Six Technology Tools You Shouldn’t Use Any Longer

One constant about technology is that it changes rapidly. Tools that were once staples, like Internet Explorer and Adobe Flash, age out. New tools replace those that are obsolete. Discontinued technology can leave networks vulnerable to attacks.

While older technology may still run fine on your systems, that doesn’t mean that it’s okay to use. One of the biggest dangers of using outdated technology is that it can lead to a data breach or infection.

Outdated software and hardware no longer receive vital security updates. Updates often patch newly found and exploited system vulnerabilities. No security patches means a device is a sitting duck for a breach.

Approximately one in three data breaches are due to unpatched system vulnerabilities.

Another problem with using discontinued technology is that it can leave you behind. Your business can end up looking like you’re in the stone ages to your customers, and they can lose faith and trust.

Important reasons to keep your technology updated to a supported version are:

• Reduce the risk of a data breach or malware infection
• Meet data privacy compliance requirements
• To keep a good reputation and foster customer trust
• To be competitive in your market
• To mitigate hardware and software compatibility issues
• To enable employee productivity

Older systems are clunky and get in the way of employee productivity. If you keep these older systems in use, it can lead to the loss of good team members due to frustration.

49% of surveyed workers say they would consider leaving their jobs due to poor technology.
Following is a list of outdated technology tools that you should replace as soon as possible. Are any of these still in use on your home computer or within your business?

Internet Explorer

Many moons ago, Internet Explorer (IE) used to be the number one browser in the world. But, over time, Google Chrome and other browsers edged it out. Including its replacement, Microsoft Edge.

Microsoft began phasing out IE with the introduction of Microsoft Edge in 2015. In recent years, fewer applications have been supporting use in IE. The browser lost all support on June 15, 2022.

Adobe Flash

Millions of websites used Adobe Flash in the early 2000s. But other tools can now do the animations and other neat things Flash could do. This made the tool obsolete, and Adobe ended it.

The Adobe Flash Player lost all support, including security updates, as of January 1, 2021. Do you still have this lingering on any of your computers? If so, you should uninstall the browser plugin and any Flash software.

Windows 7 and Earlier

Windows 7 was a very popular operating system, but it’s now gone the way of the dinosaur. Replacements, Windows 10 and Windows 11, are now in widespread use. The Windows 7 OS lost support on January 14, 2020.

While it may still technically run, it’s very vulnerable to hacks. Microsoft Windows OS is also a high-value target for hackers. So, you can be sure they are out there looking for systems still running this obsolete version of Windows.

macOS 10.14 Mojave and Earlier

Because of the cost of iMacs and MacBooks, people tend to hang onto them as long as possible. Once these devices get to a certain point, updates no longer work. This leaves the hardware stuck on an older and non-supported macOS version.

If you are running macOS 10.14 Mojave or earlier, then your OS is no longer supported by Apple, and you need to upgrade.

Oracle 18c Database

If your business uses Oracle databases, then you may want to check your current version. If you are running the Oracle 18C Database, then you are vulnerable. Breaches can easily happen due to unpatched system vulnerabilities.

The Oracle 18C Database lost all support in June of 2021. If you have upgraded, then you’ll want to keep an eye out for another upcoming end-of-support date. Both Oracle 19C and 21C will lose premiere support in April of 2024.

Microsoft SQL Server 2014

Another popular database tool is Microsoft’s SQL. If you are using SQL Server 2014, then mainstream support has already ended. And in July of 2024, all support, including security updates will stop.

This gives you a little more time to upgrade before you’re in danger of not getting security patches. But it is better to upgrade sooner rather than later. This leaves plenty of time for testing and verification of the upgrade.

Get Help Upgrading Your Technology & Reducing Risk

Upgrades can be scary, especially if everything has been running great. You may be afraid that a migration or upgrade will cause issues.

We can help you upgrade your technology smoothly and do thorough testing afterward. Schedule a technology review today.

Why Protecting Your Printers From Cybercrime Is A Must (And Eight Tips For Improving Printer Security)

Printing devices are often overlooked when it comes to security. But the reality is, cybercriminals can hack your printer to get confidential information. Your printer is probably the last piece of computer equipment you thought needed protection from cybercriminals. But the truth is very different.

Attackers actively try to locate the weakest links in security to gain access to and exploit valuable data. And among the weakest links is the printer.

Printers have access to your devices, network, and the Internet. This new open-access functionality makes them an ideal target for cyberattacks.

Unfortunately, many business owners overlook the importance of securing their printers and mainly focus on computers and mobile phones.

Most people still perceive printers as internal devices that serve basic functions. For this very reason, they are an easy target for cybercriminals.

Other than performing unauthorized print jobs, hackers can access confidential information as well as all connected computers and networks all through a printer.

You may also not be aware of the amount of valuable data your printer can store about you – tax files, bank details, financial records, employee information, personal information, etc. All a hacker needs to do is get into the operating system of your printer, and they can collect this sensitive data.

If you’ve just realized the importance of securing your printer, keep reading. This article shares eight tips to help you do just that.

Tip #1. Make Sure Your Printers Are Configured Correctly
Many things can make a printer vulnerable to cyber threats and security breaches. So, you want to get the basics right to ensure the attacks don’t happen to you. To start with, make sure to change the default password on your printer. Since anyone can access a printer remotely, a simple “123456” code won’t suffice.

Second, make sure you’re using your own router to print files remotely. Never connect to “Guest” networks.

Tip #2. Inspect Print Trays Regularly
This one is a no-brainer, but everyone could use it as a reminder. Make sure to check your print trays and get rid of unused pages carrying sensitive information. There’s no easier way to prevent data leaks than this.

Alternatively, you can get a shredder for your office and shred the papers you don’t want anyone to see.

Tip #3. Install Malware and Firmware Updates
Invest time and effort to ensure that your malware and firmware protection are up to date and can handle all types of hacks.

The good news is that many printers come with pre-built malware protection.

HP, for example, installs the HP “SureStart” software in their printers that monitors approaching targets when the printer is on. The software can shut down the device if an attack comes its way. This is a great way to prevent attacks from spreading further within the network.

Tip #4. Limit Access to the Network
Unprotected printers in a network are an extremely easy target for cybercriminals. Sure, businesses and offices require printers to access networks to perform remote prints. But if you can do the job by disabling the network access, make sure you do that.

If not, tweak the printer and network settings to only allow the device to take print jobs from the network you trust. This will help avoid outside interference and security breaches.

Tip #5. Update Your Printers
Updating a printer is equally as important as updating your phone to the latest software. Much in the way iOS developers look for bugs and fix them in a new update, printer manufacturers work toward known device vulnerabilities and update the software for added protection.

Look for printer updates so you can easily overcome known threats to the printer. Ideally, update your printers every quarter to get the most out of the security benefits.

Tip #6. Install a Firewall
If you run an office, chances are you already have a firewall. But in case you missed this requirement, now’s the time to do it.

Using a reliable firewall helps keep printers safe from cybercriminals. Your computers most likely come with pre-built firewalls, and all you need to do is keep them enabled. But there are also specialized firewalls for homes and offices that offer advanced security and make it virtually impossible for anyone to break in.

Tip #7. Encrypt Your Storage
Printers with shared networks can perform distance printing. And when a print job is in transit and travels from a computer to a printer, hackers can intercept the data and exploit it.

To keep this from happening, encrypt your print jobs. Also, make sure the sensitive data on your printer’s hard or internal drive is encrypted as well.

Keep in mind that when you print a document, that file is often stored as an image within the printer and makes it an easy target for hackers. It’s why you should use an encryption tool to protect your data. Luckily, many modern printers have this tool pre-built.

Tip #8. Educate Your Employees
If you work in an office, chances are you aren’t the only person using the printer. Everyone that has access to it needs to be aware of the responsibilities that come with its usage. Make sure to talk to your employees about ways to ensure both the physical and virtual safety of the printers.

Your staff should also be careful when using their mobile devices to print, as smartphones are easier to hack than standard computers. Explain to them what phishing scams are and how they can avoid being the victim.

Finally, make sure it’s clear to them how they can use confidential information in your company.

Whether you use printers in your office or at home, take a moment to see how you can enhance its security before your next printing job.

Most Small Business Breaches Could Be Prevented

The majority of breaches that affect small and medium businesses like yours could have been prevented through the use of today’s technology. Here are 14 ways you can protect your business:

Security assessment
Establish a baseline and determine when your last security assessment was.

Spam email
Most attacks occur from infected emails. Be sure you secure your accounts. We can help you determine the right level of protection for your business.

Passwords
Set company policies surrounding passwords and external devices in your business. Examples include restricting USB drive access, screen timeout limits, enhanced password policies, and limiting user access to certain files.

Security awareness
Educate, educate,and then educate some more. Employees are the single greatest risk to an organization of a cyber breach by employees inadvertently clicking on a link in an email or downloading a file that contains the virus or ransomware.

Advanced endpoint detection and response (EDR)
Technology advancements have enhanced the traditional methods of virus protection, adding protections for fileless and script-based attacks and can even roll back systems after an attack. Give us a call at (734) 457-5000 (or email at info@mytechexperts.com) to learn more about these features and how they can replace your current virus protection software.

Multi-factor authentication
Multi-Factor Authentication is the process of requiring two modes of identity checks when logging into accounts with sensitive and personal information, such as bank accounts or social media.

This additional layer of protection can be critical in ensuring your data does not become lost.

Computer updates
Automate key software, such as Microsoft Office and OS, Adobe, and Java, to protect your network from the latest attacks. We can provide “critical update” services to your business and help you keep your business protected from these malicious sources.

Dark web research
A little known secret is the reality that many users’ login credentials have been placed for sale on Dark Web sites. Continuously monitor these sites and update credentials as needed if you find your corporate credentials up for sale to the highest bidder.

SIEM/log management
SIEM, or Security Incident & Event Management, uses data engines to review all logs from all covered devices, protecting your systems from unauthorized access.

Web gateway security
New cloud-based security products can detect web and email threats and block them – before they reach your network and users.

Mobile device security
Don’t neglect to secure your employees’ mobile devices and tablets. Many attackers target these devices, believing them to be forgotten by most businesses.

Firewall
Advanced firewall technology today enables intrusion detection and intrusion protection features. Ensure these are enabled on your corporate firewalls, and if you don’t know how, call us today.

Encryption
Encrypt files both at rest and in motion, especially on mobile devices, laptops and tablets. Cell phones are an unexpected attack vector.

Backup
Utilize multiple forms of backup, from cloud backup to on-premise and offline, further reducing the risks of a ransomware attack preventing access to your data.

10 Most Important CyberAttacks Of The Last Decade

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

The only way to keep history from repeating itself is to learn from the mistakes of the past. The following is a list of the most significant cyberyattacks from the last decade, as compiled by TechTarget:

Yahoo – 2013
With the unfortunate legacy of being the largest breach in the history of the internet, all three billion Yahoo accounts were compromised. The organization took 3 years to notify the public of the breach and that every account’s name, email address, password, birthdate, phone numbers, and security answers had been sold on the dark web.

Equifax – 2017
Probably the most damaging attack occurred just 3 years ago with the hack of Equifax. The hackers were successful in gaining access to 143 million Equifax customers and information vital to the lives of all. [Read more…]

Microsoft Contractors Listening To Recordings Made Via Skype Or Cortana

Jason Cooley is Support Services Manager for Tech Experts.

For years, Skype has been a big part of computer users’ experiences regardless of operating system. Whether voice calls, messaging, or video, Skype has a huge share of the user pool. Many Android users use Skype for video chatting in lieu of Apple’s popular Facetime app. It’s also popular among those contacting relatives or friends around the globe.

Skype even introduced an auto translate feature last year. The feature allows for translation between languages in (nearly) real time. Skype has made connecting with people easier than ever, no matter where they are from or their language.

Skype’s translate feature has been praised and for good reason. It is quite impressive that there is an application capable of translating so quickly, allowing people that don’t speak the same language to have a nearly flawless conversation. Of course, with software capable of such amazing things, it’s guaranteed that improvements will constantly be in the works so that it can reach its full potential.

Skype’s translator FAQ does state that calls are collected for data analysis, but that’s vague and may not raise any alarms.

What if I told you that some of those calls were being recorded? Not only that, but they are also being listened to in some cases.

With Skype, the data discovered shows that MOST of the Skype recordings gathered and reviewed are recordings using the translator. Again – that is MOST, not all. These calls contained all kinds of personal information: relationships being discussed, intimate conversations, arguments, you name it.

Skype claims that the information was gathered and listened to only to help improve the product. However, the problem will always go back to the fact that this information was not disclosed.

In fact, many people would say Skype was dishonest in the way that the privacy information was portrayed. Microsoft, who owns Skype, of course states that they only collected voice recordings with customer permission. Micro­soft also ensures that the data is treated as confidential information, but humans are still listening to personal conversations. The confidentiality of that seems suspect.

Then there is Cortana, Windows’ built-in digital assistance. Cortana can search for you, using voice commands. Much like more well-publicized assistants (such as Amazon’s Alexa), Cortana can help you by pulling up search results, maps, or other information you may need. Of course, Cortana also can remember some of your information for you.

So let’s think about Cortana being used in the real world. Asking Cortana about that embarrassing rash? Punching in your home address? Someone might be listening to that too.

The stance on the Skype calls (even though not ALL calls listened to were made with translator) is that Microsoft is collecting data for the purpose of improving its translator feature – so what about Cortana? Is listening to a person’s voice searches really improving any sort of programming?

Possibly, but that sort of testing could be done without the use of private recordings.

Top Concern For Small Businesses? Cybersecurity

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

While some might assume that fear of an economic recession would be at the top of the list of key issues small business owners concern themselves with, a recent survey found that another issue is of much greater concern: Cybersecurity.

This is no surprise.

For the past several years, cybercrimes and data breaches among companies large and small, governments, and even individual citizens have risen drastically.

While it’s true that many business owners still assume a data breach at their own company is highly unlikely, with the ultimate price tag of such attacks ramping up to the millions of dollars (and recovery being hardly successful), it makes sense that companies are taking notice.
[Read more…]

Zoom Zero-Day Bug: Webcam Hijacking And Other Intrusive Exploits

Jason Cooley is Support Services Manager for Tech Experts.

Internet safety is always a concern and there are a large number of tools available to assist with that. Depending on how much security you need, you may need to run multiple pieces of software. Antivirus, antimalware, firewalls, and even 2-factor authentication are security measures all doing different things.

Even with all of these types of security layers in place, there is no such thing as guaranteed safety. You can be as careful as possible and avoid anything seemingly questionable, but one thing you can’t avoid are security exploits.

An exploit could be used to track a user’s history, and possibly even every keystroke. This could potentially send passwords for anything you enter on the computer.

Recently, Zoom, a video conferencing application, was discovered to have a severe vulnerability on the Mac platform. This exploit was a very simple one: a person attempting to access your webcam could send a legitimate Zoom meeting invite, but set with certain settings on a certain server.

When the link is clicked, even without accepting the invite, the client is silently launched, turning on the end user’s webcam. Even if the Mac user had uninstalled Zoom, the client would silently reinstall and launch.

Back in 2017, a much larger user base was at severe risk of an exploit that would allow hackers to silently install malware to take remote control of the user’s computer. The CVE-2017-11882 exploit was a flaw in Microsoft Office software.

If Office was installed, a Visa paylink email was sent, and when the user opened the word document attached, it launched a PowerShell command installing Cobalt Strike, granting remote control to whoever deployed it.

It was not long before Microsoft had a security fix rolled out, but if the software was installed prior to installing the security update, the remote control software would persist and have free reign on not only one computer, but also be able to travel through the network.

These vulnerabilities are discovered in normal software and have been found in Windows’ core system more times than you probably realize. Microsoft is typically quick to roll out updates when they have the power to fix the flaw, even if it isn’t their software. This illustrates the great importance of keeping Windows up to date.

Sure, if you are at work and have an IT team like the staff at Tech Experts, your updates are managed and prioritized. While some updates are optional or just good for a more user-friendly experience, important security updates should always be installed as soon as possible.

As Windows 7 updates come to an end this year, any of these types of exploits will remain unfixed. Switching to Windows 10 or replacing your computer is the only way to keep getting the latest patches for these intrusive exploits.

If you are already on Windows 10, make sure you have antivirus installed. As always, check your system regularly for updates and get help if you need it – your safety depends on it.

Three Reasons To Regularly Test Business Systems

Protecting your business requires more time, effort and energy from your technology team than ever before.

Business systems are increasingly complex, requiring staff members to continually learn and adapt to changing conditions and new threats as they emerge.

It’s not unusual for a single ransomware incident to wreak havoc on carefully balanced systems, and this type of attack can be particularly damaging if you do not have the backup and disaster recovery procedures in place to regain critical operations quickly.

From checking for system vulnerabilities to identifying weak points in your processes, here are some reasons why it is so important to regularly test your business systems.

Business System Testing Helps Find Vulnerabilities
The seismic shift in the way business systems work is still settling, making it especially challenging to find the ever-changing vulnerabilities in your systems. Cloud-based applications connect in a variety of different ways, causing additional steps for infrastructure teams as they review the data connectors and storage locations.

Each of these connections is a potential point of failure and could represent a weakness where a cybercriminal could take advantage of to infiltrate your sensitive business and financial data. Regular business system testing allows your technology teams to determine where your defenses may need to be shored up.

As the business continues to evolve through digital transformation, this regular testing and documentation of the results allow your teams to grow their comfort level with the interconnected nature of today’s systems — which is extremely valuable knowledge to share within the organization in the event of a system outage or failure.

Experts note that system testing is being “shifted left”, or pushed earlier in the development cycle. This helps ensure that vulnerabilities are addressed before systems are fully launched, helping to protect business systems and data.

Business System Testing Provides Valuable Insight Into Process Improvement Needs
Business process improvement and automation are never-ending goals, as there are always new tools available that can help optimize the digital and physical operations of your business.

Reviewing business systems in depth allows you to gain a higher-level understanding of the various processes that surround your business systems, allowing you to identify inefficiencies as well as processes that could leave holes in your cybersecurity net.

Prioritizing these process improvements helps identify any crucial needs that can bring significant business value, too. This process of continuous improvement solidifies your business systems and hardens security over time by tightening security and allowing you to review user permissions and individual levels of authority within your business infrastructure and systems.

Business System Testing Allows You to Affirm Your Disaster Recovery Strategy
Your backup and disaster recovery strategy is an integral part of your business.

Although you hope you never have to use it, no business is fully protected without a detailed disaster recovery plan of attack — complete with assigned accountabilities and deliverables. It’s no longer a matter of “if” your business is attacked but “when”, and your technology team must be prepared for that eventuality.

Business testing allows you to review your backup and disaster recovery strategy with the parties that will be engaged to execute it, providing an opportunity for any necessary revisions or adjustments to the plans.

Whether a business system outage comes from a user who is careless with a device or password, a cybercriminal manages to infiltrate your systems or your business systems are damaged in fire or flood, your IT team will be ready to bring your business back online quickly.

Regularly testing your business policies and procedures and validating your disaster recovery plan puts your organization in a safer space when it comes to overcoming an incident that impacts your ability to conduct business.

The complexity of dealing with multi-cloud environments can stymie even the most hardened technology teams, and the added comfort level that is gained by regular testing helps promote ongoing learning and system familiarity for your teams. No one wants to have to rebuild your infrastructure or business systems from the ground up, but running testing procedures over time can help promote a higher level of comfort within teams and vendor partners if the unthinkable does occur.

Data Encryption – What You Really Need To Know

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

In today’s digitally driven world, far too many personal and business devices are left unsecured. These devices don’t leverage strong passwords and fail to have the encryption needed to protect vital data.

Whether companies choose to store data in public, private, or hybrid clouds, they should always ensure that the data is encrypted before it leaves their devices or networks.

Additionally, when employees think that “this data isn’t important,” they are creating the weak links that hackers need to successfully infiltrate a device (or network) and subsequently steal unencrypted data, upload malware attacks, and otherwise wreak havoc on unsuspecting businesses.

[Read more…]

Is Your Smart TV Spying On You? (Hint: It Is.)

Frank DeLuca is a field technician for Tech Experts.

There’s a good chance your smart TV is spying on you. Smart TVs often analyze the videos you’re watching and report back, whether you’re watching live TV, streaming videos on a service like Netflix, or playing local video files. Worse yet, this can be a security problem.

Smart TVs not only usually have bad interfaces, but they spy on what you’re watching even when you aren’t using their “smarts.”

Modern smart TVs often have “features” that inspect what you’re watching and report it back to some company’s servers.

This data can be sold to marketers or it could be tied to you somehow to create a better ad-targeting profile.

In reality, you are not getting anything out of this as the TV manufacturer just makes some more money on the side by collecting and selling this data.

Smart TVs also have questionable security protections.

For instance, Vizio TVs were discovered to be transmitting tracking data without any encryption, so other people could possibly snoop on the snoopers. They also connect to a server without checking if it’s a legitimate server, so a man-in-the-middle attack could send commands back to the TV.

Vizio says it has fixed this problem and TVs will automatically update to a new firmware.

But are those smart TVs even checking to ensure they’re downloading legitimate firmware files with correct digital signatures?

Based on TV manufacturers’ cavalier attitude towards security in general, I wouldn’t bet on it.

To make matters worse, many smart TVs have built-in cameras and microphones. If the security is so shoddy in general, it would theoretically be possible for an attacker to spy on you through your TV.

What can you do to stop your TV from spying on you?

Just don’t connect your smart TV to your home network and you’ll be protected from whatever built-in analysis features it has and any security vulnerabilities that could be exploited.

If the TV is not connected to the Internet, then it cannot transmit data out.

If you have connected it to the network, go into your smart TV’s settings and disconnect it from the Wi-Fi. Don’t connect it to the network with an Ethernet cable either.

If you’ve already connected to the Wi-Fi network, try to get your smart TV to forget the password. If you can’t, you may need to reset it to its factory default settings. When you set it up again, don’t give it the Wi-Fi password.

This will also prevent your smart TV from embedding extra advertisements into other things you watch — yes, some Samsung smart TVs actually do that!

The best, most secure way to get “smart features” on your TV is by plugging in a streaming box like an Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, Fire TV, video game console, or one of the many other devices that works better and should be more secure than your smart TV. In which case, that box can be connected to the Internet.

This is part of a larger problem with the “Internet of Things” that society is beginning to grapple with, which envisions modern appliances like your toaster, blender, microware, and fridge becoming “smart” and connecting to the network.

Most devices’ manufacturers don’t seem capable of (or are apathetic toward) creating software and continually updating it so it remains secure.

Smart appliances are great, but the reality of spying and security holes will be a serious problem.