As opposed to explaining this topic from a technical point of view, I’m going with a different approach. I’m going to provide you some examples on how hackers could steal your information without being too technical. Let me explain further.
The most common method a hacker uses to steal data is by using social engineering. What this means is that they don’t require much use of technology to be able to access your personal information.
Did you know that by calling your credit card company in high traffic areas would actually make you a target to data theft? For example, when you’re at an airport and about to fly abroad, and you call your credit card company to request for a higher credit limit.
The basic information that you need to provide for verification are your credit card number, full name, address, phone number, and your mother’s maiden name. What many of us do not realize is whilst providing all these information, someone could be eavesdropping and taking notes. This is one of the methods of social engineering.
With all this personal information at hand, the hacker could start purchasing items online or even use it to hack into your bank account. So, it’s extremely important for you to be very careful when providing personal information in public. Do it at home instead, where it’s safer.
Hackers could also get your personal information from your PC by using bait. How do they do this? Well, they could place a pen drive labeled “Financial Report A” loaded with virus/trojan within the vicinity of your company.
An employee could pick it up out of curiousity and open the file using the company’s PC. When they click on the “Financial Report A” file, it will release a virus onto the computer as well as the server. This will in turn create a chain reaction to every PC in the company that are connected to the server.
The virus/Trojan will steal all the information of the company and seed it back to the hacker; it will even lower your firewall so that your computer would be vulnerable to attacks. The scary part about it is that it could all happen in the background without you realizing it.
So, remember to always take precaution whenever you open a file or a thumb drive. Always scan for viruses before accessing the drive. To be safe, scan your personal thumb drive/hard drive occasionally, just to be sure that it is not infected. It could save you a whole lot of trouble in the long run.
If you would like to find out more, consulting your IT consultant or IT-savvy friends on how else you could equip yourself in the cyber world.
HOW TO BE FULLY EQUIPPED AGAINST COMPUTER VIRUSES
The biggest scare for anyone who uses a computer is losing their data, especially nowadays, where almost anything and everything is saved on our computer. Our personal and work stuff are all stored on this device.
The biggest cause of this is viruses! The problem with human nature is that we don’t see a point in backing up our computer or even protecting it from malware until we actually come across such scenarios, this bad habit needs to stop!
There are many ways to protect your computer from being invaded by nasty viruses. Protecting your computer should be your number priority for anyone and everyone who uses it. Today, I’m going to provide some tips on ways to protect your computer from viruses and keep your files and data safe; hopefully it will be of use to you. It may not seem important now, but once the problem occurs, it might be too late.
KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE YOUR ENEMIES CLOSER
The best way to prevent something from happening, is actually finding out what it is. If you are constantly informed about the dangers out there, you will tend to take more precaution on it. Take a few minutes from time to time to research about any new viruses or past viruses. You can’t protect yourself if you don’t know what’s out there. Learn about “What is a Virus and how to know if you are infected by it”? and “What is the difference between a virus, malware, spyware and adware”? By finding out, you can be better equipped to face the situation.
FIND OUT THE TOOLS TO EQUIP YOURSELF WITH AGAINST THESE THREATS
I’m pretty sure you have an idea about some of the antivirus brands out there. If you’re not, you should! Ask around or do a little bit of research to find out which anti-virus is good. I know many people face the issue of actually purchasing an anti-virus program and opt to just download the free ones online.
I really don’t recommend this, as not everyone can get away with using free anti-viruses because it depends on what you do on your own computer. It depends on factors such as if you download files or not, if you open email attachments, and if you surf suspicious websites. Some way or another it does not fully protect your computer against certain threats, which in turn leaves your computer vulnerable.
Trust me; paying for one is so much more worth it than going through the heartache and hassle of losing and reformatting your computer. Lets face it, if you do not have protection against viruses installed on your computer, you will without a doubt, get a virus within the first hour of surfing the internet. It is that easy.
Check out this review for some of the good anti-viruses for 2012 out there. http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2369749,00.asp
ONCE IDENTIFIED, SUIT UP!
Once you’ve identified which anti-virus is good for you, purchase it and start scanning and protecting your computer. Don’t waste anymore time, as your computer could already be infected. It isn’t really that hard; just follow the simples steps on how you can set up your anti-virus.
Having a great Anti-virus program is one thing, but if you constantly fail to update it, it is as close to useless. There is a reason why they update their programs, and that is to help improve and fix bugs which the previous one has. There are new viruses’ being produced daily which is why there needs to be regular updates, so that they can keep up your computers defense. Most programs will update by itself as long as you haven’t turned this option off by accident. This is definitely something you should check.
Other than updating your Anti-virus, you need to constantly check for updates for Windows as well when protecting your computer. These updates contain security updates that will help in your fight against viruses. If you do not perform Windows updates you are leaving your computer at risk of an attack. To check whether Windows has an update, simply go to my computer and type in “windows update”.
Be cautious whenever opening your mails. Most infections happen from emails nowadays. There are definitely obvious emails which you wouldn’t open, however, what about those you get from your colleagues, friends, family? What if one of your friends is actually spreading viruses to people through emails? An email cannot be more important than you getting infected, remember that. Remove the email and double check with your friend whether he sent you an email regarding that subject. I know It is much more troublesome, but you never know, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
DON’T RISK IT! PLAY SAFE WHEN DOWNLOADING
As you know, a lot of viruses are unleashed through downloads, this is because we think we know what we are actually getting, however, the name and file type might seem right, but you never really know what is it your downloading. If you are looking for a driver for a certain brand of computer then make sure you are getting the download from the genuine website. Many websites on the Internet offer free driver downloads, however, many of them contain viruses. The best way to find out is to always scan the file once its been downloaded that way you know for sure.
HAVE A FIREWALL OF PROTECTION
I cannot stress how important this is, but make sure that your computer firewall is enabled. Windows has its own inbuilt firewall, and there’s a reason why there is. Many people tend to off their firewall because it sometimes block people from sharing some files, or even playing games together, and because of this they tend to turn the firewall off. However, a lot of people tend to forget to turn it back on, which in turn leaves your computer vulnerable. An antivirus should be more than enough to shield off against most threats, but it’s always better to have more ammunition to fight against this threats, after all it doesn’t take you much effort to leave it on.
To check the Windows Firewall go to the security settings in your control panel.
I hope these tips were helpful to you, I may not be able to protect you completely, at least now your more well informed than before you read this article. Anyway,If you want to get a better understanding of how viruses spread, check out this article: http://antivirus-software.topchoicereviews.com/11-ways-computer-viruses-are-spread_216.html
I have just started a new business. I only need 5 email accounts. Can you recommend something cheap and good?
Thank you for your question. Instead of cheap and good, can FatSensei recommend you something that is free and good? Yes, you got that right. It’s free and good. The service is provided by none other than Google, the big guy himself. Google “Google Apps”!
With Google Apps, you can sign up for the free version and get up to 10 accounts. Not only does Google Apps gives you free email accounts, this service also provides collaborative tools such as Calendar, Drive and many more. When your company grows bigger later, you can subscribe to their paid Business service at only USD5 / month per user.
Google Apps email service is web-based. It looks exactly like your personal Gmail user interface and behaves exactly the same way too since they are running on the same platform. Its Spam filter is also quite effective in filtering all your junks. If you do not like the web-based look, you can always set up the IMAP account on Outlook, Thunderbird or Mac Mail clients. It works well in your smart devices too.
With Calendar in Google Apps, you could also share your calendar with your colleagues, appointment availabilities and collaborate on meeting times.
FatSensei especially likes ‘Drive’ in Google Apps. Here you can share your documents, from spreadsheets to PDFs, and access them anywhere and anytime you like as long as you have an internet connection. A document can be edited real-time by a few users at the same time.
For a business, it certainly looks professional when you have your own Domain Name. Get your domain name now. Once you have bought your domain name, your service provider would be able to help you to link your domain name to your Google Apps account. For example, if you bought www.xyz.com, you can set up an email at email@example.com. And you could create more mail accounts from the admin interface.
So, what are you waiting for? Get started here!
FatSensei hopes you will enjoy setting this up. Till then, sayonara!
Another month bites the dust. This September, FatSensei has someexciting news to report! As you know, 2 months ago we hired two new sales ninjas to join the team. This month, we are introducing another new member, Benjamin Lim, our FatNinjas Assistant IT Manager. He will be looking to help and manage the FatNinja squad.
From the short encounter I’ve had with him so far, he seems to be a very passionate and down-to-earth guy.
I’m a very tech savvy person,and I love all things technology. I’m always eager to learn new stuff and I always have the question ‘why’ in my head, maybe because I’m just curious in nature.
What is your role in Integricity?
As the Assistant IT Manager for FatNinjas. I will be overseeing processes, procedures and managing the FatNinja squad. I’m also a photographer for Integricity Visuals, which provides photography and videography for corporate, wedding and families.
I chose Integricity because it is a very young and vibrant environment, as opposed to most IT companies. Me being young at heart as well, I really felt that this is an environment that will suit me. The culture here is different; it reminds me of Zappos, the largest online shoe store,whose company culture includes being fun and adventurous, with free lunches in between. I prefer environments like that as it doesn’t require me to dress formally every day. Everyone has power to make decisions, and not be tied down to a hierarchical structure in the company.
What intrigued you into taking up the Assistant IT Manager position for FatNinjas?
I’ve been a technical person for over 4 years now. I’ve been servicing and managing clients, from small companies to multinational corporation. Previously working in a multinational corporation myself, I felt that this is a new role and challenge for myself. It isn’t as technical, but in some way or another I get to apply some of the technical knowledge that I already have.
What you hope to achieve in your time here?
I would like to achieve two things in my time here.The first is to advanceknowledge in terms of technology. The second is to improve my communication skills, and to achieve career advancement in my time here too. I would love to help improve as well as develop the company’s modus operandi.
I am a business owner with about 20 computers in my office. As I do not have the budget of hiring a full-time IT Executive, is there any alternative that I can consider for IT support without having to pay a leg or an arm?
Mr. SME Boss
Dear SME Boss,
Thank you for your question. Indeed it is a very valid one. Most SME Companies do not have a budget to hire a full-time IT personnel. A full-time IT fresh graduate will demand a pay of RM2200 – RM2500. We have not yet included employer’s portion for his/her EPF funds, cost for perks like insurance, parking, training/development, medical, so on and forth. Indeed it is very costly to hire a full-time IT guy if you do not have the budget. The calculation that FatSensei provided is only for a fresh graduate. Imagine if you hire someone with a tad bit of experience, it will be a different salary range altogether.
FatSensei suggest that your alternative from hiring a full-time guy is to Outsource your IT Department. Do not be alarmed. Outsourcing does not always mean expensive. There are a few companies out there who gives you this kind of service. They will be like your Part Time IT Department. Their job is to help you minimizing downtime.
Why for your case FatSensei thinks that outsourcing is better for you?
1. There is something called Remote Access
For a company with 20 – 50 computers, you do not need an IT guy to be there in your office all the time. Many IT Outsourcing companies can support you remotely if there is no need for them to travel over to your office which takes time.
2. Training and retraining cost money
When you have hired a full-time IT personnel, you will need to train and develop him to handle the task in the office. And these development programs for your staff will cost you money. Worst still, when they leave, you will have to rehire and retrain which is time consuming and costly. Put it this way, an IT geek who is good will not stay long if you do not provide enough challenge or growth for his / her career path. Unless your company itself is a technology company, chances are they will move on very quickly.
If you outsource, you leave these HR worries to the outsourced company. They have their own in-house and external training program for their IT support team.
3. No such thing as Mr. Know-it-all
Your full-time IT guy will not know every problem that comes to him. It will take time for him/her to do research in solving your issues. Sometimes, time is not what you have. You need it solved as soon as possible.
However, when you outsource, the “part-time” IT guy can always fall back to the head-quarter to check with his fellow support teammates if they have encountered similiar issues. There will be more brains working to solve your IT issue.
4. No Medical Leave, No Annual Leave
An outsourced IT guy does not take MC nor Annual Leave. Normally, the company whom you outsourced will schedule a replacement staff if the regular support personnel is not available for any reasons at all.
5. No Human Resource headaches
We all hope and wish that we will always hire the right person with the right attitude to be apart of the company and to grow together. Unfortunately, we also do know that sometimes there are some rotten apples in the basket. Thanks to Malaysian labour law, it is not easy to terminate someone just as you wish. There is a long tedious work of written warnings, and counseling sessions and only finally dismissal when the situation does not improve. Wouldn’t it be better if we could use those time spent on something more productive for the company?
Unlike full-time staff, you can always terminate a service that you are not pleased with. Or if you are kind enough, you can actually give feedback to the company whom you have outsourced so that they can do something about it. The least they could do is to replace the current support staff with a different one.
FatSensei hopes that this make sense to you, Mr. SME Boss. May you be able to find a IT Outsource company quick to solve your issues. Or you can also request FatSensei to summon a FatNinja to service you.
Have a nice day!
Spam aka electronic junk mail is every email user’s worst nightmare. Most spam consists of commercial advertising and worst of all, virus or malware.
Most email users spend their first few minutes of their working life every day clearing out spam to make way for their work emails.
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT ME?
- Spending 15 minutes a day in the office to filter out spam from valid email would translate to about 7 hours a month of productivity wasted at work. If you multiply this with the number of people in the company who does the same, it is a serious waste of time.
- A small portion of spam comes with a deceiving attachment that usually contains virus or malware. This can be a problem if the security software in your workstation or email server does not detect it. Virus or malware has the potential of crippling your system or even stealing important data from your workstation.
- Have you ever receive an email from your local bank requesting you to click on a hyperlink to perform a task using your online account? Well, most local banks do not practice this, only hackers do. Phishing email has caused the industry and people to lose millions of dollars.
- This can be a problem if you are on limited bandwidth Internet connectivity, especially on a mobile line. Each email as well as spam uses bandwidth when it is pushed to your device.
WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?
To be honest, even the best industry spam filter cannot guarantee complete removal. Anti-spam solution will only help reduce the amount of spam you will receive. Most anti-spam softwares are based on algorithm provided from the threat center. Each spam criteria/algorithm would have its specific point and an email would be considered as spam if the point reaches the threshold.
The computer can’t track spam as it will treat every email as legitimate data. You would need to subscribe or purchase additional security software to minimize spam. Most off-the-shelves computer security software comes with an anti-spam feature. It will most probably work right out of the box or it might require minimal tweaking on your workstation in order to integrate.
A good email host contains an anti-spam gateway on the server level and filters out most spam before it reaches you. A very popular anti-spam software on the server level is Spam Assassin and many expensive security appliances are built based on it. Talk to your email-hosting provider to get more information.
Use a unique email address username, which does not contain just a single word. Most hackers would launch spam attacks to your domain and hope some of it would reach your mailbox. Alexander@domain.com would be a spam magnet while Alexander.firstname.lastname@example.org would be spam deterrent.
Posting Email Address on Public Websites
One of the most common ways hackers retrieve users’ email addresses are through the World Wide Web. They do this for possible email addresses to be included in their spam list. You could publish your email address as Alexander.st [at] domain.com or include your email address as an image.
I hope these tips will help you save time and resources in battling this constant threat called Spam.
Have you ever wish that you could protect your data where no one can download it onto a thumb drive, external harddisk or even upload it to cloud storage sites? This is especially true when you are operating a manufacturing company or a video/software production house where confidentiality of data is of utmost importance. You cannot risk having the raw material formula/recipe or that finished edited film which is the source of your company’s income to be leaked out to the public, worse still, when it falls into the hands of your competitors.
How do you safeguard your precious data from being leaked out internally? As there is no 100% safe-proof method to protect the safety of your data, here are a few steps to minimize them from being leaked out so easily.
1. Windows Active Directory Environment
If most of your users are running on a Windows OS Platform, then you can leverage on the Active Directory Environment to create policies or rules in preventing users from copying confidential data into their harddrives / thumb drives, burning them onto CD. However, some SMEs will feel that having a Windows Server and running on Windows user CALs(license) user environment can be a costly affair especially if you do not have the budget. If you have 25 computers or above and have the budget, we would recommend you to consider having an Active Directory environment. Otherwise, put this into your next year budget as an INVESTMENT.
2. Data Protection Software
There are some data protection software out there which you can consider. In this case, you can take a look at EndPoint Protector. Here is a summary of what it does, taken from its website.
“Endpoint Protector prevents users from taking unauthorized data outside the company or bringing potential harmful files on USB devices, files which can have a significant impact on your network’s health.”
Endpoint Protector comes with a basic package(for only 1 computer) or you can try the multiple PCs installation package. The beauty of this is that it can be mounted on MAC platform as well. Endpoint Protector block devices such as your employees smart phones, usb thumbdrives, external harddrives, cdrom, WIFI, bluetooth, firewire, you can see the rest here under the “Screenshots” Tab.
3. Antivirus to Protect your Data
Sometimes, malware, backdoor worm or spyware may be installed on your office computer when users accidentally open malicious emails or plugged in their personal thumbdrives where viruses have been riding all along in that device for a period of time. To minimise intrusion, installing a decent antivirus software can give you some peace of mind in ensuring your computers are clean. You can read more about AntiVirus Software in our previous blogpost.
4. Isolate that Machine
If your data is crucial enough to be protected and having it leaked to public/competitors will cost you lots of money, then we think that it is worthwhile to isolate that PC/MAC to a separated room and disconnect it from the outside world. Yes, even if it meant cutting off the internet connection. Hence, only authorized personnel will be able to have access to that machine with proper username and password. Lock the physical room if you must.
5. Sign NDA with your employees
Another way in minimizing data theft activities from within is by signing a Non Disclosure Agreement between you and your employees. In this way, they are bound legally by the country’s law by agreeing in keeping your company’s data confidentiality. With this in mind, they will think twice before attempting it.
6. Encryption Folder for Mac
If you are using a MAC, you can actually encrypt a folder and store your files there. You can create a disk image using AES-128 encryption option. To decrypt and unlock the folder, you’ll have a passkey to that. If you forgot your passkey, you will never be able to retrieve back your encrypted data in that folder. Here is a link of how to do encrypt a folder in Mac.
Disclaimer : The steps above are just recommendations by us. It does not guarantee 100% proof of data protection but just as a guide to increase awareness and minimizes data theft activities. FatNinjas, Integricity Corporation or its staff are not liable for any damages while readers try implementing steps above.
Email services that are collaborated with the world wide web are a norm nowadays and most users keep critical data on the cloud. With this great power that you get from your email services, it would require greater responsibility to protect your account.
As a continuation from the previous topic of identity theft with domain name, the same thing could also happen when somebody hijacks your email account. A lot of damage can be caused if hackers manage to gain unauthorized access into your email account.
Your email account could contain information such as your password, private emails, password retrieval emails and etc. The last thing that you need is spam being sent out from your email account to your contacts. Is this enough to scare you from having an email account?
Don’t worry, I will provide you 4 simple measures to keep your email account safe and secure so you would not have to fall back to the pigeon post.
With over 12 years of experience in the web hosting industry. I have encountered numerous issues with email account intrusions. Just follow these 4 simple steps to secure your email account:
This is most crucial as it is the first line of defense of your email account. A weak password is a recipe for disaster. Password such as ‘abc123′, ‘qwerty’, ’123456′ and etc. are too common as these are the first few combinations that a hacker will try in attempting to hack in.
A strong password would consist of upper case, lower case, numbers and symbols. If your name is Michael and you want a password that is easy to remember, you could try something like ‘W1cH@3LM2012′. If the strength of this password is good, it will make things very hard for the hacker. A good password is a strong password which will be easy to be remember.
2. Email Service provider
Depending on your email hosting package, for example, Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail. A good provider will enforce minimum password strength policy and having at least a brute force attack firewall to fend of unauthorized access.
3. Choosing a unique email username
Aside from increasing your account security, this could also reduce the amount of spam coming into your account.
4. Check your PC for virus
Most of the time, users are not aware that the virus is actually exploiting the email account as the process is always running in the background.
A virus could be a medium in your machine to relay your account information back to the hacker or it could be a spambot which reside in your machine and turn it into a spamming gateway. Always get a qualified technician to scan your machine periodically and get a good antivirus software.
I hope these few simple steps will save you from the misery of experiencing any email account exploitation.
WELCOME YOUNG ONE PART II
We’re back, and this month FatSensei will put our other new recruit under the microscope; Carlson Thoo will be our very own sales ninja who will bedazzle our clients and explain how we can help them. He has much experience under his belt and we’re happy to welcome him on board.
I’m an easy and outgoing person, who loves the outdoors. During my free time, I enjoy staying in and playing computer games.
What is your role in Integricity?
I’m a Sales Executive for FatNinjas. I’m here to find new prospects and clients for FatNinjas and will be introducing IT products and maintenance services to clients.
I chose Integricity because I believe technology is a growing industry. After looking through Integricity’s resume, I believe that there is a bright future here. So I’m here to grow and write this amazing chapter of my life with Integricity.
What intrigued you into taking up the sales position for FatNinjas?
I’ve always had an interest in IT! The offer given to me by FatNinjas was too hard to turn down, mainly because of the commission scheme. I’ve always enjoyed doing sales, and I strongly feel that working with these Fanatics will push me to the next level in terms of understanding the IT industry. I believe that the services FatNinjas offer is very unique and I’m glad that to be a part of it.
What would you hope to achieve in your time here?
I would like to be an inspiration to others and set a bench mark for people to follow in terms of sales target in the company. Looking at the sales plan in FatNinjas, I feel that there is a huge opportunity for growth there. It’s just about working hard to help build the company’s reputation and making sure that it reaches its potential.
One of the main highlights I have been working on this month is Fatservers.my. We’re really looking forward to complete this as FatServers will be given a new and improved web interface and services for both our present and future clients.
Before I continue, I must highlight that while FatNinjas is solely focused on IT maintenance, FatServers provide services for businesses that are looking for space to host their website among other things.
It has been quite an experience as I’m not really a techie guy – I struggled to come up with ideas and content for the website. There are so many ways to design a website, but the most important thing I have learnt is to get a big idea the message to communicate to our audience.Following that, every aspect and component of a website will come into play. I strongly feel that a website cluttered with information from the get-go really turns me off. A simple and clean website with the right images could really catch users’ attention.
For example, as you can see in the screenshot above, the website is cluttered with information, so users might face difficulties in searching for information about us. It may be suitable for content-heavy blog, but not for FatServers.
This is a good example of a clean elegant website where the centerpiece really captures your attention. Also, information isn’t all over the page, which in turn makes it easier on the eyes.
The platform that I learned to create a website with is WordPress.org.
It is all about experimentation. If you don’t try, you may never know what the outcome may be like. I tried several themes to get an idea what design would be suitable for FatServers.
This is an example of a theme we might use; the design isn’t complex. What I loved most about this theme was how the image of the product stood out. Also, the 4 different categories could be used to feature all our main services.
Just a tip, remember every theme has different settings, so it’s best to read up on the various settings that each theme may offer. As shown in the screenshots above, different themes have different settings. Some may be more customizable than others; it all depends on what you want to communicate to your audience.
You may also customise your website using plugins. Plugins are basically extensions you could download to extend the functionality of your website.
Here’s an example of a YouTube plugin which I installed.
I clicked on the YouTube plugin, and inserted the URL.
After inserting the URL, I clicked publish.
Once published, voila! It’s that simple.
Check out WordPress’ extensive directory of plugins to find out more about what they have to offer.
Anyway, this is only a sliver of information about our upcoming FatServers website and WordPress.
I have learnt so much about creating a website – it’s not so much about learning codes and html, but having a good grasp on what to communicate to our audience while WordPress take care of the technical details.
I hope you’ve been inspired to create a website of your own too.
Stay tuned for more updates .