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Meltdown / Spectre

Posted January 8, 2018 By admin

Computer researchers have recently found out that the main chip in most modern computers—the CPU—has a hardware bug. It’s really a design flaw in the hardware that has been there for years. This is a big deal because it affects almost every computer on our network, including your workstation and all our servers.

This hardware bug allows malicious programs to steal data that is being processed in your computer memory. Normally, applications are not able to do that because they are isolated from each other and the operating system. This hardware bug breaks that isolation.

So, if the bad guys are able to get malicious software running on your computer, they can get access to your passwords stored in a password manager or browser, your emails, instant messages and even business-critical documents. Not good.

So, What Are We Doing About This?

We need to update and patch all machines on the network. This is going to take some time, some of the patches are not even available yet. We also may have to replace some mission-critical computers to fix this.

In the meantime, we need you to be extra vigilant, with security top of mind and Think Before You Click.

If you haven’t already heard of the hardware vulnerability recently discovered, here are a couple of articles: http://mashable.com/2018/01/04/spectre-meltdown-explained and https://www.pcworld.com/article/3245606/security/intel-x86-cpu-kernel-bug-faq-how-it-affects-pc-mac.html .

We are currently waiting on our antivirus applications to have their compatibility confirmed (actually most clients are on a compatible version of Vipre) before Microsoft’s patch can be installed. On January 9th Vipre (and hopefully Bitdefender) will set a flag that will allow Microsoft’s patch to install.

The good news is there are currently no known exploits and a user must still run code (like though a rouge website). The bad news is that the patch may hurt computer performance by up to 20 percent (testing has been mixed from no impact to 40 percent). We fully understand the frustration this may cause but there’s nothing that can be done at this time and it may mean some computers must be replaced.

Also, we have seen a handful of computers have all their files completely erased due to what we think are compromised websites.  This has required a full reload of the computer. Unless we specifically have a backup in place for your computer, as always, please do not store data on the the local hard drive. If you have questions about your computer please send a help request or call. We absolutely can setup a backup for local data.

My church goes regularly to Reynosa, Mexico to help build homes for local residents. Volunteers stay at an orphanage in Reynosa. It came to my attention that the orphanage has internet connection issues, security concerns with their wireless, and a desire to increase wireless coverage for guests and staff. I volunteered to purchase and install about $1,000 worth of wireless equipment to connect five buildings together, secure the network, increase the wireless coverage and setup bandwidth allocation between the office staff and the guests. My son and I are going down the day after Christmas for a week to install and configure the equipment.

You can help us a couple of ways. First of all, be patient with us while I’m in Mexico. I’ll do my absolute best to take care of issues and help requests in a timely manner and Juan will be in the office. Second of all, consider sponsoring my son and I. In addition to the equipment, I’ve also purchased about $800 in tools and supplies and the trip is over $250 for each of us (fuel, food, lodging). Checks can be made out to “Bear Creek Bible Church” with Landers in the memo. You can send them to the CITS address (PO Box 335, Euless TX 76039).

Managed Firewall Services

Posted October 12, 2013 By admin

Security should be an important part of your business; however, we continually see homes and businesses using low-end routers. These routers do no outbound filtering which can cause data leakage. We also see open ports that introduce security holes into your network (how would you feel if you knew your RDP port was hit thousands of times a night by hackers in other countries?). My question is, why is your router accepting or sending traffic from/to countries like China or North Korea or other embargoes countries? Why do you have a port open when its just one user at home that needs access to that port? We are now offering a managed firewall for only $50 per month in most cases ($30/month for managed clients). There is no cost for the firewall (we will own and manage the firewall). This is an excellent router/firewall that will make your network flow better by providing Quality of Service (QoS) and traffic control preventing traffic from entering or leaving your network to places it shouldn’t be going. We can also provide a separate network for your guests (most companies freely give out their wireless codes to customers/vendors who now have access to your internal computers). This is a separate offering than our regular services for servers and computers and can compliment your existing IT support. Call us at 817-354-2487 for more information and to setup a consultation.

The Case for Outsourced I.T.

Posted April 26, 2013 By admin

Microsoft commissioned a study to examine the impact of non-IT professionals managing technology in small businesses across several countries. The AMI-Partners study found that, on average, nontechnical employees, who are acting as the company’s I.T., lose six hours per week in business productivity. Certified I.T. Solutions, LLC can be your I.T. department saving your employees time and money.

Source: http://tinyurl.com/bg130429

We are here to save you time!

Posted April 17, 2013 By admin

I received a phone call today from the supervisor of a new employee. They couldn’t figure out how to add email to a phone. I asked that they send a help request with the model of the phone. Right away I received the request and within five minutes I sent specific instructions for that model. The reply was “Thanks!, [I’ve] been trying to figure that out for days…”

CITS is your I.T. department – we are here to save you time. Rely on us!

Why choose Certified I.T. Solutions, LLC ?

  • Unlimited Monthly Computer Service For One Low Price: No more hourly service contracts or pay-per-hour services. Call anytime, day or night, to have all of your computer issues resolved quickly.
  • Certified Computer Professionals: All network administrators are required to have at least three years of computer service experience as well as an array of industry-recognized certifications to ensure competency.
  • Pro-Active Computer Solutions: Certified I.T. Solutions, LLC not only fixes problems when they occur, but also works in the background monitoring your computer environment to resolve issues before they occur.
  • Vendor-Neutral: We don’t pick vendors on how much money we get – we pick hardware and software based on your needs. See our “What is ‘Vendor-Neutral” article.
  • Guaranteed Fast Response: When your business is depending on computers, tomorrow or the next day won’t work. Certified I.T. Solutions, LLC has guaranteed response levels and utilizes remote support technologies to ensure you get back up and running in the shortest time possible.
  • Several Support Options: On-Site, Phone, Remote, or Email

What is “Vendor Neutral”?

Posted April 7, 2013 By admin

One of the things that separates CITS from other MSP’s is that we are “vendor-neutral.” This doesn’t mean that we don’t have our favorite vendors – we like Dell, Netgear, Mikrotik and Cisco among other manufactures. What “vendor-neutral” means to us is that we don’t recommend a piece of hardware or software based on the commission we get in return. In fact, we do not make money off selling hardware and software to our clients that have an agreement with us. When a service based company profits from selling hardware/software they are putting themselves at conflict with the client. When the support company makes a commission or a spiff for recommending a certain brand it puts them at conflict with the client’s needs. We want to be a partner with our clients and to avoid conflicts of interest.

Recently a client of mine chose a different VoIP partner than we recommended. When I saw the quote I recognized the router that was selected. The VoIP provider charged $350 for a $60 router! This might have included setup but there was a separate line item for “system installation.” Furthermore the provider did not know how to configure critical pieces of the router. Fortunately, I am familiar with the router and was able to make the necessary changes.

Another example is a client chose to disregard my computer quote (a Dell quote that was provided within their agreement and in which I would not have made a dime) and decided to get a competing brand since the quote was less (it turns out that it was sold by another vendor’s son who made a commission off the sale). When I went to setup the computer I informed them that the computer they got didn’t include a certain version of Microsoft Office that was required for their other critical software. Furthermore, one reason I don’t like the brand they chose is because it comes with a lot of preloaded software and it has already caused complaints from the user. The client ended up spending more money than they would have if they had just gone with my quote. My quote was based on my client’s needs not my profit.