Archive | Kansas City IT
There was (is) a huge outage on the Time Warner Internet Access Network this morning. Starting around 4:30am a maintenance upgrade has gone horribly wrong. Which is to say, if your on Time Warner Cable it’s likely you can’t read this (until your service is restored, anyway).
Here’s the constantly updating map of the Time Warner Network online status. Just like weather radar… Red is bad, green is good.
The cost of this? Well, Time Warner won’t lose all that much money. It’s not likely that they will give credits/refunds for a few hours of downtime. But, if your business is on Time Warner, it could cost a ton of bucks. Can’t process orders? Credit Card and Check payments? Access suppliers? Put that big “one day” promotion online? Can’t do that if your Internet is down.
Which brings us to the real purpose of this little screed about the incompetence that is Time Warner Cable’s latest faux pas… If your business relies on the Internet (and few do not anymore), you really need to have a plan in place for when bad things happen. It’s not always bringing in a competitive alternate Internet feed, either.
What you really need is a team of people that have “been there, done that” and work with them to make incidents out of your direct control nothing more than a minor hiccup… Instead of a money draining loss.
Give OPENRSM a call (or email), and let’s get your business back online and have your business prepared for when bad things happen.
Oh, don’t get us wrong.. We love being able to update systems at the click of a mouse! But, having systems updates just “happen” is rarely a good idea. And Microsoft has shown us all why in a big way.
This past “Patch Tuesday” update from Microsoft is causing Windows7, Windows8, and Server2013 systems to BSOD (blue screen of death). It’s widespread enough that Microsoft has withdrawn the update! For Microsoft, this is a huge deal. But, not quite as huge as all the people whose computers were “bricked” by an Automatic Update!
This is why you should NEVER have updates happen automatically. And why businesses should have a company like OPENRSM do the updates for them. Why? Because their tested before being accepted. Will that Java update break that required program your suppliers make you use? Does that security update declare that your anti-virus program is a virus? Will a general “patch fix” from Microsoft render your machine useless? Well, if your simply accepting automatic updates for Windows, OSX, Java, Adobe, etc., you could have a very bad day. Best to let people who test these things with the software you already use update your systems for you. Only, after they are tested!
It’s pretty well known that many websites make an effort to track you online. Even when your not on their site! But, just how much tracking is going on?
We decided to do a “quick and dirty” look at a few popular websites to see just how many different trackers are deployed. And, it’s not pretty. In fact, it’s pretty ugly.
- Drudgereport.com is by far the worst offender with at least 37 different cookies, trackers, advertising preference systems, etc. looking at you.
- The Kansas City Star’s website, KansasCity.com has 13 peeking at what your doing.
- KCTV5.com weighs in with 16.
- The popular humerous headline site Fark.com is a heavyweight with 19 different trackers.
- And last, but not least, on our list is the popular fact checking site Snopes.com. Which is using 28 different tools to see what your doing online.
Now, what happens when you block most (if not all) of these different little logical spy devices? When tested on a 1.5Mbs DSL connection (fast enough to get results, slow enough to calculate differentials) we got some significant results. Here’s what we did:
- Blocked all advertising trackers.
- Left open all trackers that serve a useful purpose (live support, security checking, etc.).
- Loaded a predetermined set of websites and a Firefox Macro Script that would load each page in succession. After one page fully loads, it loaded the next.
We cleared the system Cache between each test run (and we did 10 runs of the tests).
Well, go figure! You can surf much faster with all that “spying into what your doing stuff” turned off! Significantly faster (tests ranged from 10-14% faster). And, we wern’t leaking all kinds of personal data, surfing history, etc. out to other people we just think have no business tracking us.
Want to protect your personal and business information? Give us a call or email. We can not only block out the “bad actors” that are tracking you and your employees every online move, it’ll get you a little bit more out of your existing Internet connection speed too.
Another day, another sad story about a big company losing customers private information, and not telling anyone about it.
In April, AT&T confirms employees of an outside contractor hacked customers’ information including Social Security numbers. The contractors employees attempted to unlock phones to put them on another network. Did they sell the names/SSNs? Nobody (including AT&T) has answered that question, yet.
You can see AT&Ts full response as posted by the California Attorney Generals Office by following This Link.
Who’s watching out for your Company’s and Employee’s Mobile Data? Helping to create the policies, procedures, and infrastructure to protect your data?
Give OPENRSM a call… We can make it easy for you to secure your information.
Have you noticed that when you search for something on Ebay, Amazon, Google, that the advertising on pages seem to know what you’ve been looking for? For Example, look up “LED 3051 Strips” on Google and suddenly ads for lighting fixtures, Ebay auctions, LED suppliers and the like now appear on every page you look at. It’s call “contextural advertising”. Web sites are setting “cookies” in your browser that their advertising networks look at when you surf a page and then display advertising for the things you’ve looked for most recently.
Sometimes it’s okay. You can find things that your looking for via an ad. Sometimes it’s just creepy. Don’t believe me? Then google for “Hot Crossed Buns” and see what happens to the ads that are presented to you. Yeah, creepy. But, you can put a stop to sites that you don’t want tracking you (like Facebook) by using the Opt Out from Online Behavioral Advertising site. A self-regulation effort that is honored by Ebay, Facebook, etc. It’s not perfect. But, it really helps. Here’s how it works (from the page itself, which is located at http://www.aboutads.info/choices
- Find out which participating companies have currently enabled customized ads for your browser;
- See all the participating companies on this site and learn more about their advertising and privacy practices;
- Check whether you’ve already opted out from participating companies;
- Opt out of browser-enabled interest-based advertising by some or all participating companies, using opt-out cookies to store your preferences in your browser; or
- Use the “Choose All Companies” feature to opt out from all currently participating companies in one step. GO
Need even more powerful blocking? Call, email, or simply CLICK HERE and OPENRSM can take care of it for your business.
It seems to be Apple’s turn in the data wars between “fast buck” artists and real companies.
Apple iPhones/Pads are locking up all over Australia and the UK and being held for ransom by a scammer that has managed to gain control of the devices. Apple has yet to comment but incidents in the US can’t be far behind. The “Find My iPhone” service seems to be the only link between the users whose iPhones and iPads are being “held hostage” by the scammers.
From an article in The Telegraph: “Currently there is only speculation about how the attacks have been carried out. Apple has not yet responded officially,”… “With the possibility that this attack is linked to your ‘Apple ID’, affected users are advised to change your Apple ID password as soon as possible.”
And, so you should.
Last nite, an official PayPal blogpost contained nothing but a title… “eBay, Inc. to Ask All eBay users to Change Passwords.”. Which was quickly taken down only after being tweeted and posted to Facebook many times. Later, Ebay reported on it’s own official blog that their corporate network security had been breached… In late February and early March.
What to do? Log on to your EBay account and change your password! And do the same with your PayPal accounts (as PayPal is owned by EBay and data is shared between the two (i.e. sharing the same corporate network).
You can view the offical Ebay blogpost at: https://blog.ebay.com/ebay-inc-ask-ebay-users-change-passwords/
Strickler stated “On Wednesday night, law enforcement officials contacted Kickstarter and alerted us that hackers had sought and gained unauthorized access to some of our customers’ data.”
Now, think about this for a second. First, Kickstarter knew this past Wednesday that they had been hacked, and, only now are telling customers about it. That’s three days that the hackers had to use the data they stole. Second, Kickstarter had no idea they had been hacked. They were told by “law enforcement officials” that they had been hacked. I’ll bet their security people are having nightmares about theforthcoming pink slips about now.
But Wait! There’s More!
Again, from the email Kickstarter sent to customers, “As a precaution, we have reset your Facebook login credentials to secure your account. No further action is necessary on your part.“. Well, I do have to give it to Kickstarter for closing the hole (speculation here, but it looks like it’s in their FB Connect systems or related code). But, it might not be a bad idea to change your Facebook account password about now.
Good News! It Wasn’t A Total Loss!
Kickstarter also said that. “No credit card data of any kind was accessed by hackers. There is no evidence of unauthorized activity of any kind on your account.”. I am happy that Kickstarter didn’t lose my credit card data. But I think I’m changing my PIN anyway, and check the account a couple times a day for a while. And my Kickstarter account is more than likely going to be totally reset as well.
What’s The Lesson?
The simple lesson is that nobody is safe. Kickstarter is a good company, with a popular online product, and good people working for them. And if they can get hacked, so can you. What’s the Lesson? Keep your security updated. Make sure your anti-virus is backed up with an anti-malware system in addition to remote cloud backups. Don’t go surfing strange sites. And change your passwords on a regular basis.
Need help getting all that done? Click on our Contact link (above) and let us know.
In January new installs of Windows XP outpaced new installs of Windows 8! Which, on it’s face, seems odd. Windows XP is 14yrs old, it’s “End of Life” is April 8, 2014. And more people are installing XP than Windows 8. Don’t believe me? Check out BetaNews for the raw info. This is telling us something important about what people really want their computers to do for them, the acceptance of the software lifecycle, and just how bad a product Windows 8 really is. Of the latest version of Windows8 BetaNews states it’s “A Frankenstein Product Stitched Together With Compromises“. Not good.
What to do? Keeping XP around isn’t a real solution. With no more security updates that would be like walking into a lions den with a steak and a bottle of BBQ sauce instead of a whip and a chair. And, Windows8 isn’t looking all that good either. Or, is it?
The biggest problem with Windows8 is that it isn’t WindowsXP, or Windows7 (Vista doesn’t count, it’s so bad it’s worth totally ignoring). But, back to the main issue, how do we make Windows8 as comfortable to use as XP, or Windows7?
Totally doable if you have the people that know how to do it! You don’t have to engage in risky behaviors (keeping XP) in order to have the ease of use, solid performance, and low learning curve. All you have to do is make Windows8 behave like Windows7. And that is something OPENRSM can do. With no extra costs, no extended configuration time, and little to no visual change in how you do things on your computer.
You need to upgrade yourself out of the WindowsXP trap and keep everything you like about it. OPENRSM can do that. IT is a Process, Not a Project. “Let OPENRSM manage this process for you.
In every business there is always the “Oh Crap”! moment when a PC get’s infected with something. And some more often than others. What to do?
Well, using a quality set of firewall/filters/anti-virus is part of the solution. And more than likely the only parts of the solution you’ve heard about. But, there’s a whole other area of expertise afoot. Who, Where, and What…. in RealTime. There are tools that enable individual networ
ks to monitor such things (really expensive tools) but sometimes it’s better to back up and get the 50,000ft overview. That’s where Realtime Threat Monitoring comes into play.
We use several realtime tools like this (and they’re so private I’m not even allowed to put up a pic of them). But there is a public realtime threat monitor out there that will give you the high level overview of what’s being targeted, by who, and where they are that has been released by Deutche Telkom (T-Mobile for my US customers). If you click on the picture of the tool in action it will pop up a window and you can see what’s happening in the world of cyber threats in realtime from monitoring stations spanning the globe.
And you’ll see why you don’t want your own tool, and will want to just have OPENRSM “handle it” when it comes to cyber security.