2011 BETA Award Winners Announced

infoTech Niagara is proud to announce the Winners of the 2011 BETA Awards.

We’d like to congratulate all of our BETA Finalists this year.  The Judges had a hard time choosing winners as we had so many excellent nominations.

It is interesting to see nominations and winners from other than your typical IT companies.  I think that shows how technology is truly reaching into all kinds of businesses and other organizations.

2011 BETA Award Winners:

 

CXO Large Company – Ann Victor Lazarus, Vice President of Patient Advocacy/Risk Managment – ECMC

CXO SMB Company – John Leonardi, CEO  – Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors

Techie Award Large Company – The IT Server Team from Roswell Park Cancer Institute

Techie Award SMB Company – Bradley Bartram, VP of Information Technology – DIGITS, LLC

Best Online2findyourhome.com

Health IT – Dr. Carl Granger, Uniform Data System

Tech Culture360PSG, Inc.

Rookie of the YearCollectors Proof

Student Award – Nick Dolce, Buffalo State College

Board AwardAmherst Chamber of Commerce

Chair’s AwardJeffrey Ross

And Yet Another Anti-Virus

Everyone knows that if you should always have some sort of active and up to date anti-virus program running on your computer.  Everyone also knows that there are tons of choices to choose from; from software that costs money (Norton, McAfee, CA, Vipre, AVG, Kaspersky…), to free packages like AVG and online scans like housecall.

Yesterday Microsoft just released version 2.0 of their Security Essentials product.  It is a free download and integrates tightly with those using Windows Vista or Windows 7.  So here is another free player on the block that gives you a no-cost option to keeping your computer safe.

But how good is it?  Independent testers put it threw its paces and were pleasantly surprised.  It’s not the best and it’s not the worst.  So for a good, solid anti-virus tool that integrates tightly with your OS, you might want to give it a go.

You can download the gold version HERE

For more informative tips and tricks, ‘Like’ my facebook page HERE

Merry Christmas (your present is inside)

Merry Christmas and Season Greetings.

I hope everyone is ready for the holiday season.  This email is my gift to you.

Gartland Technologies is committed to bringing high-quality IT services to small businesses, but I also know that budgets are a huge concern.  That’s why I’ve put together this email full of time saving and money saving software, tips and websites.  I’m sure there’s something in here that you’ll find useful, and may save you a ton of money.

All of these links, and over 40 more can be found on the Gartland Technologies Facebook page.  ‘Like’ it to get them on a regular basis. http://www.facebook.com/gartlandtechnologies

SOFTWARE/WEBSITES:

IBM Symphony – This is a free Office suite that works with Microsoft Office 2007.
http://symphony.lotus.com/software/lotus/symphony/home.nsf/home

Mikogo web conference – Don’t pay for webex when Mikogo is free…even for corporate use!
http://www.mikogo.com/

Ninite – This website makes it EASY to get tons of free software all at once, with a built in installer too.  A must for any new PC.
http://www.ninite.com

On-line Virus Scan – If you think you’re infected, try running an on-line scan first….even if you have an anti-virus program
http://housecall.trendmicro.com/

Gimp – If photoshop is too expensive, then try this free photo-manipulation tool
http://www.gimp.org/

Safe Web Browsing – This Firefox add-on will alert you beforehand if a link you want to click on is bad or not.  A MUST for avid web surfers.
http://www.mywot.com/

Facebook Security – this Facebook app gives real-time statistics as to your Facebook settings, security and vulnerability
http://apps.facebook.com/bd-safego

Windows 7..Cheap – Get a family pack of Windows 7 (3 copies) and a free Cisco wireless router for $149.99
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/buy/products/family-pack-cisco-router-offer.aspx

Password Checker – Make sure your passwords are strong enough to protect you.  Check them here!
https://www.microsoft.com/protect/fraud/passwords/checker.aspx?WT.mc_id=Site_Link

PAC-MAN – Play Google’s PAC-MAN here
http://www.google.com/pacman/

Software security – Secunia keeps track of all the software on your computer and alerts you to vulnerabilities.
http://secunia.com/

We hope everyone has a safe and Merry Christmas (and Happy Holidays).

Greg

Greg Gartland, PMP
Owner – Gartland Technologies, LLC
“Big Ideas for Small Businesses”
Ph: 585-298-9284
Web: http://www.gartlandtech.com
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/gregorygartland
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/gartlandtechnologies

28 Entrepreneurs give the advice they wish they had starting off

This week for The Entrepreneurs Project, I decided to take an different approach. Instead of asking a traditional question, I decided to ask a question that is aimed to help you become a overall better entrepreneur. This week is a lot more spiced up compared to last week, we have some special CEO’s who made an appearance, and a special video made by Gideon Shalwick . This week is just full of good stuff!

Anyways, I asked these entrepreneurs all the same question: If you were only allowed to offer an entrepreneur one piece of advice, what would it be and why?

Read more at robswebtips

BitDefender Keeps Your Facebook Clean and Secure

Facebook security has long been a moving target that many general computer users fail to navigate.  Even more important is the amount of malware, spyware and other bad things that are getting posted and passed around inside of Facebook.

Well now there’s an application (still in BETA) that gives you a clean dashboard report of your Facebook profile health.  From your infected facebook wallposts to your personal security settings, it’s easy to see them all in one window.\

Check out my actual bitdefender window to see how clean (or dirty) my facebook profile is.

You can get to BitDefender HERE

Check it out, and make sure you keep your Facebook surfing clean.

To see other tips and tricks for general computing, ‘Like’ my page on Facebook HERE

IPv4 to run out early next year

I better brush up on my Hexadecimal…but even so, the simple days of 208.125.150.178 are going to be a thing of the past.  By the end of 1Q in 2011, all of the remaining IPv4 numbers will be handed out.  That doesn’t mean all 4.3 billion numbers are completely taken.  That just means that there are no more that can be handed to ISP’s.  People with blocks of public IP’s may or may not be using them even if they are paying for them.

So in comes IPv6, the Hexadecimal-based IP schema of the future.  As much as I know it’s inevitable, I hate it.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to read an IP address to a customer, customer service rep or copy it myself.  The standard pattern is so easy to use, understand and relay.  Now I have to think about reading off something like this…2001:db8:1f70::999:de8:7648:6e8.

It seems dry and meaningless, like a MAC address.  Sure, this schema allows for 340 undecillion unique addresses, enough addresses for each person on this planet to have 425,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 of their own, but those addresses are so sterile, so stale.

I long for the simpler days.

Security Basics

By the time someone reads this article tomorrow, it may be out of date.  I also want to preface this by saying I’m no security professional and if someone truly wants to break into your system there’s probably not a lot you can do about it.  BUT, since most people bent on nefarious tasks take the path of least resistance, a few roadblocks are always good.  Input from ‘real’ security professionals is welcome.

This article will try to identify the largest avenues for trouble and how to easily handle them.

The areas of security we will be handling are:

1. Home firewall and routers

2. Home wireless

3. Personal computer (hardware and software)

4. Browser and web surfing

5. Anti-virus

6. Anti-malware

7. Data

Buckle in and lets go.

1. Home Firewall. Every single person connected to the internet should be protected by a hardware firewall.  You may have it and not even know it.  If your computer connects directly into a router, then you’re probably protected.  If your computer connects directly into your cable or DSL modem, then you might not be protected depending on the type of modem you have.  You may have to do a little research to see if you have a simple modem or if you have one of the newer ones that also acts as a firewall.

If you are connected to a router, you then need to log into your router and change the administrative password.  Change it to something hard with upper/lower case and numbers, but something you will remember.  Variations of an old street address, license plate or some other sequence you will easily remember.  It is important that you change this password.  Every hacker knows the default passwords to every single router out there.

2. Home Wireless. Wireless is wonderful, but if you don’t lock it down it’s like broadcasting your computer data across your neighborhood.  Most newer wireless routers come with a configuration CD that allows the novice to set up wireless security.  The easiest way I’ve found is to log into your wireless device through a web browser and configure the security yourself.  The first time may be difficult, but I’ll try to give you the keywords to look out for.

A.  Change your SSID.  That’s the broadcast name of your router.  Change it to something you know but nobody else will.  Do not put your last name or street number as your SSID.

B.  Enable Wireless security.  Do NOT use WEP, as that is akin to locking your front doors but leaving the key under the mat.  Always use WPA2.  If you have older wireless devices, they may have troubles with this, but those are becoming the rare exception.  Give yourself a passphrase that’s easy to remember but hard to guess.  That is the key you will give other wireless devices when they want to get on your network.

C.  Don’t forget to change the admin password of your wireless router.

3. Personal Computer (hardware).  Included in Windows Vista and Windows 7 is the ability to encrypt portions of your hard drive.  This is an absolute must if you want to protect your personal data in the event of a stolen laptop.  Encrypting makes it virtually impossible for someone to take out the hard drive and access your data from another devices.  If you have nothing of value on your laptop, then don’t bother with encryption.  Power fluctuations can destroy delicate computer equipment.  Spend $100 or so and get a UPS (Uninterruptable power supply).  It’s a big, smart battery that will keep your computer equipment better protected than with a surge suppressor alone.

3. Personal Computer (software).  One of the BIGGEST vulnerabilities is old software on our computer.  Hackers may find a vulnerability in an old version of Flash or adobe and use that to hack into machines that have not upgraded their software.  Download and install secunia to keep a close watch on out of date software and easily upgrade it.

4.  Browser and Web surfing.  First off, stop using Internet Explorer.  Unless your bank mandates it or some other site only allows it, never use it.  It stinks.  It’s full of security problems and it’s just best to stay away from it.  Download and use Firefox instead.  The beauty of firefox is that there are a ton of addons that make browsing a true pleasure.  Download Adblock to stop every ad on every website.  Download noscript to stop nefarious 3rd party scripts from running on your computer.  Download lazarus if you would like the ability to retrieve data you entered into a website before it crashed on you, wiping out an hour’s worth of work.

As far as websurfing goes, download the firefox addon HTTPS Everywhere to make your browser point to secure websites automatically.  If you type in facebook.com, it redirects you to https://www.facebook.com/.  This is a beautiful thing when surfing on public wireless connections.  Secure connections are always where you want to be when out and about.  This goes for surfing on corporate LAN’s too!  Since many viruses come from just visiting websites, make sure noscript is running and your anti-virus is up to date.  Just clicking a link on Facebook can take you to some place that can screw up your entire computer.

5.  Anti-virus.  Get one!  Some are heavier and weightier than others, some do tons of things while others do only one.  I like AVG Free for personal use if you’re averse to paying for software, or Vipre total home security if you have many machines on your home network and you value their safety.  I tend to stay away from heavier suites like McAfee and Norton because they do too much and take too many resources.  Make sure that no matter what anti-virus you get, that you run a weekly scan at least (I run nightly), and your virus definitions are updated as often as possible!  You can also use online virus scanners to do a quick scan of your PC if you think your personal anti-virus has been compromised.  I use Housecall by Trend Micro for this.

6.  Anti-Malware.  Malware wants to infiltrate your computer, loading software that can do any number of harmful things.  Download and install malwarebytes if you think you have a case of malware.

7.  Data.  For heaven’s sake back up your data…nightly if you can, weekly at least.  Get an external hard drive from Sam’s club, or a nicer NAS (network addressed storage) device from newegg.  Install a stupidly-simple piece of software like Microsoft’s Synctoy 2.1 to back up your profile to an external device.  Do it.  Stop talking about it and get it done.

I may have missed some stuff, but these 7 points will make hackers think twice about going after you.  Some of the software mentioned above can be found ninite and some of it will have to be googled.  Addons for firefox can be found right on firefox.com.

Spend a little time and lock things down.  The amount of time you spend protecting yourself will pay off in the end when you don’t have to keep reloading your computer, or you don’t have to try and protect your identity.

This article is a reprint from Gartland Technologies’ Facebook page.  You can ‘like’ this page here.