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CTN Solutions has been serving the greater Philadelphia area since 1997, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

During the Holidays, Cybersecurity Matters at Work and Home

During the Holidays, Cybersecurity Matters at Work and Home

We’re right in the thick of the holiday season, which means two things: one, there’s a lot of data being exchanged between businesses and consumers, and, on a related note, two: there’s ample opportunities for cybercrime, targeting business and consumer both. Whichever side of the coin you are on at any moment, you need to be aware of the risks, and how to mitigate them.

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Tip of the Week: You Better Test Your Backup

Tip of the Week: You Better Test Your Backup

Data backup can be the difference between a business that fails and a business that succeeds. If an organization suffers from a data loss incident, it wouldn’t be able to survive without data backup. With a data backup and disaster solution, you can ensure business continuity. But what does this kind of system need in order to succeed, and how can you make sure your organization benefits from a data backup system in place?

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Just How Important Is the Data Recovery Process?

Just How Important Is the Data Recovery Process?

Data recovery can make you break your business continuity plan, and you absolutely cannot underestimate how important this is for the future of your organization. There are countless ways your business could lose data, and if you encounter even a single one of them, your organization could be put at serious risk. We’ll take a look at operational data loss and how your organization needs to strategize data recovery.

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How To Get Rid of Those Pesky Extra Cables

How To Get Rid of Those Pesky Extra Cables

Do you have cords, wires, and adapters just sitting in a cupboard or drawer, with no purpose other than taking up space? Of course you do. The average person will replace old or broken devices, and find the new devices aren’t compatible with the old cables, leaving them stuffed in a junk drawer or in a random box that they’ve kept “just in case.” Every home or business has the same scenario going on; lots of wires and cables left over from all the e-waste they have discarded over the years. If you want to get rid of your unwanted cables, here are a couple of tips on how to do so properly.

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Cloud Can Cover Most of Your Business Needs

Cloud Can Cover Most of Your Business Needs

The traditional computing structure has been under siege by cloud computing for the past several years. More businesses than ever are seeing the value in cloud-hosted applications and infrastructure, and while that may not be a huge surprise, the perceptions that the cloud can solve any of your organizational computing problems depend largely on the needs of that endeavor. Today, we will take a look at successful small business cloud strategies and tell you why they find success.

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Are You Ready to Adapt to Network Security Changes?

Are You Ready to Adapt to Network Security Changes?

Humankind has always adapted and improved technology to make life easier, starting all the way back at fire and the wheel. Nowadays, our approach to making life easier through technology is centered around productivity and security. If we can accomplish more than before, in the same amount of time, without worrying that it will be stolen, we’re happy.


This, in addition to the growing assortment of threats there are to business networks, is why network security is projected to continue its growth and development in the near future. Here, we’ve compiled a few predictions for how this growth and development will take shape.

Prediction 1: Penetration testing will happen more often than ever, thanks to A.I. and automation.
Penetration testing is an invaluable process, as it allows you to identify weak points in your network security that your staff may have missed. By hiring an external third party, you make it much more likely that errors and oversights made by your internal staff are noticed. The trade-offs: not only is it a time-intensive process, it can be expensive enough that it can only be justifiably run once a year, if that.

However, this may not be the case for much longer. The integration of new technologies, like artificial intelligence and automation, have made it so that both of these trade-offs have less and less effect on the frequency of penetration testing. This is a good thing, because the rate at which new technology is being integrated into the office is rising. Penetration testing is to be run more often to ensure network security.

Prediction 2: Unified policies will appear that bridge between public and private clouds.
Cloud technology has been advancing, with both private cloud solutions and public cloud solutions proving useful for so many applications. This has led to a widespread move to leverage both to accomplish different aspects of business goals and strategies in adopting what is called a hybrid cloud solution. However, one shortcoming of hybrid clouds is that there aren't any real means of consolidating security policies to simplify management as a part of a larger system.

Once again, this may soon change. It is anticipated that multi-cloud management platforms will be able to synchronize private clouds and those provided to the public through a single control panel, greatly simplifying the cloud management process.

Prediction 3: Endpoint security will be more on point.
It should come as no surprise that the greatest internal threat to your security is your own team and their devices. Using social engineering and leveraging the notoriously unreliable security of consumer devices, cybercriminals are often able to access your network through the employees who use it. While many companies have taken steps to minimize the efficacy of these methods, there hasn’t really been a single, unified solution, making security measures extra time-consuming to manage.

This last point is most likely to change in the near future, as businesses will want a security solution that is leaner, more efficient, and is only one thing to be managed. It is likely that we’ll see these kinds of network security solutions start to take shape and be put to use.

In order to remain secure, you need to adapt to meet the threats that are constantly developing. CTN can help. Reach out to us at (610) 828-5500 for more information.

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Why You Need to Be Careful when Discarding Technology

Why You Need to Be Careful when Discarding Technology

Nothing lasts forever - especially business technology. However, you shouldn’t get rid of your old technology haphazardly. Consider two important reasons. For one, many of the components in our technology are really bad for the environment. Secondly, carelessly disposing of technology is a great way to put your data at risk. In order to protect your data, you need to make sure that your old equipment is properly disposed.

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Email Security Basics

Email Security Basics

Email is a modern classic as far as business solutions are concerned, and you’d be hard-pressed to find an office that didn’t use it in some capacity or another. However, because email is so popular, it has become a favorite attack vector of malicious users. Fortunately, there are some basic practices that will help keep your email account secure and your communications private.


Follow Password Guidelines
As you might imagine, one of the most important, basic ways that you can lock down your email account is to ensure that your password is sufficiently strong. Too often, breach statistics (and similar data sets) reveal that passwords are still overwhelmingly insecure. Pet names, birthdates, anniversaries, and favorite sports teams are used as passwords far more than they should be. Some minimal social engineering could very easily provide someone with access to an email account.

To counter this, avoid the temptation to resort to formulaic, easy-to-guess password systems, for instance, smushing your alma mater’s mascot together with the number of your childhood home. Again, these password conventions are the first things that a cybercriminal will try to get into your email account. Instead, do your best to rely on an as-random-as-possible string of numbers and letters, creating a different one for each of your accounts. This will ensure that your passwords are as strong as possible with the added benefit of protecting the rest of your accounts if one of your passwords is discovered.

Of course, for the sake of pragmatism, is it totally realistic to remember a completely random string of alphanumeric characters for everything that requires a password? For many, it isn’t. That’s why many resort to using, rather than a password, a passphrase. A passphrase takes a sentence memorable to the individual and turns it into a mnemonic device. So, a fan of films by Rob Reiner could take a line from one of his works and create a password from it, like “uRdBS” or “HFSTC” from The Princess Bride, or “UCHTT” from A Few Good Men.

Avoid the Unknown
Once you’ve accessed your email, there are a few ways that you can avoid putting yourself at risk. One very important way is to avoid the links in email unless you have verified that they do, in fact, go to (and come from) where they appear.

First, where will the included link direct you? Links can be tricky things, which makes them a favorite of cybercriminals to use in emails. If the link is attached to text, you should hover over it and peek at the status bar that pops up before clicking on it. While the text might say that it brings you to the sender’s official webpage, the link could very well actually direct you to a domain that uploads a virus into your system. If the status bar says that you will be directed to someplace that doesn’t look quite right, skip the link.

You also shouldn’t blindly open an email that hasn’t come from a known or verified source, and even that can now be dangerous. There is a tactic that can be used to great effect as a way to snare even the most cybersecurity-mindful targets called email spoofing. As its name suggests, email spoofing is the act of forging an email’s header so that it appears to have come from someone else, likely someone trusted enough that the email will be opened, interacted with, and read.

As a result, it is best to verify the email with the cited sender whenever possible, through a different means of communication. Whether that means a quick phone call or instant message before you open the email, it is better to be safe than it is to be sorry.

What are some other ways that you keep your email from becoming a security risk? Share them in the comments, and make sure you take a moment and subscribe to this blog!

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Power Off, or Leave It On?

Power Off, or Leave It On?

At the end of the day, do you shut down your computer or do you put it into sleep mode? Depending on what you need from your device the next day, consider the pros and cons of both approaches so that you can pick which one best suits your situation.

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Are You Making Yourself Vulnerable Over Social Media?

Are You Making Yourself Vulnerable Over Social Media?

Social media might make it easy to stay connected, but it comes with negative side-effects--particularly in regard to security for both personal and professional use. If social media isn’t used properly, it could spell trouble for your organization. How can you foster proper social media usage so that your organization doesn’t suffer from poor security practices? It all starts by spreading awareness.

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Tech Term: What Does “Encryption” Mean?

Tech Term: What Does “Encryption” Mean?

Email is a solution that needs to be protected, lest you expose important information to any onlookers while messages are in transit. Encryption is one of the key ways you can make sure that your messages are safe, but email hasn’t always used this method to secure messages. In fact, it wasn’t until recently that encryption became a staple of the major email providers.


Why Encryption Matters
It’s important to keep in mind that email communications are not always private. Depending on whether or not the email provider offers encryption can potentially expose important information found within the message. The reason you need encryption is simply because you never want to expose this information to outside viewers under any circumstances. You would be doing your company a disservice, and potentially even be in violation of data privacy regulations, depending on your industry.

Either way, our point is that encryption is necessary if you want to avoid the ugly side of the Internet. This includes hackers of all kinds, who would stop at nothing to get past your business’s protections and steal information of value. It’s up to you to put measures in place to stop them in their tracks--before it’s too late.

How Email Encryption Works
Imagine for a moment that your emails are locked in a box. This box remains locked the second that it leaves your organization, and it will stay that way until it is received by someone who has the key. In this case, the recipient will have the key, and the box would be unlocked once it is received by them. In the event that the box is intercepted before it reaches its destination, whoever claims it will not be able to view its contents.

The important thing to remember about encryption is that it needs to be an infrastructure-wide implementation. You can’t encrypt only messages that contain sensitive information, as this can potentially make you an even bigger target in the eyes of hackers. Therefore, you need to ensure that your encryption solution is all-encompassing so as to eliminate any risk associated with email security.

Does your business need email encryption? CTN can help by implementing an enterprise-level email encryption solution that takes into account all of your business needs. We can also provide other types of email security tools, including spam protection that limits exposure to dangerous entities. To learn more, reach out to us at (610) 828-5500.

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Ransomware Makes Backup a Necessity

Ransomware Makes Backup a Necessity

Your business relies on its data to succeed, so your organization should have security measures in place to guarantee safety. 2018 is thought to be the year of ransomware, so it stands to reason that your business should prepare to deal with it. One of the best ways to deal with ransomware is to make sure that your company has a plan to restore data affected by said ransomware.


Explaining Ransomware
Perhaps one of the most brutal developing threats, ransomware is a type of malware that can encrypt the files found on a device so that they’re inaccessible by the user. The instigator of the attack will then demand payment for the files to be decrypted. Thanks to the notoriety and relative success of ransomware campaigns like Petya, WannaCry, and Cryptolocker, these types of attack are on the rise.

The Future
Ransomware will only continue to increase in popularity throughout the rest of 2018. One of the key focal points for ransomware-using cybercriminals is efficiency, as well as creating initiatives and campaigns that will work throughout the year. 2017 saw the rise of readily available ransomware kits that allowed anyone to implement ransomware without knowing the technical details behind it. There were even ransomware-for-hire services offered to those who wanted to use it without going all-in on the campaign themselves. Either way, the end result was to make ransomware more accessible for those who wanted to take advantage of it. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that ransomware will use more advanced technologies in the future, as well. Artificial intelligence and machine learning could allow for more effective means of ransomware distribution, which could become a bigger problem down the line.

Other Issues
There is much more out there than just ransomware, though. The most dangerous threats are often the office mainstays. Your business data will always be at risk due to its users--the ones who rely on it most. Even if they don’t intentionally put the data in harm’s way, the end result is the same. All it takes is one accidental deleting of important data to throw your business out of whack.

Despite the overwhelming odds stacked against you, it’s just as likely that your organization will suffer from a hardware failure as a hacking attack--perhaps even more likely, as there are some circumstances beyond your control regarding hardware failure. If a natural disaster strikes, for example, there’s little you could do to actually stop a hurricane or a power surge.

The Solution
The best way to prevent unexpected troubles like a natural disaster, data breach, or hardware failure is to implement a data backup and disaster recovery solution from CTN Solutions. We can provide you with a solution that can regularly update backups and make changes to them as often as every fifteen minutes. This minimizes data loss and allows you to restore backups within a moment’s notice.

To learn more, reach out to us at (610) 828-5500.

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Tip of the Week: Why You Should Reexamine Your Business Practices

Tip of the Week: Why You Should Reexamine Your Business Practices

As a business adopts certain “best practices,” it is important for business leaders to consider why they are adopted and, more importantly, are they really for the best? There are many problems that subscribing to false best practices can produce, and so it becomes important to identify, adjust, and resolve them.


The term “best practices” is used exceptionally often in business communications, blogs, and other messages, to the point that it is fair to say that the term is bandied about just for the sake of using it. However, so much stake is placed in what is considered “best practice” that whatever is purported to be best is accepted without any further examination.

In his recent book, Breaking Bad Habits: Defy Industry Norms and Reinvigorate Your Business, and in an interview with the Harvard Business Review discussing this publication, Professor Freek Vermeulen discusses this phenomenon.

In the interview, the subject of reverse benchmarking is brought up, and with it, the example presented by Capitec. Capitec is a bank in South Africa that leveraged reverse benchmarking in order to cement their place in their market.

Reverse benchmarking is where you examine the standard practices of your particular industry in order to determine how one can do better, often by abandoning what other businesses treat as status quo. Returning to the Capitec example, Capitec observed that the other banks in South Africa were closing at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. In response to this, Capitec extended their hours to allow those who are employed to attend to their banking after work, and many of their branches have Saturday hours as well.

This is just one example of how “best practices” may not always be “best” for all businesses. However, when many businesses are questioned specifically regarding their supposed best practices, the response is often some variation of “this is what is safe and/or comfortable, and this is the way it has always been done.” According to Vermeulen, this is a good sign that there needs to be an examination into whether or not an organization is subscribing to practices because they are truly helpful, or if they are just stuck to the status quo.

There is also the danger of assuming that, because a company became successful by doing something, that something is a best practice. Vermeulen brought up the possibility that the companies who have reached the top have done so by following risky strategies and lucked out, while the vast majority of companies who did the same thing they did ultimately failed and died out in obscurity.

Vermeulen also acknowledges that changing an established practice is not an easy conclusion for many businesses to come to. According to him, companies will wait as long as they can before they make a change out of necessity--when they begin to see productivity and profitability suffer--but by then, change is more difficult to make.

This is why Vermeulen offers this advice: “Be proactive.”

By evaluating your business and establishing what actually works and--more importantly--what doesn’t, you can identify weak points and resolve them before they cause your business too much trouble.

CTN Solutions can do the same for your IT, evaluating your systems and network to ensure that everything is up to standard. Give us a call at (610) 828-5500 for more information.

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Your Mouse Can Do More Than You Think

Your Mouse Can Do More Than You Think

You’ve used a mouse for years, but do you know all the neat little tricks it can do? We’ll show you just how much you can get done with your mouse.

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Security Comes In Two Parts--Don’t Neglect The Physical Half

Security Comes In Two Parts--Don’t Neglect The Physical Half

Physical security is more or less what it sounds like: security intended to protect the physical infrastructure that houses your business and your critical data. Many of the pieces of physical security will seem very familiar, even if you didn’t know the right terms for them.


Access Control - An access control solution controls an individual’s access into an area. This is useful in ensuring that only those who are authorized access certain areas are able to, as these areas will require some form of identification to enter. This also allows the entrance and exit patterns of employees to be monitored for suspicious activity.

Identification - More often than not, physical security solutions will require more than one form of identification, or authentication. These are referred to as 2FA, or 2-Factor Authentication. If you have ever been required to enter a PIN code after providing a password, you’ve encountered 2FA identification.

Security and Monitoring - Of course, in order to have a comprehensive physical security setup, you have to have the ability to see anywhere in the building at any given time. There are multiple solutions that can accomplish this, security cameras being the first to come to mind. Returning to access control solutions, these can help keep a record of who accessed where, and when.

Communication - Communication has fairly close ties with security. After all, if your company experienced a physical security breach, you would want to hear about it, wouldn’t you? As a result, it is important that there are plenty of reliable ways for your personnel to reach one another to pass along status updates, security warnings, and other crucial pieces of information.

Document Security - There is a good chance that, if someone is taking the time and effort to access your business, then they plan to profit from the heist as much as possible. This means that you should keep any access points to your internal documents well secured and restricted to only those with authorization.

Keep Track of Devices - Remember, your documents can be accessed through more than just your in-house workstations. Implementing a Bring Your Own Device policy or distributing work devices can allow you to keep track of where the device is taken, and will allow you to remotely wipe them if they are lost or stolen.

Employee Training - Of course, all the preventative measures in the world will do nothing if your employees aren’t also conscious of, and actively implementing, best practices to preserve the business’s security as a whole.

Security Culture - It is important that your employees are conscious of potential security issues as they go about their days. This awareness of potential security risks, how to identify them, and--most importantly--how to avoid them, is absolutely crucial when your employees could be weak points in your network security. As paranoid as it sounds, threats to your cybersecurity really are everywhere, including at your business’s front door.

What To Implement To Build Up Your Physical Security
When building your physical security, consider what can threaten your business on a physical level. Sure, a bold cybercriminal may attempt to gain access to your location, but that’s only the start of the physical threats to your business. It is critical that all threats to your business are considered, including the weather and other natural events.

This is why it is crucial that you keep a safe and secure copy of your business’s documentation and data offsite, preferably in the cloud. That way, should someone or something get past your physical defenses, you will not have lost everything.

To improve your data security, both digitally and physically, reach out to CTN Solutions for help.

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3 Ways To Improve Your Business’s Data Security

3 Ways To Improve Your Business’s Data Security

Data security, always an important topic, has been made even more urgent by the Equifax data breach and the fact that 143 million users had their personal information stolen after entrusting it (or not) to Equifax. You need to consider what would happen if your business were on the receiving end of a data breach, and prepare to handle this truly unpleasant circumstance.

 

 

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On A Scale of "Um...?" To "Safe," How Well Managed Is Your Data?

On A Scale of "Um...?" To "Safe," How Well Managed Is Your Data?

Putting together your workforce is something that requires painstaking attention to detail. You found workers who are willing to work as hard as possible to further your organization’s goals. Yet, you have to remember that even the most perfect employees are still human, and that they can make mistakes and can put the organization’s data at risk. User error is a common problem, and it is one of the most important things to keep in mind while you set up your information systems.


Is your organization prepared to handle user error?

The problem in this case is that diligent staff--though they are simply trying to do their jobs better--could potentially put your organization’s data at risk specifically due to their enthusiasm for their job. For example, workers that access your network remotely could potentially expose data to malicious entities by accessing your systems through unsecured networks. If you’re not careful, your best employees could put your organization at risk, despite their best intentions.

Therefore, the prime objective should be to give your employees the tools needed to work securely.

Perhaps the easiest way to address this situation is to meet your employees halfway. If you give your employees access to a virtual private network (VPN), they can maximize data security even while accessing it remotely. Consider asking them to have their IT administrator take a look at their personal devices to ensure that they can access the network unhindered, or if they have a problem with a device being remotely wiped in the instance of a data breach. These are all questions that should be asked for any employees using their own devices for work purposes, also known as the trend called Bring Your Own Device. Creating a BYOD policy is critical in these scenarios.

You don’t want to just let any employees access information on your network, though. There is some data that’s not meant for the eyes of all employees, like financial information and personal records. This type of authentication is hardly new in the business environment, and data should be partitioned off so that users only access information that they need in order to do their jobs properly. This limits how much damage can be done in the event that your technology becomes otherwise compromised. 

Basically, the goal of a BYOD policy is to ensure that your employees have access to all of the information that they need, without putting your data at risk. After all, it’s all about control, and your organization can’t put itself at risk--even if it means upsetting a couple of good employees. They will understand that any measures made to protect the organization is in their best interest, as data breaches can threaten the future of your organization.

CTN can help your business implement the best security measures possible for your organization. To learn more, reach out to us at (610) 828-5500.

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective PC Users

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective PC Users

Security is one of the most crucial pain points of all businesses, but sometimes it can be tricky to implement solutions if you’re not sure what you specifically need. Network security isn’t easy, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be hard. If you have difficulty reinforcing a security state of mind in your office, we have good news for you; by keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be able to keep your business more secure than it would be otherwise.

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Threats to Your Data Come From All Sides

Threats to Your Data Come From All Sides

Just over a third (36 percent) of businesses don’t back up business data at all, and apparently this number isn’t keeping some IT providers up at night (not the case for us). Your businesses’ data is precious, irreplaceable, and extremely expensive to lose. Let’s talk about how delicate and dangerous it is to not have it backed up.

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3 Tips to Get the Most From Your Data Backup

3 Tips to Get the Most From Your Data Backup

Business owners require ubiquitous access to certain information stored on their organization’s infrastructure. Thus, there’s an immediate need to safeguard this data from any sort of impending destruction. We’ll discuss ways that you can prevent the worst when it seems like your data will fall victim to a loss incident.

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