Businesses around the world are being struck with a cyber-attack that sends victims a fake invoice that looks real enough to fool to most employees. It’s an old scam that used to see bills faxed or mailed in, but it’s made its way into the digital world and instances are on the rise.
Chances are you’ve already seen some of the less effective attempts, like an email advising your domain is expiring, except it’s not from your host and your domain is nowhere near expiration. These new attacks are more advanced, in that they look completely legitimate and are often from contractors/suppliers you actually use. Logos are correct, spelling and grammar are spot on, and they might even refer to actual work or invoice numbers. The sender name may also be the normal contact you’d associate with that business, or even a co-worker, as cyber-criminals are able to effectively ‘spoof’ real accounts and real people. While it’s worrying that they know enough about your business to wear that disguise so well, a successful attack relies on you not knowing what to look for, or even that fakes are a possibility. With that in mind, here are two types of invoice attacks you might receive:
The Payment Redirect
This style of fake invoice either explicitly states payment should be made to a certain account, perhaps with a friendly note about the new details, or includes a payment link direct to the new account. Your accounts payable person believes they’re doing the right thing by resolving the invoice and unwittingly sends company money offshore. The problem usually isn’t discovered until the real invoice from the real supplier comes in or the transaction is flagged in an audit. Due to the nature of international cyber-crime, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to recover the funds even if you catch it quickly.
The Malware Click
Rather than go for the immediate cash grab, this style of attack asks your employee to click a link to download the invoice. The email may even look like the ones normally generated by popular accounting tools like Quickbooks or Xero, making the click seem safe. Once your employee has clicked the link, malware is downloaded that can trigger ransomware or data breaches. While an up-to-date anti-virus should block the attack at that stage, it’s not always guaranteed, especially with new and undiscovered malware. If it does get through, the malware quickly embeds itself deep into your systems, often silently lurking until detected or activated.
How to Stay Safe
Awareness is key to ensuring these types of attacks have no impact on your business. As always, keep your anti-virus and spam filters up to date to minimize the risk of the emails getting through in the first place. Then, consider implementing a simple set of procedures regarding payments. These could include verifying account changes with a phone call (to the number you have on record, not the one in the email), double checking invoices against work orders, appointing a single administrator to restrict access to accounts, or even two-factor authorization for payments. Simple pre-emptive checks like hovering the mouse over any links before clicking and quickly making sure it looks right can also help. Like your own business, your contractors and suppliers are extra careful with their invoicing, so if anything looks off - even in the slightest - hold back on payment/clicking until it’s been reviewed. Fake invoices attacks may be increasing, but that doesn’t mean your business will become a statistic, especially now that you know what’s going on and how you can stop them.
We can help increase your security, talk to us today. Call us at 262-515-9499.
We know computers always break at the worst possible time, but what exactly prompts that failure? It’s easy to think it was something you did since you were using it at the time, but while your online gaming frenzy might cause a temporary crash, normal user actions are rarely the cause of a broken computer.
Accidents happen, but they don’t always mean you need to buy a new computer. As an electrical item, liquid spills are a big problem. This could be anywhere from a spill on the keyboard, going overboard with the screen cleaning spray or even a flood that reaches the computer. Laptop users need to be especially careful when choosing their work surface, as cafes and kitchen tables often have small puddles left behind. If you’re lucky and the liquid didn’t fry the circuits, ongoing corrosion is still likely, as is stickiness to gum up the internal parts. Similarly, a dropped computer isn’t going to be happy, nor is one that’s been knocked around. Even a light thump of frustration can cause loose cables, disconnections and internal damage.
Computer parts have an expected lifetime, especially moving parts like fans or mechanical hard drives. Some computers can run 24/7 for up to a decade, while others can be barely used but fail within warranty. When age is the issue there are usually early warning signs like extra noise or slowing down, but the actual ‘break’ generally happens when you go to turn the computer on, perhaps after a crash or overnight - either it makes a valiant effort before giving up, or nothing happens at all. Sometimes lasting age is the luck of the draw with how it was manufactured, and quality does play a big part in how long it can keep churning.
We like to think electricity is a constant stream that never varies, but computers are particularly sensitive to both surges (too much electricity) and brownouts (not enough electricity). You might notice the lights dimming or flickering during a brownout, or glowing just a tad too strong during a surge. These variations never last long, and they’re not something you can control unless it’s just your house (it’s worth checking with your neighbors), but they can easily break your computer. A surge protector can guard against mild increases in voltage, but brownouts and strong surges will still cause damage.
Overheating is a big contributor to premature computer death. Some computer parts run hot and need plenty of cooling to keep them working. You might not feel it from the outside, but internal components can rapidly build up heat that needs to go somewhere. When your airflow vents get blocked with dust or pet hair, the temperature continues to increase until components literally bake themselves to failure. At set temperatures, the computer will automatically switch off to try and cool down, however the more often this happens and the higher the temps, the more likely your computer is to die.
Hard Drive Failure
Your data is stored on a hard drive, and if you’ve got a mechanical hard drive (most people do), it works a bit like a record player with a spinning ‘platter’ and a needle that reads it. Small bumps, liquid, age, surges and overheating can all trigger hard drive failure. Along with making your computer unusable, hard drive failure means your data is also lost. While sudden breakage might leave you surprised, take note of any strange noises or repeated crashes and back up your data in advance.
Like a car, your computer needs to be serviced. We can check your computer both physically and its software to make its running right and will keep on working for you. Give us a call at 262-515-9499.
One minute you’re humming along writing an important email at break neck speed and then… Nothing. The computer crashed, and now you’re going to have to start all over.
Any computer can crash, regardless of how up to date, how advanced, or how old it is. Here are some easy tips to prevent many types of computer crashes, and how to keep one from completely ruining your day.
1.) Save often.
Saving often is a good habit to get into no matter what you are working on. Be it a five-page essay for you Ethics professor, a financial report for your boss, or the absolutely most awesome house ever built in Sims 4. Saving often allows you to be able to go back to a last finishing point after recovering from a crash.
2.) Have a good Anti-Virus.
A good anti-virus program can prevent the types of viruses that crash or freeze your computer, or in some cases even encrypt and take your data hostage. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
3.) Keep your software updated.
Keeping your Operating System and all your software, including your Anti-Virus up-to-date can go a very long way towards prevent many computer-related annoyances.
4.) Back your data up.
Backing up is like insurance for your data. It’s always better to have a backup and not need it than it is to need a backup and not have it.
5.) Regular checkups.
Just like you see your doctor every year for a physical, and your mechanic annually for a tune-up, it’s a good idea to go to have your computer checked out at least once a year by a professional who can make sure that everything is working the way it should be, and catch any small problems before they become big emergencies.
These are just some simple ways that you can keep your computer from crashing at the worst possible moment. If you have any questions about computer crashes, or want to schedule an annual checkup for your office computers, give Tech Force in Mt. Pleasant a call.
Remember when you were a kid walking across the living room carpet toward someone and touching them only to get a shock, or even rubbing a balloon on your clothes or hair so you could stick it to the wall? Static electricity, commonly known as electrostatic discharge, has been, and still is a source of amusement for many children and even some adults. However, when it comes to your computer and other electronic devices, static is no laughing matter.
An electrostatic discharge, or ESD, occurs through a process known as triboelectrification. Triboelectric charging is a type of contact electrification caused by one type of material coming into frictional contact with a different type of material.
The human body is actually capable of storing and conducting small amounts of electric voltage, we do so all the time without even noticing. Simply walking across the dining room rug can produce a static electricity voltage of up to 12,000 volts, however this static voltage is not life threatening. The discharge of this voltage, however, could be threatening to the internal components of a computer, laptop, mobile phone and any other electronic device you may use.
The inner workings of our computers are extremely vulnerable to static electricity. The simple act of touching any circuitry, or plugging in a peripheral while you have stored voltage dangling from your fingertips, can be fatal to your computer. It is even possible to damage your computer with static electricity that you can’t even feel because it is at such a low voltage.
The damage to your computer from an electrostatic discharge can range from a simple plug and play device not working anymore, to completely shorting out your entire computer. A static shock can be instant, or it can take days to weeks to actually settle in and cause any noticeable damage.
The good news is ruining your computer with static is completely preventable!
Carpet can be a computer’s worst nightmare, right up there with an accidental liquid spill. You should always try to place the computer’s tower on a shelf or table, rather than directly on the carpet. This goes for laptops too: Setting your laptop on a carpeted floor while working on it can not only cause overheating, it can cause an ESD between the flooring and the case.
Also, if you are doing some maintenance on your computer and have the case open, it is best to do your work on an anti-static mat or any other non-conducting surface, like a wooden workbench, keeping the insides of your computer away from potential bursts of static.
Speaking of anti-static, an anti-static wrist strap would help keep that static from your body away from any sensitive components when you’re working with them. The strap will keep you grounded, and discharged. Besides, better safe than sorry, right?
Though electrostatic discharges may sound particularly intimidating, they’re completely avoidable if you take the proper precautions.
If you have any questions about static and your computer, or think that you might have accidentally zapped your computer, give the folks at Tech Force in Mt. Pleasant a call. We’re always happy top help.
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