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Tag Archives: security

What About Cabling?

Posted on October 02nd, 2013 by Emily

How much difference can the cabling you have make to your network? Read on, you may be surprised!

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We don’t often hear this come up as a point of discussion when people are installing or upgrading their networks, but it’s actually quite important.

If you’re getting a new network installed, you should always choose a specialist when it comes to cabling your workplace. For your network to work at full capacity, you’ll need good quality cabling, which is installed correctly, without cutting corners.

If your cabling is of poor quality, it can affect the quality of signal sent along it, which in turn can affect the speed and reliability of your network. Having the best hardware in the world won’t help if your cabling is subpar or incorrectly installed. Poorly shielded or badly situated cabling can mean the difference between a network that runs smoothly, and one that makes you feel like tearing your hair out!

Ideally, total cabling to each machine should equal no more than 100 metres. If it’s longer than this, general research says you’ll begin to see a drop in performance from your network. Cabling with low-quality impure copper cores can also cause signal degradation, which will show itself as errors, lost packets and slower speeds. Cabling should be as flat as possible, as bending it too much can affect its performance.

Each cable should also be of similar quality – it’s not really useful having your building cabled up with top-of-the-range, super quality cable if you then go and use a low quality patch cable to connect your computer to the network. Mixing different qualities of cable can also cause even more interference in the signal.

Your network cabling should ideally not be near any kind of power cabling or pass close to large devices, as this can result in electromagnetic interference and cause problems with data transmission across the network. It should also not be near any water sources or pipes, as this could cause condensation to form inside the cable which in turn causes the cable to fail.

Finally, one point to remember is that cabling doesn’t last forever! Cables can stretch, warp, break, twist or otherwise wear out just like other equipment. Your network will need re-cabling eventually, and while it may not seem like a top priority, if you’re experiencing problems or considering upgrading or replacing your network hardware, you may want to get your cabling professionally tested to make sure it meets the standards required for smooth performance!

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If you’d like any more information on cabling, cable testing, networking or anything else IT-related, don’t hesitate to get in contact with us, we’ll be happy to help!

Call us on 0845 234 0580 or email us at info@geek-guru.co.uk

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Posted in: It 4 business, Tips n Tricks Tagged , , , , , , , , ,
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Stopping Malware Attacks - Updates and Exploits

Posted on August 14th, 2013 by Emily

 

Following our blog last week on Anti-Malware software and support, this week we continue to take a look at some steps you can take to help secure your PC or network from online threats.

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Did you know that as well as protecting your computer or network with software and hardware, you can protect it by updating frequently?

It may come as a surprise to hear that most malware out there right now works on the theory that people don’t update key software on their systems as much as they should, or turn off or ignore prompts to update.

Most of us have been guilty of this at some point. A box pops up telling you an update is available, but you’re working on something important, so you click “later”, “postpone” or “remind me at restart”. Next time might be the same. Eventually you end up with out of date software and several updates to apply at once.

It used to be that unpatched copies of Windows would be at the greatest risk, but with things like automatic updates and integrated security features, this is becoming one of the lesser favoured avenues of attack for malware.

Windows and Internet Explorer accounted for only 3% of total exploits in 2012, while Java was by far the most vulnerable, with a whopping 50%; Acrobat Reader came in at 28%; Adobe Flash came in at 2%. Java and Acrobat Reader have been up there on the list for a several years now. But this doesn’t mean that the software is bad – of course the vendor must always take some responsibility for the security of their products, but the fact is there are simply more attempts made to exploit holes in Oracle’s Java because so many computers around the world use it. Acrobat Reader and Flash are similar cases, although Adobe has focused on making the latest iterations of their popular software more secure.

Most often, as soon as a piece of malware is discovered, the security hole it exploits is patched by the software vendor if this is possible. If a security hole is discovered before any malware is released to exploit it, a patch is also released as soon as possible. The problem is that people do not download these updates when they should.

Essentially, if you want to keep your network or computer at its most secure, make sure you check regularly that all regularly used software is up to date, especially Java, which is used by most web browsers.

If you’d like to read in more depth about the most common exploits used, head on over to this article on the Kaspersky website.

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At Geek Guru we’re interested in helping our customers and their data to stay as secure as possible online and offline. We are here to provide advice and support to our customers whenever they need it, and we explain things without jargon.

If you’d like to get in touch, you can call us on 0845 234 0580 or email us at info@geek-guru.co.uk

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Posted in: It 4 business, IT Security Tagged , , , , , , , ,
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IT Essentials - Malware Emergency?

Posted on August 12th, 2013 by Emily

 

Last week we covered anti-malware options for businesses and individuals – but what can you do if you think there’s a problem, and your computer doesn’t have anti-malware software?

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The software we recommend is MalwareBytes anti-malware, and Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool. For home users, MalwareBytes is free, and very efficient at quarantining and removing threats. It’s important to remember that the free version of this software does not provide any real-time protection and will not stop your machine becoming infected, but it is useful if you suspect there is a problem. Microsoft Malicious Software Removal tool is freely available to all owners of a genuine copy of Windows.

Network administrators can purchase a business version of Malware Bytes for use in an office setting, which is specially built for their business size.

If you suspect there’s a problem with some of your equipment but are not comfortable with running software like MalwareBytes or are unsure of what to do, we recommend that you contact an IT professional or Network Administrator as soon as possible.

The most important thing is that you DO NOT turn off or restart your computer. Doing so could cause further damage.

If you are unsure of any of the steps in the following list, we recommend that you consult an IT professional who can help you out.

When you’ve downloaded MalwareBytes and the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool, you can use these steps to help you remove malicious software from your computer:

  • Disconnect your computer from any networks. Remove the Ethernet cable or turn off/unplug the wireless adapter.
  • Disable System Restore.
  • Run MalwareBytes, choosing a quick scan.
  • Run the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool (MMSRT).
  • Quarantine or remove any threats as suggested by these tools.
  • Restart your computer in safe mode.
  • Repeat the scan with Malware Bytes and MMSRT.
  • Follow any instructions given by these tools, and repeat scans/restart as necessary.
  • Ensure all program patches and security updates are applied, e.g. Windows Update.

 

Please remember that this information is provided only as a suggestion, and that Geek Guru cannot be held responsible for any damage caused by attempts to follow these instructions. If you are unsure of anything at all, we recommend leaving the work to an IT professional.

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If you’d like more information on protecting your computer from malicious software, want to know what Geek Guru could do for your business, or if you want to chat to us about anything technical, drop us a line and we’ll do what we can to help.

Call us on 0845 234 0580 or email us at info@geek-guru.co.uk

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Anti-Malware for Businesses - Malware Solutions

Posted on August 09th, 2013 by Emily

 

In the final post of this week, we discuss options for individuals and businesses alike to protect themselves from and fight back against malware infection.

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If you’ve done some looking around online for anti-malware suites, you’ve probably come across several names. Symantec’s Norton, Kaspersky, McAfee, AVG, Avast, Avira, Comodo… and so on. The list is seemingly endless. Some of them are free, some of them are not. We’ve tried many different anti-malware, antivirus or internet security suites in our time as IT professionals, and it’s difficult to really select an all-time best software suite or manufacturer. Software suites can add, remove or change functionality between iterations, so it really depends on what all the companies are offering users in their software, which changes from year to year.

One thing we are certain of though, is that if you are an individual with a windows machine, currently without anti-malware software, or aren’t sure which one to get, you should take full advantage of Microsoft Security Essentials. This is a free offering from Microsoft that is available to all users of a genuine Windows operating system. For users of Windows 8, you will find that it comes pre-installed. For Windows 7 users and below (down to Windows XP SP 3), you need to download this software and install it separately. It’s a lightweight, user friendly program that integrates well with windows – as you’d expect it to, being from the same manufacturer as the operating system. It downloads and installs it updates daily, so you don’t need to worry about doing that manually. It’s a great free, basic package for Windows users that isn’t a huge system resource hog, and doesn’t get in the way.

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Business user? Geek Guru are on hand to help!

If you’re running a business machine or a business network, however, you may want something a little more robust, and perhaps something that can be managed centrally or even remotely. The biggest danger to business networks is usually outdated software or outdated definitions (malware scanners use these definitions to determine if you have an infection or not, or if something is a risk, and they need to be updated regularly.)

At the moment, we’re recommending Kaspersky, as this suite is very robust, provides excellent value for money, and can be managed entirely by us using our managed services platform, Kaseya. This means you don’t need to lift a finger to keep your network protected and updated – we can do it all for you directly. We’ll know if there’s a potential threat, and we can easily manage any problems that arise or quarantine any suspicious files for you.

If you prefer to manage your own network, Kaspersky still has a great set of centralized controls, so you can manage your entire network from one machine, push down software and definition updates, and everything else you’d expect.

Individual users shouldn’t feel left out either, as Kaspersky offer a single user edition, which we can also help to install and support if necessary.

If necessary, there is software support from Kaspersky for Android devices and Mac computers also, so these devices need not be a security risk for your business.

If you take a look and decide that the price plans or features you see don’t suit you or your business, we have a few other suites we can offer and advise on, so you’re not restricted to one choice.

All anti-malware software performs an installation scan, and notifies you of any potential threats on your system or network on installation. If you’re worried about a malware infection, we can also offer advice on how to clean up your system and restore it to working order, as well as how to stop it getting re-infected.

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If you’d like to know more about malware, anti-malware suites, if you have any questions or concerns, or just want to have a chat about getting a potential new device, we’re always happy to answer any questions you have about anything IT related!

Just give us a bell on 0845 234 0580 or drop us a line at info@geek-guru.co.uk

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Anti-Malware for Businesses – Impact of Malware

Posted on August 07th, 2013 by Emily

 

We hear about the potential threats of malware all the time, but what could an infection mean for your business in real terms?

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Many of us have been there. We clicked “Yes” to something we should’ve clicked “No” on while clicking through a program installer, and installed something we didn’t want, like a Browser Toolbar (Commonly known as BHOs or Browser Helper Objects). Or perhaps we’ve installed something based on its claims, because it looked useful. On the surface these software programs claim to be helpful, but really inside most of them are there for one purpose – to make money. How they do this can vary, many of them will install some kind of spyware and change some browser preferences, like your default search engine, making it use their own. The changes made in a few seconds by a piece of rogue spyware or adware can take hours to put right by hand.

Unfortunately, user data is a very, very profitable commodity. These “tools” can store and send data about your computer and browsing habits, your searches, how long you spend on specific sites, even the links you click on. This data can be used by companies who then target you with spam mail or advertisements based on what they learn from you. Spyware collects the data, Adware displays the advertisements that come from it. As well as being something of an invasion of privacy, and causing unwanted popups, advertisements or spam mail, spyware and adware can cause your computer to slow to a crawl, as it drains system resources in order to collect and send data.

Often, people are tricked into installing two or three pieces of spyware or adware at once, and it goes without saying that the more junked up a computer becomes with these things, the slower and slower it runs, and the more problems you may face. In extreme cases, spyware and adware has been known to crash computers entirely or make them almost unusable. Adware and spyware doesn’t tend to spread unless it’s coupled with a virus, so most of these annoyances can be removed with time, patience and a good IT professional.

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  • Viruses, worms, trojans and keyloggers, however, have the potential to do much more serious and long term damage to your systems and possibly even your customers.

Some malicious software is programmed to cause as much destruction as possible to the systems it infects, for no other purpose than entertainment of the programmer or programming team. Some is designed to make companies aware of security flaws or to prove a vulnerability, while others are designed to steal data in order to make money in a much more direct fashion.

Data can be stolen, deleted, corrupted or otherwise rendered unusable by malware. When you’ve got a whole server full of critical or sensitive information, and a network of computers that access it, this can be very bad news.

Depending on the severity of the malware attacks, you could be forced to wipe your systems clean in order to get rid of the infection, or even replace parts of the system if enough damage is done. Left unchecked, infections can spread to backups you create from an infected network, meaning that you are then unable to use the backups of the data you have stored.

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  • All malware can lead to lost time, which means lost productivity and lost potential profits.

The best defences against malware are to keep your software up to date, (for example, using Windows Update or similar tools) and using a security suite that defends your network or individual computer from attack. There are also hardware defences against intrusion attempts, like firewalls, which we’ll discuss in a later series of blog posts.

If you suspect there may be malware on your computer, get in contact with an IT professional as soon as possible, particularly if you are worried about your business network. If you’re a home user, there’s a tool you can download called Malware Bytes, which is available free for home use. It helps detect and remove the offending malware, and we recommend running through a full scan. You can find it at http://www.malwarebytes.org/

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On Friday, in our final post of the week, we’ll be discussing the antivirus and antimalware software and support options we provide, and the advantages of each for different types of businesses.

If you’d like to talk to us about anything IT related, give us a call on 0845 234 0580 or email us at info@geek-guru.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

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Anti-Malware for Businesses – Malware Explained

Posted on August 05th, 2013 by Emily

 

This week in the Geek Guru Blog, we’ll be taking a look at malware, the impact it can have on your business, and the steps you can take to protect yourself, at home and at the office.

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Malware is an all-encompassing term for malicious software and code out there that’s designed to negatively impact computer systems in one way or another. There are various forms of malware; most people who know how to use a computer are aware of at least one type, the virus. However, there are many more different kinds, all designed to do something slightly different.

In true Geek Guru style, we’ve decided to cut down the jargon and present these different types in a way that’s clear and straightforward. It’s often much easier to understand how you are protected by security software when you’re aware of the type of threats you are protected against, and how they work.

 

  • Viruses – A cover-all term for most types of infectious code. A virus will, when run, replicate itself by injecting its malicious code into other files. They can work in many different ways, but the defining characteristic is that a virus will install itself and replicate itself without the user knowing, but requires a file to be executed (launched or run) by a user in order to activate. While the term “computer virus” does have a specific definition, many people use it to encompass all of the malware types we mention in this article.
  • Worms – These are portions of malicious code or software that seek to accomplish the same things a virus does, but unlike a virus, they do not require user interaction in order to copy themselves. You do not need to click anything for a worm to replicate itself, once on a machine it can be completely autonomous, and easily spread over a network.
  • Keyloggers – These exist for one sole purpose – to log keystrokes on your computer with the goal of stealing valuable information. As you type, your keystrokes are recorded as data files and sent to wherever the keylogger is programmed to send them, meaning they could steal passwords, credit card numbers and other forms of sensitive data you input using the keyboard.
  • Trojans – Also known as Trojan Horses, so named because they disguise themselves as something normal or desirable (such as free software) in order to get users to download or install them. They can contain malicious code themselves or they can be used as a delivery mechanism for viruses, spyware or adware. They can also be used to turn computers into “zombie” machines for use in botnets.
  • Rootkits – Hiding malicious code from the user is sometimes essential for the proliferation and existence of a piece of malware. Sometimes a virus can seem incredibly hard to completely remove, or may come back seemingly from nowhere – this is nearly always because of a rootkit. Rootkits exist to do this job – they hide processes, files and sometimes even themselves from ordinary users so that they are not detected, and they try to avoid removal by antivirus programs. If a certain process critical to the malware is stopped or removed, the rootkit may reproduce it or restart it.
  • Backdoors – These open virtual “doors” into an infected machine, to allow access from other malicious software, interference from external sources such as hackers, or allow information to be sent out without the user’s knowledge (such as information from keyloggers).
  • SpywareDesigned to spy on the user through monitoring activities such as browsing habits, time spent on certain sites, links clicked, searches performed, logins, passwords, active software on a user’s computer, technical specs of the infected computer and other information that can be profitable to the spyware vendor or useful to marketers.
  • Adware – Mostly irritating rather than actually dangerous, adware (as its name suggests) shows unwanted advertisements to the user, usually in the form of a distracting pop-up window.

All types of malware can lead to theft or destruction of important or sensitive data. They can also lead to greatly reduced PC performance due to computer resources being used by malware, or reduced internet connection speeds due to uploading/downloading data. Imagine a scenario in which you have an office network of 50 computers, all infected with malware, all uploading or downloading data at the same time over the same connection. That would slow anything down to a crawl!

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At Geek Guru we’re committed to doing the best we can to ensure this doesn’t happen to our clients. We offer several solutions, suitable for many sizes or types of business, and we even offer 100% managed solutions – meaning you won’t have to lift a finger to keep your internet security software up to date, or manage possible threats. We’ll do it all for you and notify you if there’s anything you should be worried about or anything that requires your attention.

Be sure to read the rest of this week’s posts which will focus on what these threats could do to your IT, things you can do to prevent these threats, available software and the services we offer to help.

For more advice or information, call us on 0845 234 0580 or email us at info@geek-guru.co.uk

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Posted in: It 4 business, IT Security Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,
Viruses Malware and Spyware

Viruses, Malware and Spyware - Are You Protected?

Posted on July 31st, 2013 by Emily

 

Even with the large number of potential threats lurking around on the internet, 1 in 6 Windows PCs are still not protected by antivirus software. Are yours?

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Whether it’s people bringing in files on USB sticks or other media from home, downloading from the internet, being the victim of a browser exploit or email scam, there are many potential ways your computers and network could be infected, and in turn, ways your systems and data could be compromised.

It’s not just viruses either. Malware and spyware can sit on your computer and steal information as you type it in, or slow your computer down to a crawl.

A recent study by McAfee showed that 1 in 6 Windows computers are not protected by any form of antivirus. Protecting your business network is just as important as protecting your home network, if not more so – a much greater volume of sensitive and critical information is often contained on business systems.

Contrary to popular belief, owning a Mac does not automatically protect you either. You’ll still need some form of antivirus protection while using a Mac computer, as there are still vulnerabilities that can be exploited, and as Macs have seen a surge in popularity, so have viruses made specifically to infect them.

Many personal users can now download Microsoft’s Security Essentials package which offers basic protection for those who are generally conscientious online, and many of apple’s inbuilt security features help to protect home Mac users. But what about something more robust, or something that offers centralized control? Will it slow down your system? What will it cost?

In future posts we’ll be looking at the options you have when choosing an antivirus package for your business – but if you don’t already have one, or it’s very out of date, make sure you get some advice as soon as possible and get your network scanned and protected against malware and viruses.

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At Geek Guru we’re well-versed in dealing with many types and sizes of business, so we’ll certainly be able to find something to suit you. If you’re in any doubt, or want some advice, give us a call or drop us an email.

Call us on 0845 234 0580 or email us at info@geek-guru.co.uk

 

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