What Small Businesses Need to Know About Security Software

security software how to watchdog

Wading through tech-speak to know what you need for security software can be overwhelming. And meanwhile, you have a business to run. Here are a few key things you need to know about the importance of security software for small and mid-sized businesses, the benefits and your options as a small or mid-sized business owner.

What security software is and why it’s important for small businesses.

Security software is your computer’s or network’s defense against intrusion and unauthorized use of resources. Your need for effective security software as a small or mid-sized business is on the rise. According to a report by Keeper Security and the Ponemon Institute, 50 percent of small businesses have been breached in the past 12 months.

Small businesses are a key target for hackers, since they have more valuable data than the typical individual, but far less elaborate protections in place than a large corporation. In fact, studies show that a majority of small businesses are “underinsured” or “uninsured” when it comes to security software.

Losing your data permanently is the worst possibility. Endangering the data of your customers is another severe threat. But using security software comes with many additional benefits to keep your business strong, healthy and protected.

Security software keeps your data and system secure.

Security software keeps sensitive company and client data safe from attack from viruses and hackers. It also guards your system and applications from being lost or compromised due to system corruption, internal or external threats. Advanced security software can also leave an electronic trail to monitor internal use and flag threats of embezzlement or information breaches.

Security software protects your time and money.

As a business owner, you can easily comprehend the catastrophic financial loss that could be caused by a major security attack that compromises or destroys critical data. But your time is equally valuable. Security software that protects against malware and other “germs” keeps your system healthy and speedy, which protects your time. And when your security software proactively keeps bugs at bay, you won’t worry that you’re going to lose a whole day, multiple days or a week to restoring your system’s health. This can happen if over time your machine gets so debilitated by malware that you can no longer use it without a major cleanup.

Security software delivers peace of mind.

When you, your employees and your clients know you have a robust security system in place, you can communicate and share information with ease. You won’t have to worry that you or an employee will inadvertently open an attachment that contains a virus or other harmful code. The right security software also provides early warning alerts to detect potential intruders and let you know before they have the chance to do any damage. For example, it can send alerts about logins from unknown IP addresses or devices so that you can follow up.

Your security software options: Do it yourself, or get help from the experts.

There are a number of effective security software options on the market that let you handle security yourself. Some of them are free. But knowing which ones are safe, which ones work best, how much “insurance” you need and then finessing settings to work well for your unique business can be intimidating for a non-techie. And even the best antivirus, malware or web protection product is only as good as your memory to run regular scans. Countless times, we’ve had a client bring us a compromised computer to fix. When we dig deeper, we find that security software was loaded, but it wasn’t used properly. Security software won’t protect you if you don’t use it properly and keep it up-to-date.

Our Watchdog System Health Monitoring is designed to ensure your computer systems stay healthy, updated and bug-free. The basic version of WatchDog ($4/month/workstation) takes care of the keeping your hardware healthy and updated – first with performance thresholds related to CPU, hard disks, memory, and network and secondly with automated patching (updates) for Windows, Microsoft, Java, and Adobe as well as hardware driver updates. You’ll get e-mailed alerts, regular reports, and someone keeping an eye on your systems to make sure things remain “healthy”.

To address software security needs, upgrade to Premium Watchdog, which includes a security software called WebRoot SecureAnywhere. This provides anti-virus, anti-spyware, and web filtering. Also included in Premium Watchdog is backup to protect your critical data.

All WatchDog clients get free downtime notifications for routers, websites, and company networks. WatchDog clients also have free access to a remote ticketing system. This way, if a problem does arise, we can take a look remotely without you having to lug your machine to our office or even pick up the phone.  Once you’re a WatchDog client, we can usually remotely diagnose what’s wrong and provide estimated costs for the fix, if applicable. Often, we can even perform the fix remotely once you’ve decided you want it done. This can be a huge time savings and bring peace of mind.

Protect your most valuable business assets against security threats and performance issues. Start your one-month free trial of WatchDog Systems Health Monitoring. To have security software included, choose Premium Watchdog.


We’ve Moved to Verona

Its been a lot of chaos the past couple months but we’ve moved and are finally all settled into the old cheese shop in Verona. Once I can put together my email list for invites, we will be hosting an open house lunch thing this summer.
In the meantime, please update your records with our new address and phone numbers as follows.

202 W. Verona Avenue, Verona, WI 53593

The sign in front (in the picture) is in progress now but will end up being very unique.  Keep an eye out for that as you drive by in the next week or two.

We've Moved - Synergy Networks

We’ve Moved – Synergy Networks

Superfish Vulnerability Affecting You?

Click the image below to check your system (at LastPass.com) to see if the Superfish vulnerability is affecting your PC.

They also have a lot of great detail on the scope of the problem and how to resolve it if you are affected.

While you’re there, I’d recommend looking at LastPass as a password manager as well.










Even more info on Superfish from AVG linked below.


AVG Superfish Info


Google Apps Status DashBoard

So, you’ve made the move to Google Apps and something’s not working quite right.

Is it Google that’s down or a problem with your network or computer?  While Google is certainly very reliable and redundant, they still run into problems where things aren’t working as expected.  That said, with mail client software out of the picture (using native Google Mail interface), there are fewer potential links in the chain that can break.  If your mail client (Outlook, Thunderbird) is not working, try logging on directly to the GMail interface.  For all domains, you can simply go to www.gmail.com and enter your full e-mail address and password.  If it’s working there but not in your mail client software, Google is not the problem.

The Google Apps Status DashBoard will always show the current status of Google Apps, identifying if there are problems with Google Apps and shows a history of outages.

Click the link below to see the current Google Apps Status DashBoard.

Google Apps Status DashBoard

Google Apps Status DashBoard




Also, don’t forget about the Google Apps Toolbox for troubleshooting MX records, mail headers and other Google Apps issues.  Link below.

Google Apps Toolbox

Cloud Collaboration Questionnaire

Cloud Collaboration Questionnaire

The information requested below is needed for migrating to Google Apps and having it ahead of time will expedite the process of getting your domain(s) switched over as quickly as possible.  This questionnaire can also be provided to you as a web form in order to securely submit the information requested to Synergy Networks.  Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.

Domain Name(s):

Existing Mail/Collaboration System (ie. Exchange, hosted pop3 accounts, etc.):

Domain (Registrar) Manager Account Login Information:

Web Hosting Service Provider (cPanel) Login Information:

First & Last Names + email address for each user:

  1. Joe User – joe.user@mydomain.com
  2. Mary User – mary.user@mydomain.com

Alternate names (optional) that can be accepted and forwarded to the above:

  1. joe@ and juser@ should both forward to joe.user@
  2. mary@ and muser@ should both forward to mary.user@

Group names that are forwarded to multiple persons (e.g. sales@, billing@, returns@, info@, etc.)

  1. sales@ should forward to both joe.user@ and jane.user@

A valid address from above to catch all incorrectly addressed emails to this domain:

If no ‘catch-all’ address is used, the email will be bounced back to its sender.  Recommend bouncing mis-addressed e-mails to minimize spam.

Users who will be using an email client (Outlook, Eudora, Outlook Express, etc.) on their computer:

The alternative is to use the Gmail web interface directly, which many people find to be more useful/flexible. Either method can be used exclusively or interchangeably.

  • jane.user@

Users who want their mobile phone configured with Google Apps and what type of devices they use:

  • Joe User has an Android phone
  • Jane User has an iPhone

Users who will want an existing mail store, calendar, and contacts migrated to Google Apps:

I’ve got “Crypto Paranoia”

Annoying viruses on our computers are something we have gotten used to dealing with, but there is a new and very malicious virus called CryptoLocker that is poised to cause serious problems. CryptoLocker is the latest and most damaging of a type of virus called ransomware, which are Trojan viruses that encrypt your files until you pay a fee (ransom). When the virus has finished encrypting your files, the alert shown below will appear giving you 96 hours (or four days) to pay $300 or lose all your encrypted personal files forever. 

Crypto Locker VirusCrypto Locker Virus


It should be simple to track down the hackers given that they’re taking a ransom, but it’s not that simple.  Since CryptoLocker demands payment through MoneyPak or Bitcoin, both of which are private, decentralized fund-exchange networks, it’s almost impossible to follow the money.

How does your computer get infected?


Continue reading

Time for a new PC or Windows upgrade from XP?

I have a personal laptop that I was going to leave on XP but the more I read about the potential problems, the more I am looking at upgrading to Windows 7.  The link below will take you to the Windows Upgrade Advisor.  Download and run the Windows Upgrade Advisor to see if your PC is ready for Windows 7. It scans your hardware, devices, and installed programs for known compatibility issues, gives you guidance on how to resolve potential issues found, and recommends what to do before you upgrade.


If your PC is not up-gradable, now is a great time to look at a new PC.  The upcoming holiday shopping season always brings some great deals on technology.  Give Synergy a call and we would be glad to help you with your purchase and get your data loaded on a new PC!

Microsoft Security Research Paints Bleak Picture for XP Users

Summary: The latest security threat report from Microsoft shows the outlook for Windows XP users is getting grimmer. Things are bad, getting worse, and in six months the trouble really starts.

By  for Zero Day |

The 15th and latest of Microsoft’s Security Intelligence Report (SIRv15) has been released. We spoke with Tim Rains, Director, Trustworthy Computing at Microsoft about the results.

There are a lot of periodic threat reports from companies in the security business, but Microsoft’s report is based on an probably the broadest set of data in the industry: they gather information from over 100 countries; more than 1 billion systems which use Windows Update, the Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT) and Microsoft’s free Security Essentials program; more than 400 million Outlook.com accounts and millions of Office 365 accounts; and from the billions of web pages scanned every day by Bing.

Though there is other data in the report, Rains chose to focus this month on the situation as it relates to Windows XP users. Citing third party data, he said that 21% of users are still running Windows XP, which will reach end of life in April 2014, after which no security updates will be issued for it.

As we have noted before, once the last Windows XP patch is issued (likely on April 8, 2014), unpatched vulnerabilities will begin to emerge. Some will have been saved by attackers for the time when there will no longer be a chance for it to be patched. Rains brought up another likely scenario: In subsequent Patch Tuesdays, Microsoft will patch vulnerabilities in Vista and later versions of Windows. Malicious researchers will reverse-engineer these updates, test to see if they affect Windows XP (most will), and write exploits for them targeting XP.

Even before all this happens, the vulnerability situation for XP users is bad compared to later versions of Windows. In the chart below we see two measures, based on data from the MSRT Software Essentials and a few other Microsoft sources: on the left is the number of computers infected with malware, and therefore cleaned of it. On the right is the percentage of systems that encounter or block malware.


Windows XP users are many more times as likely as Windows 8 users to be infected by malware- source: Microsoft

There is some variability in the Encounter Rate, but all four Windows versions are fairly close to one another. The infection rate, on the other hand, clearly shows that Windows systems have gotten more resistant to attack over time. At the extreme, Windows XP users are almost six times more likely to become infected with malware as Windows 8 users. Globally, 17% of systems encounter malware.

Why are Windows XP users more vulnerable now? Because Microsoft has steadily incorporated defensive technologies into Windows with each new version. The only major technology XP had was Data Execution Prevention (DEP), and even the implementation of that has improved greatly in subsequent versions. As this next chart shows, the number of disclosed vulnerabilities which bypass DEP in Windows XP has steadily increased over the last few years.


The number of CVEs for which exploits were written that could have been mitigated by enabling DEP as compared to the number of CVEs that had exploits that bypassed DEP. (source: Microsoft)

Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 all introduce new technologies that may block exploits that would get past DEP.

Tablets – Tools or Toys?

TabletsTablets are the topic of the day.

I get paid to stay current with tech “stuff”, but even after some research and observation (co-workers and coffee-shoppers), I was not completely convinced that I would use a tablet; then Santa brought us an iPad last Christmas.  My 12 year old son and I started using it around the house for web searches, games, checking email, FaceBook and now it has completely replaced the laptop! It connects to my wireless network and accesses the internet quickly and the display quality is great.  I was using my Android smartphone to take notes in meetings and read my email at work, so I tried using the tablet instead. When WiFi is available, the tablet has become my preferred way to read and respond to e-mail and web searches.  I use Google Keep (more on that later) to take notes in meetings. One of things I was worried about with a tablet was the ease of typing. I purchased a keyboard to use with the iPad, but once I got used to the touchscreen keyboard, the external keyboard rarely gets used. There are some very nice keyboards that are integrated into cases, making it easier to type for longer periods of time. Still a tablet isn’t going to replace a laptop for typing long documents.

When looking at tablets your major decision is what type of operating system you want. I had no experience on the iOS that runs the iPad and my iPod crazy son had fun showing Mom how to navigate it. The Android OS will look very similar to the Android smartphone. The Windows OS is available on the Surface, the iOS is exclusive to Apple and installed on the iPads and the Galaxy Note, Kindle and Google Nexus come with the Android OS. You will find the greatest variety of tablets available with the Android OS.

The variety of applications available for tablets is exceptional. iTunes, Google Play and Amazon are all very popular. Many of the apps are free and installing them is quick and easy. The battery life on tablets is very good, most tablets can go for almost 8 hours versus most laptops 2.5 to 4 hours.

The technology for tablets has improved dramatically just in the past year and the competition for buyers has brought the prices down and the quality up. Even though the screens are small, the tablet displays are crisp and very good quality. With services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon you don’t even have to fill the memory with video files; instead, you can stream entire libraries of material directly to your tablet. They are being utilized more and more in educational settings. If the books you need are offered digitally, you may save some money, space and weight just by downloading them onto a tablet.

After a year long test drive, the tablet has replaced some of the functions I used on my phone and most of the functions of my home laptop so for me it really isn’t replacing any device completely, but I am definitely not giving it up! I am hoping Santa brings us a 7 inch tablet this Christmas…Hint Hint

Christmas Tablets

Comparing Online Data Storage Sites


Online Data Storage Comparison

Online Data Storage

I find myself using online data storage more than I imagined.  It is so convenient that you can get to your files, pictures and music from any device that has an internet connection.  All of the programs offer a certain amount of storage space (usually 2 to 3 GB) FREE. If your next question is – How much space will my information take?  Here are a few general examples of what would amount to 2GB:

  • about 2000 songs, average length of 3 minutes per song.
  • about 800 photos, assuming they are 8 megapixel pictures, which is what the iPhone 4S takes.
  • over 80 thousand pages of a Word document, assuming it’s just text.
Please remember that the amount you can fit will vary, especially as it depends on the quality of your photos and music.
**While your information is password protected, please be aware that the US Government can blind subpoena your data at any time**

If that statement doesn’t scare you away, read on…

Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. Box vs. SkyDrive vs. SkyDrive Pro

Posted by Mark Gordon on Wed, Jul 03, 2013

Over the last decade, internet connections have gotten significantly faster, an order of magnitude faster in many cases. This has made remote storage and retrieval of even relatively large files and directories possible. In the last few years, use of remote file storage solutions has taken off. You are more than likely using one yourself. There is money to be made in cloud storage, and today there are a host of cloud storage solutions available that allow you to back up and share files with others, as well as between your own machines. Most of these services offer some level of storage for free and allow you to add more storage for a price.

But just a few are capturing the majority of the marketplace, among them Dropbox, Google Drive, box, and SkyDrive. Below is a survey of what they have to offer and what you may not know about them.

Dropbox - Online Data StorageDropbox


  • Cloud-based file storage with the ability to share
  • Soon will allow integrated authentication with Active Directory

Best Qualities:

  • 2 GB free personal storage
  • Simplicity of interface
  • Ease of sign-up and installation
  • The name Dropbox has become nearly synonymous with cloud file storage and sharing


  • Designed as a consumer/personal solution
  • Not a collaboration solution
  • No corporate control of document sharing or retention in personal accounts
  • No auditing, legal discovery in personal accounts
  • No ability to host sensitive files on premise–US Government can blind subpoena your data at any time
  • No full text search


  • Dropbox has gone viral giving users extra storage for signing up their friends. With so many people using Dropbox with their friends today, your corporate files are most likely up here without any controls unless you have implemented another solution for your users.

Google Drive - Online Data StorageGoogle Drive


  • Cloud-based file storage built into the Google universe
  • Integrated with Google Apps

Best Qualities:

  • Free 5 GB personal storage
  • Online readers for rendering many types of files in your browser
  • Online Editors for Office documents
  • Integration with other Google offerings like Gmail


  • Designed as a consumer/personal solution
  • Online editing is not full fidelity and documents may not look the way you expect on the desktop after editing
  • No corporate control of document sharing or retention in personal accounts
  • No auditing, legal discovery in personal accounts
  • No ability to host sensitive files on premise–US Government can blind subpoena your data at any time


  • Google’s user agreement states that they have the right to scan all your content and sell information about you to anyone. They also reserve the right to create derivative works based on files or documents you put in Google Drive

Box - Online Drive StorageBox


  • Cloud-based collaboration suite

Best Qualities:

  • Designed for business
  • Good set of collaboration tools
  • Similar in many ways to SharePoint


  • Expensive
  • Separate set of collaboration tools to learn and manage if your people are used to Office and SharePoint
  • No ability to host sensitive files on premise–US Government can blind subpoena your data at any time


  • Box is an all-or-nothing solution. If you have sensitive data, you cannot host it on premise and integrate it into your corporate Box environment
  • When implementing any corporate collaboration solution, you should plan before you deploy

SkyDrive - Online Drive StorageSkyDrive


  • Cloud-based file storage built into the Microsoft universe
  • Integrated with Outlook.com

Best Qualities:

  • Free 7 GB personal storage
  • Online readers for rendering many types of files in your browser
  • Full fidelity of online editors for Office documents
  • Integration with other Microsoft offerings
  • Microsoft user privacy agreement gives you full ownership of your files and documents; Microsoft does not scan them or sell data about you


  • Designed as a consumer/personal solution
  • No corporate control of document sharing or retention in personal accounts
  • No auditing, legal discovery in personal accounts
  • No ability to host sensitive files on premise–US Government can blind subpoena your data at any time
  • No full text search


  • Even though Microsoft is not reading your documents, the US Government legally can

SkyDrive Pro


  • Corporate file management solution
  • Integrated with SharePoint 2013

Best Qualities:

  • Low cost, SkyDrive Pro comes as part of the complete SharePoint Online subscription which is $3.00 user/month
  • 25 GB per person as part of SharePoint Online, up to 100 GB each available (as of 8/26/13)
  • Ability to host Online, On-Premises or Hybrid with seamless user experience
  • Online readers for rendering many types of files in your browser
  • Full text search of your content with refinements
  • Online editors for Office documents
  • Full integration with Office and Windows
  • Granular control and monitoring of documentsNo ability for US Government to blind subpoena your sensitive documents from on premise or hybrid environments
    • No sharing, corporate sharing or external sharing
    • Full auditing of read, edit, search, etc.
    • Legal hold and discovery
    • Retention policies


  • No free option


  • When implementing any corporate collaboration solution, you should plan before you deploy

The table below gives you an idea of the range of the services available:

cloud storage options

3 Things You Should Do to Secure Your Smartphone or Tablet

I have installed and used the Android Device Manager that is mentioned in the following article from About.com.    The Android Device Manager allows you to see the location of your phone on a map, send a ringtone to it to help you locate the phone and erase the device. 

3 Things You Should Do to Secure Your Smartphone or Tablet

  By , About.com Guide August 13, 201

Secure Your SmartPhone - Synergy Networks

 You don’t need to be an NSA target to want to keep your personal data secure. Mobile phones and tablets are particularly tricky when it comes to security because they’re so easily lost or stolen. In this age of spying  and hacking, it’s even more critical to reconsider what we’re storing on our devices and what would happen if they got into the wrong hands (or your personal information gets leaked).

  Three things you can do to secure your smartphone or tablet:

  1. Set up the screen lock. (You’ll find it under the security settings of your device.) Like other passwords, you should make the PIN or password for your mobile device as long as possible–without driving              yourself crazy. After all, you do have to enter it each time to unlock the phone.

  2. Encrypt the device. For the utmost assurance hackers can’t use the information on your mobile device even if they get past the lock screen. See how to encrypt your iOS or Android device here.

3. Turn on remote wipe. Google recently added Android Device Manager so you can remotely erase Android devices or find them if they’re lost. iPhone similarly has a “Find My iPhone” feature (which you should lock down further to prevent thieves from turning it off). I have an older article about remote wipe which covers some older/other platforms.

These simple steps will give you peace of mind and protect you in the worst case scenario.

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