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VersaTrust has been serving the Texas area since 1997 , providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Your computer has been acting up a lot lately. It keeps crashing, it’s slow and, to top it off, you keep getting pop-ups you don’t want to see. If these problems keep occurring then your computer may have a virus. So is there a way to prevent things like this from happening again? While there are various antivirus solutions you can take, it’s best to know how malware affects your computer first so you can quickly recognize and deal with the problem. These are a few ways to find out if your computer has a virus before it’s too late.

Slow computer

The most common symptom of a malware infection is a slow running computer. Are your operating systems and programs taking a while to start up? Is your data bandwidth suspiciously slow? If so, your computer may potentially have a virus.

 

However, before you immediately assume your computer has a virus, you should check if there are other causes to your computer slowing down. Check if you’re running out of RAM. For Windows, open task manager (Ctrl + Shift + Esc) and go to the Performance tab and check how many gigabytes of RAM you are using under the Memory section. For Mac OS users, you can open the Activity Monitor app and under System Memory you should be able to find out your RAM usage.

Other causes of a slow system include a lack of space on your hard drive and damaged hardware. Once you’ve ruled out the other potential causes, then a virus may have infected your device.

Blue screen of death (BSOD)

If your PC crashes regularly, it’s usually either a technical problem with your system or a malware infection. You might not have installed the latest drivers for your device or the programs you’re running could possibly be incompatible with your hardware. If none of these problems are apparent in your PC then the virus could be conflicting with other programs causing your crashes.
To check what caused your last BSOD go to Control Panel> System and Security> Administrative Tools> Event Viewer and select Windows Logs. Those marked with an “error” are your recorded crashes. For troubleshooting solutions, consult forums or your IT department to figure out what to do next.

Programs opening and closing automatically

Malware can also be present when your programs are opening and closing automatically. However, do check if some programs are meant to behave this way or if they are simply incompatible to run with your hardware first before coming to the conclusion that your computer has a virus.

Lack of storage space

There are several types of malware that can manipulate the files saved on your computer. Most tend to fill up your hard drive with suspicious files. If you find any unknown programs that you have never installed before, don’t open the application, search up the program’s name over the Internet and use antivirus protections once you’re certain that it’s malware.

Suspicious modem and hard drive activity

Combined with the other warning signs, if your hard disk is working excessively while no programs are currently running or if you notice that your external modem is always lit then you should scan your computer for viruses.

Pop-ups, websites, toolbars and other unwanted programs

These are irritating signs that your computer has a virus. Pop-ups come from clicking on suspicious pages, answering survey questions to access a website’s service or installing free applications. Don’t click on ads where Jane says she earned $8000 a month staying at home. When you get pop-ups appearing out of the blue, refrain from clicking anywhere on the pop-up page and just close out of the window and use your anti-malware tool immediately.

 

Equally, free applications allow you to download their service for free but the installation process can be riddled with malware. When you’re installing a program from the Internet it’s easy to just skim over the terms and conditions page and repeatedly press next. This is where they get you. In the process of skipping over certain installation steps, you might have agreed to accepting a new default browser, opening unwanted websites and other programs filled with viruses. Just be cautious the next time you download something for free. It’s best to try avoiding any of these practices when you can in order to protect your computer.

You’re sending out spam

If your friends are telling you that you’ve been offering them suspicious messages and links over social media or email, you might be a victim of spyware. These may be caused from setting weak passwords to your accounts or forgetting to logout of them.

 

In the end, it’s best to know how malicious software affects your computer so you can take steps to rectify the situation as soon as possible. Regardless of whether or not your system has experienced these symptoms, it’s always smart to perform regular malware scans to ensure your business is safe. To find out more about malware and IT security, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

This has been a tough week regarding security breaches, specifically with more ransomware variants hitting many businesses. The first link below details a Verizon breach with a heavy dose of irony, in that the Verizon division that helps Fortune 500 companies respond to data breaches has itself suffered a significant breach. The second is link to an article regarding another hospital being hit with the new Locky ransomware and being held hostage.

 

These threats are real and dangerous, specifically the new Locky ransomware. It not only encrypts critical data but also spreads itself to other computers on the network, exponentially increasing the collateral damage. This means that it will encrypt data on each computer that it infects as well as encrypt the data on any shared server drives that the infected user has access to. A business could have a single system compromised with Locky, then is spread to several other computers potentially encrypting HR, Accounting, executive or other highly restricted data at the same time based on the level of access the infected employee has been granted.

 

Again, the infections are introduced via clicked links in emails so are very avoidable…yet they continue to happen. Employee vigilance is paramount. A bulletproof backup strategy is the only way to recover from these infections.

Recent security breaches:

Verizon Breach – http://fortune.com/2016/03/24/verizon-enterprise-data-breach/

Locky Hospital Breach – http://krebsonsecurity.com/2016/03/hospital-declares-internet-state-of-emergency-after-ransomware-infection/

Disaster Recovery ain’t what it used to be. Long gone are the days where a DR solution cost over a hundred thousand dollars and predominantly relied on tape backups. With the onset of cloud computing, today’s DR landscape has dramatically changed. But, unfortunately, there are still many misconceptions about DR still hanging around. Here are a few of the myths that no longer apply.

Tape Backups are the best DR solution

Like a car, computer or television, tape is a physical object that deteriorates over time. Don’t believe us? Go ahead and listen to your favorite cassette. One day your tape backups will become distorted and no longer work. And hopefully, that day isn’t the same one when your business suffers a disaster. However, there is a good chance all your tape backups will work. So does that mean there’s nothing to worry about? Well, consider where you store your tape backups. Are they on-site or in a location within a few miles of your office? If so, remember that if your business is hit by a natural disaster, chances are those tapes nearby will be hit as well. And if they’re damaged or become inaccessible, say goodbye to your business continuity.

 

While tape backup is better than nothing, many of today’s DR providers will backup your data to an offsite location that is far away from the neighborhood your office is at. That way, if your business is affected by a disaster, your backup is located hundreds of miles away in a safe place that is likely untouched.

It’s also worth noting that modern day DR solutions also provide another valuable commodity – time. So ask yourself, is the mindless task of backing up tapes really worth the time of your IT staff? Wouldn’t you rather have them working on more valuable tasks that require a skill? Today’s DR service providers eliminate this need, as they take care of nearly everything. You or your staff will never have to bother with it.

The RTO you want will be too expensive

Recovery Time Objective (RTO) is of primary importance to most business owners. And who can blame them. If you’re going to invest in a Disaster Recovery solution, you want to be able to rely on it to recover quickly (on a timetable that won’t damage your business). In the old days before the cloud, a quick recovery time could cost you well into six figures. Today, tools such as the cloud and virtualization have made this much more affordable, and faster than ever. Most DR providers can backup all your critical data in a matter of minutes. And if you ever need to recover it, most services can do so in hours, rather than days. That’s the power of the cloud. And when it comes to DR, it truly has changed everything.

Disaster Recovery is for big business, not SMBs

Well, it once was. Again, the cloud has really leveled the playing field. And it is making a truly valuable service accessible to businesses of all sizes. From dental offices to small retail operations, SMBs can now easily take advantage of the best DR solutions on market, as the barriers of complexity, costs, and insufficient IT resources no longer apply. Modern IT advances and the cloud have eliminated these obstacles.

 

We hope these three myths will help you see how Disaster Recovery is more affordable and efficient than ever. If you’d like to learn how our DR solutions can safeguard your business, send us a message. We’re happy to fill you in.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Whether or not to monitor your employees’ computers can be a tricky decision. While part of you may think it’s unethical, you also may question if your staff are spending too much time on non-work related activities, and taking advantage of you in the process. So, should you monitor? Here are some pros and cons of monitoring, and some tips to effectively do it if you decide it’s right for your business.

The case for monitoring

There are a number of reasons why monitoring your employees is a good idea. Doing so can help you:

  • Protect your organization from data theft or harm – because some disgruntled employees may try to steal from you or corrupt your data.
  • Ensure you have a harassment free workplace – because cyber harassment (sexual or otherwise) happens among employees.
  • Ensure staff are complying with policies – not downloading illegal programs or spending time on websites with illegal or hostile content.
  • Provide evidence in case of a lawsuit – heaven forbid this happens, but if an employee participates in illegal activities on your business’s computers, monitoring can provide evidence of it.

The sad fact of the matter is that many businesses who monitor end up discovering that employees are doing things they’re not happy about. Research by Nancy Flynn, the executive director of the ePolicy Institute in Columbus, Ohio, revealed that two thirds of companies monitor their employees, and half of them have fired employees due to their behavior on email and the web.

Cons

Of course there are some potential downsides to monitoring that you should be aware of as well. These include:

  • Productivity loss – monitoring can kill employee morale, and therefore you may see a hit in their productivity if they feel you distrust them.
  • TMI and lawsuits – you’ll likely learn about the personal lives of your employees that you would’ve never known about had you not monitored. You may discover their political or religious views, sexual orientation or medical problems. This could potentially open up your business to privacy or discrimination issues if you or your management team act negatively on this information.

Monitoring guidelines to follow

If you decide to monitor your employees, here are a few tips you should follow.

1. Create written policies

When you decide to monitor, ask yourself, are you doing it for security purposes? Is it to ensure your employees are not wasting large amounts of time on Social media? Whatever the reasons, it’s smart to balance your policies with the expectations of your employees. If you’re too strict with your monitoring, you could create that atmosphere of distrust we mentioned above. So set guidelines for acceptable use of email, social media, web surfing, instant messaging, and downloading software and apps. Also, in your policy, include how monitoring will be carried out and how data will be secured or destroyed.

2. Tell your employees

It’s important to inform your employees about your monitoring. If they find out you’re doing it without their knowledge, you could create resentment among them or even face legal issues. And just by letting staff know, you may actually see a boost in productivity as it could deter them from wasting time on the web.

 

When you tell your employees, explain why you’re doing it and the risks your business faces from misuse of digital assets. Reassure them you’re not doing it to spy on their personal life, but only attempting to create a compliant and law abiding workplace. Because their activities will now be less private, encourage your staff to keep their personal communication to their smartphones. Also, provide a copy of your written policy to employees to read over and sign.

3. Get the right technology tools

While there are many technology tools to monitor your employees, bear in mind, you don’t need to follow their every move. In fact, you shouldn’t as it will not only waste your time, but also cause you to find out more information than necessary. So look for technology that will alert you to potential problems, so you can focus on more important things. Lastly, you may also want to consider technology that can block certain content, like porn or hate websites, as employee access to this content could create larger problems.

 

Whether or not to monitor your employees can be a tricky decision but, if implemented correctly, could benefit your business in making it more secure and even more productive. For more information about security and other IT support tools, get in touch. We’ll make our best effort to help however we can.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Business Intelligence (BI) has conventionally been the preserve of big business, given the need for specialist knowledge meant hiring pricey experts was often the only way to leverage its value. But the rise of self-service BI tools has leveled the playing field, allowing small- and medium-sized businesses to get in on the game too. And with small businesses now producing far greater volumes of data than in the past, there’s never been a better time to put BI to use in your organization. Make your first steps towards smarter business planning by dispelling some popular beliefs about BI – here’s what you need to know.

You’ve already got the data you need

It’s easy to underestimate the amount of data your small- or medium-sized business already has at its disposal. In every area of your business from finance and sales to customer relations and website management, the software packages you use to simplify your everyday operations are packed with reams of information that most of us don’t even think twice about. By talking to key stakeholders in your organization’s various departments, you can get an idea for the kind of data you already have, how it’s generated, and where it’s stored. You’re then in a good place to begin thinking about using BI tools to transform that information into meaningful business insights that inform key decision-making – all while reducing the resources you need to invest in time-consuming data generation from scratch.

Self-service BI tools are plentiful – and affordable

The real beauty of the emergence of self-service BI is that it puts useful business analytics within reach of smaller business owners who lack the fancy-pants budgets of larger corporations. In fact, there are numerous self-service BI tools that you can use to get started in this area without even spending a dime. Microsoft Power BI is a powerful application that’s pleasingly user-friendly, and most businesses will find the functions they need in the free version. Zoho Reports has a low entry-level cost, too, and the slightly pricier yet still affordable Tableau is another option that’s worth exploring.

It’s easy to get started

BI is an intimidating term, and just the thought of delving into it can send a shiver down the spine of the average business owner. But by taking small steps, it’s easy to get started – and before you know it you’ll have the benefit of real-intelligence-based business insights that enable you to make better decisions for your organization’s long-term success. Most self-service BI tools come with built-in suggestions for reports that businesses commonly run and find useful. Other worthwhile statistics to explore include the percentage of your clients who cancel within a set period; website landing pages that generate the longest visits; your most profitable individual products or services; the days or months in which you generate your highest revenues; and which of your clients brings in the most revenue and profit.

 

Truly harnessing data is the future of the business world – it’s how companies like yours can make smarter decisions that increase efficiency and profitability. And self-service tools mean smaller organizations no longer need a crazy budget to be able to afford the benefits of BI in the first place. To find out more about putting in place the tools that can help make your business more intelligent, just give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.