Smishing is high up on the list of words that do not sound as intimidating or threatening as they should. Smashing the word fishing together with the “SM” for short messaging service (aka text), smishing is a cyberscam.
Especially with online shopping skyrocketing during the pandemic, delivery smishing has gained traction. Don’t fall victim to this type of cyberattack.
What does smishing look like?
You’ll get a text message that appears to be from a shipping company. You’re told you have a package coming, but that more information is needed to ensure delivery. You’ll squeal, “a package!” OK, maybe you won’t squeal, but you’ll feel the anticipation and click on the link to help deliver that package to your door.
You might already be expecting a package. After all, as recently as June 2021, PWC was describing a “dramatic shift” toward online shopping. According to its most recent consumer survey, in the last twelve months:
So, you might not think twice about clicking on a link appearing to be from a major delivery service. Don’t do it!
What happens next?
You click on the link and are asked for personal information, even a credit card number or password. Otherwise, clicking on the link will download malware onto your phone. The bad guys use their access to snoop and/or send your sensitive data to its servers, without you knowing it.
The smishing scam is a global one:
Package delivery isn’t the only common smishing tactic either. You might also see:
All that would get your attention, right? So, what do you do about smishing? That’s covered next.
Protect against smishing
Avoid getting drawn in by the urgency or emotional appeal of the SMS. Don’t click the link, and don’t call the number in the message either. Instead, look through your bills or go online into your account for information on how to contact that company.
Reputable mail carriers and financial institutions won't send text messages asking for credentials, credit card numbers, ATM PINs, or banking information.
Look at the sender more closely. A message from a number with only a few digits was likely sent from an email address, which can flag that it’s a scam.
Also, don’t store personal banking or credit card information on your mobile phone. That way the criminals can’t access it, even if they do get you to download malware onto your phone.
You can help others to not fall victim to smishing as well. Report any attempts to your telecommunications carrier or your communications regulatory body.
For more helpful information on mobile security threats and how to protect your home network from cyberattacks,
contact us at 262-515-9499
Working from home is no longer only for a few employees in special circumstances. The pandemic pushed many businesses to enable remote work. The priority was getting it working and securing access. Now that it’s routine, it’s also time to consider how you back up work from home.
Data backup creates a reliable copy of business data. An accessible, accurate backup prepares you for system failures, data corruption or deletion, natural disaster, or a security breach.
Regular readers of our articles know that we’re in favor of the 3-2-1 approach to data backup. You have three separate backups on at least two different mediums, and one is always off-site.
Yet even those with best practices in place may not have thought about work-from-home backups. Still, with so many people using remote networking, you need to take a fresh look at backup systems.
The IT team should have already set up automated backup systems for the on-site work environment, but what procedures are in place to protect data generated remotely?
Remote Work Backup RisksBackup puts important business data in a protected place to ensure a quick emergency response. Without a backup, it will take a lot longer for your business to bounce back from an IT disruption.
In the home office, or when people are working remotely elsewhere, there are new risks. Saving files locally on a home computer may mean that data is not available to others who need it. Plus, the laptop could be lost or stolen (or broken when a furry colleague at the home office knocks it from the table). The business could also be disrupted if a remote worker’s system goes down due to power outage, fire, or an extreme weather event.
Businesses in regulated industries must also store data safely on- or off-site. Medical, financial, or legal industry businesses face data storage, protection, and audit regulations. The fact that people are working from home doesn’t mean they get a pass from compliance concerns.
Backup Best Practices for Work from HomeIf your teams use MS 365, that can help with business collaboration. No matter where employees are, they can edit and share documents and other files. Tracking version history from any device also helps with data currency.
Yet this is not the same as a data backup. Set up an automatic backup of all files created on remote laptops and computers. Ask employees to back up to the cloud using Microsoft’s OneDrive, Google Drive, or another alternative.
We recommend setting up backups to upload every night in the wee hours. Backing up takes a lot of internet bandwidth, and scheduling for 2 a.m. is less likely to interfere with someone else’s Netflix binge-watching or video game play.
It’s also a good idea to get an outsider’s perspective on remote backups. You may need to manually save files to appropriate locations or to set up policies to safeguard off-site files in case of hardware, software, or security issues.
You could take advantage of remote monitoring and management, and you can test backups remotely. This also improves recovery time, as IT can restore data without physical access.
Need help backing up work from home? We can help. Contact us today at 262-515-9499
When it comes to business technology, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Managed service providers (MSPs) know this firsthand. That’s why you’ll find they make it easy to partner with them for different levels of outsourced IT. This article outlines the three tiers of MSP outsourcing typically available.
Few of us would think we could run a marathon, or even a 10-mile race, without training first. Yet the number of people who think they could successfully run a 50-meter dash jumps dramatically, especially if they were being chased by a criminal, cougar, or scary clown. Still, that short sprint would be much easier with proper training, too. So, what does this have to do with IT? A lot, actually – keep reading.
Many businesses are taking a “we’ll dash when we need to” approach to IT. The news of ransomware at a hospital or a data breach at a national mobile carrier gets them spooked, and they are immediately running to try to solve the perceived cybersecurity problem. They’ll buy the newest app or device available, because it must be the best, right? After that they plod along, not paying much attention to good security practices, until the next spike in adrenaline has them dashing to ramp up IT infrastructure again.
But anyone who tries running without stretching or putting on proper shoes knows it is painful. If not in the moment, then the next day when the muscles say, “no way are we getting out of bed today.”
In the IT equivalent, it is more effective to put effort into identifying the best technology for you. Reliable IT isn’t about dashing for that latest device or running from the newest attack – it’s a marathon. You need to be working on it continuously.
Minimize IT Risk with an Integrated Approach
Consistent practices such as ongoing equipment maintenance and patching software provide security long term. Updating IT to better address threats or improve efficiency beats a reactionary buy.
Plus, by taking the time to make considered purchases, you can be sure you buy technology that:
Think about the marathon runner who sets out a training schedule 12 weeks before the big race. They’re a lot less likely to give up or get hurt. Taking a long-term view of your IT needs offers the same benefits. You’re less likely to let it slide after the dash or experience costly downtime.
Managed Service Provider as Running Coach
If you watched the Olympics, you’ll have seen sprinter and distance runner coaches. In your push to build up your cybersecurity muscles, a managed service provider (MSP) can be a big help, too.
Partner with an MSP to gain access to IT experts. They can maintain tech, consult on upgrades, and help secure systems. Instead of paying for an urgent fix, budget around lower, predictable fees for proactive care.
Yes, we can also help you if you have to dash. MSPs have the expertise to diagnose and solve tough IT problems, but we’d much rather run the race alongside you, helping to keep your IT environment in tip top shape mile after mile.
Call us today today and stop letting I.T. dashes run you down 262-515-9499
You may not be storing military secrets or running a billion-dollar empire, but your business is still an attractive target for hackers. You need a firewall - a guard standing at the door of your network to stop the bad guys from getting in while still letting your staff come and go without interruption.
A surprising number of businesses are operating without a firewall, or with one unsuitable to the requirements of a business network. For most, it’s a risk they don’t know they’re taking because they assume all systems have built-in protections. Unfortunately, by the time the lack is discovered, it’s far too late.
A firewall is actually a special type of hardware or software that acts as a protective shield between the computers on your network and assorted cyber dangers. Data is constantly passed through at lightning fast speeds, invisible to the user experience.
Filtering: A strong firewall actively looks for known viruses, phishing emails and spam, and then blocks them before they can get in the door. Its internal knowledge of threats is updated regularly and search patterns quickly adjusted. Business firewalls also monitor data in both directions. When a computer goes online, all the data coming in and out is inspected to see whether it’s safe or not. If it doesn’t pass the test, the firewall instantly blocks it and records the details in a log.
Performance: You can use your firewall to set network traffic priorities. For example, it can make sure a Skype call gets all the resources it needs to allow for flawless video and voice quality, while someone watching YouTube videos at the same time will receive reduced resources. Rules can be set to allow certain applications to be treated as a higher priority than others, certain departments or even users. You can tailor your network performance to meet your unique business needs.
Management: Business firewalls allow you to see who’s doing what and when over your network. You can create rules for specific users, devices and times. For example, you might allow your employees to access Facebook during lunch breaks only, while at the same time keeping it completely unblocked for you or your marketing team. Thorough logs are kept automatically and can be used to troubleshoot problems. For example, your firewall logs might show that a computer inside your network connects to a third world country at 3am each night, which would certainly be worth investigating.
Connection: A strong firewall allows your remote workforce to access your servers with ease and security, while at the same time keeping cyber-attacks out. Remote work arrangements are growing in popularity and necessity, often requiring server access at a moment’s notice. You can set your firewall to authenticate the identity of users before allowing access, and create a virtual private network (VPN) that keeps any transferred data safe from interception.
We can install, configure and manage your business firewall - Call us at 262-515-9499 to start protecting your business today.
You’ll know if you’re a victim of ransomware. Often you’re met with a red screen telling you your business files are encrypted. You won’t be able to do anything on the computer, although the cybercriminals will provide helpful instructions for how to pay up. How nice. Here’s what to do instead if you’re the victim of a ransomware attack.
It’s pretty obvious when your computer is already broken, but how do you know when it’s about to break? Even before it falls into a heap and refuses to turn on, or flashes big messages about how your files are now encrypted, you’ll be given multiple hints that something is wrong. Here are the common signs your computer needs repair, sooner rather than later.
1. It’s running slow. Most people assume their computer is running slow because it’s getting older, but it could actually be a variety of reasons. A program behaving badly, a virus, overheating or even a failing hard drive can all cause a massive slow down. You might only notice it when booting up or starting a program, or the problem may have taken hold to the extent that even moving your mouse becomes torture. Sometimes the slow speed is simply due to some newer software that your hardware can’t keep up with.
2. Your system is running hot. A very common sign with laptops, running hot can be both the sign and cause of damage. Computers have fans to blow out hot air so they can cool off their internal components. At the same time, fresh air is drawn in through vents to create an effective cooling system. Unfortunately, just about every vent in a computer can quickly become clogged with dust and pet fur, essentially choking off the circulation and leaving components to overheat. Desktop computers have more space inside to circulate air, but you’ll still need to keep their vents clear. You’ll know your computer running too hot if your system shuts down frequently (safety cutout), the fan is working serious overtime, or your laptop is too hot to use on your lap.
3. Blue Screens of Death are everywhere. A classic Windows error, this is quite literally a blue screen that covers your view. The system will still be running, but something has gone wrong. You’ll be shown some text and an error code, often with Windows suggesting a restart. If a restart fixes your problem, perhaps something didn’t load properly at bootup and your computer had a whoopsie. It’s rare, but it happens. If you’re getting blue screens all the time though, that’s a sign a hardware or software problem needs to be resolved. Your computer will continue to give blue screen errors more and more frequently, so it’s best to take action as soon as you know something’s wrong.
4. It’s making strange noises. Your computer has a number of moving parts. You’ll know by now which noises it normally makes, from the startup beep to the whirring fan. When your computers starts to make extra noises...that’s when things get interesting. Fans can wear down and screech or grind, hard drives can start clicking, and in emergency cases, you might even hear a zapping noise. None of those are good! Whenever you notice a strange noise, remember your computer parts are all designed to work together and one problem could quickly become many if left unchecked.
5. It crashes and freezes. If your computer is crashing randomly, restarting without you, or freezing up completely, it’s a sure sign there’s a problem. As annoying as it might be, your computer isn’t doing this to drive you crazy - it just feels that way! You might notice it’s showing other signs from this list too because crashing and freezing are what happens when something isn’t just wrong, it’s terribly wrong. The problem could be almost anything, hardware and software both, but it’s always fixable. This is simply your computer’s final way of crying out for repair, desperately trying to get your attention and a little TLC.
Is your computer doing these things? Let us fix it for you. Call us at 262-515-9499.
There are many acronyms in the IT world. Two common ones are SaaS and MSP, which stand for software-as-a-service and managed service provider, respectively. The bigger question is what the differences are between these two and why you would need one or the other. Here’s help.
Your business may already be relying on SaaS. Some of the more widely used platforms include:
SaaS companies are booming. Businesses are relying more and more on these technologies, and SaaS spending has grown 50% in two years. Why?
Software as a Service provides customers with convenience. The companies develop, manage, and update a product to support teams such as marketing, sales, or customer service. The SaaS platform will promise greater efficiency, improved productivity, increased transparency, and more. These tools automate and streamline processes to drive revenue.
Customers typically pay for a cloud-based subscription fee. In return, they get lower-cost services, reduced time to implementation, and scalability.
What’s an MSP?
Managed services supports software, as well as your networking and hardware infrastructure. The MSP has human experts to install software, upgrade hardware, patch systems, and track security. The MSP provides all-around support for the business’s technology. This third-party firm gets to know you to help keep your business competitive.
The MSP tackles all sorts of tasks behind the scenes for your business. When your business outsources its IT to an MSP, you gain efficiencies and expertise. You are not giving up control but adding a partner to focus on time-consuming, complicated, and repetitive tasks. Meanwhile, your people can concentrate on driving innovation and generating revenue.
Businesses reap many rewards from working with an MSP. These experts can often find cost savings. Most MSPs charge a predictable monthly fee that’s easy to budget around. The enhanced expertise can also help ensure security and compliance. The MSP will also have the know-how to recommend the tools your business can enjoy most.
It doesn’t have to be either-or
Understand that you don’t have to choose between SaaS and an MSP – the two work well together.
MSPs can help you deploy and get the most out of your SaaS. In fact, an MSP can make sure your SaaS solutions work well together. They can help identify features on one platform that you’re not using. This could lead to you dropping an underutilized subscription to another SaaS.
Going on your own with SaaS means relying on each company’s IT support or asking your own in-house IT people to get to know the ins and outs of many different platforms. When you have an MSP, you pay that single provider for help instead of having to spend on tech support for each SaaS. Also, if you have a security issue, the MSP will alert you and act to cut the damage and repair the problem. The SaaS manufacturer doesn’t have the same responsibility.
Before you even get SaaS, the MSP can help guide your purchase. Your business may think it needs Slack because everyone else seems to be using it. But if you already have Teams, that could be unnecessary. The MSP learns about your business and how you work to help determine what SaaS's are right for you.
The latest-and-greatest SaaS will come and go. Your MSP can remain the same as your business changes and evolves. Providing continuity of service, they will keep an eye out for the new SaaS you can adopt. The SaaS company wants to grow its customer base and evolve its platform, and the MSP’s job is to help your business succeed, with or without SaaS.
Contact us at 262-515-9499 today to enjoy the many benefits of working with an MSP.
Most technology you buy in stores comes with a warranty of some sort. It might be included or an add-on. Still, it is unlikely to last the lifetime of the device or software, and it seems inevitable that your desktop will die immediately after the warranty runs out. Don’t worry, you still have options.
Murphy’s Law of warranty says that you will have no problems with your computer or printer while it’s covered. Then, as if waiting for the most inconvenient time to go bust, the technology fails just after your warranty ends.
After the frustration of looking up that warranty plan to see the expiration date a few weeks ago, your first response might be to take that device back to the store. You’ve noticed they have a service desk, and that’s where you made the purchase. But the technicians on-site are likely to send your laptop to the manufacturer repair. That could be far away, which negates the convenience of taking it down to your local store. You could wait weeks for your item to get to the repair center. Then, it stills needs attention and returning to your store.
Also know that many manufacturers charge a premium for outside-of-warranty repairs. Now that you’re one or two years into a relationship with the products, they hope you’ll decide upgrading is easier. They actually have a planned lifecycle for computer hardware and plan the warranty end accordingly.
Of course, if you are within days of your warranty's end, ask if the manufacturer will continue to cover the technology. Sometimes it actually will. The manufacturer may also use this opportunity to sell you an extended warranty.
Some help with manufacturer warrantyOur first piece of advice? Be proactive about technology issues. Don’t put off getting something looked at. You may discover you could have saved money by having it checked out under warranty.
Check your eligibility by visiting the manufacturer’s website and typing in the product serial number to check the warranty. Quickly find the page by searching the manufacturer’s name and “check warranty status.”
It’s a good idea to keep track of when your warranty is set to expire. That way, you’ll be more likely to request service in a timely manner. Don’t believe us? Have you ever planned to take an item back to the store only to leave it until the return window has closed?
Small business computer repair shops specialize in repairing out-of-warranty devices. We can run diagnostic tests to determine the problem. Then, we'll help you decide whether it’s worth the cost of repairs. If so, we can fix it at a competitive rate.
Plus, you get personalized service. There’s also the peace of mind that comes from knowing where your computer is at all times. You're not worrying about it shipping around the country to a manufacturer’s repair shop. The timeline reduces, too, as the IT experts are on-site at a convenient computer repair outfit.
We can help keep your computers and other tech devices up and running. Contact us today at 262-515-9499!
A single click can be the difference between maintaining data security and suffering massive financial losses. From the moment just one employee takes the bait in a phishing email, your business is vulnerable to data breaches and extensive downtime.
Quickly spot the red flags and put phishing emails where they belong:
1. Poor spelling and grammar
While occasional typos happen to even the best of us, an email filled with errors is a clear warning sign. Most companies push their campaigns through multiple review stages where errors are blitzed and language is refined. Unlikely errors throughout the entire message indicate that the same level of care was not taken, and therefore the message is likely fraudulent.
2. An offer too good to be true
Free items or a lottery win sure sound great, but when the offer comes out of nowhere and with no catch? There’s definitely cause for concern. Take care not to get carried away and click without investigating deeper.
3. Random sender who knows too much
Phishing has advanced in recent years to include ‘spear phishing’, which is an email or offer designed especially for your business. Culprits take details from your public channels, such as a recent function or award, and then use it against you. The only clues? The sender is unknown – they weren’t at the event or involved in any way. Take a moment to see if their story checks out.
4. The URL or email address is not quite right
One of the most effective techniques used in phishing emails is to use domains which sound almost right. For example, [microsoft.info.com] or [pay-pal.com]
Hover over the link with your mouse and review where it will take you. If it doesn’t look right, or is completely different from the link text, send that email to the bin.
5. It asks for personal, financial or business details
Alarm bells should ring when a message contains a request for personal, business or financial information. If you believe there may be a genuine issue, you can initiate a check using established, trusted channels.
While education is the best way to ensure phishing emails are unsuccessful, a robust spam filter and solid anti-virus system provide peace of mind that your business has the best protection available.
Give us a call to discuss how we can secure your system against costly phishing attacks. 262-515-9499
Tech Force Blog
We provide you with important, practical tips and insight for your technology and networks for both home and business.