Proactive Network Security

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Why wait around for your network to become compromised? There are some simple methods you can start putting in place now to be proactive in this hacker day-of-age.

1.    Get Support

The buy in and measurements required to support a network-wide security measure is imperative. You need to get your manager’s/boss’s full support, so they understand the scale of what you want to do and the threat that is making you want to take those measures.

The best way to garner support from those key executives is to show them the numbers. High-level employees/board members want to see the costs involved and what they can gain from those expenses. Also, remind them that this is not a “one-time” fix to a problem. Network security is an ongoing problem that will need budget allocations every year to keep up with the new threats out there.

2.    Create a Companywide Policy and Enforce it

Good intentions are just that, good intentions. Make sure there is a companywide policy that states what the best safety measures for your organization and distributes it to all employees. Make sure this is a “living” document, to ensure all changes or unforeseen events are added or modified if necessary. Once your policy is in place, and everyone has a copy, you need to ensure enforcement within the company. A policy does no good to protect your network security if people don’t follow the safety guidelines.

3.    Training Your Personnel

A policy is a great start, but what if your employees have no clue what the jargon means? It is important to train your employees WHY there is a policy and WHAT it means. The policy will include what to look for, what things to avoid, and who to send questionable items to if they aren’t sure if it is safe or not. Make them understand that not knowing something isn’t a bad thing, it is a learning opportunity, and it is better to be “safe than sorry.”

4.    BYOD

This policy is entirely up to each company. People bringing in and using their own devices can potentially cause a threat to an organization’s security if it isn’t handled the right way. Some of these devices don’t follow safety guidelines and can be a target for hackers to gain entry to even the most secure networks. Figure out if the risk is worth it, or if you want to enact specific security guidelines on those using their own devices. Also, make everyone stick to the policy once it is enacted.

5.    Backups

Always have a plan in place in case of an emergency. Even with the most secure networks, there is a possibility of a breach, if the hacker wants to gain entrance bad enough. It is smart to have a very reliable and up-to-date backup of any, and all documents that they might need in the future. Make sure to keep an eye on your backup to ensure it is doing its job, and test to see if you can restore data from it if that day ever comes.

Cerber Malware – The Latest and Greatest…Just Not for You

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Cyber criminals are at it again, and their latest and greatest favorite malware strain is called Cerber. Just like its Greek mythology namesake, Cerberus (Hound of Hades), it packs a punch and keeps your head spinning. 

Last week, four of our customers were held ransom by Cerber. We immediately started double checking and shutting down any remaining RDP (remote desktop protocol) ports that were still open, and are working diligently to beef up security measures to protect against this strain of ransomware.

You might wonder why the sudden outbreak in our little neck of the woods. The truth of the matter is that hackers don’t care about location. They do a random search finding open RDP ports (or whatever method they choose to infiltrate your network) and get a block of IP addresses. Once they have those IP addresses, they just start the attacks. Blocks of IP addresses are usually targeted to a region/area, thus making Grand Junction, Colorado this hacker’s new target location, even if they don’t know where it is on a map.

With the way this ransomware runs, unless you want to pay a fortune, the only option is to restore your backup files. Unfortunately, this can be a slow process depending on Internet speed, server speed, and the quantity of data to be restored. The much faster, locally stored Shadow Copy does not work in this instance, as Cerber locates that file and destroys it immediately.

Even though this particular hacker uses the open ports in the firewall to enter a network, doesn’t mean tactics can’t switch back to the tried and true click bait scheme. Make sure you inform your employees to be careful when opening any unknown emails, attachments, or website links. It is the MOST COMMON method ransomware, and other viruses get entry to your network.

If you are unsure about something, send it over to our Help Desk so they can review it helpdesk@networksunlimited.com, or give us a call and ask before you open anything.

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Networks Unlimited 1 of 25 CP360 Winners in US

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Channel Partners, a resource for indirect sales channels offering IT and telecom systems and services, is pleased to announce that Networks Unlimited has been selected as a winner of the 2017 Channel Partners 360⁰ Business Value Awards.

Twenty-five winners were honored during an awards reception on April 12 at the Spring 2017 Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Las Vegas.

“Our 2017 Channel Partners 360° Business Value Awards winners offer a master class on thriving through disruption,” said Lorna Garey, editor in chief of Channel Partners. “The past few years are arguably the most tumultuous I’ve seen in nearly two decades covering the technology industry. Customers need help, and our CP360° winners delivered. They identified and solved business problems, dramatically increased productivity and saved clients’ money while at the same time transitioning their businesses into a new era of digital services selling and mastering complex technologies like SD-WAN.”

Since its start in 2001, Networks Unlimited has grown every year as a leader in proactive IT solutions allowing their clients to conduct business without technological interruption. NU focuses on full-service IT, managed services, computer and networking sales and support in Western Colorado. Networks Unlimited also offers a live, local help desk to ensure their customers get back up and running quickly. Networks Unlimited learns about businesses, how they grow, their challenges and changes within the industry to find the best-customized technology solution. Whether it is a small business or a large corporation, Networks Unlimited is there to help.

Channel Partners 360° Business Value Awards winners are selected by a panel of editors based on real-world case studies that illustrate how the partner is using the convergence of IT and telecom services to create business value for its customers.

Networks Unlimited Announced as 2017 Colorado Companies to Watch Finalist

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Colorado Companies to Watch (CCTW) today announced the 2017 Finalists of the 9th Annual Colorado Companies to Watch Awards, a unique program that honors 50 high-performing 2nd stage companies from across the state for their performance in the marketplace, innovative products, unique processes, and philanthropic actions.

“The 2017 Colorado Companies to Watch Finalists represent the state’s most innovative and impactful businesses,” said Rick Ninneman, CCTW Chairman of the Board. “We are proud to recognize the contributions of 2nd stage companies in Colorado, that often work behind the scenes creating the bulk of economic growth in our state.”

Second-stage companies are those that have moved past the startup stage and into a period of growth. The 2017 Finalists selected significantly impact the state’s economy by collectively providing thousands of jobs and contributing millions of dollars in revenue while representing Colorado’s diverse economic landscape.

CCTW receives close to 1,000 nominations year after year, 100 are chosen as finalists. Of these, 50 winners will ultimately be chosen by the esteemed CCTW volunteer judging panel. Winners will be announced at the 9th Annual Gala Awards Dinner on Friday, June 23, 2017 at the Denver Marriott City Center. Registration for the event will open soon at ColoradoCompaniestoWatch.org.

Colorado Companies to Watch is an awards program honoring 2nd-stage companies headquartered in the state of Colorado. The 400 companies that have been honored since the program’s inception demonstrate high performance in the marketplace or exhibit innovative products or processes. The program is designed to seek businesses from a wide range of industries throughout the state, not just the major metropolitan areas. The 50 companies selected each year make an astounding impact on Colorado's economy by collectively providing thousands of jobs and contributing millions of dollars in revenue. The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) launched the program in 2009 in conjunction with the Edward Lowe Foundation and valuable community partners from across Colorado.

Networks Unlimited, Inc. Named One of 2017 Tech Elite Solution Providers by CRN

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CRN®, a brand of The Channel Company, has named Networks Unlimited to its 2017 Tech Elite 250 list. This annual list honors an exclusive group of North American IT solution providers that have earned the highest number of advanced technical certifications from leading technology vendors, scaled to their company size.

To compile the annual list, The Channel Company’s research group and CRN editors work together to identify the most customer-beneficial technical certifications in the North American IT channel. Solution providers that have obtained these elite designations—which enable them to deliver premium products, services, and customer support—are then selected from a pool of online applicants.

Networks Unlimited prides itself on hiring the most skilled employees to stay ahead of the ever-evolving world of technology. All of our employees continually seek out training and certification on the newest technology trends and systems that will be most beneficial to our customers.

“This exclusive, ambitious group of solution providers boasts some of the most advanced IT certifications available from top technology suppliers,” said Robert Faletra, CEO, The Channel Company. “They have adapted impressively to major changes in the IT channel, especially the shift to a more services-driven market, by expanding their skill sets and sharpening both their technical and customer service expertise. Congratulations to our 2017 list, whose robust investment in their organizations have earned them yet another elite designation—the CRN Tech Elite 250.”

Networks Unlimited President, Mark Swain, stated: “Being recognized by CRN as a Tech Elite in our industry is an immense honor.” He continues, “Being one of the top 250 IT solution providers in all of North America proves that by having knowledgeable staff and providing the best customer service is the best way for Networks Unlimited to continue to remain a leader in the industry.”

Coverage of the Tech Elite 250 will be featured in the April issue of CRN, and online at www.crn.com/techelite250.

Spring Cleaning for Your Computer

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I’m not sure if anyone still goes through the “spring cleaning” process at homes, but we’ve got some tips for office spring cleaning to maintain your technology to keep it at top speeds and ensure it is the most reliable.

1.       Defrag

Make sure all those little Tetris blocks are in the correct spot so your computer can find things faster and run more smoothly. Find the steps to defrag your computer here.

2.       Firewall Love

Make sure it is turned on. Why? It’s a barrier between your computer network and the internet that hackers are trying to steal. If you need some help on how to turn it on, click here.

3.       Run Anti Spy and Adware Programs

Spyware and adware can seriously slow your computer down, not to mention the fact that spyware is stealing your information and transmitting it to hackers and adware downloads crummy advertising material to your computer.

4.       Antivirus Software

Keep it active and updated! This program is designed to prevent, detect, and remove viruses and other dangerous software that can get onto your computer. Windows computers usually come with Windows Defender, if you don’t utilize the internet much or want a ton of features, however, if you’re online a lot and need more features you’ll want to beef up your protection by purchasing an antivirus.

5.       Trash It

Go through your documents, videos, photos, and programs that you don’t need and delete them. While you’re at it, delete your trash file too. Lightening the load on your hard drive will help speed up your programs to make sure that you’re running at top speed!

6.       Update It

Stop putting off all those annoying updates that are looming at the bottom of your computer. Update them all and get the newest, latest, greatest version of the programs you use, not to mention, all the patches, updates, and fixes that the programs will be fixing during those updates. 

If you don’t want to do your spring cleaning yourself, you can always bring it into either one of our offices (Grand Junction or Montrose), and we can take care of it for you. Call for costs (970) 243-3311. Happy spring cleaning!!