Heartbleed and KineticD Cloud Backup

Posted by admin on Apr 25, 2014

This notice is for our customers that either use (or are planning to use) our Cloud-based data backup solution provided by KineticD.  Here is a notice that we received from KineticD:

As you may be aware, a major vulnerability code named Heartbleed recently been discovered for OpenSSL, the popular encryption software that powers two thirds (2/3) of the Internet.  Since KineticD only relied on OpenSSL for our marketing portals, none of your data was ever at risk.

We take the security of our customer data very seriously and at this time have no evidence of any compromise, but like many web companies, our security team took immediate action to proactively address the issue.  Further to our stringent Vulnerability and Threat policies, all data backed up with KineticD is protected by the following safeguards:

-Military Grade Encryption: Your data is encrypted using military grade 448 bit blowfish encryption before it leaves your machine, in flight (over the internet) and at rest (when its stored in our servers).

-Industry Leading Data Centers: Our state-of-the-art data centers are guarded 24x7x365 with uniformed security guards, CCTV cameras throughout, door entry-card access and fully redundant power supplies.

-ITL-Based Compliance Audit Procedures: Our data center recently passed an external audit which awarded us with the SSAE16 certification of compliance.   

If any of your other online vendors have been impacted by Heartbleed and you use the same password for both KineticD and them, we recommend changing both passwords.  As a best practice, your password for KineticD should be unique and contain at least 6 characters, with capital letters, numbers and symbols.  

Thanks for trusting KineticD with your data, The KineticD Team

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Six Reasons You Still Need A Desktop PC

Posted by admin on Sep 30, 2013

Like most computer users, you have probably already migrated to some sort of mobile device… a laptop, tablet or even a smart phone.  Does that mean your old desktop PC is destined for the scrap pile?  Well, that old computer – even though past its prime – is far from useless.  In fact, for some jobs, it is the perfect tool.  Here are six reasons to keep that old clunker around.

Dual Monitors: Yes, you can set up dual screens on your laptop, but the external one is usually much larger than the built-in screen, and so easily navigating between the screens can be a bit of a pain.  Just pop a dedicated video card into your desktop (if it does not already have one), connect two monitors, and you are off with double the productivity!

Raw Power: Mobile devices sacrifice speed over battery life, desktops don’t. So if you are a power user, your programs will probably run faster on a desktop.  Now, if your desktop is 10 years old… or older, forget about what I just said.

Expandability: Notebooks are not easy to fix or upgrade.  Their compact form means that most components are soldered together. About all you can effectively upgrade is the memory and the hard drive.  In a desktop, everything is fair game.  In fact, you can basically strip it down to the bare components and start over if you want.

File Storage: In many cases, your desktop has more storage space than your mobile device.  And if not, you can easily add an additional hard drive.  You can even backup your data from your laptop or smart phone to your desktop.

Better Productivity: Using the touchpad can be a pain for some notebook users, not to mention that the keyboards are usually more compact.  If you are a touch-typist or do a lot of mouse work, then a full sized keyboard and standard mouse can be a lot more productive.  Yes, you can connect a USB keyboard and mouse to a laptop, but you are losing the convenience of the laptop.

Remote Access: If you leave your desktop powered up all the time, you can have your own computer in the cloud.  Use one of the various remote desktop tools that are available, and you can access your programs, documents, and even printers from anywhere in the world.

Diagnose USB Charge Problems

Posted by admin on Jun 26, 2013

If you are trying to use a USB port to charge a device, and it is not working, there are tools in Windows that can help. Go to Control Panel -> Device Manager -> and select Devices by Connection from the View menu. Click the name of your PC and press the asterisk (*) key. This will open a list of devices connected to your system. Scroll down till you find “Generic USB Hub”. Right-click that item and select Properties. Then click the Power tab.

After all that clicking, you will see a list of USB devices, and the amount of power that each one is drawing. This information can help you determine whether the device will charge quickly or slowly given the amount of power it is drawing.   Fixing the problem could take a bit of trial and error, but start by unplugging any non-essential USB devices and see if the numbers change.

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Email Bad Habits

Posted by admin on Jun 19, 2013

Continuing from my previous post about bad habits, here are some email specific habits that need breaking.

1) Keeping a full inbox is cumbersome, and slows down productivity.  Many people strive for “inbox zero” (keeping your inbox empty), but the idea is to keep your inbox as small as possible.  Email programs (even web based ones) will allow you to create folders to organize your emails.  Use the “three d’s” method of dealing with emails.  Do It (take care of the email immediately, then file it), Ditch It (if it is not worth your time, delete it or unsubscribe from it), and Delegate It (if it is actually someone else’s job to take care of that, forward it to them, and delete it).

2) Don’t respond to SPAM.  If you do, you have essentially confirmed that your email address is valid, and you will get much more. Unsubscribe if you can, setup a SPAM filter, or in severe cases, change your email address.

3) Think before you reply.  Write your reply, and then read it over again.  Make sure that you have not said something you will regret, or will get you into trouble.  Have you fully answered the question or explained yourself clearly? Also, double check the recipients… did you click “Reply” or “Reply All”?

Personally, I get probably a hundred or more emails every day… and I currently have three in my inbox. Everything else has either been dealt with, filed, deleted, or scheduled in my calendar to take care of.

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The Worst Tech Habits

Posted by admin on Jun 18, 2013

We all have bad habits, but our bad habits can hurt our technology.  Here’s how to break those bad tech habits.

1) Don’t leave your equipment in plain site.  You are just asking for it to be stolen or damaged.  Imagine if your laptop was stolen with all your wedding photos and banking information.

2) There is a time and a place to use your gadgets.  Distracted driving (and walking) is a great concern to public safety.  Make sure when you are engrossed in the content on your cell phone or tablet, that you will not get into an accident or drop your device and damage it.

3) Using your device with dirty hands will shorten the life of it.  Standard keyboards can get clogged with grime, and even touch screens can get so covered that they will not work well.  It is also a great way to spread germs.

4) Keep your equipment clean – in this case, I am talking about your laptops, desktops, printers, etc.  At least once a year, you should clean your computer equipment.  If you are not comfortable taking your computer apart to clean inside, then take it to a repair shop and have them do it.  Your stuff will last a lot longer.

5) Bad posture is another bad habit.  Take a few minutes to adjust your chair, your desk, your screen, and even your lighting.  You will be more productive and less stressed if you have a comfortable work environment.

6) Take breaks – lots of them.  Your employer may not agree with the idea of taking 10 fifteen minute breaks during the day, but at least once an hour, you should get up from your desk and stretch.  Go get a drink, use the bathroom, go outside for some fresh air, anything that is not sitting.

7) Don’t work with your laptop on your lap.  I know, that is what they are called, but they can cut off circulation in your legs.  Not to mention, that they need air flow underneath to stay cool, and your legs can block that air flow. Try using a lap desk, or find a different position to use your laptop.

8) BACK UP YOUR DATA! Do it, and do it often.

9) Another thing you have probably heard a million times is to not use the same password for everything.  If you don’t value your money or information, go ahead and use the same password.

10) Do updates – all your software needs updating.  That also includes your phones, tablets, and computers. Updated software crashes less, and gives you more features.

11) Save paper, ink and money – don’t print everything.  Save it, and back it up (see number 8).

12) Don’t fax, use email instead.  Faxing is slow, poor quality, and wastes more paper and ink.  Scan and email your documents instead.

13) Recycle your electronics.  There is no excuse anymore.  There are numerous places you can take your electronics to be recycled.

14) If you are having a problem with a piece of technology (hardware or software) check the manual and the manufacturer’s website before you call for help.  In most cases, someone else has had the same problem, so you can probably find the solution online.

15) Social Media is great, but don’t over share. Only share posts or make comments that your “friends” will actually appreciate. If you are one of those people who share every post they see, most people will end up blocking your feed altogether.

16) No gadgets at the dinner table – or any time when you are in the company of others.  It is rude and distracting.

17) Keep your phone, tablet, laptop, or any other fragile device in a case. You don’t have to invest in a state-of-the-art waterproof case from Otterbox, but you should use something to protect it.

18) Silence your phone when you are in a theatre, doctor’s office, or library. Better yet, turn off all audible notifications for anything other than a phone call.  That is why they invented vibrate.

19) Reboot your devices from time to time.  All electronics can benefit from a refresh from time to time.  If you notice that your phone, tablet, or computer is acting a bit strange.  Before you get mad at it, take a few minutes and restart it.  You will be surprised at how much better it works.


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Set Up A Safe Virtual Private Network

Posted by admin on Jun 11, 2013

I have several clients that require a VPN -Virtual Private Network, and it can be a great solution to businesses both large and small.  So what is a VPN? Basically, think of it as using the internet to extend your office network to anywhere in the world.  If you have remote offices, employees that work from home, or sales people on the road, a VPN can be a valuable tool.  Those off site workers can access your local network, server, and even shared printers!  They can essentially work as if they were in the office.

Our favourite tool for setting up a virtual network is Hamachi. It is free for up to 5 users, and they have a very reasonable yearly price for larger networks. It is a small program that runs in the background on Windows and Mac, and assigns each Hamachi user a unique private IP address.  This is what creates the security.  Not only do you need a username and password to connect to the network, but you also need to have an approved IP address and save a security file to your device.  If you run a server, they would also still need to log in as they normally would, adding another layer of security.

The speed of the network, is of course, dependent on the internet connection… but any connection will do.  You can even use a public WiFi connection and not have to worry about someone hacking you. I have used mine with my cell phone tethered to my laptop, and it worked just fine.

Why am I not getting the internet speed I paid for?

Posted by admin on May 8, 2013

Almost no one gets the internet performance that their ISP advertises. Variables make speeds impossible to predict, and the providers advertise the best possible speed.  The difference between the advertised speed and the real speed should be reasonably close.  If you are regularly getting 70% of what you are promised, you have a serious bottleneck.  Visit www.speedtest.net, and click on “Begin Test” to find out what your internet speeds are.  You will get three numbers… ping… download… and upload.  The important number here is the download.  Compare that number to the promised speeds from your provider.

You should also run that test from several devices on your network (if you have them) and compare the numbers.  Speedtest.net has apps for Blackberry, iPhone and Android as well.  It is possible that it is just the one system that is running slow.  If that is the case, then have that device looked at.  If all your devices are downloading at the same (slow) speed, then it could either be your router/modem or your ISP.  Call your internet provider and have them test the connection to your modem.  You can also bypass your router, and connect your computer directly to the modem and test it again.


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Global WordPress Brute Force Attack

Posted by admin on Apr 12, 2013

There is an on-going and highly-distributed, global attack on WordPress installations across virtually every web host in existence.  This attack is well organized and again very, very distributed; we have seen over 90,000 IP addresses involved in this attack.

At this moment, we highly recommend you log into any WordPress installation you have and change the password to something that meets the security requirements.  These requirements are fairly typical of a secure password: upper and lowercase letters, at least eight characters long, and including “special” characters (^%$#&@*).

You have now changed your WordPress password, correct?  Good.

The main force of this attack began last week, then slightly died off, before picking back up again yesterday morning.  No one knows when it will end.  The symptoms of this attack are a very slow backend on your WordPress site, or an inability to log in.  In some instances your site could even intermittently go down for short periods.

We are taking several steps to mitigate this attack throughout our server farm, but in the same breath it is true that in cases like this there is only so much that can actually be done.  If you are hosted with us and you would like for us to take a more severe, heavy-handed approach to mitigate this attack, we can do this via means such as password-protecting (via .htaccess) all wp-login.php files on the server.  If you would like our assistance with this, please contact us.

Again, this is a global issue affecting all web hosts.  Any further information we could provide at this moment would be purely speculation.  Our hope is that this attack ends soon, but it is a reminder that we must all take account security very seriously.

We will update this blog post when we have further information.

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Online Shopping: Tips to Avoid Getting Burned

Posted by admin on Mar 12, 2013

Taken from PCWorld Magazine, March 2013

Buying products online speeds up shopping and reduces hassle, but it also comes with risks. Here are some easy ways to lock down your online security and still get all your shopping done quickly.

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The Woes of Unsubscribing

Posted by admin on Mar 8, 2013

Unsubscribing is a pain. It takes several clicks, and doesn’t always work. Unfortunately, with the amount of spam everyone gets on a daily basis it’s become a necessary part of our lives.  What’s worse, some not-so-nice senders will realize you’re a real person and that you actually check your email – and they will put you on more spammy mailing lists. It happens way more often than you think!

Some scary spam statistics…

You may be asking yourself what’s one to do? Well, there are several options. The first is to simply be very careful about handing out your email address, which means limiting the news letters and promotions you sign up for, and the services and membership sites you join. Limiting your email’s exposure is the first step in reducing the amount of spam you receive.

You can also create a free email account from Gmail or Hotmail, and use that address when signing up for something.  If that address gets on some spammers lists, you can just open up another one, and change your subscriptions that you want to keep.

Editors note: If you sign up for the ICS News Bytes newsletter, we will never use that email address for anything else, and we will never sell or lend those addresses to another company.  And unsubscribing is quick and easy.

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