Tag Archives: e-mail

4 E-mails You Should NEVER Open

17 May 17
lverbik
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No matter how “bomb-proof” we make your network, you and your employees can still invite a hacker in if you click on a link or open an attachment in an e-mail sent by a cybercriminal. Some spam is obvious (can you say, “Viagra at a discount”?) but others are VERY cleverly designed to sneak past all the filters and trick the recipient into opening the door. Known as a “phishing” e-mail, this still is the #1 way hackers circumvent firewalls, filters and antivirus, so it’s critical that you and your employees know how to spot a threatening e-mail. Here are four types of e-mail ploys you should be on high alert for.

The Authority E-mail. The most common phishing e-mails are ones impersonating your bank, the IRS or some authority figure. The rule of thumb is this: ANY e-mail that comes in where 1) you don’t PERSONALLY know the sender, including e-mails from the IRS, Microsoft or your “bank,” and 2) asks you to “verify” your account should be deleted. Remember, ANY important notification will be sent via old-fashioned snail mail. If it’s important, they can call you.

The “Account Verification” E-mail. Any e-mail that asks you to verify your password, bank information or login credentials, OR to update your account information, should be ignored. No legitimate vendor sends e-mails asking for this; they will simply ask you upon logging in to update or verify your information if that’s necessary.

The Typo E-mail. Another big warning sign is typos. E-mails coming from overseas (which is where most of these attacks come from) are written by people who do not speak or write English well. Therefore, if there are obvious typos or grammar mistakes, delete it.

The Zip File, PDF Or Invoice Attachment. Unless you specifically KNOW the sender of an e-mail, never, ever open an attachment. That includes PDFs, zip files, music and video files and anything referencing an unpaid invoice or accounting file (many hackers use this to get people in accounting departments to open e-mails). Of course, ANY file can carry a virus, so better to delete it than be sorry.

Professional E-mail Addresses

04 May 16
lverbik
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Are you turning business away with your e-mail “saddress”?

We see it all the time and there’s just no excuse for it. It’s just sad, really, when a company is still using an e-mail address that projects a less than professional image to its recipients. What do we mean by that?

Look at your e-mail address. Does it end in @hotmail, @gmail, or—don’t make me say it–@aol? I just URLed in my mouth a little. The time has come to make some simple changes that will have far reaching effects on your business and its perception with your intended audience.

The fastest, easiest and most inexpensive change you can make is to have an e-mail account that links to your business’s domain. For example, joesmith@WidgetCorp.com. This is a simple matter of linking any e-mail account you may use, such as gmail, through your company’s domain. The back end secret is yours; recipients will never see signs of gmail. They only see a business that’s all business.

Another suggestion is to avoid using a clever descriptive name or nickname as part of your e-mail address, like SwankyLover@WidgetCorp.com. You might think it is clever and that it makes you stand out—and it does, but not in the way you want for a professional business. Customers will not find it easy to take SwankyLover seriously, nor will they risk taking a chance on a “persona” rather than a straightforward actual person. Use your name. It shows you are professional and mean business. It lets people know who they’re talking to.

Make sure the body of those e-mails look good, too, by regularly employing templates. There’s nothing worse than a customer receiving hastily written e-mails littered with typos. The easy way to avoid that is the use of templates—pre-written text for the types of communications you have to send out repeatedly. You can actually purchase template programs for this scenario. Another way is to create your own set of templates and store them on Google drive so that all of your employees have access to them. This also creates a consistent level of quality across the company and helps employees who may not have the writing skill set you wish they did.

A closing tip: if you and your employees have signature lines (bio type descriptions) at the end of your e-mails, keep it to one or two sentences, not a novella. If you want people to know more, just include a link so they can make the choice themselves to click through. Putting people off by annoying them with excessive self-promotion is something easily avoided—so why not take the terse road.

We’re delighted to help you take the sad out of e-mail addresses and show your business in the best possible light. For other tips and tricks to gain the advantage using technology, contact TechnoAdvantage today.

Protecting Against Ransomware Threats

16 Dec 14
lverbik
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In case you aren’t familiar with that term, ransomware refers to programs that hold your computer or hard drive hostage, demanding that you pay a ransom fee (hence the name) if you want to get your information back.

Once users become infected, they see an error screen that tells them they have a fixed amount of time, usually 100 hours, to send money to the virus developer before all information on the drive will be unavailable, deleted or encrypted.

Obviously, that can put anyone in a tough position. So, let’s look at what we know about one of the best known types of ransomware called a crypto virus, what you can do if it infects your computer, and the steps you can take to avoid it.

Like many other computer viruses, the crypto virus spreads through email attachments, infected programs and compromised websites.  Typically, these are disguised as PDF or Word files, hiding in official-looking emails.

Once you open the message, and the accompanying attachment, the virus hijacks your computer, and only the ransom screen will be shown.

Attackers may use one of several different approaches to extort money from their victims:

  • After a victim discovers he cannot open a file, he receives an email ransom note demanding a relatively small amount of money in exchange for a private key. The attacker warns that if the ransom is not paid by a certain date, the private key will be destroyed and the data will be lost forever.
  • The victim is duped into believing he is the subject of a police inquiry. After being informed that unlicensed software or illegal web content has been found on his computer, the victim is given instructions for how to pay an electronic fine.
  • The malware surreptitiously encrypts the victim’s data but does nothing else. In this approach, the data kidnapper anticipates that the victim will look on the Internet for how to fix the problem and makes money by selling anti-ransomware software on legitimate websites.

To protect against data kidnapping, Techno Advantage urges all users to backup data on a regular basis. If an attack occurs, do not pay a ransom. Instead, wipe the hard drive clean and restore data from the backup.

What To Do If Your Computer Becomes Infected With the Crypto Virus

The first thing to do, if you detect that one of your computers has become infected with the crypto virus, is to disconnect it from the network. Also, avoid connecting the computer to any external drives or storage devices. It is possible for connected computers, or entire networks, to become infected from a single workstation that’s sharing information.

Next, speak with a Techno Advantage IT professional immediately.

If you have a reliable backup and data recovery system in place, your IT professional can probably restore your files and computer back to a previous save point within an hour or two.

Here are 6 additional tips to help keep you, your business and your equipment safe.

  • Keep regular backups of your important files.
  • Use an anti-virus, and keep it up to date.
  • Keep your operating system and software up to date with patches.
  • Review the access control settings on any network drives you have.
  • Don’t give administrative privileges to your user accounts.

Don’t let the crypto virus keep you up at night…just be prepared with a solid backup solution and a trusted Techno Pro to guide you.  Contact us today for a consultation!

Accomplish More On Your Mobile Device

01 Dec 14
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Microsoft announced today that they have acquired Acompli, an email app available on iOS and Android. Acompli is designed to help you work faster and smarter with emails and calendars on your mobile device. The service works with a variety of messaging services including Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, Google and Yahoo. Unlike most systems that split email and calendar management into separate apps Accompli allows for both in a single app, all with keeping your most important email at the top.

Without an Outlook app available for iOS, this would seem to help close a gap in Microsoft’s mobile offerings.

“This acquisition is part of our company-wide effort to help people accomplish more with their mobile devices.” Rajesh Jha, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President, said in a blog post.

This is not a new direction for Microsoft. Earlier this year the company released mobile versions of their office suite for iOS and Android. They quickly rose to the top of the app charts.

With email being so central to most people’s work lives, having a single, simple location to handle all of the various inboxes most users have, similarly to the role of Outlook on the PC, would make life easier for many.

Techno Advantage wants to help make your life easier by being your trusted IT consultant.  We are a Microsoft Certified Partner and can help you explore all the options available to you and your business.  Contact us today!