Stability Networks Blog

Mobile Device Management

John Pascoe - Tuesday, March 11, 2014

BYOD Security Risks

In the last several years, there has been an explosion in the number of workers who use their own personal mobile devices to perform work functions, commonly referred to as bring your own device (BYOD). Companies should embrace BYOD as an inevitable change and as this trend continues to grow, businesses of all sizes need to diligently address the unique risks of this practice.

Physical theft. Lost or stolen devices are the biggest risk to organizations that allow employees to personally connect their own devices to the corporate network. Large organizations lose dozens of mobile devices per year. Those devices may contain regulated information, such as electronic health records or customer information.

Mobile device management and data protection. Security is the top priority for firms when considering external devices to be used for company business. If mobile device management is not handled properly, this can lead to stresses such as restricting the apps employees can use on their own phones, which could lead to discontent.

Lack of monitoring. Companies should have as much control over devices as possible. Lack of control can lead to increased data breaches, privacy violations and exposure to viruses, malware and data theft.

Support challenges. IT help desks are often not equipped to support end-user issues with smartphones and tablets. Individuals will have to take more responsibility for troubleshooting personal devices, as it won't be feasible for the help desk to provide the same level of backup that they do for corporate devices.

To address these issues, contact Stability Networks and we can implement personal device security procedures that will keep your network safe from infection and protect data from being lost or stolen

Microsoft Windows XP Support Ends April 8 2014

John Pascoe - Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Microsoft Windows XP officially “retires” on April 8th, 2014

Windows XP has had a great run and certainly was a welcome upgrade from Windows 2000 / Windows ME.  The XP operating system has served the world for over 12 years after being released in October of 2001.  As of September 2013 approximately 30% of personal computers worldwide were running XP.  Despite the years of productivity, the business environment has changed and Microsoft is officially ending support for Windows XP operating system on April 8, 2014.  Support for Office 2003 also ends on this date.

What does end of support mean to business?

Security Risks:  Security patches will not be available after the End of Life (EOL) date.   Security updates fix vulnerabilities within the software protecting against malware and help keep users and their data safe.  Using Windows XP past the support date will create a high level of risk.

Lost Support:  Microsoft will no longer provide technical support.  Most software vendors and hardware vendors will also not support their products that run on XP. 

Increased Costs:   There will be a higher total cost of ownership maintaining these older systems

Compliance Issues:  Compliance requirements and associated challenges will jeopardize businesses governed by regulatory obligations like HIPAA.  

Decreased Productivity:  Modern operating systems like Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 provide enhanced speed and work on a broad spectrum of mobile devices.   The opportunity cost is high for businesses holding on to older XP systems.

The date is approaching quickly … what are the options?

Some machines, depending upon the hardware, will certainly run Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 but often requires extra labor to upgrade.  Most computers running Windows XP have reached their lifecycle and should be replaced with a new system running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.  We recommend replacing desktops and laptops within a 4 or 5 year timeframe.

Companies running on legacy software requiring a business machine with XP do have an option for continued operations.  Our Microsoft team can take a snapshot of the system and “virtually” run it on another machine running a modern operating system.  This is a temporary bridge until a longer term vendor solution is implemented.

Planning and preparation is a key success factor for the transition.   Contact us today for a free consultation and business review (1.877.344.0050).

Cloud Solutions for Your Business

John Pascoe - Monday, January 21, 2013

 

Lately, there has been a lot of buzz about cloud computing, but do you know what IT companies mean by those terms? Do you know how cloud computing can benefit your business?

                                                             

Cloud computing refers to the availability that end users have to access applications and data files, from a device anytime and anywhere they need. What’s cloud computing all about? Some characteristics include:

  • Web-based. Services can be accessed using a browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, etc..)
  • Colocation. Equipment is moved to a secure facility to provide safer, more reliable environments for critical server infrastructure
  • Reliability. Virtualization technologies from VMware and Microsoft reduce exposure to downtime from key hardware failures.
  • Scalable. If needed, new users, locations or more capacity can be easily added.

This revolutionary IT solution offers numerous benefits to organizations. However, one of the major advantages that cloud services has is that it allows business owners to concentrate on their company instead of being concerned about IT matters. The infrastructure, maintenance, repair and support are all responsibilities of cloud providers.

At Stability Networks, we want to take care of your IT systems so you can focus on your business and its bottom line. Don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more about cloud computing solutions.

 

Computers for Kids - Refurbish and Recycle Computers

John Pascoe - Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Where can I recycle old computer equipment and electronics?

The Challenge:

The modern society is creating mountains of old and aging electronic equipment.  This equipment, after being shut down for the last time, inevitably piles up in our garages, basements, offices, utility rooms and ultimately resides in the landfill.  Consider this:

    • According to the EPA, only 15 to 20 percent of computers and related electronics are being recycled in the United States
    • 75% of the energy used by a computer is consumed during the manufacturing process
    • Electronics contain lead, barium, cadmium and mercury that classify the devices as a disposal hazard
    • Worldwide electronic waste is estimated at 50 million tons per year

The Opportunity:

Computers for Kids, Inc. (CFK) is a non-profit organization serving the Treasure Valley communities (Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell, Eagle, Kuna, Middleton, Star, etc.) with a great solution to the growing electronic waste (E- Waste).    CFK takes donations of computers, refurbishes, licenses them and then donates fully-equipped computer systems to students in grades K-12 (also extends through the second year of college).  CFK targets students by partnering with public schools with a very high percentage of students eligible for the federally subsidized free lunch program. By serving every member of the school community, they reach “low income” and "at-risk" youth together with their peers. CFK’s mission is to offer students K – 12th grade the opportunity to enhance their education through the use of technology at home.

Not all equipment can be refurbished, so CFK will recycle and then properly dispose of the remaining hazardous materials.

Get Started:

Drop off your old electronic equipment and benefit your local community. The actions you take will make a difference and will also be a tax deductible donation.

Location:  8450 W Elisa  Boise, Idaho  83709

Hours: 9am - 4pm Monday through Friday
E-Mail: cfk@cfkidaho.com
Phone: 208-345-0346

Accepted Items:

    • Computers
    • Monitors (CRT's and LCD's)
    • Printers
    • Scanners
    • Servers
    • Laptops
    • Cords

AVG Anti-Virus and Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Pro Explained

Lee Lovell - Friday, September 09, 2011

When you set up a computer for the first time, a lot of techno-jargon gets thrown around.  Like a short couple in a Big & Tall store, anti-virus and anti-malware always seem to stand out but are often little understood. People wonder which one they need or if they need both or none at all. Sorting this out on your own can be very confusing.

The bottom line is that you should have both anti-malware and anti-virus software. Not doing so increases the chances that rogue software can affect both the health and security of your PC. To explain why it is necessary to have both, this article will focus two pieces of software recommended by Stability Networks: AVG Anti-Virus and Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware Pro.

It is important to have an understanding about what malware and computer viruses actually are. The term “malware” refers to any software intended to disrupt the normal operation of your computer. This can include, among others, spyware, adware, Trojan horses, rootkits and computer viruses themselves. Meanwhile, a computer virus is specifically defined as a program that can copy itself and infect a computer.

With that understanding, one might easily wonder what the point is in having anti-virus software when you could just have an anti-malware program that does it all. The answer lies in an understanding of the how the two types of software work.

As a first line of defense for computer security, anti-virus software, such as AVG Anti-Virus, is designed to remove most, if not all, types of computer malware. To clarify, the term “computer virus” is often used (albeit erroneously) as a catch-all phrase for any type of malware out there. Because that use is substantially more common than the specific definition, programs that remove malicious software are referred to and marketed as “anti-virus” programs.

Publishers of legitimate anti-virus software are often large companies with a large team of researchers that focus on the most current and dangerous malware. Those researchers regularly update a database of definitions that the anti-virus software checks against when you scan your computer. If a file displays the characteristics of one that has been infected with malware, the software will alert you and assist you in removing the file. When you are not doing a scan, it constantly monitors your system for anything bad.

Anti-malware software like Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware Pro works a lot in the same way but differs in its focus. “The majority of the research that goes into [the software] is based on what the anti-virus vendors are failing on most frequently,” said Bruce Harrison, Vice President of research at Malwarebytes as found on their company website. Essentially, anti-malware is there to detect and remove what your regular anti-virus might miss.

Harrison also mentioned that their software is not an anti-virus. It is important, as noted by Samuel Lindsey, Product Manager for Malwarebytes, to not to have one without the other. “You should absolutely have anti-virus software along with a good firewall and, of course, a good anti-malware application like Malwarebytes’,” said Lindsey. The two types of programs are meant to work in harmony with each other.

In conclusion, while Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware Pro and AVG Anti-Virus are industry-leading software in their respective areas, one alone is not the end-all be-all of computer security. That is why at Stability Networks we recommend to have both installed to provide the multi-layered approach that today’s computing world needs. With both you can know that you are doing your part in making sure your data is safe and secure.

Network Security Solutions

Lee Lovell - Friday, September 09, 2011

85: the percent of email sent that is spam. 8600: the number of new malicious websites created each day. 1500: the price some organizations charge to send out 32 million spam emails. 1,300,000,000: the number of attempts to infect someone’s computer a year.

The numbers are staggering and the threat is real: cybercriminals are working hard to take control of your computer and compromise its security. The numbers are increasing but so are the solutions available to combat these problems.

Prevention and cure are the focus of these solutions. Things such as firewalls and anti-viruses are designed to constantly monitor a system or network malicious activity and stop it from causing any problem. These programs also provide a cure to remove the problem if it somehow makes it on to your system.

In this piece, we will look at four different security solutions, what they do and what they protect against. Whether it is a business looking to secure a critical network infrastructure or an individual looking to keep their workstation running well, following these guidelines will ensure that your computer can endure the constant attacks of cyber criminals around the world.

OpenDNS:

When you go to a website, a DNS server helps direct traffic to the correct place (more information on Wikipedia). Normally your internet server provider does this but OpenDNS replaces it, allowing you more control. As an organization dedicated to DNS services, they focus a lot on security. It can prevent users from accidentally accessing bad websites and downloading malicious files. It also prevents any software that might have made it on to the computer from communicating with the outside world and thus often preventing its spread.  OpenDNS also improves employee productivity.  OpenDNS can be configured to allow or disallow access to specific web sites (e.g. prevent access to social media sites like Facebook or MySpace).

Here is an example of a threat that OpenDNS protects against:

Botnets

  • A botnet is a type of malware that allows a command and control server to take control of a computer, effectively rendering it a “zombie” system. Once a computer is taken over by a botnet, it might be used unsuspectingly to attack other computers or distribute spam emails.

Anti-virus and anti-malware:

This security solution is one of the most important. Software like AVG Anti-Virus and Malwarebyte’s Anti-Malware Pro both provide real-time monitoring to help prevent malicious software from infecting a computer. Extensive virus definitions help these programs to remove any malicious software if it did get on the computer. To understand why these are so important, click this link.The following are types of threats that anti-virus and anti-malware software protects against:

Computer viruses

  • A computer virus is defined as piece of software that is designed to infect a computer and then spread to another computer. The virus will often overload system resources making a computer difficult to use.

Rogue security software

  • Rogue security software will pose as legitimate anti-virus software stating that the computer is infected and that only they can remove the problem. They are, if fact, the problem that needs removed because if it is installed, it will reduce the functionality of your computer and often display unsolicited advertisements. Click this link to learn more about rogue security software.

Firewall:

A firewall is the first line of defense in securing a network. Like a moat around a castle, a firewall keeps unauthorized connections from getting into an internal network. Placed before an internal network, a firewall uses a predefined set of rules to keep bad traffic out and allow legitimate traffic to pass through, keeping the network safe.

Here is an example of a threat that a firewall protects against:

IP spoofing

  • IP spoofing is the creation of internet packets with forged address for the intent of concealing the identity of the sender. When data packets are sent across the internet, it contains, among other things, the address of the source and the address of the destination. Hackers use IP spoofing to fool a network into believing that the malicious data they are sending is from a trusted source.

Email Security Software

Email security software helps protect your email inbox from spam and malware. Email security software is set up to work in line with a company’s email vendor to filter emails before they get to the users inbox. Email is a common way for malware to spread and email security software helps stop that.

Here is an example of a type of threat that email security software protects against:

Phishing scams

  • Phishing is described as a way to acquire personal information such as usernames, passwords and bank details by impersonating a trusted source. Used as a type of social engineering, phishing emails often look and feel of legitimate company communication but will ask a user to enter their credentials to prevent something bad from happening. Spelling errors are a common way to detect this of scam.

Fake Anti-Virus: The modern-day Trojan horse

Lee Lovell - Thursday, August 25, 2011

The term ‘social engineering’ is one that is little understood. Previous to my research from this article, I even thought that ‘social engineering’ was a good thing. The truth, it turned out, quite far from that.

Social engineering, in the security realm, is defined as the art of gaining access to buildings, systems or data by exploiting human psychology, rather than by breaking in or using technical hacking techniques, according to csoonline.com. It is by this form of fraud that many different types rogue software are able to get computer users to willingly install their software on their computers.

One common type of rogue software that uses social engineering to gain access to your computer is fake anti-virus program. Surprisingly, a 2010 study by Google found that 50% of all malware download through internet advertising came from these fake anti-virus programs. As you can see, this is no small issue but the problems it causes can be easily avoided. As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention in this case is definitely worth a pound of cure.

To understand just how these fake anti-virus programs work, a comparison to the mythic Trojan War is actually quite fitting. As the story goes, the Greeks were involved in a lengthy war against the city of Troy. As a peace offering, the Greeks constructed a giant wooden horse and gave it the Trojans. Unbeknownst to them were the 30 elite soldiers hidden inside. Once the horse was taken inside the men escaped and opened the city gate, allowing the Greeks inside the city wall to finally conquer the city of Troy. 



Fake anti-virus programs work in a similar fashion. Like in the image above, one will stumble upon a message saying that their computer is infected and that if you click the provided link, they will remove the problem. It would seem great to have that software come in to save the day but just like the soldiers hiding inside the horse, their only object is to deceive and destroy.

Once a user chooses to install the program, the software then hijacks the system. Having had control given them over the computer by the user, the software then will display unwanted ads pressuring the user into buying the software. Often they will also install viruses, key-loggers, spyware and other types of malicious software. These programs can be very difficult to remove.

Here at Stability Networks we see this problem often but many times it could have easily been avoided. By following the steps below, you can make sure that these rogue security programs do not comprise the stability and security of your computer.

  • Use a firewall

This helps prevent unauthorized connection from being made to your computer. The firewall should always be left on.

  • Make sure your system is up-to-date

This prevents malicious software from using software exploits to gain access to your computer. Always update your computer to ensure those vulnerabilities do not exist.

  • Use caution when clicking links

If any link looks suspicious, don’t click it! Even if the suspicious link is from a trusted source, contact them about link before you click it.

  • Use a standard user account rather than an administrator account

This will prevent malicious software from making changes to operating system-level files. When you have an administrator account, any file can make can make changes to system-critical files without your permission.

  • Familiarize yourself with common phishing schemes

This is help you know what to look out when these programs are trying to deceive you. Many easily identifiable characteristics will help you know if something is a fraud.

  • Use a popular anti-virus and anti-malware software solution

This will help remove malicious software it is does make it to your computer. Software like AVG Anti-Virus and Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware Pro both provide real-time monitoring of your system. Always keep them updated.

For a thorough examination of how rogue security software works, visit this link: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/08/22/anatomy_of_a_hack/

Online Social Media Marketing

John Pascoe - Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Online Social Media Marketing
Trish Pascoe
Boise, Idaho

In today’s highly competitive world it has become essential for business owners to be creative with their marketing techniques.   Advertising budgets that were once earmarked for yellow page advertisements have been reallocated towards online marketing.    A whole new industry of online media marketing optimization has emerged.  Companies like Social Media Marketing are promising and delivering results via online marketing campaigns.  These campaigns utilize the free social media outlets available to anyone with a computer. 

Technology has been the “wave of the future” for years.  Google searching has become a staple for the consumer.  Regardless of industry, any business that wants to maintain its existing customer base while gaining an additional customer base must at minimum have a website.  Once a business has secured a website, it is imperative that traffic is driven there.  The creation and management of social media sites are the mechanism utilized to drive that traffic. 

The best way to target the relevant audience is by writing a blog on the company’s website.  A blog is not only essential in driving traffic, but it can be used to educate the reader about the company’s industry.  It can be further used to show some of the business owner’s personality or describe charitable causes the business supports.  Twitter provides the business owner the opportunity to engage their target audience in conversation.  A question and answer forum can be initiated via twitter.  A benefit of twitter is that the business owner can gather a community of followers who will promote the business owners brand.  Twitter is a great source of marketing for upcoming events for which the business might be involved.   
Digg.com and Stumbleupon.com are not as mainstream as Twitter or Facebook, but they too can be a unique marketing tool.  They can both be used to share posts and generate further traffic for the website.  Digg allows the user to make recommendations referring to particular industries or to share certain articles with their followers.  Stumbleupon offers its users a way to receive notifications regarding specific information of relevance to their particular industry or customer base. 

As traffic increases other free advertising can occur on the business website itself.  Post videos of a topic which would interest your customers or have a well known customer post a guest blog which will be a benefit to both parties.   Reward your fans or users with a competition which can provide discounted services for their business.

It’s happening all around you.  Be a part of the free advertising that is available to you via the internet.  Use the tools of online marketing to drive traffic to your site and increase the public’s knowledge of your business.  Don’t let technology leave your business in the dust.

Flip Video

John Pascoe - Friday, December 18, 2009
The New Flip Video
Jill Nock
Boise, Idaho

Twenty-one years ago I bought a camcorder from Sears. I had to charge it to my Sears card because it cost about $350 which was half a month’s wages. It was bulky and somewhat awkward to use, but I sacrificed because I wanted to record my six-month old son and knew I had already missed several “firsts”.


Previous to the camcorder I had used a second-hand 8mm movie camera that was vintage 1965. My whole family had grown up being recorded by our father, but, oh, the things that were missed because there was no sound. Babies cooing, elderly grandparents, great aunts and great uncles telling stories; we’ll never get those back. This was another reason I splurged on that camcorder. The other advantage was that the camcorder recorded to VHS tape. Woohoo, new technology! No more mailing off the 8mm film and waiting for it to get back. Instant replay and sound were a boon.


Fast forward to 2009. I am now facing the prospect of grandparenthood. Long gone is that bulky camcorder. Come and gone, too, is a 1990s era mini-tape camcorder. The digital age is upon me and I have just come into possession of the MinoHD from Pure Digital. This is the coolest camcorder I’ve ever seen. One touch recording, true color viewing on the one-inch screen, plug and play functionality at about half what I paid for my first camcorder almost a quarter century ago. Woohoo! I love new technology!

I’ve been playing with the MinoHD for a couple of days and recorded several different clips. Transferring to my computer is easy through the built-in USB that flips out for use and folds away for storage or recording. A built-in Lithium-ion battery provides sixty minutes’ worth of recording at a time. Pure Digital provides FlipShare transferring software that is loaded onto your computer when you plug in the MinoHD for the first time. The software is easy to use and provides a snapshot capability so that you can take still photos from your camcorder. Don’t worry about finding the exact second you want, click on the “Take a Snapshot” button and the software displays several frames for you to choose from. Likewise, emailing to friends and family or uploading the video clip to Facebook or to You Tube is a snap.

 

MinoHD (120 Min)

MinoHD (60 Min)

UltraHD

Model  M2120M  F460B  U2120W

MSRP

$229.99

$199.99

$199.99

Stability Price

$215.20

$179.90

$179.99

Dimensions

3.94” x 1.97” x 0.66”

3.94” x 1.97” x 0.63”

4.25" x 2.19" x 1.17"

Weight

4.1 oz

3.3 oz

6.0 oz

Recording Time

120 minutes

60 minutes

120 minutes

Internal Memory

8GB

4GB

8GB

Colors

Silver

Silver/Black

Black/White

LCD Screen Size

2.0” Diagonal

1.5” Diagonal

2.0” Diagonal

Resolution (Video)

1280 x 720

1280 x 720

1280 x 720

Battery

Rechargeable Li-Ion

Rechargeable Li-Ion

Rechargeable AA battery pack (replacements only available through Flip Video Support)

Life

Up to 2 hrs between charges

Up to 2 hrs between charges

Up to 2.5 hrs between charges

Included in box

Wrist strap, soft protective case, Quickstart guide

Composite TV cable, wrist strap, soft protective case, Quickstart guide

Flip Video AA rechargeable battery pack, wrist strap, soft carrying case, Quickstart guide




Kyrgyzstan "NIZ Orphanage" Call for Help

John Pascoe - Friday, November 06, 2009

Kyrgyzstan Orphanage
Trish Pascoe
Boise, Idaho

It seems everyone has been affected in some way by the status of our economy.  We recently had a reminder of how lucky we really are here in Boise, Idaho.  A friend of ours, Rich Robinson, is stationed in the service in Kyrgyzstan.  He is volunteering with the Manas Off-Base Outreach Society while deployed [with the Army] in Kyrgyzstan. Their mission is to help local schools, orphanages, and elderly foundations in Kyrgyzstan.   As part of their mission they are helping a local orphanage, the NIZ Orphanage.  The NIZ Orphanage houses orphaned children who range in age from infants to teenagers.  They recently just took in another 50 children ranging in age from 6 – 10 years of age.  These kids literally arrived with the clothes on their back.  They have not clothes, no shoes, no toys, etc.   Rich sent an email home to family and friends requesting help and letting us know that these kids were in dire need of winter clothes. 

 

We asked Mrs. Myer’s sixth grade class at Trailwind Elementary if they would like to help some kids halfway across the world that were quite a bit less fortunate than them.  And, help they did!  Mrs. Myer’s class enlisted the help of their “first grade buddies” from Mrs. Sly’s class and not only donated boxes of winter clothes, but the students took it a step further and brought in toys that might add a little pleasure to another child’s day.  We are happy to report that the students at Trailwind donated eight VERY large boxes of clothes and toys ranging in all ages for these orphaned children.   Stability Networks picked up the boxes and shipped them to Kyrgyzstan.  We are honored to help the orphanage.  The generous donations will protect the children from the upcoming winter and hopefully add some cheer.  It was great to witness a group of students put so much thought and care into this project. 

 

 Thank you to Trailwind Elementary’s Mrs. Myer’s sixth grade class and Mrs. Sly’s first grade class for reminding us that the glass is half full and that we can all make a difference! We would like to introduce you to those kids…..



Mrs. Myer’s Sixth Grade Class:

Kristal, Gunnar, Sarah B., Jordan, Connor, Vivian, Sandy, Tyler, Logan, Kenji, Hailey, Sarah L, Hannah L,
Kyle, Nick, Ian, John, Hannah P, Jared, Threnody, Brea, Maddie, Cade, Carlos, Zach, Terek


Mrs. Sly’s First Grade Class:
 

 Bode, Samantha, Kapono, Keegan, Sofia, Rebecca, Madison, Noah, Israel, Emma, Henry, Heba, Leah
Bergan, Lisa, Aidan, Kiana, Greyson, Tori, Rachel, Christopher

 

 

 

 


find us online

Stay in touch with Stability Networks all over the web.

corporate contacts
  • Corporate Office
  • 208.344.0050
  • 2404 Bank Drive, Suite 100
  • Boise, Idaho 83705