Technology and Kids
By: ARCIS | 09.28.16

ARCIS team members, Jeff Rapp and Eric Yoder, were invited to speak at the Let's Talk About Sexting seminar at NewPointe and Grace Mennonite Churches in Holmes County, Ohio. The seminar was put on by AnaZoa Community Partners with presenters Matt Johnson - Principal at Hiland High and Middle Schools, Jay Conn - Pastor at Martins Creek Church, Detective Jim Henry - Holmes County Sherriff's Department, Shawn Warner - Assistant Holmes County Prosecutor, and personal testimoies from Garaway High School graduate Cassidy Widder and West Holmes Parent Jackie Taylor.

For our part of the presentation we discussed technology risks for kids, how to find out what different applications installed on computers and mobile devices do, and the steps to take to provide a safe technology environment for children.

Feel free to download our presentation and resources handouts from the links below:

Technology and Kids Presentation

Technology and Kids Handout

 

We want to extend a thank you to all the organizations involved and the students and parents that turned out to open a dialog on this important topic!

 

How to Improve the Security of your Home Network
By: ARCIS | 02.17.16

Whether you sometimes work from home or you just want to keep your personal network secure, learning how to protect your home’s network is important. Below are some steps we suggest to increase the security of your home’s Wi-Fi network.

During initial setup of a home router or firewall, you will have the option to change a lot of the default settings. We always recommend customizing these settings, including the password used to log into the device, the Wi-Fi SSID name, and the default encryption setting. As you are going through initial setup (most routers come with software that helps you through this process), you should be able to change all of these settings. If you already have a router setup, you can change these settings by either using the software (usually a CD) or entering the router’s IP address in the URL bar in your web browser. Most routers have a default IP address of 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.0.1, and when you enter that in your web browser you will be directed to your router’s log in screen.

When it comes to your router’s security settings we recommend using WPA2, and setting a custom password that only you would know – password123 usually isn’t a great option! To do this, simply go into your router’s settings menu and navigate to a section called something like “security” or “wireless security”. Once there you should be able to select which encryption/security setting you want, and we recommend using WPA2. Above all else, try to stay away from selecting WEP as your setting. WEP encryption can easily be hacked and expose your private network to unsavory characters.

We mentioned above that you should change your default SSID. This is just a fancy abbreviation that means your router’s name. This is what people see when they look at available wireless networks. When someone with malicious intent sees a default SSID (i.e. “Netgear1”, “Linksys01”, etc.) they will likely target that network as they assume other settings will still be the default as well. You change this the same way you change your password, by accessing your router’s settings and changing its name. We recommend changing it to something unique, but un-identifying.

One more option for maximum security on your router is using MAC address filtering. MAC (media access control) addresses are unique identifiers given to devices that connect to a network. All devices on your network (phones, smart TVs, computers, printers, satellite TV boxes, etc.) have a MAC address. If desired, you can find the MAC address, sometimes called physical address or Wi-Fi address, for each of your devices you use on your network. Then, through your router settings, you can add all of these devices to your “allowed” MAC addresses. This way, only those specific devices will be able to access your network.

Lastly, remember that all your computers, tablets and phones should have active anti-virus software installed. You must also subscribe to the maintenance service for the anti-virus software to receive updates that protect you against new computer viruses.

By taking these steps you can strengthen your home network security, greatly decreasing the chance of someone with malicious intent accessing your network. We understand that some of these steps can be a bit confusing to setup, so we encourage you to give us a call (330-236-1011) or shoot us an email with questions!

Backup and Disposal of Hard Drives
By: ARCIS | 02.09.16

Disposing of a hard drive, while not an everyday occurrence, is still something everyone should know how to do. This is especially important for business owners who are more likely to have information on the hard drives that they don’t want others to obtain. Unfortunately, it is not as easy as just unplugging the drive and tossing it in the trash. Throwing the drive away would still allow anyone to pick it up and access any files that were on it. Instead, there are several steps one should always follow when disposing of an old hard drive.

First, backup the data on the drive. There are a couple of ways users can go about this. The easiest is to look through the files on the hard drive, find the ones you wish to keep and copy the files from your existing hard drive to another hard drive connected to your computer, a USB drive, or even an online service like Carbonite or Mozy. This is the way most home users will perform their backup.

A more complex method is to use a third party utility, our favorites are Acronis and Clonezilla, to create a backup image of the entire hard drive and save it to a USB drive connected to your computer. It will require a USB hard drive of the same or larger size of the drive being backed up and some technical expertise. IT Professionals and advanced home users prefer this method because you can back up all files and be sure you haven’t missed anything that you might need in the future.

Once your data has been copied over, it’s time to actually destroy the hard drive. Like making the backups there are two ways to accomplish this. The first is to physically destroy the drive by removing the outer shell and destroying the platters, they look like little CD or DVD discs, on the inside. The second method is to use a software like KillDisk to securely overwrite all information on the drive thereby rendering it unreadable and unrecoverable. We recommend the second method unless you have some pent up stress you want to relieve!

Following these steps will surely take care of removing/disposing of any old hard drives that you don’t want lying around. If you have questions, or would like us to take care of old hard drives for you, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 330-236-1011, or contact us on our contact page.

2-Step Authentication
By: ARCIS | 01.04.16

In today’s world, it is becoming more and more important that we protect ourselves online. This starts with safe online practices (to see our article about how to use the internet safely, go here). However, that sometimes is just not enough. This is where 2-step authentication (sometimes called 2-factor authentication) comes in.

Most of us use 2-step authentication all the time without even realizing it. Every time we withdraw money from the ATM, 2-steps are involved: the correct bank card matched with its identifying PIN number. There are several different methods when it comes to using 2 steps for unlocking your computer, or accessing certain documents within your computer.

The first method is the combination of a password and using a USB key. The thinking behind this is that while a thief may be able to get your password, as long as you keep your USB stick on your person they will not be able to access your computer. Another common method is combining a password with verification via a mobile phone app, or receiving a text message/phone call with a PIN. Again, a thief may steal your password, but if you still have your phone they will not be able to login to your password or the website you have 2-step authentication setup for. One interesting method that may come to be more common is facial recognition. Some computers are programmed to take a photo of who is logging in, and if the user does not appear to be the owner, the computer will lock itself until the owner can unlock it.

There are many advantages to using 2-step authentication. It adds a whole extra layer of security for users, and is fairly easy to setup. Users can customize what steps are used to login, and choose what works best for them or what they think is the most secure. There are also a few disadvantages. It can become a bit tedious to use 2 steps every time you login. If you’re using a USB key and you forget the USB while you’re out, then you will not be able to use your computer! It is up to you to decide if the pros outweigh the cons, and if it will be worth it for you to set up 2-step authentication.

If you have any questions about using this security method, or how you can set it up, get in touch with us! You can do so by calling 330-236-1011, or visiting our contact page and sending us a message.

Safe Internet Practices
By: ARCIS | 12.28.15

In a world that is spending almost as much time online as off, it is becoming ever more vital that we use safe internet browsing practices. While there are some obvious things to avoid (i.e., there is NOT a Nigerian prince that needs to move some of his assets overseas into your bank account), we wanted to take a few minutes to give you a refresher on how to stay safe online. 

First things first, use a good antivirus! We recommend Trend Micro Antivirus for both business and personal use, but having some sort of antivirus/firewall installed on your computer is always a good first step. This is your first line of defense from malicious software, and will notify you when you are browsing a website that is not trustworthy. Also, most antivirus software will have a scan function that you can schedule to scan your computer for any viruses or malicious software that may have found their way on to your machine. Additionally, it is important to renew the maintenance on your antivirus yearly, as it should be updated often in an effort to keep up-to-date with new threats. 

I alluded to this above, but it is very important to use safe browsing habits. Do not visit websites that you do not know and trust, and do not click fishy looking advertisements found on the side or across the top of websites. In addition to websites, viruses can be found in spam emails, so always make sure you know and trust the sender of an email before opening any links within an email. A good practice when using the internet is to only stick to websites that are reputable – when in doubt, close it out! 

Over the course of a computers life, users will have to download and install various programs. Unfortunately, it is quite common for malicious software and programs to be bundled within various downloads and installs found online. In some cases the installation of a valid program gives you the option to skip installing an annoying or harmful bundled application. Read every step/page of the install very carefully and only install the programs you want. This is a good way to avoid downloading any unwanted programs or even viruses to your computer.  

On occasion you may receive a call from a number you don’t recognize, with the person at the other end of the line claiming to be some sort of tech support from a major tech company (Microsoft, Apple, etc.). They will tell you that your computer has a virus and they either need to access your computer to take care of it, or you need to give them your card info to buy antivirus software. These are scams, with the intention being either to plant a virus in your computer, or get your credit card info. No tech company will call you out of the blue, so if anything remotely similar to this happens, do not fall for it – hang up. If you are still not sure if it is a scam or not, give us a call (330-236-1011) and we will be happy to help you figure things out! 

In the computer security/safety world, there are many terms thrown around that may not be known to the average computer user. To end this segment, we wanted to give you a “glossary” of commons terms. 

  • Malware – any program designed to infect your computer.  

  • PUP (potentially unwanted program/s) – programs that are bundled together with a program you are trying to download. For example, when you download Adobe Reader, it bundles the Ask.com toolbar with it. As said above, always remember to read every step of the install, and to uncheck any boxes that will add a program you do not want to install. 

  • Phishing – the attempt to gain personal information (usernames, passwords, even credit card information) while pretending to be a reputable company. The phone calls we touched on earlier is one example of phishing, but this can happen within emails and on websites as well. 

  • Ransomware – a type of virus that locks/limits user’s computer access until the user pays a fee. Ransomware will often disguise itself as an antivirus program. Just remember that no antivirus program will lock your computer until you pay, and if this is happening it is almost certainly ransomware. 

  • Worm – malware designed to spread across networks, generally using things like email, instant messenger, network shares, and peer-to-peer networks. 

  • Spyware – software that gathers personal information based on browsing habits, generally to be used for advertising. Spyware is usually found bundled in downloads, as we covered earlier. 

  • Bloatware – usually unnecessary features that are overloaded onto programs/applications. All of the extra applications pre-installed on computers out of the box. For example, several months ago Lenovo came under fire as they were shipping out laptops with a preinstalled application called Supperfish, which is actually spyware. Always be aware during installation of any extra features being added (i.e. toolbars, search engines, shortcuts).  

Hopefully reading this has given you an idea of how to be safe online and, going forward, will give you the know-how to identify and avoid malware of any kind. Happy browsing! 

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