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Tech 2020
Weekly Cyber Security Tips

Designed for your Cyber Safety

Tech 2020
Weekly Cyber Security Tips

With phishing and spoofing emails on the rise, we want to help keep you safe in the inter'NET' of things. We’ve put together some ‘phishing tips’ that are aimed to help you identify phishing, or spoofing, emails. 

Tip 25: Look out for mistakes in grammar and spelling and watch out for threatening language!

Legitimate companies take their emails seriously. After all, their reputation is on the line. Always read through the email carefully, and if you find major spelling errors and/or poor grammar, steer clear of engaging in that email, and report anything suspicious.


Be wary of emails that include threatening or drastic language in the subject line. A common phishing tactic involves invoking a sense of fear, or urgency. If you receive an email which claims your “account has been suspended” or you had an “unauthorized login attempt”, beware! This could be an indication of a potential phishing attack.




Tech Tip #24:  The way an email is addressed (and signed) can reel you in - ‘hook, line…and sinker!’

It’s a good idea to get in the habit of analyzing who (and how) an email is addressed. If it’s addressed vaguely to a “Valued Customer,” then your red flag should go up. Legitimate businesses will address their emails by using a personal salutation, including your first and last name.


Next, you should always look at the way the email is signed. Phishing emails generally lack details about the signer. If there’s no company information, and no indication of how you can contact the sender, there’s a good chance you’re being  baited! A legitimate business sending a legitimate email will always provide you with their contact details.




Tech Tip #23: Be wary of the sender’s display name


One of the most popular phishing tactics used by cybercriminals is spoofing the display name of an email. Emails that arrive in your inbox using an address such as 'My Bank Account' <accounts@secure.com> should indicate a red flag and shouldn’t be trusted.


These emails appear to be legitimate because the inbox will only show the display name as ‘My Bank Account’. But chances are, 'My Bank Account' doesn't own the secure.com domain. Therefore, never trust the display name and always check the email address in the ‘From’ section of the header. If it looks suspicious, don’t open the email!


Furthermore, if you look the email over, be sure not click on any links! You can hover the mouse over any links attached to the email to see if the address looks suspicious, and if you have the urge to test the link, simply open a new window and type the website address in full. This is much safer than clicking on links embedded in unsolicited emails.




Tech Tip #22:  There are no bullet-proof cyber protection plans, and like many things, the best protection is prevention.  However, nothing can take away the fact that the quickest key to getting back up and running lies in having a robust back up.  

When you do, make sure that you take a multi-prong approach to your back up strategy that ensures that you have three copies of your data in two different places, and that one of those places is completely off-site from the other.  This simple 3-2-1 rule will help you get back to business sooner than later in the case of a cyber-attack.

 


Tech Tip #21:  When it comes to ransomware, prevention is the best defense.  Make sure you have the following things in place, in addition to a robust back up system.  

- use a multi-layered strategy for your IT security that include commercial grade firewalls and anti-virus

- spend time and money on user-training – most attacks are because of employer error, so teach your team how to spot bogus emails and teach them best practices for surfing the net and engaging in on-line correspondence

-  make sure that your security software is updated regularly with all available patches, this will proactively help you keep new cyber threats at bay.
 
- use a multi-layered strategy for your IT security that include commercial grade firewalls and anti-virus

- spend time and money on user-training – most attacks are because of employer error, so teach your team how to spot bogus emails and teach them best practices for surfing the net and engaging in on-line correspondence

-  make sure that your security software is updated regularly with all available patches, this will proactively help you keep new cyber threats at bay.
 


Tech Tip #20:   Being the strong, silent type when you get hit with Ransomware is not really the best thing to do.

First, you are going to want to make sure you get all users that have reported being attacked, or that have been affected by the attack, off the network.  

Once you have a handle on the cause of the infection (perhaps identified the phishing scheme or bogus email with malicious link), share an alert with other users to let them know what they need to watch out for.  If there is anyone else outside of your company that needs to know about the attack, advise them as soon as possible.  It's better to be pro-active than to find out you’ve been the doorway for someone else’s cyber-attack.



Tip #19:  When it comes to ransomware, we urge you...Make No Pay Day for 'MayDay'!  – remember you are dealing with cyber criminals, and there is no system of checks and balances.  So even if they “say” they’ll give you the key to your data if you pay, it doesn’t mean they actually will.  Besides, cyber criminals “talk” and paying the ransom once, makes you a likely candidate to pay it again (assuming that you haven’t learned a valuable lesson the first time).  

Again, the best thing to do if you get hit with ransomware, or cryptolocker, is to leave your “bit-coin” in your pocket, take your computer off line, turn it off, and call your IT professional as soon as possible.    



Tip #18: If you get hit with ransomware, you may not know it at first. Sometimes, the cyber creep that is hacking you, will work behind the scenes to encrypt a good deal of your data before letting you know that you’ve been attacked. Other times, they will not wait long at all, so in these cases you should be able to retrace your steps to figure out what triggered the attack. Either way, some questions to ask the ransomware “victim” are:

- Did you open a document that might have seemed odd, or different in some way?

- Did you click on and open any links or attachments in an email?

- Did you visit any websites that you typically don’t go to?

Once you realize something is wrong, the most important thing to do after an attack is to isolate the infected computer(s) as soon as you can. Taking the computer(s) offline by disconnecting them from the network will enable you to learn more about the attack and where you need to begin to fix the issue.  

Remember to contact your IT professional. They can help you identify the encrypted files, and investigate how far the infection has spread. Getting help quickly is key, so act fast!


Tip # 17:  If you really want the highest level of security, some secure messaging apps offer a self-destruct functionality.  This function automatically deletes messages after they’ve been read.  Depending upon the level of security you need, this might be an option for you.

It is important to note that no messaging application is completely foolproof, but savvy business users that are concerned about the privacy of their emails can certainly look into additional measures to limit any exposure. As we close out this month, remember that the internet is the gateway of communication for your company but it also opens your front door to hackers and cyber criminals to rob you of your data and compromise your business.

Let us know if you would like help finding a secure messaging application that can work for you and your team.  We’re always here to help!


Tip # 16:  When it comes to sensitive data, many of our clients (particularly accountants) are finding an added level of security by using  a “Secure Messaging” platform.  This helps tremendously in keeping sensitive e-mail communications protected when exchanging private info with clients and your internal teams.

Secure messaging encrypts your messages before they leave your device.  Even if a message is intercepted, the encrypted messages cannot be read by anyone other than the intended recipient.  Want the ultimate confidence that your data will not be compromised?  Consider adding a secure messaging application today.

If you need a hand, we’re here to help.


This month we continue our focus and tech tips on updating network security.

Tip # 15:  Each week, news stories remind us of the constant threats that exist. In business, our exposure is just too great to rely on a simple router that can be purchased at Best Buy or Staples.

As we review our client’s system performance we have seen a noticeable difference between our customers in terms of Internet threats and intrusions that have a firewall and those that have a router.  

When it comes to potential cyber threats, clients that use commercial grade firewalls fare much better than customers who rely on a router.  

If you are ready to upgrade your router to make sure that it is doing all it can to protect you, we can help.


Tip #14: Let’s face it, there is no rest for the weary when it comes to tax season, particularly for businesses and the accountants that prepare their taxes. The information you share with your accountant is just about as confidential as it gets, so April it is the perfect time to focus our tech tips on the value of updating network security.

If you own your own business or particularly if you own your own accounting practice, you must protect your assets and data as well as the personal and financial information of your clients.

Off the shelf routers from box stores are simply not robust enough to truly guard you against the proliferation of internet threats and intrusions. Upgrading your router to a commercial grade firewall provides vastly superior protection for today’s network and is an easy, cost effective way to safeguard your company while potentially saving you thousands of dollars in costs associated with data loss and downtime.



Tip #13: World Backup Day is March 31st – are you ready?

Here we share 7 more tech tips for winning backup strategies.


  1. You’ll want to make sure you have a solid baseline for subsequent backups, so make sure that your first backup is robust.
  2. When you run your backup you will want to make sure that all files and folders (and partitions if you are doing an image backup) are included. Make sure to include things like your calendar, your address book and the all important e-mail. When trying to see where these things are stored on your system, you will want to open the application and look for the option for “file-storage settings” to find out.
  3. If you really and truly want your data to stay private, consider using password-protection and encryption.
  4. You can always save some space by compressing the backup.
  5. Always make sure that the data has been copied correctly, so use the application’s “verify” function to do this.
  6. Rather than run the backup twice, create a second copy of the backup so you have two (in case one gets damaged.  Remember in the future, you can save space and time by doing differential or incremental backups (this only backs up the data that has been changed since the last baseline backup).
  7. Lastly, never overwrite your original baseline backup, but feel free to overwrite any of the differential or incremental backups as you continue to create data.


Tip # 12: Here are some startling stats you should know:

  • Only 25% of users frequently back up their files, yet 85% of those same users say they are very concerned about losing important digital data.
  • More than 22% said backing up their PC’s was on their “To Do” list but they seldom do it.
  • 30% of companies report that they still do not have a disaster recovery program in place, and 2 out of 3 feel their data backup and disaster recovery plans have significant vulnerabilities.
  • 1 in 25 notebooks are stolen, broken or destroyed each year.
  • Today’s hard drives store 500 times the data stored on the drives of a decade ago. This increased capacity amplifies the impact of data loss, making mechanical precision more critical.


Tech Tip #11: In the words of William R. Stanek, “Because data is the heart of enterprise, it’s crucial for you to protect it”.  

We continue to concentrate on the importance of back up!  Here we share the key causes for data loss. 


o 78% Hardware or system malfunction
o 11% Human error
o 7% Software corruption or program malfunction
o 2% Computer viruses
o 1% Natural disasters

Simple anti-virus programs are not enough to keep you safe.  The biggest issues are addressed by keeping your hardware and systems updated and by providing on-going user training.  Both of these can help you greatly reduce the chances of data loss.  A reliable IT provider should be able to provide this for you…we certainly do! 




Tip #10:  To avoid a major IT security blow, make sure to ask your IT company to provide you with a professional management and monitoring plan so that you are never scrambling to salvage your data if disaster strikes.

Here are some of the things that a professional management and monitoring plan can do for you and your data.

Proactively manage, maintain and monitor:
  • All server event logs
  • Proper AV updates and activity
  • Backup status: On-site & Remote
  • Firewall activity
  • Hacking and Spam Attempts
  • Application services
  • Other web-based support and reports
Your IT company should use monitoring software, 24x7/365, sending them an alert for system events that require attention. The benefits of having management and monitoring include:

1) improved productivity (your systems will be consistently updated and working at optimal levels).

2) greater reliability (small issues can be identified and dealt with early on before they create larger issues).

3) significant cost savings (pro-active support is always less expensive and more consistently delivered than reactive).




Tech Tip #9: To Celebrate World Back Up Day (March 31st), we’re dedicating the entire month of March to data backup awareness. Each week we’ll provide you with valuable statistics, tips and information regarding the importance of backing up your data.

First, we want to share some startling facts.  

Did you know that:

· Only 34% of companies test their backups and of those who do, 77% have found failures.

· 60% of companies that lose their data will go out of business within 6 months of the disaster.

· Over ½ of critical corporate data resides on unprotected PC desktops and laptops.

· The average failure of disk and tape drives is 100% - all drivers eventually fail.


Don’t allow your business to fall into one of these scary statistics. If you’re wondering if you’re doing enough to protect your data, you probably can use some support.  Let us know how we can help!

Tech Tip #8: As no single or group of technologies can be 100% effective in protecting your network and your data, it is important that YOU also take an active role in your own cyber security. Safe computing practices and on-going staff training (on what to look for and what to look out for) are critical in minimizing your exposure to cyber threats. In the meantime, you will also want to:

Make sure that your IT service provider offers remote monitoring and has recommended this type of service to you.

Make sure you have asked your IT service provider to monitor your system off-site and as well as having an on-site backup.

Make sure that your IT service provider backs up your network BEFORE performing any upgrades or other types of projects.

Make sure that your IT service provider is based locally. The last thing you need is to have to deal with an outsourced tech-help hotline that is based in a foreign country!

Look for techs that maintain current vendor certifications, and that arrive on time and are dressed professionally. They should be courteous and never tell you that your problem is ‘not theirs to fix’.

Ultimately, your IT company should be committed to your satisfaction and take pride in making sure that you know that your technology is in great hands.


Tech Tip #7: It's week #3 of our 'What to look for in your IT provider' series. Your IT company should:

Provide You With One Stop Shopping.
Your IT provider should have the experience, partners and resources to know exactly who to call when you are having a complex technical issue. So whether you have a problem with software, the network, your internet provider, your mobile devices, the printer, the copier, or your phone or security system, one call to your IT provider does it all.

Make Sure You’ll Be Ready.
When your technology runs smoothly and efficiently, so can your business. Make sure that your IT provider is offering you both routine and proactive service maintenance options that will enable them to handle any blip on your technology radar, ensure business continuity, data retention and quick response to disaster recovery.

Keep You in the Know.
Your service provider should be constantly educating and informing you about best practices or new cyber threats through blogs, newsletters and important updates on sneaky viruses, computer scams, and manufacturer support changes that can impact your business so you are always prepared and up to speed.

Tip # 6. It’s week two of our 'What to look for in your IT provider' series. Make sure that they provide the following:

Detailed Attention and Responsive Service. 

Your business doesn’t wait for you to catch up, so you shouldn’t have to wait for service. Make sure your IT company offers remote support services so that they can address your issues in real time and get you back up and running. 

Tech Answers in Plain English. 
Make sure that your provider speaks in another language than “Geek Speak” and can provide you with answers to your technical questions quickly, comprehensively and in a language that you understand.

Budgeting and Forecast Accuracy. 
Your IT provider should be able to provide you with budget forecasts for your technical expenditures to help you plan for growth and to be prepared for upgrades, reliable maintenance, service and change.


Tip #5. Does your IT service provider insist on remotely monitoring your network 24/7/365?

Are they able to provide you with periodic reports showing all the updates, security patches and status of your network so you know for SURE your systems have been secured and updated?

Do they have back-up technicians on staff to help in case your ‘regular guy’ gets sick or goes on vacation?
 
Can they provide written documentation detailing what licenses you own, your user information, and all critical information? Your service provider shouldn’t be the only one with the ‘keys to your castle’!


Tip #4.Too many passwords to remember? 


There are password managers you can use that will enable you to manage the plethora of passwords you use. Do some research and find the one that works best for you.

Tip #3.Never use the same password twice, and don’t use the same password on shopping sites that you do for your banking or other sensitive sites.    

 ...and remember, the FDIC does not insure losses resulting from debit card fraud…make a point today to change your debit card and never use it on line!        
Tip 2. When creating a new password, get creative! Passwords need character!  


For instance, the number 1 can be used in place of an L. The @ symbol can be used for the letter a, you can use an ! instead of an l, 3 for an E, 5 for S, 4 for H…you get the idea!

Consider creating a phrase or use a word that has meaning to you but cannot be easily guessed.

So for example if your password is: baseballs123, make it B@53ba!!s!23 instead or you may want to use a phrase like I like golfing….1Likeg0lfing

Tip 1.For a strong password, use no less than 12 characters (16-20 would be optimal).


Include a combination of at least 1 uppercase letter, numbers and special characters, and remember to NEVER share your password!

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