Data Protection

Windows 10: Tips to protect your privacy

Many business users are becoming more and more concerned about data privacy. If you’re a Windows 10 user and you’re concerned about how the operating system collects your data, follow these tips to ensure your data’s protection.

Slip off the grid

Thanks to location tracking, nearby restaurants and future weather predictions are at your fingertips. While some might not mind this feature, there are others who wish to enjoy some privacy from their smartphones every once in a while.

To turn it off, launch the Settings app, tap Privacy, and disable the Location tab. If you wish to share your location with certain apps, scroll down and activate the ‘Choose apps that can use your location’ tab and choose your desired apps.

Say goodbye to ad tracking

Every time you surf the net, you leave a trail of breadcrumbs that lead directly to your online profile. This problem is easily solved by deactivating ad tracking. Windows 10, however, goes a tad further by using an advertising ID, which gathers information based on web browsing usage and whenever you use Windows 10 apps.

To take care of that, launch the Settings app, go to General, look for “Change privacy options,” then move the slider from on to off. If you want to make sure you have no virtual stalkers, head to choice.microsoft.com/en-us/opt-out and disable the “Personalized ads whenever I use my Microsoft account” tab.

Disable Wi-Fi Sense

This feature is designed to let you easily share Wi-Fi connections with specific users, but hackers can misuse it to log on to your network without your permission. To disable it, launch the Setting app, go to Network & Internet > Wi-Fi > and click on Wi-Fi Sense. From there, deactivate two bars: “Connect to suggested open hotspots” and “Connect to networks shared my contacts”.

Cortana, why so clingy?

Albeit helpful, the digital assistant Cortana requires access to your personal information. But you can stop her from collecting data by logging in to your Microsoft account and clearing all the information Cortana and other Microsoft services (ex. Bing maps) have gathered.

You can also clear the information in your interests section or head over to the “interest manager” tab to edit the interests you want Cortana to track.

More privacy options

All of these tips are easy to follow and will take only five to ten minutes to implement, but if you like to make very detailed adjustments to your system’s privacy setup, launch the Settings app and go to Privacy.

We hope you find these five privacy protection tips helpful. If you need more help protecting your information or securing your network, give us a call.

How Cloud Backup Helps Your Business

New threats to businesses’ precious employee and customer data emerge every day, so the only surefire way to protect your files from viruses, theft, and other unforeseeable disasters is to partner with a leading cloud backup provider. With a basic understanding of how cloud backups work, you can set up a plan that is economical and customized to the needs of your business.

How should you go about choosing a cloud backup provider? Let’s take a look:

Learn more about their storage capacity

Before partnering with a cloud backup provider, ask them where they store their data. Many providers use cloud servers over which they have little control, which could be hazardous as it makes it harder to monitor activity and respond to anomalies. To avoid this fate, choose a backup service that operates their own cloud-based servers.

Next, you will have to determine whether your business assets can be backed up, since some cloud storage providers do not have the capacity to save bigger files like videos or other multimedia files. By asking these questions, you can find a cloud backup service that fits your business needs, and more importantly, can take care of all your files.

Get details on their security

It will be important for the cloud backup provider to explain in no uncertain terms how they will store your files. They should be encrypted and stored on multiple servers because redundant storage ensures your data has multiple copies saved online and can be retrieved at will. Even if an uncontrollable disaster befalls your company or the backup provider’s system, you’ll still be safe.

Compare your budget and backup costs

Before considering any cloud backup provider, you need to know how much the service is worth to you. How much money would you lose if your server crashed and all the data it stored was irretrievable? Compare that amount with the cost of a provider's service, which could be charged by storage tiers, per gigabyte, or on a flat-fee unlimited plan.

When asking about the price of cloud backups, make sure to clarify any service limitations or restrictions. For example, how quickly can your storage capacity be upgraded? Is it possible to run out of storage? These are not things you want to discover in the middle of hurricane season.

Clarify data recovery timelines

Although storage availability is important, how quickly backups can be created and restored is also an essential factor. Ask providers how often backups will be created (e.g., hourly, daily, weekly), and how long it will take to restore them (e.g., hours, days, etc.). If those timelines are too long, it may be time to look for a better provider.

The most important thing is to know your needs before meeting with a potential provider. Let them know your business needs, budget, and recovery timelines. Our solutions and pricing are flexible and customized to your needs so you're not stuck in a cookie-cutter plan.

Give us a call to find out more about cloud backup service and other dynamic ways to protect your data.

Gearing up for phishing scams in tax season

Paying and filing taxes is already annoying without the threat of refund fraud or identity theft. But phishing schemes, especially during tax season, have become so widespread that you’ve probably already received spoofed emails or calls during the last few years. To maintain the security of your business, you and your employees need to be extra cautious with the emails you receive at tax time.

Phishing baits to watch out for

Phishing attacks often consist of fabricated or compromised emails sent to finance/payroll or human resources employees that are made to look like they're from an executive in your company. The message might contain a request to forward employee records, including their W-2 forms, but that’s not all...

Another common scheme, which doesn’t only happen during tax season, involves getting a call from a person declaring to be an IRS employee. And no, caller IDs won’t save you because they can forge that, too. The phisher will inform you that you owe them cash from back taxes and they will threaten legal action if you don’t pay via credit card at that instant.

Always remember, the IRS will never contact you on the phone to let you know that you owe them money. And they certainly won’t threaten you or demand payment over the phone. If they really need to notify you of such matters, they’ll use the postal service and will give you a chance to discuss payment terms.

Standard protection protocols

Don’t worry, the usual security measures against these phishing scams are pretty easy to integrate into your business. Begin by developing a policy that bans the request of private details through email. If an employee ever requires such info, they should get in touch with the person directly, follow your established protocols for the transfer of sensitive information, and minimize the number of people involved in the transaction.

Taking security a step further

Data loss prevention (DLP) systems are also valuable weapons against these types of phishing attacks. They evaluate traffic going in and out of your company, such as web usage, emails and instant messages, and virtually anything sent on your network. DLP systems can filter out private details, including Social Security numbers, and stop them from being sent out.

But beware, DLP systems come with a minor drawback, as they can also block legitimate traffic, like when your accounting department sends tax info to your CPA. Fortunately, an MSP like us can properly segregate the good and the bad traffic to avoid confusing and/or frustrating your employees.

Phishing schemes may be a normal occurrence during tax season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. Don’t let the vulnerabilities in your business, particularly the human element, fall prey to cybercriminals. Send us a message right away and we’ll conduct an assessment of the security of your business, as well as design a risk management plan to help counter future complications.