Mannassi IT Solutions

Blog

What's happening.

Posts in Tips & Tricks
2017 Wrap Up: 5 Tips to End the Year Right!

With the year winding down it’s a good time to double check to make sure you’ve got all your ducks in a row for 2018. Here are five tips for loose ends to tie up before the ball drops.

  1. Brush up on the numbers! Contact your CPA and have them run the numbers. This helps you to see if you need to do some last-minute purchases in order to reduce your taxes.
  2. Upgrade under the wire! If you’ve considered upgrading your computer or network equipment, check with your accounting department to see whether purchasing (Capex, aka capital expense) or leasing (Opex, aka operational expense) will save you the most money.
  3. Shop til you drop! The end of the year is a perfect time to purchase, as most vendors are trying to wrap up their end of year sales. Be on the lookout for special end of year deals and grab that tech you’ve been eyeing.
  4. Clean house! Have you been holding on to old equipment “just in-case”? Now is the time to donate! Make your charitable donations before the new year so you can use the deduction on this year’s taxes.
  5. Budget now, play later! Start making a list for your 2018 budget, it may seem like not a lot of fun, but the new year is only a couple of weeks away.

What big plans have you got for the end of 2017? Follow us on Twitter or Facebook to share!

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!

 

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.

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.

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.