. If it weren’t for apps, smartphones and other mobile devices wouldn’t be nearly as useful. Of course, there are many factors to consider before using an app. You should ask yourself, could this be a potentially dangerous app? This is especially true if you’re using a device for business purposes.

Earlier this month, we asked and concluded that allowing cookies is safe in most circumstances. In this week’s blog, we will be delving into using apps for business purposes and whether or not they pose a risk to your safety.

Apps for the Business Place

There is literally an app (or 50) for just about anything you can think of. However, even helpful apps can be a breeding ground for people who want to steal your information.

Generally speaking, most app makers are honest and ethical. However, because it is so easy to make an app, you may find less than trustworthy creators offering new apps. Securitymagazine.com stated that “71% of healthcare and medical apps have at least one serious vulnerability that could lead to a breach of medical data.” Of course, other general business apps often have similar vulnerabilities.

Additionally, some people create apps specifically so they can steal your personal data. When you download and install an app, it will typically ask for various permissions. It may ask for the ability to use your microphone or have access to your contacts. Some apps ask for just about every piece of information you have available. You may find yourself simply handing over all of your personal data without even realizing it. This is where apps can become very dangerous. Even if you come to this realization and delete the app, your device could already be infected with spyware.

Personal Apps Can Be Dangerous

On the other hand, even if you only use trusted apps for business or no apps at all, you need to be careful of the apps you download for personal reasons. Just like with business apps, you may find that people have created an app for a particular reason — and that reason may be to gain access to the data on thousands or millions of mobile devices.

Be honest with yourself: how many times have you downloaded an app that you’ve never heard of just because someone told you it was the greatest app ever? Later, when you feel uncomfortable with how the app works you immediately delete it. We’ve all been there at some point. The scariest part is that the damage is already done once the app is successfully installed. Any information you use for your business (such as emails and customer information) is now freely available to the app developer.

Data Breaches

Another potential threat is using a legitimate app from a valid organization that becomes hacked and breached. As an example, this past year, the Walgreens app was victim to a major data breach. The hack allowed access to private conversations containing personal information. This breach was exposed through various apps that were designed to track COVID-19 cases. This happened to a major corporation using high-security apps. Many people wouldn’t think a pharmacy app from a well-known company could be dangerous. Nonetheless, hackers breached highly sensitive information victimizing paying customers. On that note, it’s important to be aware that anyone can fall victim to a data breach if security measures aren’t closely examined.

Hackers have targeted major apps like Instagram, Tinder, Tik Tok, and Snapchat recently. How many of you have at least one of these apps installed on your phone or other mobile devices? While most of us know not to use Tinder on a work phone, you may have some of these apps on your devices. Even if you only use these apps on your personal time, they can lead to major consequences with your private business data. What is fun for you may compromise the security of your customers.

Create A Solution That Works

Let’s say you personally avoid all these pitfalls and have never had any issues with apps on your phone or other mobile devices. If you have an organization with multiple people, there’s a very good chance that somebody is going to download an app that may have damaging security implications in the future. While these people may have good intentions and never mean to do any harm, we all know that life can change in an instant in this modern world.

By creating and implementing a plan among your employees, you can help control security breaches. Increase your security measures by not allowing devices to download random, potentially dangerous apps. It’s important to have security policies and other measures in place. Maintain mobile device management, effective policy, and as many security protocols available.

If you want to make sure your organization is as safe as possible from unexpected risks, contact us today. We’ll set up your organization’s devices to keep them safe while still allowing your employees to do their job effectively.

SSL & Security Concerns for 2021

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Anyone with a computer is well aware of security concerns on the Internet. As time goes on, security and internet safety become more and more of an issue. It’s clear that hackers are becoming more advanced and will continue to find ways to steal our data. With a large part of our lives spent online, it’s just a matter of time before hackers affect you. If you own a business, the sheer amount of valuable information you are responsible for is something to be concerned about. Moving into 2021, data safety will continue to be a growing issue. In this blog, we will discuss SSL and security concerns for your company’s website and the types of sites you may be visiting.

What’s an SSL?

SSL stands for  Secure Sockets Layer, also known as Transport Layer Security. This may sound like nerdy talk that doesn’t matter much, but the fact is that you interact with SSLs every day. They are specific technology designed to keep your Internet connection safe, especially when secure data is involved. SSLs run a protocol of data encryption to make sure third parties can’t see what either party is viewing or sending.

This includes sensitive and non-sensitive information, such as passwords, names, banking information, and more. This setup uses a handshaking procedure that both the parties involved agree to use. The data transaction creates a cipher so information can be sent from one to the other in an encrypted format. Theoretically, even if a third party were to intercept your data, it would be gibberish since they don’t have the means to decipher it.

This is essential for safe Internet communication these days. You and your company likely send highly sensitive information back and forth online all day long. What used to be something kept safe in a drawer can now become public information because of a malicious hacker. This layer of safety is so standard we don’t even notice it. Sites that have an “HTTPS” in front of their address use some form of SSL or TLS.

Managing a TLS/SSL

Not only do you want to keep your company’s information private, but you need to make sure that customer information stays private as well. Unfortunately, SSLs and TLSs are not a one-and-done procedure. Like any other security protocol, SSLs change over the years. Make sure that any certificate your company’s website uses is up to date and effective. You can do this by installing updates as they are released.

Think of the SSL protocol like a deadbolt. Having a deadbolt on your door is much safer than a locking doorknob. Yes, there are always people who know how to compromise it, but it is still much safer. Over the years, deadbolt technology has improved and evolved as people learn to bypass obsolete technology. Sometimes, however, it takes working with an experienced locksmith to have it installed correctly.

SSLs/TLSs are certainly much better options than nothing at all. However, these protocols, particularly older versions, are still prone to many vulnerabilities. There are numerous common attacks that hackers use to break this encryption. And some of these threats have very colorful names. For example, POODLE, BEAST, CRIME, BREACH, and HEARTBLEED are commonly used attacks, and they are highly successful.

Keep Yourself and Your Customers Safe

Having your company’s private information exposed to the highest bidder can have devastating effects on your operations. Stolen customer information due to a lack of care in your communications could result in lawsuits and legal trouble. Customers have well-deserved expectations: when they share information with you, it needs to be kept confidential and secure.
This can be especially true in organizations that deal with sensitive information regularly, such as financial institutions and medical centers.

In the hacking community, there is a highly lucrative market for personal information. The dark web is flooded with people selling private information databases to the highest bidder — and there is  always “a highest” bidder.
If you want to avoid liability, make sure your security protocols are up to date. It is also critical that you maintain them professionally. A relatively small investment in this area of security can end up saving large amounts of money and possibly your business itself.

We regularly report on attacks that businesses like yours face daily. But we don’t always mention that many of these attacks are successful because the victim has a lax security protocol. The last thing we would want is for you to be another statistic. If your SSL/TLS certificates are getting old and dusty, or (even worse) you don’t have any at all, now would be the best time to contact us. As 2021 quickly approaches, these threats are only going to be more significant and more challenging to handle.

Our team of security professionals is one of the most experienced in the business. The web can be a scary place, and the last thing you want is to be caught unprepared! By making sure your SSL/TLS certificates are in perfect order, you can rest a little bit easier at night.

Remote workforce necessities.

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Seven things to help ensure the health, safety and success of your mobile workforce.

 

Many companies are rotating and/or keeping their workforce at home to facilitate social-distancing and to keep their workforce healthy. However, it’s not as simple as leaving your employees at home, letting them fire up their personal laptops, and getting to work. Review the following seven things to help ensure the health, safety and success of your mobile workforce.

1. Secure Remote Access

Employees should not have open access to everything on their work systems from their personal computers. This keeps company data protected. In order to be productive through this pandemic, however, employers will need to provide a secure connection utilizing VPN or remote access software. These solutions will mirror the employee’s work desktop without housing all of the data on the individual’s personal system, allowing them to seamlessly continue work.

2. File Sharing Capabilities

While people will be working in isolation, they must still be able to collaborate. File sharing/group editing software will be critical to moving forward on creative or documentation projects through real-time editing, commenting, and versioning. Software like Dropbox for Business, Microsoft Teams/Sharepoint or Google Documents help fill this need.

3. Enterprise Level Antivirus

Basic home-level antivirus is not sufficient, particularly in secured industries. Extend your enterprise-level antivirus to home systems that will have access to your network in order to create an added layer of protection. You may also consider deploying firewalls on top of individual’s home networks to create the same secure connection employees experience in your office.

4. Video Conferencing

Meetings must go on while people work remotely; however, voice-only leaves much to be desired in terms of tone and context. We highly recommend putting in place video conferencing options. You can implement something as simple as Google Duo/FaceTime, or something more feature intensive, like Zoom or GoToMeeting.

5. Messaging Software

You can’t just spin your chair around to talk to your co-worker when working remote, yet it’s not efficient to always pick up the phone. We recommend implementing a messaging software like Microsoft Teams or Slack to open communication channels and allow employees to continue to interact quickly and accurately. Utilizing these tools, you can set up one-on-one conversations or set up channels to facilitate team communication.

6. Phone

A strong VoIP solution will allow employees to take their office phone numbers remotely on their cellphones without giving out their cellphone numbers. Office calls will transfer seamlessly to the employee’s cellphones, voice mails will be sent via email, and the employee can dial-out using a phone application to maintain office functionality.

7. Review your remote access policy.

Put in place a clear policy that acknowledges that your company monitors whatever they do while connected. Employees should be encouraged to act as if they are on site even while working remotely and reminded that punishments for doing something illegal/against company policy will apply.

Contact us today at (800) 710-4010 to speak to a member of our team about your business needs and see how ICS can help you keep your IT infrastructure safe.

Employee Passwords

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Solid password practices can protect your data from intruders.

Protecting your business data is essential to keeping your company in business. While your employees are your greatest asset, they can also be your greatest liability. This is especially the case when it comes to how employees are using passwords. Passwords are the keys that open doors to stored data. The more employees that have those keys, the more vulnerable that data becomes. It is vital that your employees are using strong passwords that they can remember.

There is power in numbers.

Passwords can be easily cracked by hackers, especially if you don’t use solid password-creation practices. The best passwords contain both uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as numbers and special characters. You should also avoid using easily guessed words or alphanumeric combinations, such as the names of significant others, children, pets, birth dates, addresses, and similar information that can be easily guessed by someone looking at your social media profiles or through a Google search. Rather than using a short password, it is recommended that end users create passphrases – or a short sentence containing an assortment of characters.

Keep your passwords somewhere safe.

The safest place to keep a password is in your head. Unfortunately, people cannot always remember them. It is not a good idea to keep passwords written down unless they are well hidden. End users should avoid keeping sticky notes or other memos containing passwords with computers. A good method of storage is to keep passwords stored either within a password manager or by keeping them on file with your organization’s IT department.

Keep your passwords updated.

It is a good practice to renew your passwords once or twice a year. Changing passwords too often may create more work for system administrators, since they are more likely to be forgotten or lost. You should also change your passwords any time that you feel as though your system has been compromised or is likely to be compromised.

Contact us today at (800) 710-4010 to speak to a member of our team about your business needs and how we can help you keep your data secure.

The Benefits of IT Consulting

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There are benefits to utilizing IT Consulting in Los Angeles.

If you have ever been to an outdated office, you know the telltale sign of falling behind — clunky, obsolete technology. With new developments breaking in the world of business technology every day, staying on top of the market isn’t easy. It takes proactive effort and insider knowledge. That’s why so many business leaders invest heavily in IT consulting in Los Angeles.

If you’re looking for an edge to keep you as competitive as possible, or just want to make life a lot easier on your team without breaking your budget, a dependable consulting team could be your ticket to peace of mind. To understand why, you only need to know about the three ways that these professionals revolutionize client approaches to technology.

The Three T‘s

IT consulting in Los Angeles is a broad field, and it encompasses dozens of individual services. To get at the basic value of using it, though, there are three core advantages you should consider:

Troubleshooting — The most commonly used area of service, troubleshooting is all about solving everyday problems. Whether it’s a malfunctioning piece of hardware or user error in applying a new program, issues that arise as employees go about their daily work are easy to solve with IT pros readily available.

Time — Every second a system is down, or an employee is unable to work, you lose money. IT consulting in Los Angeles helps you cut back downtime and ensure smooth, efficient service for your customers. It also keeps you from needing a full-time crew on your payroll to manage problems your consultant can easily address.

Technology — One of the biggest advantages to IT help is right there in the name: your consultant can help you pick out the right technology to support your goals. That way, you never have to be the office that’s stuck using yesterday’s solutions to address today’s market challenges and opportunities.

Find out how IT consulting in Los Angeles can help your company. Contact us today at (800) 710-4010 to speak to a member of our team about your business needs. 

The Remote IT Advantage

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Remote IT support in Los Angeles is more important than ever.

Even before the onset of a global pandemic, the trend across countless industries was toward online systems. As the economy grapples with the shockwaves of coronavirus, understanding the role of technology and remote IT support in Los Angeles has only become more critical for savvy professionals and leaders that want to stay ahead and keep their employees operating efficiently.

Whether you’re just now investing in upgrades because of a work-from-home setup or just want to stay at the forefront of progress, it’s vital to take advantage of today’s resources. To help you make the most of a tough global situation, let’s take a look at the role remote IT support in Los Angeles plays in breaking down barriers to effective business.

It’s All About Overcoming Challenges

Technology will always have obstacles to overcome. Small snags, uncooperative systems, and user errors can bring business to a crawl, even if everyone working is trying their best. The simple reality is that no person without the right knowledge can solve for every potential challenge alone.

This is where remote IT support in Los Angeles shines. In the past, getting past these issues meant needing on-site specialists to head over to someone’s desk and investigate the root of the problem. With so many employees working from home, however, it’s not always an option to just deal with the machine in-person.

That’s not something unique to the COVID-19 lockdown, either. Even once the pandemic passes, global footprints and other remote work will continue to grow to meet market demands. When you have IT professionals that you and your team can call for help at any time, it’s easy to troubleshoot effectively and feel confident at every level in your organization. Plus, remote partners are often more affordable than a full on-site team, leaving more room in your budget to expand while being flexible enough to keep your systems in shape.

Contact us today at (800) 710-4010 to speak to a member of our team about your business needs and see how remote IT can help you.

Adapting to Covid-19

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ICS provides essential services to businesses in the wake of Covid-19.

Covid-19 has taken a toll on businesses across the globe. Suggested social distancing guidelines have created the need for changing the dynamics of the traditional office landscape. Businesses have to deal with the challenge of maintaining a healthy work environment and operations in order to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus. International Computing Services Inc. can help you keep your employees safe and productive during these critical times.

If you have employees that will need to work from home, ICS can help you make that happen with the implementation of remote workstations. Our technicians can set up your employees’ devices with security options and remote access tools that allow safe remote data access and video conferencing. We also can provide your company with computers or tablets to allow remote access.

While it remains unclear as how long businesses will be impacted by the pandemic, you can count on ICS to deliver the solutions you need to help you keep your essential operations functioning. At International Computing Services Inc., we take care of your IT so that you can focus on your business.

Contact us today at (800) 710-4010 to speak to a member of our team about your business needs.

 

IT for your business.

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Finding a dedicated specialist to take care of IT for your business needs can be hard.

 
There are hundreds of specialists out there who have the ability to provide you with competent services. Competent is fine, but you need someone who can take care of a wide array of issues in a fast and efficient manner. ICS is here to help you. When it comes to providing exceptional custom IT services in Los Angeles, you can feel confident that our talented specialists will be able to help you. For your convenience, we offer on-site and remote assistance.

Having access to technology that works properly is vital for your business. If you do not have the proper infrastructure and network available, you are doing yourself a disservice.  When you have our specialists assisting you with your IT needs, it gives you the freedom to focus on building your business and serving your customers. Additionally, having another company taking care of your IT needs means you will not have to spend as much money on a full-time IT staff that you have to manage in-house.

Contact us today at (800) 710-4010 to speak to a member of our team about your business needs. We can help you with cloud computing, networking, and employee support services.