CT Link Partners with Kaisa for a “Train the Trainer” Program!

As part of CT Link Systems efforts to give back to the community, we have teamed up with Kaisa Heritage foundation, a non-profit organization advocating Filipino-Chinese cultural and community development, to set up a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program in which computer equipment was donated and sessions are being conducted to help the literacy of computer applications of the attendees.

There were many directions in which the program was headed during inception, however we decided that the best way to give back to the community was through sharing our knowledge that we have gained throughout the years.  The “Train the Trainer” program to expand the trainee’s computer competency, focused mainly on Microsoft Office 365 applications.  Our aim for the training sessions is to help improve the productivity of teachers who more often then not, use the Office 365 in their day to day life.  Another objective of ours was to introduce to them useful collaboration features in Office 365 that they may not be aware of due to the monotonous use of the traditional Microsoft Office suite.

Through the help of Kaisa Foundation, we were able to also partner with different educational organizations such as The Teachers Gallery, a non-profit organization that aims to offer learning opportunities related to inclusive education to both teachers and the broader education community, and AiHu Foundation, a non-profit organization promoting computer education for out-of-school youths.  These organizations provided the program with all of our participating teachers while our employee volunteers acted as the teachers and facilitators for the program.  Sharing the knowledge and skills through this training program has never been more rewarding for our employee volunteers knowing that what they shared will stream down to the teachers’ students.

As part of the CSR program, Kaisa has received 8 units of HP 280MT Desktops with Microsoft Windows 10 OS and HP N223v monitors.  Besides the computer equipment, other necessities were donated to the Angelo King Heritage Center to ensure that the CSR program would be able to be help in Kaisa such as Microsoft Office 365 (Business premium) subscriptions, Cisco Meraki MX64 firewall, Datto AP60 access point devices, 3COM PoE switch, and an internet subscription from Converge.  This was all made possible by the generous help from our vendor partners from HP Inc., Cisco and Microsoft who have helped us through the program.

 

 

CT Link Systems, Inc. Sponsors the Upcoming DPCC Summit 2018!

CT Link Systems, Inc. is co-presenting the upcoming Data Privacy & Cloud Computing (DPCC) Summit 2018 this coming November 8, 2018.  CT Link has decided to sponsor this event as one of its initiatives to help give back to the IT community as it celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

DPCC Summit 2018 is the venue in which the foremost experts on cloud computing in the Philippines come together to share their knowledge and experience to help advocate its benefits to businesses around the country.  Learn as well how they kept compliant to data privacy laws while using cloud computing in their organizations.

To learn more on how to join this exclusive IT Summit, you may email registration@dpcc2018.com with your inquiry or you may visit DPCC Summit 2018’s official site HERE to register.

Office 365 Update to Help Protect you from Macro Based Malware

We are now in an era where it’s hard not to make use of new technologies such as Cloud Storage.  With your data available anywhere you are through the connection of the internet, this has helped many businesses become more flexible in their operations.  However, we are always skeptical on how safe our data is since our data is stored somewhere we do not know and if these locations are secure from cyber criminals.

Now if you are an Office 365 user, you can rest easy as they have just recently announced that they are now integrating their Antimalware Scan Interface (AMSI) to the app!  AMSI was integrated to Office 365 as a way to help improve security against attacks that make use of malicious macros and scripts that target office documents by detecting them early on or by stopping them from executing.  Below is a quote from the Microsoft Security Team for their reasoning in bulking up security against macro attacks:

“Macro-based threats have always been a prevalent entry point for malware, but we have observed a resurgence in recent years. Continuous improvements in platform and application security have led to the decline of software exploits, and attackers have found a viable alternative infection vector in social engineering attacks that abuse functionalities like VBA macros.”  

If AMSI is familiar to you, it might be because it isn’t something new as it was already being used by Microsoft as early as 2015 when they announced that Powershell adopted it as well for security purposes.  To give a background on AMSI, it is an open interface available on Windows 10 for applications to request, at runtime, a synchronous scan of a memory buffer by an installed antivirus or security solution. Any application can interface with AMSI and request a scan for any data that may be untrusted or suspicious.

If you want a more in depth read on how AMSI is helping protect you from attacks, you can read the original blog post from the security team here or you can contact us at 893 9515 and we will be happy to help you!

Cisco Announces new small Business WiFi Solution, Meraki Go

Cisco has recently announced that they would be releasing a new solution for the small business and single-site location market, Meraki Go. The Meraki Go is a set of Wifi Access points tailor-made for small and home business, with features to get a business going while all being managed through a simple to use app.

This makes it a great tool to help small business owners manage their WiFi needs through a simple guided on-boarding process in which users can configure multiple WiFi networks in minutes.  This allows the businesses more control on their network as they will be able to separate their guest and corporate traffic for added security.  Meraki Go can also set limitations on certain applications and even block clients from accessing certain websites to keep your network safe.  This also ensures that bandwidth usage is prioritized to critical business applications rather than it being used up by video streaming and other bandwidth heavy applications.

Below is an introduction video for Meraki Go:

Currently Meraki Go is not available yet in the Asian market, it is currently available for purchase online on the western markets.  We will be posting an update as soon as we hear any new updates.  To learn more about Meraki go, you may visit their main site here or you may contact us at 893 9515 for more details!

New Exploit “Faxploit” affects HP OfficeJet All-in-One Printers

Security researchers have recently demonstrated at the security conference DEF CON 2018 a vulnerability that can be exploited via HP OfficeJet All-in-One Printers.  It is being dubbed “Faxploit” by the researchers, Eyal Itkin and Yaniv Balmas.  The attack takes advantage of security flaws in the implementation of the fax protocol used by OfficeJet printers, making many businesses susceptible to the attacks.

The researchers have stated that for this particular exploit, all the attackers need is a fax number to exploit the vulnerability, which they can then hijack the network and all systems connected to it.  They then can infect the network with their malware or even worse, outright steal your business’ important data.  Researchers have said that the impact of this exploit is not a small one as it is surveyed that businesses have actually increased their fax usage by almost 82% in 2017, so even with many new technologies, fax is still one of the most used ways to move documents.

Faxploit is yet another example where unsecured devices that businesses use on a daily basis can result into vulnerabilities in their network that many cyber criminals can use to steal data or hold them ransom.  Especially now that the Internet-of-things (IoT) ready devices are getting more and more mainstream, attackers are finding more ways to hit businesses where they are at least protected since this is more or less still in the beginning phases.   These threats can stay longer in the system due to the device’s inability to protect itself, making attacks stealthier and more destructive to the organizations network.

However, HP has released patches for the vulnerabilities (CVE-2018-5924 and CVE-2018-5925) and users are recommended to apply the firmware updates to make sure they will not be affected.

For those who are interested in a more proactive approach for these types of attacks, Trend Micro’s managed detection and response service allows customers to investigate security alerts without the need to hire qualified incident response staff. It provides alert monitoring, alert prioritization, investigation, and threat hunting services to Trend Micro customers. By applying artificial intelligence models to customer endpoint data, network data, and server information, the service can correlate and prioritize advanced threats. Trend Micro threat researchers can determine the extent and spread of the attack and work with the customer to provide a detailed remediation plan.

To learn more about “Faxploit” you may read Trend’s original article here, or you may contact us at 893-9515 and we will be happy to answer your inquiries!

Protect Your Critical Data with Known Folder Move!

Data is usually rank #1 when asked of users in importance of their endpoints.  So, it is always somewhat strange that when asked if they keep a back up of their files, the answer is usually no.  Data is usually taken for granted by end-users, sometimes event saving them in improper places such as their desktop rather than specific folders.  So, when the time comes that an unforeseen event causes the user to lose their data is when they try all means to retrieve it when all it took was a few clicks to ensure their data was safe.

Knowing this, Microsoft has taken its one drive saving functions event further with Known Folder Move (KFM).  Below is Microsoft’s description of KFM:

Known folders are global pointers in Windows representing a location on the user’s drive. They help users to organize their most important files and access them across different applications. KFM helps you move your docs, desktop, and pictures into OneDrive. Even the Screenshots and Camera Roll folders are included when the Picture folder has opted into KFM.

KFM can help users back up their data by seamlessly integrating into the most commonly used folders (Desktop, Documents, and Pictures) or by using assigned folders set by the end user.  There are now indicators that will tell you whether your folders are in sync with OneDrive or if the data is only in the PC.

Cloud icon represents data is saved on the cloud, while the green check mark means the data can be found on both the PC and OneDrive.

Another feature that will greatly help businesses encourage their users to protect their data with OneDrive would be the feature to “set up protection for important folders”.  With this feature, users will receive a pop-up window reminding them to set up their protected folders which will be synced to OneDrive, if users decide to do it at another time, the pop-up window comes back at a later period but as a smaller window compared to the first one.  This is to ensure that the reminders are not intrusive or distracting to the end user.

To learn more about KFM and OneDrive, you may contact us at 893-9515 and we will be happy to help you with any of your inquiries!

Simplify your Business Networks with Citrix SD-WAN!

You may have heard by now of the new technology that’s been getting a lot of buzz over the past years, software-defined WAN or SD-WAN.  This exciting technology enables organizations to reduce network complexity and cost while improving flexibility, security, availability, and visibility.  Citrix has made use of this technology and improved on the concept into what is now known as Citrix SD-WAN.

Citrix SD-WAN builds reliable WAN from different network links such as MPLS, broadband, 4G LTE, Satellite, etc.  It also is able to constantly monitor the condition of every link with its unique per-packet selection algorithm which also makes use of instant path selection decisions as each packet comes into the SD-WAN for transmission.  In turn, results in having the best path chosen at each given moment.  When users or the applications they use request for more bandwidth, Citrix SD-WAN can distribute the traffic using all available links which creates a secure virtual path through the aggregation of all of the individual links, so no link stays passive.

When your network has issues with bandwidth usage, the improvement of performance that users will see is not only felt through more bandwidth, but through the enablement of QoS control over link types that don’t usually provide QoS such as the internet.

Some key features in which Citrix SD-WAN can simplify your business network:

Centralized management and configuration of all devices. leveraging the use of templates for WAN, QoS and Firewall configurations. No more logging into each branch router to add a QoS rule or access-list for a new application – you just add to a global template and it’s automatically updated on all branches.

Zero Touch Deployment (ZTD). It makes a huge difference in large scale deployments. The branch appliances can automatically connect to the Citrix ZTD service in the cloud and download the required configuration, licenses, and software updates. No need to login to the appliance, just plug the cables. All controlled from the central management and secured by built-in authentication.

Improved visibility. Since all traffic passes through SD-WAN, it can give you a much deeper understanding of what is going on in the network, up to the application-level with its built-in DPI (Deep Packet Inspection) capabilities. Not only will you get visibility into the most used applications, it can also provide application-level QoE (Quality of Experience) measurements.

To learn more about Citrix SD-WAN, you can check out our Citrix Product page here or contact us directly at 893-9515 and we will be happy to answer your inquiries!

 

New Vulnerability aLTEr Discovered by Researchers

Researchers from Ruhr-Universität Bochum & New York University Abu Dhabi have recently discovered three types of attacks/vulnerabilities for devices using Long-Term Evolution (LTE) network protocol that cyber criminals can use to steal your data.  The researched team has dubbed the attacks as “aLTEr”.  With LTE (a form of 4G) as a standard in the mobile communications industry, many of their users can be affected by these new attacks.  However, according to the researchers, the efforts in which to do these attacks are so high that they will most likely only target those of special interest like politicians or high-level management of corporations.

aLTEr attacks can either be passive or active in nature.  The passive attacks are considered so as they do not directly interfere with network connections, what they cyber criminals do are to release a type of tool in which they use to eavesdrop on the activities of the user.    This means that they can monitor your internet activities and collect information on the user’s habits on the internet and use it to their advantage.

An active attack on the other hand, makes use of the middle-man method.  Through the vulnerability found within the data layers, attackers are able to intercept your traffic with the network.  They are able to fool the network into thinking that they are the user and vice versa so that they may redirect you to a malicious website rather than the intended destination so that they may try to steal your data or infect your device without you nor the network knowing.

Although stated that this is not vulnerabilities which will affect the majority of LTE users, there are still those at risk.  The researchers have recommended the following steps you can take to avoid prevent these attacks:

  • Update the specification. A specification updates means that the implementation of all devices must be changed, which leads to a high financial and organizational effort. This is likely not feasible in practice.
  • Correct HTTPS configuration. Using correct parameters for HTTPS (especially HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS)) helps to prevent the redirection to a malicious website. It can act as an additional layer of protection.
  • Virtual Private Network (VPN). Using VPN tunnel with integrity protection and end point authentication helps to prevent the attack. The VPN tunnel acts similar to HTTPS as additional security layer.

For those interested in an extra layer of defense against attacks like aLTEr, Cisco Umbrella and Cisco AMP for endpoints are the solutions you are looking for.  Cisco Umbrella acts as your first layer of defense as it protects your endpoints from downloading malicious requests such as phishing attempts or infected websites trying to download in the background.  For threats that can’t be blocked by umbrella, such files downloaded by the user outside of the Umbrella network, there is Cisco AMP for endpoints.  Cisco AMP for endpoints can block malware using global data analytics, perform exploit prevention, uses machine learning, perform rootkit scanning, and has a built-in antivirus engine.

To learn more about aLTEr attacks you may read up on the official website here.  To learn more about Cisco Umbrella and Cisco AMP for Endpoints, you may call us at 893-9515 for more information!

CT Link Tours Bahay Tsinoy!

With CT Link Systems, Inc. celebrating its 20th year anniversary in the IT industry this coming November, we have long thought that we should give back to the community that has helped us to reach this big milestone.  As an initiative of the company, CT Link has partnered with Kaisa Heritage Foundation for a CSR activity aimed to help teachers in the community to be able to maximize collaboration tools such as Office 365 to better equip them for there profession and to ultimately help students maximize these tools as well.  Before the actual CSR activity, Kaisa invited our team of volunteers to visit their office to see the venue in which they would be teaching in and as a bonus gave us the opportunity to tour the famous Bahay Tsinoy Museum to learn more about the Filipino Chinese Heritage.

For those of you who are not familiar with Bahay Tsinoy, it is a museum which showcases the history of the Chinese settlers of the early Philippines and how they have affected our culture today.  Below are a few exhibits that can be found in the museum:

  • Gallery of Rare Prints and Photographs- scenes depicting old Chinese occupations, streets of Binondo, prints on turn of the century Chinese life.
  • Ching Ban Lee Ceramics Gallery – tangible artifacts testament to centuries of trade between our two countries.
  • Jimmy Ongking Hall – contains the Tsinoys in Nation Building permanent exhibit of Bahay Tsinoy

To learn more about CT Link’s CSR activity, stay tuned for our article on it which will be coming out sometime this year!  To learn more about Bahay Tsinoy and Kaisa, you can also look at their website here!

(Photo Credit to Ms. Mari Verna Ching from CT Link Systems, Inc.)

Improve workplace Productivity with Microsoft Workplace Analytics and MyAnalytics!

Microsoft’s Workplace Analytics and MyAnalytics leverage data to improve workplace productivity

Do you have trouble multitasking your work tasks such as meetings, appointments and other projects?  If you do, Microsoft things that its data analytics tools may help you juggle these tasks.  They have just recently announced that it will be enhancing their productivity insight products, Workplace Analytics for teamwork and MyAnalytics, so that they may better help put individuals and teams at the center of change.

 

Microsoft has said “Collaboration habits can make or break teamwork, when people run efficient meetings, create time for focused work, and respect work/life boundaries their teams thrive. Putting these habits in place is difficult and takes the support of the entire team. Data can create a common language to help members build consensus on important teamwork norms. By shedding light on how work actually gets done, organizations can build more efficient, creative, and engaged teams.”

Workplace Analytics

Through applied algorithms, Workplace Analytics uses data (emails, meetings, etc.) from Office 365 to identify patterns that affect your productivity, workplace effectiveness, and engagements.  This allows upper management to enroll their respective team members into programs that will help them gain beneficial habits such as setting aside time to do solo projects or bring agendas to meetings.   This helps the team progress toward their goals and tracking it overtime while giving members productivity insights and action plans through Office 365.

MyAnalytics nudges

Besides the updates of Workplace Analytics, Microsoft has also announced an update for MyAnalytics, an insight app for Outlook, called “nudges” which is a collection of collaboration tips which surface in your inbox periodically.  There are four kinds nudges:

Focus Time Nudge

Reminds you to set aside time for focused work before accepting new meetings or appointments

Effective Meeting Nudge

Encourages you to practice good meeting habits such as asking a coworker to fill in for your if your schedule is too hectic.

After-hours Nudge

Discourages you from sending emails after office hours

To-do and Unread email Nudge

Will remind you of tasks you have set for yourself or promised to complete for your team members

Workplace Analytics is now available on preview and MyAnalytics will be available soon.  To learn more about Office 365, please visit our product page or call us at 893-9515 and we will be happy to help!