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Info Advantage has been serving the Upstate New York area since 1993 , providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Image 'Snapshot' Data Backup Might Be the Best Method

Image 'Snapshot' Data Backup Might Be the Best Method

Is your business still using tape as its primary method of data backup? If so, you could be missing out on a more reliable, less time-consuming alternative. Image-based, or “snapshot” backup solutions continue to be the optimal way to guarantee the continuity of your organization’s data infrastructure, and we’ll explain why.

But first, let’s talk about why tape backup isn’t good enough in today’s business environment. Storing data backups on magnetic tape reels has long been a standard procedure, but compared to more modern data backup practices, tape has fallen short of today’s expectations. Tape backups are resource-intensive, and as such, they need to be performed at the end of the workday to avoid slowing down the network. Furthermore, due to how resource-intensive tape backups are, they can only be taken once--meaning that you could potentially lose up to a day’s worth of productivity and accumulated data.

The Difference
Image-based backup is vastly more efficient and more manageable than traditional tape backup. Image-based backup lets your business take a “snapshot” of your organization’s data, which is then sent to several locations either on or off-site for safe, secure storage. These snapshots record data that’s been changed recently rather than take a whole backup like how tape would work; these smaller backup sessions are less resource-intensive and can be performed more frequently during the day--even as often as every 15 minutes.

Perhaps the greatest boon of using an image-based backup system is the fact that it’s automatic and relies less on users to be effective. Your team doesn’t need to set and run the backup at the end of each workday; you can set them to run automatically. Of course, you still have to check the backups and make sure that they work properly, but the fact remains that you have backups taken and ready to go.

When it comes to backup and disaster recovery, your business can’t cut any corners, and doing so could become a problem down the road. Even the slightest disaster like a power outage could lead to major data loss. That’s not to mention other common disasters that could cost your business capital in more ways than just data loss. Hardware failure, floods, and fires could lead to not just data loss, but expensive hardware replacements and damage to your IT budget. The damage caused by the resulting downtime is also a major problem, and one which absolutely cannot be ignored.

Info Advantage can equip your business with a backup and disaster recovery solution that’s specifically designed to work for your organization. Depending on your needs, you can back up your data to several off-site locations, including a secure data center and in the cloud for rapid data recovery. Furthermore, in the event of a disaster, you can restore your backups directly to the BDR device, and it can act as a temporary server while you work out the finer details of replacing your hardware. All in all, it’s the ideal solution for a small business that relies on data to keep operations going.

To learn more, reach out to us at (585) 254-8710.

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How Backup and Recovery Can Save Your Company

How Backup and Recovery Can Save Your Company

It’s every business owner’s worst nightmare: one mistake, and all of their data is wiped out. This very situation happened recently to a hosting provider, and his story serves as a cautionary tale in regard to data storage best practices.

Hosting provider Marco Marsala was brought under fire after he posted on a server forum seeking advice for dealing with a catastrophic error he made while trying to erase a few files. Stating that he had utilized the “rm -rf” command with undefined variables, he had inadvertently destroyed all data on the computer. What’s worse, his backups were mounted to the computers and were wiped as well.

This is actually a similar blunder that Pixar experienced, almost deleting Toy Story 2 prior to its release.

As a result, everything Marsala had for his company was destroyed (including the websites he had created and hosted for his 1,535 customers) with no backups surviving to restore from.

Needless to say, the responses from other users on the forum were decidedly negative - a few dismissed the possibility of his company surviving the error, and others questioned his abilities as a programmer. One poster recommended Marsala seek legal counsel rather than technical advice, as he predicted that Marsala was “going out of business.”

There was a consensus on the feed that the best chance for any data recovery was to recruit the help of a data recovery firm. Fortunately for Marsala, such a data recovery company was able to recover his files and his biggest hit was financial--both from the recovery company’s fees and from the reduced income due to the loss of business he suffered.

By neglecting to follow best practices in regard to backups, Marsala essentially invited this disaster to strike. Following basic best practices would have mitigated much, if not all, of Marsala’s problem. What happened to his data is exactly the reason that all data backups should be kept offline, isolated from the original file on a separate system.

Without such measures in place your data is subject to not only human error, as was the case here, but also other dangers. Fire, electrical surges, accidental equipment damage, theft, all of these events have the potential to jeopardize data that’s critical to your business.

Are your data backups as secure as they should be? Do you even have a backup and disaster recovery solution put into place? Be certain by calling Info Advantage at (585) 254-8710. Our experts can advise you on what your business needs to survive the worst disasters, and assure that you and your clients’ information are prepared for anything.

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4 Most Common Ways Businesses Lose Data

4 Most Common Ways Businesses Lose Data

Disasters are an unfortunate part of doing business in a technology-heavy workplace environment. You need to expect the worst, but it’s often difficult to predict what types of disasters your organization will have to endure. There are a few universal disasters that you’ll encounter, regardless of where in the world your business operates.

Here are four of the most common ways that your business could lose data, and how disaster recovery thwarts them at every turn.

Natural Disasters
All you have to do is watch the local weather channel to get a glimpse of just how unpredictable and apocalyptic natural disasters can be. One minute the sun could be shining, and the next your business could be assaulted by roaring torrents and flash flood warnings. Or, the earth would quake under your feet and you’d never know until it’s too late to do something about it. An even more common occurrence would be an electrical storm or a power outage, which could threaten to bring down your technology or fry its circuitry. The point is that it’s next to impossible to predict what effect a natural disaster could have on your business, but the fact remains that it’s most certainly nothing good.

Hardware Failures
Another common problem for businesses that rely on technology is the hardware failure. If you have resource-intensive servers that are responsible for the brunt of your network operations, you might already be intimately familiar with the devastating effects of a hardware failure. No technology can last forever, so when an untimely hardware failure claims the lives of your server units or workstations, you’ll need to be prepared.

User Error
In much the same way as hardware failure, user error needs to be expected and planned for. You can’t realistically expect your users to never make mistakes. It’s part of human nature. People might accidentally misplace files or hand over credentials to threatening entities. Regardless of how they do so, user error is one of the primary reasons for data losses and data breaches, so it’s crucial that you prepare for this by educating your team on best practices, and implementing data backup.

Hacking Attacks
You might not expect to become the victim of a hacking attack, but no matter how large your business is, you need to consider yourself a target. As long as you deal with sensitive credentials like credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, and other financial or personally identifiable information, you have something of value to hackers. When a hacker attacks, they can either steal or delete your data, so it’s best to have a backup stored in the event of something like this.

Regardless of how your data is lost, you’ll need a way to recover it. The best way for a SMB is to reach out to Info Advantage. We can equip your business with the dynamic BDR solution you need to keep your organization afloat, even when you think that your business will sink. Our BDR solution features only the best and brightest features for your data infrastructure, including fast and efficient recovery times, multiple backups taken per day, and off-site, cloud-based storage.

With BDR, you’ll know that your data is safely stored, just in case you need it. To learn more, reach out to us at (585) 254-8710.

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A Beginners Guide to Cloud Computing

A Beginners Guide to Cloud Computing


The cloud has embedded itself in the way that modern businesses manage their technology. By providing a way to access important data and applications on a whim, the cloud has made it easier than ever to stay productive both in and out of the office.

The Different Types of Cloud Computing
Implementing the cloud into your current business model is easier said than done. In order to get the best return on investment for your cloud technology, you need to take your various options into account. We’ve outlined some basic information about the various types of cloud computing your business should know about.

  • Public cloud: The public cloud is a solution that’s designed to maximize efficiency for the user. The management and maintenance of the public cloud is handled by the provider. This is great for businesses that want a hands-off cloud experience at the expense of control over data.
  • Private cloud: The private cloud is often hosted either in-house or by an outsourced IT provider. As such, they require proper management and maintenance to ensure functionality. The private cloud is preferred by companies that want to maximize data security and want the most control over their data.
  • Hybrid cloud: The hybrid cloud is a solid middle-ground for those who don’t want to give up data security for operational efficiency.

Variables to Consider
In order to make the most educated decision you can, we recommend taking the following variables into account when choosing your cloud solution.

  • Security: Businesses that want to maximize data security will appreciate the private cloud. The private cloud allows for additional security measures, like secondary hardware-based security solutions, that can maximize the security of your data.
  • Data control: If you don’t want that much control over your data, the public cloud is a good choice. However, users who want to maximize access control and role-based user access will want to invest in a private or hybrid cloud.
  • Management responsibility: Just like other computing hardware and software, a cloud solution requires a certain expertise that should be administered by a qualified IT technician. If you don’t want this responsibility, the public cloud is for you; though it should be mentioned that a hybrid cloud allows your business to take advantage of the many benefits of both private and public clouds.

Info Advantage can help your business integrate and adjust to a new cloud computing solution. We can assist and consult your team through each and every step of the cloud adoption process. To learn more, give us a call at (585) 254-8710.


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Business Continuity and the Cloud

Business Continuity and the Cloud

In the face of disaster, a solid business continuity plan can be the difference between seamless back up and hours of downtime. Traditional back up plans often required in-house equipment to keep their systems running, which were often costly to maintain and unreliable. Fortunately, new technologies have paved the way for the future of business: the cloud. By hosting their back up data in the cloud, companies can spend less time worrying about their back-up plan and more time doing what they do best; business.

Increased Uptime

In the case of in-house backup, the entire fate of a business can rely on physical hard drives that store their critical data. If those hard drives are lost, broken, or stolen it could mean serious downtime. Having your business in the cloud makes this an issue of the past. With cloud backup, your critical data is accessible from virtually anywhere, making it easy to access during a disaster and eliminating downtime and loss.

Higher Frequency of Back Up

Disasters can happen any time, and they won’t wait for your data back up to kick in. For many businesses, real-time backup is needed in order to prevent the loss of major data, as most companies are working on files and updating information throughout the day. By hosting your data in the cloud, you will be able to ensure that the important work that is being done during business hours isn’t lost. Many providers offer hourly, daily, and monthly backup plans, and some will even allow you to set your own backup schedule.

Faster Response

It can be difficult for a business to keep constant check on the status of the backup data, and often neglect to take care of any issues that can leave their data vulnerable. With cloud backup, the monitoring can be left to the providers. This means a faster response time when something goes wrong, creating a seamless backup environment for your business. In addition, cloud providers have access to all the latest technologies, allowing them to constantly provide their clients with newer, more efficient services.

Want to learn more about how your business fits into the cloud? Contact Info Advantage today at (585) 254-8710 to speak to an IT professional about how the cloud can work for you.

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Spam Company Accidently Leaks 1.37 Billion Email Addresses

Spam Company Accidently Leaks 1.37 Billion Email Addresses

A company known as River City Media (RCM) has accidently leaked the email addresses of 1.37 billion users due to the failure of setting up a password protection on their remote backup storage. In addition to email addresses, the database also included thousands of real names, IP addresses, and even physical addresses. In all, some 200GB of data had been exposed for several months, leaving it vulnerable to cyberattacks.

The leak was found by Chris Vickery, a security researcher for MacKeeper. In his blog post published on Monday, March 6, Vickery explains that MacKeeper worked closely with CSOOnline and Spamhaus after the discovery of the files in January. Vikery and his team were able to trace the files back to RCM, a notorious spam operation.

RCM masquerades as a legitimate marketing firm while, per their own documentation, being responsible for up to a billion daily email sends,” says Vickery.

Vickery believes the company was able to obtain the almost 1.4 billion email addresses through offers such as credit checks, sweepstakes, and education opportunities. There is also evidence that similar spam companies also contributed to the list. While some percentage of the user may have fallen for RCM’s spam offerings, Vickery also suggests that the company used a variety of more advanced techniques to lure users to give up their email address.

“One is called co-registration,” explains Vickery, “That’s when you click on the “Submit” or “I agree” box next to all the small text on a website. Without knowing it, you have potentially agreed your personal details can be shared with affiliates of the site.

The leak is blamed on a failed remote backup attempt, which left a ‘snapshot’ of the company data from January 2017 exposed to the internet. Anyone who found the data would be able to access internal chatlogs, emails, and the 200GB email collection RCM had acquired. According to Vickery, the failure was due to RCM failing to put a password up on their repository, leaving it poorly secured.

Since the release of the break, Spamhaus has blacklisted the entirety of RCM’s infrastructure. The research team working on the case have also reached out to law enforcement agencies about the data leakage and suspected illegal spamming.

Putting security and proper backup on the back burner can cause serious damage. Don't let your company fall pray to the thousands of threats that lurk just a click away. Contact Info Advantage today at (585)  254-8710 to speak to a technology consultant about your security and backup environment.

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Highlights from SonicWall's 2017 Annual Threat Report

Highlights from SonicWall's 2017 Annual Threat Report

SonicWall recently released their 2017 Annual Threat Report, which takes a look into the technology security trends in the upcoming year. In the report, SonicWall carefully observes and analyses the technology threat landscape from the last year and uses it to predict how it will continue to change in the future. Here’s a brief summary of their most important findings for 2017, and what it means for modern business.

Point-Of-Sale Malware Declining

With the integration of chip-based POS systems, hackers are finding it more difficult to steal sensitive information through POS malware attacks. The chip readers allow the transaction to be approved by creating a unique code that cannot be used again, as opposed to the traditional magnetic strip that uses the same code each time it is swiped. Thanks to the integration of the chip-reader, along with stronger legal guidelines, SonicWall observed that the number of new POS malware has decreased by 88 percent since 2015.

Website Encryption on the Rise

As web traffic continues to grow exponentially, users want to ensure that their data is kept safe. Due to this, many websites are opting to use Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS) encryption to protect sensitive user data. SSL/TLS encryption is represented by a lock and HTTPS URL, rather than the standard HTTP URL. This ensures the user that their information is safe, and is only being sent to the intended recipient. SonicWall believes the trend towards SSL/TLS encryption is due in part to the growing trend of cloud applications. They expect the trend to continue into 2017, and believe that SSL/TLS traffic will account for 75 percent of online interactions by the year 2019.


Ransomware Becoming More Popular

Ransomware was by far the most popular security attack in the previous year, with an increase from 3.8 million attacks in 2015 to 638 million in 2016. According to SonicWall’s Global Response Intelligence Defense (GRID), $209 million in ransom had been paid by affected companies by the end of the first quarter. The growth was most likely driven by the increased access of ransomware as the ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) industry expanded. This allowed individuals to purchase a ransomware pack without requiring the necessary coding skills needed to launch an attack. The most common attack is known as Locky, and is often attached to emails as disguised as a Microsoft Word invoice. As the RaaS industry continues to grow, SonicWall’s GRID suggests that all organizations backup their data continuously to a backup system that isn’t always online, or uses authentication.


Internet of Things Devices Compromised

The recent advances in technology have opened up the world to more and more connections to the Internet from more than just a computer, smartphone or tablet. These days, Internet of Things (IoT) devices can be anything from a camera or smart watch, to a smart car or home security system. Due to the wide-adaptation of IoT devices, many developers have felt the pressure to release their devices as soon as possible, which often means oversight in security. This made it easy for hackers to discover weaknesses in IoT devices, resulting in the launch of largest distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks in history. The attack used thousands of IoT devices with weak passwords to launch an attack on hosting company OVH and DNS service provider Dyn. This resulted in the outages for well-known sites such as Airbnb, Netflix, Reddit, Twitter, and Spotify. To protect your IoT devices, SonicWall suggests that you ensure your devices are protected by next-generation firewalls, which scan for specific IoT malware. They also suggest you separate all IoT devices from the rest of your network, in case it becomes compromised.


Android Security Increased, But Still Vulnerable

During 2016, Google worked on new operating systems that would directly combat many of the security vulnerabilities found in Android devices. They added additional security features, including a new approach to permission granting, an increase of security patches, and a full-disk encryption of the device. However, these new strides in security have been met with hacker resistance as they find new ways to combat these security measures. This includes screen overlays, ad-fraud malware HummingBad, self-installing apps, and third-party adult-centric apps. SonicWall suggests that any Andriod device on a company network should keep the “install applications from unknown sources” un-check and make sure both “verify applications” options are checked. It is also advised that users enable the “remote wipe” option in the event that the device is compromised.

The best way to combat an attack is to stop it before it becomes a problem. Contact Info Advantage’s security professionals today at (585) 254-8710 to learn more about proactive ways to ensure the safety of your data. 

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