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dark web

Should Businesses Be Afraid of The Dark Web?

Should Businesses Be Afraid of The Dark Web? 1920 1440 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

While in the past a new business would only have to worry about physical threats that might walk in and try to steal from them, those days are long gone. Now, the biggest threat to businesses are invisible attackers that they will never even see coming until it’s too late.

These individuals are lurking in the shadows of your company’s network instead. This makes them even more dangerous than the criminals of yore, but where do they go after their attacks? Where do these cockroaches flee to? It’s called the dark web.

What is the dark web?

Ironically, the technology which makes the dark web possible was created by the US government in the 1990s. It’s called TOR, and this software allows computers to exchange information anonymously. Now, TOR has become synonymous with the dark web.

However, the dark web itself is much more than that. It’s a huge network of anonymous and hidden websites where the criminal world now does business. This includes a medley of unsavoury illicit activity from drug deals to weapons trading to child pornography rings.

The dark web is not entirely bad though, and there are some people who use it for legitimate purposes. This includes political activists and journalists who need to pass information anonymously to remain safe in corrupt countries.

The most interesting thing about the dark web though is that until recently nobody really cared about it, so what happened?

The arrival of the silk road and the explosion of the dark web

The Silk Road was an online marketplace on the dark web that allowed individuals to purchase illegal items for Bitcoin. In most cases, these users were kids looking to buy party drugs on the internet, but in 2013 the Silk Road was taken down, and in its place, many other dark web marketplaces have sprung up.

While many people despised the Silk Road for its blatant disregard for the law, it did have rules in place which permitted the sale of many things. Its new competitors though were not so caring about who became the victims of these sales.

Now, the dark net has exploded with activity surrounding crimes which are no longer as harmless as people doing their personal festival shopping. The dark net’s new business is in fraud and identity theft.

Cybercriminals now scrape and sell the personal data of individuals and businesses which they’ve stolen from websites or computers with poor security. This could include credit card numbers, medicare numbers, banking details, private documents and more.

What if my data is on the dark web?

If your information is already on the dark web, then there’s little that you can do. While the authorities do take these sites down when they can it’s likely that another one will simply pop up with it for sale again.

The best method for protecting yourself is to make sure this never happens. For an individual, the dangers of the dark web will be related to their identities, but the prize is often different for cybercriminals who are targeting a business.

They’ll most often go after your files. They want to compromise your databases so that they can either steal and then sell your customers information or even hold your information for ransom until you pay them. This can be scary, and it’s possible that everything you’ve worked so hard to build could be lost in one of these attacks.

What can I do to protect myself?

Protecting yourself from these criminals means having a good prevention method in place. Here’s what you can do to protect yourself.

Beef up your cybersecurity

Is your network security up to snuff? If not, you may want to have a cybersecurity company audit your safety procedures. This is particularly important if you work in an industry where you’ll be storing sensitive information on your customers.

Just installing a simple firewall is not enough. As your business grows you become a bigger target, and don’t think that just because you’re a local business that you won’t be attacked. Ransomware attackers couldn’t care less who you are as long as you pay.

Using two-factor authentication, a technique which requires more than one form of credentials, often one involving something that must be physically present, can help with this. While not fool proof, it makes it much harder for your accounts to be compromised.

Teach your employees good security habits

More often than not when someone says they were “hacked” the truth is that they were a victim of a phishing scam. Phishing doesn’t use brute force attacks to access your network, it simply asks your most vulnerable employee for the keys.

That’s why it’s important to make sure that everyone in your organization is up to speed on safety protocols. You should be having training sessions that help them to identify and avoid scams and to recognize when something is up.

However, if you have addressed the first item on our list, then your cybersecurity team should have roadblocks in place that stop naive employees from wandering into many traps designed to steal your information.

Though training your employees on safety protocols is something that you can do for free without even employing any new software. It just takes time and knowledge to accomplish.

Sign up for dark net monitoring

There are actually services which will monitor the dark web for you and tell you if your information is being sold. While there’s not a lot you can do if it’s already there, it does give you a heads up that allows you to go into disaster recovery mode.

You can use this opportunity to change your passwords, up your security levels and protect yourself from data breaches before they happen.

There are some cybersecurity firms which include this as a service in their packages, and that means they can take care of everything for you. This is particularly useful for smaller medical practices which handle sensitive information but may not have a large enough infrastructure to warrant a fulltime IT department.

5 Fixes For Your Slow Website

5 Fixes For Your Slow Website 618 803 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

Recently one of our customers was starting to experience occasional web site slowness due to their ever increasing website size and popularity of their WordPress site. As always, our team of talented engineers were onto the problem straight away and I thought it would be useful to share our thoughts on some of the things you should consider to optimise your WordPress site.

WordPress is one of the world’s most popular Content Management Systems (CMS). Its engine is used by an impressive list of websites that includes the likes of e-bay, Yahoo! and the Wall Street Journal. Even our own humble little site is built using WordPress. With any CMS, there are five critical factors that can transform the visitor experience (and improve your bottom line).

Core infrastructure

This should be the first question you should look at with any web host. Is this shared hosting, or are you using a VPS? Even if your site only has a few hundred visits a month, you should consider looking at using a VPS. It is only a slightly higher cost per month, but it gives you (or your IT support team) visibility in to what is going on. For example it allows us to pinpoint the hardware limitations that may be slowing down the web site, or even causing it to crash. There are tools out there to isolate exactly which part of a website is causing the problem. None of these tools are of any use in your standard consumer shared hosting environments, such as websites accessible through cPanel.

The Webserver

Not all webservers are created equal. While Apace has been around a long time and is the default for many websites, newer web servers such as nginx are engineered to provide a much faster response under high load scenarios. Again, you may need a VPS to take advantage of this technology as many hosting control panels do not support nginx.

Optimising Templates and Plugins

Many WordPress sites use third party templates and plugins that are incorporated into the site. What you may not know is that many of these templates refer to components that are hosted on remote website. Combining all this content onto your site, and using tools like Google’s Pagespeed can yield some truly great results.

Compressing Images

In some cases, images can also be optimised without any loss in quality. By default most modern SLRs take photos of sufficient quality to produce image the size of a billboard. This is probably overkill for many websites and by using image manipulation tools like Photoshop, or even Google’s free Picasa, you can shrink the images file size considerably without any noticeable loss in quality.

Caching

Most web pages are generated in real time as visitors browse your web site. Because much of the website content does not change much, it is possible to prepare the content in advance. We call this caching. There are two ways to achieve this. The first is to use a Content Distribution Network (CDN). The second is to use a WordPress to like WP Super Cache.
Why should we care about website performance? Research shows that speeding up your website pages by even a few seconds can have a dramatic effect on sales. And of course your competitors’ websites are only a few clicks away…

7 Ways To Deal With A Slow Internet Connection

7 Ways To Deal With A Slow Internet Connection 150 150 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

With the help of our IT Support team, I have written a few steps that should help you deal with slow home internet. We have all had it, and we all hate it. It also seems to happen whenever we have looming deadlines, or when we are trying to get something done in a hurry.

Here at Greenlight ITC we have a pretty darn quick internet connection– but we still run into the odd hiccup when we are trying to get work done from home. So here they are, our 7 ways to deal with a slow internet connection.

1. Test your speed

Maybe it is the fact we have grown accustomed to instant gratification. It has happened to me more than once where what I thought were slow speeds were perfectly reasonable, and I had just downed one too many macchiatos.

A great way to test your internet connection’s upload and download bandwidth is to visit the website www.speedtest.net and run a quick test.

After less than a minute, you will have a true measure of how your connection is faring. This is particularly useful as a benchmarking tool– next time you feel your connection may be slow, you will at least have something to compare it against.

2. Look Around

This point may seem obvious, but we often get so involved with what we are doing that we forget that others may be sharing our connection. Maybe your son is streaming movies from a perfectly legitimate site– knowing is half the battle won.

If you are connecting to the internet through a Wi-Fi network, you will also want to make sure your internet connection is secured. Many people do not bother changing their router’s security settings. Some good places to start are:

  • Set up your router with WPA encryption (your router’s manual should be able to help with this and the rest of the steps)
  • Change the default name (or ‘SSID’) and password of your Wi-Fi network
  • If it is not too inconvenient, we recommend you do not make your Wi-Fi network public. The downside to this is that whenever a new device needs to connect to the network, they will have to manually type in the SSID and password to connect. It is usually worth it.
  • Change the default administrator password on your router. If you have a label maker, stick the username and password under the router for future reference. If not, a bit of paper and some sticky tape will do.

3. Wi-Fi Issues

A quick way to figure out whether it is your internet connection/device that is to blame, or your Wi-Fi signal, is to connect to your modem or router using an ethernet cable. If your speed score stays about the same, you will at least have ruled Wi-Fi issues out and can proceed further along with the troubleshooting. If Ethernet is slow too, move on to Point 4. If not, read on:

Most home routers can only support 4 or 5 devices at any given time before performance begins to deteriorate. This can often include:
• Desktops
• Laptops
• Smart phones/iPod Touch
• Tablets
• Home entertainment centres
• Wi-Fi backup devices (e.g. Apple Time Capsule or equivalent)

If you notice that performance improves when disconnecting some of these devices from the Wi-Fi network, you may want to consider a higher end router. Radio interference from other devices can sometimes disrupt signals, causing interference and a slow connection. If you picked up a new device, try turning it off and seeing if it makes helps your connection.

Another common culprit is the humble brick– depending on where in the house you are sitting in relation to your router, solid walls can really bog down your connection speed. Cisco have a great app you can run from your laptop called Wi-Fi Mapper that will help you generate a ‘signal map’ of your premises, allowing you to determine if the router needs to be re-positioned, upgraded, or supplemented with signal repeaters.

4. Ethernet is slow too; time to check your computer

Apps and extensions are great. We are always installing the latest and greatest, but often they fall to the wayside and linger on your computer, hogging useful resources– and often slowing your connection. As an IT support company, this is something that comes up quite often. It is understandable, because these little apps try their hardest to not annoy the user, to the point where people actually forget they are installed!

 

bandwidth consumption

Software such as BitTorrent, DropBox, Evernote– or really any apps that either download media or often need to synchronise with the cloud– can sometimes get in the way of you and that proposal for which you are sourcing materials. Take a look at your running applications to see if they give you any indication of what they are doing.

5. Limit rich digital media

It seems almost yesterday when even picture files took forever to load. At least, 30 seconds feels like forever these days. We have grown fond of video and glitzy animations, and our devices have become part of our entertainment repertoire. But, we have a proposal to write, and right now we can do without these distractions.

Some software you may want to consider using includes the AdBlock extension to most browsers, which will limit the number of advertisements you are bombarded with while surfing the web. It can easily be turned off and on, depending on what you need to do. FlashBlock is another app that blocks flash animations in quite the same way.

6. Prioritise

Sometimes you may just have to play the hand you are dealt with, and work smart. Before looking to escalate the troubleshooting to greater powers (your ISP, if you are at home) you may want to consider whether you can smell the roses and work offline. Maybe finish off the written copy for that proposal and use a placeholder for the parts you need to address when the internet gods are kinder.

One technique used by writers is to use the initials TK– it is an abbreviation for ‘to come’, but with the added bonus that the letters TK do not appear consecutively in any word in the english language. This means that doing a search for ‘TK’ will only jump you to the parts of your document you need to address at a later stage.

7. Call your ISP

Ok, so working offline is not an option. In this case, it is time to contact your ISP and run them through the steps you have taken. From personal experience, it pays to be courteous in spite of how frustrating the issue can be. IT support will usually go the extra mile if you try to remain calm and follow their troubleshooting procedures.

If you are using ADSL, the distance of your premises to the nearest telephone exchange may impact your internet’s potential speed. In these cases, you may wish to contact your service provider and ask their IT support whether there are options more suitable to your location.

Many people stick with their ADSL service for years, and may be losing out on plans that offer faster speeds, higher data—often with similar or even less expensive fees. If your current ISP cannot help you out, it may be time to shop around for a company that can serve you better. A handy web service for ISP comparison is Broadband Guide