computer_cookies_what_are_they

HTTP cookies, web cookies, internet cookies, browser cookies: What are computer cookies?

They don’t involve raisins or chocolate chips, but they are bite-sized: the computer version of cookies might not be as tempting as the IRL version, but can certainly come in handy. Essentially, computer cookies are small slices of information that enable convenient and personalised web browsing. These small packets of data are generated by a web server and sent to a web browser that stores the cookies for a predetermined period of time. 

What are computer cookies used for?

Generally, cookies are there for web-browsing benefits (although they do also free up storage space on servers). They are used for:

  • Session management to ‘remember’ individual login information and user actions or preferences.
  • Personalisation to customise a user’s experience, often through targeted advertising.
  • Tracking within shopping sites to track items that users view (or have viewed previously) and to record items in a shopping cart while a user browses further. Without these cookies, every time you visited a new page within a site, your shopping cart would revert to ‘empty’.

Different types of HTTP cookies 

Get to know your main two types of cyber-world cookies:

Session Cookies

These computer cookies are short-lived. They last just for the period of time that you are navigating a website – once you exit a site, the session cookie is deleted. These particular cookies are only ever stored in Random Access Memory, never written to the hard drive.

Persistent Cookies

Rather than expiring when a website is exited or a browser closed, longer-lasting cookies – or persistent cookies – expire only after a specified length of time or after a specified date. These cookies are used for two main purposes – authentication and tracking.

  • Authentication cookies help manage user sessions by tracking when a user logs in and under what name. They can also ensure that the correct user information is delivered to the correct user.
  • Tracking cookies log multiple visits to a site over time – building up a picture of a user based on what they browse when they return to a site. This information can be used for targeted advertising, but can also help users by retaining details such as log-in credentials.

Managing your computer cookies (and any cookie concerns)

Computer cookies consist of information that is sent out and back without being changed. This unaltered data cannot infect your computer with viruses or malware. Unfortunately, some internet nasties may be disguised as cookies (known as ‘super cookies’ – which many browsers will be able to block). Some cyberattacks can hijack cookies, enabling access to a user’s browsing sessions.

Cookies are an optional part of your internet experience. However, banning all cookies may make some websites difficult to navigate. Different browsers store their cookies in different places, but all will allow you to remove cookies already stored. Plus, allow you to choose how future cookies are collected or stored. (Generally, the cookie section of a browser is found under Settings > Privacy.)

Choose Geelong’s IT experts for your internet security

Regardless of how you manage and govern cookies, it’s best to remain vigilant and clean up your cookies regularly. If you are concerned about your online security when it comes utilising cookies, or if you’re not 100% confident regarding the online security of your business, Geelong Technology Group is here to help.

With our extensive experience and comprehensive cybersecurity solutions, we can assess your current situation and recommend actions to ensure your business is safeguarded against cyber threats in the future, so get in contact today. 

1300 GET GTG (1300 438 484)

📍 166 Francis Street, Belmont

smishing

What is smishing? SMS phishing attacks and protection tips

When it comes to cybercrime, there’s always something new on the horizon, hoping to catch us unawares. One of the latest is ‘smishing’ or SMS phishing. It’s fast becoming an ever-increasing problem for both individuals and businesses.

 

Definition of smishing

SMS phishing is essentially a form of phishing attack undertaken through text or SMS messages. The messages often contain an urgent notification regarding banking or courier services or an offer for a free product. They aim to manipulate people into turning over sensitive data such as bank account details, credit card numbers, account passwords, or access to a business’ computer systems.

 

How does smishing work?

Smishing works much like email phishing. It uses social-engineering tactics to appeal to our desire to have things work smoothly (Oh no! There’s a problem with my bank account!), to help others (A message from a bushfire relief charity? Sure, I’ll help out!) or to help ourselves (Eighty percent off a new phone? Heck, yeah!). Unfortunately, because text messages seem more personal,  we may be more likely to click a link in an SMS than we would nowadays in an email.

Utilising trust (scammers pose as legitimate organisations), context (lots of people are expecting packages around Christmas, for instance), and emotion (we must act now!), cybercriminals write messages that will generate action. In this case, the clicking of a link within the text message. This malicious link may either trick you into downloading malware onto your phone that then masquerades as a legitimate app (into which you enter your personal details) or takes you to a fake site, again requesting your sensitive data. These apps and websites are often well disguised and look ‘legitimate’, tricking the unwary.

 

How can we avoid smishing attacks?

As more and more mobile phones are used for work, SMS phishing has become not only a consumer threat, but also a business threat. Avoiding smishing attacks is paramount. But how do we do this? First, we need to lose any false confidence we have in text message safety – smartphone security DOES have its limitations, and CAN be compromised. 

So, the best way to remain safe? Follow the golden rule and do nothing. That is, always err on the side of caution and don’t click on links in text messages.

Of course, sometimes we may have clicked a link in a hurry or in error, and some messages may include legitimate links, so how can we manage the risk?

  • If you have clicked on a link that you now believe may be suspect, DO NOT give any personal details.
  • If you believe it may be a legitimate message, but you’re not sure, navigate to the official business webpage via a separate browser or call the company using a number that you look up independently of the text message. (And remember, legitimate institutions are extremely unlikely to request login information or account updates via SMS.)
  • Don’t reply to messages that look suspect, even to text ‘Stop’ – this will indicate your number is active and may prompt further smishing attempts.
  • Only ever download apps from an official app store.
  • Utilise multi-factor authentication (MFA) wherever possible. A password inadvertently provided via a phishing attempt may still be useless to a cybercriminal if the second level of verification/authentication is required.
  • Report possible smishing attempts to the ACCC Scamwatch.

 

Need more information?

At Geelong Technology Group, our experienced IT professionals are here to help you avoid smishing messages, phishing emails, and other cyber-related scams or attacks. Helping homes and businesses in Geelong, the Bellarine Peninsula, the Surf Coast, and surrounding regions with their online security is what we love to do, so give us a call today on 1300 GET GTG (1300 438 484) or drop into our showroom at 166 Francis Street, Belmont.

small business IT challenges

Five small business IT challenges (and how they can be overcome)

As small business owners know, being a minnow in a big pond poses unique challenges. Without the resources available to larger corporations, small business owners need to navigate rough business waters with ingenuity and creativity. Tech can often play an important role in aiding SMBs, but it can also become a frustrating roadblock if things aren’t going to plan. So what are those tech challenges small businesses face? And how can they be overcome?

Staffing and technology expenses

Specialised internal IT staff are greatly in demand, and having an ‘IT Department’ – even if its a department of one – is out of the question for many small businesses. Technology spend – whether its on upgrades to existing hardware, advanced business products or new systems – can also put a significant strain on an organisation’s IT budget. (Link here to Nov Blog #1)

Too many IT business options, not enough time (or knowledge)

With an ever-growing number of programs and systems available to support and grow businesses, choosing the correct technology solution for your business is an ever-more-difficult and time-consuming proposition. Does the technology have all of the functionality you will require? Or, conversely, a surplus of options that you really don’t need? Will the tech be compatible with your daily operational needs? Is scaling up with the technology in the future going to be possible or problematic? All of these questions and more need to be answered before you invest your hard-earned cash.

Integration issues

Following on from the previous point, the lure of embracing new technology can play havoc with older IT systems, applications and business assets. Certainly, new IT options can help small businesses level the playing field with larger competitors, but only if their integration does not introduce inefficiencies or operational disruptions.

Employee accessibility

As well as working seamlessly with your existing infrastructure, new tech for small businesses also needs to work with – and for – your staff. SMBs may not have the staffing capabilities to ensure that new technology system roll-outs are smooth and timely, keeping downtime to a minimum. The technology vendor will likely provide training videos and tutorials, but a formal induction to become acquainted and comfortable with a new platform may not be possible for smaller organisations.

Data safety and security

Having the right back-up solutions and disaster recovery procedures is imperative for every business, no matter their size. But how many SMBs have these measures ready to go if a server crashes or there’s a power outage? Hackers are also becoming more sophisticated at targeting small businesses, many of whom lack the requisite cybersecurity resources to tackle these looming threats.

Get the right advice to conquer SMB IT challenges

For many SMBs, these five challenges are considered par for the course – a necessary evil when it comes to running a smaller organisation – because they aren’t aware that better IT support results are possible. 

Small business IT systems need regular maintenance to run smoothly and securely. However, keeping on top of things – both of existing structures and emerging technology options – doesn’t all need to be done in-house. If you’re not a tech-driven company, the best way to ensure your business is tech-savvy in the most budget-friendly way is to have highly capable partners that can steer you in the right direction. An experienced IT support partner, such as the knowledgeable team at Geelong Technology Group, can help your business address and overcome all of these challenges. Offering expert advice, tailored to your unique business situation, GTG will help your business take advantage of technology, avoiding its pitfalls in the process.

Give us a call to chat about your IT support needs today. 1300 GET GTG (1300 438 484)

Business IT Support

The Lowdown on Budgeting for Your Business IT Support

Budgeting: there’s a word few people love the sound of! But for small and medium businesses, budgeting for your IT support is a crucial step to getting the right support at the right price to meet your unique business requirements. Customisation is key!

Why should I budget for IT support?

It’s easy to fall into the mindset that business technology is a necessary evil – a set of items and services that you need to ‘shell out for’. At Geelong Technology Group we urge you to turn that thinking on its head. Technology is an investment in the operation of your business; supporting your company’s goals, helping to exceed your customers’ expectations and enhancing your ability to respond to changing business environments. Spending wisely on tech and IT support is prudent finance.

What should my IT support budget include?

IT is an integral part of nearly all businesses, and beyond the hardware required for your business (computers, laptops, tablets and mobile phones, for example), IT support may extend to VoiP communication systems (link here to Oct Blog #2), network servers, cloud storage, cyber security, data back-up, software and more. It’s a long list, and not all of it may be relevant to your situation, so first steps in the budgeting process involve assessing what you do and do not need.

What level of support do I need?

If your business doesn’t already have an IT strategy, using the budgeting period to craft one is an easy way to conquer two tasks with one planning session. Look closely at all aspects of your business and nut out what support you need and how that will allow your business to grow and thrive (and survive any knock-backs). Many businesses think they can take a less-is-more approach to IT support and still operate effectively. Unfortunately, this is often not the case, and may set up SMBs for problems down the track when their IT infrastructure falters or fails at a crucial juncture.

It’s a good idea to approach your IT support in the form of a health appraisal; think about keeping your business in tip-top shape with a proactive day-to-day plan, while also anticipating possible expenses for unexpected issues or changes that may arise. Evaluating your needs will allow you to firm up your IT requirements for both your current situation and for future scalability – giving your chosen managed services provider (MSP) the clearest information to recommend and price an IT support strategy.

How much should my IT support cost?

Unfortunately (and fortunately!) there is no ‘one size fits all’ model when it comes to IT support expenses. Pricing will be dependent on your business activities, size, set-up and the amount of support required, with recent research indicating that IT budgets as a percentage of revenue range from around 2% up to 8%, with the average, depending on business type, around 3% to 4%.

The good news for smaller businesses is that outsourced IT support is often a lot cheaper than employing staff onsite – and it can deliver a wide range of technical expertise. Managed IT services through an MSP can also be tailored to your needs at any given time, allowing for scalability up or down should circumstances require.

Speak to Geelong’s remote support specialists

Truly the only hard and fast rule about tech support budgeting is that there is no hard and fast rule – it comes down to what your business needs. So just to reiterate – customisation is key.

At Geelong Technology Group we work with numerous businesses of different sizes and across different sectors, tailoring their IT support to meet their unique requirements. If you’re seeking transformational results that consistently make better use of your IT budget, take a moment to get in contact with Geelong’s IT professionals today. 1300 GET GTG (1300 438 484)

Managed Services Provider

Managed IT Support: Switching Your Business IT to an MSP (Managed Services Provider)

Business downtime due to IT issues has got to be one of the most frustrating issues a company can face. And there are enough frustrating issues to face in this 2021 world without adding to them! Outsourcing to a managed IT services provider is a delegation that will not only offer a PROACTIVE approach to the management of your technology infrastructure but will also free up you and your team to get back to day-to-day business.

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