What is a firewall, and why do I need one?

Firewall SecurityPronounced fire+wall, the dictionary definition is, “a part of a computer system or network that is designed to block unauthorized access while permitting outward communication.” It is essentially a security system that will control all incoming and outgoing network traffic based on a set of rules. And, if your PC is connect to the internet, you need it.

A PC connected to the internet is a potential target for a multitude of cyber threats, such as hackers, keyloggers, and Trojans that attack through security holes that are unpatched. Additionally, if you shop or bank online, you are vulnerable to these threats, as well as identity theft and other malicious attacks.

What does a firewall do?

A firewall limits access to computers and to the network, and it can also be used to access a network through a private, secure authentication certificates and logins. You can program them however you’d like in order to identify what you want to get out and what you want to get in. Everything beyond that is not allowed. A firewall can be either a hardware firewall or a software firewall, and the most secure firewall will come from a configuration of both.

Essentially, a firewall works as a barrier between your PC and cyber space. When you are on your PC, you are sending and receiving information in packets. A firewall will filter these packets to see if they meet the criteria that you’ve set up, and based on that criteria, it blocks or allows the content through to your PC. By doing this, hackers can’t get inside your PC to steal information like passwords, bank account information or business data from you.

Why should I use one?

  1. Firewalls can be configured to prevent employees from sending certain types of email or transmitting sensitive data outside of the network.
  2. Firewalls can prevent employees from perusing certain websites like social media networks.
  3. Firewalls prevent outside computers from accessing computer information inside the network.
  4. Protection from malware, malicious software and damage causing corruptive files to be transmitted onto your computer.
  5. Good firewalls include a feature that updates a list of known malicious and okay applications, making your computer protection continuously up to date.
  6. A good firewall can also make your PC invisible to hackers when you are online.

In conclusion, a firewall is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to your business or personal computer because it will keep your personal information private and keep your PC safe from viruses and malware. If you are curious about which firewall is right for you, please give us a call!

5 Questions to Help Define Your Small Business Website Strategy

Website StrategyCreating a website strategy consists of defining goals for your website. Planning ahead will provide a blueprint that will help save you time and miscommunication with your website developer. Begin your website strategy by answering the following questions below:

  1. Who is your targeted audience? How will you appeal to them?
  2. What it is that you want the visitor to do as a result of visiting your website?
  3. How are you going to grab the visitor’s attention and engage them?
  4. Do you have a clear and concise description of who you are and what you offer?
  5. Do you know what keywords your target audience is searching for? Are you using these keywords in your site content? Do you provide information that will make visitors want to return?

Answering these simple questions will get you started on your way to building an effective website strategy.

CryptoLocker Virus

CryptoLocker Virus on the Rise

CryptoLocker Virus is on the rise.

The CryptoLocker Virus saw a 50% increase in 2015 and shows no signs of slowing down. Experts found over 58% of corporate PC’s had a malware infection attempted. The ransomware trojan is  malware that effects access to your computer and demands users to pay a ransom for the restriction to be removed. This trojan is a malicious computer program that persuades users to install it by appearing to be routine or helpful. First reported in 2013, it targets computers running windows. CrytoLocker is propagated via infected email attachments, it displays a message offering to decrypt the data being held hostage via a prepaid cash voucher or bitcoin payment by a specific deadline.  The monetary demand can range in price from $200 to 5,000 for an individual PC. The virus then saves itself to a folder and adds a registry key to run every time the computer starts up.

How to avoid the CryptoLocker Virus.

  • It is always recommended to have a data back up system or a copy of your files.
  • Be wary of emails from senders that aren’t familiar, especially with attachments.
  • Train employees what to watch for and be alert of potential viruses.
  • When in doubt, do not open suspect attachments.
  • Establish stronger security processes.

 

What to do if infected by the CrytoLocker Virus

  • Do not pay the ransom!  There is no guarantee your computer will be released once ransom is paid. It will also propagate the virus and monies paid to online criminals.
  • Unplug your machine right away.  Make sure it is disconnected from the internet, you might be able to save some files from being encrypted.
  • Take your PC to a local trusted computer consultant or IT Provider.

 

How to avoid the CryptoLocker Virus