Tag Archives: techno

Your #1 Hacking Threat Is INSIDE Your Own Organization

21 Feb 18
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Every movie portrays hackers in pretty much the same way. When it comes to crunch time, they crack their knuckles, sit down at the keyboard, and begin tapping away at lightning speed. The timer is ticking down, the music reaches its peak of tension, but the hacker remains cool as a cucumber. Within seconds, they’re in, they’ve “hacked the mainframe” and prompted high fives from their swarm of cohorts waiting in the wings with bated breath.

In reality, hackers are rarely up against some impenetrable digital fortress, digging into the passwords of a megacorporation or the US government. The vast majority of the time, they’re nothing more than a ragtag group of bored criminals up against some unassuming small business. And more often than not, netting thousands of dollars from ordinary businesses just going about their day-to-day routines requires little coding at all, and certainly no “mainframe hacking.” According to IBM’s 2016 Cyber Security Intelligence Index, 60% of the time, all it takes is an unwitting insider to accidentally leave the company’s digital front door wide open.

The Dangers Of Human Error

Cybercriminals may be experts in sniffing out the slightest vulnerability in your company’s security, but a lot of the time, the data they need practically falls into their laps. Every day, internal e-mails are mistakenly addressed to the wrong people, sensitive info is inadvertently made public and employees unknowingly click on malicious links.

As technology has progressed, the number of potential threats has increased exponentially. Average Joes simply can’t be bothered to keep up with hacking trends, and therefore are prone to opening your business up to cyber-attack by simply bumbling through their daily activities. If they’ve never been taught, how could they possibly know otherwise?

Digital Impostors

One of the easiest ways hackers can gain access to your business’s valuable data is by posing as a trusted figure within your organization. This may sound complicated, but in today’s world of social media and constant interactions through screens, it really isn’t. Hackers can use data pulled from Facebook to either hijack the e-mail accounts and identities of employees or pretend to be them outright. After that, they can send peculiar requests to other members of your team. After all, if your CEO, Controller, or Office Manager sends you an urgent e-mail, you’re probably going to open it. In many cases, by gaining access to a particular team member’s credentials, hackers can bring down barriers and decrease the effectiveness of your security network, while staying completely invisible.

Smarten Up Your Team

No matter how comprehensive and powerful your cyber security software may be, it’s not going to do much if an unsuspecting employee welcomes the bad guys into your network. With that in mind, it’s vital that we provide specific training to our teams to truly make data security a priority.

But don’t do this alone — after all, you’re not the security expert. Instead, ask us (or your current provider) to equip you and your employees with the know-how to stave off digital attacks. We provide comprehensive services for you and your team, including:

  • Giving employees a crash course on contemporary hacking strategies. You’ll likely be shocked by how many of them don’t even know what phishing is. During the training, we will provide specific examples of potential attacks – especially phishing – and how to avoid them.

 

  • Putting systems in place empowering employees to alert the organization of vulnerabilities. For example, if John in manufacturing receives a suspicious e-mail, the entire company should be on the lookout within minutes.

 

  • Teaching your employees that software updates and patches are more than just a nuisance, they’re a necessity for up to-date security. When a new patch for a key program is released, we’ll make sure your team knows it’s available and that they shouldn’t avoid installing it until later, and provide them with the tools to make it happen.

 

  • Testing your team on what they’ve learned, such as sending out false suspicious e-mails containing shady links. If anybody fails the test, there’s still work to do.

Your people are your greatest asset, but they can also be your biggest liability. In the modern world, it can feel impossible to protect yourself from data breach. Luckily, when it comes to your team, there’s one potential avenue for hackers you can fix with a little perseverance.

Business Technology Trends In 2018 To Help You Run Your Company More Efficiently

07 Feb 18
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Telecommuting is the industry standard. Today, remote working is more prevalent than ever, thanks to modern software and technology. Take advantage of this shift to reduce overhead and improve employee happiness.

Cloud services continue to dominate. Ninety-two percent of modern businesses are using one or more cloud-based programs, a number that only continues to climb. The productivity and ease-of-access fixes that the cloud offers are simply too powerful to ignore. Live video improves business-customer relations. With live chat utterly pervasive, we’ll see a shift to live video chat to further improve the customer experience. Face-to face interactions, even through the Internet, provide a level of connection impossible in years past.

HomeBusinessMag.com 9/5/2017

If You Think Your Business Is Too Small To Be Hacked…Then You’re Probably A Cybercriminal’s No. 1 Target!

23 Jan 18
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In a world of rampant cybercrime, hackers thrive on the blind faith of their targets. Despite high-profile digital security breaches showing up in the news nearly every week, most people assume they’re safe from attack.

The thinking goes that while Fortune 500 corporations like J.P. Morgan, Sony, Tesco Bank, and Target have lost millions of dollars of data breaches in recent years, my business is far too small to justify a hacker’s attention…right?

Wrong. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. According to StaySafeOnline.org, attacks on small businesses now account for over 70% of data breaches, a number that appears to be on the rise. Close to half of small businesses have been compromised, ransomware attacks alone have skyrocketed a whopping 250% since 2016, and incidents of phishing have followed suit, as reported by Media Planet.

Owners of small businesses might be excused for erroneously believing themselves safe. After all, the hundreds of little guys paying out thousands of dollars in digital ransoms each and every day are a lot less newsworthy than, say, the CIA’s recent hacking by the mysterious Shadow Brokers, or the 143 million sensitive customer records stolen in the recent Equifax fiasco. The lack of visibility of the more frequent, smaller-profile incidents plaguing the country can easily lull us into a dangerous false sense of security.

But why would a team of hackers zero in on a small-town operation when they could be targeting a giant like Google? Well, which building is a petty thief more likely to target — the bank in the center of a busy downtown, packed with security guards and high-tech theft prevention equipment, or the house in an affluent part of the city, which the owners always keep unlocked while they’re on vacation? Make no mistake — these hacker gangs aren’t boosting a couple flat screens and a box of jewelry. They’re gutting small businesses with ransoms that stretch to the very edge of their means, as much as $256,000 for a single attack, according to one TechRepublic analysis.

Of course, any small business owner will struggle to afford the security measures implemented by giant corporations. However, there is a balance to be struck between affordability and vulnerability. With just a little research, it’s actually quite easy to find an array of robust and comprehensive digital security solutions to protect your company. Such programs can turn your business from low-hanging fruit into an impenetrable fortress.

Even if you’ve somehow managed to make it through the past few years without a data breach, statistically, you can be confident that hackers will come for your business one day. With that in mind, it’s important to be prepared. Just because you haven’t had a life-threatening illness in the past two years doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a wide reaching health insurance policy. Just because your car hasn’t broken down since you bought it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t regularly change the oil and invest in car insurance. And just like your car, your network security requires regular maintenance and upkeep to stay effective. If you grab your security software from the bargain bin, install it and forget it, you’re only marginally safer than you were before installing the barrier in the first place. Cyber security isn’t something you purchase to check off a box and give yourself an imaginary peace of mind. Instead, it’s an investment in your company’s future, the safety of your customers, and the longevity of your livelihood.

If your business isn’t too small to attract the attacks of hackers — and we guarantee it isn’t — then it’s certainly precious enough to protect. Cybercriminals will come for your business one day, but equipped with a set of up-to-date, powerful security protocols, you can rest easy knowing they’ll go away empty handed.

 

4 Sneaky Ways Cybercriminals Used Phishing In 2017

10 Jan 18
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Cybercriminals were more active in 2017 than ever before, with a staggering array of high-profile hacking incidents in the news each month. Here are four of the ways hackers used phishing to penetrate some of the most secure networks in the country last year.

Shipping Info Scam: Last July, an Internet security company called Comodo outlined a phishing strategy that was zeroing in on small businesses. Hackers sent phishing e-mails out to more than 3,000 businesses with the subject line “Shipping information.” When the recipient clicked the tracking link in the body of the e-mail, it downloaded malware to their PCs.

WannaCry: This widespread ransomware exploited a weak point in the Windows operating system to infiltrate networks across the country. Once it was in, the malware locked users out of their files and demanded a hefty ransom to retrieve their data.

The Shadow Brokers: Last April, the ominously named Shadow Brokers released a huge number of classified tools used by the NSA, including Windows exploits, which hackers then used to infect businesses throughout the world.

Google Docs Phishing: In May, hackers sent out false Google Docs editing requests to over 3 million individuals. You know how the story goes — when recipients clicked the link, phishers gained access to their entire Gmail account.

 

SmallBizTrends.com 08/29/2017

Is Cell-Phone Addiction Ruining Your Organization’s Ability To Function?

27 Dec 17
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Here’s a scary new stat: according to a new Baylor University study published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, the average female student spends 10 hours a day on her cell phone, with male students only slightly behind at eight hours. You KNOW that means they have to be texting and staring at their cell phone during times when it’s horribly inappropriate, such as while driving, in class, at work, etc. Ten hours! Think about that!

The next time you go out to dinner, take a look around. It’s becoming a common scene at restaurants for every single person sitting at the table—Dad, Mom and all the kids—to have their noses buried in a cell phone. A Disney commercial shows a family at one of the parks with repeated scenes of their 14ish-looking daughter paying no mind to anyone, not talking, not interacting, but engrossed in her cell phone. At the end, she texts her dad, who’s standing next to her, “Best vacation ever.” Everyone smiles and the parents are relieved. Seriously? When did texting someone who was standing next to you become acceptable for thanking them? What about looking them in the eye and connecting? I suppose it’s no worse than texting a birthday greeting or e-mailing someone a sympathy card. My grandmother would roll over in her grave.

Of course, it’s a rampant epidemic that you can practically guarantee is leaking into your organization. Not only does this make your employees distracted and therefore horribly unproductive and unfocused, but if you have employees who drive or operate heavy machines, YOU can now be held liable if they are checking company e-mail or doing other work on their phone and crash or harm themselves or someone else because they were distracted. And, of course, it can’t be helpful for employees to constantly be checking Facebook or Pinterest or playing Candy Crush during WORK hours when they’re supposed to be productive, serving your clients.

Since the holidays are about getting together with the ones we love, how about actually being present with them? I wonder how many family dinner tables in America are mostly people sitting at the same table, ignoring each other because they’re too busy texting someone who isn’t there, playing Farmville or doing some other unimportant, unproductive online activity. So many people are NOT where they are. They can’t seem to actually sit and TALK to a person. Engage with them. Be attentive. Listen. I see this more and more with teenagers who don’t know how to introduce themselves or have a polite and meaningful conversation. Many can’t write because they’re so used to communicating in 140-character tweets. Obama caught hell (rightfully so) for having his cell phone out, taking a selfie at Nelson Mandela’s memorial. The Kardashian clan were caught checking their phones and texting at the Music Awards during the moment of silence held for the kid who was killed in Ferguson, MO. Utter disrespect. But where does it end?

I have a strong recommendation: put your cell phone someplace that cannot be accessed when you’re working. Turn off all digital distractions such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., etc., etc., when you’re engaging with your kids. Break out a board game. PLAY. The next time you’re talking to your spouse, look them in the eye and listen. If you’re talking with someone on the phone, get away from your computer. Just turn your chair. They can TELL when you’ve stopped listening because your eyeballs are glued to your e-mail.

 

Why Hiring The Cheapest Computer Support Company Will Actually Cost You More

13 Dec 17
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As anybody working in IT will tell you, the most common question we get isn’t, “Why is my computer running so slowly?” or “Why is my Internet not working?” It’s, “What do you charge for your services?” With so many IT companies clamoring for your attention, it makes sense that you’d want to look for the most inexpensive, cost-efficient option, right?

The problem is that this question doesn’t get to the heart of the issue. Sure, any IT company can offer rock-bottom prices, but as with anything else, those savings are going to come with fewer, lower-quality IT services. Also, many cheaper services say they are inexpensive, but they typically have slow response times and nickel and dime you over everything.  Instead of asking about price right off the bat, the better question is, “What will I get for my money?”

With cheapo IT companies, the answer is not much. Maybe they’ll be there when the server breaks down or if Microsoft Word is acting weird on your computer. But you can bet they won’t help you implement IT systems that will prevent real, catastrophic issues from arising – the kinds of things that determine the success or failure of a company at the most basic level.

Today, business and technology go hand in hand. It’s an inescapable fact that good tech forms the pillars upon which successful companies stand. Many business owners still insist on cutting corners with IT, hiring cheap and inexperienced “professionals” to protect and support the most fundamental aspects of their operation.

Of course, it’s hard to fault them for doing so. Without a firm grasp of a business’s IT needs, it’s all too easy for a subpar, would-be IT partner to convince an owner they meet the company’s requirements. That’s why the question, “What will I get for my money?” is so important. IT support coverage needs to be comprehensive, addressing every potential sink-or-swim crisis before it actually happens. The integrity of your network infrastructure should support your business, rather than force you to run around putting out fires.

A downed server or temporarily unreliable network might seem like minor issues, but even the smallest of IT problems can easily snowball into an expensive nightmare that threatens your company’s very existence.

Take a company that stores all its data on a central, networked server, for example. Maybe they’re a content creation firm, with terabytes of custom-designed client marketing materials stashed away, or a large law practice with thousands of vital case documents. They were reluctant to spend much on IT support, so they went with the cheapest option available. Of course, regular server maintenance wasn’t included in their package, but they assumed their trusty hardware would keep kicking for at least a few more years. But when an employee tries to access the database, an error pops up. Upon further investigation, it turns out the outdated server has finally broken down, apparently for good. All those documents, all that data instrumental to the basic functionality of the company, is irrecoverable – thousands of hours of work (and thousands of dollars) down the drain, and all because of an issue that would easily have been caught and prevented by a team of qualified IT experts.

When technology works, it’s easy to imagine that it’ll continue working without issue. But the fact is that a computer network requires constant, behind-the-scenes monitoring and maintenance to ensure it stays up and running, not to mention secure.

From hordes of hackers waiting in the wings for you to slip up, to hardware failure, to natural disasters, rogue employees and a million other IT threats, it’s important to ensure the stability of your network before a problem comes knocking. Cheap Band-Aid solutions work great until the day they cost you thousands. It’s better to invest in a team of real IT experts, and avoid crisis altogether. It’s much cheaper to prevent something from breaking than it is to replace it altogether.

Does Your Business Need Data Breach Insurance?

29 Nov 17
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In the past few years, data breaches into small businesses by malicious hackers have climbed to an all-time high. According to data compiled by the Identity Theft Resource Center, at least 1,093 data breaches occurred in 2016, 40% more than the previous year. And this trend shows no sign of slowing down. In response to rampant cyber-attacks across the country, many small businesses have turned to data breach insurance, designed to financially protect and support victims of malicious hacking. If your system becomes infected by ransomware, the insurance can cover the cost and guide you through the process so you can mitigate damage and stress.

If your business creates and stores vast quantities of sensitive data — especially if that data is a vital asset to the company — you should at least consider protecting yourself with data breach insurance. When all else fails, it can mean the difference between shutting down for good and staying afloat in the midst of crisis.

SmallBizTrends.com 9/5/2017

Top Tricks Cybercriminals Use To Hack Your Computer Network

16 Nov 17
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There’s no denying that cybercrime is on the rise. All it takes is a glance at a few big news stories from the past couple years. Equifax gave up the information of over 100 million people, many of them not even users, to a surgical hacker attack. Last May, over 57,000 infections spread from a single ransomware source across 99 separate countries, with damage reaching everything from hospitals and businesses to vital public utilities like the German railway network. And how many high-profile celebrities have had their phone’s picture feeds hacked and had to deal with the scandal of some maliciously leaked photographs, some of which they’d deleted years before?

But it’s not just massive corporations like Equifax or JPMorgan or actresses like Jennifer Lawrence that are being targeted day in and day out. It’s small businesses, many equipped with far less robust security measures in place. In fact, if you’re an entrepreneur, it’s almost a statistical guarantee that hackers will target your business at some point down the road.

In your company’s battle against cybercrime, it’s essential to stay abreast of the rapidly shifting digital landscape. Only the most up-to-date security technology can even hope to protect you from the ever more sophisticated thieves pounding at your digital door.

However, it’s also important to stay informed. Here are a few of the sneakiest and most common tricks thieves use to snatch your vital data:

Social Engineering Hacking, though it can cost you thousands and thousands of dollars and do just as much damage as its digital counterparts, doesn’t require a single line of code. Instead, they find weaknesses in the “human network” of a business. For example, skilled scammers can call your business’s cell phone provider, posing as the CEO’s spouse, and convince the customer service rep to hand over passwords, Social Security numbers, and sensitive personal information. Many IT departments are susceptible to this same scam.

Often, social engineering is used to gather information that will later be used for a different strategy. Such as …

E-mail Phishing, which hijacks (or fabricates) an e-mail account with trusted authority and sends users an e-mail requesting they click a particular link. Maybe the e-mail looks like it’s from the service department of your company’s time-tracking software, seeking to remedy an error. But when the link is clicked, ransomware or other malware spreads like wildfire through the system, and the user is at the mercy of the hackers. Usually, this is used to extort exorbitant sums of money out of small businesses or individuals. Symantec reports that just last year, over 7,000 businesses of all sizes fell prey to some form of phishing scam, costing them more than $740 million in total.

Brute-Force Password Attacks Or Password Guessing are just what they sound like. Either a hacker uses a software that, after putting in some data about the target (for example, the name of their dog or their anniversary), runs through potential keys ad infinitum. With sufficient information about the target, it’s only a matter of time before the software breaks through. Or, more often than you might think, hackers can simply guess the password. Infiltrators have common passwords that use real words or common structures memorized and can run through hundreds before giving up.

Fault Injection is a different story, usually only used by the most dedicated, sophisticated hackers around the world. Cyberthieves will use a complicated software to scan the source code of their internal software or network, noting every potential weak point in the system. Then, by splicing in strings of code, they can penetrate through and steal data, inject a virus, or employ other digital mischief.

How To Protect Yourself Against These Threats

As they say, forewarned is forearmed, but it’s not enough to keep your eye out for common hacker strategies. As the progress of technology marches on, so do the techniques and softwares used by hackers, resulting in an infinite number of permutations of ways they can penetrate your system.

The only way to be truly secure is by utilizing bleeding-edge security solutions to ensure you stay ahead of the breakneck developments in hacker technology. With constantly updating software dedicated to security, along with some know-how, you can rest a lot easier knowing your data is safe.

What is VoIP Technology?

01 Sep 17
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Is it time for your business to abandon that ancient land line phone and discover the flexibility and convenience of VoIP technology? If so, you’re in luck because we’re working on a series of blog posts on this topic.  Let’s jump right in and learn the basics…

When you install VoIP technology into your home or business, you’ll have the ability to talk to others using Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP.)  All that means is that you’ll be able to use the phone that’s connected to the internet to make calls.

Instead of phone lines that traditionally run over the electrical or phone lines in your home already, VoIP uses your internet connection instead.

In most cases, you won’t be able to tell the difference in using VoIP over other phone technology.  It gives you the same basic results.  It sounds easy, right?  It really is that simple.

To do this, several key things will be necessary.

  1. You will need to connect your standard telephone to an adapter unit that is VoIP qualified or get a new internet ready phone unit. You may also use a microphone equipped computer to make your calls instead of a phone.
  2. When you pick up the phone to dial your friend across the ocean, the VoIP adapter realizes what you are doing and turns the voice signals you are sending into your phone into digital based signals. These are then sent across the ocean through the Internet, instead of traveling through any phone line.
  3. Your friend receives your call in the same way. He or she will pick up the phone when you call and then VoIP goes to work again.  This time it translates the digital like signals back into a standard voice transmission.  When your friend uses their phone, they hear your voice, nothing more.

As you can see, it really doesn’t make much of a difference in the experience that you have using the telephone.  You’ll be doing the same thing that you are already doing.

Here’s how it works:

Phone Call –To- Adapter- Internet – Adapter –To- Phone

Although it may seem like this process takes time, it really does not.  It will take little to no time to convert your voice into a digital signal to go over the internet service that you have and back into your voice so your friend will hear you.  In fact, the process happens so fast you may not even realize what is happening at all!

Computer Communication

Another option that you may have comes in the form of using the computer in your home or business to make your calls.

In order to do this, you will need to have a computer that has a microphone built in.  This microphone will serve as your communication tool.

When you make a call, you will simply use the software that is installed on your computer to call your friend.  When they answer, you can talk to them without any type of handset.  Instead, you’ll use the microphone to talk into.

The process is still the same.  The computer will take your voice and translate it into a digital signal which is then sent over the internet to your friend’s computer.  They can either use the phone or their own computer to talk to you.  The voice once again changes from a digital signal into an actual voice and you hear your friend, just as you would if you had dialed their phone number into your phone.

You can also do this by using a computer that is equipped with a headset that allows you to speak into it for more privacy.

As you can see, VoIP technology is quite easy to use and can help your business stay connected to your clients, suppliers and associates around the world. Techno Advantage can help you get the right equipment, ensure that your connection is optimized and maybe even save money!

If you are considering VoIP technology for your business, contact our Techno Pros here at Techno Advantage. 

Why Your Current Antivirus, Backup, And Firewall Have Been Rendered Completely USELESS (And What You Need To Do About It)

16 Aug 17
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At the end of World War I, German engineer Arthur Scherbius constructed a device that would become central in another worldwide conflict of unimaginable magnitude over 20 years later: the Enigma machine. The machines, which steadily became more complex with each iteration, consisted of a series of rotors that, by themselves, encrypted messages input via the attached typewriter. Each rotor performed a simple substitution cipher, but when run through multiple rotors, the encryption reached a staggering level of complexity.

Initially used for transmitting sensitive company secrets in the commercial sector, the technology was eagerly adopted by the German military machine prior to World War II. After war broke out across Europe once again, Enigma encoding became central to the operation of the Axis powers, used for sending vital, sensitive intelligence across the airwaves. Due to the complexity of the Enigma system, the Germans were certain that the code would not, and could not, be broken.

But the Germans were wrong. Using photographs of stolen Enigma operating manuals obtained by a German spy, the Polish General Staff’s Cipher Bureau managed to construct an Enigma machine of their own, enabling them to covertly decrypt substantial amounts of Axis intercepts. Ahead of the impending invasion of Poland, the Poles shared their knowledge with the French and British military to expedite the defeat of the Germans. A massive team at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire, led by code-breaking master Alan Turing, became the central location for Allied efforts to keep up with Enigma operations.

Germany, still convinced the code was fundamentally unbreakable, continued using Enigma for a wide array of communications. But even the most complicated four-rotor Enigma systems were eventually decrypted. Great pains were taken to ensure the Germans never learned their precious code had been broken, labeling any intelligence gained from Enigma as “Ultra,” keeping the significance of Bletchley Park’s operations under wraps. Ultra-intelligence was used sparingly to avoid German suspicion.

The efforts of the Polish Cipher Bureau, Alan Turing, Bletchley Park, and the hundreds of men and women who contributed to the cracking of the Enigma code were described as “decisive” in theshortening of the war, and, at the high end, are estimated to have saved over 14 million lives.

Much like the Germans who assumed Enigma was uncrackable, most business owners believe their current, potentially outdated, cyber security measures will keep their data safe. But, in the contemporary age where digital information is as precious as gold, cybercriminals are working around the clock to penetrate even the most robust security solutions. You can bet they’ve already created a workaround for your current antivirus. What was good enough before may not be good enough today. After all, it’s simply impossible that a security solution from even two years back could be equipped to defend your precious data from a cutting-edge hacking technology that didn’t even exist when it was created.

Today, companies that fail to stay abreast of the latest cyber security trends — clinging foolishly to their own Enigma — are certain to pay the price down the line. Once the lock is picked, you need a new lock, and criminals are cracking new locks each and every day.

Luckily, as your IT provider, we’re cyber security experts, and we constantly seek the latest and most robust security solutions. Don’t leave your company’s security up to a false sense of confidence. Always be looking at options to upgrade your digital security and make it a sure thing.