Microsoft recently announced the re-branding of its Office 365 business plans. Office 365 is now Microsoft 365. While the name change may cause some confusion, the subscription packages will remain the same. Here is the breakdown:
Office 365 Business Essentials is now Microsoft 365 Business Basic.
Office 365 Business Premium is now Microsoft 365 Business Standard.
Microsoft 365 Business is now Microsoft 365 Business Premium.
Office 365 Business and Office 365 ProPlus are now both Microsoft 365 Apps.
The new naming convention reflects Microsoft’s strategy of providing one single complete productivity platform for their customers. Microsoft states, “We want our products to reflect the range of features and benefits in the subscription.” This re-branding was designed to help customers quickly find the plan they need. However, the new naming convention can be confusing when you try to connect prior names to their respective new names. It may be more efficient to just focus on whether your current subscription for office applications meets you and your company’s needs, regardless of the subscription’s name.
The coronavirus presents unique challenges for businesses and employees. Social distancing has become the new normal, to better protect our healthcare system and fellow citizens. For many companies, this has meant creating new solutions to maintain productivity through this trying time.
Many companies have used remote work solutions in the past. But this new situation has forced a much higher number of companies to adapt to a work from home model quickly. Because it was a quick emergency solution, companies and employees are finding some pain points to their new work environments. The number one concern for many companies is cybersecurity.
At IA Tech Group, we’re trying to educate our clients and the public to the heightened risks of hacking and phishing. Malicious actors have wasted no time in using the current crisis to gain access to personal data and infiltrate company systems. Integrated Axis is here to help you navigate the challenges of working remotely during COVID-19.
Cybersecurity and Working Remotely
When companies conscientiously plan for work from home solutions, they put protocols in place to protect their networks and data. The fact is, the quickly escalating situation with the coronavirus made that more difficult. But it’s not too late to implement solutions now. Here are some key security issues to tackle right away:
Develop a device protocol. It’s important that all of the devices that your employees use to access company information is protected. Many companies mandate that employees only use company devices while working. If you’re allowing employees to use personal devices, you should make sure they have the same level of security software.
Educate employees on standard practices. Many people use lax security at home and don’t understand the security measures used in the office. After all, we’re not all IT experts. Update employees on the best practices for security, so they’re less likely to make mistakes that impact your data.
Assess their network security. Most home networks are not as secure as the ones used in the office. Open a line of communication and make recommendations for employees to strengthen their network at home to offer better support.
Give employees information on current threats. There are a number of new hacking and phishing techniques that have come out in the last few weeks. Understanding how these threats work will give employees better information so that they don’t fall prey to the scams.
Make sure they know the signs of infiltration. There are signs, such as a slower computer and pop up ads, that indicates your device has been compromised. Make sure that your employees know the signs to mitigate damages as soon as possible.
Initiate good practices in upkeep. Give your employees the tools they need to run regular checks on the devices that they use at home.
Can Integrated Axis Technology Group Help?
If your business has quickly moved to remote working solutions and you’re concerned about the security risks, contact Integrated Axis today. Our team of dedicated professionals can assess your current protocols, help you implement a robust cybersecurity plan for remote work, and make sure that your IT Department has the support you need.
With a potential pandemic sweeping the globe, businesses, educational institutions, and other organizations are beginning to test the strength of their continuity planning—or lack thereof. And in today’s tech-focused society, a company’s ability to keep things humming along during quarantine or other sudden disruption largely depends on its data services. Learn why business continuity services are so essential and how Integrated Axis Technology Group can help organizations meet their continuity goals.
What is Business Continuity Planning?
Business continuity planning allows businesses to seamlessly adjust to unexpected events by protecting and maintaining crucial data and systems. These plans can encompass everything from a brief power outage to a wildfire evacuation to a terrorist attack. By creating a plan that can adapt to a variety of different variables, businesses will be able to minimize shutdowns or supply chain issues that can cause significant disruptions.
Many business continuity plans depend on the cloud—both to back up crucial documents and programs and to provide remote workers the ability to work from home. A business continuity plan can be as detailed or as simple as an organization would like, but in general, the more detail, the better. The best continuity plans have concrete, clearly-communicated benchmarks, and standards to ensure that everyone operating within the plan is on the same page.
Business continuity plans should be tested regularly. The last thing any organization wants is to discover a major fault in their disaster planning (or data breach) when it matters most. These tests can be as simple as a quarterly work-from-home day to ensure that all key personnel has the infrastructure to log in and perform their routine tasks no matter where they’re located.
How Can Organizations Maintain Cybersecurity During a Disruptive Event?
There are a few things that businesses can do to create a secure, reliable continuity plan.
First is to identify and prioritize the key, core business functions, and time-sensitive tasks—the types of tasks that are necessary to keep things running. Next, you’ll want to lay out the steps required to recover core functionality, like setting up employees with a VPN, transferring processes to an off-site server, or assigning workers to retrieve certain items from headquarters.
You’ll also want to name a continuity team: managers, directors, security officers, IT personnel, and others who can strategize and create plans that minimize business disruption. These plans should be tested and tweaked regularly, incorporating suggestions and adapting to changes in the logistical landscape.
Finally, it’s a good idea to distill this information down to a simple checklist or flow chart that everyone can use for reference. From emergency contact numbers and email addresses to an index that helps employees determine where specific information is stored, these “cheat sheets” can be incredibly useful.
Throughout this process, keeping your data secure is the key to emerging unscathed. If you’re wondering whether your own business’s continuity planning could use some work, look no further than Tucson’s Integrated Axis Technology Group. Integrated Axis offers backup and disaster recovery services that can protect against malware, hackers, and other threats to your business.
Comments Off on Facial Recognition & Cybersecurity
Human beings are uniquely adept at recognizing faces and interpreting facial expressions. The average person is capable of remembering and recognizing over 5,000 unique faces instantly. We’re so good at it that we can immediately spot a familiar person up to 50 yards away. For a machine to step up to the task of recognizing faces that quickly and reliably would be quite a feat of engineering. But, of course, facial recognition technology (FR) has made some critical leaps forward in recent years.
For FR to work, it has to go through a process of capturing images, extracting key feature markers, comparing these to a database, and performing a match search. At present, facial recognition security assets require that a would-be entrant present his or her face to the scanner, hold still for a moment, and try not to visibly emote. This kind of tech can help harden an access point against unauthorized entrants- but the limitations of the system make it easy for clever hackers to defeat.
Here at Integrated Axis Technology Group in Arizona, our goal is to help you get the most out of any security technology you choose to deploy. At present, recognizing the cybersecurity risks of Facial Recognition is critical.
The Risks of Facial Recognition Technology
The best FR tech performs Capture, Extraction, Comparison, and Matching very quickly. But for an intruder who understands how the machine works, defeating the system is still possible. There is also a list of known methods to beat FR cameras. They include, but are not limited to;
Camera finders: detect FR cameras so they can be avoided
NIR LEDs: use bright lights to disrupt FR scans
Reflective accessories: blind camera sensors
Prosthetic masks: realistic masks that can trick FR cameras
Hair and makeup: obscure and alter facial features without looking suspicious
For the time being, all of these methods allow people to escape detection. But only one can actually fool an FR scanner in order to gain access to a restricted location, the prosthetic mask. While these items are expensive, it is possible for a criminal to obtain them, and they easily fool most FR systems. Of course, privacy is always a concern. By making your face your key and password, that means anyone who manages to obtain a prosthetic copy of your face gains access. In a world where FR is ubiquitous, a rise in prosthetic mask crime is a predictable outcome.
Automakers have begun experimenting with FR tech as a means for drivers to access their vehicles. Models that are currently in testing have a high rate of success, about 97%. But these devices succeed at lower rates recognizing women due to makeup and hair changes, and people with dark skin, which absorbs much of the light FR systems need to work.
Of course, placing FR cameras anywhere poses a privacy threat to anyone who walks by them. With these concerns on the rise, we can expect to see changes to legislation regulating these devices in the near future.
Here at Integrated Axis, our goal is to help companies in Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona cope with and overcome these risks. Our integrated It services are designed to keep you ahead of the competition- especially in areas where keeping up with bleeding-edge technology is key to remaining competitive in your industry.
Comments Off on Business Tech: Combating Cybersecurity Risks Associated with Mobile Devices
Cybersecurity is a top priority for most businesses. We recognize that owning a small or medium-sized business doesn’t protect you from hackers. In fact, they increasingly target smaller businesses because the security efforts are often much easier to get past than the larger enterprises. You have to be concerned about the rising instances of ransomware and other cybersecurity attacks. Companies today are finding that securing their own network is only part of the strategy. Unfortunately, their employee’s mobile devices also increase their risk of exposure.
The Rise of Bring Your Own Device Culture
Not long ago, companies were widely using a strategy that advised that none of their employees could access the network from private devices. Employees had to be on-site in order to work with documents or access the database. Today, that’s largely impractical. Employees are increasingly mobile. They access their email and log into cloud platforms from their mobile devices regularly. Disallowing this practice might severely hamper your ability to stay competitive. Not allowing personal devices is a mistake. Instead, develop a Mobile Device Policy that your employees need to follow.
Developing a policy for your employees where cybersecurity and mobile devices are concerned is the best line of defense. This allows your employees to use the latest technology to increase productivity and improve customer service. At the same time, you’re mitigating the risks caused by devices that are not overseen by your IT team.
Things to Consider in Your Strategy
When developing a strategy for devices, here are a few things to consider:
Mobile Apps. One of the key ways that mobile devices pose a security risk is through apps that are not safe or unvetted. There are a million mobile apps available for every type of task. The best way to make sure that your employees aren’t using apps that pose is risk is by developing a list of acceptable apps.
Educate Your Employees. Risks through mobile devices are only getting higher. More attacks are focused on the mobile user because hackers know that people are less vigilant when they use their phone, and they use their phones far more often than other devices.
Don’t Use Links in Email. Users are far more likely to fall for phishing scams through mobile devices. It’s easier to detect a scam email on a larger screen.
Mandate Authorization. Password or facial recognition authorization should be used on all mobile devices where employees access business documentation. This is a good practice in general.
Integrated Axis Can Help Your Team with Cyber Threats in 2020
If you’re looking for additional help with your cybersecurity strategy, contact Integrated Axis today. Our experienced staff can assess your business and help you build the best cybersecurity process to mitigate risks.
Cellular service has always been about speed, even from the very beginning. The lower the call drop rate, and the more dependable the connection, the better a carrier fares. As mobile phones have moved away from calling functions to become mobile computers, speed definitely matters. 5G, the common shorthand for “Fifth Generation Cellular Wireless” is the latest breakthrough in cell phone speed, but it’s more complicated than you might think.
What is 5G?
Strictly speaking, 5G doesn’t have a clear-cut definition – other than the fact it’s currently the fastest wireless data transmission speed. It refers to a generation of cellular speed, but within that generation, there are various definitions – low, mid, and high-band – for starters. While cellphone companies use “5G” as a sort of catch-all in terms of phone features, this isn’t entirely accurate. Just because a phone is 5G compatible doesn’t necessarily mean that it will operate at 5G speeds – only that it is capable of doing so when they’re available. The practical uses of each wireless generation tend to lag, which means we likely won’t see the apps, programs, and more that use 5G until well into 2021.
How Can 5G Help My Business?
One of the most exciting potential uses for 5G is an expansion of the IoT, or Internet of Things. This is the network that allows a business owner to monitor realtime stock movement in their warehouse, or determine things like foot traffic via sensors in their stores. Think of it as Bluetooth-on-steroids: it’s a vast, observable, and controllable network of “smart” devices that help by producing data and, in some cases, controlling automation. 5G connects all of these components and puts a business owner in control of it all via cellular transmission.
Is 5G Safe?
Because 5G is so new, serious online threats haven’t made it into the 2020 headlines quite yet. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s safe, however. 5G relies mainly on software where its predecessors relied on hardware, this makes it agile but a prime target for hackers. As users rely on 5G to control smart home functions, serve as a biometric or location-based key, or even start up a connected car, cybercriminals are taking notice. When hackers can access your connected lights and cameras, your car’s engine and locks, and your phone itself, “breaking into” your life is as easy as building the right malware.
This is an exceptionally troubling security risk for businesses, as they keep not only their own data secured but often their customers’ as well. Though each 5G-connected device or module adds flexibility and control to the mix, it’s also a potential “open door” for a breach if a determined hacker wants to get in. For example, in 2017, hackers were able to access a casino’s database through an unlikely weakness: the wi-fi connected thermometer in a large ornamental fish tank.
Cybersecurity Protections for 5G
If the business tech your Tucson or Phoenix-area company uses will potentially connect with or use 5G, protect yourself with an assessment from Integrated Axis. Cybercriminals won’t wait for a new year of innovations to start trying to force their way into your data, so don’t wait to protect it. With more than 20 years of experience protecting our customers, our cybersecurity team is ready for the 5G revolution, and we’re looking forward to helping your company navigate it. Contact us today!
Comments Off on Business Tech: Cybersecurity Checklist for 2020
As we enter 2020, the new year is a great time to assess your IT processes and see where your cybersecurity protocol might need to be improved. Whether you’re doing a fantastic job with data protection, or you need to shore things up, it’s always best to know where your company stands in terms of security. There are new scams and malware threats to beware of all the time.
At Integrated Axis Technology Group, we offer comprehensive assessments to help companies stay up-to-date on the latest cybersecurity best practices. If you’re taking some time to assess your overall performance, this list will give you a good overview of where to start.
Cybersecurity Checklist for 2020
A security breach can bring even the most prepared company to a standstill. Making sure that each of these areas of your cybersecurity protocol is strong can help you fend off hackers and mitigate any damages quickly in the event of a breach.
Password Protection. Setting a password protocol for your employees is essential. One of the easiest ways for malicious actors to gain access to your database is through poor password procedures. Make sure all of your employees are using passwords each time they log into devices and platforms housing company data. They should be using strong passwords, and each password should be unique.
Secure WiFi Network. It’s common for most companies to use WiFi to some degree, and this means that you have to make sure that your network is adequately secured. You should also make sure employees are not using unsecured or public WiFi networks to log into your database or any email accounts which contain sensitive correspondence.
Educate Staff. Yearly cybersecurity training for staff should be mandatory. Your employees can’t follow best practices if they aren’t aware that their actions can be dangerous. You should also make it a practice to update staff if you become aware of a new hacking campaign or threat that they should be guarding against.
Use and Update Virus Protection. Virus and malware protection programs should be updated regularly and used to protect your system. When correctly updated, good software will alert you and quarantine any malicious virus before you’ve experienced any real damage.
Cloud Computing Cybersecurity. Cloud computing options often include data security. You should be aware of the type of security offered with your cloud computing platforms and whether added protection is advisable. You should also follow best practices when logging into cloud-based platforms.
Managed IT Services. Managed IT Services provide you with industry expertise on a constant basis. This means that your IT service will monitor your cybersecurity and mitigate any threat immediately. Another option is to work with a technology company on a project by project basis to help you shore up your own internal IT department.
Are You Searching for a Managed IT Service to Help with Your Cybersecurity?
If you’re looking for an experienced company to assess your cybersecurity protocol for the new year, contact Integrated Axis today!
In mid-December, the city of New Orleans suffered a cybersecurity breach so severe the mayor called a state of emergency, demonstrating a significant change in the cybersecurity landscape moving into the New Year.
The ransomware attack in New Orleans began about 5 a.m. Dec. 13, when “suspicious activity” was detected on the city’s network, according to NOLA Ready, a local emergency preparedness campaign managed by the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. Citing a tweet from NOLA, Forbes magazine reported “activity indicating a cybersecurity incident was detected around 11 a.m.” More than 4,000 city computers were affected.
Upon detecting the suspicious activity, the city’s IT department ordered all employees to shut down their computers, disconnect from the Wi-Fi, and unplug their devices. The city powered down all its servers.
Damage Caused by Cybersecurity Breach
Later that day in a press conference, Mayor Latoy Cantrell confirmed the security breach was due to ransomware, which infects a network or device and encrypts the data, making it unusable until the owner pays a ransom. Cantrell filed a declaration of a state of emergency with the Civil District Court, stating in the document that the city of New Orleans anticipates “various state and city agencies will need to work cooperatively to mitigate any damage, current or future, as a result of the cybersecurity incident.”
New Orleans Chief Information Officer Kim LaGrue told WWNO, a station affiliated with New Orleans Public Radio, that the city was “prepared for a ransomware attack,” which means they had backups of the targeted data. According to LaGrue, the attack didn’t progress to the point where a ransom was demanded. The city’s strategy is to simply recover the data and return the system to normal.
However, while IT engineers inspected the affected computers and systems, many city employees – including the police department – were unable to access the technology necessary to perform their jobs. Meanwhile, the cost of rebuilding the city’s computer network was approaching $1 million as of Dec. 16th.
City officials from New Orleans have not publicly identified what type of ransomware was deployed in the attack. Still, several cybersecurity experts believe the likely weapon was RYUK, which hit state government servers in November, according to NOLA Media Group. RYUK, which is tied to organized crime, is a type of ransomware that infiltrates a computer, encrypts files, and demands payment – often in bitcoin – to decrypt the information.
Cyber Threats: A Perpetual Problem
According to Forbes, the FBI on Oct. 2 issued a cyber-attack warning in response to attacks on state and local governments, healthcare organizations, industrial companies, and the transportation sector. While the frequency of attacks remains about the same, the sophistication of the attacks is increasing. They also are more targeted and costly for victims.
NOLA Media Group cited a study from Emisoft released in mid-December that claimed the U.S. faced an “unprecedented and unrelenting barrage of ransomware attacks” in 2019. Nationwide, approximately 103 state and local governments and agencies, 759 healthcare providers, and 86 school districts, universities, and colleges were hit by cybersecurity attacks.
Heading into 2020, both public entities and private businesses should ensure they are protected against digital infiltration perpetuated by organized crime groups and individual actors. This means not only implementing safeguards against attacks on business tech but also having a disaster response plan. IT companies such as Integrated Axis Technology Group (IA) provide IT security services to ensure businesses’ networks are protected in the face of evolving cyber threats. From risk assessment and analysis to penetration testing and network monitoring, Integrated Axis can help companies in the Tucson area strengthen their ability to mitigate and recover from cybersecurity attacks in the New Year.
Windows 7 has been one of the most popular operating systems Microsoft has ever produced. It’s so popular that many people still use it to this day. Sadly, The Microsoft company announced earlier this year that it is ending Windows 7 support next year in January 2020. This has important implications for those who may or may not intend to keep using it in the new year.
Everything You Need to Know About the Windows 10 Changeover:
Windows 7 is Still Popular
What Microsoft calls “end of life” doesn’t mean that laptops and desktops running Windows 7 will suddenly die. It only means that the company will no longer be providing active support and updates for the OS. If you are one of the many people who want to hold on to your copy of Windows 7, there are a few potential IT issues you should keep in mind. First and foremost is the fact that you won’t get important patches that protect your system from the latest viruses and malware. That means your cybersecurity could be compromised.
Black hat hackers always focus their efforts on creating malware and attacks that exploit the most commonly used systems. Because Windows 7 has been so popular- it has always been a common target. Once the security patches stop coming, you’ll no longer be protected. Those who want to keep the OS should consider using it on machines that are no longer connected to the Internet. Keeping it quarantined from the Internet can protect you from security threats and allow you to use it for certain business tech applications or other special projects.
Are All Versions Affected?
Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter whether you’re using Windows 7 Pro or Home version- the end of life will still affect you. However, Microsoft has not yet announced “end of life” for Windows 7 Ultimate for Embedded Systems. If you’re using that one, you will be able to continue using it for the time being.
How to Make the Changeover
Eventually, you will have to transition no matter what. The next generations of Windows PCs are going to come with Windows 10 pre-loaded. There won’t be an option to return to Windows 7. If you’re not bothered by the change, you’ll be glad to know that Microsoft intends to make the process of switching to 10 easy. As long as your machine meets the minimum requirements, you’ll have the option to upgrade from 7 to 10.
About Windows 10
Windows 10 will come with a host of features not available on 7. Many of these are intended to make the perceived barriers between online and offline use less apparent. You’ll be presented with services and options through the main menu that will take you directly to online resources without having to open your browser directly.
To run Windows 10, you’ll need:
A 1GHz or better processor
1GB of RAM for 32-bit ver.
2GB of RAM for 64-bit ver.
Up to 20GB of hard disk space
Screen and graphics card supporting 800 by 600 or higher, and a DirectX 9 graphics chip
Comments Off on Cybersecurity & Artificial Intelligence: A Glimpse at 2020
At Integrated Axis, we spend a great deal of time studying current and trending news in the industry, especially where cybersecurity is concerned. Many of the trends in the upcoming year concern artificial intelligence. While there are definitely other trends and upcoming changes to think about, we’re going to concentrate this short article on AI and how it impacts your cybersecurity.
Top Predictions for How AI Impacts Cybersecurity in 2020
You don’t necessarily think of AI and cybersecurity at the same time. They’re two different facets of technology. The trends are rising to use AI in the workforce and you will see AI being used more robustly to streamline workflows and allow for the better use of data. It also won’t be the doom and gloom job killer. Being able to automate these processes means that your employees will be able to make use of the bigger picture data that was often lost to them before. This will allow them to launch more projects with greater efficiency and will likely create more high level jobs rather than cutting lower level jobs.
So AI is going to be a necessity for most businesses going forward, but that doesn’t negate the fact that it comes with some cybersecurity risks. Here are a few upcoming AI cybersecurity trends you should be informed about to maintain proper data safety:
Hackers Will Use More AI to Analyze Behavior. AI isn’t just a tool for your business. It’s also a great tool for bad actors. We’re going to see an uptick in hacking organizations using AI in order to analyze behavior so that they infiltrate systems. What this means for you is that phishing and other attacks will be far more convincing. You won’t be able to rely on badly worded, unprofessional communications to give them away. It also means you’ll need to be more diligent with password protections and other cybersecurity measures.
AI Will Also Be Used By IT to Protect Data. AI automates a lot of processes that are difficult to do manually. Hackers are trying to find one opening into your system. Your IT team needs to find every possible breach point and secure it. AI will help to make their job easier to navigate.
AI Will Increase False Information. Fake news is a mantra you hear often in politics, but it is pretty rampant online and a lot of that is spurred by bots sending out fake tweets and websites publishing articles full of false information. While this by itself doesn’t necessarily compromise your cybersecurity. Those fake accounts are often run by or infiltrated by hackers who can lead real people to compromise professional data inadvertently.
Are You Looking for an IT Expert to Help Prepare Your Team for Upcoming Cybersecurity Threats?
As technology evolves, so do the different ways that your data can be compromised. AI will improve business processes but it also leaves you open to some forms of attack.
If you’re looking for a dedicated professional to help secure your business today and in the future, contact Integrated Axis today.