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- Windows 8.1 Just Lost All Support. Here's What You Need to Know
The latest operating system to lose all support is Windows 8.1. The OS was released in 2013 and was officially retired on January 10, 2023. Microsoft issued the following warning for companies: “Continuing to use Windows 8.1 after January 10, 2023 may increase an organization’s exposure to security risks or impact its ability to meet compliance obligations.” Here are a few facts you should know: The OS Will Still Technically Work Your System Will No Longer Receive Security Patches Options for Upgrading are Windows 10 or 11 What Happens If I Don’t Upgrade? Security & Compliance Issues Slowed Productivity Incompatibility With Newer Tools Get Help With Your Windows Upgrades Give us a call today to schedule a chat about upgrades and where your security stands. Companies both large and small share this one cybersecurity problem. They have computers that are still running older operating systems. Staff might use these devices only occasionally. Or the company may be running customized software that won’t run on newer OS versions. The problem is that when the OS becomes outdated, the system is open to cyberattacks. When Microsoft or another developer retires an OS, it means that it is no longer supported. No more feature updates and no more security patches for newly found vulnerabilities. The latest operating system to lose all support is Windows 8.1. Microsoft released the OS in 2013, and it was officially retired on January 10, 2023. Microsoft issued the following warning for companies: “Continuing to use Windows 8.1 after January 10, 2023 may increase an organization’s exposure to security risks or impact its ability to meet compliance obligations.” Here are a few facts you should know about what this retirement of Windows 8.1 means. The OS Will Still Technically Work When an operating system reaches its end of life, it doesn’t just stop working. Thus, many companies go on using it without realizing the security risk. Technically, the OS will work as it did the day before retirement. But it’s a lot less safe due to the loss of support. Your System Will No Longer Receive Security Patches Software and OS vulnerabilities are sought out and exploited all the time. This is what hackers do for a living. The vulnerability cycle usually begins with hackers finding a software “loophole.” They then write code to exploit it that allows them some type of system access. The software developer learns of this, usually once hackers start breaching systems. They write code to fix that vulnerability. Developers then send the fix to users via an update that they install. This protects the device from one or more hacker exploits. When an OS reaches its end of life, these fixes are no longer made. The developer has moved on to focus on its newer products. So, the vulnerability remains. It leaves a device vulnerable to hacks for days, months, or years afterward. Approximately 61% of security vulnerabilities in corporate networks are over five years old. Options for Upgrading If you have a computer that is still running Windows 8.1, you have two options for upgrading. You can opt for Windows 10 or Windows 11. If the computer is running such an old OS, there is a chance your system may not meet the requirements for one or both. In this case, you may need to buy a new device altogether. Microsoft states that there is no free option to upgrade from 8.1 to Windows 10 or 11. Some of the advantages you gain when upgrading include: Better built-in security Faster processing Capability for more modern features (like facial recognition) Improved accessibility features Updated productivity tools (like snap layouts in Windows 11) What Happens If I Don’t Upgrade? Security & Compliance Issues Your data security is at risk if you stay on Windows 8.1. Without any security updates, any vulnerabilities will stay unpatched. This leaves your system highly vulnerable to a breach. One hacked system on a network can also cause the breach or malware infection to spread to newer devices. If you have to comply with a data privacy regulation, like HIPAA, you’ll also run into issues. Data privacy rules dictate making reasonable efforts to protect data. Using a device with an outdated OS jeopardizes meeting compliance. Slowed Productivity The older systems get, the slower they get. Staff that must work on outdated software often complain that it hurts productivity. 77% of surveyed employees were frustrated with outdated tech. Employees dealing with outmoded systems may also quit. They are 450% more likely to want to leave and work elsewhere. An outdated operating system can hold your staff back. They miss out on modern time-saving features. They can also run into problems with bugs that will no longer get fixed. Incompatibility With Newer Tool Software and hardware developers aren’t looking back. Once Microsoft retires an OS, they aren’t prioritizing its compatibility. In fact, some may not want their product to be compatible with it because of the liability. When you have issues using modern software and hardware it hurts your business. You become less competitive and begin to fall behind. Staying on an outmoded OS keeps you stuck in the past. Get Help With Your Windows Upgrades It can be intimidating to upgrade your system’s operating system. Why not get a pro to help? We can help you upgrade smoothly from an older Windows OS to a new one. If you need a new system, we can point you in the right direction for the best value. Give us a call today to schedule a chat about upgrades and where your security stands. Republished with Permission from The Technology Press
- Cool Windows 11 Features That May Make You Love This OS
Microsoft released the Windows 11 operating system (OS) over a year ago Yet with several improvements and a free upgrade for Windows 10 users, it still lags in adoption. As of November 2022, Windows 10 had a 69.75% usage share. It was 16.13% for Windows 11. Windows 11 packs a lot of great productivity and security benefits. Here are some of the coolest features in this current Windows OS. Snap Layouts Master Search Clipchamp Video Editor MS Teams Video Audio & Text Messaging Accessibility Features Collections in Microsoft Edge Microsoft Defender SmartScreen Looking for someone in the Pooler or Savannah area to talk to? Talk to us today if you want a non-salesy chat about your computer or I.T. needs. Microsoft released the Windows 11 operating system (OS) over a year ago. It was largely well-received as stable and user-friendly. The OS is not a large departure from the Windows 10 experience. But it does offer a lot of enhancements over the older environment. Yet with several improvements and a free upgrade for Windows 10 users, it still lags in adoption. As of November 2022, Windows 10 still owns the lion’s share of Windows PCs. It has a 69.75 percent usage share as compared to 16.13 percent for Windows 11. People are slowly upgrading to the newer OS. But it’s natural for some to take a wait-and-see stance. They want to make sure it’s worth the time to upgrade. Additionally, no one wants to have to relearn their computer desktop. The good news is that Windows 11 has a similar workspace feel to its predecessor. But it packs a lot of great productivity and security benefits that Windows 10 lacks. Here are some of the coolest features in this current Windows OS. After taking a look, you may choose to go ahead and take the plunge into the Windows 11 universe. Snap Layouts Most people are working with more than one app open at a time. It’s not unusual to need to reference two different windows while doing side-by-side work. Switching back and forth between apps can be tedious. It’s also time-consuming. Approximately 68% of app users say that switching between apps costs them at least 30 minutes per day. Trying to size two windows next to each other can also be frustrating. You lose the scroll bar or can’t get to the menu items unless you resize. Enter snap layouts. This nifty feature in Windows 11 solves the multi-app problem. Simply hover over the maximize icon at the top of any window to get access to a snap layout. Choose the area you want for the active app, and it will snap into place and allow you to choose apps for the other slots. Master Search Need to find a document, website, image, or app quickly? Use the Windows 11 master search. Just click the search icon on your desktop. You’ll get a search bar that will populate results from the entered keyword. As an added touch, Microsoft populates fun topics into the search bar daily. Learn more about James Webb Space Telescope, Coffee Day, or other fun subjects. Once you enter your keyword, you can further refine your search. Refine it according to the type of search result you want. (apps, documents, web, etc.). Clipchamp Video Editor In the latest Windows 11 update, Microsoft gifted users with a free video editor. The new Clipchamp app makes it easy to edit videos. You don't need to download any extra software. Image from Microsoft Clipchamp has a lot of the features you’d expect to have to pay for. These include templates, effects, video resizing, green screen, and more. MS Teams Video, Audio & Text Messaging Video calls have become the norm since the pandemic. But not all video software is easy to use. Most of us have had to wait on someone late to a call because they were struggling with the app. Windows 11 comes with Microsoft Teams preinstalled. This gives you a simple click-to-call experience. You can easily invite someone to a video or audio call. The person does not need to have a Microsoft account to connect with you. This makes things easy on both sides. Another great feature of the Teams app in this OS is the fact that you can use it for SMS messaging. Instead of having to drag out your phone, just text someone from your desktop. Accessibility Features Windows 11 has some great accessibility features. They're designed to help ensure everyone can use their computer as they want. Those with disabilities can enjoy these features. As well as those that like the extra flexibility they offer. Four of the newest accessibility features in the OS include: System-wide live captions Focus sessions Voice access More natural voices for Narrator, Windows’ built-in screen reader Collections in Microsoft Edge Microsoft Edge is the default browser for Windows. It’s worth checking out if you haven’t yet. Especially because of a feature called “collections.” If your bookmarked favorites are becoming a mess, you’ll love this Edge capability. If you click the “plus” icon at the top of an Edge browser window, you’ll get the collections panel. Add a collection subject and click to add webpages. You can see a preview of what you’ve added, and everything is nicely organized. Collections are easy to access and easy to delete when you’re finished with them. Microsoft Defender SmartScreen Phishing remains the biggest online security threat. It’s used to enable many forms of cyberattacks, from ransomware to credential theft. A significant number of phishing messages send users to malicious websites. You often don’t know until it’s too late that you’ve landed on a malware-laden site. Windows 11 includes Microsoft Defender SmartScreen. This app helps protect you from those dangerous phishing sites. The app checks URLs in real-time against a dynamic list of reported phishing sites. It will warn you if a site is potentially dangerous. Want an Expert to Help with Your Windows 11 Upgrade? It can be intimidating to upgrade your system’s operating system. Why not get a pro to help? Give us a call today to schedule a chat about a Windows upgrade. Republished with Permission from The Technology Press
- Finding the Right IT Provider: Avoid These 7 Mistakes
Your business can benefit a lot from working with an IT provider. However, you need to avoid several key mistakes when choosing your team. Time spent on trying to figure out the technology you use in your business can be costly. While doing that, you can’t focus on your business needs, which can then result in poor customer satisfaction. This is where IT providers come into play. They enable you to outsource hardware and computing-related services, such as managed IT security and cloud computing. IT providers can also provide a robust IT infrastructure so that you can direct your attention to revenue-generating activities. While there are numerous IT providers to choose from, not all of them may accommodate your business’s specific needs. And integrating with the wrong team can raise your spending due to irrelevant services, recurring security issues, data backup problems, and downtime. Therefore, you need to be extra careful when selecting your team. The only way to avoid disappointment is to avoid these eight common mistakes when looking for the right IT provider. THE SEVEN MISTAKES MISTAKE #1 - INSISTING ON THE NEWEST TECHNOLOGY Many advertisers want to trick you into believing that the latest technology will resolve all your issues. While the newest virtualization or cloud offerings can boost operations in many enterprises, they might not suit your business. Hence, don’t let the hype surrounding new products dazzle you. Carefully consider the results your IT provider will help you achieve and determine if the investment enables you to fulfill them. Your provider shouldn’t confuse you with state-of-the-art features – they should guide you and allow for seamless integration. MISTAKE #2 - FAILURE TO CONSIDER THE RESPONSE TIMES Determining the response times of your prospective IT providers is essential. You need to ask them how long they usually take to reply to queries and resolve problems. Be sure to gauge their onsite support efficiency, too. Not inquiring about their availability is another grave error. Your IT team should provide round-the-clock services, including specialists that will monitor your system. Constant monitoring and availability can help ensure you can detect IT issues early. With this, the provider can immediately administer patches and updates to safeguard against disasters. Furthermore, your IT provider should offer simple access to their desk support. You should be able to contact them via email, phone, and chat for instant guidance. MISTAKE #3 - NEGLECTING THE SECURITY ASPEC Disregarding the security features of your IT provider might be the most severe mistake. Teams with improper defense mechanisms can’t shield your system from cyber attackers, increasing the risk of losing data and access to resources. To avoid this, look for IT providers that can protect you from malware and other threats. They also need to prioritize protecting your business’s confidential data, like trade secrets and customer information. When it comes to specific security measures, your IT provider should have features that prevent data intrusions instantly upon detection. The list includes phishing attacks simulations, web content filtering, DNS security, endpoint protection, mobile device management, and dark web protection. In addition, responsible teams should eliminate point-of-sale and network intrusions before they compromise your system. Making sure they abide by security compliance and government regulations is also paramount MISTAKE #4 - FORGETTING THE BUDGET Many IT companies operate under pay-as-you-go pricing schemes. Although this helps you minimize upfront investment, adopting a large number of technologies simultaneously without considering the recurring costs can cripple your finances. Thus, think twice before signing on the dotted line. Research your providers thoroughly and draft your budget with professional assistance. These steps can prevent considerable frustration down the line. MISTAKE #5 - NOT DETERMINING SCALABILITY One of the biggest impediments to growing your company is choosing an IT provider with poor scalability. By contrast, scalable IT teams allow your business to evolve and grow. They can continually extend their services to accommodate your company’s goals, even if these goals change MISTAKE #6 - OPTING FOR A NON-RESPONSIVE SERVICE LEVEL AGREEMENT Service level agreements (SLAs) hold IT providers accountable for their services. It establishes standards for responsibilities, quality, scope, and delivery time in writing. Without it, you’ll have no way of ensuring transparent collaboration. When selecting your IT provider, find one with a responsive agreement. It can help guarantee the SLA scales with their services while rendering continual improvement. MISTAKE #7 - IGNORING EXPERIENCES WITH PREVIOUS CLIENTS Choosing an IT provider is similar to buying standard products and services. Failure to check user reviews can lead to disappointment. To get a clear picture of your IT team’s capabilities, analyze their current and previous clients from similar industries. Look for reviews, testimonials, and ask the provider for a list of projects and references. After doing your due diligence, you should be able to tell whether an IT provider is an ideal match for your company. However, keep in mind that every IT team is different. For instance, they might be well-versed in the healthcare industry but have no experience working with retailers. That’s why as mentioned, stick to IT providers servicing your industry to get the best results. FIND THE RIGHT FIT Nobody wants to end up with a poor IT provider that can’t deliver great results, leaves your company open to cyberattacks, and causes other vulnerabilities. Your investment goes down the drain, and your operations suffer. Luckily, we can show you a way out. Let’s arrange a quick, 10-15-minute obligation-free chat. We can discuss more ways on how to find the right IT provider for you and ensure you get your money’s worth. Republished with Permission from The Technology Press
- What Is an MSP (And How to Choose the Right One for Your Business)
Managing data and IT solutions in-house can be challenging and expensive. That's why many organizations turn to MSPs. Digitalization has forced businesses to alter their operations and make IT a huge part of their day-to-day affairs. Still, some owners can't cope with the change effectively, so they hire a managed service provider, or MSP, to take care of the work. But what exactly is an MSP? Simply put, this is a third-party company you can collaborate with to help manage parts of your business, such as your IT or cloud needs. It provides technology and expertise to boost your organization’s scalability. Working with MSPs can have tremendous benefits for your enterprise. For instance, their profound understanding of cutting-edge technology can help you improve performance, operations, and security while reducing overheads. In addition, they can offer several creative solutions to help you navigate the evolving landscape of the big data world. But the strongest suit of any MSP is usually their ability to deliver tailor-made solutions that fit your company perfectly. Their expertise allows them to analyze your business thoroughly and render their services according to your strengths and weaknesses. Plus, they consider the regulatory environment and compliance to safeguard against legal issues. Another great thing about MSPs is that they can support your business even after hours. They offer support measures and staff to maintain and protect your organization 24/7. MSPs can even tap into your system to resolve issues and deploy updates without going to your office using remote technology. Overall, MSPs can help take your company to the next level. However, you can't work with just any service provider. You need to select the right team for your enterprise, and this article will show you how. CHOOSING AN MSP – WHAT TO LOOK FOR Hiring an MSP shouldn't be a hasty decision. Instead, you want to take a variety of factors into account. Here are the five important factors to keep in mind: FACTOR #1. THE MSP'S TRACK RECORD Prospective MSPs should provide case studies and success stories to demonstrate they're suitable for your business. You can also look for testimonials, references, and endorsements. These will help you determine if the team has been operating for a while and if its reputation is solid. Working with a reputable MSP can give you peace of mind with the knowledge that your system will be appropriately managed. Moreover, you'll feel confident that the MSP will do all in its power to preserve its name. The MSP's success hinges on yours in some respect, which is why they'll view you as a valuable partner. FACTOR #2. THE RANGE OF SERVICES IT PROVIDES MSPs offer a wide array of services. Some teams are full-service companies, meaning they address your cloud and IT needs comprehensively. In contrast, others may help you with different pieces of your tech puzzle. Therefore, consider your needs carefully and ensure your MSP can meet them. Regardless of your service package, the MSP needs to keep up with the latest technology trends. Otherwise, numerous security issues may compromise your company and allow the competition to prevail over you. FACTOR #3. RESPONSE TIME Your network can go down for any number of reasons, preventing your employees from working and your clients from reaching you. This situation can even cripple your reputation, customer base, and revenue. In the worst-case scenario, it can even make you shut down your business. Fortunately, a high-quality MSP can help you avoid this scenario. They can identify threats to your system and neutralize them before hurting your company. Moreover, if an incident takes place, they should respond immediately. They need to mitigate the risks as soon as possible to keep your organization from crumbling. FACTOR #4. SECURITY AND BACKUP One of the most important duties your MSP should perform is to shield your data from cyberattacks. This is critical to protecting your company and customers. Besides, safe data storage might be mandatory in your industry, which is why your IT department could use all the help they can get. Once you work with an MSP, they should recommend robust security solutions and endpoint protection to combat harmful software. And throughout their engagement, they should consider compliance to help prevent legal issues. Another major part of their mission should be the implementation of backup software. It enables you to retrieve your data in case of a breach. Such implementation may involve automation, a restoration plan, and a no-downtime policy. With a failproof backup and security strategy in place, you should be able to run your company more confidently. The risk of downtime will be drastically lower, allowing you to operate smoothly, maintain high sales, retain customers, and preserve your brand. FACTOR #5. GUIDANCE ON WORKFLOW OPTIONS Your MSP shouldn't just deal with cybersecurity – they should also suggest adopting the best practices across the entire tech landscape. For example, they should advise you on various CRM solutions and project management applications. They should also help you revamp your approach to workflow and data to create efficiency in all departments. The fact is, you can yield tremendous results from their guidance. Your team can work faster, collaborate in real time, and be more tech-savvy. RECRUIT YOUR MSP CAREFULLY While price is important when selecting an MSP, it pales in comparison to all the factors listed above. Be sure they're a perfect fit for your enterprise, even if you need to pay more. With high expertise, customized services, and an understanding of threats, a reputable team can help you stay ahead of your competitors. If you need more assistance choosing your MSP, get in touch with our experienced team. Let's schedule a quick 15-minute chat and figure out the ideal MSP for your company. Republished with Permission from The Technology Press
- Simple List to Follow for Better Endpoint Protection
Are you monitoring all the different endpoints that connect to your network? Each of these represents a potential data breach. Learn how to better protect your network with this simple endpoint protection guide. Endpoints make up much of a company’s network and IT infrastructure. This is a collection of computers, mobile devices, servers, and smart gadgets. As well as other IoT devices that all connect to the company network. The number of endpoints a company has will vary by business size. Companies with less than 50 employees have about 22 endpoints. Small businesses with 50-100 employees have roughly 114. Enterprise organizations with 1,000+ employees average 1,920 endpoints. Each of those devices is a chance for a hacker to penetrate a company’s defenses. They could plant malware or gain access to sensitive company data. An endpoint security strategy addresses endpoint risk and puts focused tactics in place. 64% of organizations have experienced one or more compromising endpoint attacks. In this guide, we’ll provide you with straightforward solutions. Solutions focused on the protection of endpoint devices. Address Password Vulnerabilities Passwords are one of the biggest vulnerabilities when it comes to endpoints. The news reports large data breaches all the time related to leaked passwords. For example, there is the RockYou2021 breach. It exposed the largest number of passwords ever – 3.2 billion. Poor password security and breaches make credential theft one of the biggest dangers to cybersecurity. Address password vulnerabilities in your endpoints by: Training employees on proper password creation and handling Look for passwordless solutions, like biometrics Install multi-factor authentication (MFA) on all accounts Apply Security Policies Throughout the Device Lifecycle From the time a device is first purchased to the time it retires, you need to have security protocols in place. Tools like Microsoft AutoPilot and SEMM allow companies to automate. They deploy healthy security practices across each lifecycle phase. This ensures a company doesn't miss any critical steps. Examples of device lifecycle security include when a device is first issued to a user. This is when you should remove unnecessary privileges. When a device moves from one user to another, it needs to be properly cleaned of old data. And reconfigured for the new user. When you retire a device, it should be properly scrubbed. This means deleting all information and disconnecting it from any accounts. Update All Endpoint Security Solutions You should regularly update your endpoint security solutions. It’s best to automate software updates if possible so they aren’t left to chance. Firmware updates are often forgotten about. One reason is that they don’t usually pop up the same types of warnings as software updates. But they are just as important for ensuring your devices remain secure and protected. It’s best to have an IT professional managing all your endpoint updates. They'll make sure updates happen in a timely fashion. They will also ensure that devices and software update smoothly. Use Modern Device & User Authentication How are you authenticating users to access your network, business apps, and data? If you are using only a username and password, then your company is at high risk of a breach. Use two modern methods for authentication: Contextual authentication Zero Trust approach Contextual authentication takes MFA a step further. It looks at context-based cues for authentication and security policies. These include several things. Such as, what time of day someone is logging in, their geographic location, and the device they are using. Zero Trust is an approach that continuously monitors your network. It ensures every entity in a network belongs there. Safelisting of devices is an example of this approach. You approve all devices for access to your network and block all others by default. Stop Malware Infection Before OS Boot USB drives (also known as flash drives) are a popular giveaway item at trade shows. But an innocent-looking USB can actually cause a breach. One trick that hackers use to gain access to a computer is to boot it from a USB device containing malicious code. There are certain precautions you can take to prevent this from happening. One of these is ensuring you’re using firmware protection that covers two areas. These include Trusted Platform Module (TPM) and Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) Security. TPM is resistant to physical tampering and tampering via malware. It looks at whether the boot process is occurring properly. It also monitors for the presence of anomalous behavior. Additionally, seek devices and security solutions that allow you to disable USB boots. Prepare for Device Loss or Theft Unfortunately, mobile devices and laptops get lost or stolen. When that happens, you should have a sequence of events that can take place immediately. This prevents company's risk of data and exposed business accounts. Prepare in advance for potential device loss through backup solutions. Also, you should use endpoint security that allows remote lock and wipe for devices. Reduce Your Endpoint Risk Today! Get help putting robust endpoint security in place, step by step. We can help! Contact us today for a free consultation. Republished with Permission from The Technology Press
- 9 Urgent Security Tips for Online Holiday Shopping
The holiday shopping season is taking off. This means that scammers have also revved up their engines. You need to beware, so you’re not scammed. Here are some critical safety tips to improve your online holiday shopping Check for Device Updates Before You Shop Don’t Go to Websites from Email Links Use a Wallet App Where Possible Remove Any Saved Payment Cards After Checking Out Make Sure the Site Uses HTTPS (Emphasis on “S”) Double Check the Site URL Never Shop Online When on Public Wi-Fi Be On High Alert for Brand Impersonation Emails & Texts Enable Banking Alerts & Check Your Account Contact us today for a security checkup. The holiday shopping season is taking off. This means that scammers have also revved up their engines. They're primed and ready to take advantage of all those online transactions. Don’t forget to stay safe online during the buying frenzy that occurs this time of year. An ounce of cybersecurity prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure. It can also save you from a financial or privacy nightmare. Here are some of the most critical safety tips to improve your online holiday shopping. Check for Device Updates Before You Shop Computers, tablets, and smartphones that have old software are vulnerable. While you may not want to wait through a 10-minute iPhone update, it’s going to keep you more secure. Hackers often use vulnerabilities found in device operating systems. Updates install patches for known vulnerabilities, reducing your risk. Make sure to install all updates before you use your device for online holiday shopping. Don’t Go to Websites from Email Links Yes, it’s annoying to have to type in “amazon.com” rather than just clicking a link in an email. But phishing scams are at an all-time high this time of year. If you click on an email link to a malicious site, it can start an auto download of malware. It's best to avoid clicking links, instead visit the website directly. If you want to make things easier, save sites as shopping bookmarks in your browser. This is safer than clicking a text or email link. Use a Wallet App Where Possible It’s always a risk when you give your debit or credit card to a website. The risk is even higher if you’re doing holiday shopping on a site you haven’t purchased from before. Where possible, buy using a wallet app or PayPal. This eliminates the need to give your payment card details directly to the merchant. Instead, you share them with the wallet app service (Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, etc.). But the retailer doesn’t get them. Remove Any Saved Payment Cards After Checking Out There are many websites (including Amazon) that automatically save your payment card details. This is bad. Yes, it may make the next buy more convenient, but it puts you at risk. A hacker with access to your device or account could make purchases. There is also the risk of a data breach of the retailer. These are common and can leak sensitive customer payment information. The fewer databases you allow to store your payment details, the better for your security. Immediately after you check out, remove your payment card from the site. You will usually need to go to your account settings to do this. Make Sure the Site Uses HTTPS HTTPS has largely become the standard for websites now. This is instead of “HTTP” without the “S” on the end. HTTPS means that a website encrypts the data transmitted through the site. Such as your name, address, and payment information. You should NEVER shop on a website that doesn’t use HTTPS in the address bar. An extra indicator is a small lock icon in front of the website address. Double Check the Site URL We all make typos from time to time. Especially when typing on a small smartphone screen. One typo can land you on a copycat site (such as Amazonn(dot)com). Hackers buy domains that are close to the real ones for popular retailers. Then, they put up copycat sites designed to fool users that make a mistake when typing the URL. Take those extra few seconds to double-check that you’ve landed on the correct website. Do this before you start shopping. Never Shop Online When on Public Wi-Fi When you connect your device to public Wi-Fi, you might as well expect a stranger to be stalking you. Hackers LOVE the holiday shopping season and will hang out in popular public Wi-Fi spots. They spy on the activities of other devices connected to that same free hotspot. This can give them access to everything you type in. Such as passwords and credit card information. Never shop online when you’re connected to a public Wi-Fi network. Instead, switch off Wi-Fi and move to your mobile carrier’s connection Be On High Alert for Brand Impersonation Emails & Texts Phishing scammers were very active during the holiday shopping season of 2021. There was a 397% increase in typo-squatting domains connected to phishing attacks. While you need to be careful all the time about phishing, it’s even worse during the holiday season. Attackers know that people are expecting retailer holiday sales emails. They also get a flurry of order confirmations and shipping notices this time of year. Hackers use these emails as templates. They impersonate brands like Target, UPS, Amazon, and others. Their emails look nearly identical to the real thing. They trick you to get you to click and/or log in to a malicious website. Be on high alert for brand impersonation emails. This is another reason why it’s always better to go to a site directly, rather than by using an email link. Enable Banking Alerts & Check Your Account Phishing Check your bank account regularly. Look for any suspicious charges that could signal a breach. One way to automate a monitoring process is to set up banking alerts through your online banking app. For example, many banks allow you to set up alerts for events such as: When a purchase occurs over a specified dollar amount When a purchase occurs from outside the country How Secure Is Your Device? Malware is often deployed in holiday shopping scams. How secure is your device from malicious apps and malware? Contact us today for a security checkup. We proudly serve Pooler, GA and its neighboring cities! Republished with Permission from The Technology Press
- 7 Things to Consider When Getting a New Computer to Avoid Buyer's Remorse
Have you ever bought a new computer and then had buyer’s remorse a few months later? An investment in a new PC isn’t something you want to do lightly. Doing your research ahead of time and consulting with a trusted friend or IT shop can help. Here are several things to consider before you buy a new computer. The Amount of Memory (RAM) User Reviews for Longevity Whether the PC is for Personal or Business Use The Processor Used For Laptops: The Case Type Storage Capacity Hard Drive Type Come to Us Before You Spend Money on a New Computer Contact us today for a free consultation to save you from a bad new PC experience Have you ever bought a new computer and then had buyer’s remorse a few months later? Maybe you didn’t pay attention to the storage capacity and ran out of space. Or you may have glossed over memory and experienced constant freeze-ups. An investment in a new PC isn’t something you want to do lightly. Doing your research ahead of time and consulting with a trusted friend or IT shop can help. It will keep you from making major mistakes that could come back to haunt you later. Here are several things to consider before you put down your hard-earned money on a new computer. The Amount of Memory (RAM) One of the big mistakes that people make when looking for a new computer is to ignore the RAM. Random access memory may be called RAM on the specification or “memory.” If your system has low memory, you run into all sorts of problems. These issues can include: Browser freezing up when you have too many tabs open Issues watching videos Some software not working properly Sluggish behavior Inability to open multiple applications Constant freezes Memory is the “thought process” of the PC. If there isn’t enough, it can’t take on another task until it completes the current processing tasks. This can cause frustration and ruin your productivity. People often go for those low-priced computer deals when looking for a new device. But these can include only 4GB of RAM. That’s not a lot if you do much more than staying in a single application or just a few browser tabs. The higher the RAM, the more responsive the system performance. So, look for PCs with at least 8GB of RAM. Or higher if you do any graphics/video or other processing-intensive activities User Reviews for Longevity Buying a new computer is an investment. So, it’s natural to want that investment to last as long as possible. You don’t want to spend $700 on a new computer, only to begin experiencing problems when it’s just two years old. Take your time to research user reviews on the specific models you’re considering. You’ll begin to see patterns emerging. Steer clear of models that have consistent complaints about breakdowns sooner than expected. You may have to pay a little more for a system that has a better track record of performance. But it will save you in the long run when you have more years of usable life before that device needs replacement Whether the PC is for Personal or Business Use If you have a small business in Pooler or a neighboring city, you may try to save money by buying a consumer PC. But this could end up costing you more in the long run. Consumer PCs aren’t designed for continuous “9-to-5” use. They also often lack certain types of firmware security present in business-use models. The price gap has also shortened between good consumer computers and business versions. If you’re not looking at the cheap systems, you’ll find that it’s not that much more to get a business-grade device. The Processor Used It can be confusing to read through the processor specifications on a computer. How do you know if Intel Core i7 or i3 is best for your needs? What’s the performance difference between AMD and Intel processors? If you don’t want to do the research yourself, you can give us a call. We will be happy to steer you in the right direction. We’ll explain in layman’s terms the differences. As well as which processor makes the most sense for your intended use. For Laptops: The Case Type If you’re looking for a laptop computer, it’s important that it is durable. Laptops have some unique characteristics that differ from desktops. For example, the screen is often folded down one or more times per day. Additionally, the keyboard is part of the case and is not easily replaced by the user. If you get a laptop with a cheap plastic case, it’s bound to break during normal use. Keys could also easily pop off the keyboard, requiring a trip to a computer repair shop. You want to consider the materials used for the case. Paying an extra $20-$30 upcharge for a better casing is definitely worth it. It can help you avoid unneeded headaches. Storage Capacity Storage capacity can be a pain point that you experience after the fact. If you buy a computer without paying attention to hard drive space, you could regret it. You may not be able to transfer over all your “stuff” from the old system. But storage capacity can also be an area where you can save some money. If you store most of your files in the cloud, then you may not need a lot of hard drive space. The less space you need, the lower the price. Hard Drive Type If you can get a computer with a solid-state drive (SSD) rather than a traditional hard disk drive (HDD) you should. SSDs are faster and less likely to have read/write issues. They have no moving parts; thus, they are quieter as well. Solid-state drives have come down in price quite a bit recently. There are many affordable options, and you’ll also find some PCs with both a hard drive and SSD. Come to Us Before You Spend Money on a New Computer Don’t blindly invest in a new computer without some expert guidance. Contact us today for a free consultation to save you from a bad new PC experience. We proudly serve Pooler, GA and its neighboring cities! Republished with Permission from The Technology Press
- What Is Microsoft Defender for Individuals & What Does It Do
When you hear about Microsoft adding security apps to M365, it’s often the business versions. But the pandemic has changed the way that we see the workplace. It’s now a hybrid world. One made up of several connected “mini-offices” located in employee homes. The outsourcing market has also contributed to the change in company networks. Freelancers are often contracted to work the same hours as employees. This means less overhead and taxes to pay. Approximately 66% of large consumer products companies outsource a part of their workforce. What we’re getting at is that the need for home devices and network security has never been greater. Company data is now at the mercy of employee devices, situated in homes across the globe. 55% of employees use their own devices and software to work from home. Microsoft has been at the forefront of this huge shift in the work environment. Its latest release is another example of how it has positioned its products to address new needs. The latest security offering by Microsoft is not for business plans. It's for Personal and Family users of Microsoft 365. The company announced Microsoft Defender for Individuals on June 16, 2022. This is a brand-new digital home security tool. The Basics of Microsoft Defender for Individuals Microsoft Defender is a new app that Microsoft 365 subscribers can download. Anyone with a Personal or Family plan can access it for no extra cost. According to Microsoft, there was a main driver for offering Microsoft Defender. It was to protect the digital life of small businesses and families. Small companies will often use consumer Microsoft 365 plans. This is because they are less expensive than the business plans. This app brings many digital protections together into one dashboard. These include the following. Online Security Visibility Most families have several devices connected to their network. This includes computers, tablets, and smartphones. It can be hard to know which are vulnerable before a hacked device infects the others. Microsoft Defender gives you visibility into the security status of your devices. It does this in a single place. So, you could see if that new phone of Sally’s has antivirus enabled. You can also easily add or remove devices. Device Safeguard The app includes extra protections from online threats. These are in the form of help from antivirus and anti-phishing protection. You can use it to continually scan devices for threats, both new and existing. You also gain control of scanning customization. For example, you can note certain apps as safe and tell Microsoft Defender what to scan. Real-Time Alerts & Recommendations Hackers use automation and AI to unleash their attacks and help them spread. This means that it’s often a race against the clock to stop a breach from getting worse. To react fast, you need to know something is wrong. Microsoft Defender helps you by giving you real-time alerts. These also come with recommended actions. So, you not only know something is wrong, but you also know what to do about it. What Else Should You Know? Here are a few other important things you should know about using Microsoft Defender for Individuals. Where Can You Download It? You can download Microsoft Defender for Individuals from Microsoft here. You need to have a Microsoft 365 subscription to either the Personal or Family plan. What Devices Can Use It? You can use Defender to secure and monitor the following devices: Windows: Windows 10 version 19041.0 and higher Mac: Intel Macs from Catalina 10.15 and higher, and Apple silicon-based devices from 11.2.3 and up iPhone: iOS 13.0 or later Android: Android OS 6.0 or later How Many Devices Can You Add? Microsoft Defender allows you to watch the security of many of your home or work devices. The M365 plan you have will dictate how many. If you have Microsoft 365 Personal plan, you can receive protection on up to 5 devices at the same time. If you have Microsoft 365 Family plan, you can receive protection on up to 30 devices at the same time. (5 devices per person, 6 people total) What Are the Key Differences Between the Personal & Family Plans? Both plans can access the many different Office and other Microsoft applications. The main difference is how many people and devices can use the Microsoft 365 services. Microsoft 365 Personal: $69.99 US/year, 1 person, 5 devices Microsoft 365 Family: $99.99 US/year, 6 people, 5 devices per person So, if you want to sign up even 2 people, you’re saving quite a bit with the Family plan. Even more, if you have six people total using the service What’s the Difference Between Microsoft Security on Windows & Microsoft Defender? Most Windows users are already familiar with the Microsoft Security app. It comes pre-installed on Windows. Microsoft Defender differs from this app in several ways. Microsoft Defender: Is not pre-installed on Windows. You must download it. It’s a cross-device application used on many different devices It includes features for online security It includes alerts and security tips Learn More About Defender & Microsoft 365 Today Are you looking to get more from your Microsoft 365 subscription? We can help! Reach out today to schedule a technology consultation with our M365 experts. Republished with Permission from The Technology Press
- 6 Discontinued Technology Tools That You Should No Longer Be Using
Adobe Flash and Internet Explorer used to rule the internet. But if you still have them on your PC, it’s in danger! Learn why you need to remove these and other discontinued technologies from your devices. One constant about technology is that it changes rapidly. Tools that were once staples, like Internet Explorer and Adobe Flash, age out. New tools replace those that are obsolete. Discontinued technology can leave computers and networks vulnerable to attacks. While older technology may still run fine on your systems that doesn’t mean that it’s okay to use. One of the biggest dangers of using outdated technology is that it can lead to a data breach. Outdated software and hardware no longer receive vital security updates. Updates often patch newly found and exploited system vulnerabilities. No security patches means a device is a sitting duck for a cybersecurity breach. Approximately 1 in 3 data breaches are due to unpatched system vulnerabilities. Another problem with using discontinued technology is that it can leave you behind. Your business can end up looking like you’re in the stone ages to your customers, and they can lose faith and trust. Important reasons to keep your technology updated to a supported version are: · Reduce the risk of a data breach or malware infection · Meet data privacy compliance requirements · To keep a good reputation and foster customer trust · To be competitive in your market · To mitigate hardware and software compatibility issues · To enable employee productivity Older systems are clunky and get in the way of employee productivity. If you keep these older systems in use, it can lead to the loss of good team members due to frustration. 49% of surveyed workers say they would consider leaving their jobs due to poor technology. Following is a list of outdated technology tools that you should replace as soon as possible. Are any of these still in use on your home computer or within your business? Get Rid of This Tech Now If You’re Still Using It Internet Explorer Many moons ago, Internet Explorer (IE) used to be the number one browser in the world. But, over time, Google Chrome and other browsers edged it out. Including its replacement, Microsoft Edge. Microsoft began phasing out IE with the introduction of Microsoft Edge in 2015. In recent years, fewer applications have been supporting use in IE. The browser loses all support beginning on June 15, 2022. Adobe Flash Millions of websites used Adobe Flash in the early 2000s. But other tools can now do the animations and other neat things Flash could do. This made the tool obsolete, and Adobe ended it. The Adobe Flash Player lost all support, including security updates, as of January 1, 2021. Do you still have this lingering on any of your computers? If so, you should uninstall the browser plugin and any Flash software. Windows 7 and Earlier Windows 7 was a very popular operating system, but it’s now gone the way of the dinosaur. Replacements, Windows 10 and Windows 11 are now in widespread use. The Windows 7 OS lost support on January 14, 2020. While it may still technically run, it’s very vulnerable to hacks. Microsoft Windows OS is also a high-value target for hackers. So, you can be sure they are out there looking for systems still running this obsolete version of Windows. macOS 10.14 Mojave and Earlier Because of the cost of iMacs and MacBooks, people tend to hang onto them as long as possible. Once these devices get to a certain point, updates no longer work. This leaves the hardware stuck on an older and non-supported macOS version. If you are running macOS 10.14 Mojave or earlier, then your OS is no longer supported by Apple, and you need to upgrade. Oracle 18c Database If your business uses Oracle databases, then you may want to check your current version. If you are running the Oracle 18C Database, then you are vulnerable. Breaches can easily happen due to unpatched system vulnerabilities. The Oracle 18C Database lost all support in June of 2021. If you have upgraded, then you’ll want to keep an eye out for another upcoming end-of-support date. Both Oracle 19C and 21C will lose premiere support in April of 2024. Microsoft SQL Server 2014 Another popular database tool is Microsoft’s SQL. If you are using SQL Server 2014, then mainstream support has already ended. And in July of 2024, all support, including security updates will stop. This gives you a little more time to upgrade before you’re in danger of not getting security patches. But it is better to upgrade sooner rather than later. This leaves plenty of time for testing and verification of the upgrade. Get Help Upgrading Your Technology & Reducing Risk Upgrades can be scary, especially if everything has been running great. You may be afraid that a migration or upgrade will cause issues. We can help you upgrade your technology smoothly and do thorough testing afterward. Schedule a technology review today! Article used with permission from The Technology Press.
- Top 5 Cybersecurity Mistakes That Leave Your Data at Risk
Many of the most devastating data breaches are caused by a lack of good cybersecurity hygiene. Let's look at the top 5 cybersecurity mistakes that leave your data at risk... The global damage of cybercrime has risen to an average of $11 million USD per minute, which is a cost of $190,000 each second. 60% of small and mid-sized companies that have a data breach end up closing their doors within six months because they can’t afford the costs. The costs of falling victim to a cyberattack can include loss of business, downtime/productivity losses, reparation costs for customers that have had data stolen, and more. You may think that this means investing more in cybersecurity, and it is true that you need to have appropriate IT security safeguards in place (anti-malware, firewall, etc.). However, many of the most damaging breaches are due to common cybersecurity mistakes that companies and their employees make. The 2021 Sophos Threat Report, which looked at thousands of global data breaches, found that what it termed “everyday threats” were some of the most dangerous. The report stated, “A lack of attention to one or more aspects of basic security hygiene has been found to be at the root cause of many of the most damaging attacks we've investigated.” Is your company making a dangerous cybersecurity mistake that is leaving you at high risk for a data breach, cloud account takeover, or ransomware infection? Here are several of the most common missteps when it comes to basic IT security best practices. NOT IMPLEMENTING MUTI-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION (MFA) Credential theft has become the top cause of data breaches around the world, according to IBM Security. With most company processes and data now being cloud-based, login credentials hold the key to multiple types of attacks on company networks. Not protecting your user logins with multi-factor authentication is a common mistake and one that leaves companies at a much higher risk of falling victim to a breach. MFA reduces fraudulent sign-in attempts by a staggering 99.9%. IGNORING THE USE OF SHADOW IT Shadow IT is the use of cloud applications by employees for business data that haven’t been approved and may not even be known about by a company. Shadow IT use leaves companies at risk for several reasons: Data may be used in a non-secure application Data isn’t included in company backup strategies If the employee leaves, the data could be lost The app being used might not meet company compliance requirements Employees often begin using apps on their own because they’re trying to fill a gap in their workflow and are unaware of the risks involved with using an app that hasn’t been vetted by their company’s IT team. It’s important to have cloud use policies in place that spell out for employees the applications that can and cannot be used for work. THINKING YOU’RE FINE WITH ONLY AN ANTIVIRUS APPLICATION No matter how small your business is, a simple antivirus application is not enough to keep you protected. In fact, many of today’s threats don’t use a malicious file at all. Phishing emails will contain commands sent to legitimate PC systems that aren’t flagged as a virus or malware. Phishing also overwhelmingly uses attachments to send users to malicious sites. Those links won’t get caught by simple antivirus solutions. You need to have a multi-layered strategy in place that includes things like: Next-gen anti-malware (uses AI and machine learning) Next-gen firewall Email filtering DNS filtering Automated application and cloud security policies Cloud access monitoring NOT HAVING DEVICE MANAGEMENT IN PLACE A majority of companies around the world have had employees working remotely from home since the pandemic, and they’re planning to keep it that way. However, device management for those remote employee devices as well as smartphones used for business hasn’t always been put in place. If you’re not managing security or data access for all the endpoints (company and employee-owned) in your business, you’re at a higher risk of a data breach. If you don’t have one already, it’s time to put a device management application in place. NOT PROVIDING ADEQUATE TRAINING TO EMPLOYEES An astonishing 95% of cybersecurity breaches are caused by human error. Too many companies don’t take the time to continually train their employees, and thus users haven’t developed the skills needed for a culture of good cybersecurity. Employee IT security awareness training should be done throughout the year, not just annually or during an onboarding process. The more you keep IT security front and center, the better equipped your team will be to identify phishing attacks and follow proper data handling procedures. Some ways to infuse cybersecurity training into your company culture include: Short training videos IT security posters Webinars Team training sessions Cybersecurity tips in company newsletters WHEN DID YOU LAST HAVE A CYBERSECURITY CHECKUP? Don’t stay in the dark about your IT security vulnerabilities. Schedule a cybersecurity review to uncover vulnerabilities so they can be fortified to reduce your risk. Article used with permission from The Technology Press.
- Alarming Phishing Attack Trends to Beware of in 2022
One phishing attack can mean hours of costly downtime. Stay on top of the newest phishing trends so you can prepare your team... In 2020, 75% of companies around the world experienced a phishing attack. Phishing remains one of the biggest dangers to your business's health and wellbeing because it’s the main delivery method for all types of cyberattacks. One phishing email can be responsible for a company succumbing to ransomware and having to face costly downtime. It can also lead a user to unknowingly hand over the credentials to a company email account that the hacker then uses to send targeted attacks to customers. Phishing takes advantage of human error, and some phishing emails use sophisticated tactics to fool the recipient into divulging information or infecting a network with malware. Mobile phishing threats skyrocketed by 161% in 2021. Your best safeguards against the continuous onslaught of phishing include: Email filtering DNS filtering Next-gen antivirus/anti-malware Ongoing employee cybersecurity awareness training To properly train your employees and ensure your IT security is being upgraded to meet the newest threats you need to know what new phishing dangers are headed your way. Here are some of the latest phishing trends that you need to watch out for in 2022 PHISHING IS INCREASINGLY BEING SENT VIA TEXT MESSAGE Fewer people are suspicious of text messages than they are of unexpected email messages. Most phishing training is usually focused on the email form of phishing because it’s always been the most prevalent. But cybercrime entities are now taking advantage of the easy availability of mobile phone numbers and using text messaging to deploy phishing attacks. This type of phishing (called “smishing”) is growing in volume. People are receiving more text messages now than they did in the past, due in large part to retailers and service businesses pushing their text updates for sales and delivery notices. This makes it even easier for phishing via SMS to fake being a shipment notice and get a user to click on a shortened URL. BUSINESS EMAIL COMPROMISE IS ON THE RISE Ransomware has been a growing threat over the last few years largely because it’s been a big money-maker for the criminal groups that launch cyberattacks. A new up-and-coming form of attack is beginning to be quite lucrative and thus is also growing. Business email compromise (BEC) is on the rise and being exploited by attackers to make money off things like gift card scams and fake wire transfer requests. What makes BEC so dangerous (and lucrative) is that when a criminal gains access to a business email account, they can send very convincing phishing messages to employees, customers, and vendors of that company. The recipients will immediately trust the familiar email address, making these emails potent weapons for cybercriminals. SMALL BUSINESSES TARGETED MORE FREQUENTLY WITH SPEAR PHISHING There is no such thing as being too small to be attacked by a hacker. Small businesses are targeted frequently in cyberattacks because they tend to have less IT security than larger companies. 43% of all data breaches target small and mid-sized companies, and 40% of small businesses that become victims of an attack experience at least eight hours of downtime as a result. Spear phishing is a more dangerous form of phishing because it’s targeted and not generic. It’s the type deployed in an attack using BEC. It used to be that spear-phishing was used for larger companies because it takes more time to set up a targeted and tailored attack. However, as large criminal groups and state-sponsored hackers make their attacks more efficient, they’re able to more easily target anyone. A result is small businesses receiving more tailored phishing attacks that are harder for their users to identify as a scam. USE OF INITIAL ACCESS BROKERS TO MAKE ATTACKS MORE EFFECTIVE We just discussed the fact that large criminal groups are continually optimizing their attacks to make them more effective. They treat cyberattacks like a business and work to make them more profitable all the time. One way they are doing this is by using outside specialists called Initial Access Brokers. This is a specific type of hacker that only focuses on getting the initial breach into a network or company account. The increasing use of these experts in their field makes phishing attacks even more dangerous and difficult for users to detect. BUSINESS IMPERSONATION IS BEING USED MORE OFTEN As users have gotten savvier about being careful of emails from unknown senders, phishing attackers have increasingly used business impersonation. This is where a phishing email will come in looking like a legitimate email from a company that the user may know or even do business with. Amazon is a common target of business impersonation, but it also happens with smaller companies as well. For example, there have been instances where website hosting companies have had client lists breached and those companies sent emails impersonating the hosting company and asking the users to log in to an account to fix an urgent problem. More business impersonation being used in phishing attacks mean users have to be suspicious of all emails, not just those from unknown senders. IS YOUR COMPANY ADEQUATELY PROTECTED FROM PHISHING ATTACKS? It’s important to use a multi-layered strategy when it comes to defending against one of the biggest dangers to your business's wellbeing. Get started with a cybersecurity review of your current security posture and identify ways to improve. Article used with permission from The Technology Press.
- Small Businesses Are Attacked by Hackers 3x More than Larger Ones
Think your business is too small for hackers to worry about? Think again! Smaller companies are being hit 3x more than larger ones. Let's explore the reasons why this trend exists... Have you felt more secure from cyberattacks because you have a smaller business? Maybe you thought that you couldn’t possibly have anything that a hacker could want? Didn’t think they even knew about your small business. Well, a report by cybersecurity firm Barracuda Networks debunks this myth. Their report analyzed millions of emails across thousands of organizations. It found that small companies have a lot to worry about when it comes to their IT security. Barracuda Networks found something alarming. Employees at small companies saw 350% more social engineering attacks than those at larger ones. It defines a small company as one with less than 100 employees. This puts small businesses at a higher risk of falling victim to a cyberattack. We’ll explore why below. Why Are Smaller Companies Targeted More? There are many reasons why hackers see small businesses as low-hanging fruit, and why they are becoming larger targets of hackers out to score a quick illicit buck. Small Companies Tend to Spend Less on Cybersecurity When you’re running a small business, it’s often a juggling act of where to prioritize your cash. You may know cybersecurity is important, but it may not be at the top of your list. So, at the end of the month, cash runs out, and it’s moved to the “next month” wish list of expenditures. Small business leaders often don’t spend as much as they should on their IT security. They may buy an antivirus program and think that’s enough to cover them. But with the expansion of technology to the cloud, that’s just one small layer. You need several more for adequate security. Hackers know all this and see small businesses as an easier target. They can do much less work to get a payout than they would trying to hack into an enterprise corporation. Every Business Has “Hack-Worthy” Resources Every business, even a 1-person shop, has data that’s worth scoring for a hacker. Credit card numbers, SSNs, tax ID numbers, and email addresses are all valuable. Cybercriminals can sell these on the Dark Web. From there, other criminals use them for identity theft. Here are some of the data that hackers will go after: Customer records Employee records Bank account information Emails and passwords Payment card details Small Businesses Can Provide Entry Into Larger Ones If a hacker can breach the network of a small business, they can often make a larger score. Many smaller companies provide services to larger companies. This can include digital marketing, website management, accounting, and more. Vendors are often digitally connected to certain client systems. This type of relationship can enable a multi-company breach. While hackers don’t need that connection to hack you, it is a nice bonus. They can get two companies for the work of one. Small Business Owners Are Often Unprepared for Ransomware Ransomware has been one of the fastest-growing cyberattacks of the last decade. So far in 2022, over 71% of surveyed organizations experienced ransomware attacks. The percentage of victims that pay the ransom to attackers has also been increasing. Now, an average of 63% of companies pay the attacker money in hopes of getting a key to decrypt the ransomware. Even if a hacker can’t get as much ransom from a small business as they can from a larger organization, it’s worth it. They often can breach more small companies than they can larger ones. When companies pay the ransom, it feeds the beast and more cyber criminals join in. And those newer to ransomware attacks will often go after smaller, easier-to-breach companies. Small Company Employees Usually Aren’t Trained in Cybersecurity Another thing is not usually high on the list of priorities for a small business owner. We're talking about ongoing employee cybersecurity training. They may be doing all they can just to keep good staff. Plus, priorities are often sales and operations. Training employees on how to spot phishing and password best practices often isn’t done. This leaves networks vulnerable to one of the biggest dangers, human error. In most cyberattacks, the hacker needs help from a user. It’s like the vampire needing the unsuspecting victim to invite them inside. Phishing emails are the device used to get that unsuspecting cooperation. Phishing causes over 80% of data breaches. A phishing email sitting in an inbox can’t usually do anything. It needs the user to either open a file attachment or click a link that will take them to a malicious site. This then launches the attack. Teaching employees how to spot these ploys can significantly increase your cybersecurity. Security awareness training is as important as having a strong firewall or antivirus. Need Affordable IT Security for Your Small Business? Reach out today to schedule a technology consultation. We offer affordable options for small companies. This includes many ways to keep you protected from cyber threats. Article used with permission from The Technology Press.