As the year comes to a close, we at Farmhouse Networking want to ensure that your business technology is in optimal shape for a successful transition into the new year. We’ve put together a checklist to help you wrap up the year on a technologically high note. Some of these items we will work on together, and others will be the responsibility of your team.
Items we will work on together:
Asset Inventory: We have recently conducted a thorough review of your technology assets, including hardware, software, and networking equipment. We updated your inventory list to account for any additions or retirements of assets throughout the year. You should be receiving an invite to our new system called Narmada which gives you constant access to our replacement recommendations.
Password Security: Prompt your team to implement multi-factor authentication for critical systems and applications. This will help to enhance password security. This is not something that should be put off till later. Get it setup on every site possible. It can be made easier with a password manager.
Software Updates: We ensure that standard software applications, operating systems, and antivirus programs are up to date with the latest patches and updates. If you have industry specific software it would be a good time to check with them on the status of your support contract and if there are needed updates.
Data Backups: Verify that your data backup systems are functioning correctly. Test the restoration process to confirm that your business can recover essential data in the event of a disaster. If you don’t have backups in place now is the time to get this critical technology in place.
Security Assessment: Conduct a Security Risk Assessment to identify and address potential vulnerabilities. Ensure that your cybersecurity measures are up to date to protect against evolving threats. Many companies don’t realize that current compliance standards require this.
Employee Training: Provide cybersecurity training to employees to reinforce best practices and raise awareness about potential threats. This should be mandated by your team’s management.
Items you should work on with your team:
Subscription Reviews: Review and audit all software and service subscriptions to ensure they align with your business needs. Cancel any unnecessary subscriptions to optimize costs.
Budget Review: Evaluate your technology budget for the year and identify any areas where adjustments may be needed for the upcoming year.
Technology Roadmap: Develop or update your technology roadmap for the coming year, aligning it with your business goals and objectives.
Compliance Check: Ensure that your technology practices comply with industry regulations and standards applicable to your business.
Communication Plan: Communicate any upcoming changes or upgrades to your team to ensure a smooth transition without disruptions.
Policies & Procedures: Review current documentation to make sure that it includes all needed items like disaster recovery, incident response, computer use, BYOD, and AI usage.
Once you have determined some of your goals and budget, we should meet to discuss the implementation plan for any changes. We will be contacting you in February to setup our next Semi-Annual Business Review (SABR) meetings to discuss this years plan.
If you have any questions or need assistance with any of these items, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our support team. We’re here to help you navigate the year-end process and ensure a seamless start to the new year.
Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) face numerous challenges when it comes to managing their IT. Limited resources (both human and money), lack of expertise, and the need to focus on core business operations often make it difficult for SMBs to understand and manage technology needs. This is where Managed Service Providers (MSPs) come in. In this blog article, we will explore the reasons why SMBs should consider partnering with MSPs to enhance their IT capabilities and drive business growth.
Cost-Effective IT Solutions:
One of the primary reasons why SMBs need MSPs is the cost-effectiveness they offer. By outsourcing their IT needs to MSPs, SMBs can avoid the high costs associated with hiring and training an in-house IT team. MSPs provide a range of services, including network monitoring, data backup and recovery, cybersecurity, and software updates, all at a predictable monthly cost. This allows SMBs to allocate their resources more efficiently and focus on their core business.
Access to Expertise and Advanced Technology:
MSPs are experts in providing IT services and have a team of highly skilled professionals with expertise in variety of technology. By partnering with MSPs, SMBs gain access to the depth of knowledge and experience from IT experts who can handle complex tasks and provide strategic guidance. Additionally, MSPs stay up-to-date with the latest technology trends and can recommend and implement solutions that can help SMBs stay competitive in the market and safe from hackers.
Proactive IT Support and Maintenance:
MSPs offer proactive IT support and maintenance, which is crucial for SMBs. They monitor networks, identify potential issues, and take preventive measures to avoid downtime and disruptions. MSPs also provide regular software updates, security patches, and system maintenance, ensuring that SMBs’ IT remains secure and up-to-date. This proactive approach helps SMBs minimize the risk of costly IT failures and ensures smooth business operations.
Enhanced Data Security:
Data breaches and cyberattacks pose a significant threat to SMBs. MSPs play a vital role in safeguarding SMBs’ sensitive data and protecting them from potential security breaches. They implement robust cybersecurity measures, such as firewalls, antivirus software, and encryption, to ensure data confidentiality and integrity. MSPs can also conduct regular security audits and vulnerability assessments to identify and address any potential weaknesses in the IT infrastructure.
Scalability and Flexibility:
As SMBs grow, their IT needs evolve. MSPs offer scalable solutions that can adapt to changing business requirements. Whether it’s adding new users, expanding storage capacity, or integrating new software, MSPs can quickly and efficiently accommodate these changes. This scalability and flexibility allow SMBs to focus on their growth without worrying about the limitations of their IT infrastructure.
If your company could use the cost-effective solutions, access to expertise, proactive support, enhanced data security, and scalability that come from using a MSP, then contact us for assistance.
This is the seventh in a series about the concept of Zero Trust, which means in the IT sense that you trust nothing and always verify everything surrounding and connected to your network. Today’s discussion will be on software patching.
Software patching is a neccesity because no person who writes code is perfect and hackers are actively looking for these mistakes. The hackers find the mistakes and then develop ways of using these to exploit the software, computer, or whatever else they can gain access to. The only way to combat both the mistakes and the exploits is to discover them before the hackers do and patch the hole in the software. This patch can however lead to unforseen consequences to the software, so a plan for testing and deployment of patches is needed to avoid unexpected downtime to businesses.Here are some questions to ask:
Do you know all of the hardware and software on your network?
Do you check for hardware, operating system, and other software regularly?
How do you check for updates, patches, or upgrades to software?
How do you install these patches? Is it automated?
Are these patches tested before installation?
What happens if a patch causes problems?
Do you have a log of all installed updates?
Are any systems or software on your network no longer supported for updates?
If your company is going to use full disk encryption or has compliance requirements that you need consulting for, then contact us for assistance.
There has been information released by a security research firm called Eclypsium that there is a vulnerability dubbed Boothole in Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) Secure Boot that would allow an attacker to completely take over a workstation, laptop, or server and be nearly undetectable. All hardware vendors will have to send out updates in the near future to patch the UEFI code to secure it against this “BootHole” vulnerability. Due to the difficulty in designing and testing these types of updates it will be some time before they are released. We will keep you posted as to the release of these updates as they become available.
If your company is concerned about security, then contact us for assistance.
According to the following Microsoft Support Post published in October 2018, the HomeGroup feature has now been removed from Windows 10. Most people won’t need to worry about this, but recently ran across a business that had relied on this feature to run their network. With HomeGroup removed from Windows 10 they were left without the ability to share properly with a new computer on the network. So here is how to fix the issue:
How to fix Windows Networking after HomeGroup Removal
Turn off all sharing:
Open Network & Sharing Center
Click on Advanced Sharing Settings
Turn off network discovery (Private & Public)
Turn off file and print sharing (Private & Public)
Turn off Public folder sharing (All Networks)
Turn off Password Protected Sharing (All Networks)
Remove old password:
Open Credentials Manager
Change to Windows Credentials
Remove all $HomeGroup users credentials from networked computers on all computers formerly in HomeGroup
Find Function Discovery Provider Host and set to Automatic Startup then Start service
Find Function Discovery Resource Publication and set to Automatic Startup then Start service
Find SSDP Discovery and set to Automatic Startup then Start service
Find UPnP Device Host and set to Automatic Startup then Start service
Get username and password for all computers on network
On each computer on the network, open command prompt
For each username, use the command – net user [username] [password] /add
Turn on all sharing:
Open Network & Sharing Center
Click on Advanced Sharing Settings
Turn on network discovery (Private)
Turn on file and print sharing (Private)
Turn on Public folder sharing (All Networks)
Use 128-bit encryption (All Networks)
Turn on Password Protected Sharing (All Networks)
Recreate Shares (if needed)
Right-click on folder and choose Properties
Click on Sharing tab
Click on Advanced Sharing
Check Share This Folder
Name the share
Click on Add
Select username and add Full Control then click OK
Repeat for each username
Click OK to return to Properties window
Click on Security Tab
Click on Advanced
Click on Add
Select username and add Full Permissions (or appropriate level) then click OK
Repeat for each username
Check Replace Child Permisssions and click OK
Click OK on all previous windows
Hope this post helps some other techs save the time in fixing Windows 10 networking when HomeGroup is removed.
If your company is still using HomeGroup or needs any help with advanced networking, then contact us for assistance.
It is official – the month of September marks three years in business for Farmhouse Networking. We have been truly blessed by God to have been able to serve the Grants Pass and surrounding business communities by providing exceptional IT managed services. We look forward to many more years of giving you the highest level of support possible so that you can focus on getting business done. With this anniversary we plan on rolling out some enhancements to our monthly service offerings:
Enhanced Monthly Maintenance
Standard Maintenance: For those who are not current managed clients, these basics have always been a part of our service offering:
5-year Technology Plan & Budget
Full Network Inventory
Hard Disk Checkups (Bi-Monthly)
Hard Disk Defragmentation (Monthly)
Temporary File Cleaning (Weekly)
Anti-Virus Software (Constant Monitoring)
Operating System Updates (Weekly)
Error Log Monitoring (Constant Monitoring)
Power Settings Management (Constant Monitoring)
Windows Services (Constant Monitoring)
Continued Improvements: Over the past 3 years we have also added the following features to our service at no additional costs:
Ticketing System Portal
Email Support to Create Tickets
Security Incident Response Plan
Vendor Information Tracking
Third-Party Software Updates (Monthly on Firefox, Chrome, Acrobat Reader, ….)
Email Blacklist Checking (Daily)
Warranty Checking (Monthly on All Major Brands)
Operating System Intrusion Detection (Constant Monitoring)
Support for MacOS & Linux (Constant Monitoring)
Server Applications (Constant Monitoring)
Hardware Events (Constant Monitoring)
Enhancements to Come: In September, we will be adding these new exciting features to our service:
DNS filtering – this will further protect your network from external threats by stopping accidental surfing to malicious sites. It also can increase productivity and network speeds by limiting wasteful frivolous surfing during company time.
Dark Web Scan – Each monthly client will have the “Dark Web” scanned to see if any email addresses connected to the company have been involved in a previous password breach.
Weekly Security Newsletter – Farmhouse Networking is partnering with a national security non-profit to deliver up-to-date news and information about how to stay safe online. These weekly newsletters will be packed with valuable information and delivered to everyone in your organization.
As our service offering has expanded, we have deepened our ability to monitor our customers networks to proactively respond to alerts before they become problems. We have continued to add levels of protection to make sure that our clients systems are safe from the ever-expanding list of threats. All this has been done at no additional cost, despite inflation, up to this point. To continue offering this high level of service, Farmhouse Networking is making a couple small changes to its prices that will be effective September 1st, 2018.
Monthly Maintenance Clients – our services are based on a per device basis and the cost per workstation will be $25 per month for remote maintenance and $50 per month for full service maintenance. All other prices will remain the same for every other device on the network. This will only effect clients whose contracts are renewing after September 1st, 2018 – any renewed before that will keep their prices the same for the next 12-month term.
Small Business Clients – those who do not have a server and have less than 5 workstations, our hourly rate will be $80 per hour for on-site service and $40 per hour for remote service (billed in 15-minute increments). That is only $10 more for on-site support and $5 more for remote support.
Standard to Medium Clients – those with a server or more than 5 workstations, our hourly rate will be $120 per hour for on-site service and $60 per hour for remote service (billed in 15-minute increments). That is only $10 more for on-site support and $5 more for remote support.
Tier-3 Clients – those technology companies that utilize our advanced expertise to better serve their clients, our hourly rate will be $40 per hour for remote service (billed in 15-minute increments). That is only $5 more for remote support.
Charity Clients – those non-profits that pay for support, our hourly rate will remain at $70 per hour for on-site service and $35 per hour for remote service (billed in 15-minute increments).
For all our monthly maintenance clients, we will be calling to schedule our semi-annual meeting to check-in with you during the month of September. At that time we will be performing another network inventory to insure that all network assets are covered properly under your current contract. We cannot thank all our clients enough for your continued use of our IT services. We look forward to continuing to serve you.
Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds, for riches don’t last forever, and the crown might not be passed to the next generation. After the hay is harvested and the new crop appears and the mountain grasses are gathered in, your sheep will provide wool for clothing, and your goats will provide the price of a field. And you will have enough goats’ milk for yourself, your family, and your servant girls.
In a continuing effort to offer the best remote monitoring & maintenance available and to enhance the security of our clients even more, we are now offering updates to several of the most popular third-party software packages. This is in addition to the Windows patching, system health checks, system maintenance, managed antivirus (included for free), and website blacklist monitoring that now come standard with our remote monitoring & maintenance service. Here is a summation:
Third-Party Software Updates
Google Chrome: web browser made by Google.
Firefox: web browser made by the Mozilla Foundation.
CCleaner: system cleaning utility (now owned by AVG).
Adobe Acrobat Reader: PDF viewer made by Adobe.
Adobe Flash Player: website animation plugin made by Adobe.
Java Runtime: website programming plugin made by Oracle.
There is a long list of other software that we can update for you automatically, but have chosen these in particular to update as they are the most likely to be exploited and least likely to be updated regularly.
If your company has software that needs to be automatically updated or would like to sign-up for remote monitoring and maintenance, then contact us for assistance.
Ransomware attacks continue to spread around the world this weekend, after the initial damage inflicted on healthcare organizations in Europe on Friday.
The criminals responsible for exploiting the Eternal Blue flaw haven’t yet been identified, but up to 100 countries have hit with WannaCry ransomware, with Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan among the top targets.
The ransomware first appeared in March, and is using the NSA 0-day Eternal Blue and Double Pulsar exploits first made available earlier this year by a group called the Shadow Brokers. The initial spread of the malware was through email, including fake invoices, job offers and other lures with a .zip file that initiates the WannaCry infection. The worm-like Eternal Blue can exploit a flaw in the Server Message Block (SMB) in Microsoft Windows, which can allow remote code execution. This flaw was patched in Microsoft’s March 2017 update cycle, but many organizations had not run the patch or were using unsupported legacy technology like XP.
Today, Microsoft has released emergency security patches to defend against the malware for unsupported versions of Windows, including XP and Server 2003.
Overnight and today, it has become clear that a kill switch was included in the code. When it detects a specific web domain exists—created earlier today—it halts the spread of malware. You can learn more at The Register.
In simple terms, although this ransomware is currently causing havoc across the globe, the ransomware itself is similar to what we have seen before. It’s the advanced delivery mechanism that has unfortunately caught many organizations off guard.
In addition to deploying Webroot SecureAnywhere as part of a strong endpoint control strategy, it is essential you continue to keep your systems up-to-date on the latest software versions, and invest in user education on the dangers of phishing, ransomware, social engineering and other common attack vectors.
If you have any questions about your Webroot deployment, reach out to our Support Team now.
A series of recent security bulletins from Cisco, on February 2nd, detail an issue that has been discovered in several of their devices. Here is a summation:
Cisco ASA Security Appliances
FN-64228 : ASA 5506, ASA 5506W, ASA 5506H, ASA 5508, and ASA 5516 – these models all use the same clock signal part from the same vendor which has been found to degrade over time. After 18 months of continued operation this component will fail and cause the device to stop functioning, no longer boot, and will not be recoverable.
“Customers with affected products that are under warranty or covered by any valid service contract as of November 16, 2016 should go to the Clock Signal Component Issue page and follow the instructions in order to request replacements.” These replacements will be prioritized based on time in operation.
Meraki Router & Wireless APs
Meraki Notification – MX 84 & MS350 Series – these models all use the same clock signal part from the same vendor which has been found to degrade over time. After 18 months of continued operation this component will fail and cause the device to stop functioning, no longer boot, and will not be recoverable.
” Meraki will reach out to customers via email and on the dashboard to arrange replacement and the return of affected units.”
If your company is currently using one of the affected devices and have not heard from your current IT services provider about the replacement schedule, then contact us for assistance.
And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say,
“They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”
For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. - 2 Corinthians 9:8-10