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How to Protect Your Business from Ransomware 

What is Ransomware? 

Ransomware is a type of malware (malicious software) that takes your files, data or computer hostage until you pay money. When a ransomware attack happens, your computer or browser  may lock up and you may see a ransomware note or your files will be encrypted, leaving you not being able to access them.

 

How does your computer get it? 

There are a few ways ransomware and other types of malware can infect your computer.

Opening links on emails from unknown sources

If you get an email from an unknown email address with a link attached, it’s better not to open it. It could be disguised as a coworker or trusted company. If something about the email seems off, check to see if there are typos in the name or email address. This can be an indicator that the email is fake. These types of emails are called phishing. 

Opening links or websites from social media messages

Like the messages that come to your email with a malware virus in them, these are often sent by people you don’t recognize or fake accounts. If a link looks suspicious, do not open it, even if it is from a family member or friend. Their accounts could have been hacked. It is better to check with them to make sure the file is safe.

Using unsecure sites 

Sites have their own protection on them. If this has been breached or it is a site set up for malicious purposes, it could put your data and computer at risk. Your browser will usually give you a warning before entering the site. If this happens, it is best to back out of the site. 



Steps to protecting your computer against ransomware

– Making sure your computer and software is up to date

– Check emails addresses and look for signs that a website could be fake before downloading anything 

– Backup your files and data 

The number one way to make sure your data is secure and protected is by having a good backup system in place. If a ransomware attack does happen, you don’t want to pay the money to get your files back, because there is no guarantee that you will get the data back. When you have a good backup system in place, you know that even if something does happen, your data is secure and can be redownloaded onto your computer. 

 

If you need help setting up a backup system for your company, contact us and one of our WesTec reps can go over the options and help you decide what is best for your company.  Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook!

 

 

 

 

Data Backup: Risks of Not Backing Up Your Company’s Data

 

Think of how much of your company’s work is done on a computer and all of the programs, files and information that is stored. If your company does not have a data backup system, you’re at risk of losing it all. That could be detrimental to your business. 

 

So what could cause your systems to go down and experience data loss? There are a few different scenarios where your company could be at risk. 

 

Hardware, Software or System MalfunctionsMalware

If you work on a computer, you know they’re not always perfect. Sometimes systems fail or malfunction. If this happens and your data is not backed up, you lose all of your files. If you had a data backup system in place, you could simply load up the backup and restore your information that was lost.

 

Human error 

We’ve all made the mistake of accidentally deleting something we weren’t supposed to. It could be that an employee thought the file was something else or accidentally clicked the delete button. Without data backup, those files would be lost forever and the work would have to be redone. With backups, you’ll be able to restore the file and continue the workday. 

 

Malware or Ransomware 

Malicious Software, malware for short, is what people refer to as computer viruses. There are different types of malware, with some having the ability to delete everything on your computer system. Ransomware is a type of virus that holds your data captive unless you pay a dollar amount. If you have a good backup system in place, you won’t have to pay the ransom and you will still have access to your data. 

 

Natural disasters

In Houston, there are many things that could happen, in particular, flooding. If your computer and hard drive were to be destroyed in a flood or fire, you could lose your data.

 

Computer, Data BackupWhile many things could happen, the risk associated with losing your data and files can be mitigated by properly backing up your data. There are different types of backups and data protection. If you would like to start protecting your company’s data, contact us and one of our WesTec reps can go over the options and help you decide what is best for your company.  Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook! 

 

 

 

Protecting Your Business with Surveillance Systems

When you think of surveillance systems, do you think of the fuzzy CCTV shots from old true crime documentaries? Video systems have come a long way since then. Past are the days of not being able to identify individuals from recordings. So how can a surveillance system add a level of security to your business and help you mitigate risk?

Surveillance systems for protecting your business

Protection from Theft and Crime

Security cameras can help stop crimes before they even occur. Setting up exposed cameras lets trespassers know that they are being recorded and the likelihood of them being caught just went up. A surveillance system proactively protects your business, and can reduce insurance costs.

If a crime does occur, you’ll have a place for the investigation to start and be able to provide evidence. You can choose cameras that continually record or are triggered by an event, such as someone walking by. All-weather cameras allow you to continue capturing activity in extreme conditions. With the climate in the Houston area, you never know what circumstances your surveillance system will need to be working under.

Reducing Workplace Hazards

CCTV and IP camera systems are not just for the outside of your building, installing cameras in work areas can help reduce work-related accidents. By monitoring work spaces, you can mitigate risk such as verifying machinery is functioning properly, confirm safety procedures are being followed and eliminate hazards that could cause injury. More employee accidents results in higher workers’ compensation rates. A surveillance system allows you to document exactly what occurred.

The decision to add surveillance cameras comes down to keeping your business and employees safe and reducing costs associated with thief, employee accidents and workers’ compensation and insurance.

If you would like to learn more about leveling up your security and adding a surveillance system, contact us today. Learn more about installing a WesTec Guardian CCTV/ Video Surveillance System to your business here.

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WesTec Cabling Services

WesTec offers a full line of Houston cabling services including Voice, Data, Fiber, and Coaxial cabling. In this article, we will take you through the specifications of each one, and what makes each of them different. 

Voice and Data Cabling 

Voice and data cabling are used for just that – voice and data. They are inclusive but not limited to phone system cabling, data network cabling, server room cabling, surveillance cameras, video cabling, and more. Distinctly, data cabling is inclusive to two different types of cables – copper and fiber. The type of cables used define the standards of the method used. Furthermore, these types of cabling make up offices or campus networks, which are able to adapt with new and upcoming technologies; in the long run, allowing businesses to expand. 

Fiber Cabling

Fiber cables are able to connect multiple cabinets together and often include a center glass core surrounded by layers of protective materials. This type of cabling avoids electrical obstruction by transmitting light, making them the perfect method for environments with vast amounts of electrical interference. Fiber cabling is now the standard for connective networks across buildings due to their resistance of moisture and lightning.  

Coaxial Cabling

Coaxial cables are probably one of the most complex types of cabling to install due to their complex infrastructure. These cables have a single copper conductor at the center, a braided metal shield, and a plastic layer in the center which provides insulation. The metal shield is used to block outside interference from motors, fluorescent lights, and other computers. Additionally, coaxial cabling is resistant to obstruction and can handle larger cable lengths between network devices. 

Cabling services differ according to your needs, and many beyond just these four exist. WesTec Services is ready to assist you with your cabling needs. For additional information, questions, or comments, contact us or read here.

What is a Network Health Check?

For a business or home to run successfully, strong network connection in computers is essential. WesTec offers computer Network Health Checks, but what does that entail?

If your computer(s) are running slower than usual, your network is glitching, or there have been security breaches, you might be due for a Network Health Check. 

What Are Network Health Checks?

Network Health Check can be defined as a way to test the critical components of a network for performance, reliability, and other security issues. These checks provide security which ensure that your network is sustained to best practices and maximize availability. Because networks can be at risk of security breaches, and malfunction, checking your network health should be done at least once a quarter; some even request that checks are done with more frequency to prevent data loss, poor performance, and others. 

Where We Come In

At WesTec, we come to you, on site, and complete a Health Check Audit and check for maximum speed, security, and performance. During the audit, we would also check for any problems such as spyware, failing hard drives, or out-of-date security patches. In addition, we check your computer’s network security, backups, and other issues which could lead to expensive repair bills. At the end of the audit, a report will be provided to you with all information regarding the vulnerability of your network as well as what can be done to fix it. 

Now that you have a detailed definition and explanation of a Network Health Check, you might find yourself in need of one. We work diligently to make sure that your network is safe, strong, and reliable. Network Health Audits are only one of the many services we offer. Click here for our services or for any additional questions or requests, contact us. We are more than happy to help!

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Confidential Data Storage

Step by Step: How to Safely Store Confidential Data

Now, more than ever, we have to be cautious of our personal documents – whether professional or personal. Information can be easily leaked, lost, or hacked. Follow this step-by-step guide to safely store confidential data:

Disk Encryption

First, enable full disk encryption. This protects all confidential data if its devices fall into the wrong hands. There is software that does the job for you on Microsoft and Apple devices. It is important to note that said software should not be turned off or deleted once applied – this will assure that data stays safe. 

Secure Hard Disks and Flash Drives

Second, important data can be stolen through physical media such as external hard disks or flash drives rather than digitally. Said devices should never be taken out of the place of business or left unattended. In addition, there should always be a backup to your backup, which is where encryption comes into play. 

Password-Protected Archives

Third, any data that has not been previously stored/encrypted should never be transferred over the internet. Sending important data over programs such as e-mail or file sharing services is sometimes required, but never ideal; however, the easiest way to avoid data theft is to encrypt the data and put it in a password-protected archive. Passwords for the archive should be set through a different channel.

Safely Delete Old Data

Fourth, companies sometimes hoard information that they no longer need. Most times, said information has classified or important data that should not be possessed by the wrong person. The best way to keep the information safe is by getting rid of it once it is of no use to the company. Additionally, never forget to also delete it from the Recycle bin as well; for anything sensitive, use a file-shredder to prevent recovery. 

Secure Passwords

Lastly, any archives or passwords created for data storage should be safely secured. Losing and leaking passwords is not a difficult task. The easiest way to keep passwords secure is through programs such as Kasperski. 

To Store Confidential Data is simple, when the right steps are followed. Practice the above, and your data will be protected for years to come. For any additional questions or requests, contact us

5 Smartphone Security Risks and How To Prevent Them - WesTec Services

5 Smartphone Security Risks and How to Prevent Them

Phone technology is constantly evolving. Although new tech toys are fun and functional, there are always underlying dangers. Here are 5 smartphone security risks and how to prevent them. 

Smartphone Security Risks - WesTec

Risks:  

Unintentional Disclosure of Data

Malicious disclosure of sensitive or private information.

Phishing Attacks

Scams made by actors pretending to be a trusted source or individual. 

Spyware Attacks

Type of malicious malware or software downloaded without the consent or knowledge of a victim. 

Diallware Attacks

Stealing money from a designated user through malware that uses hidden message service or numbers. 

Network Congestion

Network is overloaded with links and malware, causing lots of traffic. 

Preventions: 

Encrypt Mobile Devices

Encrypting is the process of converting information into secret codes which prohibits unknown users from accessing. 

Update All Apps and Operating Systems

Updating apps and operation systems with frequency lowers the chances of your information being compromised – sometimes through improved bug fixes. 

Set Strong Passwords

Strong passwords often include: 

  • A minimum of 8 characters
  • At least one capitalized letter
  • The use of special characters such as, @!#
  • At least one numeric character

Consider Deactivating Smartphone Functionalities Such as Siri, Cortana, and Others

Smartphone functions such as Siri and Cortana save all data for future use. Make sure that if these functions are being utilized, no private information is shared — or do not use them at all. 

Don’t Ignore Error Messages About The Validity of Certificates

A variety of websites do a proper job of calling out accounts or messages that are unsafe. Always read any error messages for certificates or accounts. 

Remember: There are thousands of other smartphone security risks, but if you take the proper precautions the chances of any data leakage are slim. 

Have any more concerns about smartphone technology? WesTec Services can help! Contact us with any questions you may have and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

4 Machine Learning Mistakes

 

Machine learning technology is becoming more and more popular within the technology world. It has many benefits that come with using it, but there are some risks and mistakes that are made. Here are the top four learning machine learning mistakes:

 

Business Alignment

It is important to know how machine learning can benefit your business VS how your business can benefit machine learning. Most of the time people experiment with this type of technology and sometimes it doesn’t work out because everything turns out to be a test run. You will want to know what your business will need to grow and improve, then work with the right aligned machine learning technology. Before choosing this type of technology, you may want to ask these questions:

  • What problem am I having? Is it urgent?
  • Will machine learning help us in this scenario?

Poor Training

A good portion of machine learning technology is to store and solve data, this can also include cleaning data. It can either do too much or do too less, depending on the training. If you don’t do proper training, you and your business can decrease in productivity and effectiveness. 

Data Quality

No matter if machine learning is just starting or has been working for a while, it is constantly inserting and solving data. But, not just any data. It has to be able to work with a high quality database. If bad data goes into the machine, bad data will come out. It is a good practice to monitor the quality of data being used. 

Deployment Complexities

 

Using this technology is not easy, and most of the time it is hard to find the right resources to run this device. Stakeholders for example provide the most support for machine learning. You will need a good business alignment and good collaboration for machine learning to take off. 

Have any questions about the right technology services for you or your business? WesTec services can help. Contact us with any questions you may have and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter

 

Pros and Cons of Machine Learning

 

Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence that is capable of predicting, detecting and prescribing solutions to many equations. It is mainly used by inserting thousands of images or algorithms into the system, which causes it to recognize the data and know the difference between them. This creates an algorithm that can be used for digital chat bots, voice recognition services and spam detection softwares. But what are the pros and cons of machine learning?

Pros 

When it comes to the pros of machine learning, there are many including prediction, detection and prescription. These complex machines are able to conduct data analysis fast and are more effective than any human. They can predict accurate information that can lead to more health and technological advances. Along with predicting information, machines can also detect this information at a faster rate than humans. They can detect data, images, voices and more. Not only can machines predict and detect information, they can also create solutions for certain algorithms. Scientists believe that machine learning devices can create solutions 100 times faster than humans. Machine learning can be used for many different areas of work or study, especially with the amount of tasks it can perform. 

Cons 

On the other hand, machine learning does have some disadvantages including data privacy and security. Machine learning can conduct many solutions including facial and voice recognition, which can be a problem for some people. When the machine does these types of tasks, many people argue that it is taking vital information from people and storing it internally. When the data is stored, almost anyone can access it, leaving a problem of data security. How to Avoid a Spear-Phishing Attack - WesTec Services

The bottom line is that machine learning is extremely useful. Like other technologies, it has its pros and cons. 

WesTec Services is your one-stop-source for all things IT support & consulting in Houston! Does your business require network installation, backup & disaster recovery, managed services, consulting, and more? We’ve got you covered! Contact us today.

Machine Learning Terms You Should Know

It is no secret that understanding technology and their terms can be difficult. Especially with it always changing and evolving, it is hard to keep up with all the lingo. Knowing the basic machine learning terms will help you have a better understanding of the technology. Here are the top terms you should know: 

 

Unsupervised Learning 

Unsupervised learning refers to systems that rely on clustering algorithms. The main goal of this is to allow big systems or computers to a wide variety of information so they can learn and adapt to it. The downside to this is that each system needs to be programmed in order to use the information.  

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) 

This type of automation is simply using bots to carry out certain tasks. RPA’s work best in an environment that repeats certain tasks. 

Linear Regression

Linear regression is a statistical algorithm that uses variables to predict values of dependent variables. The main idea of linear regression is being able to use independent and dependent variables to plot data on a line. 

Deep Learning

Artificial intelligence is becoming more popular in the technology industry, and deep learning is a new approach to AI. Deep learning groups learning algorithms based on hierarchy. For example, the first layer of deep learning can consist of an algorithm based on color and as the layers go up, the level of the algorithm increases due to how important it is to the full algorithm. 

Classification

Classification is grouping objects, ideas or information into categories. This can be useful for any type of algorithm or machine learning. It keeps track of data and allows the user to select certain information or objects to send out or edit. 

Struggling to understand machine learning terms Minimize the downtime spent searching for solutions and outsource IT support with WesTec Services! Interested in learning more? Contact us today! Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn!

Mission: WesTec will be a “turn-key” solution for all of its clients’ business connectivity needs. It will offer efficient and effective solutions, directly and with strategic partners, that create tangible value for its clients at every point of contact. Westec will serve all people and entities with a servant’s heart.

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