Here Are 3 Things You Should Absolutely Demand From Your IT Services Firm – Are You Getting Even One Of Them Now?

Even as businesses across the country go completely digital, and the entirety of their precious assets are stored on servers, the quality of many IT services providers has plummeted. In a misguided attempt to cut costs and save money, some short-sighted businesses are unable to see the utility of accurately-priced IT options, so they opt for lower tier, “break-fix” firms to keep their network afloat. Instead of paying monthly fees for managed services, they call up an IT professional only after something has broken down and pay them by the hour.

This strategy certainly saves money in the short run, but it opens your business up to all kinds of technological disasters in the long haul. These disasters range from vicious cyber-attacks that punch through the gaps in your security to total server failures that cause you to lose thousands of dollars of essential data. Break-fix technicians only get paid when something in your system breaks — they have no incentive to be proactive with your network, or to detect potential concerns before they become a full-blown crisis. What’s more, they’re unfamiliar with your network, increasing the amount of time it takes to get your network up and running in the midst of a crisis. Over time, this approach of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” will end up costing much more than a managed services provider.

When you’re shopping for the best IT service provider for your business, it’s important to remember just how much you depend on your technology to stay competitive in today’s marketplace. Here are three standards you absolutely need to demand from your team of IT experts before disaster strikes.

Constant Monitoring Of Your Network

The best managed service providers aren’t reactive, they’re preventative. Instead of waiting around until something breaks, and your business suffers hours of downtime, they keep an eye on your network 24 hours a day, seven days a week, ensuring nothing goes amiss. By gaining an intimate knowledge of the way your particular network operates, they can see any inconsistencies or holes in your security long before they become a problem. And if an issue does arise, they are there to fix it immediately – usually before the business owner even realizes there’s a problem.

Rapid Response Times

Since your MSP is regularly monitoring your system, they’re ready in the event that any potential catastrophe might rear its ugly head, taking a proactive stance before it hits your bottom line. You don’t have to wait on hold to find out when the next technician may be available, ticking away precious minutes, hours, or days before the problem is addressed. When something happens, the MSP is immediately on it, and since they know your network, they can iron out any hiccups in record time.

A Real Investment In Your Success

Since MSPs depend on the success of your business to survive, you can bet they’re doing everything they possibly can to keep your network running smoothly. It’s in the MSP’s own personal interest to establish a flawless, predictable system that is efficient and easy to work with. Over time, the MSP will implement repeatable processes to fix issues before your customers feel their effects. Because if the customers experience the problem, the MSP will, too. Unlike break-fix technicians who depend on outages to get paid, MSPs will work with you to build a system that requires the least possible effort on both of your parts. This means your system will integrate seamlessly with your day-to-day activities and rarely suffer any issues at all.

Partnering with a managed services provider may cost a little more upfront, but within months, you’ll experience the massive benefits of a team of IT professionals who actually want your business to succeed. In the long run, the peace of mind and sheer volume of crises you avoid with an MSP will far outweigh the cost.

Posted in eTechTip - AP | Tagged | Leave a comment

Don’t Ever Let Your IT Company Do This To Your Computer Network

Today, when companies need to be lean, nimble and brutally efficient to survive in a competitive marketplace, cutting unnecessary costs is paramount. Unfortunately, it can be easy when you’re on a tight budget to accidentally strip away components of your business that may seem gratuitous but are actually essential to your success.

One of the first things that often ends up on the chopping block in the frenzy to save money is IT. Instead of continually investing in managed IT services, where professionals carefully maintain, protect and update your network month to month, some businesses decide that the best way to keep their technology running smoothly is to simply leave it alone, calling up a professional only when something breaks down.

Of course, this approach forgoes monthly costs and shaves off a fair few dollars from your technology budget in the short run. But while this approach may seem cost-effective, it opens up your business to a huge variety of technological crises, from expensive network outages to cyberattacks that may cripple the very future of your company.

The Problem With A ‘Break-Fix’ Strategy

It can be hard to imagine the huge list of problems that might arise within your network. So, it’s an understandable strategy to wait to do something until an issue becomes a serious problem. At that point, they bring in a professional who – charging by the hour – attempts to suss out and repair whatever may be broken.

It seems like a logical approach, but unfortunately, it’s littered with huge hidden costs. If you’re calling an IT expert only when something in your network is broken, only your most urgent technological needs are addressed. When your technician is being paid an hourly wage to fix a specific issue, there’s no incentive to be proactive with your system. They won’t recommend important, money-saving upgrades or updates, and they will rarely be able to detect a crisis before it happens.

What’s more, the approach “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” very likely leaves huge holes in your security and drastically magnifies the costs of an IT meltdown. If they’re only arriving in the midst of crisis, there’s hardly ever an opportunity for the break-fix technician to strengthen the barriers between you and the hordes of hackers clamoring for your data. They’re on the clock, being closely monitored to fix the problem and then go away. Meanwhile, the security landscape is constantly changing, with criminals and security experts in a back-and-forth arms race to stay abreast of the latest developments.

Without someone managing your system on a regular basis, your protective measures are sure to become woefully out of date and essentially useless against attack.

Why Managed IT Services Are The Answer

When you turn your IT needs to a managed services provider (MSP), you’re entrusting the care of your network to a team of experts who have a real interest in your success. MSP engineers regularly monitor the health of your system, proactively preventing disaster before it enters into the equation and hurts your bottom line. Beyond this preventative care, MSPs do everything they possibly can to maximize the power and efficiency of your equipment, implementing only the best practices and the latest software and updates.

When you invest in an MSP, you may have to invest more funds initially, but likely you’ll save tens of thousands of dollars in the long run by avoiding cyber-attacks, downtime and hourly rates wasted on a technician who doesn’t really care about the future of your business. When you choose an MSP, you’re not just choosing a superior and healthier network – you’re choosing peace of mind.

Posted in eTechTip - PC | Tagged | Leave a comment

5 Ways Your Employees Will Invite Hackers Into Your Network

Whether they’re criminals or heroes, hackers in the movies are always portrayed as a glamorous group. When it comes down to the wire, these are the individuals who crack into the ominous megacorporation or hostile foreign government database, hitting the right key just in the nick of time. They either save the day or bring down regimes, empty the digital vault of the Federal Reserve or disable all the power plants in the country. It’s always a genius up against an impenetrable fortress of digital security, but no matter what, they always come
out on top.

In real life, it’s rarely that difficult. Sure, if you look at the news, you might believe hackers are close to their Hollywood counterparts, stealing data from the NSA and nabbing millions of customer records from Equifax. But the majority of hacks aren’t against the big dogs; they’re against small to mid-sized businesses. And usually, this doesn’t involve actually hacking into anything. A lot of the time – approximately 60% according to the Harvard Business Review – an unwitting employee accidentally leaves the digital front door open.

The biggest threats to your company aren’t teams of roaming hackers; they’re your employees. Here’s why.

1 They’ll slip up because they don’t know any better.

With the proliferation of technology has come an exponential rise in digital threats of such variety and complexity that it’d be impossible for the average person to keep track of it all. Each of your employees’ lives are a labyrinth of passwords, interconnected online accounts and precious data. If their vigilance slacks at any point, it not only leaves them vulnerable, but it leaves your company vulnerable as well. For this reason, most cyber-attacks come down to a lack of cyber security education.

2 They’ll let you get hacked on purpose.

It’s a sad fact that a huge portion of digital attacks are the result of company insiders exposing data to malicious groups. Whether it’s info vital for your competitive advantage, passwords they can sell to hacker networks to make a quick buck or sensitive data they can make public simply to spite your organization, it’s difficult to protect against a double agent.

3 They’ll trust the wrong person.

For many hacks, little code is needed whatsoever. Instead, hackers are notorious for posing as a trusted member of your own team. And if you believe that you’d be able to spot an impostor from a mile away, you may want to think again. Not only is it easier than ever to crack individual users’ e-mail passwords and login credentials, personal info is now littered throughout social media. A simple visit to Facebook can give a hacker all they need to know to “social hack” their way into the heart of your business.

4 They’ll miss red flags while surfing the web.

Clickbait is more than a nuisance plaguing your social media feeds. It can be a powerful tool for hackers trolling for easy prey. If an employee doesn’t understand what exactly makes a site or link look dubious, they may open themselves – and your company – to browser exploits or other types of attacks.

5 They’re terrible at passwords.

According to, “3 out of 4 consumers use duplicate passwords, many of which have not been changed in five years or more.” Even more of those passwords are simply weak, inviting easy access for unsavory elements. Many people brush off the importance of strong passwords, but the risks posed by the password “123456” or “password” cannot be overstated.

When it comes to defending your precious assets against digital threats, it can seem impossible to protect yourself at every turn. But there is one way you can make a concrete change that will tighten up your security more than you realize: educating your people. Through a comprehensive security training program, including specific examples of methods hackers use – particularly phishing – you can drastically minimize the risk of an employee accidentally opening up a malicious e-mail or posting sensitive info. When you make a concerted effort to make the entire organization vigilant against cyber-attacks, you’re much less likely to be targeted.

Posted in eTechTip - PC | Tagged | Leave a comment

Your #1 Hacking Threat Is INSIDE Your Own Organization

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.

Posted in eTechTip - AP | Tagged | Leave a comment

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

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, 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 widereaching 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 emptyhanded.

Posted in eTechTip - AP | Tagged | Leave a comment

WARNING: Your Business Is More Likely to Be the Victim of Cybercrime NOW than Ever Before … Take These Steps Today so You Don’t get Hacked!

Though we’re in the midst of an unprecedented rise in high-profile cybercrime incidents, it’s easy to assume that our own much smaller businesses are safe. Sure, we think, hacking into the data stores of J.P. Morgan, the U.S. Government, or Virgin America can net hackers millions and millions of dollars. Why would they bother with a small business?

But unfortunately for all of us, hackers actually do bother with small businesses across the country — they just don’t make the news. By some estimates, including one reported in Media Planet, more than half of small businesses have had their data compromised. According to, these attacks, targeting small to midsize companies, now compose over 70 percent of all data breaches. What’s worse, this digital onslaught shows no sign of slowing. In fact, ransomware attacks alone have increased 250% since 2016, accompanied by higher rates of malware, phishing, and other forms of cybercrime.

Once you see these numbers, it’s easy to understand why hackers seek the little guy. These days, massive corporations like Google or Citigroup employ incredibly sophisticated digital measures. Their digital vaults, though containing ludicrously attractive sums of potential money to grab, are located at the end of a virtual labyrinth covered in traps, with a final, inches-thick steel door protecting their assets for good measure. In contrast, the digital assets of small businesses are often hidden behind nothing more than a single, often weak, password. With thousands of business owners going about their day-to-day, utterly oblivious to their paper-thin security, the question turns from “Why would hackers bother with my small business?” to “Why wouldn’t they?”

Though cybercriminals may come away with less than they might have had they targeted a Fortune 500, it certainly isn’t going to seem cheap to you. According to one TechRepublic analysis, an average cyber-attack on a small business can cost as much as $256,000. Is that a sudden cost your company can weather?

Luckily, there is hope. Though small business owners often assume that effective cyber security solutions lie far outside their budget range, robust digital security is now more affordable than ever. By investing in comprehensive protection, small businesses can deflect even the most persistent hackers.

Today, a cyber-attack on your business is almost statistically inevitable. And when that attack comes, you’ll definitely want to be prepared. If you haven’t needed a doctor for the past two years, does that mean you’re going to abandon your health insurance coverage? Of course not. What about car insurance? Does it become unnecessary in the absence of a crash? No, because even if you’re the best driver in the world, sometimes a collision is out of your control.

What’s more, both your body and your car require regular upkeep and maintenance to remain in peak condition. It’s no different with your network security. As technology hurdles forward at an ever-increasing speed, the ways that hackers can infiltrate your network multiply. The best digital security platforms constantly update, enabling them to anticipate these shifts and prevent them from becoming liabilities. This way, you can be proactive prior to a digital crisis, ensuring that no matter what comes, your network is protected.

Even as digital crime climbs at a staggering rate, and hundreds of small businesses are forced to close their doors for good, thousands of owners fail to notice, assuming they’ll somehow be spared from an attack. Don’t be one of them. Invest in regularly maintained, powerful cyber security, and ensure the future of your company.

Posted in eTechTip - PC | Tagged | Leave a comment

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

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.

Posted in eTechTip - AP | Tagged | Leave a comment

Do You Really Want The Cheapest Computer Technician Working On Your Company’s Network?

These days, small businesses are more dependent on IT systems than at any other time in history. Because of this, even the slightest technological hiccups in our cyberspace-centered workflow can have expensive, lasting consequences. Perhaps the most dramatic illustration of this occurred back in 2013, when Amazon went dark for half an hour. Sure, it was a paltry 30 minutes, no big deal, until you consider the megagiant was theoretically hemorrhaging $66,240 every 60 seconds, based on their quarterly revenue.

Of course, your company probably isn’t a staple of international commerce like Jeff Bezos’s beloved brainchild. Because of this, many small business owners think that a downed server or small security breach here and there won’t matter too much for their bottom line. For these unlucky few, IT takes a back seat to more “pressing” issues, and they go the cheap route with their technicians. This cost-cutting solution seems like the idea of the year, and will undoubtedly work great for the business — until it doesn’t.

Maybe your long-time technicians fail to notice a piece of outdated equipment, and your server gives up the ghost during peak business hours. Virtually all work grinds to a halt, and your employees are forced to wile away the two hours shooting three-pointers into the trash bins. Add up the two hours of wasted wages for your entire team, the financial cost of missed business, and the much more intangible loss of customer goodwill as they struggle with diminished service on a workday, and you’ll come up with a sum that disabuses any business owner of their illusions about “cheap” IT.

And that’s not even close to the worst-case scenario. Imagine, for a minute, that your technicians assure you, despite the lack of regular monitoring and maintenance, your network is secure. These words of comfort sound nice until the day a team of expert hackers actually attempt to access your systems, and find outdated, ramshackle security solutions in place — basically, a front door left wide open. At that moment, your business becomes a criminal’s playground. They’re free to access financial information and personal data of your customers and employees, hijack your business to send out floods of malicious software and spam, hold nearly every aspect of the company ransom for thousands of dollars, and cause chaos to their heart’s content.

The fact is, fixing problems is a lot more expensive than preventing them. When you cut corners and utilize subpar IT professionals (if any at all), you’re paying for an array of shoddy, Band-Aid solutions that will be applied piecemeal, and usually too late, like a finger plugging a hole in a dam. But when you make a substantial investment in your IT support, you’re investing in the most basic aspects of the future of your company.

Robust network security, dependable computers and servers, consistent Internet access, and other fundamental components of your company network are far from luxury items. These days, technology forms the scaffolding upon which businesses run. If any piece of the operation fails, the whole system suffers, usually accompanied by a fat financial penalty.

There is an ever-growing, endless list of potential technological pitfalls that can have permanent consequences for your business: teams of hackers zeroing in on vulnerable small businesses, rogue employees with a grudge, lost laptops, aging and unreliable hardware, fire, natural disasters, and IT “professionals” that have no idea what they’re doing, to name just a few. As technology progresses, and companies depend increasingly on it to stay competitive, it simply doesn’t make sense to relegate IT to the neglected corners of your budget.

When it comes to business, there’s a lot to worry about these days. A total collapse of your company’s technological infrastructure doesn’t need to be one of them. Invest in a robust, managed IT package from tried-and tested professionals, and leave the worrying to the experts. You can rest assured that our IT team of experts truly has you covered.

Posted in eTechTip - PC | Tagged | Leave a comment

Top Tricks Cybercriminals Use To Hack Your Computer Network

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.

Posted in eTechTip - AP | Tagged | Leave a comment

Cybercriminals Confess: The Top 5 Tricks, Sneaky Schemes And Gimmicks They Use To Hack Your Computer Network

The contemporary world is rife with digital thieves. They’re penetrating the complicated data structures of huge credit-monitoring companies like Equifax, scooping up the personal information of millions of people. They’re releasing sensitive customer data to the public from discreet businesses like Ashley Madison. They’re watching webcam feeds of our celebrities without them knowing; they’re locking down the systems of public utilities like the German railway system; they’re even managing to steal thousands of gigabytes of information directly from high-profile government entities like the CIA.

They’re also targeting small businesses exactly like your own and extorting them for thousands and thousands of dollars. When running a company, it’s vital to have a dedicated security team, equipped with the most up-to-the-minute security technology, on your side to protect you from these malicious cyberthreats. But it’s not enough to leave it to somebody else. You also need to be informed. Here are five of the most common ways hackers infiltrate your network:

1 Phishing Scams

You receive an e-mail in your work inbox coming directly from a high-ranking employee with whom you’ve been working on a project. Inside is a link he needs you to click to access some “vital information,” but when you click it, it rapidly installs a host of malware on the computer, spreads through the network and locks out everyone in the company.

Phishing scams are the oldest trick in a hacker’s book – ever received one of those “Nigerian Prince” scams? – but they’re still wildly successful. Not only that, but they’re becoming increasingly more sophisticated. As Thomas Peters writes for “Newsweek,” “The best messages look like they’re trying to protect the company. One well-meaning system administrator even offered to post a PDF that could deliver malware on an internal server because it was called, ‘How to avoid a phishing attack.’” How’s that for irony?

2 Social Engineering

Social engineering is a type of “hacking” that uses real, well-intentioned people to carry out its schemes, rather than intricate lines of code. This is especially effective for gathering sensitive information that can later be used in another type of attack – e-mail passwords used for phishing scams, for example. Maybe your IT guy receives a call from the “secretary” of one of your clients, pretending that they’re experiencing problems with your service due to some firewall, a problem that your IT professional is more than happy to help out with. Before you know it, the caller knows the ins and outs of your entire security system, or lack thereof. Social engineers have been known to use phone company customer service departments, Facebook and other services to gather Social Security or credit card numbers, prepare for digital robbery and even change the passwords to your central data network security.

3 Password Hacking

You may think that your passwords are clever and complicated, filled with exclamation points and random numbers, but it’s rarely enough. With information gathered carefully from social engineering or a simple check on your employees’ social media accounts, hackers can easily use brute-force to figure out that your password is the name of the family dog, followed by your anniversary (for example). That’s if they didn’t already manage to steal your password through one of the techniques listed above.

4 Fault Injection

Sophisticated hackers can scan your business’s network or software source code for weak points. Once they’re located, they can surgically attempt to crash the system through snippets of code they splice in expressly for that purpose. Different commands can do different things, whether they want to deliver a devastating virus, redirect links on your website to malicious malware or steal and erase vast swathes of information.

5 USB-based Malware

At the last conference you attended, someone probably handed out free branded USB sticks to keep their business top-of-mind. Hackers will sometimes covertly slip a bunch of infected USB sticks into a company’s stash. The instant somebody tries to use one, their computer is taken over by ransomware.

So What Can I Do About It?

It’s a scary world out there, with virtually everyone left vulnerable to digital attack. Knowing the strategies hackers deploy is half the battle. But, frankly, these techniques are constantly changing; it’s impossible to keep up by yourself.

That’s why it’s so important to utilize only the most up-to-date security solutions when protecting your business. Hackers move fast. You and your security technology need to stay one step ahead.

Posted in eTechTip - PC | Tagged | Leave a comment
  • Categories

  • Categories

  • Archives