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Press Start Ltd Blog

Press Start Ltd has been serving the East Anglia area since 1996, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Tip of the Week: Give Your Desktop Some TLC

Tip of the Week: Give Your Desktop Some TLC

Maintaining a network of PCs can be a lot of work. We wouldn’t blame you for having trouble keeping your business’ computers up-to-date--especially if you don’t have a dedicated IT department on-site. It doesn’t have to feel impossible, though. With proactive technology maintenance and the following tips, you’ll be sure to stay productive throughout the workday.

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Tip of the Week: 5 Handy Android Shortcuts

Tip of the Week: 5 Handy Android Shortcuts

With business becoming more and more mobile, there is a greater need for the devices we use to offer features that allow the user to boost efficiency and avoid downtime. It just so happens that Android devices come with a few little-known ways to accomplish these goals. For this week’s tip, we’ll go over a few ways your phone can be used more efficiently.

Fast Snap
If there are two apps that you use frequently and often need to switch between as reference, you’ll appreciate this feature. Pressing the overview key (the little square icon) will switch you between the two apps you used most recently. If you are on your device’s home screen, this action will pull up the application you were using last.

Fast Vibrate/Do Not Disturb
We’ve all been in a position where a sudden ringing of a phone would be frowned upon, a situation that’s extremely likely in a business setting. If you find yourself in such an occasion and you realise your phone is still at full volume, you can simply activate the screen and hold the volume down button. This will set the device to vibrate mode.

If vibrate is still too loud, pressing the volume down button once again after the phone has been set to vibrate will activate Do Not Disturb, saving you from having your phone go off at an inopportune time.

Notification Customisation
If a particular app is interrupting your workday needlessly, you can tell your Android device under what circumstances that app can provide you with a notification. When the next notification pops up, press and hold the notification until you are offered the opportunity to dictate when the app can ping you through some additional settings.

Freeze Reboot
If you ever find yourself with an inexplicably locked-up and frozen device, you can force it to reboot with the Power and Volume Up buttons. Pressing both down simultaneously for anywhere from 10 to 15 seconds will cause your device to restart. If it doesn’t, that may be a sign that something more serious is happening, or that your phone simply needs a recharge.

Power Button Ends Call
If you’re like most business users, you’re busy from the beginning of the workday to the time you clock out. This is especially true if your work takes you out of the office. To save a few extra moments of time, there’s an easier way to hang up a call on your Android device. Instead of fumbling around to press the end call button on your touchscreen, the power button can be used to end the call.

In your settings, access Accessibility and engage the Power Button Ends Call setting. This enables you to end a call with a much easier gesture that you can successfully pull off without looking.

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4 Security Analogies to Help You Better Understand Hacking

4 Security Analogies to Help You Better Understand Hacking

How often do you read a blog article about network security only to be blown away by all of the overly complicated and confusing jargon of the industry? We know that it’s not necessarily your specialty, but it’s still important that you understand how network security works for your organisation. While the complicated details should be left to IT professionals, we can help you better understand the general idea of security by comparing it to a locked door.

Brute Force Attacks
Let’s say that a robber wants to break into your home. He will try to go through a door, but he might not have the keys required to get in. In this case, he will have to use everything at his disposal to get in. He might try to kick the door down or smash a window. In other words, he’s getting into your house by brute force.

Brute force in computing can consist of a hacker trying to use as many passwords as possible in a short period of time to get in. There are programs that can randomly generate countless passwords in seconds, making this method of attack quite devastating when it’s effective.

Social Engineering
Let’s say that you have a new neighbour on your street. They ask you over for dinner and you get to know them. You feel like you are getting along with them quite well, well enough to trust them to water your plants while you’re out of the state on vacation for a few weeks. You give them a key, but when you come home, all of the plants are dead and you’re missing some furniture or technology. Yup, they’ve robbed you, you’re sure of it.

Social engineering takes a calculated approach to hacking and data theft. Hackers will make personalised attempts to steal your passwords and information by taking on the identity of someone you think you can trust with this information, like an “old friend” or “your elderly grandmother.”

Security Exploits
Robbers may try to find weak points in your front door. Maybe the door doesn’t quite lock all the way due to a defect in the manufacturing process. In this case, the robber may research what the weak points of the door are so that they can know the best and most efficient way of getting past your defences.

Security exploits are weaknesses in software on your computer that allow hackers to sneak into your system and get into all sorts of trouble. These can range from weaknesses in the way that sensitive information is handled, to particular lines of code that create problems for your organisation. Ultimately, it only takes a single crack in your defences, a security exploit, to allow a hacker into your infrastructure.

Two-Factor Authentication
Two locks are better than one in most circumstances. For example, you can have one lock on the doorknob and another on the deadbolt, which keeps the door fastened in place even if the door is forced open near the doorknob. Basically, having two types of locks makes it twice as hard to get to anything of value.

Two-factor authentication can be used to provide this secondary credential to your digital assets, including online accounts or network logins. A secondary code can be sent to an email address or mobile device, which allows your employees to access important information only when both of these are present.

Does your organisation need help with network security? Press Start Ltd can help. To learn more, contact us on 01638 603204

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Artificial Intelligence Can Be Useful To Hackers, Too

Artificial Intelligence Can Be Useful To Hackers, Too

Man matching wits with computer isn’t new territory. In 1830, a locomotive raced a horse to see which was superior in terms of speed and distance. 1956 was the first time a human played chess against a computer. Today, the time has come when an artificial intelligence has begun to break into a new territory that was dominated by humans for thousands of years: crime.

At a recent Technology Expo, a human hacker and a sophisticated computer that is capable of machine learning, each attempted to spear-phish as many victims as possible through Twitter. For two hours, both entities refined their message in an effort to be more effective against the target. At approximately 1.075 tweets per minute, the human was able to make 129 tweets, 49 of which were successful. The computer was able to make 810 tweets in two hours, which is about 6.75 tweets per minute. In that time, 275 victims were converted.

Even though humans had a higher attempt-to-victim percentage, the machine was able to get 5 times as many victims in the same amount of time.

In a Cylance poll held during ConFab, attendees were asked if criminal hackers will use AI for offensive purposes in the coming year, to which 62 percent answered in the affirmative. Even though no one could cite any specific incidents, the overwhelming consensus among experts is that hackers have already begun using AI. Like all high-tech crimes, AI is a global issue that changes fast and often, making it extremely difficult for law enforcement to find and prosecute perpetrators. Even when they’re able to identify offenders, they often run into issues where the laws and statutes are well behind the technology in question.

Another reason that identifying and combatting AI is so difficult is because there are constant debates among experts around the globe on what exactly constitutes as AI. Think about it like this: millions of people consult virtual assistants, like Siri and Alexa, every day. However, if you ask the majority of them if they were using artificial intelligence, they’d say ‘No.’ In reality, they are both examples of AI being put to use to enhance the lives of its users.

There are a lot of potential uses for AI by cyber criminals. For example, hackers could use machine learning capabilities to write programs that personalise emails with malware attachments. As that technology is developed, there will likely be a time when distinguishing actual email and phishing attacks is nearly impossible. Another probable use of machine learning and AI for hacking is drastically reducing the time and resources it takes to find and exploit vulnerabilities in software though automation.

For a small business, AI might may not be something that you need to concern yourself with - and perhaps it isn't, at the moment. However, AI is already being incorporated into many aspects of business with great success and many experts feel it will be very important in the near future. What do you think? Would you be willing to give AI a try? Let us know in the comments!

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Would Your Users be Tricked by Social Engineering?

Would Your Users be Tricked by Social Engineering?

The term social engineering may not seem nearly as intimidating as other cybersecurity terms like ransomware or denial of service. Don’t be deceived! Some of the biggest threats to your company’s data and network security use social engineering to manipulate targets into taking a specific action - like disclosing personal information that can be stolen and exploited.

Often overlooked by the media in favour of major data breach events, there are few types of social engineering hacks that have the capability to devastate a business.

  1. Vishing: Given the fact that the number of people who fall for phishing attacks and other email scams has declined significantly, it was only a matter of time before hackers found an alternative avenue to exploit their targets. After abandoning it a few years ago in favour to digital scams, vishing - a fraudulent voice call that seeks personal information - have once again returned as a favourite among hackers and thieves.

  2. HTTPS: SSL certificates used to ensure that a website was legitimate and secure enough to protect your personal information. Websites that have ‘https’ no longer signifies security, as hackers have begun using websites that give away SSL certificates for free and using them to lull victims into a false sense of security. To make sure a website is secure, you’ll want to look for indication of an extended validation SSL (EV-SSL) which are not offered for free! EV-SSLs are signified with a green bar.

  3. Website Copy-Cats: Scammers have become very skilled at making spoof websites that look and feel just like the authentic website but are actually littered with all types of malware. For example, after the Equifax data loss event in June 2017, Equifax set up a website to help their clients who had their information compromised with the URL: equifaxsecurity2017.com. A spoof of that website, with the domain securityequifax2017.com, was so convincing - it even tricked Equifax themselves! A few things to keep an eye out for when trying to determine if a website is legitimate, include:
    1. Make sure the URL is correct.
    2. Avoid giving out information unless a site has an EV-SSL.
    3. Look for seals of trust from other IT security websites.
    4. Beware of misspellings, typos and broken English.

  4. Every Word Password Theft: There are a lot of hacking tools that will scan through databases - including every word in the dictionary. These tools significantly increase the likelihood that a password that includes an actual word will be cracked and exploited. The best practices are ones that mix numbers, letters and symbols that make no sense.

When it comes to digital threats, for every exploit or hack that is prevented, a few, more advanced ones are developed. The best way to keep your business and it’s data safe, is to take proactive measures and execute safe internet practices all times - and that goes for your employees, as well! Would you like to learn more about how you can stay ahead of hackers? Call us at Press Start Ltd.

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Maintaining a network of PCs can be a lot of work. We wouldn’t blame you for having trouble keeping your business’ computers up-to-date--especially if you don’t have a dedicated IT department on-site. It doesn’t have to feel impossible, though. With proactive technology main...

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Press Start Ltd launches new website!

Press Start Ltd is proud to announce the launch of our new website at www.pressstart.co.uk. The goal of the new website is to make it easier for our existing clients to submit and manage support requests, and provide more information about our services for prospective clients.

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