How To Make Your Photos Last A Lifetime

How To Make Your Photos Last A Lifetime

How to Make Your Photos Last A Lifetime (and Beyond)

Digital cameras are great, and thanks to smartphones, we have one with us almost all the time. We’re taking more photos than ever before, and building a lifetime of digital data. But despite the enormous value of these photos and videos, most people don’t have a backup. It’s time to shine a light on this essential task and make it a regular habit before those precious memories are gone forever.

If you asked someone what possession they’d save from a house fire, most would say photos, and they’d make a point of grabbing a frame or album on the way out. But with digital photos, you don’t need a fire to lose everything, they could simply disappear in the blink of an eye with hardware failure or theft. There’s no warning, no smoke alarm, and without a plan already in place, no chance to recover the data. It’s time to get set up with a true backup system.

Is one copy enough?

You might think saving your information to an external hard drive or flash drive is enough. You’re right, it’s better than nothing, but since the data is stored in only one place, this isn’t a backup – it’s just storage. That drive could fail at any moment, perhaps from age, malfunction or plain old theft.

Often enough, that drive even becomes lost over the years, put somewhere ‘safe’ and promptly forgotten! And with the way technology is moving, accessing that data in 5 years might even bring up compatibility issues – some newer computers don’t even have CD/DVD drives, yet hundreds of thousands of homes would still have photos stored on a disc.

Two copies?

You might have your extra storage drive as backup and keep a copy on your computer. This is a better solution, and how most people store their data, but it still isn’t enough. While you’re protected against device failure, that house fire is going to take both copies up in flames. Thieves would probably grab the external drive while they’re bundling up your computer too, so again, you’d be left with zero copies. It’s close, but it’s not a true backup system.

The rule of three

We subscribe to the backup rule of three. Just reading this may sound like overkill, but tech is fragile and device failure is a constant risk. We recommend keeping one copy on the computer/device, another on an external drive, and a third copy as last resort tucked safely away in the cloud. The cloud backup can be fully automated so you don’t even need to worry about remembering to do it. If the day comes that you need your data back, it’s ready and waiting in perfect condition. Cloud technology also means your data is far away from any potential fire or flood, it’s secure and with the right provider, guaranteed against loss.

There’s a saying in the IT industry: “There are two kinds of people: those who backup, and those who have never lost all their data”. No matter what the cause of your data loss, it always has a deep impact, particularly when it comes to precious data. While re-creating some homework or the family budget might just be inconvenient, there’s no way to recreate photos once they’re gone. It’s a loss that hurts for a long time, but it’s also so very avoidable.

If you value your data, give us a call at 1300 795 105 to implement a well-rounded backup system.

Get Your IT Ready for Holiday Shopping

Get Your IT Ready for Holiday Shopping

Holiday shopping will have a new look this year. Many retailers are closing their brick-and-mortar doors for Black Friday, and the big “doorbuster” sales are moving online. With the busiest shopping period of the year going virtual, there’s going to be greater load on the business IT.

If your business wants to be part of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, prepare for a sudden surge in traffic volume. If your technology can’t handle the traffic, you’re going to lose revenue. A crashed system could be catastrophic for your bottom line, plus, it’ll hurt brand reputation and customer satisfaction long term.

Consider these strategies to get ready for the online crush of shoppers.

#1 Migrate to the Cloud

Your current server may do the job on a regular given day, but is it going to be able to handle 100 times the activity in a single day? You need the ability to quickly scale up as needed. That’s one of the great advantages of cloud services.

It’s difficult to predict your growth rates and seasonal demand shifts; however, using cloud services helps with increased demand for applications, storage capacity, or bandwidth. Your business doesn’t want to waste money on technology infrastructure it doesn’t need. Instead, partner with a cloud provider to add the resources required on a temporary basis. Scaling up in the cloud can take only minutes!

#2 Take a Stress Test

You may think your business is ready for an onslaught, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Run stress tests on your site and systems to ensure you’re fully equipped. Even big-name retailers have suffered Black Friday outages.

In advance of the peak shopping period, test performance in areas such as:

  • latency;
  • error rates;
  • number of time-outs;
  • length of response time;
  • availability.

Performing OK may not be enough to match the need of holiday sales. Based on the Salesforce findings above, it’s safe to say you could be facing 15–35% increased traffic.

#3 Optimize Your Site and Services Beforehand

In e-commerce, every second, even millisecond, counts. There are several things you can do in advance to make sure you’re putting your best e-foot forward:

  • Make sure that every page of your site and all your images are rendering quickly.
  • Identify where you are seeing shopping cart abandonment, and do what you can now to stem that drop off.
  • Revise site navigation to ensure it is as simple as possible for shoppers.
  • Allow users to buy without registering and to use as many different payment options as possible.
  • Remove unnecessary forms, sidebars, headers, and footers.
  • Make your site as mobile-friendly as you can.

You also want to be sure that your order and inventory systems are in sync. Promoting Black Friday items and then selling out will sour customer experience.

#4 Prepare Your Troops, Too

Along with readying your technology, prep your people, too. Need more hands-on deck to handle order fulfillment and customer service? Get on that hiring and training now. Having IT support on-call can help respond to any unexpected issues.

Need IT support preparing for the e-commerce influx? Our technology experts can prepare your business for more traffic and transactions. Contact us today at 1300 795 105!

Keep Your Firmware Safe and Secure

Keep Your Firmware Safe and Secure

Most of us can differentiate between hardware and software. But how many know what firmware refers to? More importantly, is your business securing its firmware against security vulnerabilities?

Your business knows it needs to keep its operating systems (OSs) up to date. Installing patches as they are released helps protect your OS and software applications from attack.

Yet firmware can be easily overlooked when setting up cyber protection. You’re opening up Explorer every day, and your business relies on its Excel spreadsheets, but you don’t think about the basic software that runs the hardware as intended – that’s the firmware.

Without firmware, your computer wouldn’t know how to detect its hard drive, and the gears on the business printer wouldn’t spin to pull the paper through the device. There’s firmware in network and sound cards, routers, range extenders, keyboards, and more. Firmware also makes your webcam or surveillance camera work correctly.

The Need to Update Firmware

Cybercriminals aren’t known for their lazy reliance on just one tactic. Instead, they are constantly finding new ways to exploit business devices and systems, and this includes attacking firmware. Without securing your firmware, you run the risk of bad actors:

  • spying on business activity;
  • stealing business data;
  • taking control of your business computers.

You may think you’re safe because you have antivirus scans in place, but hackers can get around those by embedding their malware in your firmware. In the past, they could guess firmware manufacturers weren’t prioritizing security. That’s changing now that firmware exploits have gained attention.

Manufacturers release firmware updates for at least a few years after initial release. The goal is to ensure the stability of that device your business depends upon.

Find firmware updates online at the manufacturer’s website. You might also look on the device support page. Make it a policy to consistently seek out firmware release updates. That way, the business is up to date with new patches to fix holes or fresh vulnerabilities.

Taking Care of Business Firmware

Too many people aren’t thinking about the firmware threat; it’s a set-it-and-forget-it problem. Once people set up their devices, they don’t think about the possibility of a future compromise.

For example, in last year’s Avast Threat Landscape Report, 60 percent of users had never updated router firmware. Yet router hijackers can inject malicious HTML and gain access to usernames and passwords.

Businesses are growing more reliant on technology, particularly connected technology. (Thank you, Wi-Fi and Internet of Things.) This is also expanding the attack surface available to cyber bad guys. Don’t become complacent. Apply patches when issued to all business connections and technology.

Now you know what firmware is and why it matters, that doesn’t mean you’re any closer to being able to actually update it all. Partner with one of our technicians. We can do an audit of all your firmware and find any holes that need plugging. Give us a call today at 1300 795 105!

6 Quick Security Tips To Keep Your Business Safe

6 Quick Security Tips To Keep Your Business Safe

6 Quick Security Tips to Keep Your Business Safe

Every employee shares one inescapable flaw that is putting your business at risk.

They’re human.

59% of data breaches can be traced back to something an employee did (or didn’t do), which invited a cyber-attack.

To lock hackers out, build security awareness and respect into your company culture so that maintaining digital security becomes as routine as making coffee.

Use complex passwords: Every employee, including management, needs to use an alphanumeric password that they haven’t used before. Password managers can assist with making sure they’re never forgotten.

Verify unknown identities: Not familiar with ‘Jenny from Accounting’ who has called to ask for sensitive information? Double-check caller identity and access permissions before releasing any information. Hackers love to play on our desire to be helpful.

Encrypt by default: People regularly transfer data to a laptop or smartphone so they can work more efficiently. Unfortunately, this equipment can be easily stolen. Set operating systems to encrypt data by default, so that it becomes useless in the wrong hands.

Protect portable devices: Laptops and mobile phones should always require a password and be set to auto-lock after a short period of time. Never leave them unattended in cars, buses, restrooms etc, and take them as carry-on luggage.

Set personal usage rules: While you may have blocked productivity-vacuums such as Facebook, what are the rules regarding games, video streaming or shopping? Can they install their own software? When business computers are used for personal usage, security vigilance tends to slide, resulting in unintentional malware installation.

Educate often: Digital security threats change regularly, and people become comfortable with a certain level of danger, thinking ‘it will never happen to me’. A 5-minute discussion  once a month may be the barrier that keeps hackers out.

Starter Topics:

Links in emails – Hackers often send emails that look like they are from your bank or similar. Be sure to check the link by hovering over it with your mouse. This is known as ‘phishing’.

Tech scam popups – Be on the lookout for popups advising that your computer is infected and you need to call a phone number or download software.

Email attachments – Never open an unknown attachment, and even from people you know and trust, always scan for malware before opening.

If you need help implementing better security practices in your business, give us a call at 1300 795 105.

Could Your Backups Survive A Ransomware Attack?

Could Your Backups Survive A Ransomware Attack?

Could Your Backups Survive A Ransomware Attack?

More and more businesses and organizations are getting stung by ransomware demands. Hospitals, schools, social networks…some days it seems like an epidemic that leaps around arbitrarily, and hackers are raking in millions.
Tallied across the word…billions.

Ransomware attacks are devious in their simplicity. A user in the target business is tricked into opening a file, usually through a phishing email or download. The file contains malware which instantly encrypts your data and demands money in exchange for the password.

No payment = no password = no data.

All of the target businesses should have backups, which they could simply revert to without paying any money, but the FBI reports more than $209 million was sent to hackers in the first quarter of this year alone. Keep in mind, this was just payments within the US, and only counts those who came forward.

Last year it was only $25million.

Aren’t backups helping?

Sometimes the backup solution fails and the data can’t be retrieved. This is particularly true in cases where the solution has been in use for years and something failed along the way.

In other instances, the target business has a backup that can be restored, but it doesn’t include everything they need for full recovery.

Finally, and the most common reason so many businesses are forced to pay the ransom: the ransomware attack affects the entire system – including attached and synchronized backups. If the backup is also caught in the ransomware encryption, it becomes useless as a recovery method and the only options are to pay or lose the data forever.

Each day spent trying to recover the data is a drain on valuable business resources and in many cases, results in massive revenue loss.

The only defense is to block the malware before it can infect the first workstation, and then continue the protection with a comprehensive backup strategy for all workstations and servers.

Give us a call to discuss how we can help secure your business against ransomware today.