Network Support Raleigh

Certified, Responsive, Expert Managed IT Computer Network Support Services for Raleigh Businesses

Raleigh-Durham, NC Area & National Client Support

We are Microsoft & Cisco Certified & Have Direct Access to the Engineers at Microsoft & Cisco.

Secure your passwords now

October 19th, 2017

For years, we’ve been told that strong passwords include three things: upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. And why wouldn’t we when the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) told us they were the minimum for robust passwords? Here’s why and how it involves you.

The problem

The issue isn’t necessarily that NIST advised people to create passwords that are easy to crack, but it did steer people into creating lazy passwords, using capitalization, special characters, and numbers that are easy to predict, like “[email protected]

This may seem secure, but in reality, these strings of characters and numbers could easily be compromised by hackers using common algorithms.

To make matters worse, NIST also recommended that people change their passwords regularly, but did not define what it actually means to “change” them. Since people thought their passwords were already secure with special characters, most only added one number or symbol.

NIST essentially forced everyone, including you and your colleagues, to use passwords that are hard for humans to remember but easy for computers to guess.

The solution

One cartoonist pointed out just how ridiculous NIST’s best practices were when he revealed that a password like “Tr0ub4dor&3” could be cracked in only three days while a password like “correcthorsebatterystaple” would take about 550 years.

Simply put, passwords should be longer and include nonsensical phrases and English words that make it almost impossible for an automated system to make sense of.

Even better, you should enforce the following security solutions within your company:  

  • Multi-factor Authentication – which only grants access after you have successfully presented several pieces of evidence
  • Single Sign-On – which allows users to securely access multiple accounts with one set of credentials
  • Account Monitoring Tools – which recognize suspicious activity and lock out hackers

When it comes to security, ignorance is the biggest threat. If you’d like to learn about what else you can do to fortify security, just give us a call.

Published with permission from Technology Times. Source.Source.

Your passwords are not secure

October 19th, 2017

A password policy designed for federal agencies must be secure, right? Surprisingly, that hasn’t been the case according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). On the hook for the password best practices that we still use today — the combination of letters, capitalizations, and numbers — NIST admits that the existing guidelines were misguided. Find out why and how it involves you.

The problem

The issue isn’t necessarily that NIST advised people to create passwords that are easy to crack, but it did steer people into creating lazy passwords, using capitalization, special characters, and numbers that are easy to predict, like “[email protected]

This may seem secure, but in reality, these strings of characters and numbers could easily be compromised by hackers using common algorithms.

To make matters worse, NIST also recommended that people change their passwords regularly, but did not define what it actually means to “change” them. Since people thought their passwords were already secure with special characters, most only added one number or symbol.

NIST essentially forced everyone, including you and your colleagues, to use passwords that are hard for humans to remember but easy for computers to guess.

The solution

One cartoonist pointed out just how ridiculous NIST’s best practices were when he revealed that a password like “Tr0ub4dor&3” could be cracked in only three days while a password like “correcthorsebatterystaple” would take about 550 years.

Simply put, passwords should be longer and include nonsensical phrases and English words that make it almost impossible for an automated system to make sense of.

Even better, you should enforce the following security solutions within your company:  

  • Multi-factor Authentication – which only grants access after you have successfully presented several pieces of evidence
  • Single Sign-On – which allows users to securely access multiple accounts with one set of credentials
  • Account Monitoring Tools – which recognize suspicious activity and lock out hackers

When it comes to security, ignorance is the biggest threat. If you’d like to learn about what else you can do to fortify security, just give us a call.

Published with permission from Technology Times. Source.Source.

Re-secure your passwords!

October 19th, 2017

In 2003, a manager at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) authored a document on password best practices for businesses, federal agencies, and academic institutions. Now retired, the author admits that his document was misguided. Find out why and what great passwords are made of.

The problem

The issue isn’t necessarily that NIST advised people to create passwords that are easy to crack, but it did steer people into creating lazy passwords, using capitalization, special characters, and numbers that are easy to predict, like “[email protected]

This may seem secure, but in reality, these strings of characters and numbers could easily be compromised by hackers using common algorithms.

To make matters worse, NIST also recommended that people change their passwords regularly, but did not define what it actually means to “change” them. Since people thought their passwords were already secure with special characters, most only added one number or symbol.

NIST essentially forced everyone, including you and your colleagues, to use passwords that are hard for humans to remember but easy for computers to guess.

The solution

One cartoonist pointed out just how ridiculous NIST’s best practices were when he revealed that a password like “Tr0ub4dor&3” could be cracked in only three days while a password like “correcthorsebatterystaple” would take about 550 years.

Simply put, passwords should be longer and include nonsensical phrases and English words that make it almost impossible for an automated system to make sense of.

Even better, you should enforce the following security solutions within your company:  

  • Multi-factor Authentication – which only grants access after you have successfully presented several pieces of evidence
  • Single Sign-On – which allows users to securely access multiple accounts with one set of credentials
  • Account Monitoring Tools – which recognize suspicious activity and lock out hackers

When it comes to security, ignorance is the biggest threat. If you’d like to learn about what else you can do to fortify security, just give us a call.

Published with permission from Technology Times. Source.Source.

How to stop macOS from showing your password

October 18th, 2017

Apple’s latest version of the macOS operating system introduced some wonderful new security features. Unfortunately, one of the improvements currently includes a glaring weakness that will show your password to anyone. An update has been released, but there are a few things you need to do.

What is the bug?

The vulnerability pertains to sweeping changes in how macOS stores files. In the High Sierra update, the Apple File System (APFS) was introduced to make opening and saving files much faster. As an added bonus, APFS also added advanced features like drive encryption.

However, users who add a second encrypted APFS partition to their computer’s drive aren’t keeping their data safe from prying eyes.

Let’s imagine you want to create a separate storage partition for your work files. The data contains sensitive information so you encrypt the drive and add a password.

If in the course of setting the password you were to provide a password hint, High Sierra will display your password when anyone clicks Show Hint when accessing the drive. You can see how it’s done in this 45-second video.

When anyone can retrieve your password in a matter of seconds, encryption becomes completely pointless.

How to fix this vulnerability

Sadly, the update for encrypted APFS drives requires much more than installing a patch. As such, we do not recommend trying to fix this issue without professional help if your encrypted partition has irreplaceable data. It is a complicated process and could result in data loss.

Apple procedures for fixing the issue if you’ve already encrypted a drive include:

  1. Installing the most recent macOS update
  2. Backing up the encrypted drive
  3. “Unmounting” and erasing the original drive
  4. Creating a new encrypted APFS drive
  5. Entering a new password and password hint
  6. Restoring the backup from Step 2 to the updated partition

Apple’s macOS is a great operating system. It is reliable, secure, and user friendly — but like any piece of software, it’s not perfect. Don’t make the mistake of assuming macOS is safe enough to protect your data without outside help. For help encrypting your drives or securing your Macs, call us today.

Published with permission from Technology Times. Source.Source.

New vulnerability discovered in High Sierra

October 18th, 2017

The macOS operating system has a reputation for being impervious to security risks, but according to recent news, that’s not always the case. In High Sierra, even someone with zero IT experience can steal your password. Here’s how to stop them.

What is the bug?

The vulnerability pertains to sweeping changes in how macOS stores files. In the High Sierra update, the Apple File System (APFS) was introduced to make opening and saving files much faster. As an added bonus, APFS also added advanced features like drive encryption.

However, users who add a second encrypted APFS partition to their computer’s drive aren’t keeping their data safe from prying eyes.

Let’s imagine you want to create a separate storage partition for your work files. The data contains sensitive information so you encrypt the drive and add a password.

If in the course of setting the password you were to provide a password hint, High Sierra will display your password when anyone clicks Show Hint when accessing the drive. You can see how it’s done in this 45-second video.

When anyone can retrieve your password in a matter of seconds, encryption becomes completely pointless.

How to fix this vulnerability

Sadly, the update for encrypted APFS drives requires much more than installing a patch. As such, we do not recommend trying to fix this issue without professional help if your encrypted partition has irreplaceable data. It is a complicated process and could result in data loss.

Apple procedures for fixing the issue if you’ve already encrypted a drive include:

  1. Installing the most recent macOS update
  2. Backing up the encrypted drive
  3. “Unmounting” and erasing the original drive
  4. Creating a new encrypted APFS drive
  5. Entering a new password and password hint
  6. Restoring the backup from Step 2 to the updated partition

Apple’s macOS is a great operating system. It is reliable, secure, and user friendly — but like any piece of software, it’s not perfect. Don’t make the mistake of assuming macOS is safe enough to protect your data without outside help. For help encrypting your drives or securing your Macs, call us today.

Published with permission from Technology Times. Source.Source.

macOS High Sierra gives away your password

October 18th, 2017

A glaring security mistake has been discovered in Apple’s most recent desktop operating system. It’s not the sort of vulnerability that requires complicated malware or IT knowledge; anyone can learn this exploit in a matter of minutes to steal your password. Here’s how to stop that from happening.

What is the bug?

The vulnerability pertains to sweeping changes in how macOS stores files. In the High Sierra update, the Apple File System (APFS) was introduced to make opening and saving files much faster. As an added bonus, APFS also added advanced features like drive encryption.

However, users who add a second encrypted APFS partition to their computer’s drive aren’t keeping their data safe from prying eyes.

Let’s imagine you want to create a separate storage partition for your work files. The data contains sensitive information so you encrypt the drive and add a password.

If in the course of setting the password you were to provide a password hint, High Sierra will display your password when anyone clicks Show Hint when accessing the drive. You can see how it’s done in this 45-second video.

When anyone can retrieve your password in a matter of seconds, encryption becomes completely pointless.

How to fix this vulnerability

Sadly, the update for encrypted APFS drives requires much more than installing a patch. As such, we do not recommend trying to fix this issue without professional help if your encrypted partition has irreplaceable data. It is a complicated process and could result in data loss.

Apple procedures for fixing the issue if you’ve already encrypted a drive include:

  1. Installing the most recent macOS update
  2. Backing up the encrypted drive
  3. “Unmounting” and erasing the original drive
  4. Creating a new encrypted APFS drive
  5. Entering a new password and password hint
  6. Restoring the backup from Step 2 to the updated partition

Apple’s macOS is a great operating system. It is reliable, secure, and user friendly — but like any piece of software, it’s not perfect. Don’t make the mistake of assuming macOS is safe enough to protect your data without outside help. For help encrypting your drives or securing your Macs, call us today.

Published with permission from Technology Times. Source.Source.

Simple tricks to boost your productivity

October 17th, 2017

When you spend more than eight hours a day staring at a computer screen, it can be easy to lose focus on important tasks. While your device gives you access to some of the most useful applications, an ever-growing number of distractions are vying for your attention. Here are a few tricks for boosting your productivity levels.

Monitor productivity levels
Start by tracking how much work you complete on an average day. Google Chrome Extensions like RescueTime record your most frequently visited sites, and track how much time you spend away from your computer. Running the app will provide you with a productivity rating and a detailed log of how you spend an average day.

If you find out you’re wasting a huge portion of your time on social networking, you’re more likely to make conscious adjustments on how you manage your time.

Get rid of clutter
Another way to increase output is by deleting old files, uninstalling unused programs, and organizing documents into appropriately labeled folders. This makes your work easier to find and improves your computer’s performance.

As for the clutter in your email inbox, Gmail and Outlook both have features that filter out unimportant messages. Simply enable Priority Inbox on Gmail or Clutter on Outlook to get a clean, spam-free inbox.

Block time-wasting sites
Visiting non-work-related websites is a surefire way to hinder productivity. A quick, five-minute break to check your Facebook feed or watch a YouTube clip may not seem like much, but a few of those per day add up to a lot of time.

If you and your employees have trouble staying away from sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, it’s a good idea to block access to them using URL filters.

Of course, if you want your employees to take occasional breaks during the day, you could use apps like StayFocusd or Strict Workflow. These allow you to set a limit on how long and how many times users can visit non-work-related sites.

Stay on track with to-do lists
To-do lists help you break down large projects into manageable, bite-sized tasks. And perhaps the most satisfying aspect is crossing things off the list, giving you and your employees a sense of accomplishment and total visibility of your progress.

There are wide variety of digital to-do lists available today like Google Tasks or Trello. These platforms allow you to set deadlines for small tasks and write clear instructions for each item on the list. What’s more, they’re incredibly easy to use and are great for keeping track of your workflow.

Use keyboard shortcuts
Last but not least, mastering keyboard shortcuts will make it easier to perform simple functions than if you’re stuck looking for them in the toolbar. There are more than a hundred useful shortcuts, but some that you should always keep in mind are:

    • Ctrl + C, Ctrl + V, Ctrl + X – to copy, paste, and cut selected items
    • Ctrl + Z – to undo changes
    • Ctrl + T – to open a new tab on your web browser
    • Alt + Tab – to switch between open windows
    • Alt + F4 – to close the program

For many more like these, take a look at Windows’ list of advanced shortcuts.

These are just some of the tips every user should know to stay productive. If you need more ideas on how to get more out of your technology, call us today. We provide enterprise-level tools and advice that will make your life a lot easier.

Published with permission from Technology Times. Source.Source.

Top productivity hacks for computer users

October 17th, 2017

We’re all obsessed with finding new ways to become more productive. Business gurus often emphasize the importance of time management and taking breaks to avoid burnout. But aside from motivating yourself to work more efficiently, there are plenty of tools that increase your daily output. If you use a computer all day, check out these productivity hacks.

Monitor productivity levels
Start by tracking how much work you complete on an average day. Google Chrome Extensions like RescueTime record your most frequently visited sites, and track how much time you spend away from your computer. Running the app will provide you with a productivity rating and a detailed log of how you spend an average day.

If you find out you’re wasting a huge portion of your time on social networking, you’re more likely to make conscious adjustments on how you manage your time.

Get rid of clutter
Another way to increase output is by deleting old files, uninstalling unused programs, and organizing documents into appropriately labeled folders. This makes your work easier to find and improves your computer’s performance.

As for the clutter in your email inbox, Gmail and Outlook both have features that filter out unimportant messages. Simply enable Priority Inbox on Gmail or Clutter on Outlook to get a clean, spam-free inbox.

Block time-wasting sites
Visiting non-work-related websites is a surefire way to hinder productivity. A quick, five-minute break to check your Facebook feed or watch a YouTube clip may not seem like much, but a few of those per day add up to a lot of time.

If you and your employees have trouble staying away from sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, it’s a good idea to block access to them using URL filters.

Of course, if you want your employees to take occasional breaks during the day, you could use apps like StayFocusd or Strict Workflow. These allow you to set a limit on how long and how many times users can visit non-work-related sites.

Stay on track with to-do lists
To-do lists help you break down large projects into manageable, bite-sized tasks. And perhaps the most satisfying aspect is crossing things off the list, giving you and your employees a sense of accomplishment and total visibility of your progress.

There are wide variety of digital to-do lists available today like Google Tasks or Trello. These platforms allow you to set deadlines for small tasks and write clear instructions for each item on the list. What’s more, they’re incredibly easy to use and are great for keeping track of your workflow.

Use keyboard shortcuts
Last but not least, mastering keyboard shortcuts will make it easier to perform simple functions than if you’re stuck looking for them in the toolbar. There are more than a hundred useful shortcuts, but some that you should always keep in mind are:

    • Ctrl + C, Ctrl + V, Ctrl + X – to copy, paste, and cut selected items
    • Ctrl + Z – to undo changes
    • Ctrl + T – to open a new tab on your web browser
    • Alt + Tab – to switch between open windows
    • Alt + F4 – to close the program

For many more like these, take a look at Windows’ list of advanced shortcuts.

These are just some of the tips every user should know to stay productive. If you need more ideas on how to get more out of your technology, call us today. We provide enterprise-level tools and advice that will make your life a lot easier.

Published with permission from Technology Times. Source.Source.

5 computer tips that add hours to your day

October 17th, 2017

There are only so many hours in the workday, so making the most of your time is vital. If distracting websites, unorganized files, and cluttered inboxes prevent you from getting work done, consider using these tips to better manage your time and stay productive at work.

Monitor productivity levels
Start by tracking how much work you complete on an average day. Google Chrome Extensions like RescueTime record your most frequently visited sites, and track how much time you spend away from your computer. Running the app will provide you with a productivity rating and a detailed log of how you spend an average day.

If you find out you’re wasting a huge portion of your time on social networking, you’re more likely to make conscious adjustments on how you manage your time.

Get rid of clutter
Another way to increase output is by deleting old files, uninstalling unused programs, and organizing documents into appropriately labeled folders. This makes your work easier to find and improves your computer’s performance.

As for the clutter in your email inbox, Gmail and Outlook both have features that filter out unimportant messages. Simply enable Priority Inbox on Gmail or Clutter on Outlook to get a clean, spam-free inbox.

Block time-wasting sites
Visiting non-work-related websites is a surefire way to hinder productivity. A quick, five-minute break to check your Facebook feed or watch a YouTube clip may not seem like much, but a few of those per day add up to a lot of time.

If you and your employees have trouble staying away from sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, it’s a good idea to block access to them using URL filters.

Of course, if you want your employees to take occasional breaks during the day, you could use apps like StayFocusd or Strict Workflow. These allow you to set a limit on how long and how many times users can visit non-work-related sites.

Stay on track with to-do lists
To-do lists help you break down large projects into manageable, bite-sized tasks. And perhaps the most satisfying aspect is crossing things off the list, giving you and your employees a sense of accomplishment and total visibility of your progress.

There are wide variety of digital to-do lists available today like Google Tasks or Trello. These platforms allow you to set deadlines for small tasks and write clear instructions for each item on the list. What’s more, they’re incredibly easy to use and are great for keeping track of your workflow.

Use keyboard shortcuts
Last but not least, mastering keyboard shortcuts will make it easier to perform simple functions than if you’re stuck looking for them in the toolbar. There are more than a hundred useful shortcuts, but some that you should always keep in mind are:

    • Ctrl + C, Ctrl + V, Ctrl + X – to copy, paste, and cut selected items
    • Ctrl + Z – to undo changes
    • Ctrl + T – to open a new tab on your web browser
    • Alt + Tab – to switch between open windows
    • Alt + F4 – to close the program

For many more like these, take a look at Windows’ list of advanced shortcuts.

These are just some of the tips every user should know to stay productive. If you need more ideas on how to get more out of your technology, call us today. We provide enterprise-level tools and advice that will make your life a lot easier.

Published with permission from Technology Times. Source.Source.

Useful new features in Google Sites

October 16th, 2017

When it was launched in 2008, Google Sites introduced a new way for G Suite users to build internal websites and “wikis” from scratch, and even users with zero coding knowledge could build one. Since then, Google has made a few slick enhancements to its simple website creation tool. Here are some of the more remarkable improvements.

Simplified interface

Previous editions of Google Sites had plenty of complex and unnecessary features, which overwhelmed some users. In the latest version, the interface is much easier to use, thanks to a single-column layout and no sidebar in the work area. It also has simplified navigation menu options (top or side menu) and page headers (plain banner, large banner, title-only) that display nicely on desktop and mobile devices.

Easier content embedding

The latest version makes it much easier to add links. When embedding external content, users have the option to show or hide the link’s featured image, link title, and description. In case a link doesn’t embed successfully, Sites will at least show the content’s URL.

You can also conveniently add content from your Google Drive, whether it’s Docs, Videos, Forms, Slides, or Sheets. Visitors can preview this content while hovering their cursor over the link. And like the previous Google Sites, this feature is integrated with Google apps, Calendar, Maps, and YouTube.

Simultaneous site creation

If you’ve ever used Google Docs or Sheets, you know the convenience it offers when working on a single file. In the new version of Sites, multiple users can work on a single website project without having to deal with the complicated permission settings in the old version. This feature allows for easier collaboration and faster website completion times.

More customizable sections

It’s not a matter of if, but when you’re going to want to make changes to your website. For example, you might want to switch the position of certain images. Using Google Sites, you’ll be able to do this effortlessly.

There are easy-to-follow grid lines that guide users in moving their site’s content sections up or down. It’s also easier to resize content frames so that a page’s elements (e.g., an image, a Sheets file) can be easily adjusted depending on your preferences.

You can also make some changes on content images’ backgrounds either by adding an image or changing the background color to white, gray or black. What’s more, if you choose to implement the helpful auto-enhance feature, it will make quick adjustments to your backgrounds.

The new Google Sites also introduces a significant improvement in its publish settings. Users now have to choose only either public or private. Previously, the app made users run through several options for setting access permissions on a page-level; now, an admin has to choose only between sharing the website publicly and sharing it internally.

Needless to say, if you’re using G Suite, Google Sites should be in the list of tools. But regardless of which apps your company uses, there are plenty of little-known features out there that could help you work more efficiently and productively. Our technology consultants can help — call us today.

Published with permission from Technology Times. Source.Source.