Lanit Updates 9/2020

Come on fall, one season closer to getting past 2020!!!

Antivirus, AKA, End Point Security (because it sounds cooler and other reasons) 

Antivirus has been a daily part of our lives, or at least it should be or you may have other issues. Antivirus has evolved from the good ole' days into what's now referred to as End Point Security and there's a reason for that other than just marketing lingo. . 

The antivirus of ole was a program that you downloaded and installed on your PC that scanned every file that you opened/edited/saved in real time to check for known security issues and back in the day there honestly weren't that many. They would advertise such things as "protects against thousands of threats" and we would of course feel nice and safe about said security. You could have it automatically check once a day or even once an hour for updated signature or pattern files that would have the latest known threats included in its scanning repertoire.

Then came interconnectivity. As the internet grew not only in popularity but also in connectivity and capability. People started shopping, banking, communicating, and sharing online and as great as that is it also creates opportunity for criminals that can now steal millions of dollars without leaving their basement. As soon as you connect your computer to the internet you become an immediate target and let's face it, what's the point of having a computer or any device that doesn't have internet connectivity.

As our usage of interconnectivity evolved so has antivirus which eventually morphed into end point security. Why the name change? the name change reflects the new duties of the program. As the threats have grown from "thousands" to millions and eventually into an ever changing strand of threats that can morph to evade detection from the old signature based system that relied on known threats into something that monitors computer behavior for anything outside of the norm. End point security includes such things as Behavior monitoring, which is configured to watch for certain events that the program considers outside the norm. Things such as mass encryption of folders, files replicating themselves, programs trying to access and change critical system files, etc. and as great as this sounds they have still found ways to circumvent those watchdogs too by disguising itself as a normal program and using weak local user accounts for authentication to bypass default security measures.

Well what?!?!?

The most recent entry into the end point security ring is Machine Learning and some may call it artificial intelligence (A.I.), yes, very similar to Skynet if you're a Terminator movie series fan although not quite as scary. Most of the better end point security programs has now added machine learning on top of known signature based threats and behavior monitoring. Machine learning is exactly what it sounds like, it learns your machine and how you use it on a daily basis and calculates activities and converts those calculations into a threat matrix with weighted scores against possible threatening behavior and reacts accordingly. Yes, it does the thinking for long as you don't turn it off. 

We use Trend Micro's Apex One enterprise end point security in our cloud infrastructure on every single device and machine that runs in our cloud. No matter what option you choose please know that there's never an instance of "set it and forget it" when it comes to end point security. After the install each program needs to be customized to suit your needs and most do not install with all features enabled by default even though they are capable. Also choose your end point security carefully and research it thoroughly to make sure it fits your needs and don't just use whatever came on your new PC. 

If you would like to learn more about machine learning click here to get the deep dive. 


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Office 365

I will be performing some deep dive into O365 in future newsletters but for now, if you don't have it you should really consider it and if you do have it already then it's a really good idea to occasionally review it's capabilities as they are constantly changing and in most cases actually improving. 

Feel free to reach out with any questions you may have in regards to O365. I will be focusing on it in future newsletters and why it should at least be part of your consideration of adding these tools to your arsenal. 


Online Security for Kids

Kids' lives are online more than ever, from socializing with friends and interacting with family to online learning and education. As parents we want to make sure they do so in a safe and secure manner. However, this is hard as many of us never grew up in such an online environment like this. Below we cover key steps on how you can help kids make the most of online technology safely and securely.

Education / Communication

First and foremost, make sure that you foster good open communication with your children. Far too often parents get caught up in the technology required to block content or what mobile apps are good or bad. No parental control technology is perfect, and some have privacy concerns due to the data they collect. Ultimately this is not a technology problem but a behavior and values problem. Teach your kids to behave online as you would in the real world. A good place to start is to create a list of expectations with your kids. Here are some to consider (these rules should evolve as kids get older):

  • Times when they can or cannot go online and for how long.
  • Types of websites and/or games they can access and why they are or are not appropriate.
  • What information they can share and with whom. Children often do not realize what they post is permanent and public, or that their friends may share their secret with the world.
  • Who they should report problems to, such as strange pop-ups, scary websites, or if someone online is being creepy or a bully.
  • Treat others online as they would want to be treated themselves.
  • People online may not be who they claim to be, and not all information is accurate or truthful.
  • What can be purchased online and by whom, to include in-game purchases

Consider tying these rules to their academic grades, completion of chores, or how they treat others. Once you decide on the rules, post them in the house. Even better, have them review and sign the document; that way, everyone is in full agreement. The earlier you start talking to your kids about your expectations, the better.

Not sure how to start the conversation? Ask them what apps they are using and how they work. Put your child in the role of teacher and have them show you what they are doing online. Keeping communication open and active is the best way to help kids stay safe in today’s digital world.

For mobile devices, consider a central charging station somewhere in your house. Before your children go to bed at night, have all mobile devices placed at the charging station, so your children are not tempted to use them when they should be sleeping.

Security Technologies and Parental Controls

There are security technologies and parental controls you can use to monitor and help protect your kids. They typically provide capabilities to enforce usage limits or hours as well as content protections. These solutions tend to work best for younger children. Older kids not only need more access to the Internet but often use devices that you do not control or cannot monitor, such as those issued by school, gaming consoles, or devices at a friend’s or relative’s house. This is why communicating with your kids about your expectations and the dangers that exist on the internet is so important.

Leading by Example

Set a good example as parents or guardians. When your kids talk to you, put your own digital device down and look them in the eye. Consider not using digital devices at the dinner table and never text while driving. Finally, when kids make mistakes, treat each one as an experience to learn from instead of engaging in an immediate disciplinary action. Make sure they feel comfortable approaching you when they experience anything uncomfortable online or realize they themselves have done something wrong.