Educating Employees on Cyber Security: Email Security Threats

email security

What You Need to Know About Email Security

You may have email security measures in place, but every employee needs to understand that there are cybercriminals out there who are masterful at deceiving people into giving over secure information.

Social Engineering Inboxes and VoiceMail 

Social engineering is non-technical, malicious activity that exploits human interactions to obtain information about internal processes, configuration and technical security policies in order to gain access to secure devices and networks. Such attacks are typically carried out when cybercriminals pose as credible, trusted authorities to convince their targets to grant access to sensitive data and high-security locations or networks.

An example of social engineering is a phone call or email where an employee receives a message that their computer is sending bad traffic to the Internet. To fix this issue, end users are asked to call or email a tech support hotline and prompted to give information that could very likely give the cybercriminal access to the company’s network.

Phishing Email Compromises

One of the most common forms of social engineering is email phishing—an attempt to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card data by masquerading as a trustworthy entity. Phishing is likely the #1 primary email security threat employees need to focus on.

Such emails often spoof the company CEO, a customer or a business partner and do so in a sophisticated, subtle way so that the victim thinks they are responding to a legitimate request.

Among the reasons these scams succeed are the appearance of authority—staffers are used to carrying out CEO instructions quickly. That’s why phishing can be so easy to fall victim to.

Four Common Phishing Techniques

The scope of phishing attacks is constantly expanding, but frequent attackers tend to utilize one of these four tactics:

  • Embedding links into emails that redirect users to an unsecured website requesting sensitive information.
  • Installing Trojans via a malicious email attachment or posing ads on a website that allow intruders to exploit loopholes and obtain sensitive information.
  • Spoofing the sender address in an email to appear as a reputable source and requesting sensitive information.

Attempting to obtain company information over the phone by impersonating a known company vendor or IT department.

Email Security Best Practices—Five Ways to Block Phishing Attacks

Employees should always be suspicious of potential phishing attacks, especially if they don’t know the sender. Here are five best practices to follow to help make sure employees don’t become helpless victims:

  1. Don’t reveal personal or financial information in an email—Make sure employees also know not to respond to email solicitations for this information. This includes clicking on links sent in such emails.
  2. Check the security of websites—This is a key precaution to take before sending sensitive information over the Internet. <http> indicates the site has not applied any security measures while <https> means it has. Also consider if employees are practicing safe browsing habits. Sites that do not serve a legitimate business purpose are also more likely to contain harmful links.
  3. Pay attention to website URLs—Not all emails or email links seem like phishing attacks, so employees may be lured into a false sense of security. Teach them that many malicious websites fool end users by mimicking legitimate websites. One way to sniff this out is to look at the URL (if it’s not hidden behind non-descript text) to see if it looks legit. Employees may also be able to detect and evade the scheme by finding variations in spellings or a different domain (e.g.,.com versus .net).
  4. Verify suspicious email requests—Contact the company they’re believed to be from directly. If an employee receives an email that looks odd from a well-known company, such as a bank, instruct them to reach out to the bank using means other than responding to the suspicious email address. It’s best to contact the company using information provided on an account statement—NOT the information provided in the email.
  5. Keep a clean machine—Utilizing the latest operating system, software and Web browser as well as antivirus and malware protection are the best defenses against viruses, malware and other online threats. It may be difficult for employees to do this, so the business may want to invest in a managed IT services provider who can also be a trusted advisor for all IT needs.

Next blog: User Name and Password Management

For more information on keeping your small business secure call 678-389-6200 or contact us online.

Educating Employees on Cyber Security: Beware the Messy Desk!

It seems so simple, but keeping a clean desk is often overlooked when talking about data security. It’s also the perfect place to start the discussion with employees.

Employees that keep a cluttered desk tend to leave USB drives and smartphones out in the open. They also often forget to physically secure their desktops and laptops so someone can’t simply walk off with them.

A messy desk also makes it more difficult to realize something is missing such as a folder with hard copy print-outs of customer lists. In addition to increasing the likelihood of something being removed, a cluttered desk means that the discovery of any theft will likely be delayed—perhaps by days or even weeks if the employee is out of the office. Such delays make it more difficult to determine who the perpetrator is and where the stolen material might now be located.

 

11 Common Messy Desk Mistakes to Avoid

The following list presents 11 “messy desk” mistakes employees are prone to commit and which could cause irreparable harm to the business, the employee, fellow employees, customers and business partners. These are all bad habits for which to educate employees to stop:

  1. Leaving computer screens on without password protection: Anyone passing by has easy access to all the information on the device. Be sure to lock down screen settings.
  2. Placing documents on the desk that could contain sensitive information. It’s best to keep them locked up in drawers and file cabinets.
  3. Forgetting to shred documents before they go into the trash or recycling bin: Any document may contain sensitive information; it’s best to shred everything rather than taking a risk.
  4. Failing to close file cabinets: This makes it easy for someone to steal sensitive information and more difficult to realize a theft has occurred.
  5. Setting mobile phones and USB drives out in the open: They likely contain sensitive business or personal information and are easy to pick up quickly without being caught in the act.
  6. Neglecting to erase notes on whiteboards: They often display confidential information on products, new ideas and proprietary business processes.
  7. Dropping backpacks out in the open: There’s often at least one device or folder with sensitive information inside.
  8. Writing user names and passwords on slips of paper or post-its: This is especially important given that user names and passwords are typically used to log in to more than one site.
  9. Leaving behind a key to a locked drawer: This makes it easy to come back later—perhaps after hours when no one is around—and access confidential files.
  10. Displaying calendars in the open or on the screen for all to see: Calendars often contain sensitive dates and/or information about customers, prospects and/or new products.
  11. Leaving wallet, credit cards or security card out on the desk: This is more likely to impact the employee, but wallets may also possess corporate credit cards and security badges.

Of course you’re thinking – I trust my employees. Why would I need to be concerned about security of their desk area?

Trust isn’t always the issue. You have to be careful about accidental or inadvertent security vulnerabilities. For example, you sure wouldn’t want a document left on screen or on a desk pertaining to an employee review, compensation info, or termination. You wouldn’t want someone seeing a jump drive on a desk, thinking that’s the one with their project on it, and it has sensitive company information not intended for their eyes.

Sometimes it is about trust. Not all employees are as loyal as they seem. Some my be overly competitive and want to get info they shouldn’t have to advance in the company. Some may be planning to leave and take your customer lists with them.

The point is, if everyone keeps their own desk area clean and secure, you won’t have to worry about accidental, inadvertent, or malicious security breaches within your own company.

Next blog: Email threats!

For more information on keeping your small business secure call 678-389-6200 or contact us online.

Why You Need to Educate Your Employees on Cyber Security

When developing cybersecurity programs, many businesses focus on protecting their infrastructure perimeter and device endpoints. After all, that’s where cybercriminals usually first gain access and wreak havoc on a company’s digital access.

But it’s also important to consider what happens when a threat bypasses perimeter defenses and targets an employee—in the form of a malicious email or text, or even a voicemail that might prompt an employee to respond with confidential company information. There’s also the possibility of an offline attack from inside the office, where an employee or an office visitor might gain access to valuable data by quickly taking something carelessly left on a desk.

According to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers survey, 86% of business executives expressed concern about cyber threats, including a lack of data security. In addition, 100% of IT professionalsrecently surveyed at an SMB said they could improve their cybersecurity systems. These numbers indicate that it’s clear there’s a pressing need for better cybersecurity. The issue is not going away anytime soon. If anything, it’s only getting worse.

Stronger cybersecurity has become a global priority over the last few years as hackers penetrate the IT infrastructure of government and enterprises with increasing frequency and sophistication. According to a recent government report, How to Protect Your Networks from Ransomware, 4,000 ransomware attacks occurred per day in 2016. Furthermore, the annual cost of global cybercrime damages are estimated to cost $6 trillion by 2021, according to a 2017 Cybercrime Report by Cybersecurity Ventures. Coupled with the Internet of Things (IoT) and the explosive growth of mobile devices, the threat landscape and potential for data leaks is even more significant.

In my next few blogs, we’ll explore the need for employees to practice strict and secure cybersecurity habits— not only to thwart digital attacks, but also to prevent someone from simply walking by their desk (in the office or at home) and picking up a device or document that contains sensitive information. We also present the key steps SMB business owners can take to educate their employees to help secure their company’s data and intellectual property.

We can’t stress enough the importance of security awareness training for internal employees. Educating them on what it takes to protect proprietary documents and data is critical. Any leaks— unintentional and intentional—could hurt the business in the form of information that assists a competitor, violates regulations, or harms the corporate image. Leaks can also hurt employees from the standpoint of personal information that might be exposed. Lastly, customers and business partners could be at risk, compromising the industry reputation of any business that does not properly protect confidential information. It only takes one incident to completely destroy any goodwill you established and built with your customer base.

Next blog: Physical Security Precautions…beware the messy desk!

For more information on keeping your small business secure call 678-389-6200 or contact us online.

IT Helps Dementia Patients

Dementia and Alzheimer’s are scary for both patients and caregivers. Right now, there is no cure. Scientists are trying to find ways of prolonging patient’s lives and delaying the onset of the disease. IT Technicians are finding ways to make lives better and caring for patients easier. Some remarkable work is doing things for these individuals that has never been seen or done before.

Dementia Technology

First, A Word About The Disease

According to Alzheimer’s International, nearly 44 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s or related dementia. More than 5 million American’s are living with it, and Between 2017 and 2025 every state is expected to see at least a 14% rise in the prevalence of Alzheimer’s. Those statistics are startling, especially since Alzheimer’s disease is irreversible.

Accounting for around 70 percent of dementia cases, Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common cause of dementia, a group of brain disorders that results in the loss of intellectual and social skills. These changes are severe enough to interfere with day-to-day life. It progressively destroys the brain and ruins memory and thinking skills, and eventually the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.

A Few Other Statistics

  • In 2017, Alzheimer’s cost the United States $259 billion.
  • By 2050, costs associated with dementia could be as much as $1.1 trillion.
  • The global cost of Alzheimer’s and dementia is estimated to be $605 billion.
  • Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.
  • Between 2017 and 2025 every state is expected to see at least a 14% rise in the prevalence of Alzheimer’s.
  • By 2050, it’s estimated there will be as many as 16 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s.
  • Every 66 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s.
  • 1 in 3 seniors dies with some form of dementia.

Technology at its Finest

Because of these sad stats and high numbers, IT experts have come up with some amazing devices that use modern technology to aid in the care of people suffering from memory problems. Here’s a look at a few of the latest innovations.

Clocks

Clocks precisely intended for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia can help ease the stress associated with day to day life. Someone who has dementia may confuse night and day so an easy to read clock can help them to better tell the time.

Medication Management

Medication management technology created high tech automated pill dispensers which beep and open to remind caregivers and those with dementia to take their medicine. Vibrating alarms on a watch have also been fashioned to remind when it’s time for a pill. This technology serves the busy caregiver well by helping them not to forget medication time as well.

Video Monitoring

Video monitoring technology supports both care recipient and caregiver, by allowing both people more freedom. The patient doesn’t feel watched constantly because loved one can spend a little time away, and loved ones get the comfort of being able to see their family even when they’re not in the same house.

GPS Location and Tracking Devices

People with Alzheimer’s or dementia may wander. Tracking devices can be worn by the person in some way and have alert systems that let a caregiver know if their loved one has left a certain area. This type of technology can also alert emergency personnel to aid in a quick recovery.

Picture Phones

Picture phones are specifically designed for people who cannot remember phone numbers. These phones have large numbers and are pre-programmable with frequently called phone numbers. Some of the phones come with clear buttons where photos can be placed so that the person can just push the button associated with the photos to call their loved one quickly.

Electrical Use Monitoring

This device monitors a patient’s use of electrical appliances. It plugs into a wall outlet or power strip and will alert caregivers if their commonly used appliances have not been turned on or off.

Wearable Cameras

Wearable cameras and augmented reality glasses could be the next big thing in helping patients. These devices can take hundreds of pictures every day from the user’s point of view logging their lives in this way.

A Village of Care

In Kitchener, Ontario, something wonderful is happening. Facilities have been designed to be less institutional-looking, friendlier and homier. “Schlegel Villages” is one of the first of its kind and is improving the quality of life for the people that live there.

One problem they deal with though is when at-risk seniors become confused and attempt to leave. According to Schlegel’s IT director, Chris Carde, “Some seniors with certain types of mental illness can remember the door-lock code to get out but can’t remember anything else. A confused senior wandering out into a southern Ontario winter can be a serious, even fatal, incident”.

Schlegel Villages is also implementing an e-health system to replace paper charts at its care facilities. Carde states, “Nurses would have to write down a patient’s vital signs, then enter them into a desktop computer some distance away. The new system, which will use iPads and iPad minis to enter health information directly into the database, is being greeted warmly by clinicians”.

Thinking Outside of the Box

A German senior center applied the idea of using fake bus stops to keep Alzheimer’s disease patients from wandering off. Because their short-term memory is not intact, but their long-term memory works fine, they know what the bus stop sign means, and they stop. It is a huge success in Germany, now they want to bring it to several clinics in North America.

A Final Word

Thanks to these researchers and IT innovators, the future is much brighter for patients with memory diseases and their families and care providers. This is just the beginning when it comes to making life easier. Information Technology has only just begun to scratch the surface of what can be done to help in the fight against dementia and Alzheimer’s.

October 16th Is Steve Jobs Day

Steve Jobs Day Sheds Light On Apple Founder’s Legacy

In today’s modern world, the name “Apple” has become synonymous with technology. It’s no wonder then that Steve Jobs, the company’s late co-founder, has become such an influential figure in American history. His contributions are well documented in motion pictures, books and an authorized biography.

Steve Jobs Day

October 16 is known as Steve Jobs Day, which was declared in 2011 by the Governor of California. The day brings forth the opportunity to reflect on the life of the famed innovator and how his contributions have helped advance the human race. From iPhones to iPads and every single app in between, one could argue that humanity would not be as technologically savvy without the work of Steve Jobs.

In August of this year, Apple achieved what no other company in history has done. It became the first publicly traded U.S. company to reach $1 trillion. Not only is this historic in terms of branding, but it brings to light the incredible ingenuity the company has displayed throughout the years. Along with his partner Steve Wozniak, Jobs’ innovations have helped solidify an incredible legacy likely to stand the test of time.

The Early Years

Jobs grew up in the San Francisco bay area in the 1960s. By the age of 10, he had developed a fascination with electronics, likely due largely in part to time spent with his father building crafts. This hobby paved the way for Jobs’ establishment of Apple in 1976, along with his co-founder Steve Wozniak.

Jobs sat at the helm of Apple’s operations until 1985, when he broke ties with the company and established NeXT computers. Apple later purchased NeXT and paved the way for Jobs’ return to the company in 1997.

Apple Computers

While Jobs can’t be credited for inventing the first computer, his founding of Apple paved the way for its widespread use. The computers that came before Apple was expensive and typically used only for business purposes. The introduction of the Apple II, the brainchild of Jobs and Steve Wozniak, changed this concept forever. Marketed as the world’s first mass-market personal computer, the Apple II meant users could now access the technology from the privacy of their own homes.

More than two decades later, in 1998, Apple released the iMac, an all-in-one computer. One of Apple’s lesser-known inventions is the iBook, which was introduced in 1999. The laptop came equipped with Wi-Fi technology and a few upgrades to its design. People today may remember it for its tangerine and blueberry color options and clamshell design.

The Apple iPad, introduced in 2010, has made the Internet even further accessible. This tablet computer was built more for entertainment than previous devices, making it a staple in many households, utilized by children and adults alike. The product was deemed so successful that Apple sold more than 15 million of these devices in its first year.

The iPhone

Of all Apple’s products, none is as influential in the tech world as the iPhone. Apple’s introduction of the iPhone marked a paradigm shift for the traditional mobile phone. Apple’s version, like the majority of its most revolutionary products, boasted a sleek, simple design that helped further uncomplicate technology for the masses.

Introduced in 2007, the phone has undergone a radical series of redesigns over the years, each year presenting more opportunities for productivity than the last. Prior to the invention of the iPhone, mobile phones’ primary purpose was to access chatting and emailing. Today’s version is utilized for web-surfing, Facetiming, social media and the utilization of an endless stream of apps available for download at users’ fingertips. Frequent updates and new designs ensure Apple users are getting the best product possible, which has helped the brand amass its own population of loyal followers.

The iPod

One of Apple’s most significant inventions to date remains the iPod. While mp3 players had been on the market for several years, Apple’s version was seen by many as far superior, and so it began to dominate the market. Able to store thousands of songs, the iPod grew in success with the help of other products, such as Apple iTunes, which was released in 2001. The new technology allowed users to organize their digital library on both their personal computer and through their devices. The iTunes Music Store went live in 2003.

Not all of Jobs’ best inventions were technological. The innovator is also credited with inventing the world’s first glass staircase. The design, which was awarded a patent in 2002, has been used across some of Apple’s flagship stores and has since been adopted, in some sense, by both commercial and residential properties the world over.

Steve Jobs Day is a day designated for honoring the Jobs legacy, but his impact is seen daily, in the hands of millions. While Apple, as a company, has certainly carried on without him, Jobs is one innovator unlikely to ever be forgotten.

Web Analytics