Mannassi IT Solutions

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Bigger and Better!

Mannassi IT Solutions is in the process of investigating opening a UK division. Only a few years ago even just the thought of this would have been daunting! How to link offices, share data, and still make everything easy to operate was once almost inconceivable. Now, however, technology is readily available that can make your company’s IT infrastructure extendable and securely accessible to remote users and offices all over the world! US based telecom companies have expanded their footprint to link the USA to Europe, Asia and the wide world beyond. Cloud providers can now replicate data and applications to datacenters around the globe keeping data close to users no matter where they are and reduce the latency of opening multiple files and applications.  IP telephone systems can make 3 or 4-digit extension calls between offices across a continent as easy and seamless as those across the office. With all these technologies at our fingertips expanding is easier than ever!

If you’re ready to expand but all this still sounds a little daunting, we at Mannassi IT solutions have existing relationships with many of these international capable vendors, so we can help you navigate the big bad world of global expansion.

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook to keep up with our UK expansion! Plus all the tech news that's fit to tweet!

Celebrity Death Match: Mac vs. PC

You’ve probably heard all the gossip about Macs vs. PCs. It seems like everyone has a chosen side in the battle between platforms. So how do you know which one is right for you?

Macs & PCs each have their strengths and weaknesses. Spending a few minutes thinking about what you’ll need your computer to actually do will save you a lot of potential headaches in the future. Of course, in recent years the capability gaps between Mac and PC have inched ever closer, meaning you can increasingly use either platform to meet your specific needs. Still, it’s good to know where to start when you’re looking for the most effective technology solutions.

If your focus is on multimedia editing and you need something easy to use fresh out of the box with limited setup and solid default security options, then a Mac may be right for you.

But if you’re looking to rely on network resources, regularly upgrade, and customize or if you have a limited budget, a PC might be the better way to go.

Whichever one you choose, Mannassi IT Solutions can be your tech support. We’re your one stop shop for all your computer needs, whether Mac or PC!

As always, follow us on Twitter or Facebook for the latest tech news.

 

Tech Mergers and Acquisitions

In one week, two of our key vendors announced major acquisitions!

Telarus, our master agent for voice data and cloud solutions, acquired another Utah based master agent CarrierSales. From a customer standpoint, this means several things:

  • Increased support with industry veterans.
  • Contact center expertise and providers (InContact, Five9, and more).
  • Mobility expertise and providers (AT&T, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, Sprint).
  • Direct access to every major ILEC at top-tier commission (AT&T, Verizon).
  • Diamond-level support with CenturyLink.
  • Access to cloud compute and cyber security engineers.

We will also have access to new providers such as: Cox, AT&T (direct), Verizon (direct), Bullseye, Fuze, Netfortris, CallTower, Intelispper, PGi, Sprint, and more. So, your options are about to expand exponentially!

Also last week Autotask, the platform we use to manage our ticket system, announced that it has acquired Datto; a world-renowned company providing solutions in business continuity, backup, disaster recovery, networking, etc. We are excited about being able to access this new range of products, and that it will now be part of the Mannassi IT Solutions managed products portfolio!

Sometimes acquisitions can sound a little scary, but they can end in much higher quality of service, and a wider range of options for you and your business.

As always, stay in the loop with Mannassi IT Solutions by following us on Twitter and Facebook.

 

Do You Have A Krack in Your Wifi?

The latest dent in network security is the recent announcement that hackers have figured out a way to breach Wi-Fi connections on almost every single Wi-Fi enabled device. The Krack attack is a major blow to mobile security, but the good news is that iOS and Windows are not vulnerable because of the way Apple and Microsoft implement the security handshake. If you’re an unlucky Android or Linux user however, you are vulnerable.  What it all boils down to is that millions of devices are affected, including embedded devices (otherwise known as the Internet of Things). To protect yourself you need to research all of your wi-fi devices and confirm if they are on the attack list. If they are make sure to download the most recent patch, or immediately take them out of service.

Of course, you can probably tell this can be a labor-intensive process. If it’s too much to handle you can always drop us a line for assistance or advice.

As always, follow us on Twitter or Facebook for the latest tech updates from around the globe.

We Hear You Knocking, But You Can't Come In!

A vital element of network security for any company is to have a business or enterprise class firewall protecting their network. The primary firewall role, of course, is to protect computer assets and data from attack by hackers. What many people don’t realize is that hacking is going on twenty-four-seven! , Many breaches could be prevented, if only you were aware that a person or persons unknown has spend the last two weeks  attempting to break in. Just like in a heist movie, any lock can be picked given enough time, so your firewall needs to be constantly monitoring for intruders.

You need a firewall that is either setup with an intrusion prevention system (IPS) that sends out notifications when it detects significant activity on the the firewall, or the firewall is managed and monitored 24x7x365 by a security operations center, which is known as a managed firewall or security as a service (SaaS). Building a wall alone isn’t enough, hackers can be working to disassemble it brick by brick while you’re asleep!

Mannassi IT Solutions can deploy a range of firewalls from Cisco, Fortinet and SonicWall with IPS, plus we offer security as a service as part of our managed services portfolio.  Contact us to learn more about what options might be right for you.

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook to keep in the loop on the latest security updates.

This is what a phishing message looks like.
Phishing 1.jpg
Phishing 2.jpg

Think you can spot a phony message a mile away? Test yourself! Which one of these messages is real and which one is a fake?

Feeling confident in your choice? Here’s the secret: both of the above images are scam messages designed to phish your email account. That’s right. Both of these very legitimate looking emails are actually the work of a hacker.

And if that didn’t scare you, this might: both of these emails made it through the built-in email security in Office 365. Even Microsoft couldn’t spot these bad-boys! The best defense is a strong offense, so we always recommend a cloud based email security service like the award winning Proofpoint to make sure these types of messages don’t even grace your inbox with their presence.

In the meantime though, how can you spot these type of sophisticated attack emails? Here’s three tips for not getting hooked by phishing scams.

1: Triple check that email address.

More often than not a phishing email address will look very close to the real thing, but still have something slightly off. For example, instead of a name@school.edu address a scam email will come from name@schooledu.com. Many scammers will also use a domain off by only a letter or two. Instead of getting an email from name@mannassi.com you’d get one from name@manassi.com. Noticing that tiny shift can save you a major security headache!

2: Urgent action (not) required.

Emails requiring urgent action on threat of your account being shut down are also suspect. Watch out for phrasing requiring you to click an embedded link to prevent your account from being closed (or the IRS from beginning an audit).

3: Brush up on your grammar skills!

Emails containing grammatical errors or otherwise broken English are also almost certainly scams. Ever-changing tense, or addressing you in a non-traditional way, in the email is a good sign that something phishy is afoot.

Of course, the best way to prevent errant clicks in scam emails is to bar them from your inbox in the first place. That’s why for the month of October we’re offering FREE Office 365 migration with the added security bonus of a month of free Proofpoint email cloud security. Because do you really have time to triple check every email that comes your way?

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more cybersecurity updates!

 

Swimming with the fishes!
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Phishing attacks have been ubiquitous cybersecurity threats almost since the invention of email, but in 2017 hackers have really stepped up their game.

We’ve had several clients very nearly fall victim to these suped up schemes. With spoof messages that are designed to look identical to the real thing, it can be harder and harder to spot the troublemakers lurking in your mass of unread emails.

The latest attacks seem to follow the same formula: after your email is compromised it is used to send your accounting department requests for wire transfers. These scam emails look exactly like the real deal, leaving companies playing guess and check with their security and money!

The advanced nature of phishing attacks in 2017 is why we always recommend more than just your email host’s basic security options. These advanced level attacks aren’t being caught by default email security, even in Office 365, so you need an extra layer of advanced security. We’d rather be safe than sorry by using advanced cloud email security applications like the award winning Proofpoint. These can spot those tricky spoof emails and prevent them from ever daring to enter your inbox!

October is cybersecurity awareness month, so we’re offering a special email security package! Customers who sign a new 12-month contract with Mannassi IT Solutions before October 31st will get free Office 365 migration and one month of free cloud email security with Proofpoint. The best defense is a strong offense, so reach out to us today.

Want more of the latest in cybersecurity? Follow our Facebook or Twitter @MannassiIT.

3 Little Known Security Secrets that Can Make A BIG Difference

If you’ve been following us long you know that we’re always harping on about security here at Mannassi IT Solutions. We firmly believe that a solid offense is the best defense, especially when it comes to protecting your data and by extension your business. The big threats most everyone is aware of; malware, ransomware, phishing scams etc. But what are the most overlooked security threats? Here’s three security vulnerabilities that are oft forgotten.

1: Where’s that WiFi coming from?
Ever sent a personal email over the coffee shop WiFi? It’s not secure! One of the top ways hackers can break into your laptop or cell phone is by using a public wifi connection. Not to mention, if you’re required to be HIPAA compliant, sending an email that contains ePHI over an unsecured WiFi connection is a big no no.

2: Calling all charging ports!
You’ve probably been stranded in an airport at some point in your life, with your cell battery running low and so many work emails to answer. Many airports have provided a simple solution, USB charging ports. But these ports are often home to those with nefarious purposes! A USB is a simple way to break into your device, so plugging in to a public USB connection is kind of like wearing a sign that says “KICK ME”.

3: Ma, don’t write down your password!
One of the top ways someone can get into your computer is when you’ve written down your password & stuck it to your monitor. We’ve even seen laptops with passwords stuck to the outside! Why don’t you give the neighborhood thief the keys to your car while you’re at it? Your password is your first line of defense, and should be strong as well as secret. If you really can’t manage to remember all you passwords consider using something like Keypass, which allows you to securely store the keys to everywhere your tech takes you.

There you have it! Are you guilty of any of these security faux pas? Tweet us @MannassiIT & tell us your security stories.

What’s a Hybrid Cloud & What Does it Want?

I’m sure by now you’ve caught wind of the cloud storage trend. Organizations big and small have been moving to the cloud or thinking about it for some time now, and it’s been touted as the wave of the future for data management. Certain more security concerned businesses, however, have been reluctant to move into this brave new world of storage. With their reluctance, new solutions have had to be found. Flash forward to now, and the hybrid cloud infrastructure is the talk of the town. But what the heck is it?

Contrary to the name, it is not some half chicken half monkey monstrosity. Hybrid cloud really just refers to the process of using multiple clouds all connected to your data center. Instead of having only one option for cloud storage you have several, and their use depends on the type of data they’re meant to keep.

Using a hybrid cloud setup you’d be able to store your privileged data (your EPHI if you’re required to be HIPAA compliant for example) on a private cloud, while still being able to utilize the public cloud (like Amazon Web Services) and all its extended resources. Because these multiple houses store varying levels of protected data your exposure threat is minimal; the most sensitive information is stored privately away from potentially prying eyes.  The tricky bit then becomes how to get them all to work together!

If you’ve been thinking about moving your storage into the cloud, or upgraded the cloud services you’re already using, reach out to us. We can help make the process much smoother.

As always, follow us on Twitter @MannassiIT or Facebook for daily updates.

It’s 11am, Do you know where your data is?

With the advent of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Internet of Things (IoT) keeping track of corporate data is getting more and more difficult every day.  Employees want to get company email on their personal cell phone and tablets issued for field work often have access to and/or store company data.  Even Internet enabled devices such as hand scanners have potential to store data and credentials!  In this brave new world of connected devices, mobile device management (MDM) becomes a must. 

Having the ability to wipe data remotely from a personal device is essential to stop data leakage in its tracks.  There is a growing market for IT tools that can manage devices on the IoT.  Cisco Meraki Mobile Device Manager and VMware Airwatch are just a couple of products distinguishing themselves in this arena.

Unless you’re an expert, planning, designing, and implementing these new tools can be a major headache: taking up your valuable time trying to figure out how to fit together the puzzle pieces. Mannassi IT Solutions to the rescue! Give us a call and let us help you protect the crown jewels of your computer network.

True Horror Stories: When the Backup Goes Boom
'It' 2017

'It' 2017

Recently a client of ours had a nightmare situation. Their hard drive crashed and when we sent it off for emergency data recovery the prognosis was bleak: too much damage to recovery anything.

There are two things that strike fear in the hearts of IT professionals across the globe: a creepy clown with a red balloon, and the look on a client’s face when you have to tell them their data is gone for good. Weeks, sometimes months or years of important information gone in a split second. Just thinking of it is enough to send anyone down into the sewers in search of answers.

Once a hard drive is seriously corrupted there is nothing your tech team can do, no matter how good they are. The only defense in this case is a strong offense: make sure you are regularly backing up your data so that if the worst should happen you don’t have to start again from data that is months (or years) old. Daily backups are ideal to make sure you’re not sent back to square one should the worst happen.

Remember, even if emergency data recovery can get your information back, it is costly and can result in days of unexpected downtime. The best way to save yourself is to not get stuck in the first place. Remember: backup backup backup!

As always, follow us on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates about keeping your business moving smoothly.

Building the Bridge: What We're learning at VMWorld 2017

Many new and exciting things have already been announced by VMWare at VMWorld 2017 in Las Vegas, so it can be hard to keep up! You can find a list of some of the major announcements on ZDNet.

Mannassi IT Solutions has been a VMWare partner for years, and we’re excited to see the direction they’re going. The Keynote at VMWorld was fascinating, laying out the next phases for the company and it’s all about mobility!

The big take-away from VMWare’s announcement is streamlining and mobilizing the application process and eliminating the messy half-results that plague us all. They’re seeking to take the complexity of multiple moving tech parts and put them together so everything runs more smoothly and stays interconnected.

Streamlining services with a managed service provider is a great way to start saving money and to help prevent expensive complications. It’s an excellent idea for companies large and small alike to work with an MSP like Mannassi IT Solutions to simplify their tech life. Instead of having to figure out all your moving parts on your own, leave it to someone else! It’s all about saving yourself future tech headaches, while knowing your tech is going to do what it needs to every time.

We’re looking forward to seeing these new developments in action as they rollout through 2018! Keep following us on Facebook and Twitter for updates from our time at VMWorld.

Don’t Let Power Problems Eclipse Your Business

With the great American eclipse just passed (hope you remembered your viewing glasses!) now is a great time to review your IT and power! California power providers had been working on a plan for two years to support the electrical grid when the eclipse took effect, in order to adjust for the substantial loss of solar power generation.  However, they still issued a warning that there could be potential power outages!

As a small business, you can’t afford to be caught without power; servers, network equipment, and other vital tech could all suddenly shutdown! Immeditaely causing you to lose money and productivity. Although the eclipse lasted for only for an hour or two, the damage to computer hardware and software comes from tech being suddenly turned off and the resulting spike in power when the grid comes back online.  

All your computer equipment should be protected by surge protection strips, but make sure you don’t go for the cheapest one you can find, as these offer little to no protection!  It’s best to get a surge protector that comes with a warranty to repair or replace equipment if damaged. Since turning off a server suddenly can corrupt operating systems and applications, your servers should have battery backup systems that automatically signal it to shutdown cleanly. 

Finally, now is a great time to double-check your backups! If the worst happens and your system is fried, knowing your backups are solid gives you the piece of mindto know you can get back to business quickly and with minimal loss. 

Remember, even though the Great American Eclipse has moved on, power problems are an ever present risk to your systems and your business. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of care!

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, @MannassiIT, for more about protecting your business from anything life can throw at it! Stay tuned to our Facebook for our weekly exclusive tips, coming to you on Thursdays.

Respect the Tech!

I have been working with technology since 1984, and just when I think that I have seen everything another situation pops up that surprises and amazes me with the way people are so casual about their tech.  Since technology is so vital to our daily lives, you would think people would treat their computers and phones with at least a modicum of respect and attention. However, this is not usually the case.

Recently I went to see a new client and they showed me a desktop computer that had a ‘drive not found’ error. Such a serious drive error message isn’t great to begin with, but it was compounded when I asked about the backup and only got a blank stare, followed by the revelation that he has not done a backup in over 5 years. DOH! The hard drive is dead, and we have no way to restore his data.

That’s not the only tech slip up out there. Every day I hear stories about people at Starbucks sending confidential email via the free wifi. Come on people! Would you shout your social security number, address and date of birth across a crowded room? Hopefully not, so don’t do it via email either!

When investing in tech, don’t just go for the cheapest.  The saying “you get what you pay for” holds as true for tech as it does for anything else. Buying the no name brand computer, or a residential grade firewall for a business, will certainly come back and bite you in the @$$ and cost you an arm and a leg.

Networks are vulnerable to breach every minute of every day, unless you are constantly vigilant and take proactive steps to protect your systems and your data you are going to feel the pain of data loss and outages. It only takes a little extra effort to save yourself a lot of trouble.

Mannassi IT Solutions can help you find the right solutions for your business at the right price. Give us a call to chat about your options.

Follow us on twitter @MannassiIT or Facebook for all the latest on keeping your tech in great shape.

Nothing Can Stop This Road Warrior!

Nowadays there’s no excuse for not being able to work while you are traveling. Yes, I know, we all love to use travel as an excuse to kickback and have a little “me time,” however with all the complicated employee travel laws requiring you to be paid while traveling, your employer is likely expecting you to maximize this time to use on work.

Gone are the days of “I will answer your email once I get to my hotel.” We now have the option to work on the plane, of course that’s if your airline has wifi available onboard. If not, it’s time to consider flying the friendly skies with a more connected airline! With in-flight wifi you’re enabled to answer email, answer calls on your soft phone, do a skype call (make sure to use your earbuds or the background noise is an issue), or even prepare for that all important meeting you are en-route to.

Most airports will provide you with free wifi, however this can sometimes be extremely slow, so also look at options with your cell phone carrier. Keep an eye out for plans that include a hotspot, as this will enable you to turn your cell into a wifi connection for your laptop. I often do carpool trips with my partner and I have found this a great option, as we can do a full business meeting while driving and pull documents as we need them from our office.

Word of warning, when traveling, double-check with your IT department that your laptop is encrypted and has a tracking option enabled in the event it gets stolen or misplaced. Also, check that your email is encrypted. If, for example you are sending confidential information like the kinds of records protected under HIPAA requirements, you need to be using encrypted email in order to stay compliant. Otherwise you’ve breached HIPAA requirements just by sending a single email over public wifi!

Lastly if you find yourself constantly looking for a power outlet for your laptop, consider some newer models, many can last 10+ hours on battery power. While newer aircraft do provide you a power outlet at your seat, be extremely careful about using the public USB charging stations at airports as this is a well-known point of contact for hackers intent on compromising your mobile devices.

With just a few precautions you can be a real road warrior, saving the day from your airplane seat!

Check out our twitter @MannssiIT, and our facebook for regular tips about staying secure while on the road.

How to Catch Those Hidden Telecom Costs Before They Catch You!

The ability to turn up voice and data services has never been easier; many providers even offer self-provisioning. While this might seem like a swell idea, it comes with the risk that a company will spend money on voice and data circuits they don’t need, or were once in use but aren’t any longer. 

Another area of corporate waste is with wireless carriers and company issued mobile devices.  Over the years, we have found many instances of mobile devices never returned, or voice/data plans that are still active long after the employee has left the company. 

Another area of financial waste is incorrect billing.  Telecom billing departments are not perfect and it pays to look closely for changes in the bill.  We’re frequently asked to review telecom invoices to confirm if the charges are applicable and correct, and more times than you’d expect we find old circuits that were never cancelled, or double billing, or new carrier pricing that can be rolled back to the lower cost with a simple phone call to the sales department.

Telecom technology is ever-changing and sometimes changing the tech makes sense and can save money.  A prime example of this is replacing MPLS with SD-WAN, which can often net 60% savings. But unless you’re certain how your telecom switch is going to save on your bottom line, consult someone who knows how to find all the angles to save you money and hassle!

Did you know Mannassi IT Solutions can provide full service telecom analysis? Give us a call so we can find out how to shave those precious dollars off your telecom budget.

As always, follow us on Twitter, @MannassiIT, or Facebook for regular updates & more cost saving tips!

Thought Your Mac Was Malware Safe? Think Again!

One of the most often applauded perks of Macs is their invulnerability to viruses. Well, the bubble of virus-free Apple products has officially burst.

A recent outbreak of the highly invasive malware “fruitfly” has been wreaking havoc on Mac users for the past six months. The sneaky virus went undetected for years, and allows the controller of take complete control of your Mac—from files to your keyboard, from your webcam to your mouse.

Apple did recently release security patches to fight the “fruitfly” but new variants have emerged. Since Mac malware is so rare, it’s been particularly difficult to corral.

A report on CBS news follows some of the techies working to combat this “fruitfly” but it seems reigning it in is proving to be difficult, especially since no one knows exactly what the malware does or why it would be implemented.

So what can you do to protect yourself? Here’s three tips:

1. Make sure all your software is up to date. Security patches can only help you if they’re updated regularly and your system matches their requirements.

2. Always back up your computer regularly. Don’t get caught without your important documents in the event you’re infected.

3. Take security precautions seriously: have a strong password (your cat’s name is not usually a safe bet), don’t click links within emails, minimize your downloading activity, and use a pop-up blocker.

With a little due diligence you can do a lot to prevent a malware attack from crippling your tech. Don’t wait until it’s too late!

Follow us on Twitter @MannassiIT or like us on Facebook for more security in the news.

What you’ve heard about Macs is true, but you might not know everything.

Yes, it's true! Macs don’t have as many problems as PCs, and yes it's true! That they are less susceptible to viruses. But the Macs’ many wonders don’t mean they are problem free, and the cost of Apple equipment can put them out of reach for some small businesses. Here are three strengths and common issues with the long-lauded Mac:

1: Macs have nuances and nuisances all their own. They are sometimes finicky when it comes to binding to domains, shared drives, and especially with managed security software.

2: Macs come with built in encryption software that enhances security and they integrate well with iCloud and iPhone apps but network integration can sometimes be a challenge if the system hasn't been prepped properly.

3: When the Mac has issues, solutions come fast. Imaging on Macs can be a major problem. However, with the proliferation of MDM software, it is quickly becoming less of a challenge.

Are you a Mac loving business? Did you know Mannassi IT Solutions is also a Mac expert? Macs require less service but when they do, finding the right technician can make all the difference. Let us help you with all your Mac needs!

Follow us on twitter: @MannassiIT or like us on Facebook to see what’s new from us, and for daily tech news updates.

Getting Started with SD-WAN

SD-WAN is the talk of the tech industry at the moment. Many companies have a multi office locations and linking them together or to a data center has always been expensive with legacy WAN technologies such as T-1 or MPLS. Not so with software defined wide area networking (SD-WAN).  In some cases, SD-Wan can use less expensive broadband connections to replace more costly solutions, giving businesses the connection they need at the price that makes them happy.  There are different flavors of SD-WAN; some accelerate the connection to SaaS such as Safesforce or Office 365. Others focus on failover for connectivity via multiple internet connections. Still other companies have built a global network using SD-WAN to WAN known as Network as a Service (NaaS).

So how do you know which option is right for you? Talk to your trusted tech team to discuss solutions that will fit your company size and budget. Don’t have someone on staff to talk you through the finer points? Call us! We love to talk solutions.

Follow us on twitter @MannassiIT or like us on facebook for more tech trends.

Cyber Security – A Self Inflicted Pain

The recent news of another pandemic ransomware cyber-attack and all the businesses and individuals affected, brings into sharp focus how sometimes doing the bare minimum is the same as doing nothing at all. People can take their technology for granted, assuming they are safe because they thought their operating system has been updated, without ever checking to make sure this is the case. The same goes for antivirus, how many people take the time to check to see if their anti-virus/anti-malware is current? When was the last time you double checked yours?  Most people’s answer will be “I don’t know”.  Relatively simple steps can save a lot of headache down the line, and save you from long downtimes when you can’t access your systems.

We have found that many companies run their IT security and data protection based on the “fingers crossed” concept.  They skimp on the expense of putting in proper firewalls and instead go for the cheapest option on the shelf. Then they end up wondering why their company is paralyzed by ransomware! Network security should be multi-layered, with protection for inbound email, URL filtering to stop users going to malicious web sites, business class firewalls with intrusion prevention software, end point protection for all workstations and mobile devices and most importantly a proactive approach to monitoring all of these technologies. And finally, even with all this protection, there is always a chance something will get through, so having comprehensive data protection in the form of backups that are separate from the core network, and thus out of the reach of ransomware encryption. And yes, backups need to be checked regularly, including doing test restores.

So, come on people! Stop procrastinating and going for the cheap and basic options. You need to own your cyber security and make it a way of life.

If you don’t know where to start or need help, call us! We’re happy to talk security any day.

Want more cybersecurity straight from the headlines? Follow us on twitter: @MannassiIT