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Technology

Phishing Attacks In The Real World

 

When was the last time you almost lost $23,000 to a phishing email? This nearly happened to one of our clients this week. Fortunately, this phishing attempt was spotted before the funds were transferred, however, there are a few good lessons to take away from this story and we want to educate you so you can protect your company from these sorts of attacks.

“Bob’s Company” received an email at Accounting@Bobscompany.com. The email was from Bob@Bobsscompany.com.

The email wrote:

“Good Morning,

Please pay the attached invoice in the amount of $23,000.

Thank you,

Bob”
For the accounting manager, this was business as usual. The boss regularly sends requests to the accounting department to have bills paid. At a glance, there is nothing wrong with the email but in this instance, the tone of the email was unusual which caused for further investigation.

This phishing attempt was sophisticated enough to the point where the scam artist even took the time to forge a signature on the attached invoice that matched Bob’s signature. Fortunately, the accounting manager double checked with the boss before processing the transaction. What’s scary is just how close the accounting manager came to processing the payment which is a mistake any one of us could make. If they weren’t paying attention or were just in a hurry, anything could have happened.

What’s important to take away is just how predictable we are. Most companies operate the same way with similar departmental and communication structures. If this wasn’t true then social engineering scams wouldn’t work. This was a close call for just one company and it isn’t hard to believe that whoever sent this email has sent thousands of them and likely got paid on a handful.

These types of attacks are becoming more prevalent than any other because they are cheap, easy and work on businesses of all sizes. “Bob’s Company” is a small business, not a behemoth company that you surmise a hacker would go after. Small businesses are easy targets from a hacker’s perspective because many of them do not invest in security and user training like large companies do.

Some actionable steps you can take to avoid falling prone to this type of attack are:

  1. Avoid using departmental emails like Accounting, Payroll or HR. This lets the hacker know that they are sending the phishing email to the right person making it more likely for the email to have the hackers desired effect.
  2. Use regularly changing keywords when sending requests for a transfer of funds. Change this keyword every month and instruct your staff never to transfer funds without the keyword in the email. This is a really low tech solution but it works. These attacks are intended to trip you up when you aren’t paying attention. The majority of attacks never involve someone spying on your network and learning your passwords and company secrets. Simple though it may be, this is an effective form of two-factor authentication.
  3. Use free spoof phishing tools like KnowBe4 to test your employees to see who is likely to click on phishing emails. Invest in those employees by training them on what to watch out for.

We are living in an ever-developing world where cybercrime is global, the barrier to entry is low and we humans are the weak link in the chain. Since cybercrime has such low risk and high reward these scams will become more frequent and sophisticated. Businesses will have to adapt to these changes and develop strategies to protect their resources. It is important to consult with your IT partner to learn how you can train your employees and set up security measures that will prevent this coming wave of cybercrime.

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Technology Training

Harden Employees Against Ransomware With KnowBe4

Are you curious to see who in your company is most likely to download a virus on your network? Well now you can find out and the best part is, its free. With KnowBe4 you can administer a range of free tools that will allow you to see which of your users is most likely fall for phishing emails.

The sad truth is that some people will click on anything that comes across their email inbox. This is how most network infections start. Till more recently, there hasn’t been a lot anyone could do to prevent this. KnowBe4 allows you to find those trouble users and train them so that this major hole in your network can be filled.

From a compliance standpoint, KnowBe4 offers actionable data that will allow you to show your HIPAA or PCI compliance officer that you are taking actions toward due diligence.

As an IT company, we do our best to prevent major disasters with layered security involving anti-virus, managed firewalls, Office 365 spam filtering, security permissions and most important, great backups. Even with all of these security measures in place, there isn’t a foolproof method to ensuring that a few phishing emails won’t slip by unnoticed. We rely on backups to get our clients up an running quickly but even under the best of conditions, it is still better for the virus to have never been clicked on to begin with.

For a small investment in time, you can’t afford to not use these great free tools from KnowBe4. Take a few minutes to watch our new video on how to get started with KnowBe4 and harder you users against malicious emails.

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Technology Training

Learn how to use a VPN

You may have heard of, or even used, a virtual private network (VPN), but do you know what it is? A VPN is an encrypted tunnel through a wide area network (WAN), also known as the Internet. This means that the network does not have to be located in one physical location, unlike a local area network (LAN). By using encryption and other security measures, a VPN can scramble all the data sent through the WAN, so the network is “virtually” private. In other words, a VPN allows you to access the files on your local network over the internet from an airport, coffee shop or another country, and you will be as secure as if you were sitting in your office.

Businesses commonly use VPNs to communicate across multiple locations. A large company that has offices in several cities may need to send data between their locations via the Internet. To keep the information secure, the company will set up a VPN with an encrypted connection, effectively giving the company a secure intranet over the Internet.

In this video, we will show how you can download one of the many VPN services on your computer. Once downloaded, we will show you how to set up and use this tool. Although there are many VPN options to choose from, most of them work the same way. If you are going to be traveling for work, or need to work from home or a coffee shop, it is important to send and receive sensitive data over a VPN. Otherwise, you are opening a direct access to all of your company’s sensitive information, and risk a security breach. For more information, or if you would like to set up a VPN for your company, contact eTop today.

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Technology

Stop Ransomware In It’s Tracks

Today we are going to review a brilliant tool that stops ransomware and other spam in its tracks. It’s called Sendio Opt-Inbox, and it’s more than just antivirus and spam filtering; it’s all of that combined with two-factor authentication, meaning that if anyone sends you an email, a human has to verify that they sent that email to you.

Sendio
Sendio Anti Ransomware Protection

This nifty tool is different because it completely filters out mass email attacks. Ransomware is a numbers game; large scale attacks use automated systems to send out thousands of emails, knowing that some portion of those emails will inevitably succeed. However, hackers and their automated systems do not account for any kind of authentication process.

When you sign up for Sendio, you are opting to re-route your mail through their system. This allows them to run a series of scans on the email and check the IP address to see if the email is coming from a trusted source. Before Sendio hands off the email to you, the sender will go through the “Sender Address Verification SAV” process or their email won’t be delivered. This means that someone actually has to tell Sendio “It’s okay, I’m a real person and I want to have a conversation with the addressee.” Sendio makes sure that you are only having meaningful conversations with people who you want to talk to.

What about automated emails, like newsletters, that you voluntarily subscribe to? Sendio takes this one step further: you can not only choose to trust certain newsletters, but also choose when these emails get sent to your inbox.

Is this new fancy widget expensive, or even worth the extra cost? The starting price is $34 per month, and the pricing changes depending on whether you have Sendio host the application for you, or if you host it on your own network. You can run a quick cost-benefit analysis to see if an application like Sendio would be cost effective for you and your organization. Go to the store and get a cheap stop watch, and click the stopwatch every time you sort through junk mail. Do this for a month, and you will see how much time you could save sorting through junk mail alone. Multiply this estimate by the number of employees in your company, and you can see that a product like Sendio is easily worth the price. Beyond the amount of sheer time saved, you can assume increased productivity, and thus an additional capacity to increase revenue. Furthermore, a product like Sendio could save you countless amounts of time, money, and data loss by preventing ransomware attacks.

It sounds great, but are there any downsides to this magical tool? Unfortunately, no tools on the market are 100% foolproof. Potentially, if you are subject to a highly targeted attack, the attacker could manually go through the verification process, assuming that Sendio hasn’t already flagged their domain or IP address for fraudulent behavior. However, with the high volume of fraudulent emails sent out by hackers every day, it seems improbable for hackers to find an effective way around this new gateway.

Ransomware has caused too many executives and management sleepless nights and it is time for a system that can help you take back your peace of mind. Talk to your IT partner about implementing Sendio across your network. Get you time back, become more efficient, and most importantly, get a few more hours of sleep!

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Technology

How to prepare for ransomware

Lately, there has been a lot of talk about ransomware: a type of computer virus that encrypts your files and holds them for ransom. Worse yet, there is no guarantee that your data will be released if you pay the ransom fee. In light of the most recent ransomware attack called “WannaCry” that infected a substantial number of businesses in Europe, it is important that you are taking measures to ensure that your business is safe.

Antivirus and firewall concept with businessman protected with umbrella

If you are not familiar with the statistics, ransomware was a billion dollar industry in 2016, and every cyber criminal knows it. There is exceptional financial motivation for these scams to be produced indefinitely, and they become increasingly sophisticated every day. As a business owner, ransomware is a constant threat that cannot be ignored.

Playing defense in the ransomware game is a layered approach, with several security methods to prevent ransomware from getting to your network. The first line of defense includes anti-virus, a good firewall, and effective spam filtering. The next important step in any security plan is user training. Ransomware is generally not a problem until someone within your network clicks on the wrong email or web link. The final layer of defense are things like an insurance policy or data backups.

Preferably, investing in each one of these layers is best practice. However, if you have to choose one component over another, backups are the most important investment that you can make. With a good backup system, you may lose some time and a nominal amount of data after an attack, but you will be able to restore your data without the ransomware affecting your business.

In addition to having the data backups in place, it is also essential to ensure that your backups are up-to-date and running properly. Backups have a tendency to face errors that can disrupt a backup schedule. With proper backup monitoring, you may find that your backups were not operating as expected, thus leaving your data vulnerable.

Talk to your IT professional to ensure that you have both preventative security measures and contingencies in place to protect your data in the event of a ransomware attack.

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Technology

Scam Email and Phishing Attempts

As an IT support company, we are always telling our friends and clients to be cautious with what they click on or whom they give personal information to. Most people know to avoid giving money to a Nigerian price, but scams and phishing attempts are becoming more advanced every day. Many scam emails disguise themselves as people or companies we already know and trust. You must always be diligent to avoid falling for the latest tricks. Today, we came across a good example within our own company that illustrates why being cautious is so important.

Even IT Companies Get “Phishy” Emails!

Capture

What is wrong with this picture? First of all, Sara was not expecting to make any immediate transfers. Secondly, there is no reference to what is being purchased or the reason for a transfer of funds.

Once your alarm bells begin to go off, you will start to notice additional red flags. For example, what is wrong with williampote@etoptechnollogy.com? Notice that the domain etoptechnology.com only has one “L”, as seen in Sara’s email address. However, if you examine at William’s email address, you can see that it contains the wrong domain. If you did not closely examine the sender’s email address, this detail could easily be missed.

In addition to the wrong domain name, there is another tip-off that this email is a scam. The sender signed the email with the nickname “Bill,” but William does not go by Bill.

Had Sara missed these red flags and fallen for the phishing email, she may have replied to confirm that she is ready to make a transfer. She would likely have received a reply email with a link to a wire transfer site that would take her money, never to be seen again. Although this seems like a crude method to steal money, it has led to businesses losing millions in a single transaction.

What Can I Do?

No matter how good your firewalls, antivirus, and other security measures are, there will always be threats like these that slip through. Though the potential for phishing may be intimidating, you can generally protect yourself by following these tips:

1. Keep your guard up and be cautious

2. If you receive an email or any correspondence that you were not expecting, especially relating to requests for money or personal information, verify with the sender through an alternate source like a phone call. Wherever possible, attempt to find the sender’s contact information through Google or some other means, rather than contacting them through the information they supplied.

3. Always closely examine the domain in your senders’ emails and any subsequent websites you get directed to.

4. If you think you have received a phishing attempt, or you already fell for one and think your email or network has been breached, contact your IT provider immediately. Better to be safe than sorry!

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Technology

Popcorn Time Ransomware

While everyone is in the spirit of giving this holiday season, there is something to say about giving for the wrong reason. A new strand of ransomware is a good example of this. It’s called Popcorn Time. This new strand of ransomware will allow you two options if your computer is infected. You can choose to pay the ransom or you can choose to forward the ransomeware email on to other people in your contacts. If your efforts successfully infect two other computers, you will receive a decryption code for your computer.


Image result for popcorn time ransomware


Up to this point, this method had been unheard of and it pushes the boundary of social engineering scams to a new level. This method is likely to make the infection rate significantly higher as the ransomeware is coming from a trusted and legitimate source. Another nasty feature of Popcorn Time is that if you enter a false decryption code four times, it will start deleting files.
It can’t be stressed enough that unless you are expecting an email, you should not open any attachments unless you have confirmed the legitimacy of the email through another source of communication. Like with any other ransomeware, if your computer is infected, your best hope is to rely on your data backup system.
As an IT New Years resolutions it may be a worthy pursuit to be sure that your backups are running smoothly and if you haven’t made the investment into a backup solution yet, there has never been a better time. These social engineering scams are real and are becoming more and more clever by the day. Protect your investments and your company by putting up measures to insure against attacks like these. For more information, contact eTop for a free consultation.

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Technology Training

How To Block Web Browser Ads

If you are tired of ads constantly cluttering your internet browser then there is a solutions. Maybe you own a business and you are looking to add an extra layer of protection to keep your employees from clicking on links that they shouldn’t. AdBlock Plus is a great free tool that allows you to keep your browser clean and free from distractions. Hint, this trick also works for your free Pandora account if you don’t feel like paying their monthly subscription.

As an IT company we have found that some employees will click on whatever they see. With adds becoming more and more personalized, it is easy to find yourself getting distracted. The best way to deal with ads is to keep them from popping up at all. You can’t click on what you can’t see. This simple program could save your computer or your company network from a lot of trouble. At the very least it will make your employees more efficient.

To begin, download AdBlock Plus. Once downloaded you will need to open the program and set up your filters. AdBlock Plus has already created a comprehensive filter, however, if you would like certain sites to server you adds then you are free to set up white lists. Once you have your filters set you will be able to surf the web free from distractions.

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Technology

Train Employees What To Click On

October is cyber security month – a month dedicated to ensuring that you and your business are as safe from online threats as possible.
Cyber security threats are real, and they are more common than you may think. Whether it is a phishing scam coming through your e-mail or targeted malware, cyber criminals are constantly coming up with new ways to target your business.
Unfortunately, no matter how effective your network security is, there’s one factor that you can’t account for – and that’s the human users on your system. Unfortunately, many phishing scams are becoming so good that it’s easy for intelligent, aware people to be sucked into their trap.
Thankfully, with all of the constantly evolving threats out there, a new industry is emerging. Companies are now being created that focus solely on identifying and preventing threats to cyber security.
One example of these companies is knowbe4.com, a site that offers security awareness training to employees who may not be aware of the best strategies for avoiding phishing attacks. The site also offers simulated phishing attacks for practical testing, and statistics to demonstrate how effective the training efforts have been.  Other similar education programs include Secureworks and Rapid7.
When it comes to avoiding cyber security threats, the best offense is a good defense. Training your employees to recognize phishing scams and avoid falling prey to their schemes is one of the best investments you can make for your business’ network security system.
These companies are experts at targeting specific cyber threats and in-depth training. However, there are several general guidelines for cyber security that you and your employees can be begin implementing immediately.
Firstly, phishers can imitate internal e-mail addresses, so attachments in e-mails should never be opened unless they are expected. For the same reason, it’s best to avoid sending sensitive information over e-mail – confirm through another method of communication to make sure that it is necessary before doing so. Lastly, use extreme caution when clicking on links or images online or on e-mail – if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Extreme caution should always be used online in order to ensure that your network remains as secure as possible.
Even though cyber security threats are highlighted in October, they are a constant threat to businesses of all kinds and sizes. If you have any concerns about your business’ current level of network security, want security education for your employees, or are interested in learning more about the education programs mentioned above, call eTop Technology. We will be able to help you tailor your approach to cyber security for your industry and business needs.

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Technology Training

Use Windows Defender in Windows 10 to Keep Your Computer Safe

Windows Defender is Microsoft’s security and threat detection software that is built into Windows 10. Windows Defender is a great tool that is rarely utilized and is completely free with the Windows 10 operating system. To use this tool you will need to go into your settings and make sure that Windows Defender is on and up to date.
Begin by navigating to the start menu on your desktop screen. Click on the settings button on the start menu and select “Update and Security” from the list of options under Windows Settings. Here you will find Windows Defender. Open Windows Defender and you will be able to see the status of your computer, your security history and you will be able to scan your computer for any infections. You will need to make sure that Windows Defender is turned on and all of the definitions are up to date. Once that is done, simply select “Full Scan” form the list of options and press the “Scan Now” button. This scan could take some time to finish so make sure that you start this scan when you do not need your computer for anything important.
Once this scan is done you will see a list of all malware that is hidden on your computer and you can make sure to delete it. If you find that you are having a problem with malware and Windows Defender is not able to resolve the issue then give eTop Technology a call! We’re here to help!