Technology Information & News

New Disaster Relief Bill to Assist Small Businesses in the Wake of a Disaster

It’s difficult to forget the havoc that Hurricane Katrina wreaked on the residents of New Orleans in August of 2005. With more than 1200 people killed, over 108 billion dollar’s worth of property damage, and far below adequate emergency relief, it is a tragedy that the world will not soon forget.

Rise Disaster Act

Rise After Disaster Act

Not surprisingly, the local small businesses took a crippling blow financially following Katrina’s devastating effects, many of which whom have yet to recover. The US government had received a wave of harsh criticism in the last ten years regarding their emergency response both during and after Hurricane Katrina, many accusing the system of abandoning the hard working citizens of New Orleans at a time when they needed their government needed them most.

It would now appear that the US government has recognized their shortcomings by passing a disaster relief bill called  the Rise After Disaster Act, which has been designed to help small businesses both during and after the wake of a disaster including:

  • Recovery loans to be provided after the Small Business Administration aid has been exhausted
  • Technical support and counselling provided to help small businesses recover and resume their operations
  • Federal agencies will be encouraged to use locally based contractors instead of Washington D.C based contractors
  • Enabling businesses to increase the size of their SBA disaster loans to remediate their properties where necessary, to combat contractor malfeasance.

The bill’s sponsor, Louisiana Sen, David Vitter said that “Those of us in Louisiana know too well the challenges of recovering and rebuilding after devastating natural disasters, which is why we understand that sometimes we just need a little extra help. Having passed it (Rise After Disaster Act) through the Senate earlier this year, I am glad to see my broadly bipartisan legislation pass through the house and head to the Presidents desk to be signed into law.”

As chairman of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, Senator Vitter has not only led the charge for improved disaster relief for small businesses, he has committed himself to continuing the fight for improving relief for hard working small business owners to be able to weather even the harshest of disaster-related storms.

MAXTech provides managed IT services wherein we handle your information technology and create a business continuity plan that keeps you going. Call (813) 333-2878 or email us at info@maxtechpros.com for more information.

Pros and Cons of Having a Server Hosted Off-Site

Every business owner is forced to make the decision regarding hosting their servers on or off site. The decision is an important one, and careful consideration of your unique needs should be taken before making such a decision. There are many hosting options available, so deciding how to best proceed can be overwhelming.

Offsite Servers

Take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of both on-site and off-site hosting, as understanding the benefits may help you to make a decision.

The Pros of Off-Site Data Centers

There are many advantages to moving your company’s information to an off-site data center, including the following:

  • Cost Effective – Storing your data in a data center can lower expenses. Off-site storage is an easy to budget for, flat rate fee, and eliminates the need for costly hardware repairs and maintenance. In addition, money is saved on lowered energy expenses. By reducing expensive IT costs, those funds can then be allocated in other areas to help the business grow.
  • Easy Transition – Making the move from on-site storage to a datacenter can be a source of fear for many business owners as a business needs to remain in complete control over their data. For business owners concerned by this, moving to a colocation may be the solution. This solution allows for a company to move their information over to a data center that is relatively close to their location, enjoying the benefits of completely managed data at on off-site location, but never feel as though their information is out of reach.
  • Reclaim Valuable Real Estate – Housing servers onsite can claim a lot of physical real estate in the business place. By moving your data off-site, you are able to use that valuable square footage for other, more important purposes.

The Cons of Data Centers

The only real drawback for business owners when considering moving to a data center solution is the fear of the unknown. Apprehension about taking the next step with your important information can be standing in the way of benefiting from what Off-Site storage solutions have to offer. It has been said that a business is only as powerful as the knowledge and information they possess, so trusting your data to be hosted off-site is a big decision.

Why Not On-Site Hosting?

In the past, business owners have appreciated the complete level of control that keeping information on-site provided. Security management was also easy to address, with everything kept close at hand. The truth is, however, that there are many drawbacks to on-site solution, including the following:

  • Limited connectivity options
  • Distraction from the core business
  • Expensive
  • Limited expansion abilities geographically
  • Tendency to run low-tier facilities

Running your own data center is a considerable undertaking, and very draining on time and resources. Taking advantage of many benefits off-site data management offers can provide peace of mind, knowing your information is being expertly handled, as well as free up the time and money spent on in-house solutions to improve the business in other ways.

To learn more about how MAXTech can help you determine how to best handle your data needs, contact us at (813) 333-2878 or send an email to info@maxtechpros.com.  We’re the preferred choice when it comes to managed IT services in Tampa, Brandon & Riverview.

Cybercriminals are Using a Dangerous New Form of Ransomware to Hijack Your Files

Cybercriminals have always been smart, fast, and incredibly adaptive. Just as you’re constantly looking for new ways to improve workflow and productivity with technology while keeping data safe, they’re always looking for new ways to do harm and compromise your business.

teslacrypt

What’s New?

  • We’ve all heard of ransomware – it’s a form of malware that infects your network or device and encrypts files, demanding a ransom for victims to retrieve their data. Over the past several years, it’s grown more and more common.
  • Recently a new version of TelsaCrypt has been discovered, which now uses the ccc extension when encrypting files. This version uses the same payment site as older variants and demands approximately $500 (in BitCoins) to decrypt files.

How Do You Decrypt Your Files?

The worst part is that there’s currently no way to decrypt this version for free because of how the private decryption keys are generated.

It’s a long, confusing processes – essentially, the files continue to encrypt themselves and the key you need to restore your files is incredibly hard to generate.

So, What Can You Do?

Be vigilant! Always be cautious when you’re exchanging and opening Emails: ensure you know the senders, and never click on links or download attachments that you weren’t expecting. It’s never a bad idea to call a client or co-worker to verify that they sent over files – your livelihood could be on the line.

Get in touch with MAXTech to learn more about TelsaCrypt and how to protect yourself against other dangerous online threats. Contact our technology professionals at info@maxtechpros.com or (813) 333-2878.

Super Hero Training

What You Can Learn About Cybersecurity from a School’s “Super Hero Training” Program!

School Cybersecurity

Malicious cyber attacks are becoming a large concern for almost everybody, and properly protecting yourself from such events is critical. The problem being, most business owners don’t know how to adequately protect themselves from being in harm’s way, as there has been no effective training provided to the general public.

Just as we execute practice drills for fires, natural disasters, and other important and dangerous events, we should be practicing drills for how to react in times of a cyber attack. Knowing how to prevent such malicious attacks is critical, especially in a day and age when even children are so technologically capable, and everyone participates in online activities.

Currently, the population is very uninformed on matters of cybersecurity, and although we are very well aware of the newest devices, most of us have no idea of how to use it safely. Over 95% of all breaches result from human error, so despite various claims stating that passwords and the need to obsess over security are a thing of the past, this simply isn’t true.

Many may be shocked to learn that the most common password on the internet in 2014 was 123456, with the runner up being simply, password. This is not conducive to a secure network environment, and weak passwords make it easy for potential intruders to gain access.

Statistics like this make it clear that the general population still has no idea as to the importance of cyber security, and has received no training as to how to implement it effectively.

The Need for Education

Something must be done about the lack of cyber security education that is available. It is important that the average user have knowledge of the basics that are crucial in protecting their reputation and keeping their internet activities secure. It all starts with teaching children, as by the time adults enter the work environment, bad habits have already formed.

School children today are very comfortable with, and very knowledgeable about, various gadgets and devices, including tablets, computers, mobile phones, and other items that include internet connectivity. Their knowledge of all things IT is astounding, and by teaching them the importance of cyber security, we are both preparing them for a life of technology based living and helping to make the internet a safer environment for the average user.

Some schools are starting to realize the importance of this education, after seeing what students are capable of in regards to the internet and technology. The experts at Crunch Network developed an all day cyber security training program to begin the education process, using a super hero theme to both interest and excite the participants.

Discussed below are six of the most important lessons from the training, aimed at helping students and faculty better understand the basics of cyber security. All business owners can learn a lot from these six lessons:

  1. Everything is Connected

Training begins by illustrating how everything is connected. The students were asked to show hands if a tablet, computer or smartphone was in the home, and not surprisingly every hand in the room was raised. It was explained that the first step for good cybersecurity practices was to identify all the various ways in which individuals and families are connected to the internet. Many are surprised when they stop to consider how many IP enabled devices are in one home.

  1. Password Strength

When the children were asked to share an example of a strong password, one replied by shouting out their secret code. This made it easy to draw focus to the importance of keeping passwords secret, as well as providing details on the components of a strong password. They were also taught the importance of not using personal details as passwords, such as pet names or family member names as those are easily discovered on social media.

Keep in mind, a strong password is compiled of a mixture of letters, numbers and symbols, and should be at least 8 characters long. Users should change their passwords on a regular basis.

  1. Lockscreens

A lesson was delivered on the importance of such things as lockscreens, screen time outs, and other such features. The Apple watch was used as an example to illustrate this, as the moment it is off the wrist it cannot be accessed by anybody. These features are an important part of cyber security, especially in an environment with a lot of people.

  1. Safe Clicking

Emphasis was put on the importance of safe clicking while on the internet. Many users will experience pop up ads and boxes that are misleading in nature. Cash, prizes, and other rewards are used to lure users, stating an immediate update is required in order to claim your prize. These sort of links should never be clicked, and the children were instructed to close the offending windows and go on.

  1. Phishing

The children were asked about their knowledge of phishing, and many responded with stories of fishing on the water, however; none were aware of what internet phishing or spear phishing was. Education was provided, teaching the students what phishing was all about, and instructing them that suspicious emails should never be opened or responded to, even if you think you’re certain who the sender was.

  1. Software Updates

Software updating is an important topic of discussion in regards to cyber security. Users need to be aware of the importance of software updates. Instruction also needs to be provided as to how to properly install and accept such updates. Updates should only be obtained from the company or program’s website, in order to ensure the updates do not contain any malware.

The superhero training brought to light the fact that providing this sort of basic training and preparedness helps to create a society of citizens who are fully aware of the risks and dangers associated with cyber activities, as well as how to best protect themselves from such risks, and how to handle situations once they occur.

Discover what MAXTech can do to help you secure against cybercrime. We provide managed IT services in Tampa, Brandon & Riverview that help you stay safe against all types of threats while cutting costs with a flat-rate monthly fee.

Make Every Technology Dollar Count!

technology dollarDid you know, on average, IT projects run roughly 45% over budget and 7% past the scheduled timeframe? As information technology becomes a more integral part of companies of all types and sizes, IT projects become larger and more complex than ever before, especially considering how rapidly information technology has been advancing in recent years.

MAXTech is here to help with any upcoming IT projects – making sure you are making every technology dollar count. Call (813) 333-2878 or email us at info@maxtechpros.com for more information.

MAXTech is here to work with you to complete any type of IT project – from implementation of new hardware to changes in existing applications or systems. We will also handle third-party vendor projects requiring support – all while ensuring the following:

  • The project stays within the allotted budget and timeline to save you from wasting time and money.
  • The project is aligned with all of your goals and objectives to get the most possible value from your investment.
  • The project is successful with all employees understanding changes so there won’t be unnecessary learning curves or struggles after completion.
  • The project undergoes rigorous quality checks along the way to make sure it’s successful without issues.

If you already have in-house IT professionals managing your technology, we are here to augment those staff members – lending a helping hand wherever needed to complete projects they don’t have the time/resources to complete. Ultimately, we are always here to help – whatever the situation calls for.

Contact MAXTech at (813) 333-2878 or send us an email at info@maxtechpros.com to schedule a no-obligation consultation regarding any upcoming IT projects. We will let you know exactly what we can do to help you ensure they are smooth and successful.

The Newest Threat You NEED To Protect Against: CryptoWall 4.0

cryptowallWhen it comes to protection for your data and systems, there’s no such thing as being too diligent. Have you heard of CryptoWall? It’s a form of ransomware designed by hackers to encrypt your data and hold it ransom.

The potential dangers to your business are obvious – from lost documents, to disruption and downtime, to compromised information and a damaged reputation.

Cybercriminals are smart and incredibly adaptive. They’re continuing to make their bugs more complex and malicious, and recently there’s been a new version of a familiar bug developed: CryptoWall 4.0 has been found infecting systems.

What Separates this New Threat from the Original CryptoWall?

The most noteworthy change in that this new bug also encrypts the filenames of encrypted files. Each file will have its name changed to a complex and unique title.

It’s likely that this new level of encryption was created to make it more difficult to know which files would need to be recovered – creating an even more frustrating experience for victims. What hasn’t changed is the delivery method.

Be Proactive and Cautious to Stay Protected

Cybercriminals are continuing to send out ransomware predominately using Emails. We can’t stress enough the importance of exercising caution when it comes to your inbox.

  • Never click on downloads or attachments that you weren’t expecting.
  • Don’t be afraid to pick up a phone and verify with the sender. In this case, that caution could save your business from disruption, downtime, and lost data.
  • There’s currently no way to retrieve locked files without restoring from a backup – so its crucial that you have a business continuity plan in place, so that should your business fall victim to CryptoWall 4.0, you maintain access to your essential data and resources.

Reach out to MAXTech to discuss the most effective ways to keep your network safe, and learn more about emerging threats. Contact our team of technology experts at info@maxtechpros.com or (813) 333-2878.