Security, Security, Security
- Saturday, 29 March 2014 08:13
~~When was the last time that someone said “I hope my network gets attacked by a hacker today”? Unless you have a honeypot, no one is looking forward for that to happen. Unfortunately, there are many people and businesses who not only are not equipped to prevent an intrusion in their systems, but worse yet, they also have no way to detect if their network’s been breached or if their systems have been hacked until it is too late. Taking initiative in your pc and network security is an underrated method to prevent not only loss and compromise of your data, but also saves you the time and headache to try to get yourself back to where you were before. At TRA consulting, our philosophy is to get your network and systems secured so that you don’t have to experience this situation. If you’ve unfortunately have been a victim of hacking, we can help you get peace of mind by securing your network, computers, and data. TRA Consulting has been servicing the Long Beach area, Southbay, Orange County, and the Greater Los Angeles area for years, and we won’t rest until you can fall asleep at night knowing that your data is safe and secure
Cyber-threats come in different shapes and sizes. For example, the stealing of sensitive data from Target servers, in which millions of customer’s credit card information was compromised, was the biggest cyber hacking event in recent memory. The reason why this hit home for a lot of people was because, well, everyone shops at Target. Hearing that hackers made out with millions of people’s sensitive credit card information from the place you did your X-mas shopping, makes you feel vulnerable as when you first found out that that a Russian hacker got your PayPal password and they used it to send themselves $400 worth of clothing. Yes, that happened to me. Thankfully Paypal refunded me the money this hacker took from my account within a few days. However, dealing with credit card companies and banks regarding money stolen from your credit card and bank account is a much bigger headache. In an age where online banking is ubiquitous, taking care of your sensitive financial information is of the utmost importance. The target breach taught us that there is some things that are out of our control, but at the same time showed us that sometimes its human lack of foresight that puts data in jeopardy. Taking initiative in securing your personal computer can reap many benefits in the long run.
Hindsight may be 20/20, but foresight, especially regarding your computer security, can be a big money saver. Contact us today, and let us take care of your home/office security. Our years of experience and competitive prices makes us one of the best IT consulting companies based in the Long Beach area. We also serve the Orange County, Southbay, and Greater Los Angeles Area. Our years of computer experience can help you fix almost an problem you have at a reasonable price. Contact us today.
Time For An Upgrade
- Wednesday, 26 March 2014 18:47
~~As April 8th draws near, there are still many people and companies still using Window XP on their PC’s. If for some reason, you are not aware, Microsoft is going to pull the plug on Windows XP support, meaning that starting on April 9th there won’t be any new windows updates for it.
There are two main reasons why you need to upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8 by April 8th.
Hackers have been aware of this date since Microsoft announced it. They know how popular XP is still around the country and around the globe, especially in developing countries like China, India, and Taiwan. After April 8th, hackers may use vulnerabilities that they have found in Windows XP, but have not yet been disclosed, to attack the computers that have not upgraded.
Another reason for concern is that there will be new vulnerabilities found in windows XP that Microsoft won’t be patching. Even patches that Microsoft releases for Windows 7 and 8/8.1 can make Windows XP more vulnerable. Hackers can use those patches to figure out what vulnerability they are addressing, and then use that knowledge to try to exploit a similar vulnerability in windows XP, if it exists. This means that the longer you have the 12 year old OS in your computer, the more vulnerable you become and the more likely you are to become a victim of one of the many forms of cybercrime.
If you don’t want to be vulnerable to such attacks, please contact us right away. TRA consulting is an IT Consulting company that supports Long Beach, OC, and the Greater LA Area. We can help you upgrade your PC’s to a new operation system at a very reasonable price.
Recently there was an article that stated Microsoft has been helping the government shift away from Windows XP to Windows 7, and that only 10% of their computers are still running XP. They hope to get the last remaining computers upgrades in the next few months. However, banks are having a more difficult time moving their computers towards windows 7, especially their ATM’s. Just earlier this month, there was a figure on a CNN money article that up to 95% of bank ATM’s are still running windows XP and it doesn’t look like they will be able to make the April deadline. However, banks like JP Morgan have bought a one year extension of service and plan to move all of their ATM’s to Windows 7 as early as July.
What about the average person, or Small Office? Well, TRA Consulting is here for you. We are an IT Consulting and Computer repair company in Long Beach, and we also service the Greater LA Area, Orange County and the Southbay. Not only can we help you migrate away from Windows XP, but also help you with the overall security of your system and network. Like the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And at TRA Consulting, we specialize in getting you that ounce of prevention at the best price possible.
- Thursday, 27 February 2014 07:20
~~There have been a number of news stories in recent months that highlight a pattern of computer and internet security issues that has slowly emerged as more and more companies rely on internet connections and networks to complete transactions and store customer data. Most of these problems were reported as a single flaw in one layer of security, but the more investigators probed the security breaches and their causes, the more they found that the problems existed in several layers of the security systems that were in place. Though there have been several stories of data being leaked, today we will focus on Target’s breach in network security.
By now, most people have heard of, or been a victim of, the Target point-of-sale breach which happened last November and December over the course of a month and a half in 2013. This breach harvested credit card information from Target’s point-of-sale card swipe machines at their brick and mortar stores and sent that information to hackers. Hackers did this by infecting their POS systems with malware. Though Target had anti-malware data leak prevention software installed on their systems, for some reason, the program did not catch the malware, thereby allowing it to infect Targets credit card machines. But there were more layers of security that were compromised that made it easier for the hackers to get into Target’s system. Investigators believe that the breach was first made through a third-party contractor – possibly maintenance staff – who had remote access to Target’s computer systems. These contractors probably had their own security issues that Target did not check into properly, and thus this third party contractor was more vulnerable to hacking, thus making Target more susceptible. There was no two-factor authentication system in place to make sure it was the third party company logging in and not imposters. Another layer of security that was compromised was the lack of proper segregation in Target’s networks. The third-party contractor, that investigators believe was the point of entry into Target’s systems by hackers, had access to heating and cooling systems, but that also gave the hackers access to the systems handling credit card payments. To make matters worse, Target was warned of these flaws in its security, and the warnings did not get to the right personnel who could have corrected the matter. The failure of communication resulted in a failure of another layer of their security.
It’s easy to see in hind-sight how the different layers of security failed to work together to prevent the infamous breach of Target’s credit card systems. Proper lines of communication and chain of command within the IT branch of Target in addition to proper vetting and over-sight given to third-party contractors, separating the less sensitive networks from the more sensitive credit card point-of-sale networks, and keeping malware up to date and working seamlessly with the other layers of security would have helped to prevent hackers from obtaining sensitive credit card information. TRA Consulting, Inc., in Long Beach can help your business avoid problems like Target’s by working with you to find security solutions for all your computer networks and systems. We can consult with you to help your business expand its layers of security and to make sure they are all working together seamlessly.
Microsoft’s New Office Online
- Tuesday, 25 February 2014 04:53
~~Microsoft recently rebranded and re-launched its online version of Microsoft Office, Office Online. Since 2010, the online version of Office was called Microsoft Office Web Apps, but this name created quite a lot of confusion for users who wondered whether this was a downloadable program or an app from an app store. Actually, it is neither one of those things. Instead, Office Online, as Office Web Apps is now called uses cloud computing and cloud storage to power the online version of its Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. The online versions of these programs do have fewer features and options when compared with the complete Microsoft Office software package that you install onto your computer. But these lighter versions offered by Office Online offer some capabilities and perks not available through the full Microsoft Office program.
While many businesses may find it the most worthwhile to stick with the full and complete version of Microsoft Office for their workers’ computer stations, many small and medium-sized businesses, like the ones served by TRA Consulting, Inc. in Long Beach, might benefit from offering Office Online to their employees instead of the full Office version. One reason is that workers can access their documents from any computer anywhere, making documents easier to complete and access, especially when a deadline is looming. Another reason businesses might find this computing solution attractive for their offices is the cost. Microsoft has been touting a subscription-based method of payment in the last couple of years, citing that this mode is much cheaper than buying the full, downloadable versions of Microsoft Office. By paying for the online subscription, businesses can reduce software costs and save workers time and productivity by making documents and spread sheets available online and accessible twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Another attractive feature of the newly updated Office Online is real-time co-editing. Microsoft added this feature last November. This would allow workers to collaborate on documents from any computer in any location. In addition to real time co-editing, they also added other enhancements, including the ability to switch more easily between different apps such as from Word to Excel and back, and they also added a library of ready-to-use templates. These apps are linked to SharePoint which is Microsoft’s collaboration platform where there is a central hub for accessing, storing and sharing documents created in Office Online.
Microsoft has been trying to up its game in the cloud computing arena to compete with Google’s suite of online products for individuals as well as its subscription service for business users. Part of the reason for the rebranding was to alleviate confusion and to make Office Online easier to find and access.
Whether you want to buy the traditional desktop-installed version of Microsoft Office, subscribe to Office Online, or use another program entirely, let TRA Consulting, Inc. help you find a cost-effective and convenient word processing and document-creation software or cloud-supported solution for your small or medium-sized business.
California’s Drought and How Computers and the Internet are Helping Us Find Solutions
- Saturday, 22 February 2014 20:40
~~We here at TRA Consulting, Inc. in Long Beach have been hearing, reading, and seeing quite a number of news stories about California’s latest water crisis. Experts say this has been the worst drought in more than 100 years and that it looks like it will be continuing for the foreseeable future. But there are a number of resources available these days that we did not have the last time drought reared its ugly head. Chief among them is our ability to use new technologies to help us solve the problems associated with this drought. The last time there was a major drought in the late 1980s and early 1990s, we did not have the some of the tools that we can use now.
There are a number of agencies and businesses working on this problem. One company called Leak Defense is developing a device for detecting water leaks in the home that will be similar to a smoke detector. The device can be installed by home owners and will use the home’s Wi-Fi system to alert home owners to potential water leak issues such as a running toilet. The device will be easy to install and require no special knowledge of plumbing. It will attach to the outside of an intake pipe and detect the flow of water. It is sensitive enough to pick up a dripping kitchen faucet, yet calibrated to ignore legitimate water usage like someone taking a shower. Every little bit of water saved from leaky faucets and toilets from homes and businesses across the state really adds up.
Another new development is the increasing use of smart water meters in homes, apartment buildings and businesses. These smart water meters can collect quite a lot about specific water usages and times and that information can more easily be reported to researchers who can develop more new technologies to help us conserve water in more effectively. Moreover, that information can be brought to the market where start-up companies can develop new products, like the water leak detector mentioned above, and bring those products to market.
Some public utility agencies are using text messaging to spread the word about water conservation to its customers. One Oakland-based agency tried out a pilot program that issued water usage report cards to some of its customers. Through the use of the information they were able to gather using smart water meters and a program developed by the company WaterSmart Software, they were able to show users how and where in their homes water could be conserved and urged them to take action. Reports show that many did take action to conserve more water after being encouraged to do so. The pilot program reported a five percent reduction in water consumption with promising results that it might grow if the program were expanded to more utility users for a longer period of time.
The new technologies of software as a service (SaaS), behavioral economics, and big data that have been developed since the last time we had a drought could help us to go a long way towards solving our water shortage issues.