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Common Business Scams and How Your Organization Can Avoid Them

Preventing Business Scams Image by Tech Prognosis

Business scams by con artists are not new and seem to be evolving every day. You probably already know about, or have had some experience with, the most common ones – robocalls about winning a prize, computer problems, quick credit fix etc. Sometimes, it is an “invoice” that is supposedly from a business partner.

And in some cases, a business scam can come in the form of debt-collection notices, or dire warnings about an expiring web address, domain name or trademark if you don’t send money immediately.

There have even been reports of business scams involving toner cartridges or other office supplies showing up at offices out of the blue with a bogus bill.

The common thread with all business scams is that they attempt to sow fear, play on greed or plea to the kind-heartedness of people.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), these business scams by con artists succeed because the criminals are banking on the likelihood that most small and medium-sized businesses, churches, and not-for-profit groups will end up paying the bogus invoices in the mistaken belief they owe money or that it’s simply a misunderstanding.

The devastating aftermath of successful business scams though, is that the savings of many businesses and organizations are plundered before the scam is discovered. And the sad part of it all is that many are never caught thus making the scam industry a multi-billion-dollar enterprise. Research put it at over $50 billion annually. (more…)

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Six Risk-Based Questions for Nonprofits With In-House Computer Experts

Image of admin for Nonprofits

Nonprofits and other small and medium sized organizations must ask these six questions before their In-House Computer Expert Quits to avoid disaster.

Here’s an important question most nonprofits don’t think about: what would happen if the in-house IT guru suddenly quit? Most nonprofit leaders think it would only be a temporary inconvenience when, in fact, the opposite is usually true. Want to know how much you are at risk?

If you are the Executive Director, President, or leader of a nonprofit organization, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Does your nonprofit organization have a written network documentation about its computer network?
    What software licenses do you own? What are the critical administrator passwords to your systems and devices? How is your computer network structured?  What hardware do you own and when do your equipment warranties expire?  Are there cloud vendors for email, online storage, etc. that you don’t’ currently have?
    Do you allow a single IT person to keep this information under their full control over your network and nonprofit organization?  If they suddenly left for any reason, this could lead to huge consequences for your nonprofit organization.

(more…)

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Credential Management Vulnerabilities Exposed By Breaches

Credential Management BreachThe recent breach of OneLogin is once again shining the spotlight on the safety and sanity of entrusting sensitive data to cloud-based credential management services. OneLogin provides single sign-on for cloud-based applications.

What Is A Credential Management Service?

Credential management services that offer Single Sign-On or SSO are great, but as we are beginning to find out, it could also be a single point of entry to a treasure trove of sensitive data for cyber criminals.

How Does A Credential Management Service Work?

The way credential management services work is that after a user of these Identity and credential management services sign into their account, the service takes care of remembering and supplying the customer’s usernames and passwords for all of their other applications. It pretty much attempts to save the user the pain and stress of trying to remember numerous passwords, security questions and other hoops people normally have to jump through just to access some online services.

What Is The Problem With Credential Management Services?

While a lot of these services promise secure access to, and a simplified Identity and Access Management (IAM), the recent spate of multiple breaches of LastPass and now OneLogin makes us wonder just how efficient and  secure these credential management services really are. And here is why: a single compromise exposes the credentials of all users, especially if that data theft includes the ability to decrypt encrypted data [thanks to Mark Maunder of Wordfence for that emphasis].

A breach that allows intruders to decrypt customer data could be extremely damaging for affected customers.

The vulnerabilities in credential management services like LastPass were so bad that Tavis Ormandy, a security researcher at Google’s Project Zero wondered if people were “really using this lastpass thing” because he took a quick look and could see “a bunch of obvious critical problems”. (more…)

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How Nonprofits And Associations Can Prevent Ransomware Like WannaCry

Ransomware Prevention

On Friday May 11, 2017, the world learned just how vulnerable computer networks can be when not fully protected as it experienced a well-coordinated ransomware attack, known as WannaCrypt, or WannaCry.

Note: Ransomware encrypts files and makes them unusable unless payment (ransom) is made within a specified time. Malware and ransomware like WannaCry prey on weaknesses in network security systems due to out-of-date firewalls, operating systems and antivirus programs.

Are You at Risk?

That worldwide attack caused Britain’s National Health Services to cancel surgeries, shut down at least 40 major organizations across more than 99 countries, including a wide array of Russian and Chinese private and public institutions.
By the time the dust settled, this large world-wide cyber-attack, described by Europol as unprecedented in scale, infected more than 230,000 computers in over 150 countries.

Unlike previous ransomware, this attack did not spread by phishing emails, but used a leaked hacking tool or exploit called EternalBlue that was developed by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) to spread. The target of the ransomware were computer networks which had not installed recent software security updates (also commonly known as patching). (more…)

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10 Small Business Network Disaster Planning Essentials

Image of business people sitting around a table discussing disaster recovery planning options.

If your critical data is important to your business and you cannot afford to have your operations halted for days – even weeks – due to data loss or corruption, then you need to read this report on disaster planning and act on the information shared.

A disaster can happen at any time on any day and is likely to occur at the most inconvenient time. If you aren’t already prepared, you run the risk of having the disaster coming before you have in place a plan to handle it.

This report will outline 10 things you should have in place to make sure your business could be back up and running again in the event of a disaster.

1. Have a Written Plan

As simple as it may sound, just thinking through in ADVANCE what needs to happen if your server has a meltdown or a natural disaster wipes out your office, will go a long way in getting it back fast.

At a minimum, the plan should contain details on what disaster could happen and a step-by-step process of what to do, who should do it and how. Also include contact information for various providers and username and password information for various key web sites.

Writing this plan will also allow you to think about what you need to budget for backup, maintenance and disaster recovery. If you can’t afford to have your network down for more than a few hours, then you need a plan that can get you back up and running within that time frame.

You may want the ability to virtualize your server, allowing the office to run off of the virtualized server while the real server is repaired. If you can afford to be down for a couple of days, there are cheaper solutions.  Once written, print out a copy and store it in a fireproof safe, an offsite copy (at your home) and a copy with your IT consultant.

2. Hire a Trusted Professional to Help You

Trying to recover your data after a disaster without professional help is business suicide; one misstep during the recovery process can result in forever losing your data or result in weeks of downtime. Make sure you work with someone who has experience in both setting up business contingency plans (so you have a good framework from which you CAN restore your network) and experience in data recovery. (more…)

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Network Connectivity Troubleshooting – Part One

To most computer support persons, having problems connecting to the Internet via a router and a high-speed connection is not a major issue. However, for those who do not understand some basic technology concepts, solving connectivity problems will be a struggle. The following will give you some tips of where to look for network connectivity problems and how to perform some basic network connectivity troubleshooting tasks. Most of the initial steps of this process are common-sense and incredibly basic, but you would be surprised at the number of calls to…

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