Firewalls: The Unsung Heroes Network Security

Shield Firewall protection hacker illustration

The term firewall is not a new one, and it’s not as old of a term as you might think. Before it became commonplace in the computing environment, it was first introduced to the world in 1983 when it was used in a movie titled WarGames. Nowadays, it is used mostly in regard to network security. Let’s take a look at what a firewall does and what the different types of firewalls do.

First, What Does a Firewall Do?

A firewall’s name comes from the structures built into connected homes and multi-family residences that protect individual units from fires. A residential firewall keeps a fire from spreading, while a computing firewall monitors your network traffic for unauthorized connections. A properly configured firewall is a critical part of any cybersecurity strategy.

Firewall Varieties

There are many different types of firewalls out there. Here are just a few examples:

Virtual Firewall

A virtual firewall is hosted in the cloud. It protects an environment that is hosted in the cloud or within a virtual machine. You can customize your virtual firewall to suit your specific needs, be it for a specific application or to protect an entire cloud environment.

Stateful Inspection Firewall

Most modern infrastructures include this version of a firewall. It performs a function called dynamic packet filtering, a process that involves all traffic passing through a firewall being analyzed to ensure it is in the correct state, i.e. not infected by threats or otherwise.

Unified Threat Management Firewall

In addition to the aforementioned benefits, a UTM firewall also includes antivirus software. UTMs are designed to be a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none solution. They work for many smaller businesses as a part of their network infrastructure to keep users and data protected.

Is a Firewall a Requirement for Your Business’ Cybersecurity?

In short, yes, although it should be mentioned that true cybersecurity includes much more than just a simple firewall. A firewall is only one piece of your cybersecurity strategy, so you will need even more safeguards put into place to keep your company as secure as possible from threats.

AE Technology Group can equip your business with the best security tools out there. To learn more, reach out to us at (516) 536-5006.

Ransom + Software May = Ransomware

ransom software may ransomware

Advancements in both hardware and software technologies have allowed businesses to expand their markets, reach new customers, and become far more productive than they could have possibly dreamed.

As is often typical however, new ways of doing business also open up new avenues criminals can use to steal, or hamper a company’s daily operations just “for the fun of it”. In some cases, hackers and criminals employ what amounts to kidnapping of data or other technological resources until a business pays a ransom. For companies who are not well prepared for such attacks — ransom + their corporate software vulnerabilities may indeed equal a ransomware attack.

How It’s Done

There are several ways that hackers and criminals can gain access to corporate networks and the data that resides on them, but one of the most popular is through a phishing attack.

In a phishing attack, a hacker will typically send an email that looks like it is from a legitimate source such as another employee, often high ranking in the company, or another company that may be a client, vendor, or partner. If the employee receiving the email is not fully prepared to spot a phishing attempt, they might reveal the login credentials for access to the corporate network and/or software applications. Once in the system, hackers can encrypt files, barring employees from accessing any corporate systems until the company pays a ransom. In more than a few cases, the ransom amount paid was quite steep.

Who is Vulnerable

Essentially anyone doing business online can become vulnerable to a phishing attack. However, in recent years municipalities have become increasingly vulnerable to these types of attacks. Large and even medium-sized cities have become popular targets since the systems they oversee provide essential services for both businesses and residents in the area.

Prevention

Proper training is one of the essential keys that can help to eliminate a ransomware attack. Employees need proper training to spot phishing attempts and other suspicious online activity.

A comprehensive tested backup plan is also essential. Up-to-date backups that are held in areas where even hackers cannot access them is key to recovering from a ransomware attack. Regular testing of a backup restoration is also essential to ensure the restoration process will run smoothly if an attack should occur.

If you would like to know more about how to prepare your company to withstand against cyber criminals, please contact us.

Why Use Lync: Top 5 Reasons to Consider Microsoft Lync For Your Business

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Why Use Lync?

Why use lync?Microsoft Lync has recently released updates to their program that make it an even better option for your business.

Microsoft Lync is a unified communication platform. It allows you to combine your instant messaging, video conferencing and meetings and telephone calls all in one platform. This revolutionary technology can help you streamline your business communications.

Here are our top 5 reasons why you should consider Microsoft Lync for your business:

1. High Quality Video Conferencing

Microsoft Lync allows you to hold high quality video conferences. Lync meeting allows you to see while you are video conferencing 5 different simultaneous live video streams all in HD. In addition, you will be able to share PowerPoint, applications, and screen shots in your video conference. This will allow a feeling of engagement in your video conference calls that can top real world meetings.

2. Lync – Skype Connectivity 

When you need to make a phone call or video call with a Skype contact, you do not need to switch out of Microsoft LyncMicrosoft Lync allows users to upload their Skype contacts into their Lync account. You will be able to send instant messages and have voice conversations with your Skype contacts all within the comfort of your new Microsoft Lync account. In addition, you can set up your personal status on your account settings to options such as – Available, Busy, Offline, and Away- and you will be able to see your contacts’ status as well. You will be able to combine your current Skype usage with your new Lync application.

3. Versatility 

You can use Microsoft Lync on any mobile device or computer that you like. Lync works on Windows PCs, Windows Phone, iOS, Mac and Android smart phones. No matter if your office uses Windows, iOS, or battles it out between the two, Microsoft Lync will work on either computer system. And no matter if everyone in your office all uses the same smart phone or everyone has different smart phones, Microsoft Lync will work on them all. Lync will streamline communication in your office and for your clients with its consistent and familiar layout on all digital platforms.

4. Unity 

Microsoft Lync will allow your business to streamline communication operations. You will no longer need multiple applications for instant messaging, video calls and video conferences. Now all of these can happen in one place. This will help simplify operations, training and IT support for your business.

5. Did We Mention the HD Video?

Don’t forget that you will be able to enjoy HD video with Microsoft Lync. Lync uses H.264 SVC and open standards. That means you are guaranteed a high quality video experience no matter what device you are operating Microsoft Lync on and viewing the video on.

Microsoft Lync You should consider Microsoft Lync for your communication needs. It provides high quality video conferences, Lync – Skype connectivity, versatility, unity and awesome HD video for your business. To learn more about how Microsoft Lync can help your business, please contact us. At AE Technology Group, we strive to provide the best service to our customers and are available to help your business thrive.