Info Advantage Blog

Info Advantage was formed in 1992 for the purpose of specializing in Information Technology consulting, which encompasses business solution development, software development, and platform support from IBM’s midrange to a growing number of Intel based solutions.

Email Security: Is Your Email Safe?


Email is (and has been) a prime method of communication for businesses of all sizes. With email comes a whole slew of issues that are essentially synonymous with the technology; spam, information overload, phishing, and information privacy. Even Rochester small businesses that only do business locally are at risk of these issues. Personal email accounts are equally at risk. Employing proper precautions and practices whenever communicating via email is very important to prevent the risk of security compromises, monetary loss, and even legality issues.

Spam Inundation

If you've been using email for a while either professionally or personally you have almost certainly gotten email from people you don't know. Most of these emails are blatantly unwanted while others can look 'almost' legit, as if a real person is trying to contact you. Often (and unfortunately) spammers can get your email address when you put it online or use it to register for accounts on sites on the internet. The good news is standard spam protection is getting better these days, and more advanced spam protection is cost effective for businesses that need the extra layer of protection. Spam can cause a lot of harm for a business network if it isn't kept under control - spam can bog down email servers and eat up network bandwidth and plus it drastically slows down employee productivity because they need to sift through it all just to find their real email. If you and your staff are getting more than a few spam emails a day, contact us at (585) 254-8710 and ask about our anti-spam solutions.

Don't Open Attachments from Unsolicited Emails

This has been a golden rule for general email usage for a very long time. If you received an email from a stranger and there is an attachment, don't touch it. If you receive an email from a contact and there is an attachment, but anything is suspicious, don't touch it. This goes the same for links - if the email was unexpected and just seems fishy, it is possible your contact's email may have been compromised. Use your judgment on this, but remember it isn't your contact trying to trick you, they are merely the victim of a similar hoax from one of their contacts. If you have any doubt, simply reply or pick up the phone and ask them about it before continuing.

Keep your Computer Safe

Be sure to keep antivirus definitions up to date, and run scans regularly. Running adware and spyware removal software at regular intervals is important too. Be sure your Windows Updates are up to date as well. For businesses, you'll want to invest in network protection to keep external threats from leaking in. Even for small Rochester businesses, security and threat management is important to keep operations running smoothly and to prevent expensive downtime and data theft.

Don't Rely on Email for Storage

Everyone has done this at least once; you are working on a report or document on one computer and you email it to yourself in order to pull it up on another computer. That's fine as long as you mind your inbox capacity, but you shouldn't rely on email for storing files, not even as a reliable backup. Imagine having to painstakingly pick through all of your email to restore your most important files. It doesn't sound like a good idea now, does it? On top of that, email isn't any less prone to data corruption or loss than any typical storage solution, and unless the server hosting your email is backed up with a reliable solution, it could be here today and gone the next.

Encrypt Sensitive Data

If you send sensitive data to other recipients, you will want to consider email encryption. Some industries require this. Email encryption simply scrambles the message while it is being sent, and depending on what type of encryption, will descramble itself or allow your recipient to log in to a secure location to view the data. Although email encryption services vary, most of them are very cost effected especially when put beside the risks of sensitive data getting leaked and stolen. Give us a call at (585) 254-8710 to learn more about email encryption and what solution is right for your business needs.

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5 Different Ways to Store and Save Files


Storing physical files has been an important part of the office infrastructure for a very long time, and for good reason: every organization has some information they have to store. Traditionally, files were stuffed into folders and catalogued in a file cabinet for “easy” access. This is how many offices still look like, but when it was time to move files, it took a lot of work. Now, since many files are stored electronically, there are many shortcuts that you can take to improve the way you move your files.

Click and Drag
If you have your files placed in one location, like on your desktop, you can click and drag your mouse to create an boxed area of effect. Any files within this box can be moved through a simple click and drag function. Select the files you want to move, then drag any one of them to the location to move all that are selected.

Select the Checkboxes
In Windows 10, you have little checkboxes that you can click to select the individual file. If you have several files that you need to move you can click the checkboxes for all of them, then move just one to move them all. This can save you considerable time and effort.

The Click-Shift
You can select files that are horizontal and adjacent to each other by using the Click-Shift method. Basically, you select the file that you want to move, and then hold down the Shift key while selecting the last one you want to move. Anything in between will be selected. All you have to do is click and drag the files to their new location.

Hold Ctrl
When you hold down the Ctrl key, you can click on files that you want to move. Once they’re selected, all you have to do is move them to the appropriate folder.

Select All Files
If you decide that your desktop is much too cluttered, and you need to move everything on it to a new location, the same Select All keyboard shortcut that works in most word processors can be used to select all of your files at once. Just hit Ctrl+A to select all files in your current window, or desktop. Just click and drag them, and you’re all set.

Just remember that some of these keyboard shortcuts also work with Mac OS X. All you have to do is substitute the Ctrl key for the Command key, and they should work in generally the same way.

Fun Fact: You know how Windows is bundled with Solitaire? No, we aren’t assuming that you are playing it at work. Microsoft decided to bundle their OS with Solitaire as a way to get users more accustomed to dragging and double clicking objects with their mouse.

For more great tips and tricks, subscribe to Info Advantage’s blog.

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4 Most Common Ways Businesses Lose Data

4 Most Common Ways Businesses Lose Data

Disasters are an unfortunate part of doing business in a technology-heavy workplace environment. You need to expect the worst, but it’s often difficult to predict what types of disasters your organization will have to endure. There are a few universal disasters that you’ll encounter, regardless of where in the world your business operates.

Here are four of the most common ways that your business could lose data, and how disaster recovery thwarts them at every turn.

Natural Disasters
All you have to do is watch the local weather channel to get a glimpse of just how unpredictable and apocalyptic natural disasters can be. One minute the sun could be shining, and the next your business could be assaulted by roaring torrents and flash flood warnings. Or, the earth would quake under your feet and you’d never know until it’s too late to do something about it. An even more common occurrence would be an electrical storm or a power outage, which could threaten to bring down your technology or fry its circuitry. The point is that it’s next to impossible to predict what effect a natural disaster could have on your business, but the fact remains that it’s most certainly nothing good.

Hardware Failures
Another common problem for businesses that rely on technology is the hardware failure. If you have resource-intensive servers that are responsible for the brunt of your network operations, you might already be intimately familiar with the devastating effects of a hardware failure. No technology can last forever, so when an untimely hardware failure claims the lives of your server units or workstations, you’ll need to be prepared.

User Error
In much the same way as hardware failure, user error needs to be expected and planned for. You can’t realistically expect your users to never make mistakes. It’s part of human nature. People might accidentally misplace files or hand over credentials to threatening entities. Regardless of how they do so, user error is one of the primary reasons for data losses and data breaches, so it’s crucial that you prepare for this by educating your team on best practices, and implementing data backup.

Hacking Attacks
You might not expect to become the victim of a hacking attack, but no matter how large your business is, you need to consider yourself a target. As long as you deal with sensitive credentials like credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, and other financial or personally identifiable information, you have something of value to hackers. When a hacker attacks, they can either steal or delete your data, so it’s best to have a backup stored in the event of something like this.

Regardless of how your data is lost, you’ll need a way to recover it. The best way for a SMB is to reach out to Info Advantage. We can equip your business with the dynamic BDR solution you need to keep your organization afloat, even when you think that your business will sink. Our BDR solution features only the best and brightest features for your data infrastructure, including fast and efficient recovery times, multiple backups taken per day, and off-site, cloud-based storage.

With BDR, you’ll know that your data is safely stored, just in case you need it. To learn more, reach out to us at (585) 254-8710.

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Simple Security Tips for the Non-Technical

These days the media is constantly reporting on new vulnerabilities and cyber attacks that devastate business. With the influx of cyber criminals with access to debilitating software, business owners are forced to take evasive security actions in order to protect their sensitive data. While a complete and comprehensive security system is ideal, it can often take time to create a fully secured system for your business. Luckily, there are a few non-technical steps any user can take to make sure their information can’t get into the wrong hands.

Cover Up the Webcam

Despite how it sounds, it might not be too crazy to think that someone can spy on you through your computer’s webcam. In fact, there have been actual reports of this happening on several different occasions. Hackers are able to take control of a user’s webcam, often as a way to gain access to personal information, check for signs of a location, and even spy on personal interactions.

Luckily, all it takes to stop a hacker is to cover up the webcam when it is not in use. It can be as easy as covering it up with a piece of thick tape, though you can find cheap and effective webcam covers at technology or hardware stores.

Use a Privacy Shield

There are many professionals who work on-the-go, meaning they’ll have to find a way to take their work with them anywhere. However, using mobile devices while out in public leaves you vulnerable to prying eyes.

If you have to work on sensitive data in public, it may be beneficial to invest in a privacy shield. These are similar to a screen protector, but with an added security feature. Privacy shields will limit the angle of viewable screen, making it so only the user can see the information. Privacy filters are recommended on work devices, but can also be used on personal devices to shield sensitive data.

Switch to a Physical Authentication

These days, many companies are advocating for a two-step authentication when logging into an account. However, there are still ways that hackers can get around these heightened security measures. For example, many two-step authentications use mobile phones to text specialized codes that will unlock an account. If a hacker had access to a user’s mobile phone, either physically or by hijacking it, they can easily get through to the user’s account.

To combat this, users can get an authentication key, such as a USB or Bluetooth. These are physical keys that allow only the user to access the accounts.

For more information on how to secure your information contact Info Advantage at (585) 254-8710 today.

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Newly Found Cisco Vulnerability Dubbed "Critical" Flaw


Last week, Cisco released a high-importance alert for their customers who use its Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) software urging them to patch a critical-level bug that could be easily exploited. This vulnerability affects the VPN feature of the software, and exploiting it could allow a hacker to force a reload of the system, or even remotely take control.

“An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by sending a crafted XML packet to a vulnerable interface on an affected system,” Cisco explains in their warning. “An exploit could allow the attacker to execute arbitrary code and obtain full control of the system, cause a reload of the affected device or stop processing of incoming VPN authentication requests.”

If left unpatched, any devices configured with Cisco’s WebVPN software, including security applications and firewalls, could be easily bypassed by a malicious party. Due to the severity of the vulnerability Cisco has given the issue a Common Vulnerability Scoring System a Critical rating of 10 out of 10.

The following are the vulnerable products identified by Cisco:

  • 3000 Series Industrial Security Appliance (ISA)
  • ASA 5500 Series Adaptive Security Appliances
  • ASA 5500-X Series Next-Generation Firewalls
  • ASA Services Module for Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series Switches and Cisco 7600 Series Routers
  • ASA 1000V Cloud Firewall
  • Adaptive Security Virtual Appliance (ASAv)
  • Firepower 2100 Series Security Appliance
  • Firepower 4110 Security Appliance
  • Firepower 4120 Security Appliance
  • Firepower 4140 Security Appliance
  • Firepower 4150 Security Appliance
  • Firepower 9300 ASA Security Module
  • Firepower Threat Defense Software (FTD)
  • FTD Virtual

Cisco notes that only those ASA devices that have the WebVPN feature enabled are vulnerable, but encourage all their users to patch their systems as soon as possible. As of now, Cisco says they are not aware of any attacks that have taken advantage of this vulnerability.

Cedric Halbronn from the NCC group explained how he was able to exploit the flaw at last weekend’s Recon Brussels conference. He detailed their use of a fuzzer, a software testing technique that injects random, invalid data into a program to see how it withstands it. The fuzzer allowed Halbronn and his team to discover and exploit the bug.

An initial patch was released at the same time as Cisco’s initial announcement of the vulnerability. A second, more complete version was released on February 5th.

“After further investigation, Cisco has identified additional attack vectors and features that are affected by this vulnerability. In addition, it was also found that the original fix was incomplete so new fixed code versions are now available.”

To make sure all of your Cisco software are up-to-date, contact the Cisco Technical Assistance Center or call Info Advantage at (585) 254-8710 to talk to a specialist.

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