Axcient VS Datto – Which is Better?

Technological malfunctions, natural disasters, and human error. All of these can contribute to a server meltdown, and with such a reliance on technology and data, business continuity planning has never been more important. If you want to keep your business up and running no matter what, then you’re going to need a reliable and trustworthy business continuity and critical data backup provider. But who should you choose?

There are far too many providers to mention them all, so today we are going to focus on two of the leading ones: Axcient and Datto.

We will be comparing these two companies on a like-for-like basis, across several key areas, and provide a short, digestible summary on who we feel triumphs.

Backup Frequency

Let’s start with one of the most important parts of any data recovery solution: How often will your data be backed up?

Axcient uses an “agentless system”. This means that once emergency protocols kick in – in other words, if you ever have to use your backup – then it will stop running until it is reconfigured. In most circumstances, this isn’t a massive problem, but if your company resides in a fast-paced industry where your data is constantly being updated, then this does mean you run the risk of losing any important information that is generated between the emergency situation happening, and the backup being reconfigured.

Datto tends to offer faster and more regular data backups and will continue to run during and after emergency protocols kick in. If your business-critical data is regularly updated, then you will want your data backup to keep running regardless.

Key point: Datto offers faster, more frequent backups than Axcient.

Data Security

In terms of physical security, both Datto and Axcient offer physical 24/7 on-premise protection. In other words, whichever provider you choose, you can relax knowing that security guards and alarm systems are protecting the physical servers from theft or vandalism.

It is worth noting, however, that Axcient’s data centre is in California, a place particularly prone to natural disasters, whereas Datto’s data centres are all coastal, and in areas of low risk of disaster. With that said, both providers are SSAE 16 certified, meaning you can equally trust that both of them are compliant with data protection laws and legislation.

Key point: Both Datto and Axcient keep your data physically safe.

Data Storage and Recovery

Axcient stores your backup data in a proprietary format – meaning a format they designed themselves. It’s hard to conclude whether this is a good thing or a bad thing… but it does mean that data conversion becomes a rather drawn-out process if you have to access your backup in an emergency.

Datto uses industry standard VMware VMDK format for storing your data. This means it can be quickly converted into a legible format and restored, should an emergency occur.

So how long might it take to recover your data from each provider? Let’s take a look:

  • Axcient would take approximately 3 hours to re-assemble a backup image
  • Datto is normally ready to restore your data within 30 seconds

One good thing to note for both Axcient and Datto, is that they both allow you to inject drivers for restoring your backup to brand new hardware, helping you to circumnavigate any incompatibilities that might crop up. In other words, if your technology fails, and you want to restore your backup data to a brand new computer infrastructure, both providers are able to help you ensure your old data will run just as well on your new hardware.

Key point: Datto’s storage method makes restoring from a backup much faster than with Axcient

Customer Support

We tested out the customer support quality from both providers, and both seemed pretty responsive. There is a fairly significant difference in availability, however:

Axcient: Support available 9am to 8pm EST, Monday to Friday

Datto: 24/7/365

Key point: Datto is more readily available if you need to contact their team

Operating System Compatibility

Finally, let’s look at a feature that could really determine which provider you choose – operating system compatibility.

To start with, both Axcient and Datto can failover for Windows and Linux. However, Datto can also backup Max, and is compliant with Apple Time Machine.

Linux users might prefer Axcient’s solution as it provides real-time failover for Linux, but Apple users may prefer Datto.

Key point: Both providers are compatible with Windows. Linux users prefer Axcient, Mac users prefer Datto.

Our Short Summary

Both Datto and Axcient are reliable, trustworthy data backup and business continuity solution providers. They are both compliant, and they both have proved that they keep client data physically safe.

Axcient is slightly more favourable for users who need real-time failover for Linux, however, Datto seems to win the comparison in most other areas. For example:

  • Datto backs up your data much more frequently
  • Restoring your data is much faster with Datto
  • Datto’s customer support team are available 24/7/365
  • Datto has better compatibility with Mac users
  • Datto’s data centres are in areas with very low risk of disaster

For more information please contact us on 0131 541 0020, send us an email info@cans.scot or complete our request via our on-line request form here.

Realtime Ransomware Tracking Maps

With ransomware attacks at the forefront of the news recently, most notably the WannaCry attack which impacted 300,000 computers across 150 countries including the infrastructure of the English NHS, we’re all more aware than ever that no-one is safe when it comes to cyber crime.

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is defined as any malicious software which blocks access to a computer system or network until a specified ransom is paid by the target. In the case of the English NHS attack, the ransom demanded for the files to be unlocked was believed to be $300 in Bitcoin.

 What is the impact of a cyber attack?

The Government funded Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2017 revealed:

  • A third of ransomware victims lost revenue as a result of a cyber attack
  • One fifth of British companies hit by ransomware were charged more than £10,000 to unlock their files
  • Almost seven in ten large businesses identified a breach or attack, with the average cost identified at £20,000. In some cases the cost reached millions
  • On average, it takes the victim 2.2 days – at a cost of almost £3,000 – to recover from a cyber attack

The need to protect customer data is cited as the top reason for investing by half of all firms who spend money on cyber security measures. Nine in ten businesses regularly update their software and malware protection and two thirds of businesses invest money in cyber security measures.

How likely is an attack?

With three quarters of all businesses saying cyber security is a high priority and 54% of all global businesses targeted with a cyber attack in the past year, it’s advisable to start to plan ahead and be prepared for the worst, in order to help reduce the risk of serious damage to your infrastructure and loss of revenue in the event of an attack.

How to prevent a ransomware attack

Our top tips for preventing ransomware attacks can help you stop cyber crime in its tracks:

  1. Train your employees – ensure staff are vigilant. Knowing what to look out for will help them to avoid falling victim to attacks
  2. Ensure your is network is safe – our team of experts can perform a security audit, looking at your systems and software and identifying any risks
  3. Layered security – protect your systems fully with firewalls, antivirus software and filtering
  4. Automated backups – daily backups are essential to protect against data leaks

Malware tracking maps

With preventative measures in place, you’re well placed to prevent a cyber attack. Should you wish to monitor malware activity, live tracking maps allow you to identify and track attacks as they happen in real time, ensuring you are aware of malicious activity.

Useful tools include:

Akamai 

https://www.akamai.com/uk/en

  • Realtime data monitors internet conditions worldwide
  • Allows you to identify which countries/regions are being targeted with attack traffic 

Digital Attack Map

http://www.digitalattackmap.com/#anim=1&color=0&country=ALL&list=0&time=17315&view=map

  • Features realtime and pause mode
  • Displays daily statistics on large attacks around the world
  • Shows which countries are experiencing unusually high attack traffic
  • Allows you to sort attacks by source, destination, duration and type 

Fire Eye

https://www.fireeye.com

  • Realtime visualisation of global cyber attacks
  • Shows the country attacking and the country/countries under attack
  • Shows the total number of detected daily attacks
  • Shows the five most attacked industries from the last 30 days

Intel Malwaretech

https://intel.malwaretech.com

  • Live map identifies whenever an infected computer alerts the tracking server
  • Displays the geographical spread of a malware infection

Kaspersky Cybermap 

https://cybermap.kaspersky.com

  • Detection visualisation shows threats discovered worldwide
  • Shows cyber threat stats for a selected country
  • Displays botnet activity

Threatbutt

https://threatbutt.com

  • Realtime display of global cyber attacks
  • Shows both attacking and targeted IPs
  • Shows the type of malware used, including unknown

Threat Cloud

https://www.threat-cloud.com/ThreatPortal/#

  • Shows the total number of daily cyber attacks worldwide
  • Shows worldwide cyber attacks in real time
  • Displays the most attacked countries
  • Shows where attacks are originating from, the target country and the malware used

Threat Metrix

https://www.threatmetrix.com/digital-identity/cybersecurity

  • Fraud detection map shows the origin of account takeover attempts, payment fraud and identity cloning attempts worldwide

For more information please contact us on 0131 541 0020, send us an email info@cans.scot or complete our request via our on-line request form here.

What is an IT Security Risk Assessment & Strategy?

With internet hacking and cyber attacks on the rise, it’s imperative to make sure your business is as secure as possible in its digital use. A government study found that 74% of small firms in the UK suffered a cyber security breach in 2016, whilst 90% of large firms were hit. Attacks can vary in magnitude, but sometimes these security breaches can cost millions of pounds worth of damage. To help you avoid this fate you should perform regular IT security risk assessments, which will diagnose what the biggest risks are for your business and where you should be focusing your defense.

A lot of IT security comes down to common sense – you wouldn’t leave your front door open or a sign that points to where the keys are hidden, would you? It’s similar online, and a lot of cyber security will depend upon you and your actions. However, when conducting an IT risk assessment it is crucial that you seek professional advice. IT can get pretty complex, and an expert will know the biggest risks and see things where you do not. It’s really worth spending the money now in order to save losing it later, the stakes are just too high. Get your IT security risk assessment right and you will be left with a strong, practical security plan that won’t cripple your bank balance or put your business in danger.

Firstly, assess how important IT is to your business and how you use it. Do your business operations depend upon one or another form of digital programming? By addressing this question you can ascertain what position you will be in should your hardware or software be compromised, and thus how to go forward from there. Identify what the information assets are that you use – all the devices, software programs, servers, extra equipment – and how dependent you are on these. You might be a business that can continue operations over the phone, in person, etc, without too much of a hitch should your server go down, for instance, or maybe your business functions through digital equipment, such as printers and digital design programs.

Once you’ve weighed up what assets are most important to your business you can begin to assess each individually for their specific risks. Put together a list of everything that you use on a daily basis, all the computers, machines, handsets, routers, databases and software, and consider what the threats are to each thing and how your business will be affected should they be compromised. Some of the things you should consider are:

  • Theft or loss of hardware
  • Fire damage
  • Water damage
  • Hardware failure
  • Software failure
  • Data theft or loss
  • Data corruption

How easily could any of these incidents occur? What can you personally do to prevent them? Some of these answers will be simple enough, such as moving equipment away from heat sources and out of direct sunlight, but others will be more complicated, and this is why it is important to get expert advice. It’s hard to know how easy particular software is compromised if you don’t have previous experience or the time for in-depth studies of each program you use. It can be mind-boggling how many unique cases you will have to evaluate, but you don’t have to do it alone!

Make sure your IT security risk assessments are regular and consistently shrewd. The dangers regularly change and new threats develop every week, so keep on top of them. You might choose not to act on particular cyber security threats because it’s just not worth your money, but so long as you are aware of the dangers then you can be ready to face the consequences should they arise. Be smart, don’t leave your business in the hands of fate.

For more information please contact us on 0131 541 0020, send us an email info@cans.scot or complete a request via our on-line request form here.

The Rise and Rise of Ransomware

Ransomware is on the rise. In 2016, 40% of businesses across the globe reported ransomware attacks. That figure is even worse in the UK, with over 54% of businesses being targeted. There’s no denying that ransomware is a threat, but what is it and why are businesses leaving themselves vulnerable to it?

Ransomware is a particularly nasty form of cybercrime. It’s less about stealing data, and more about holding it hostage while demanding a payout. Ransomware attackers will breach a company’s security and take control of important documents, effectively blocking the businesses from accessing them. These documents could be of a sensitive nature (e.g. customer information or confidential data) or could be fundamental to the day-to-day running of a business. Many businesses will pay the ransom just to get back to normal and continue trading.

Part of the reason ransomware is on the rise is its sophistication. As technology improves, so do the techniques used by cyber criminals. In fact, most ransomware these days even has a pre-programmed time delay which enables it to be set-up days or weeks before an attack takes place. This makes the ransomware difficult to find, and its origin harder to determine. That’s why it’s essential that businesses focus more on prevention than detection, a fact that still eludes many business owners.

Ransomware attackers do not discriminate between businesses. From individuals and small businesses to universities, libraries and hospitals, all organisations are vulnerable. If you have important information stored of any kind and your security measures aren’t up to scratch, you’re an easy target for cyber criminals.

Security and business growth

One of the most common mistakes made by small businesses is their failure to adapt their security systems as they grow. It’s one thing to have a good network security solution in place when you start out, but if that system doesn’t grow with your business you’re going to make yourself vulnerable. Often, this is something that’s pushed aside by small businesses as they’re too focused on performance and ambition – it’s only natural – but the risk only gets greater as your business grows.

Neutralising the threat

So how do you stop your files from being held hostage? For starters, it’s imperative that businesses develop a ‘culture of untrust’, which means that all sensitive information on the inside needs to be secured. Having a blanket security measure in place that protects the organisation as a whole is important, but when it comes to ransomware it’s often inside access that gives attackers the edge.  You should ensure that:

  • All sensitive information is encrypted as it is transferred
  • Only employees that need access have access (tiered security)
  • Processes are in place to track and record when sensitive data is accessed

Remember that no company is too small to experience a ransomware attack. Often companies are targeted not based on their size or profitability, but their vulnerability. Cyber criminals are opportunists and will simply go for the easiest and most vulnerable business.

Collateral damage

It’s easy to think that ransomware and its effects exist solely within the business. It’s a consuming and draining process after all. However, depending on your industry there’s likely to be more collateral damage from a ransomware attack than a simple breach. There will be an inevitable effect on the relationship you have with your clients/customers and the way your brand is perceived, not to mention the added friction that can be caused as people start pointing the finger. Whose fault was it? Why did this happen? Who was managing our cyber security?

More than ever it’s important for businesses owners, regardless of size, to ‘own’ their risk. Risk isn’t a tangible thing, but it can be quantified by attributing value to data and putting necessary processes in place to protect it. All business have to balance performance with risk, and owning that risk can have extremely positive effects on the day-to-day running of your business while also making you less of a target for would-be attackers.

No business is immune from ransomware attacks. Own the risk and rise above it.

For more information please contact us on 0131 541 0020, send us an email info@cans.scot or complete our request via our on-line request form here.

Data Hoarding and how it Leaves Your Business at Risk

From on-site data storage to cloud computing, businesses are hoarding more data than ever before. That’s not inherently a bad thing; data is one of the most valuable commodities a business owns and earning that data can take a great deal of time and effort. However, storing large amounts of data can pose obvious security and compliance risks that can leave businesses vulnerable to breaches. So far in 2017, cybercrime has already cost the global economy over 69 billion dollars, and 1 in 10 businesses have experienced a security breach. If you think your small business isn’t at risk, it may be time to reconsider.

Small businesses are just as vulnerable as large ones. A staggering 43% of all cyber-attacks in the last year were aimed at businesses with less than 250 staff.

Many of the immediate problems stem from data structuring, or lack thereof. Businesses know that data is important, but if you can’t assign value to that data or organise it in a meaningful way it quickly stacks up. Poor data is kept instead of deleted, records can be easily duplicated and the governance and management of information start to spiral.  This can lead to immediate issues with compliance, as well as long-term vulnerability to cyber attacks. On average, 80% of a company’s content is unstructured or ‘scattered’ and therefore vulnerable to security breaches and cyber attacks.

Scattered content is surprisingly common in small to medium sized businesses. A cyberattack does not discriminate and will target any business that has vulnerabilities, so it’s essential to have adequate security measures in place. However, those security measures can only work effectively if data sets are organised by their value and sensitivity.  Data should be categorised so that security processes are able to identify, record and, if necessary, encrypt files to keep them safe both inside and outside of your network.

Organisation is the key to data security

The key to solving the issue of ‘data hoarding’ is to take back control of your data. Use business insights to ascertain what data means, how valuable it is and whether it should be kept or deleted. Not all data has long-term benefits, and many problems stem from keeping useless data which congests the system and makes it harder to govern.  Rather than giving complete control of data management to an individual person or department within your business, instead try to take a cohesive approach to spread responsibility and minimise the risk. The potential cost of a security breach or internal error could be enormous, so it’s essential that all departments and employees understand best practice data handling. Of course, data access is also a primary concern. You don’t want a network security solution that’s going to make life difficult for your staff. Data and content should be easily accessible to those who need it (and have the right privileges), and workflows should not be disrupted. In many cases, productivity levels can actually be enhanced by a good security solution – data will be more organised and easier to find as a direct result.

Instead of seeing data as a problem that must be managed, embrace it. Securing your data and organising it will make your business more agile and streamline your operations. What’s more, you’ll be able to focus on the day-to-day management of your business without having to worry about potential cyber attacks.

For more information please contact us on 0131 541 0020, send us an email info@cans.scot or complete our request via our on-line request form here.

Axcient VS Datto – Which is Better?

Technological malfunctions, natural disasters, and human error. All of these can contribute to a server meltdown, and with such a reliance on technology and data, business continuity planning has never been more important. If you want to keep your business up and running no matter what, then you’re going to need a reliable and trustworthy business continuity and critical data backup provider. But who should you choose?

There are far too many providers to mention them all, so today we are going to focus on two of the leading ones: Axcient and Datto.

We will be comparing these two companies on a like-for-like basis, across several key areas, and provide a short, digestible summary on who we feel triumphs.

Backup Frequency

Let’s start with one of the most important parts of any data recovery solution: How often will your data be backed up?

Axcient uses an “agentless system”. This means that once emergency protocols kick in – in other words, if you ever have to use your backup – then it will stop running until it is reconfigured. In most circumstances, this isn’t a massive problem, but if your company resides in a fast-paced industry where your data is constantly being updated, then this does mean you run the risk of losing any important information that is generated between the emergency situation happening, and the backup being reconfigured.

Datto tends to offer faster and more regular data backups and will continue to run during and after emergency protocols kick in. If your business-critical data is regularly updated, then you will want your data backup to keep running regardless.

Key point: Datto offers faster, more frequent backups than Axcient.

Data Security

In terms of physical security, both Datto and Axcient offer physical 24/7 on-premise protection. In other words, whichever provider you choose, you can relax knowing that security guards and alarm systems are protecting the physical servers from theft or vandalism.

It is worth noting, however, that Axcient’s data centre is in California, a place particularly prone to natural disasters, whereas Datto’s data centres are all coastal, and in areas of low risk of disaster. With that said, both providers are SSAE 16 certified, meaning you can equally trust that both of them are compliant with data protection laws and legislation.

Key point: Both Datto and Axcient keep your data physically safe.

Data Storage and Recovery

Axcient stores your backup data in a proprietary format – meaning a format they designed themselves. It’s hard to conclude whether this is a good thing or a bad thing… but it does mean that data conversion becomes a rather drawn-out process if you have to access your backup in an emergency.

Datto uses industry standard VMware VMDK format for storing your data. This means it can be quickly converted into a legible format and restored, should an emergency occur.

So how long might it take to recover your data from each provider? Let’s take a look:

  • Axcient would take approximately 3 hours to re-assemble a backup image
  • Datto is normally ready to restore your data within 30 seconds

One good thing to note for both Axcient and Datto, is that they both allow you to inject drivers for restoring your backup to brand new hardware, helping you to circumnavigate any incompatibilities that might crop up. In other words, if your technology fails, and you want to restore your backup data to a brand new computer infrastructure, both providers are able to help you ensure your old data will run just as well on your new hardware.

Key point: Datto’s storage method makes restoring from a backup much faster than with Axcient

Customer Support

We tested out the customer support quality from both providers, and both seemed pretty responsive. There is a fairly significant difference in availability, however:

Axcient: Support available 9am to 8pm EST, Monday to Friday

Datto: 24/7/365

Key point: Datto is more readily available if you need to contact their team

Operating System Compatibility

Finally, let’s look at a feature that could really determine which provider you choose – operating system compatibility.

To start with, both Axcient and Datto can failover for Windows and Linux. However, Datto can also backup Max, and is compliant with Apple Time Machine.

Linux users might prefer Axcient’s solution as it provides real-time failover for Linux, but Apple users may prefer Datto.

Key point: Both providers are compatible with Windows. Linux users prefer Axcient, Mac users prefer Datto.

Our Short Summary

Both Datto and Axcient are reliable, trustworthy data backup and business continuity solution providers. They are both compliant, and they both have proved that they keep client data physically safe.

Axcient is slightly more favourable for users who need real-time failover for Linux, however, Datto seems to win the comparison in most other areas. For example:

  • Datto backs up your data much more frequently
  • Restoring your data is much faster with Datto
  • Datto’s customer support team are available 24/7/365
  • Datto has better compatibility with Mac users
  • Datto’s data centres are in areas with very low risk of disaster

For more information please contact us on 0131 541 0020, send us an email info@cans.scot or complete our request via our on-line request form here.

Why IT Support is so important

You wouldn’t open a call centre without hiring people to answer the phone. You wouldn’t buy a car and expect it to drive itself (unless it was a Tesla). So why would you invest in technology, without hiring a professional IT support team?

Businesses today need technology. This means they also need professional IT support. It is an essential role in any organisation, big or small. This article will show you just how important professional IT support really is.

Four reasons IT support is so important

Here are four of the biggest reasons why having professional IT support is so important to your organisation.

  1. Data storage and management. A professional IT support team will help your business store and manage important data. The role of your IT team will be to make sure your data is stored in a secure environment and to make sure it is easily accessible (but only to the people with permission to view it). If you don’t have the support of a professional IT team, you could easily end up storing data in a vulnerable location or even giving access to somebody without the right permissions, which can be a big issue where data protection is concerned.
  2. Protection against cyber criminals. Do you know how to detect and avoid the full spectrum of malware and viruses? You probably have some knowledge, but it’s pretty safe to say that an IT support team has more. They can help defend your IT infrastructure against digital threats, which is increasingly important in a world where cybercrime is only becoming a bigger and bigger problem.
  3. Effective solutions to tricky problems. You might know how to work your company’s systems, but do you know what to do if something goes horribly wrong? A professional IT support team can analyse most technical troubles and deliver highly-skilled solutions. Even if you are using software that comes with customer support, it can help to have a dedicated IT team on-hand – they may be able to fix the issue for you faster than the software provider’s support team can pick up the phone.
  4. Seamless communication. An IT support team can help you configure your systems and technologies to ensure seamless communication channels between colleagues, customers and stakeholders alike. From configuring your company’s email servers, to getting you set up with collaboration, email marketing and video conferencing software, your IT support team will help you put the pieces into place that let you get on with your work.

What to look for in a great IT support team

If you are thinking of outsourcing your IT support needs, then here are some qualities to look out for. Follow this advice to ensure you end up with a reliable and competent team that can really help your business:

  • Sometimes, IT issues need dealing with yesterday, and therefore you need a responsive IT team. Look for a service that gives you a guaranteed response time, and a single point of contact.
  • Cost shouldn’t be your top priority in choosing an IT support provider, but you should definitely keep it in the equation. Get quotes from a handful of providers who you can trust to do a good job, and see how each fits into your budget.
  • Ask any IT support provider to show you what qualifies them to keep your systems running smoothly.

Whether you are hiring in-house or outsourcing, you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of an IT support team. The success of your business relies on it.

For more information please contact us on 0131 541 0020, send us an email info@cans.scot or complete our request via our on-line request form here.

What can I, Normal Person, do to improve my security?

To get started: Be safer when browsing the Web

Use Google Chrome or Firefox to access browser extensions that can help improve your privacy when browsing the Web.

  • Disrupt online tracking. Advertisers automatically place files — called cookies — onto your browser to keep track of the pages you visit online. You can block tracking cookies with the add on from Disconnect.me on Firefox or Chrome
  • When you connect to the Web, some sites you visit offer both unsecured (HTTP) and secured (HTTPS) versions of the page. Download HTTPS Everywhere on Google Chrome or Firefox to automatically connect to the secured versions of many websites.
  • Advertising is the business model of many parts of the Web, and yet ads can be used to deliver malware to users. Online advertising networks have a hard time detecting bad actors abusing ads to deliver malicious files. Download uBlock Origin for Chrome or Firefox works as well, and uses less memory. You can also keep ads for sites you trust.
  • Protect your Web traffic from eavesdroppers on wi-fi networks with a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Open, public wi-fi networks are convenient. You can find them everywhere — at coffee shops, restaurants, and airports. The problem is that open wi-fi networks also allow other users on the network to see your unsecured Web traffic. For example, if you’re browsing products on Amazon, that traffic is usually unencrypted. When connecting to open wi-fi networks, use a VPN. A VPN encrypts and tunnels your Web traffic to a remote location. It can also be helpful for everyday use, especially if you want to access websites that are blocked in your country. It usually costs a few dollars each month. Mac users, consider Cloak. Windows users, consider Disconnect.me (Premium)
  • Of course, use antivirus software like Avast or similar tools.

Next: Encrypt it all

You can scramble your data so that no one, except for you and the people you wish to include, will be able to read it.

  • Encrypt your hard drive. If your device is ever lost or stolen, it’s easy for thieves to take data off your hard disk. Good news: If you have a new password-protected iPhone your disk is already encrypted. If you have an Android Device, it’s pretty easy to encrypt your phone. For your laptop or desktop, you can encrypt your hard drive using your operating system’s native software: FileVault for Mac, or BitLocker on Windows.
  • If you’re concerned about the privacy of your phone calls or text messages, download Signal for iOS or Android to make secure phone calls and send secure text messages to your friends. If you have friends who you text non-stop, have them try Signal as well. Research suggests that half of our texts go to our inner-circle — roughly 5 people. If you and one friend to use Signal, it’s a huge improvement for your privacy and theirs.

More work, but important: Authenticating logins

Passwords are often the only thing standing between attackers and your information. It takes more work to manage your passwords than the previous steps, but it’s worthwhile.

  • Use a password manager. Everyone knows you reuse the same password for everything, because it’s easy to remember. We’re not always great at remembering multiple passwords. A password manager like 1password or KeePassX (free!) can help randomize strong passwords, and store them securely. Use this software to find and copy your long, randomized passwords. As always, be careful about where you paste.
 Two-factor authentication message.
  • Passwords aren’t enough. To make it harder for someone to break into your accounts, many online services allow you to verify your identity when logging in, by sending you a text message with an authentication code, or by using a mobile app. Use two-factor authentication everywhere, but especially for your primary email account. If someone gets your email, they can use it to log into everything else. Gmail users can enable two-factor authentication here. If you use Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, or any number of other services, I’d recommend using two-factor for those services as well.

These tips only scratch the surface, but are some of the simplest and most effective approaches that we have for keeping your data, yours.

Computer Eye Safety Tips – Remember to Blink!

If you work in an office you’ll spend at least 8 hours a day in front of a computer, sometimes even more if you go home and stare at a laptop screen all evening.

Spending such a vast amount of time in front of a screen can damage your posture and have a serious effect on your eyes. Therefore it’s essential that you take a proactive and open-minded approach toward “eye-gonomics” whilst you’re sat at your desk.

If you are experiencing eye strain or neck and shoulder problems, there’s a good chance that you’re doing it wrong at the moment and you need to revisit the way you behave in front of a screen.

The effect a computer screen can have on your eyes

Studies have shown that by spending just two hours on a laptop each day you can significantly increase eye pain and vision problems. So those of us who sit behind a computer everyday to earn a living and then go home and unwind in front of the TV must surely be feeling the strain.

First things first, take a step back and assess whether or not you have a problem with your eyes. Once you have determined that the endless hours in front of a computer screen are taking their toll, there are countless easy steps you can take to protect your eyes.

A few of our favourites are:

  • Minimsise the amount of glare by cleaning your screen regularly and ensuring that it’s the most brightly glowing thing in the room. Grey backgrounds also tend to be easier on the eyes than white.
  • Always remember to blink. When you are engrossed in a piece of work you can often forget to do it, but regularly blinking cleans the eyes and reduces strain.
  • Now it my be hard not to sit on the edge of your seat as you crack the code that was causing your website to break or when you finally make that killer Excel formula, but it’s extremely important to sit an arm’s length away from your screen. Make sure your screen is positioned right below eye level and not tilted.
  • Regular breaks are vitally important. One of our favourite techniques is what they call a “20-20-20 break.” All you do is that for every 20 minutes you are sat in front of a screen, take 20 seconds to have a look around and see what is going on 20 feet away from you. This is the perfect way to refocus your eyes and give them a quick break before getting back to work.
  • On the topic of breaks, make sure you take a lunch break away from your screen. If you have a big project on and can’t afford to take a long lunch, just take 15 minutes to stretch your legs and make a coffee.
  • If you feel the strain on your eyes, consider purchasing a stylish pair of glasses solely for computer use. If you are unsure about which glasses are right for you from a style perspective, take a look at this interesting guide that will tell you what the best glasses are for your face shape.

Now that you have a stronger idea of exactly what you need to do to improve the health of your eyes and minimise the effects that sitting in front of a screen can have, we challenge you to put them into practice. We are sure that after you make a few slight changes to your approach to working in front of a computer all day you will notice a difference.

If you are experiencing serious issues with your eyes or suffering from regular headaches after prolonged computer sessions, make sure you seek advice from your doctor or optician.

Let us know how you get on with our eye-gonomic tips by leaving a comment below… and don’t forget to blink!

How Do Computers Get Infected with Viruses

Everyone knows the warnings they get about viruses. Don’t open weird emails. Update your software. But those are pretty abstract and don’t explain the real dangers to watch out for.

How do infections really happen?

You get tricked

“But I’m too smart to get tricked.” 
– You

Most infections are by people downloading and running the virus themselves. I’ve seen very smart, seasoned professionals fall for all kinds of schemes. For example:

  • In email attachments that say they’re invoices, parking tickets, or legal judgements
  • A website will say you need to update software in order to use it
  • Part of other programs you download and run from unreputable sites
  • You’re told you have an infection and you need to do something to fix it
  • Trying to use stolen software. This is a huge way people get infected because criminals know that it’s a super easy way to get people to run untrustworthy software
  • Some viruses, when they infect computers, will email themselves to everyone on someone’s address list. You can’t trust even files you get from friends unless you were expecting them and the email makes sense. Feel free to reply back and ask

The first rule is that you don’t download or agree to run software that isn’t something that you were specifically looking for.
The software you do get must be from a link on the original company’s website.
When you do install software, make sure you read every option it gives you. 

Your antivirus saying something isn’t a virus doesn’t mean anything.

You get kit’d

There are specially designed web pages that test your computer for lots of outdated software, and if it finds some, it uses known programming errors in those programs to infect your computer – usually in seconds and without you doing anything. These are called exploit kits and they are big business.

Criminals hack other sites or use malicious advertisements to redirect your browser to them. This happens even on big sites, where it’s called malvertisingYou don’t have to go looking, these infections come to you.

They also send these links in emails and messages on social networking sites.

Usually you are protected if you keep your software up to date. 

You get 0day’d

Hackers will sometimes discover a programming flaw and, rather than report it to the developer of the program, use it against people. This kind of flaw is called a “zero-day” because users of the affected program had zero days to deploy a fix before they got infected.

These are rare, but it’s one way criminals can get in. This is why you don’t open email attachments or office documents you didn’t specifically ask for.