157-Year-Old Lincoln College Succumbed To A Ransomware Attack

157-Year-Old Lincoln College Succumbed To A Ransomware Attack

On May 13th, 2022, a college that has remained open through two world wars, the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic, and the Great Depression will close its doors. The college has been struggling to stay afloat in recent years, and the coronavirus pandemic and a recent ransomware attack have dealt a fatal blow.

The college’s closure will be a significant loss for the community, as it has been a source of education and employment for many generations. The college’s decision to close is a sign of the times, as more and more colleges face financial difficulties due to the pandemic.

It is an unfortunate reality that the long-standing institution will soon be no more.

Lincoln College — a historically Black college in rural central Illinois that broke ground on President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday in 1865 — tried but failed to raise enough money to recover from the combined impact of COVID-19 and a December cyber attack, David Gerlach, the college’s president, said in a statement.

The college had hoped to use the funds to cover expenses related to the pandemic and the cyberattack, which shut down the school’s computer systems and caused “significant financial losses.” According to Gerlach, the college has made some progress in restoring its systems, but it is still facing “major challenges.”

He did not say how much money the school was seeking or where the funds would come from. The news comes as many Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are struggling to stay afloat amid the pandemic. Earlier this month, Maryland’s Bowie State University announced laying off more than 100 employees.

And last year, Florida A&M University laid off nearly 200 employees and imposed a hiring freeze to cut costs. With their already tight budgets, HBCUs have been hit hard by the pandemic, which has led to a decline in enrollment and revenue.

157-Year-Old Lincoln College Succumbed To A Ransomware Attack

Ransomware Blocks Access To Critical Information

Lincoln College, which has roughly 600 students, saw its enrollment fall after the coronavirus hit, disrupting its operations and finances. As the school struggled to stay afloat, a ransomware attack blocked the college from accessing data used in its student recruitment and retention and fundraising efforts.

The attack, which occurred over the summer, was particularly damaging because it came when the college was already facing significant financial challenges. Lincoln is just one of many colleges that have been hit by ransomware attacks in recent years.

These attacks have cost colleges millions of dollars in damages and have led to disruptions in campus operations. They have even forced schools to close their doors permanently in some cases. Given the financial challenges that many colleges are currently facing, it is likely that we will see even more ransomware attacks in the coming years.

According to the school’s statement, by the time Lincoln regained access to its vital computer systems in March, estimates had shown “significant enrollment shortfalls” requiring a “transformational donation or partnership to sustain Lincoln College beyond the current semester,” the school’s statement outlined. The shortfall was caused by a malware attack that shut down the college’s online and on-campus operations for nearly two weeks.

The attack also disrupted the school’s ability to process new applications, causing a drop in incoming students.

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A Quintessential Guide to Windows 11 Tips and News

A Quintessential Guide to Windows 11 Tips and News

Windows 11 introduces a wide selection of interesting new features capable of transforming the user experience. In addition, the operating system comes with a streamlined design, Android apps integration capabilities, a built-in Microsoft Teams conferencing application, and other notable features.

Examples of features that you can expect from Windows 11 include a revamped Start menu, snap layouts, virtual desktops, snap groups, and a redesigned Microsoft store app. MS Office 2021 will launch alongside the new OS.

Although the new operating system comes with specific system requirements, it can still run on older and unsupported computers. However, installing Windows 11 on an unsupported PC has its downsides, including the possibility of not receiving regular updates. Microsoft has not clarified ineligible PC support and the exact system specifications of old computers that can still run the OS.

On the other hand, unsupported computers could not participate in the Windows Insider Program testing processes.

Computer Manufacturers Announce First Batches of Windows 11 PCs

As the era of Windows 11 begins, computer manufacturers like Lenovo have begun introducing their first Windows 11 computers to the market. Lenovo’s first batch of PCs run on AMD’s Ryzen desktop processors.

These processors are ideal for multitasking, gaming, and other functions; they compare favorably against Intel processors. Meanwhile, manufacturers have also started to provide a list of eligible devices that can upgrade to Windows 11.

Other Notable Windows 11 News

The much-anticipated Android app support in Windows 11 will be available sometime after the launch date. Microsoft announced that there would be a delay in introducing this groundbreaking feature into the operating system.

When it comes to gaming features, Windows 11 does not have an exclusive claim to the DirectStorage, an API that boosts loading and texture decompression speeds. This advanced technology will also appear in the Windows 10 operating system.

If you own an eligible Windows 10 device, you can upgrade it sometime in 2022, depending on a variety of factors, such as device age and other system specifications. This phased approach enables Microsoft to assess the deployment and performance of the new operating system before expanding the rollout.

Windows 11 Trips and Tricks

Once you upgrade to Windows 11, there are various tricks and tips that you can follow to enhance your overall experience. For instance, you can download and install third-party apps to tweak the operating system. A good example of such a third-party app is Stardock.

If you are looking to boost performance or speed, you need to activate the concealed Power Mode feature. On the other hand, you can also tweak the start menu in Windows 11 to resemble Win 10. The new operating system comes with a centralized and simplified Start menu, including a taskbar. Microsoft has made it easier to revert to the old design or appearance for your convenience.

Features Review

One of the key features of Windows 11 includes less intrusive updates. Microsoft changed the way devices download periodic updates by enabling you to install specific code components on your computer. The tech giant confirmed that this approach could help reduce the amount of data required to install updates by up to 40 percent. Windows 11 installs these updates in the background to minimize disruptions.

Additionally, the system provides an estimated update installation time to help you decide when to reboot your computer.

When it comes to window management, widgets, and virtual desktops, Windows 11 retains the minimize, maximize, and close controls that form part of window management features. Microsoft introduced several window layout options displayed as a pop-up below a window. When you click on the pop-up, the chosen window immediately snaps to a predetermined size and shape.

Another key aspect of your Windows 11 is the impressive performance. This new operating system is faster, allowing you to work more efficiently and maximize productivity. It boots quickly and switches from one window to another almost instantly. Speed tests conducted by experts revealed that the speed improvements are more prominent only on the operating system’s front end. Meanwhile, back-end functions revealed modest or no improvements.

According to Microsoft, you can extend the battery life of your device by upgrading to Windows 11. The new OS comes with a dynamic refresh rate feature that optimizes your display, depending on your activities. However, this benefit does not apply to two devices without a 120Hz screen.

A Quintessential Guide to Windows 11 Tips and News Read More »

Outages Result of DDoS Attack” Confirms Bandwidth CEO

Outages Result of DDoS Attack” Confirms Bandwidth CEO

David Morken, CEO of Bandwidth.com, has confirmed that a DDoS attack was responsible for recent outages reported on the site on September 27th. Citing that “a number of critical communications service providers have been targeted by a rolling DDoS attack” in a recent statement, Morken also apologized to those who were significantly impacted and assured users that the issue was being addressed and fixed.

As attacks such as this continue to rise, it’s important for fellow businesses to understand what exactly went wrong and if anything could have been done differently to avoid such a catastrophe. DDoS attacks and similar breaches of security can cause serious damage to business reputations and may even put companies under completely.

Let’s take a closer look at this most recent DDoS attack on Bandwidth.com — an attack that also affected several other communications service providers.

Outages Result of DDoS Attack” Confirms Bandwidth CEO

What Does Bandwidth.com Do?

Before getting into the details of the attack, let’s take a look at the company Bandwidth. Bandwidth.com is a global enterprise cloud communications business. Basically, they are a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service company.

VoIP solutions companies provide VoIP services (incoming and outgoing communications using the Internet or IP networks instead of telephone systems) to both individual consumers and businesses.

What Is a DDoS Attack?

DDoS stands for distributed denial-of-service. This type of attack essentially corrupts the attack victim’s computer services (usually a website) so that they are unusable. It does this through overwhelming the target site with sham malicious traffic. The site becomes so flooded that it’s unable to operate correctly.

What Should We Know About This DDoS Attack Against Bandwidth.com?

The DDoS attack that occurred in September of 2021 targeted Bandwidth.com, but they weren’t the only victims. In fact, cybercriminals launched several attacks — some of which reached other communications companies as well.

These companies include VoIP.ms, Voip Unlimited, and Voipfone. Several of the targeted DDoS plans included ransomware infections.

Ransomware is malicious software, or malware, that comes with a ransom threat. Effectively, the target must decide if they want to recover access to their computer systems in exchange for paying a large sum of money to the cybercriminal or if they want to figure out a fix on their own and likely risk losing original access to their networks. Sometimes, actual data is on the line, and if the ransom is not paid, data will be lost, stolen, and sold on the dark web, or permanently corrupted.

An Update on Bandwidth.com’s Status

CEO David Morken stated that Bandwidth’s team was working around the clock to minimize the impact of the attack. However, they also admitted that many of their clients and users had already been affected. Multiple MSPs and other clients who use Bandwidth as a host also stated having issues, which were affecting their own systems and clients in a catastrophic cascade effect.

After the initial phase of outages, Bandwidth.com updated its status with several more partial outages. Issues affected both outbound and inbound calling services.

Keeping Your Business Safe From DDoS Attacks

According to recent reports, distributed denial-of-service attacks are on the rise in North America and other places like Europe and Australia. Like it or not, cybercriminals are getting more creative as they target large corporations and businesses in an attempt to steal data, corrupt networks, wreak general havoc, and, of course, make money.

Although it’s not pleasant to consider, it’s best to act as if your business may be targeted by a DDoS attack in the future. Doing so can help orient your purpose when it comes to cybersecurity and will spur you to make the necessary decisions to keep your business safe. Essentially, fear is the worst.

This means reminding yourself and your employees that they should be on the lookout for signs of a cyberattack. Understand and train your staff on phishing scams and other telltale signs of cybercrime.

It also means hiring an MSP that has strength in cybersecurity. Speak to them about their preventive measures regarding DDoS attacks and similar breaches of security. What do they do to prevent these issues, and what do they do when one occurs?

No matter how small your business or what industry you’re in, you can always be the target of cybercrime. Put in the time and energy necessary to keep your business safe from harm.

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Are You Ready For Windows 11 Official Release on October 5, 2021?

Are You Ready For Windows 11 Official Release on October 5, 2021?

As the official release date for the free upgrade to Windows 11 nears, it is time to prepare for the new Windows experience. You can upgrade to the new operating system, depending on the eligibility of your Windows 7 or 10 PC. Microsoft announced that the new OS comes with specific system requirements for all computers running on Windows 10. On the other hand, new devices will come pre-loaded with Windows 11.

The new operating system incorporates various features capable of empowering your productivity and creativity. As of October 5, 2021, you can take advantage of the rollout, which will continue until mid-2022. Microsoft has staggered the rollout to mainstream users based on PC specifications.

For this reason, you may not immediately qualify for the upgrade but can expect to gain access to the update by mid-2022. On the other hand, Microsoft will continue rolling out some Windows 11 features after the official release date. One of the groundbreaking features for the new OS is Android app integration.

Windows 11 Oct 5

How the Windows 11 Rollout Works

The tech giant plans to implement the first rollout based on criteria, such as device age, hardware eligibility, metrics, reliability, and other considerations. New personal computers will be the first to receive an upgrade to the new operating system.

Windows 10 users will receive notifications to upgrade devices via the traditional system update feature. Alternatively, you can check when the upgrade is available for your computer via the Windows update section in the settings. Microsoft plans to introduce an improved PC Health Check app to help users determine when a PC is eligible for the upgrade.

Meanwhile, if your PC is ineligible for the upgrade, you can still have the option to install Windows 11. However, your device assumes an unsupported state. This status may or may not block your access to critical OS system security and driver updates.

Windows 11 Upgrade: Minimum System Requirements

To qualify for a Windows 11 upgrade, your device should meet the minimum required specifications. According to Microsoft, your computer’s processor should be 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with 4 gigabytes random access memory (RAM). The device should have a minimum of 64GB of storage space.

Additional requirements include:

  • 720p display
  • TPM: Trusted Platform Module 2.0
  • DirectX 12 graphics card or later (should come with a WDDM 2.0 driver)
  • UEFI system firmware (secure boot capable)

Windows 11 Feature Highlights

Windows 11 comes with an ultra-modern and attractive interface centered around the user’s needs. Fresh sounds complement the new design and advanced features to provide a refreshing user experience.

The operating system incorporates a revamped Microsoft Store app that streamlines content searches. In addition, you can look forward to downloading and installing your favorite Android apps, thanks to Microsoft’s partnership with Amazon and Intel. However, this feature is more likely to appear in Windows 11 sometime in 2022.

Another interesting feature is Snap Groups; it provides access to two previously snapped windows, such as an email app or browser. You can access these Windows without snapping to the previous view. Additionally, it is possible to take advantage of the revamped multi-monitor support, which automatically takes you to the previous window view on a particular monitor.

In Windows 11, the update feature displays an estimated installation time to help you choose the ideal time to install security, feature, and driver updates. As such, you can update immediately or hold off, depending on your current activities and other considerations.

The introduction of the Microsoft Teams app revolutionizes how you communicate or connect with colleagues, friends, and family via your PC. With Teams, you can call or chat with your contacts, irrespective of the device they are using.

With Windows 11, you can access widgets via the dock for added convenience. The revamped widget feature leverages artificial intelligence to adapt it based on the applications you are using and the current time. Widgets appear on the desktop if you swipe from left to right on the touch screen.

You can choose various widgets, depending on your interests. Examples of widgets available include weather, news, maps, and much more.

Microsoft also redesigned a variety of apps, such as photos, paint, and the sniping tool. The changes align with Windows 11‘s fluent design language.

Are You Ready For Windows 11 Official Release on October 5, 2021? Read More »

What You Need To Know About The Facebook Outage

What You Need To Know About The Facebook Outage

Facebook and its associated services experienced a six-hour outage on Monday.

Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus suffered a major outage over the course of Monday, Oct. 4. Beginning just before noon EST, the outage lasted six hours, preventing users from accessing their social media profiles, messaging apps, and Oculus-based services.

Facebook Outage October 4 2021

How Did This Happen?

In a blog post issued Monday night, Facebook reported that the outage was the result of a configuration change to its routers.

This “networking traffic issue” resulted in a cascading disruption to the way the company’s data centers communicate. What should have been a routine Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) update wiped out the routing information that allows other networks to find sites like Facebook and Instagram?

This was especially disruptive to Facebook’s internal company processes because they all rely on their own platform. Staff members communicate using Facebook messenger, which was unavailable while they were trying to determine a resolution. This only further disrupted their recovery processes.

3 Lessons To Learn From The Facebook Outage

This is the worst outage Facebook has experienced since 2019 when they were offline for more than a day. While Facebook services are nonessential, they do offer a low-cost platform for small businesses, which are undoubtedly hit the hardest during outages like these.

Here are three key takeaways:

  1. Routine processes cannot be overlooked: If something as minor as a BGP update can take a business like Facebook offline for a quarter of a day, consider what is at stake at your business. Anytime your staff interacts with business systems and data, you need to ensure they’re doing so carefully. One wrong click could result in lost data or a period of downtime.
  2. Prepare for the worst: No matter how big or how resource-rich a business is, it can still experience crippling downtime. Make sure to invest the right time and resources in developing your business continuity and disaster recovery processes.
  3. Always have a plan: Facebook has learned not to rely on its own platform as an internal messaging solution — do you rely too heavily on one tool as well? Make sure you have an alternative ready to go so that you don’t have to start from scratch when the worst occurs.

As always, events like this prove that IT is an error-prone and complicated part of the business world. You need to plan ahead to both prevent downtime and mitigate the effect it has on your business when it can’t be avoided.

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Are You Planning to Download Windows 11 Free Update?

Are You Planning to Download Windows 11 Free Update? Here’s a Quick Guide

Microsoft’s new operating system has generated considerable interest from users and tech experts. Windows 11 brings many key new features that enhance the overall user experience. From October 5, 2021, Microsoft will roll out the update to eligible Windows 7 and 10 users. The OS will also become standard in new devices.

Once the rollout commences, you can upgrade your personal computer using the default Windows update feature. However, the upgrade is only available for computers that meet the minimum system requirements. If your PC does not meet the requirements, you can opt to implement the recommended workaround. However, the workaround uses solutions outside of the Windows ecosystem.

On the other hand, the Windows Insider Program is already offering access to a preview build. This preview is available exclusively to Windows Insider Program members. Microsoft recently released an ISO file to allow members to install the new operating system directly. As a first build, the preview version does not come with a complete set of Windows 11 features.

Installing Windows 11

Downloading Windows 11 Using an ISO File

If you opt to download the Windows 11 preview build, you can copy the operating system directly from the file to a compact disc or a USB drive. With the external drive, it becomes easier to install Windows 11 to a virtual machine, dual-boot system, or personal computer.

Since this option is only available to Windows Insider Program members, you need to register if you are not already a member. Once registered, you are eligible to download the ISO file via the Windows Insider Preview downloads page. Microsoft offers two preview versions from which to choose: the Beta channel and the Dev channel.

With the Dev channel, you gain access to the latest updates and Windows 11 features. On the downside, this preview build is typically buggier. For a more stable version, opt for the Beta channel. The downloads page allows you to choose a product language before proceeding with the download.

Installing the ISO File

The installation process varies, depending on the target device. You can install the file directly to a virtual machine using the VM application. Meanwhile, the installation process differs significantly when the target device is a dedicated PC or a dual-boot system. In this case, you need to copy the file to removable media using the Windows USB/DVD download tool. Experts recommend this utility because it makes your DVD or USB drive bootable.

It is vital to choose an external drive with adequate space to accommodate approximately 5GB. Thus, consider using a USB drive rather than a DVD. Standard DVDs typically come with roughly 4.8GB of storage space. Dual-layer variants provide up to 8.5GB of space.

Downloading Windows 11 After the Official Release Date

If you opt to wait for the official Windows 11 rollout, you can upgrade your PC the traditional way. Microsoft allows you to download the files via the Windows update feature. You simply click the install updates button in Windows 7 or check the updates button in Windows 10, and you will get a new OS.

However, the new OS may become available on your device several months after the official rollout date. So the quickest way to get your hands on the final build is to buy a new computer.

Microsoft will complete the rollout process by mid-2022. Factors that determine when Windows 11 will be available for your PC include age and hardware. In addition, the free upgrade is only available to licensed Windows 7 and 10 operating systems.

What to Expect From Windows 11

The upgrade brings many useful features, such as access to Android apps via the Microsoft Store. In addition, you can also look forward to enhanced communication capabilities, thanks to the integrated Microsoft Teams app. Windows 11 also boasts a revamped design, incorporating pastel colors, a centralized Start button, and a new startup sound.

Microsoft also introduces a wide selection of new desktop tools, including widgets. The new OS simplifies virtual desktop creation for added convenience. On the gaming front, Windows 11 leverages the full power of advanced technologies for a superior gaming experience.

Examples of the gaming technologies that unlock your device’s full gaming potential include DirectX 12 Ultimate, Direct Storage, and Auto HDR. These technologies enhance graphics quality and loading time for a captivating visual experience.

Are You Planning to Download Windows 11 Free Update? Read More »

If You Own These Four Small Business Cisco Routers: It’s Time to Replace Them

If You Own These Four Small Business Cisco Routers: It’s Time to Replace Them

A security flaw discovered in RV110W, RV130, RV130W, and RV215W Cisco routers creates significant vulnerabilities. Traditionally, these UPnP (universal plug and play) routers would receive security updates from the vendor. However, Cisco recently announced that it has no plans to release a security patch for the devices. As a result, the company recommends replacing the routers.

Security experts noted that the four devices fell victim to the remote command execution vulnerability. Improper validation of inputs triggers the vulnerability (CVE-2021-1459), which has a common vulnerability scoring system (CVSS) score of 9.8 out of 10. This issue affects the router’s management interface.

If you fail to replace the routers, you create an opportunity for a cybercriminal to execute code on the router. The remote attacker can exploit the device without authentication by delivering specially designed HTTP requests. In such cases, the bad actor assumes the root user status on the underlying operating system. As a result, it becomes easier to execute arbitrary code or launch a denial of service (DoS) attack.

Experts believe that replacing the routers forms part of a more comprehensive cybersecurity measure to harden network defenses. Failing to heed the recommendation is not an option, irrespective of company size.

Computer Network Firewall Cisco

End of Support

Cisco is not releasing a security patch because the routers are nearing the end of their working life. Additionally, support is ending for the devices. Although there are no known exploitation instances and proof of concept exploits, you should take risks posed by the security flaw seriously. If you need more time before replacing the devices, consider disabling the virtual private network (VPN) service. Doing so mitigates the risk of an attacker remotely exploiting this feature.

According to Cisco, you can determine the status of the VPN by opening the web-based management interface. In the Basic Settings, find the UPnP feature and tick the Disable box.

Benefits of Using a Business-Class VPN Router

A VPN router is a practical solution for small businesses looking to ensure secure communication. By investing in this type of device, you take advantage of a VPN tunnel that safeguards communication between two networks. The router can also handle secure connections for remote teams, irrespective of location.

Some manufacturers offer devices that enable your team to manage VPN functions centrally. It is also possible to configure individual routers to suit your specific needs. The ideal devices come with failover and load balancing capabilities. If you need more flexibility, opt for devices that run open-source software.

Doing so makes it easier to replace the router’s OS and create additional features. On the downside, this option is not ideal for all businesses. Thus, choose your router carefully.

Advanced routers support up to 45 tunnels and come with robust firewalls to filter traffic in both directions. They also set minimum password complexity standards and incorporate encryption keys. Vendors like Cisco offers wide-ranging VPN routers for small businesses. The devices are more affordable and secure. Some business-class VPN routers are easier to configure, while others require advanced tech skills to set up and manage.

On the other hand, mesh wireless network solutions maximize coverage using nodes and satellite modules. These modules and satellites expand coverage throughout your business premises.

How to Bolster WiFi Network Security

A business WiFi network is an essential component of doing business in today’s connected world. However, an unsecured network compromises your company’s ability to operate smoothly. Cybercriminals can launch denial of service attacks or steal sensitive business information. Thankfully, there are various ways to safeguard your WiFi network.

One of the effective ways to improve security is to keep your router’s OS up to date. Also, replace any routers nearing their end of life or support. By keeping the devices up to date, you take advantage of the router vendor’s security patches and bug fixes.

Additional measures include:

  • Invest in a business-class VPN router with advanced security features
  • Harden cyberdefenses by doubling your firewall
  • Store the route in a physically secure area
  • Employ advanced encryption protocols
  • Eliminate unofficial access points
  • Disable WiFi Protected Setup or WPS

On another level, it is crucial to ensure that your router’s firewall is active. Some routers require manual activation. The manufacturer may list the firewall under network address translation (NAT) or stateful packet inspection (SPI). You can find the feature in the device’s settings.

If You Own These Four Small Business Cisco Routers: It’s Time to Replace Them Read More »

Do You Want to Speed Up Your Computer?

Do You Want to Speed Up Your Computer? Here are Top Tips

A slow computer can undermine productivity and become a source of frustration. Fortunately, there are several ways to boost speed and overall performance, irrespective of whether your computer is relatively new or older. You can achieve the desired performance by following specific tips unless your device is experiencing considerable hardware problems.

Installing the latest version of the operating system (OS) is one of the best ways to supercharge your device’s performance. Updating the OS also allows the system to search, download, and install the latest device drivers.

Here are proven ways to boost your computer’s processing power.

Speed Up Computer

Uninstall Redundant Applications

Software or applications that you no longer need consume system resources unnecessarily. Uninstalling redundant apps frees up space and system resources, contributing to improved performance. Dormant apps occupy critical space in your computer’s directory structure and registry. For this reason, you need to uninstall the software properly via the control panel.

To get rid of unwanted files and other unnecessary registry entries, consider using apps like CCleaner. These programs can remove unwanted apps, even if they do not appear in the control panel. Proper removal is vital if you want to prevent them from reloading after rebooting.

Defragment the Hard Drive

Defragmentation provides an effective way to reorganize information on your computer’s hard drive. In doing so, you gather scattered pieces of data and combine them in proper order. Operating systems are constantly dealing with files being written, resized, and deleted. These activities result in considerable fragmentation. The best part about defragmentation is that you boost PC performance.

Add More RAM

Increasing random access memory (RAM) is another surefire way to speed up a slow PC. However, this option is viable on some gaming and business laptops. Most detachable and convertible laptops cannot add RAM. On the other hand, desktop computers make it easier to increase RAM to suit your needs.

Delete Temporary Files

Temporary files can hog your computer’s performance and undermine your productivity. You should consider deleting them from the PC. However, you may need to skip some files if the system prevents you from removing them. This approach frees critical space on the hard drive, boosting overall performance. Emptying the entire temporary internet files directory is possible, but you need to exercise caution.

Reduce Startup Programs

Startup processes play an integral role in your computer’s performance. Launching a high number of applications during startup eats up system resources. Thus, you should manage your PC’s startup processes to limit active programs during booting. However, it is vital to choose carefully the programs you disable.

Applications like antivirus programs deserve to launch during startup, while word processors and browsers are removable from the list. Ultimately, the final list depends on your specific needs. You can manage startup processes via the task manager in Windows 10.

Scan for Malware

Viruses and spyware can compromise your device’s performance. Thus, scan the computer regularly using antivirus programs like Comodo, Norton, Windows Defender, and Avast. You should select the ideal software carefully to avoid installing a heavy antivirus program that slows down your PC.

Ideally, you need a light program that scans the system efficiently without occupying large spaces on your computer. Some applications can protect your PC and monitor performance. These programs are capable of resolving performance issues.

Choose the Right Browser

Your choice of a browser is also crucial in achieving the desired processing speed. Browsers like Chrome are resource-intensive, compromising overall PC performance. The ideal browser does not affect your computer’s speed, even if you open multiple tabs. As a result, you also enjoy improved browsing and page loading speeds.

Opt for Startup Solid-State Drive (SSD)

A startup solid-state drive (SSD) aids your processor in handling resource-intensive tasks. In doing so, it boosts performance, allowing you to run multiple applications simultaneously. Photo and video editing software eat up a significant amount of memory. Thankfully, SSD enhances your PC’s processing power, making it easier to run these applications without undermining performance.

A solid-state drive enables resource-intensive apps to load faster and run optimally. You can install it on a desktop computer or a laptop. SSD can operate internally or externally, depending on your device’s hardware status.

External units connect to your device via a USB port. Once you install an SSD, your computer performs better at startup.

Do You Want to Speed Up Your Computer? Read More »

Employee Surveillance: Amazon Exploring the Feasibility of Keystroke Tracking Plan

Amazon Exploring the Feasibility of Keystroke Tracking Plan

An internal document obtained by Motherboard revealed Amazon’s plan to track employee’s keystroke entries. The tech and e-commerce giant plans to curb ever-increasing data leaks using this type of surveillance. Imposters, rogue employees, and hackers routinely compromise customers’ confidential information.

Amazon is considering deploying advanced keystroke tracking tools. A company known as BehavioSec is working with the e-commerce firm to license specialized tools capable of enhancing system surveillance. The vendor’s software relies on behavioral biometrics to determine the nature of user activity. Behavioral biometrics eliminates the need to depend on static data or personally identifiable information.

Profiles generated by BehavioSec’s software make it easier to detect suspicious activity. Amazon shortlisted BehavioSec’s product based on privacy considerations. Other tools considered by the firm presented privacy challenges linked to keystroke data collection.

Amazon Keylogger

Closing Security Gaps

According to the internal document, Amazon detected several breaches that compromised customers’ sensitive data. In one of the incidents, an imposter illegally accessed customer data by posing as a service agent. For this reason, the company is looking to deploy an effective IT security solution to verify users’ identities and monitor device usage.

The security gaps present a serious threat that could damage customers’ confidence and Amazon’s reputation. Data exfiltration is a major concern for the management team since many employees work from home. Amazon plans to thwart threats that arise under various conditions, including unauthorized access via a device that an employee forgot to lock.

It aims to eliminate imposter takeover by 2022 since employee and customer data security is a top priority. The company stated that it regularly explores and tests wide-ranging cybersecurity technologies to bolster data protection measures. However, it is mindful of the need to achieve a delicate balance between monitoring employee activity and remaining compliant with privacy laws.

Managing Employee Activity

The internal document also revealed that outsourced workers in the Philippines and India present a higher risk of data exfiltration. Most of the recorded incidents happen in these countries. Hence, Amazon is hoping that BehavioSec’s solution will address the problem.

In general, companies rely on the employee-manager team to enhance security controls. However, the remote work trend introduced a new dynamic that compromised companies’ basic security controls. When employees work from home, it becomes difficult to detect all unauthorized access to sensitive data.

Under such circumstances, companies need to find viable solutions to compensate for the reduced controls. Experts believe that keystroke monitoring is a security feature that remote workers should expect to find on company devices in the future. BehavioSec’s profiling mechanism plays an essential role in helping companies detect sophisticated cyber attacks.

Highly skilled hackers often gain access to corporate systems and remain undetected for lengthy periods. Behavioral profiling detects such intrusions by monitoring anomalous patterns and user behaviors. This approach detects patterns in one or more connected devices. For instance, security software will raise a red flag if a video surveillance camera connects to a suspicious domain.

In Amazon’s case, behavioral profiling makes it easier to identify compromised devices. Many of the company’s customer service agents work remotely in shared residences. Meanwhile, some agents store their devices on properties with poor physical security.

Employee Surveillance Key Considerations

Federal law allows businesses to monitor their employees’ activities under specific circumstances. Several states also provide regulatory guidelines on the subject. However, transparency is a key component of employee monitoring practices. Failing to inform employees about workplace or digital surveillance may result in legal action.

In some cases, the law does not compel companies to inform employees about surveillance activities. The (ECPA) Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 legalizes surveillance for organizations with a legitimate business reason to monitor employees. As such, employers can view emails composed and sent by employees.

On the other hand, a different regulatory framework deals with web activity surveillance. It allows companies to track keystrokes and web browsing activity on corporate devices and networks. Employers should use information from the monitoring activities for internal purposes only. Sharing information with third parties is against the law.

Similarly, the law compels employers to safeguard the collected information to prevent unauthorized access. Employees can initiate legal action against an employer if with sensitive information leaks following a data breach.

These regulatory requirements necessitate a cautious deployment of keystroke tracking tools and other surveillance software. Thus, Amazon is treading carefully when it comes to the employee monitoring tool it wants to use.

Employee Surveillance: Amazon Exploring the Feasibility of Keystroke Tracking Plan Read More »

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