Archive for March 2014

Turning Google Chrome into a Security Fortress With Add-Ons

A lot of people have identified Google Chrome as the ideal browser thanks to its speed, expansion options and multi-platform opportunities. As it’s now being widely used, the security aspects of the browser have come under scrutiny.

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So what can you do to enhance Chrome and make it a fortress against any unwanted intrusions? Here are some of the enhancements available to download that can really make an impact on the overall security of your browser.

Adblock Plus is a really useful tool that gets rid of the constant barrage of advertisements we often sift through when searching the web. It also provides a malware protection service and keeps your surfing private and protected.

HTTPS Everywhere is a must if you’re a regular user of the internet (who isn’t). Your surfing will be automatically navigated, giving you the simplest route to a safe and secure Chrome experience.

If you’re just looking for something that tells you which search results can be trusted, Chrome has Web of Trust available for installation. You’ll know a site is safe to use if it has the Web of Trust logo next to it. Simple.

There you have it. Getting hold of these useful add-ons can really improve the security of your web searches, so make sure you get hold of them as soon as you declare Chrome your browser of choice. If you’d like any more advice on keeping your surfing safe and secure, please get in touch with Pronetic and we’ll be happy to help.

An irritating “pop-up” or a seriously bad infection?

We have come across numerous infections on Windows computers recently which are hoax warnings about nasty things happening on your computer. They are generally of the form “you have x,y or z infection on your computer. Pay £xxx to install our software to fix your problem”. In reality the only infection is the one telling you that you have an infection! Over recent months we have seen infections which are much worse and need to be taken very seriously.

Essentially this nastier type of infection creates then warns about a very real and potentially damaging Cryptolockerproblem. One variant is known as “Cryptolocker” and informs the user that all (user data) files have been encrypted and cannot be accessed without an encryption key. This key will be deleted in x hours (initially 72) unless the key is paid for at a price of around 300 euros. The sting with this infection is that it is not just a threat, you will find your files aren’t accessible and this will include files you have “write” access to on a server as well as your local desktop or laptop. We have heard of cases where the ransom was paid and file access restored but there is no guarantee. These aren’t nice people and who is to say you won’t find the same stunt pulled a few weeks later?

Good security software is one layer of protection you must have but it is essential to have a good, business-grade backup system in place too. Without a backup of your files you could find you lose everything. In examples we have seen, the damage was limited to Microsoft Office files and PDFs. This is one of those times you find out how good your backup mechanism is. We strongly recommend you are backing up everything that you need, including several generations of files, not just one.

Just to reiterate, you only need one user with access to all your company documents on a server to catch this infection and you have potentially lost everything. It’s that serious.

How might you catch this type of infection? We have seen it come in as an email attachment, allegedly from a UK bank. The email seems to look genuine except it has a very short message in it. The attachment is a ZIP file that appears to contain a Word or PDF document. Most people will realise it’s a fake, but if you are in a hurry and it appears to be from your own bank there is a risk of taking a quick peek at the attachment, so be really careful.

If ever you’re worried, call the experts! Get in touch with Pronetic today and let us assess your online security needs.

Making the Most of Your New Mac Pro

If you’ve been lucky enough to get your hands on the irresistibly powerful Mac Pro since its release, you might be aware of its capabilities with third-party additions and various other upgrades.

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It’s important to remember that upgrading a computer yourself can contribute towards hardware failure and file corruption if carried out incorrectly, so getting hold of business backup solutions can keep parts of your IT infrastructure protected. Here are some of the useful upgrades you can make to improve the efficiency of your Mac Pro in the office.

There are some excellent storage devices out there that can really enhance the storage capacity of your Mac Pro, as it is ultimately a machine that focuses on power rather than storage. The Buffalo DriveStation DDR has 3 TB storage capacities and is one of the fastest external drives on the market. If you’re willing to spend a bit more, the IoSafe Solo G3 is great for backing up files and also boasts 3 TB of storage.

You can upgrade the memory in this device to as much as 128GB of RAM as well as being able to enhance the CPU, though it ultimately comes down to your budget!

Considering upgrading your own hardware? Come and talk to us about IT equipment leasing, as you may find your business is better off leasing the latest capable equipment rather than spending big on an initial purchase. Get in touch to find out more.

World Wide Web’s 25th Anniversary: The Foundation of the Internet

Today marks a significant date in the history of the World Wide Web. It was 25 years ago today when computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee introduced his proposal for the World Wide Web to the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN). We have encountered all sorts of developments over the years, from the introduction of social media to the importance of IT & data security but in truth, the platform built by Berners-Lee has remained.

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Berners-Lee found that CERN scientists were searching for alternatives to travelling internationally and returning to their laboratories in order to collect and share data. He was also keen to explore the true potential of the internet and whether or not we could connect computers through large-scale online communities.

Berners-Lee made a proposal to CERN that incorporated the idea of having technology that would adjust the internet to meet the needs and demands of its users. For scientists at CERN this would involve sharing important data without the need for long distance travel.

At first, his proposal was rejected by CERN yet he continued to push for a breakthrough in groundbreaking online technologies. He created three essential technologies, HTML, HTTP and URI, which have since become vital to today’s World Wide Web. Berners-Lee created his first web page in 1990 and it was finally made available to the general public just three years later and is still going strong in 2014. Who knows what the internet will be like in 50 years time?

 

Video released that shows off Microsoft’s new “Cortana” application for Windows 8.1

Microsoft have recently revealed a video that illustrates their answer to Apple’s Siri interface; a digital assistant feature currently named “Cortana” after the character from the successful Halo series on Microsoft’s Xbox console. The video itself gives us an idea of how Cortana will be used to provide useful information to a specific individual. However, we still don’t know how the voice activation system will work as the video doesn’t include audio.

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Whilst the identification process seems to offer shades of déjà vu with regards to Apple’s Siri, there seems to be quite a lot of focus on context and users getting the most out of the application. Cortana starts by asking to “learn a little bit more about you” before taking you through a series of questions including “When you think about food, what’s most important to you these days?”

What might attract a lot of people towards Windows 8.1 is the fact that the character being used is easily recognisable to a large portion of technology consumers. Cortana is famous for being the artificial intelligence companion of Halo’s main character Master Chief, so there’s certainly the added sci-fi appeal with Microsoft’s new information tool. Whether or not the audio system includes the characters voice could determine just how successful this application could be.

Mobile computing is developing at an incredible rate and the importance of mobile security management is growing as well. Pronetic offer a mobile device management service that looks to enhance productivity and reduce exposure by increasing security and protection of important company data. Get in touch for more information about our IT support services here at Pronetic.