New Symantec Endpoint Maintenance Release – Minor update series for version 12.1.4013.8083 SEPM

The potential to leverage the remote access XXE vulnerability to attempt to exploit the local access SQL Injection issues increases the overall severity from a successful exploit of these issues. Symantec customers need to apply the available updates (12.1.4023.4080) as soon as possible.

Over the course of the next week we will be upgrading our clients using Symantec Endpoint protection to this newer version. For their benefit, we are listing the new and changes features in this release. We recommend all users of Symantec Endpoint upgrade their versions as soon as possible to address these issues (listed below). In addition to this Management/Client release they have also released an urgent patch to the management program, after applying this 12.1.4.4013 fix first, then the Management Security Fix.

  • Expanded operating system and browser support
    Supports Mac OS X 10.9 and Windows 8.1 / Server 2012 R2.  Supports the latest versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome.
  • Expanded and improved features for Endpoint Protection for Mac
    Improved remote deployment features for the client, including a standardized deployment package for use with third-party client management systems that supports unattended, logged out, and silent deployment.
  • Intrusion prevention for Mac client computers.  LiveUpdate 6 for Mac, which does not require Java and can run with no user logged in.  Content for Mac from Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager (SEPM)  Other improvements including improved scheduled scan options, user interface improvements, and language support
  • Faster alerting and notification for priority events  SEP 12.1.4 Windows clients can quickly send priority events to SEPM without waiting for the next heartbeat. You can create notifications without a damper for critical events. Priority events include malware detections and IPS alerts.

New fixes in this release

  • A detected threat does not have a corresponding entry in the risk log.  Symptom: You see the pop-up warning, “Threats were detected while you were logged out,” but the risk log does not display a corresponding entry.
  • System hangs after reboot on Windows XP Embedded SP3.  Symptom: After you install Symantec Endpoint Protection client on a Windows XP Embedded device on which PCAnywhere and specific video adapters are also installed, a crash in the video memory occurs.
  • Scan Logs do not display updated scan status.  Symptom: Administrator-defined scheduled scans do not update the scan status of Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager scan logs if you suspend then complete the scan.
  • Microsoft Outlook 2010 freezes.  Symptom: If you install Symantec Endpoint Protection Microsoft Outlook plug-in along with McAfee DLP software, Microsoft Outlook 2010 appears to hang or become unresponsive when you open or add an attachment.
  • Cannot generate quick risk reports  Symptom: When you try to generate quick risk reports, PHP errors and warnings display. You also see many PHP-related errors in the reporting logs.
  • Some detection counts do not display correctly in reports.  Symptom: The distribution bar under the “Risk Detection Counts and Detection by Computer” report shows one color, instead of the expected multiple colors for different infection types.
  • Application and Device Control exception is not working correctly.  Symptom:An Application and Device Control folder control exception does not work correctly with an absolute path, such as “C:\TEST”.
  • Management Server Configuration Wizard encounters Unexpected Server Error  Symptom: An Unexpected Server Error occurs after you run the Management Server Configuration Wizard.
  • When both the Symantec Endpoint Protection client and management server are installed, Windows Server Backup utility cannot complete a volume shadow copy  Symptom: When you install both Symantec Endpoint Protection client and Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager 12.1.x on the same computer, the \System Volume Information\EfaData\ folder grows large in size. This growth causes a lack of available free space for the Windows Server Backup Utility to create a volume shadow copy.
  • Scheduled scan report fails to abide by an OS filter  Symptom: When you schedule a Scan Report based on an OS filter, it instead returns every OS.
  • Symantec Endpoint Protection installation results in warning messages in logs  Symptom: Warning messages, such as Event ID 28, appear in the logs when you install the Symantec Endpoint Protection to a physical Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V.
  • Unable to remove the “Delete from Quarantine” option Symptom: After you uncheck the “Delete from Quarantine” command option for Limited Admins, this option still appears on the dropdown menu as a possible Action. The only way to remove “Delete from Quarantine” from the dropdown menu is to also remove other features, such as “Enable Download Insight.”
  • Download Protection Content reports as “Not Available” after a restart Symptom: After a client restarts, the initial heartbeat reports that Download Protection is “Not available.” As a result, a notification for “Download Protection out of date” triggers from Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager. Subsequent heartbeats report correctly.
  • Too many active connections from the Group Update Provider (GUP) to Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager Symptom: The Group Update Provider (GUP) computer keeps more than 200 connections open to Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager.
  • Client reports Firewall Status as “Disabled” Symptom: If you disable or withdraw the firewall policy from a client group, the clients display as “Disabled” on the Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager Home tab, under Endpoint Status. Clicking on the Endpoint Status chart shows the Firewall Status as “Disabled.” The Firewall Status should only display as “Disabled” if the end user disables the firewall.
  • Lotus Notes 7.0.3 terminates unexpectedly Symptom: Lotus Notes 7.0.3 terminates unexpectedly when you attempt to open an attachment.
  • Some clients do not honor the restart after using the Client Deployment Wizard Symptom: When you use the Client Deployment Wizard to install a package that includes Application and Device Control, Symantec Endpoint Protection clients do not honor the reboot command provided in Client Install Settings.
  • Clients move to the wrong group if group name has a space in it Symptom: If you copy a group name containing a space from the details tab of one Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager and paste that group name into a new group on another Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager, then the clients end up in an incorrect group. If you copy the same group name containing a space from Windows Notepad, then the clients end up in the correct group.
  • Scan time is shown incorrectly Symptom: If you click Home > View Details > Scan Failures, the last scan time displayed is incorrect.
  • Teefer does not see outbound traffic on Windows XP Symptom: On Windows XP SP3, Teefer does not see the outbound traffic for QoS Packet Scheduler (PSched).
  • Lotus Notes terminates unexpectedly during start-up. Symptom: Lotus Notes terminates unexpectedly during start-up when it attempts to load the Notes Auto-Protect plugin (nlnhook.exe).
  • Windows Hypervisor stops responding. Symptom: Windows Server 2012 Hypervisor servers stop responding after you install Symantec Endpoint Protection 12.1.2 (12.1 RU2).
  • Juniper Network Agent Virtual Adapter missing from VPN classification Symptom: Juniper Network Agent Virtual Adapter (Juniper Junos Pulse client) does not appear within the “Any VPN” classification in the firewall rules.
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 is not identified correctly in Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager Symptom: Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager shows an incorrect operating system name for Windows Server 2008 R2 computers in the client inventory report and client properties dialog.
  • Cannot generate risk report Symptom: When you create a risk report for “Action List” or “Infected and At Risk Computers”, the query fails.
  • Log file size grows to be very large. Symptom: Log messages continue to write to scm-ui.log, even after the user logs out of the console. As a result, the log file grows very large.
  • Windows OXP 64 bit is listed incorrectly. Symptom: If you click Monitors > Logs > Computer Status > View Log, Windows Server 2003 clients incorrectly display as Windows XP 64-bit.
  • GFValidate.exe application error 1000. Symptom: When Symantec Endpoint Protection Management server is running, you see program errors or crashes when ThreatCon contains an invalid certificate.
  • Windows client incorrectly becomes a Group Update Provider (GUP) after an upgrade. Symptom: After you upgrade a Windows XP computer to Symantec Endpoint Protection 12.1.2, the computer becomes a GUP even though it was not designated as one.
  • Management Server Configuration Wizard displays an error when using a non-default path for the database data folder. Symptom: When you designate a new database using a non-default data folder, such as on drive D:, the Management Server Configuration Wizard displays an error about the database data folder, because it is incorrectly looking for the default path on C:.
  • Cannot add applications to Exception policy. Symptom: You try to add detected applications to existing Exception policies, but those policies do not display in the Monitors tab.
  • Discrepancy in the Endpoint Status report. Symptom: The information displayed on the Home tab under Endpoint Status is different from the information displayed when you click the chart for details.
  • An unexpected database error occurs. Symptom: An unexpected database error occurs when you log on the Web Services Application Registration page.
  • Client upgrade rolls back Symptom: At the end of the upgrade to Symantec Endpoint Protection 12.1.2 on a computer with a custom Windows system root directory, the installation rolls back to the previous version.
  • BIOS serial number not stored Symptom: The Symantec Endpoint Protection client sends the BIOS serial number when it connects to the Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager. You can see this information in the scm-server-*.log, but it is not stored within the Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager.
  • Symantec Endpoint Protection Internet email Auto-Protect prevents POP3 email from being sent or received. Symptom: When you check email with a client program that uses the service session (session 0), sending or receiving email experiences delays if you install Symantec Endpoint Protection Internet email Auto-Protect.
  • Unable to copy from USB. Symptom: After you upgrade Windows Vista to Symantec Endpoint Protection 12.1.2, you are unable to read files from a USB device, even though the Application and Device Control policy only prohibits writing to a USB device.
  • Server crashes with BugCheck 8E. Symptom: A Symantec Endpoint Protection client installed to a server operating system crashes with BugCheck 8E {c0000005, f723fac3, abb89930, 0}. The crash log contains a reference to SRTSP.sys.
  • LiveUpdate fails to process content on Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager. Symptom: The LiveUpdate client runs successfully and downloads the content on Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager 12.1.2 (RU2), but fails during the post-processing of the content.
  • EFS encrypted files are damaged. Symptom: After a content download triggers a Defwatch scan, EFS encrypted files become corrupted.
  • Weekly deadlocks occur on Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager database. Symptom: The server logs indicate weekly deadlocks on the Microsoft SQL Server database used by Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager. These deadlocks place an excessive load on the database server.
  • USB data stick removal results in BugCheck 7E error. Symptom: When you remove a USB memory stick, the computer crashes with error code 0X0000007E (BugCheck 7E).
  • Servers are slow or unresponsive. Symptom: After you install the Symantec Endpoint Protection client without Network Threat Protection, the file share server appears to be offline, or becomes extremely slow and unresponsive.
  • Connectivity issues with 3G connection. Symptom: When you try to connect to the internet with a 3G NIC, the Symantec Endpoint Protection firewall component detects a problem and blocks the connection.
  • Wired 802.1x connection attempt results in BugCheck 50 referencing Teefer. Symptom: When attempting to connect using wired 802.1x authentication, the computer crashes with BugCheck 50. The blue screen message references teefer.sys.
  • LiveUpdate does not update Symantec Endpoint Protection client. Symptom: The Symantec Endpoint Protection client downloads but cannot update definitions with LiveUpdate. Content updates from the Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager occur as expected.
  • Enabling Windows Driver Verifier on Teefer2 results in BugCheck 139 Symptom: You install Symantec Endpoint Protection, enable the Windows Driver Verifier for Teefer2, and reboot. An attempt at a network connection causes the computer to crash with BugCheck 139.
  • Cluster is unable to fail over with AutoProtect enable. Symptom:  With AutoProtect enabled, an active cluster node cannot fail over and hangs.
  • Some Intrusion Prevention exclusions do not work Symptom: After you create an Intrusion Prevention (IPS) policy exclusion to keep an application from being blocked, Intrusion Prevention continues to block the application.
  • Download Protection reports as malfunctioning . Symptom: Client computers always report Download Protection as malfunctioning on the first heartbeat after the Symantec Management Client (SMC) service is started. This issue occurs because the heartbeat reports the status before this component fully initializes.
  • Persistent “unexpected server error” notification. Symptom: You receive System Event Notification emails multiple times a day reporting an unexpected server error. The Symantec Endpoint Protection server logs display the message, “This is not a valid IP address.”
  • “Unexpected server error” appears in server logs. Symptom: For the Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager, the server name is different than the host name. The Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager’s server logs display repeated errors by ScheduledReportingTask about an UnknownHostException. You do not receive email notifications or scheduled reports.
  • “Unexpected server error [0x10010000]” when deleting a Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager administrator. Symptom: When you try to delete an administrator account in Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager but opt to retain the existing reports, the message “Unexpected server error [0x10010000]” appears and the administrator account remains.
  • The policy serial number unexpectedly updates at midnight Symptom: You notice that the policy serial number updated at midnight, but you did not update a policy at that time, only earlier in the day.
  • Some errors in reporting logs related to risk reporting Symptom: There are PHP errors and warnings in the reporting log. The pie charts on the Monitors tab contain no information, and you encounter a fatal error when you click Reports > Quick Reports.
  • Auto-refresh value reverts for Command Status Symptom: The Auto-refresh value you configure under Monitors > Command Status reverts to the previous value.
  • Scheduled or On-Demand scans fill backup cache disks Symptom: You observe that on a computer using a third-party backup program, a scheduled or on-demand scan unexpectedly fills the backup cache disk.
  • SMC service crashing Symptom: The Symantec Management Client (SMC) service crashes on client computers that are Group Update Providers (GUPs).
  • Accelerated heartbeat after clients fails to register with Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager Symptom:  When Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager returns a registration failure with code 412, the client triggers another registration in five seconds. This behavior results in performance degradation on Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager.
  • Installation of Symantec Endpoint Protection causes BugCheck 8e Symptom: After the installation of Symantec Endpoint Protection, the computer crashes with BugCheck 8e. A triggered Auto-Protect scan appears to be the cause.
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Evernote For Business – A quick look

For those of you using the free Evernote or Premium Evernote, and you collaborate with others, you may want to look at this new version of Evernote – note it is not yet available on all platforms.

A quick background – Evernote is a free, Web-based service that lets users create and organize free-form notes. It has applications for all major desktop and mobile platforms. The company says more than 45 million people use Evernote, to house and organize a variety of unstructured content.Evernote also creates Web Clippers for all of the major desktop browsers, so users can send Web pages directly into Evernote with a mouse click. Each user gets an Evernote email address, so you can send emails directly into Evernote as well. Evernote supports documents, lets users create voice notes and even tags entries with location.   Evernote Business – New Capabilities

Evernote Business lets an organization deploy and manage the Evernote application on behalf of employees, extending information discoverability and sharing company-wide.

The software includes Business Notebooks, collections of Evernote entries along topical lines, which can now be shared with co-workers; and the Business Library, which includes Business Notebooks and centralized administrative and company communications.

Evernote Business also adds Related Notes to the user interface. This feature digs into a company’s Evernote trove, exposing information in a contextual way, depending on what the user is working on.   Administrators create the Business Library, which centralizes select information from all company users. Sharing and collaborating is much more natural now.

Every time you interact with Evernote, the program takes every opportunity to show you relevant notes. For example, when you search inside Evernote, it lists your notes and those shared with co-workers or stored in the Business Library.

But it also works when you’re not searching. These Related Notes come from any Notebook the user has joined. With Related Notes, when you start creating a note, it searches for related content, not just in your own notes, but across the business.

In many ways, these new capabilities start to unlock the potential of an application like Evernote. Although the Evernote Business isn’t marketed as a wiki platform for SMBs, it’s starting to feel like one, at least for those who think of wikis as a way to share and discover knowledge. What makes Evernote enticing here is that it’s more of a serendipitous discovery than a forced organization of information.

Here’s a snapshot (from their website) of screens you’ll see with the new version –

evernote1

With wiki software users must explicitly use them — that is, launch them, login and enter data in a company-defined scheme — when they want to share information, whereas with Evernote that sharing happens as part of the experience. For example, if you’ve created an Evernote entry about a recent business trip related to a project, when another user creates an Evernote entry about that project, those entries are automatically linked.

Evernote Business, priced at $10 per user per month, includes a Web-based administrative application that can be called from the Evernote desktop app. Employees already using the free version of Evernote get upgraded to a more premium version automatically. Evernote has also beefed up its support for business customers, who now get to talk live with a support person.

Evernote Business with just the basic features will ship on all major platforms (Mac, iOS, Android, Windows desktop) starting Tuesday. The serendipitous discovery feature will initially be available only on the Mac, then on the iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows next year.

A Web Clipper capability (described below), which brings Evernote Notes to a Google search, will be available only on Google Chrome at launch, but it will soon be available on Firefox, followed by Safari and Internet Explorer.

The Future of IT Services

I’ve been working on this piece for a while. The challenge has always been keeping up with the trends and shifts occuring every 90 days. Generally, the focus of IT support services is changing. This change is happening faster Fortune 5000 companies but will eventially find its way down to all organizations, in one form or another. Overall, here’s our take on how things appear to be heading:

For years IT has understood itself as strictly a support service that responds to, instead of enacts, innovative change. In the future, IT leaders will face a host of multi-dimensional challenges as global business increases in technological complexity. Some of the challenges include harnessing mobilization and employees’ use of social media for business, developing both employee- and customer-facing business applications, streamlined analysis of big data, increased adoption of virtualized servers and storage, and streamlining cloud support, to name a few.   A number of analysts believe that the nut-and-bolts programming and easy to document support jobs will go to third-party providers outside the U.S. In its wake will be a need for IT workers with versatile skill sets not normally found within IT. Abilities such as project management (for intricate, multi-tiered IT projects), public speaking (for interfacing both with corporate business and clients), and mathematical expertise (for engineering and development tasks) are just some of the IT skills that will be in demand in the near future.

It will not only be a diversity of necessary skills, but where those skills can be used that will be crucial. For example, application development skills will be instrumental for those working in the service provider sector, software development area, or on IT teams within large or small organizations.

In the future, IT will be outward focused, business-centric, and business-enabling instead of simply a stop-gap, support service. IT will become a multi-pronged enabler for clients as well as an active agent for marshalling the power of technological innovation toward increasing a company’s ROI to gain a competitive advantage. In this regard, business-facing expertise and skills will be on equal footing with tech-based knowledge.

Today, there’s a huge amount of focus on getting more efficiency using virtualization, the cloud, Web 2.0, networking, and mobility. Better efficiency and innovation will reduce the number of technicians needed for certain tasks within the datacenter. Going forward, IT teams and organizations within mid-size and larger corporations will be smaller in size. This will all be due in equal measure to automation; trends such as virtualizing servers, storage, and desktops; access to cloud-based services; outsourcing beyond the U.S.; and the migration away from IT-based occupations.   It’s safe to bet that the pure technology positions will steadily diversify as complexity within the datacenter increases. This will include roles such as business-enterprise architects, business technologists, systems analysts, network designers, systems auditing, and project managers, including more rounded skills that expand knowledge bases and challenge traditional IT comfort zones.

The following are some of the key areas where traditional IT administration skill requirements will be changing and where some skills will become obsolete.   I. Programming   While coding and basic programming will be outsourced beyond the U.S., essentially for software that can run only on the PC, mobile programming is poised to take huge strides. This includes writing code specific to the operating systems for Android, Apple, and Windows Phone 7, among others. In the near future, the mobile market is set to dwarf the PC market in sales. This means traditional programming languages, such as Cobol, Delphi/Object Pascal, and Transact-SQL ColdFusion, are examples of older languages being phased out. Even tried-and-true Flash development is being eliminated. Taking their place, skills in languages such as the following will be increasingly in demand: MS.net, Python, Ruby, HTML5, RESTful Web Services, Javascript, and JQuery.   II. Datacenter   In terms of basic networking, a number of traditional IT operations will be superseded by higher-level skills or eliminated altogether. Typical network administrator tasks such as wiring and coupling blade servers, updating and installing patches, or provisioning storage will be outmoded skills due to new advancements that are already taking place. These include cloud sourcing for additional CPU power and storage allocation. Server and desktop virtualization will reduce the need for multiple administrators because automation and centralized management will enable a single individual to handle the tasks. This has already begun taking place, but we will see it occurring on a much greater level as these processes take a firmer hold in every datacenter.   In the area of communications, the consolidation trend continues. Instead of traditional telephony, Unified Communications (UC) represents a paradigm shift similar to what’s occurring in other technologies. UC combines presence, VoIP, IM, email, and conferencing into a single comprehensive service. Gone are the service technicians responsible for rewiring and maintenance. UC makes those skills unnecessary. In the future, one or two systems analysts will centrally handle communication implementation and flow from within the datacenter.

III. Data Technology

The exponential increase in data in the future has often been commented on. With the rise in mobilization, and all its attending media features, we will not only be producing more data, but companies’ demand for that data will increase as well. Business success will hinge on an organization’s ability to make sense of their accrued data and using it to achieve key strategic goals. With that will be the need for analysts who can identify and predict trends ahead of the competition as well as defining what data is needed and where to get it. This is just one example of technical capabilities being combined with business savvy and know-how to produce actionable results. Gone are the SQL database administrative duties. The ability to blend the unstructured (big data) with the structured (business interests) represents a unique skill set that illustrates that convergence of abilities that will be in greater demand.

An IT professional who has the technology background to offer abstract skills (math, engineering) as well as an ability to interact effectively with the business and service sector (public speaking, interpersonal skills) combined with the intangible (imaging and visualization, imagination) represents key attributes for the successful data technologist. These technicians can build meaningful, structured results out of often incoherent piles of data.

IV. Security

The 24/7 business cycle requires company infrastructures to always be up. Losing a day in transactions due to a security breach can be substantial in dollars, not just in the loss of credibility. Add to the mix the increase in mobile workers accessing company networks and the increase in the number of surface vectors has serious repercussions. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, malware run amok (Stuxnet, Flame), and cyber criminal concerns require the right security infrastructure architects to build alerting technologies, in-line defense tools, and systems designs that can repel such attacks. A number of companies will resort to third-party security providers as well as rely on cloud-based security services.

While security management skills will become increasingly important, these providers of cloud-based SaaS services will inherently provide efficient protection features, and mobile platforms will also offer better security. Within organizations, gone are the traditional back-up and recovery skill sets which will be relegated to third-party providers. According to David Foote, president and CEO of research firm Foote Partners LLC., “Securing information.will change in 2020, when companies will cast an even wider net over data security-including the data center, Internet connectivity, and remote access.”

Gone are the technicians who relied on security standardization, procedures, and auditing. Moving forward, security will be less about constructing layers of standardized controls within the perimeter. It will demand a careful, nuanced approach and smart solutions. New skills include those such as virtualization technologies, centralized managing capabilities via maturing dashboard tools, data mining, and the ability to implement management tools in a company’s public or private cloud.

The Importance of Software Updating

When the integrity of your system and network is at stake, neglecting a critical software update is the last task that should be placed on the back burner.

According to an article posted on Dark Reading over the summer “Six out of every 10 users of Adobe Reader are running unpatched versions of the program, leaving them vulnerable to a variety of malware attacks…”

All software updates, although seemingly trivial, can offer protection against a variety of vulnerabilities. Most of us will readily update our anti-virus software; we all understand that it can prevent a virus from taking control of our computer or deleting our data. While the antivirus software actively scans incoming files/emails, AV software is similar to a last line of defense; it is there when your computer has already been the target of an exploitation.

It is really the everyday applications such as Adobe PDF Reader, QuickTime, Adobe Flash and Microsoft Office that are prime candidates for exploitation by hackers if left unpatched.  Unbeknownst to many of us, there is software that can scan your computer and network and check for these un-patched systems. The software can report back exactly which software updates are missing, and then use another tool to actually exploit those vulnerabilities.

Depending on the severity of the security hole, an attacker could take complete control of your computer. An attacker could literally remote connect and disable the physical keyboard and mouse, leaving you to watch them do as they wish.

Granted, you could unplug the Ethernet port or power off the computer, but still terrifying to think about if you have confidential or proprietary data on your system.

Reportedly, the RSA hack that occurred earlier this year used Microsoft Excel to execute a VBA script to exploit an Adobe Flash vulnerability. The Excel script put a backdoor on the computer that allowed the attacker full access to the machine, as well as the networks the user had access to.

While an operating system update is annoying, having to install and restart your system in the middle of the day, they are critical at times. Patching your email, instant messenger, web browser, etc, should be a top priority. In fact, any software that is used around sensitive information should be regularly updated. Most, if not all, software that runs on your operating system will regularly check for updates.

However, make sure to check that any hardware peripheral devices that have software applications on them, such as a secure USB/HDD drive also automatically checks for its own software updates.

Tools for monitoring online feedback

I think there are a wide variety of ways of monitoring your feedback … although we probably don’t have enough space for all of them so I will just mention 3 that I have found really useful (plus they are FREE)!

Google Alerts – setting up Alerts about your brand name, current issues related to your brand or the names of competitors

Addictomatic – http://addictomatic.com/
Simply type in your business name and see where you appear on the web

And finally just a link to great website and a case study on Microsoft using Twitter to improve their Customer service.

http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-microsoft-xbox-uses-twitter-to-reduce-support-costs/

Open Source Organizer

This article will be part of a growing list of organizational tools to help you or your team work together. Much has been said of other programs, notably OneNote – but each of these other utilities have other features and may compliment programs you are already using. Here is a quick review of a program called VUE.

VUE is the Visual Understanding Environment. It’s a Windows program that’s a cross between a virtual corkboard, an outliner and a flowcharting tool, as you can see from the screen shot below. As a way to organize your thoughts, in the same way that you might do by shuffling pieces of paper around on your desk.

You can download VUE from http://vue.tufts.edu. It’s free, and open source, and runs on Mac, Windows and Linux. There’s also a 50-minute webinar at http://vue.tufts.edu/screencast/VUE-webinar-20090511.html, which you can watch if you really want to see just how powerful the program is.

 

Small Businesses – Hackers Next Target

Small businesses take note: Verizon recently just released its 2011 data breach report, and the findings have real implications for companies with fewer than 100 employees. The number of stolen records dropped dramatically to 4 million in 2010, down from 144 million in 2009. But the tally of confirmed breaches rose sharply to 761 from 141 the previous year.

How can we explain these numbers? Hackers are changing their tactics and chasing opportunities. They’ve noticed that many larger corporations are doing a better job of protecting their information. So black hats are honing in on lower-tier business targets—organizations with less savvy, maturity and investment in countermeasures.

Once they identify vulnerability, they exploit it. The information that hackers are targeting appears to be changing, too. Information simply used to impersonate—rip off—consumers and financial institutions isn’t enough for some criminals. There seems to be a rise in the targeting of information that may provide other types of benefits or advantages for business, government or military intelligence.

The good news: The vast majority of breaches are avoidable. They can be stopped when companies conduct the right assessments, identify vulnerabilities and take corrective action. Many of the remedies are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement. It’s all about the fundamentals of data management and information security. Now is the time to run some security checks, replace older firewalls and ensure your systems are up to date and scanned regularly.