Don’t Take the Bait – Avoid Phishing Scams

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Fishing can be an exceptionally relaxing way to spend a sunny afternoon. That is, unless you’re the fish. The more contemporary concept of phishing scams everyone, from ordinary web surfers to marketers to high-level executives.

3 ways to protect your business from phishing scams

To help you steer clear of future headaches, here are three key ways to protect your business from the vast number of phishing scams lurking on the web:

  • Use proven professional antivirus software.
  • Migrate from HTTP to HTTPS.
  • Preach the importance of safe email use.

What are phishing scams?

Put simply: Phishing scams are attempts by a hacker to pilfer your personal information for their own financial gain. And they cast a wide, effective net — costing companies roughly half a billion dollars per year in the U.S. alone.

Being able to avoid the bait set every day by hackers and scam artists is an important skill to cultivate for all internet users. And if you’re running any aspect of your business online, getting caught will cost you not only money but also loss of customer confidence and possible fines for not providing adequate safeguards.

Let’s look at each strategy in more detail.

1. Use (and update) your antivirus software

There are a variety of tools and antivirus software services available for businesses. Free downloads do not provide the full range of protection a business needs. Your antivirus package should include email, web and malware protection.

Once your antivirus software is live, don’t just set it and forget it. Leaving all of your company data in the hands of out-of-date software is asking for trouble. Studies have found that out-of-date antivirus software is similar to having no antivirus protection at all.

2. Migrate your website from HTTP to HTTPS 

One type of phishing that is less publicized but equally dangerous is referred to as pharming, and it can affect your website even when clicking a link or downloading an attachment. The “S” at the end of HTTPS stands for Secure which means communications between your browser and website are encrypted.

​While HTTPS protects your own website to a great extent, seeing it on another website doesn’t mean that URL is necessarily safe. Phishers have learned to exploit some SSL certificates, which give a website its “HTTPS” encryption designation.

3. Preach the importance of safe email use (don’t click that link!)

Even with all of the antivirus technology in the world at your disposal, user error can still lead to company data getting compromised. All it takes is one wrong click inside an inbox.

Phony emails that trick users into divulging their personal information are prevalent and they are on the rise as automation makes sending out bulk messages easier than ever. If even one employee fell for a single one of these email phishing scams, it could mean big trouble for your business.

Phishers have had time to refine their skills over the years. Some now even specifically take aim at company executives (a process known as whaling) to nab high-level access to all kinds of company/employee data.

Make sure your employees are aware of what’s at stake when it comes to safe email use. Implement policies for safe and secure email. Building a culture of skepticism where suspicious emails are treated with caution is a big step toward protecting your business from the negative effects of email phishing.

You can never be too cautious

Online phishing scams are born out of vulnerabilities. If one hacker or fraudster finds a situation that can be exploited, they are going to do so. These con artists have been known to use psychology, technology and craftiness to exploit anyone or any situation they can. Scams can also be perpetrated via the phone: phishing for account numbers and passwords or requesting bank account details to process a “refund”.

If you invest in the digital security of your business, train employees to be critical of suspicious emails, and maintain a proactive rather than reactive attitude about data protection, you’ll be able to ideally avert every potential phishing crisis that rears its ugly head.

Abilita and our business partners are available to assist with any of your company’s technology needs. Contact your Abilita consultant today.

 

This article, written by Brenda Barron, first appeared on GoDaddy.com on Oct 11, 2018. Brenda Barron is a writer from southern California specializing in technology and business. 

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Two Factor Authentication – Not the Panacea to Protect your Business from Cyber Crime

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  • Two Factor Authentication, although an extra layer of security, still has potential for cyber crime.
  • View the video of KnowBe4’s Kevin Mitnick demonstrating how Two Factor Authentication can be hacked.
  • User education and training along with other cyber security efforts can help protect your company’s data.

In today’s world of digital crime and Internet fraud, most people are familiar with the importance of online login security using usernames and passwords. Two Factor Authentication adds an extra layer of security that requires not only a username and password but also a piece of information only they should know or have immediately on hand – such as a physical token.

This does make it harder for potential intruders to gain access and steal that person’s personal data or identity, however Two Factor Authentication may not be the panacea that many believe it is. Kevin Mitnick, cybersecurity expert and KnowBe4’s Chief Hacking Officer, shows in the video below how easily this defensive measure can be spoofed:

This example demonstrates how Two Factor Authentication is not enough to stop phishing attacks. You and your employees must remain diligent through user education and training, along with technology to help protect your company’s data.

Abilita and our cybersecurity business partners can help protect your company against cyber attacks. Contact your Abilita consultant today for assistance.

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Which of Your Employees Are Most Likely to Expose Your Company to a Cyberattack?

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• Your employees are often the weakest link when it comes to enterprise cybersecurity.
• Your IT Department, Finance and C-Suite are particularly risky when it comes to cyberattacks.
• Harvard Business Review identifies 4 areas to mitigate the risk of cyberthreats through human error.

Cybersecurity has now expanded far beyond external threats of hackers attacking network vulnerabilities. Your employees are often the weakest link when it comes to enterprise cybersecurity. Insider threats are much more complex and difficult to manage. The nature of insider threats can be categorized into malicious, accidental, or negligent.

Some departments are more likely to fall victim to cyberattacks:

  • IT and development: These employees have system access and passwords to sensitive company files.
  • Finance: Attacks target these employees to transfer large sums of money, bypassing normal accounts payable procedures and controls.
  • The C-Suite: Executives often work long hours, are rarely confined to the office, and have unrestricted access to the most sensitive company data, making them highly valuable and highly available targets.

Harvard Business Review wrote an excellent article about the problem of employees exposing your organization to cyberthreats through human error. They identified four areas where you can significantly mitigate this risk:

  • Rethink employee training: In order to make a meaningful and lasting impact on employee behavior, organizations should organize frequent and interactive training sessions.
  • Identify high-risk users and intervene: Another technique is to send out mock-phishing emails to see who clicks. Predictive analytics and artificial intelligence can also monitor and influence risky behavior.
  • Shape the solution to the human user and not vice versa: Secure systems such as encrypted email can be complex and cumbersome to use. Companies should engage with employees to find a viable and workable solution to support cybersecurity efforts
  • Constantly adapt to changing threats: Rapid advancements in technology makes it easier to secure data and to apply advanced analytics.

The Harvard Business Review article ends with: “It’s true that to err is human, and humans will keep erring. But increasingly, technology and improved practices can help you identify those employees who are most at risk of exposing your company to a cyberattack — before it becomes a major problem.”

Abilita and our cybersecurity business partners can help protect your company against cyber attacks. If you are ready to explore some of the strategies outlined in this report, contact your Abilita consultant today!

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Your Next Telecom System

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As 2018 begins, many companies are starting to look at technology upgrades for the coming year. One area that has become much more complex and challenging for CEO’s, CFO’s, CIO’s, and IT managers is voice communications. No longer defined and relegated to a phone system, or PBX, voice is leading the way in integrating collaborative technology.

In order for you to make an informed, intelligent decision about which of the competing technology platforms, transport choices, features, functions and payment options are right for your business, it is very important to understand the benefits and limitations of each choice.

Background
Let’s start with VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). In a nutshell; your voice (which is analog) is converted to digital (think of listening to music on a CD instead of an LP record) and is layered in with other data applications on your network. It is the underlying technology of most of today’s voice platforms.

VoIP telephone systems are popular options and they can offer substantial advantages. But buying a VoIP system can be challenging because of the various combinations of technology and providers can be mind-boggling. The graphic below identifies some major features along with pros/cons of cloud-based, on-premise and hybrid solutions.

Communications Systems Choices

 

A Critical Business Decision
In the end, whether a business chooses a Cloud, On-Premise, or Hybrid solution, the new telecom system can have a profound effect on business processes and ultimately profitability.  Selection and implementation is critical. Change is both a risk and an opportunity. An effective implementation can improve everything from customer experience to overall profitability. How a business functions and how it wants to function is as much a determinant on the selection of a new  business communications system as the price or the choice of technology.

These are not easy decisions nor are they simple. If your company is not prepared with educated staff, you can define the scope of work to outsource this to a Communications Technology Consultant. Just make sure he/she is independent, experienced and aligned with your company’s objectives.

For more details, download your complimentary Abilita research report “YOUR NEXT TELECOM SYSTEM – A Primer on Cloud, On-Premise and Hybrid Systems”

Educating yourself on the benefits and potential challenges that come with using cloud, on-premise or hybrid phone systems can help you make a good decision to ensure your business needs are met and you get the greatest value for your investment. This special report explains why you need to upgrade, key considerations for each option and a review of this important business decision.

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Lessons from Catastrophic Events

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Key Planning Guidelines for Disaster
Recovery and Business Continuity

Disaster recovery should be a critical component for any business that relies on technology. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma highlight an important lesson for businesses. On a more local level, cable cuts and other outages cause disruptions to data and/or voice services. It doesn’t take a natural disaster to create havoc. And today, it’s not a matter of if it happens…it’s when it happens. What would the impact be to your business if you lost voice or data communications?

A data and voice continuity plan is like insurance. You need to ask yourself what is the cost in lost business and productivity in the event of a failure in voice or data communications for an hour, 4 hours or even 4 days.

For many major service providers, the mean time to repair a lost connection is four hours. But as evidenced by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, outages can be significantly longer.

Businesses need to assess the potential costs of any disruption, and how redundant coverage and alternate routes can lessen the consequence cost of lost business.

You can’t predict the effects of a disaster, but you can plan for one. A carefully considered business continuity plan will help make coping with a disaster less impactful, and enable you to minimize disruption to the business and your customers.

For more details, read our full report titled “Lessons From Catastrophic Events

An independent communications technology consultant can help you create a disaster recovery plan that meets your critical business needs. This will help to minimize the impact of service disruptions so you can get back up and running as quickly as possible after a disaster. As we have learned, and some the hard way, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

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Software Defined Networks (SDN’s)

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We at Abilita know that many of you are still struggling with various options related to the “Cloud”. This includes cloud providers, cloud apps, security, back-up and content ownership to name a few.

IT, Managed Services, Hosted, Carrier Provided Services and Telecommunications seem to evolve almost daily. And don’t forget 5G which has the potential to be a real game changer on many levels. Next up is another technology advancement called Software Defined Wide Area Network or SD-WAN.

As older networks strain to keep up with bandwidth demand, Enterprises are turning to SD-WAN as the preferred choice. Overall SD-WAN is one of the better technologies that has come along. There is little to no downside, but as we learned with “Cloud” not all terminology is used and means the same thing to everyone. Selecting the optimal SD-WAN solution for your enterprise is not easy.
It is more and more difficult to ensure that you have chosen and implemented the right technology, that it has been implemented correctly, and that you have all the necessary tools and training to manage it.

Abilita can help! If you are ready to explore if SD-WAN can benefit your business, remember that Abilita Consultants are vendor neutral and do not sell or represent any manufacturer or service provider. We work strictly for you and will help you find the best combination of product, price and service.

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5G: The Promise and the Impact

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There is an old Chinese saying that goes, “May you live in interesting times.” Certainly, anybody utilizing communications technology would have to agree that we are indeed living in not only interesting, but complex times.

Arguably the most immediate impact on your network and business in the next several years will be 5G. If you believe everything you read and hear, 5G is the panacea that will solve all of your communications problems.

The reality is that 5G will be a disrupter and a game changer, and it will most likely touch every form of business communications technology. To understand how this will impact your business and your network, read the full article I wrote on NoJitter.

DENNIS GOODHART
TELEPHONE: 646-308-1580
DGOODHART@ABILITA.COM
NEW YORK, NY

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The Internet of Things

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The Internet of Things (IoT) is coming, whether you like it or not. Over the next four years, we are likely to see a revolution in how we live our lives… and also how we manage and operate our businesses. By 2020, Gartner Inc. estimates over 26 billion connected devices with more than half of major new business processes and systems incorporating some element of IoT.

So What Is the Internet of Things?

IoT is essentially a network of devices that have Internet connectivity built into them, allowing them to send and receive data without human intervention. You are probably familiar with smart sensors like the Nest Thermostat, wearables like the Apple Watch or Fitbit, and Google’s self-driving car project. Waze, OnStar and Google Maps use IoT technology to locate and track your device, and feedback information based on your location and prior established likes and dislikes.

Many other industries are developing new technologies using IoT to improve their products. Some examples:
• John Deere is using IoT to boost the efficiency of prepping, planting, feeding and harvesting with the goal of improving per-acre crop yields.
• Rolls Royce aircraft engines send real-time data on the engine’s function back to monitoring stations on the ground to help detect malfunctions to help prevent aircraft disasters.
• Microsoft constantly collects data on features being used for its products to make smart decisions on how to develop their software.

How Your Business Will Change

You don’t have to worry about the Internet of things suddenly appearing one day and making your company obsolete – it will gradually develop over time. Think about where you were 15 years ago and where you are now. You have likely invested in things like wireless Internet, mobile devices, analytical software, cloud storage, virtual servers and more. This adaptation and progressive nature will allow you to stay on pace with the development of IoT.

Some factors to consider:

1- There will be more data to manage: all those interconnected devices will mean a lot more data than you currently track. IoT has potential to deliver in-depth metrics about your customers and their behaviors, your employees and how they work, and even details about how your own business operates. This is all worthwhile information … but you need to be prepared to handle it, with data analysts and business intelligence software.

2- Security becomes even more important: with more data and new types of data available, it will be more important than ever for your company to supplement these new technologies with additional security measures and preventative action techniques.

3- Business opportunities abound: many unique business opportunities will arise out of the growth of IoT. Potential areas include improved customer service and personalization; the ability to address real-time threats, improved process optimization, and more accurate and effective forecasting.

4- Remote work will become even more feasible: it will become even easier to manage your business remotely.

5- Increased complexity in systems: The more ambitious and complicated the project, the greater the schedule overruns. IoT projects may take longer to implement. You could have a hard time keeping all your integrated devices updated with the latest software and connected to the network; this will be both expensive and intense in terms of IT needs.

6- Some industries may fundamentally change when IoT becomes mainstream. Pay close attention to how your industry develops, and be prepared for some major changes. The sooner you start thinking about the future of your firm, the more proactively you’ll be able to prepare.

As technology continues to evolve and becomes readily available to small businesses and consumers alike, processes will become more efficient and life more comfortable. Regardless of how well you understand IoT and its potential benefits, it is important to remember one thing: The future is bright.

Now is the perfect time to contact us and set up an appointment with your Abilita consultant to discuss and plan how to use and implement this new technology and get your business ready to adapt to these changes gradually.

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How to Avoid and Protect against Ransomware

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Ransomware is a type of malicious program that infects your computer and then locks your screen or encrypts your files. Then a “ransom” is demanded to release your data. Most ransomware arrives as an email attachment, along with a message encouraging you to open the file. You could also browse to websites that push malware onto your system without your knowledge.

This particular form of malware is tricky because these emails appear to be legitimate and can be professionally written with proper grammar and spelling. They could embed known trustworthy website links into the email message which may infect your computer.

Once the ransomware has infected your system, your files are locked with an encryption key that is only known by the attacker. Then you are prompted to pay the criminal to provide the key or else they’ll destroy your decryption key. Often there will be a limited time to pay the ransom, typically within a few days. The criminals are not typically interested in your data at all; they simply want you to pay off the ransom.

While there is no 100% safe method to prevent ransomware from entering your system, there are ways to lessen your chances of being attacked and losing your data. The best way to secure against this threat is to prevent ransomware from getting to your system in the first place. Here are some recommended tips to protect your data:

– Regularly update your software, programs, and applications to ensure you have the latest versions. Software companies and hardware companies are constantly updating their systems with new security measures to protect against the latest vulnerabilities. Use Windows update and enable automatic updates for all programs.

– Be very careful about opening email attachments. Be very wary of clicking links in emails, as they may take you to a malware website.

– Back up important files using the 3-2-1 rule: create 3 backup copies on 2 different types of media with 1 backup in a separate location.

– Don’t enable macros. Ransomware can also be distributed in Office documents that trick users into enabling macros.

– Train and retrain employees in your business. Your users can be your weakest link if you don’t train them how to avoid malicious emails and other threats.

– Do not open e-mails that invite you to participate in surveys, contests or other events from companies that you usually don’t deal with, or names you don’t know.

Cybercrime is a highly competitive, multi-billion-dollar business. Ransomware attacks are becoming an increasing global problem with highly sophisticated and malicious attacks against organizations including NASA, law enforcement agencies, universities and health-care institutions. Even small companies are targets.

Understanding ransomware and taking steps to prevent it will go a long way to protecting your company from this threat. For professional assistance with understanding how to secure your network against ransomware and other network attacks, contact your Abilita consultant.

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