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Java Targeted by Attackers

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

On Thursday the 10th of January, Java came under attack once again with a Zero-Day vulnerability. The immediate advice of Oracle (the company that maintains Java) was to promptly disable Java running on any machines to minimize the damage done. A Zero-day vulnerability is a flaw in the software or code that the creator or maintainer isn’t aware of at the time of the attack. This means, at the time of the major attack on Thursday, Oracle had no idea the vulnerability was being exploited and thus had no way to fix the issue right away.

According to InformationWeek, this isn’t the first time Java has been under attack in the recent months. Last year, over 600,000 Apple Mac computers were infected after another Zero-Day vulnerability was discovered. Java is installed on all sorts of machines ranging from Macs to Windows PCs and even Linux machines. The latest vulnerability found affects all three major operating systems and can be used to ‘execute arbitrary code.’ This means the attackers will be able to run pieces of code on your system that normally wouldn’t be run. Attackers would then have the ability to do any number of things to harm your system and spread the virus out. At this point, it is believed that 34% of all PCs are running a version of Java 7 which in turn could show the vulnerability on up to 400 million systems.

As of Tuesday the 15th, Oracle has released a patch to Java that fixes this vulnerability and relieves the stress on the company just a bit. Apple took a different approach on Friday and updated their operating system OSX to disable Java if not in use within 35 days. Firefox also updated their software so Java wouldn’t run automatically. Now that Java itself has been updated, users should be okay to re-enable Java and continue to use it as normal. Just confirm that it’s updated to the latest version through the Java Automatic Updater and the vulnerability will be patched!

If you have any questions on whether you’re affected or how to keep yourself safe, give IT Resource a call at 616.837.6930 and someone will be able to answer to your questions.

Fire The Laser

Friday, January 11, 2013
Over the past couple of weeks, IT Resource Co-Owner Leo Reap and I performed a network upgrade for one of our Chicago customers. Currently they have two locations that are within a few hundred feet of each other and they previously relied on a system of antennas and receivers to beam internet and network access to the “remote” location. In an effort to increase bandwidth and speed to the new location, a new Lightpointe Laser System was purchased. This new system uses two lasers placed high upon both buildings and point to each other. After some careful alignment, the beams will be able to transfer data between the two buildings at greatly increased speeds.

Leo (right) and the IT Director attaching the mount to the tower

Our first step was to get the mount set up on top of the main building. In the box beneath the mount, Leo and I ran wires to power the laser, provide management, and data access to the remote location.

The red circle indicates the location of the laser on the remote building

At this point, the mount was attached to the other building and the laser was secured. However, it was neither powered nor managed due to insufficient wiring. We made a return trip to finish our work the following week. After the conduit was run for us, we installed two additional CAT-6 cables from the switches to each location. After testing and routing, we powered the lasers and began the alignment process. On each laser was a small meter that showed how accurate the alignment was. While Leo was hanging out a window shown above and I was up on a ladder. We communicated via cell phone and carefully moved each laser until they were at optimum position. After cleaning up, I made my way over to the other building to check out the setup.


Each laser has a telescope viewer to ensure correct alignment and positioning

Using my eye, I was not able to see the lasers emitted from the devices. However, using my camera, I could easily see both lasers (one for each way) through the view finder. After tightening down the devices to ensure they wouldn’t move, we got them configured as much as we could and let our project lead know they were ready to go. With a few adjustments on the networking side, the users in the remote building had full (faster) network access via laser! Although it was a tad cold at times, we got this solution up and working for our customer so they could enjoy a significant upgrade in performance. As always, if you have any questions or want to know more, let us know and IT Resource would be happy to help!

Importance of Privacy

Friday, January 04, 2013
It seems over the past year, privacy concerns have risen to the point of overhauling many major websites’ privacy policy. One of those websites which received the biggest criticism over their policy is Facebook. Recently, Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Mark Zuckerberg posted a photo on Facebook meant to be private. However, due to the recent changes made to the settings within Facebook and an unfortunate tagging event, that photo went public. Now, Randi is placing the blame on the general public rather than the privacy settings of Facebook or even herself. But that’s not the point of this particular post.

The real question is, how seriously do you take your online privacy and do you believe there should be stricter rules in place? Websites like Facebook and Twitter allow you to privatize your pictures and posts, but is it enough? Sometimes friends of friends can see those pictures and before you know it, the photo is out in the public for everyone to see. Should it be left up to the person posting, the friends, or the website to lock down security? Most may say that it should be up to the person posting to keep their information private. But what if the company responsible for holding the information is changing their policy without much notice? Then is it their fault?

How do you feel on the privacy situation? What precautions do you take to keep your information on the internet within your grasps and not everyone else? Do you believe the responsibility should be on the company, or yourself? Let us know what you think! Don't be the victim of an information security, email security, or network security breach.

Possible Carrier Change? Dish Network May Enter Wireless Service Arena

Thursday, December 27, 2012
Would you switch away from your cell phone carrier to something brand new if given the chance? If another company were to start offering a data-only wireless plan, would you make the change away from your current cell phone carrier?
Well, that is what Dish Network wants you to do in the near future. Just recently, Dish Network relayed plans to possibly roll out a wireless service to compete with big names like Verizon and AT&T. Dish Network wants to create more competition and try to drive prices a little lower for everyone. And on top of creating this new service, they want Google to partner along in 2013.

What does this all mean? Well, the rumored Dish Network and Google Partnership would create a wireless service that is data only. Dish Network could utilize Google’s vast user base and resources while Google can expand their reach to new users. Calls and text messages along with email and other messaging would all go over the Internet rather than through other cell means like with AT&T and Verizon. So, as long as there is a data connection (WiFi, 4G, 3G, etc…) calls can be made and text messages sent. At this point, the plans are still in the preliminary stages and are still being worked out between Dish Network and the FCC. The public may not start seeing changed until 2015, but they could come as soon as 2013. Would you support a Dish Network/Google Wireless carrier, and would you switch if introduced?

Attach Something a Little Larger: Google Rolling Out New Attachment Service

Sunday, December 09, 2012

How many times have you gone to attach a file to an email for a family member or friend and have it tell you the attachment was too large? I know that often, I will want to send a large video file or program to a friend that I’ve got on my computer, but know that email is a lost cause. Well, it used to be a lost cause anyway, until Google stepped up to the attachment plate!

Starting now, if you have a Gmail account and use Google Drive, Gmail will allow attachments up to 10GB in size! That is over 400 times what the attachment limit used to be.

When sending an email, Gmail now gives the option to attach a file that may already be in your Google Drive or on your computer. If you’ve uploaded mountains of pictures or countless videos into your Google Drive, attaching them to an email is now a breeze. If you’re a Google user but not signed up with Google Drive, visit drive.google.com and add the service to your account! Google Drive is a similar experience to Dropbox, but with added features and experiences. And now, with Gmail using Google Drive for attachments, it can do even more! For more information, visit https://gmail.com and https://drive.google.com to get starting using Google’s great features!

Fraudulent e-mails from scammers across the globe

Wednesday, December 05, 2012
During the holidays, it is unfortunately very common to receive fraudulent e-mails from scammers across the globe who are trying to conduct an information security breach. These e-mails claim to be trustworthy companies, trying to acquire personal information, i.e. credit card information. This process is called “phishing”. If opened, these e-mail phishing scams can give the scammer access your personal data, credit card numbers, and other security data.

Phishing messages can appear to be identical to a legitimate e-mail, containing copied company logos, company colors, legal disclaimers, and what seems to be a valid address. However, these messages can contain Malware and other viruses. These third party scammers are not associated whatsoever with the company they are claiming to be.

One rule of thumb to use when sorting through your inbox is take note of who you are expecting an e-mail from. If you see an e-mail from “UPS” stating the location of your package, and you are not expecting a package; that should definitely raise a red flag. The message should not be opened or downloaded. If you do happen to open an e-mail and you realize it is pretentious, you should immediately run a virus scan. If you do become a victim of a phishing attack, call IT Resource and we can help resolve the problem.

While fraudulent e-mail is a very common form of malicious internet attacks, other mediums to use cautiously are the following:
  • Holiday screensavers/desktop backgrounds
  • Online shopping advertisements – extreme low prices
  • Credit card applications
  • Requests for charitable donations
  • E-greeting cards
  • Requests for personal information when applying for holiday or seasonal jobs

Example of an e-mail phishing scam claiming to be UPS:

Image provided by www.UPS.com

Don't be the victim of an information security, email security, or network security breach.

11 Innovative Tech Gadgets for the Holidays

Monday, December 03, 2012

Whether it's a new phone, tablet, game, or some other fun gadget, the holidays are a great time to stock up for every member of the family. If you're not sure where to begin, we've put together our list of this year's top tech gifts. You're sure to find something to please even the hardest to buy for!

Fitbit
This device is a great tool that helps put numbers around health in order to quantify the good or the bad. Great for the engineer types that are number crunchers. This can track your daily activities and sync wirelessly to offer insight. $59.95

Nest Learning Thermostat
This breathes new life into technology that is common place in every home, and brings intelligence to the heating and cooling world in order to conserve energy and money. Control the temperature of your home – from anywhere. $249.99


iPad Mini
Enjoy the high quality of Apple products – on a 7.9 inch display screen. This smaller sized tablet offers the equivalent sharp text, a vibrant screen, ultrafast performance and wireless with over 275K apps to download. The iPad Mini has superior build quality and is extremely light for a significantly lower price tag. $329.00 16GB

Microsoft Surface
Competitively priced with the iPad, this tablet is the first to offer the new Microsoft OS, Windows 8. The surface has a very sleek and simple design. It was built to be tough, made with VaporMg casing for superior durability. This tablet also has the MS Office feature to produce content versus using a tablet for pure entertainment. $499.99 32GB

Wii U
The new Wii U is completely transformed, now offering a GamePad which is the new controller that has a 6.2 inch screen built into it. This controller also has motion control, stereo speakers, a microphone and a front facing camera. These new features eliminate prior barriers between the game and the player. $299.99 8GB

Eye-Fi Memory Card
The Eye-Fi memory card has built in Wi-Fi so when you take pictures with your digital camera, the pictures are saved to your memory card, and then automatically uploaded to your computer. It’s super convenient, and frees up the space on your memory card with its endless memory feature. $39.99 4GB + Wi-Fi

Infrared Thermometer with Laser Targeting
This handy electronic tool makes distance measuring a breeze. This gadget can instantly measure temperatures in a wide variety of engines – including cars. This tool makes it ultra-easy – just point the laser at the object and within a 500 millisecond response time, the temperature will be shown on an LCD displays screen. It’s perfect for reading temperatures in hazardous areas! $34.99

Roku 2 XS
This surprisingly small device is the market leader for streaming entertainment to your TV. It provides over 500 channels, including many free movies. The Roku lets you instantly watch Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, Facebook, and Wall Street Journal Live among many others. It is incredibly easy to set up and there are no monthly or extra fees – ever. $99.99 –includes Ethernet port and pre-installed games

Jobe Keychain WiFi Finder
Ideal for people doing business on the go, the Jobe, which looks like a key fob can detect wireless hotspots instantly for anyone who needs to connect to the internet. $9.99

Google Nexus 7
This tablet is the perfect size for any situation. It has a 7 inch display and a battery life that lasts all day long. The performance will be well up to par with a quad core Tegra 3 processor and Wi-Fi enabled. $199.99 16GB

Windows Phone 8X by HTC
The next generation of mobile phones and tablets, specifically the Windows Phone 8, has a feature called Kid’s Corner. It grants permissions only to designated apps, music, games, and more so you can hand over your phone to your kid – or colleague – to provide an extra layer of security for your information. Large scale, this concept is called “sandboxing” and is not a new idea to computer security – it is used often for testing code in a virtualized environment. Users can install sandbox applications easily on their own PC’s at home to isolate web surfing or games and applications to ensure a safer environment for kids. Check out how to set up Kid’s Corner on your Windows Phone. $199.99

Section 179 Tax Break: Expiring December 31st, 2012

Friday, November 30, 2012
There is still time to save your business money before the New Year with the Section 179 hardware/software tax break! If your business is looking to expand its IT department, there is a great tax incentive to make those hardware and software purchases within the next 4 weeks.

On or before December 31st, 2012, businesses can take advantage of these tax breaks:
  • If a company purchases, leases, or finances new or used equipment totaling less than $139,000 they are eligible to write off their entire qualifying purchase!
  • If your equipment totals more than $139,000, you will receive a significant deduction that can be taken all at once versus depreciated over a certain amount of years.
  • The maximum that can be spent on equipment before the deduction begins to reduce is $560,000. If this amount is reached, a bonus depreciation of 50% can be used for new equipment only.


Print off your Section 179 IRS form today at www.section179.org and call a consultant at IT Resource to take advantage of this great year-end tax break savings!

Source: www.section179.org

Let’s Help Those Less Fortunate

Monday, November 26, 2012

The holidays are a time of giving, and there’s no better place to give than in your own backyard. From now until December 21 we’re collecting non-perishables and personal hygiene products to donate to Coopersville Cares. Drop off your donations at our office. Let’s work together to see if we can collect more than we did in 2011. Every little bit helps those in our community.

Some of our donations from 2011

A Camera that’s a Phone?

Monday, November 19, 2012

These days it’s pretty difficult to find a new phone that doesn’t have a camera built right in. Many phone users carry around a smart device that not only functions as a phone, but doubles as a camera, calendar, and personal notebook. Some of the features of the phone make it much easier to access your calendar on the go or upload your photos to Facebook as soon as they’re taken. However, a photo enthusiast isn’t looking to use their phone to take high quality pictures. The phone’s camera just isn’t made for that. But, what if there was a device out there that went the other way? What if there was a camera that had phone capabilities instead? Well, that’s what Samsung has just released.

This isn’t your normal run of the mill point-and-shoot camera. This is the new Samsung Galaxy Camera. Packed with a 16 Megapixel sensor and 21x zoom, this camera stacks up nicely against its counterparts in the market today. However, it’s not the picture taking abilities that has the people buzzing. This camera runs a friendly version of Android which allows it to behave similarly to your Android powered phone! So all those photo editing and filtering apps you’ve downloaded on your phone can also be downloaded straight to this camera. Additionally, it comes built in with WiFi and an optional HSPA+ Cell Radio so you can upload those photos to the internet on the go. The big benefit to this device over a cellular phone with a camera is the ability to take significantly better pictures while in an easier to hold device. Along with the better lens is a Quad-core processor, 4GB of internal memory with the ability to add a microSD card, and the ability to take HD Video. If you’d like more information with a very intuitive review, visit Engadget’s website where they have this and plenty of other reviews to check out.