Encrypted Viruses: Game Over

An encryption virus, or ransomware, is a virus that is encrypted so that your antivirus software has a harder time recognizing its harmful nature. Usually, by the time your antivirus recognizes the problem, many of your files have been infected and cannot be restored due to the new encryption. The only way to fix this is to restore the file from a backup.
Often, users will be given the option to pay large sums of money for the encryption key and get their files back. This is always a scam to get your money and your bank information. Never pay the price or give them any of your information.
The main way to combat ransomware is through user awareness and constant file backups.
Encrypted viruses find their way to users typically through emails or harmful links/attachments. Here are some ways that you can avoid clicking on encrypted viruses.
  • Double check, and then triple check. When you get an email that either looks suspicious (incorrect email address, misspellings, etc.) or that asks for sensitive information or a money transfer, the best thing you can always do is triple check (or quadruple check. There’s no such thing as too much checking.) The key aspect to check is the sender’s email address. For example, if you get an email from your bank, just because the sender’s address has the bank’s name in it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s legitimate. Check on their official website by typing it into your browser or call to validate the email.
  • Never click links in an email. Always type the website out yourself in your browser. Set your privacy settings in your email to require you to enable links or photos every time. You can check photo or link sources by rolling your curser over any photos or links—NOT clicking them—to see if the preview address that appears matches the link. If it doesn’t, it’s not authentic
  • If there is anything suspicious about an email, never download the attachments. Call the sender for clarification or send a new email by typing out the correct address yourself. Never respond to the original email.
Ransoms are increasing. There’s currently a disturbing trend of increasing ransomwares. According to a report published by the Cybersecurity Firm Symantec, the average ransomware payment in 2016 was $294. However, researchers believe this number will increase to $1,077 by the end of this year. In other words, victims of ransomware are paying more than $1,000 for a chance to regain access to their files.
Not only are ransoms increasing, ransomware attacks are becoming more frequent. According to a separate report by the insurance company Beazley, ransomware attacks increased by 400 percent in 2016, and they are expected to increase by 200 percent the end of this year.
Elevated Tech works nonstop to keep your files protected and backed up to the most up-to-date versions in case of an emergency. We can work together to fight off all threats to your business and always keep you one step ahead. Call one of our experts at (281)-653-7726 or visit our website to learn more about how we make sure you will never pay the ransom.

Tax Season and Cyber Security

Doing our taxes online: the majority of Americans are doing it, which increases the number of cyber criminals ready to target unsuspecting individuals every year. However, there are ways to protect your information and lower your risk for identity theft, fraudulent tax filings, and more.
Protect yourself. You can create a pin on IRS.gov to prevent the misuse of your social security number. To get a pin, you must pass the IRS identify verification process and then create a user profile. Always password protect your electronic tax files and encrypt any information you share electronically—although you should never submit personal information through email. Avoid using public Wi-Fi and unsecured wireless networks.
Know what to look for in phishing scams. Many people get shaken up by a supposed email from the IRS, but most of these emails are scams that are aimed to make people feel panicked and click on a harmful link. Do not click any embedded links—go to IRS.gov to gather information about what is required of you. The IRS never demands payment without having first sent written notice, and they will never ask for payments over the phone. Make sure to delete any harmful or suspicious emails from your inbox.
One of the best ways to protect your data is by getting informed. Understand that as the taxpayer, you are primarily responsible for your taxes even if you received help from a tax preparer. This is why you must ensure that whichever company you go through is reliable and legitimate. Choose a preparer who has tons of information about them online, asks specific questions, and provides you with your own signed copy of your return. Avoid tax preparers who base their fees on a percentage of the refund or that have no proof online of their services or expertise. Avoid submitting information through websites that don’t have HTTPS in their url, as HTTPS pages use encryption that HTTP sites do not.
Elevated Tech values cyber security and always wants to ensure the safety of all businesses and individuals. To learn more about cyber security, data recovery, and the extra mile Elevated Tech takes to protect your business, contact us todaywe’ve got you covered.

Staying Secure While Traveling

travel
Credit: Chris Brignola
Traveling for work—some find it a necessary evil, and others jump at the chance to get out of the office into a new city. Whether you love it or hate it, you should know how to stay secure while traveling. Of course, this includes personal safety like not getting mugged or lost in a foreign country, but specifically, we’re talking about technological safety.
Technological safety is always important, but even more so when you’re traveling. We store all of our personal and professional information online and on our devices, and when we travel with that information, we become more susceptible to fraud and identity theft.
So how can you effectively work while traveling or go on your dream vacation without worrying about hackers or viruses? We’ve got you covered.
  • Don’t Use Public Wi-Fi
One of the most common mistakes travelers make is using public Wi-Fi, which opens you up to a cyber-attack or a virus. You can use a portable router with your own Wi-Fi hotspot instead to avoid getting your information hacked. Disable Bluetooth and GPS when it’s not needed, as this will also keep your information secure.
  • Password Protect Devices and Use Tracking Tools
If you don’t already have a password on your phone or computer, change those settings before you go anywhere. You should also activate your tracking settings on all your devices so that if they are stolen or lost, you can find them and remotely handle the them. Many of these capabilities allow for remotely wiping your phone or for an automatic system reset after a certain amount of incorrect password attempts.
  • Keep Your Specific Location on the Down Low
Don’t post on social media about where you are or your travel schedule. If you decide to post pictures, make sure they don’t give away your specific location—you should also disable any auto-share settings on social media which automatically post where your posts take place.
  • Limit What You Keep on Your Devices
When you’re on your phone, computer, or tablet, limit the information you store and share while using them. This includes saved passwords, credit card or bank information, and what you write in emails or messages when it comes to personal or company data. When you get back home, you should carefully delete any auto-saved messages that contain sensitive information and update all your passwords.
  • Install Antivirus and Encrypt
Everyone should always have an antivirus program set up, even if they never travel. Make sure that your antivirus settings are up to date before, during, and after travel, and look into encrypting your data as well for extra security.
  • Back up to the Cloud
One of the best ways you can safely work while traveling or access important information from anywhere is on the cloud. Cloud capabilities allow for you to access all your files 24/7, anywhere in the world. They also allow for anti-virus management and data backup to keep you protected and up-to-date with your data at all times.
Elevated Tech is always your number one source for information on security when it comes to internet and cloud capabilities. Learn more about our cloud services to always stay up-to-date with protecting your data and working efficiently—from anywhere in the world.

Things Every Business Should Check After a Disaster

Disasters happen—storms rage, lightning strikes, and, as all Houstonians now know, hurricanes devastate. But if there’s one thing we also know is that cities recover. So, in the days and weeks following Hurricane Harvey as you return to work, you may find yourself walking back into your office wondering what you’ll come back to, unsure of where to even begin.
Elevated Tech makes it simple for you. Here are the things every business should check after a natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey.
One of the most common dangers of a hurricane is flooding, and it’s the first thing you should check for when you walk into your office. If the carpet is wet, or smells as if it once was, you’ll want to see if any devices that had contact with the ground or were left on the ground are also wet. (Tip: if you know a storm is coming, always put devices and cords up high to avoid water damage).
Once you have checked the floor, wiring, and devices that could have been affected by flooding, you want to move on to checking the second most common problem with any storm: power outages.  You’ll want to check and see if the servers or computers were forced to go down temporarily. Can all of them power on again? Sometimes improper or forced shutdowns can cause computers to fail at rebooting properly, and this can also lead to data loss due to corruption.
Finally, you should test all your systems to ensure that they are working as expected. You should check: wireless connection, printing, server access, etc. Any systems that aren’t working should be fixed immediately to ensure the productivity of your office and business.
So now you have all of this information—what do you do with it? Many businesses turn to MSPs like Elevated Tech after a disaster in order to get assistance at a fast and reasonable price.  You may be unsure of how much information to cover when introducing your problems to new support.
It’s best to answer these three questions: “What is happening, what isn’t happening, and what steps were taken to figure it out?”
If your business needs help after Hurricane Harvey, contact Elevated Tech with this information to ensure a fast and reliable network diagnosis that will get your business on the road to recovery. Harvey may have caused some damage, but it’s nothing that Elevated Technologies cannot handle.

 

Don’t Let Hurricane Harvey Cloud Your Business

With Hurricane Harvey reminding us how quickly our resources can be ripped away from us, businesses all over the city are scrambling to keep on track while the streets continue to flood. Many employees will be working from home for days or even weeks—if they can. The rest are down for the count. The question that everyone seems to be asking is: How could we have prepared for this?

The answer: The cloud. With the cloud, your employees can work from home with full access to all their files 24/7 365 days a year—even in the middle of a disaster.

How?

Cloud storage providers such as Elevated Technologies give you a remote data center, where it manages the infrastructure, servers, and virtualization of your data, and you simply access your virtual files using the internet, giving you access anywhere, anytime.

With the cloud regularly backing up your important files and allowing your employees to work from anywhere in the world, your business can be prepared for the worst and maintain efficiency and productivity as much as possible.

Disaster recovery plans are also imperative for protecting your most valuable information. Does your IT support offer full cloud solutions and disaster recovery plans? The answer to this question could mean the difference between hundreds of corrupted files while your employees are left without work for weeks, or the security of your data and your business’ productivity.

Be the company that was one step ahead and endured the storm. Contact Elevated Tech today to ensure that your data is always safe and secure—even in the middle of a hurricane.

 

Is Your MSP Improving Your Office Environment?

healthy work environment
For a healthy business, you need a healthy office environment. Turning to an MSP to handle your IT needs can drastically improve not only your network security, but also your work environment. Here’s how:
Higher Efficiency—With excellently trained technicians monitoring and maintaining your network, your entire office will start to run more efficiently. One of Elevated Tech’s promises is that we stop problems before they start—how much more work do you think your office could get done if someone was doing that for you?
Better Office Mentality—The less problems you or your employees have to deal with and try to work around, the less frustration for everyone. Think about how much more positivity would exude from your office when everyone’s workday is overall smoother with less bumps in the road.
More Time—Everyone wants more time in the day. One of the benefits of outsourcing  IT is the extra time your office will benefit from when your own employees don’t have to handle the responsibility of supporting the network and/or troubleshooting solutions to problems that arise. While some MSPs or IT guys can take hours or even days to respond to a call, Elevated Tech’s promise is to answer every call for support within the hourand we usually get back to you before that.
More Flexibility– In a small business, flexibility is a necessity. Certain MSPs like Elevated Tech also offer cloud services so your files are accessible 24/7 from anywhere—even in a disaster, because any good MSP will have a disaster recovery plan ready to go at a moment’s notice. Your employees can work from home, download important documents from any meeting in any location, collaborate and will thank you for making their office such an accommodating place to work.
Every office is different, but the best MSPs will take the time to give you a detailed and accurate network assessment in order to accommodate your business’ unique needs. Contact Elevated Tech today to experience this firsthand, and sit back and watch how your office improves.

Computers: How Much Do You Actually Know?

computer basics
Computers: we all have ‘em. But do we really know all the basics? Most would say, “Of course I do! How old do you think I am?” However, because technology is just a part of our lives, many of us were never given a proper introduction. This means we may not know certain basic elements of our technology that could help us work more efficiently and effectively.
So, for those of you who may not know (we won’t tell if you don’t), here are the basic things everyone should know about their computer.
Computer 101: The Actual Basics
Get to know your computer, from the literal basics of whether it’s a laptop or desktop, to what operating system, Office products, and software versions it runs. Know your browser capabilities—this may seem silly, but even this could help with understanding why certain products or websites don’t function correctly.
Safety First (Even if this point is second on our list)
What good is a computer if it’s a virus attack waiting to happen? The answer: it’s not. So know how to set up privacy protections on your browser, set up regular virus scans, and keep your security settings updated.
Keep It Clean
Know how to clean up your computer—inside and out. Here are some tips and tricks for keeping your computer squeaky clean.
Get Cool with the Shortcuts
Not knowing how to utilize computer shortcuts is like typing a really long email with only two fingers. Know how to cut and paste (ctrl + c, ctrl + v), open a new tab (ctrl + t) find anything on a page (ctrl +f) and more. Do some research and open your eyes to a world of more efficient computer use.
Back It On Up Now
Ever had your entire life on a computer and then have the computer magically stop working? Me neither, but it sounds horrible. Don’t let it happen to you by always backing up your most important files. Cloud services are a great way to store your data and also access it any time, anywhere.
Now that you’re an expert on the basics (not that you weren’t already) you can take care of your computer even better now, and you can also move on to learning about more complex issues. Your friendly neighborhood IT company—Elevated Technologies—is here to help with all your IT problems, big and small.

How to Avoid Paying Too Much for an MSP

Are you spending too much on IT outsourcing?
Neonbrand
Nobody wants to pay too much for a service or be manipulated into signing up for something they don’t need. With data security becoming increasingly precious to businesses, it has also become harder to distinguish which IT services are truly necessary. Many MSPs have taken advantage of this in order to charge unknowing businesses way more than they should.
So how can you know if you’re spending too much on IT outsourcing? Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic number to go off of. However, there are a few guidelines to be aware of that can help you determine what’s right for your business.
First off, it’s important to know that while most MSPs offer a flat monthly rate, the best MSPs will take the time to give you the most accurate network assessment in order to make sure you’re paying for what your business actually needs. Many MSPs understand their market and will set their prices to the supposed standard, but then haggle their way into additional charges you don’t need when discussing your quote one-on-one.
Secondly, because most MSPs will claim to charge your area’s standard rates, the most important thing you can do is to make sure you’re getting the most for whatever you do decide to pay.
Good MSPs will prioritize:
  • Response times– One of the biggest complaints of all IT support is horrible response times. Some IT services take days to get back to a business for even the smallest of fixes. MSPs like Elevated Technologies promise to get back to a request within the hour, because your productivity is important.
  • Personal touches– Bigger MSPs will assign you to a randomized help desk, but Elevated Technologies will assign you to an account manager to always personally take care of your IT needs every time.
  • Reliability– When it comes to your data and your business, reliability should be one of the most imperative features to look for when outsourcing IT services. Do they call back? Do they try to get more money out of you every month? Do they leave before the job is done? When looking for MSPs, research their company testimonials and see what clients have to say about their efficiency and priorities. MSPs like Elevated Tech will provide case studies proving their work ethic and abilities to always be there for your business.
The best thing you can do for your business is to choose the MSP that will fight for your productivity and success. Research your local MSPs and don’t settle for lesscall Elevated Tech, and we guarantee that you’ll get your money’s worth.

CyberSecurity with Elevated Tech

Did you know that 62% of all cyber crime is against small to medium sized businessesDid you know that 60% of you will go out of business within 6 months of an attack?
The public typically only hears about cyberattacks against high-profile companies, banks, and government websites. In reality, small businesses make prime targets for cybercriminals, competitors, and disgruntled parties. Due to their lack of resources, small businesses have the least-protected websites, accounts, and network systems — making cyberattacks a relatively easy job.
Whether you have a website, online account, or any type of Web-based infrastructure, you are at risk for a cyberattack and need to take preventative measures.
 Cybersecurity is no joke. And yet, 90 percent of businesses don’t protect their data. You may think your business is safe, but just having your files backed up does nothing to stop them from being corrupted. You need defenses that stop the attack before it even touches your valuable data.
Elevated Technologies will be your protector and your offensive line. To help you protect your business, here are three Elevated Tech smart and safe solutions that will keep you safe at all times.
·       Elevated Tech  engages your traffic with our exclusive MSP turnkey solution. It’s a bundled next-generation firewall that shields your business operations. This includes installation, configuration, deployment and management.
 ·    We patch almost anything so you remain profitable. Our management program patches Windows and more than 20 third-party applications. It’s a simple, predictable approach that streamlines patching with just a few clicks.
·       Our fully managed data backup solution automatically backs your files as frequently as every 15 minutes. More importantly, you’ll be able to restore your critical applications rapidly. And the solution is only about the cost of your monthly phone bill. That’s the same or less than managing it all yourself.
·       We proactively protect your servers, PCs and laptops from viruses and malware with a fully managed solution. It includes enterprise class endpoint software, 24/7 monitoring, and management by a team of technical experts. This total endpoint security is only about the same price as your anti-virus software.
Elevated Tech also offers training for you and your employees; your people are your best defense against an attack. We provide end-user security training courses that build awareness. You can count on three outcomes: Your people will form a healthy level of paranoia. Your organization will reduce its cyber risks. And our straightforward approach means you won’t wish you could get your hour back.
Contact Elevated Technologies today and be the percentage that stops problems before they start.

What Is The Cloud?

With “The Cloud” taking over, one question prevails among many: What even IS the cloud?
We’re here to answer the question.
So, what is the cloud, you ask?
Weirdly enough, it has nothing to do with precipitation or fluffy white shapes in the sky. In fact, it’s not physical at all. Rather, the cloud is a network of servers, and each server has a different function.
Some of these functions are a service you can buy– like Microsoft Office. Long gone are the days where you could buy this software in a box at Best Buy—instead you can purchase this online and use immediately—no physical box necessary.  Others clouds serve to store data like Drop Box, Google Drive, or of course, iCloud.
So, what’s the point?
Clouds are extremely convenient. Cloud storage providers such as Elevated Technologies give you a remote data center, where it manages the infrastructure, servers, and virtualization of your data, and you simply access your virtual files using the internet, giving you access anywhere, anytime.
Additionally, the cloud can save companies thousands of dollars because instead of having to pay for their own hardware, they can only pay for what they need at a fixed monthly rate. It’s also extremely easy to upscale or downscale on space as needed.
While the cloud is efficient, some people are wary of using such a service to store valuable information due to the fact that it’s all on something they can’t see or touch.
That’s why many MSPs like Elevated Technologies offer cloud services such as private cloud hosting with data recovery plans , designed to keep your information secure at all timeseven during catastrophic events or system failure.

Now that you’re an expert about the cloud, you can use this information to get the most out of cloud services and choose the right MSP to privately cloud host for you. To securely backup your data and enjoy convenient access any time, contact Elevated Technologies and learn what we can do for your Houston business.

 

Your IT Ally in the Cloud