Why Your Internet Isn’t Working As Fast As It Could Be

There is nothing that will stop a productive day at work in its tracks faster than a slow internet connection. When you are met with a never-ending “loading” screen, the temptation to get frustrated and swear off all technology forever is too real. But, there is no reason to panic; we’ve put together some of the most common causes of slow internet at home and at work, and what you can do to fix them.

Internet Type

It is important to consider the type of internet that you are using since they are not all created equal. Both DSL and cable modems are common home networking technologies, but is one option faster than the other? Generally, cable modems will run a bit faster than DSL. According to Lifewire, cable technology currently supports 300 Mbps of bandwidth, whereas most forms of DSL reach speeds of only up to 100 Mbps.

For office use, Hardwired internet will always be faster than wireless internet.  An important detail to keep in mind when evaluating a new office space. It’s almost as important as being close to quality lunch spots!

Outdated Wiring

Outdated wiring can be a common cause of slow internet speeds. Old or damaged wiring can be a common connection problem. Check the wiring for your router or firewall for cracks, crimps or frayed sections. Out with the old, in with the new!

Overcrowding

How many people are accessing the internet at your home or office during one time? Multiple devices browsing or streaming at once will reduce speeds. Data is delivered in a rotating manner to any connected devices. The more devices, the longer it takes the router to arrive back at the first.

This is a common problem for home users when they decide to “cut the cord” and exclusively use streaming services for their media viewing. Just think, if you are steaming on your Smart TV, and have other family members or kids streaming on their iPads or Smartphones, you can expect your internet to be working overtime!

If this sounds like you, we recommend increasing your bandwidth for the best viewing experience.

We highly recommend this if you are like most of the Braver staff and have eagerly been anticipating the return of Game of Thrones and can’t bear to miss a second due to a slow connection!

Firewall Issues

Firewalls come in lots of different models and levels and are designed differently for home and office uses. Each firewall is designed to handle a certain speed. It is important to note that a firewall cannot route web traffic faster than the internet connection. If your internet is 100Mbps and your firewall can only handle 50Mbps, you have a bottleneck!

We recommend buying a firewall that you can to grow with for your home or business. That way, adding more users and devices will be a smoother process.

Security Breaches

Is your wireless internet password protected? If not, you may have more people using it that you think. We recommend setting a secure password for your Wi-Fi to prevent just anyone from logging on. Having a password set up for your internet will also increase the overall security of your data and your network.

And FYI: If you are thinking of using an easy to remember a password like “Password123” we really don’t recommend it. Learn more about choosing a secure password here.

Hardware Issues

Technology is always changing, and one of the most common culprits of a slow connection is outdated hardware. The router provided by your ISP could be outdated, or your older PC/laptop could be the cause.

Your access points could be older technology or just overworked. Depending on the number of users at your home or business, you just may not have enough.

What You Can Do

Once you have a hunch what is causing your reduced internet speeds, there are a few things you can do to fix them.

We recommend running a speed test first to get a better read on your true internet speed. We prefer to use the ISP’s speed test when and if possible. Verizon, Comcast, Charter, and Cox all have their own, and it’s as close to accurate as possible.

Speedtest.net is also a public/free option that can provide an accurate reading.

For more complex issues, contact your ISP for home internet questions or your IT company for business issues. At Braver Technology Solutions, we work with local ISPs and can help troubleshoot any internet issues you may be having at your business.

Please contact us to learn more about our fast internet options for your business.

March Malware-Ness: March Madness Cyber Security Tips

March Madness is here! And when the basketball madness starts, so do phishing attacks. Increased web traffic and public interest around March Madness is the perfect chance for hackers and cyber criminals to impersonate popular bracket websites and online betting organizations. The number of phishing attacks also increases. So, it is in your best interest to be an educated and cyber aware fan.

In 2018, it was reported that traffic activity from users streaming games online and checking bracket updates increased by 28% compared to 2017. According to several monitoring sites, there was also an increase in overall malicious activity related to the tournament and a clear upward spike in phishing pages, adware downloads, and improper handling of user data.

It seems likely that these cyber-attacks will continue during this year’s tournament. Because of its popularity, there’s a good chance that they could occur on your business network. Especially if you have any employees or coworkers that are avid sports fans.

We know how difficult it can be to avoid the temptation of checking your bracket at work. Or watching game highlights in between meetings!

However, if you are educated and aware of what to keep an eye out for, you can overcome the sneakiest of hacking attempts. Be a cyber aware fan with these safety tips.

March Madness Cyber Security Tips

  • Unless you personally signed up for a contest, survey, or poll via email, avoid the invitation to participate. Try to only engage with content from reputable websites.
  • If you are involved in a tournament bracket, enter the site URL into your browser directly. Hackers can disguise viruses as harmless looking links.
  • Don’t click on any links in emails if they seem too good to be true. Also, watch out for spelling or grammar mistakes.
  • If you plan to live stream any games, please do so from a reputable site. Clicking on a random link you saw on Facebook can spell trouble.

Please contact us to learn more about our cyber security initiatives and how we can help keep your business safe and secure.

Keep Your Practice Secure: HIPAA Compliance Infographic

Are you are a member of a healthcare organization working with protected health information (PHI)? If so, you need to make sure all communication, storage, and transmission of PHI are HIPAA compliant. But what is HIPAA compliance, and how does your medical practice’s use of technology impact it? By following this HIPAA compliance infographic, you can keep your practice staff educated and prepared.HIPAA Compliance Infographic

10 High-Tech Valentine’s Day Gifts

This Valentine’s Day, how do you show the special person in your life that you love them more than a strong wi-fi signal? With a thoughtful and high-tech gift of course! If your sweetheart is as tech-obsessed as we are, this list of 10 unique items will make choosing the perfect gift easy. And remember, there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself this Valentine’s Day! 

1. Smartwatch 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Source: Amazon 

For someone that wears their heart on their sleeve, a smartwatch is a perfect choice. We like the Samsung Galaxy Watch because it is lightweight, stylish, and compatible with both iPhone and Android phones. You can also go nonstop for several days on a single charge, which is perfect if you’re notorious for forgetting to charge your devices (hey, we’re guilty). 

2. Tile Mate Tracker 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Source: Amazon 

They say distance makes the heart grow fonder. One thing we are not fond of is going any sort of distance without our wallet or keys. The Tile Mate is a high-tech tracker that you can attach to any essential item. Using your smartphone’s Bluetooth connection, you can track its location through the Tile app. Perfect for your forgetful Valentine, the only thing it can’t do it remind them to order their Valentine’s day gifts before February 14th.  

3. Laptop 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Source: DELL 

A high-quality laptop is a gift anyone would appreciate, and the right one can last a user for several years. Picking the right one can be challenging though, so we are happy to help you select the best laptop based on your needs. Give us a call or read our guide to choosing the right laptop.   

4. The Keyboard Waffle Iron 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Source: The Keyboard Waffle Iron 

If the way to your Valentine’s heart is through their stomach, this gift is sure to hit the spot. The Keyboard Waffle Iron is the perfect gift for anyone that loves to play with their food. CTRL + ALT + DELicious! 

5. Smart Luggage  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Source: Away 

Love is an adventure, and with handy smart luggage, you’ll be ready for anything. The Away Carry-On features a TSA approved ejectable battery, perfect for charging your phone on the go. 

6. Mobile Printer 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Source: Best Buy 

If your partner has more photos on their phone than on their walls, this is the perfect gift. A mobile printer, like the HP Sprocket 2-in-1 Smartphone Printer & Instant Camera, makes capturing and printing photos on the fly instant and easy. 

7. Gaming Console  

 

 

 

 

 

Image Source: Amazon 

If gaming is their one true love, make their Valentine’s day with a Nintendo Switch. With the ability to play at home and on the go, this is a great addition to any gamer’s collection. Just make sure they don’t spend too much time gaming!

 8. Furbo Dog Camera 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Source: Furbo 

Treat your furry valentine with the Furbo Dog Camera. This video camera features 1080p full HD video, 2-way audio, and fun treat tossing technology. This is an absolute must-have for your furry friend! Plus, we’re sure that your pet will enjoy this gift long after Valentine’s day! 

 9. Bluetooth Speaker 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Source: Amazon 

The perfect gift for the music aficionado in your life, this SoundLink Bluetooth Speaker from Bose hits all the right notes. We love this model for its sleek design and well-balanced audio. Now all you have to do is create a playlist with the best cheesy love ballads.  

10. Portable Keyboard 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Source: Amazon 

The Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard is the perfect gift for the person who is always working, even on the go. Ultra-thin and lightweight, this device is designed to work with iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows tablets and Windows tablets.  

Is Your Business #PrivacyAware? 3 Easy To Implement Privacy Tips

Data Privacy Day celebrated annually on January 28th, is an international effort to empower individuals to respect privacy, safeguard data, and enable trust. Don’t think of #DataPrivacyDay as just another “social media holiday”. Think of it as a chance to review the privacy policies currently in place at your business. Are there ways you can improve? Raise the level of data security? At Braver, we think data privacy and security are of the utmost importance. That’s why to celebrate Data Privacy Day, we’re sharing 3 easy to implement privacy tips so you can stay #PrivacyAware.

Tip #1: Enable Dual-Factor Authentication

Where possible, we suggest enabling two-factor authentication. Most standard security procedures only require a simple username and password. Because of this, it has become easier for criminals to gain access to a user’s private data. Two-factor authentication allows you an extra level of security and protection.

Just like a normal log-in process, two-factor authentication is completed after your username and password are entered. Based on the type of two-factor authentication you are using, you can be prompted to enter a numerical code, provide a thumbprint, or take a photo for facial recognition. It can be a little time consuming to complete each time you want to log in, but the extra level of protection is worth it.

Tip #2: Create Complex Passwords

Password complexity is one of the easiest ways to step up your security. For example, if your password is “Password123”, you might want to consider something a bit more complex! At the absolute minimum, your passwords should include the following:

  • Lowercase characters
  • Uppercase characters
  • Numbers
  • Punctuation
  • “Special” characters (@, #, $, %, &, etc.)
  • 8 – 15 alphanumeric characters

We also recommend changing your passwords every quarter and using different passwords for your business and personal accounts. For more password Dos and Don’ts and to understand how passwords are a big part of HIPAA compliance, check out our deep dive here.

Tip #3: Updates Software and Hardware Regularly

All good things must come to an end, including the business software and hardware that you have likely been using for years. In the tech field, we call this End of Life. This basically means that the developer will no longer issue security updates, fix bugs and flaws, or offer support.

Leaving your device or network open and vulnerable to cyber attacks is never a good thing. That’s why we recommend following the developer’s guidelines for updating on time.

While technically you can still use your computer after the End of Life deadline, it comes with incredible risk. After the deadline, your computer will be vulnerable to exploits, bugs, and viruses. If you choose to be daring and not update and then find yourself with an issue, you will likely receive no help from Microsoft.

FYI to our Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 users: End of Life is quickly approaching! Find out when and how you can start an upgrade plan today.

Please use these tips to make sure your business is #PrivacyAware. For more tech tips, please follow our blog, or contact us for more info.

We Take Proactive Security Measures. You Should Too.

When was the last time you changed your password?  

Do you have two-factor authentication set up for your accounts? 

Are you protected against cyber-attacks? 

Are you now slightly panicked because you’re not sure if you’ve done ANY of these things for your business? 

Never fear, Braver is here. 

Our Level 1 Priority Care service includes security protocols and professional recommendations to ensure that you have the best protection available. Based on your industry and daily operations, we develop a security plan that works best for you and your employees. 

Here are just some of the proactive security measures that Braver takes to protect your business, your data, and your employees. 

PS: We follow all these protocols in-house, so you know they’re the best. 

Dual Factor Authentication 

Just like a normal log-in process, two-factor authentication is completed after your username and password are entered. Based on the type of two-factor authentication you are using, you can be prompted to enter a numerical code, provide a thumbprint, or take a photo for facial recognition. It can be a little time consuming to complete each time you want to log in, but the extra level of protection is worth it.  

The main benefit of using two-factor authentication is the extra security because of the peace of mind it provides. If a cybercriminal was able to get ahold of your password, they would have no luck accessing any information because of your unique two-factor authentication code or key. This is especially useful in the case of physical theft of a computer or laptop.  

In addition, you can set up two-factor authentication for your business or personal social media accounts. Two-factor authentication also works well with software applications like Quickbooks or the CRM of your choice.  

Disaster Recovery  

With Braver, you can rest assured that your data is safe and secure with our Ready Vault: Backup and Recovery Service. Our bullet-proof system not only backs up your data as often as every fifteen minutes but in the event of a server malfunction, it can assume the role of that server, while still performing incremental backups. This means your network is still up while your server is being fixed and parts are being ordered. 

To ensure that your data is protected in any disaster, the Ready Vault device encrypts and can archive your data at our off-site data centers incrementally 

 

CyberKnight Security Suite  

Cybercriminals are attacking businesses every day, stealing information and holding companies for ransom. Your information could be out there on the dark web and be used to find vulnerabilities in your network. With CyberKnight Cyber Security Suite we can track, monitor, and close security vulnerabilities while working to reduce liabilities and keep your data safe.  

In a world where everything is connected, it is important to protect your network assets and understand where vulnerabilities lie. Using proprietary technology, CyberKnight Security Suite from Braver Technology reveals vulnerabilities within your business in real time. CyberKnight allows you to make improved security choices for your employees and customers now and in the future.  

For business owners, CyberKnight is the most comprehensive security tool because we provide you with enterprise-level technology and security education at a small business price. 

Password Security and Exchange Policies  

If you are reading this, there’s a good chance that you (or one of your coworkers) has their passwords and login information on a Post-It note taped to their desk.   

While displaying passwords out in the open is unfortunately common in most offices (even the Boston Red Sox are guilty) it leaves you open to data breaches and if you are in the medical field, costly HIPAA violations. We recommend creating secure, complex passwords and that you update them frequently.

We also follow a specific security protocol for password change requests. For our clients, all password changes and other security-related requests must be confirmed by the client’s main contact. This extra security measure is to ensure that all requests are legitimate and that the main contact is aware of all requests for sensitive information. We recommend implementing this security protocol in your own business for sensitive information requests.

This policy is just one of the many that we use to keep data secure, and our clients protected.

If you have any questions about this policy update or any of our security protocols, please contact us.

 

5 Tips For Safe Online Shopping This Holiday Season

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Shoppers were clicking, with touchpads and with mouse.

The online shopping carts were filled with care,

with hopes that discounts and deals would soon be there…

Holiday shopping season is upon us once again, and if you are one of the 174 million Americans who shopped last year, you likely have a detailed list of gifts set up to purchase already. Online shopping is the preferred method to take advantage of the season’s deals when massive lines and crowded stores can put a damper on your holiday spirit. However, cybercriminals love holiday shopping as much as you do. They work to make a profit off the increase in e-commerce activity around the holidays.

When it comes to being safe and secure online, you can never be too careful. Check out these 5 safe online shopping tips to make sure that you don’t get Grinched this holiday season.

5 Safe Online Shopping Tips

 

1. Deck The Halls With Security Updates

It’s a good idea to update the software on your computer before you start shopping. This includes your OS, browser, and any other web applications. If you are planning to do any shopping from your mobile phone or tablet, the same rule applies. This is to ensure that your device, and your sensitive data, are protected.

2. Check That Link (And Check It Twice)

Retail emails are a great way to be the first to know about discounts and new products. However, beware of emails that come from unfamiliar websites. It could be a phishing scheme designed to trick you into clicking a link and entering personal and financial data. If you see a deal that is just too good to be true, type the website name into your browser, and then shop with confidence.

3. ‘Appy Holidays

Make sure any e-commerce apps you plan to use are downloaded from a trusted source, like the Apple App Store, Google Play or Amazon App Store. Note the “permissions” that will pop up when you download an app. Make sure to read through them and see if they make sense. You can also look at the feedback in the comments section of the app and choose ones with high ratings.

4. No Place Like Home For The Holidays

There is no place like home for the holidays, especially when shopping online. Having a secure network connection is ideal, so plan to do most of your shopping on your home network. Public Wi-Fi can easily be hacked, exposing your sensitive data cybercriminals, who are definitely on the naughty list this year.

5. Secure Season’s Greetings

You are likely to shop from several websites this holiday season, but it is important to ensure that they are secure. It’s very easy to check this if you know where to look! Check out the URL of every website you plan to shop from. If you see a lock icon and the word “secure” next to the URL, then you can shop with confidence.

 

Be sure to share these tips with others and spread the word about online holiday shopping security!

Why You Need to Prepare For Windows 7 & Windows Server 2008 End Of Life

All good things must come to an end, including the business software that you have likely been using for years. In the tech field, we call this End of Life. This basically means that the developer will no longer issue security updates, fix bugs and flaws, or offer support.

And now its Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008’s turn to head to the big computer graveyard in the sky.

Why is this important?

While technically you can still use your computer after the End of Life deadline, it comes with incredible risk. After the deadline, your computer will be vulnerable to exploits, bugs, and viruses. If you choose to be daring and not update and then find yourself with an issue, you will likely receive no help from Microsoft.

Bottom line: After January 14, 2020 Microsoft will no longer be offering any support or repair services.

What does this mean for your business?

If you are a Windows customer, Extended Support for Windows Server 2008 will be ending January 14, 2020. Extended Support for Windows 7 will also be ending January 14, 2020.

It is important to ensure that your business is protected, which will become more difficult without security updates, higher maintenance costs, and compliance concerns. Braver Technology Solutions support for Windows Server 2008 may not be covered under your Level 1 Priority contract. 

From now until January 14, 2020, Windows Server 2008 and Windows 7 users that require support will be charged a premium from Microsoft for issues and support tickets. Once Extended Support ends, Microsoft will no longer support any issues or tickets for Windows Server 2008 or Windows 7.

 

Windows updates over the years via Microsoft.com

 

What Do I Need To Do To Prepare?

Braver Technology Solutions can make the upgrading process easy and keep you well protected. We have multiple solutions for your business to limit disruption and deliver the latest features and benefits from Windows. A smooth transition to a new operating system includes:

  • Identify machines that need to be upgraded or replaced
  • Develop a timeline and budget for upgrades and replacements
  • Plan for installation and employee training to learn the new system

Contact us today to discuss an upgrade and replacement plan for your business

 

What is Social Engineering and Why Should You Care?

Small business owners may think that while their network and systems are safe from malware, they have nothing to worry about. However, they may not be prepared for social engineering.  Social engineering, a form of cyber crime, is used to steal personal information from users. It goes beyond just phishing scams, using more complex methods to steal information.

Here are some common social engineering scams you should know.

Phishing

This is the most frequently used social engineering attack, especially against small businesses.

How is phishing carried out? Criminals make use of emails, phone calls, or text messages to steal money. Victims are directed to phony websites or hotlines and are tricked into giving away sensitive information. Information like names, addresses, login information, social security, and credit card numbers can all be compromised.

To protect yourself, be wary of emails from people you don’t know that offer you a prize, come with attachments you didn’t request, direct you to suspicious sites, or urge you to act quickly. Phishing emails usually appear to come from reliable sources.

One of the most infamous and widespread examples of phishing was during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, where victims received fraudulent emails for fake ticketing services that stole their personal and financial information.

Tailgating

What’s the fastest and easiest way for criminals to enter a secure office? Through the front door, of course! Tailgating happens when an employee holds the door open for strangers and unauthorized visitors, allowing them to infiltrate an organization. This simple act of kindness enables fraudsters to enter restricted areas, access computers when no one is looking, or leave behind devices for snooping.

Quid pro quo

Here, scam artists offer a free service or a prize in exchange for information. They may lure their victims with a gift or special offer in exchange for login credentials, account details, passwords, and other important information. Or hackers may volunteer to fix their victims’ IT problems to get what they want. In most cases, the gifts or special offers are fake, but damages from stolen information are all too real.

Pretexting

Criminals who pretend to be someone else to steal information. They may pose as a telemarketer, tech support representative, co-worker, or police officer to fish out credit card information, bank account details, usernames, and passwords. The con artist may even convince the unsuspecting victim to apply for a loan over the phone to get more details from the victim. By gaining the person’s trust, the scammer can fool anyone into divulging company secrets.

Despite the many security measures available today, criminals and their social engineering schemes continue to haunt and harm many businesses. So, your best bet is to prepare for the worst. To protect sensitive information, educate yourself and be careful. Remember: If anything is too good to be true, it probably is!

Please contact us to learn more about our cyber security initiatives and how we can help keep your business safe and secure.