DNS layer security

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DNS layer security

Your first line of defence against malware.

For just £3 per device per month you can protect your business from malware and cryptlockers.


What is DNS?

DNS (domain name system) is a protocol that performs address translation.

Every website has a unique address called an IP address and it is the job of a domain name server to translate the website address you type into your website browser e.g. www.bbc.co.uk into an IP address.

When you type a web address (FQDN (fully qualified domain name)) into your browser a request goes off to a DNS server which translates the FQDN into the required IP address and directs your browser to the correct site.

The DNS you use will most of the time be determined by your internet service provider.

How can DNS layer security help?

OpenDNS by Cisco is a service that combines standard DNS with intelligent security. Their network actively monitors and learns from internet activity patterns to identify and block malicious infrastructure used to launch attacks.

What this means is that if you inadvertently try to visit a website with malicious content, or a piece of malware already on your computer tries to make contact with its command and control server the request will be blocked and the malicious code will be unable to communicate with your computer.

What’s wrong with just using an anti-virus?

Anti-viruses are usually signature based which means they are only as good as the threat database they are referencing. It is also very easy to disguise viruses so that they escape the attentions of a virus scanner.

Unlike antivirus’s which only deals with threats once they arrive on your computer, DNS security aims to block the threats before they reach your network.

How do I get DNS layer security?

If you are a home user, you are eligible for the OpenDNS free service. https://www.opendns.com/home-internet-security/

If you are business, please get in touch with Convergence. We are Cisco partners and are able to provide business DNS security for £3 per device per month. Setup is straight forward and usually requires no additional equipment. We are also able to provide protection for mobile devices when they leave your office network.

Security concerns of BYOD

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BYOD (Bring your own device) is an increasingly popular trend within businesses.

Mobile devices come in all shapes and sizes, from smartphones and tablets to laptops and even smart watches.

But while BYOD is can be advantageous in many scenarios, it can also open your organisation up to serious security concerns.

Security concerns of BYOD

Software updates

Are your employees keeping their devices up to date with the latest operating system and third party program security updates? While it’s true that devices are getting very good and keeping themselves up to date, it is still important to have a policy in place to monitor updates and ensure there have been no errors that may have prevented updates from being applied.

Business vs Personal

Employees using their device for personal use may encounter websites or files that could cause damage and data loss. They may also allow family members or friends to use the device without their supervision.

When the device is brought back into the office environment and connected to the business network, malicious programs have the opportunity to spread to other computers on the network.

Data backup Policy

When using personal devices an employee may become complacent in where they store their work files. Instead of putting documents on a network share or a cloud storage solution they may opt to place files directly on their computers hard drive. Not only does this mean files may not be backed up, it also presents possible data security issues.

Physical Security

Devices taken outside of the work place are more susceptible to theft. The result of this could be lost working hours while a replacement device is purchased or more seriously the loss of company data which has the potential to incur legal or financial penalties.

End of life

Once a device has reach the end of its life, are you ensuring that any data has been securely removed from the device before it is disposed of? It is not enough to simply format the machine. The only sure way of disposing of data is to physically damage the disk.

 

While it is possible to mitigate the risks that BYOD brings through the use of hardware solutions, the most cost effect option is to educate your staff members. Providing your employees with the skills and knowledge to operate their devices safely can save you time, money and potentially your businesses reputation.

Get your IT off to a flying start this year!

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A New Year, A New Beginning

As we start the New Year, many of us will have made resolutions in our personal lives. The goal, whether it to be get fit, eat healthy, stop procrastinating or perhaps learn a new language is focused on self-improvement. These changes will undoubtedly have a positive effect on our business in some way, but what about creating a New Year’s resolution just for our business?

As a business owner, the New Year is an opportunity to reflect on your business goals and consider what changes you can make within your business to help 2017 become one of the most successful and prosperous years so far.

For Convergence, we have chosen to make 2017 the year of ‘Optimisation’. This broad resolution will touch on many aspects of our, business but the three key changes on our hit list are:

Improved ticketing system to make our daily workflow more streamlined.
The addition of an IVR menu (Press 1 for… Press 2 for..) to our phone system so calls are accurately routed to the most appropriate person.
Implement a Direct Debit option for some of our recurring services to help improve cash flow.

Your Business

So the question remains, what resolution will you make for your business?

Here are a few questions to consider when thinking about possible changes to your IT.

  • Am I paying too much for my telephone system and calls?
  • Can I save money on my office printing?
  • Are my files and folders safe and backed up?
  • Who can I call to help if my computer or server stops working?
  • Can IT help me or my employees save time within my business?

If you require any help in answering the above or have any other IT related queries please do not hesitate to contact Convergence.

Creating a secure password, and one that you will remember!

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Creating a secure password, and one that you will remember!

We all know how annoying it is to try and come up with a password that is not only secure but that is memorable. It also seems like almost every week another company has been hacked and passwords stolen.

In the continuing battle to create unique passwords, I’m sure many of us end up with variations on a theme. If the ones below look familiar… read on!

  • Football clubs
  • Family names
  • Pet names
  • Date of Birth

A recent attack on Adobe has revealed how insecure many people’s passwords are. The list below highlights the most common passwords found in the Adobe breach.

  • 123456
  • 123456789
  • password
  • admin
  • 12345678
  • qwerty
  • 1234567
  • 111111
  • photoshop
  • 123123
  • 1234567890
  • 000000
  • abc123
  • 1234
  • adobe1
  • macromedia
  • azerty
  • iloveyou
  • aaaaaa
  • 654321

Perhaps even some of those look familiar!

So what goes into creating a strong password?

  1. Ideally you should look to have a minimum of 8 characters. The reason for this is that length is the only factor that will exponentially increase the time it takes for a password to be cracked.For example, the password “!24Thp*” may look secure but in fact “applerunningseatablebasket” is a more secure choice.
  2. Include uppercase letters, numbers and symbols.
  3. Exclude any personal information, for example dates of birth, favourite football teams, and spouse’s names.
  4. Don’t write your passwords down! Instead, make an abstract note that will jog your memory but give nothing else away.
  5. Create a new password for every account you own.
  6. Don’t reuse passwords. Once you know a password has been broken, or you have been notified by a company that there is the possibility of your password having been compromised, abandon it. It’s highly likely that broken passwords end up being added to a list for future dictionary attacks.

So, with all that in mind, how can I come up with a safe password?

A security expert named Bruce Schneier created a method in 2008 that he still recommends today.

‘Combine a personally memorable sentence with some personally memorable tricks to modify that sentence into a password to create a lengthy password.’

For example:

Wtdo3sacamerat@ke?Ptrs! – What does a camera take? Pictures!

Grt!Iluvthew33kEND –  Great! I love the weekend!

Company History

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Written by Jonathan Ansell, Director

Alex (my buisiness partner) and I met at Secondary School. Our friendship centered around a shared interest of technology and the internet, and many a lunch time and free period were spent in the school computer room surfing the internet eyeing up the latest computer componants.

Our first company, Ansell & Clarke is a web design business and still operates today, but we have recently established a new business called Convergence which provides managed IT services to businesss.

Although Convergence is a reletivaly new string to our bow, it is the culmination of many years of divergance from our core servcies, fuled by existing customers reaching out to us for help with their IT systems.

While the jump from web design and development to IT may seem to appear radical we both have experience in this field. Alex has worked within an organisation managing their corporate network and I worked as a computer technician diagnosing and reparing computers.

Our plan for the future is to continue to offer managed IT services and develop additional products and services that will be of benefit to our customers.

Network Attached Storage (NAS) for small business

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Inside your computer or PC is a component called a hard drive.  This device is responsible for storing your files, music and pictures.

Hdd

Unless you store your files using a cloud service like Microsoft One Drive or Google Drive your information will exist only on this component.

While hard drives are quite robust, they are, in most cases mechanical, and suffer from general wear and tear. With age they can also begin to operate at higher temperatures which speeds up the onset of a malfunction.

Data backup is often overlooked within small businesses with many people using USB flash drives or external hard drives to back up their information. This is a good start, especially if the process is automated and does not require manual intervention e.g. copy and pasting files across to an external hard drive.

The next step up from this, for additional piece of mind, would be what is called ‘Network Attached Storage’. One of these devices can provide an enhanced level of disaster recovery, and for the price, offers great value for money.

network-attached-storage

A basic NAS device is simply a box containing multiple hard drives. It connects to your router which in turn allows your computer to connect to it. You access files as you would a normal folder on your computer. In addition, as it is connected to your network, you can allow multiple computers to connect to this device. Great if you have resources that needs to be accessed by other staff members.

NAS devices can operate standalone but also have the ability to communicate via the Internet. This means that is possible to have your information backed up on the NAS and then again to a NAS or Server in another location.

The thing that makes Network Attached Storage so great in terms of resilience is the way your information is stored. Inside the box will be two hard drives (sometimes more), each making a separate copy of your data. If a drive fails, then the other will still have all your data. What is also good is that you can simply remove the faulty drive, put in a new one and the data will be copied back across.

Here at our office we use Network Attached Storage to great effect. All our files are stored on the device and are again backed up to an offsite location for additional redundancy.

Prices start at around £230 for a business quality NAS device with 750GB of storage.


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