This Is Now The Biggest Crime Risk To Your Business

Jason Cooley is Support Services Manager for Tech Experts.

If someone asked you to take a wild guess at the world’s biggest crime, what do you think? Burglary maybe? Common assault? Or perhaps you might take a more humorous approach and suggest man buns or women with ridiculous eyebrows?

Well, you might be surprised (and a little concerned) to find out that the most commonly reported crime right now is actually online fraud, AKA cybercrime.

With one in ten people falling prey to Internet fraudsters and over five million cases reported every year, cyber criminals are very real predators that can have a devastating effect on your personal life, your business, and your credit rating.
And these figures are just the tip of the iceberg. Many more cybercrimes are believed to go unreported because victims feel too embarrassed to let on that they’ve been duped by a stranger sitting behind a keyboard.

The digital age comes with lots of well documented pros and cons. We can now work from anywhere in the world and stay constantly connected, but that has an added effect on our personal lives and stress levels.

Cybercrime costs billions of dollars every year. That’s an obscene amount of money by anyone’s standards. And the really scary thing is that the ever- increasing industry called data theft is now relatively easy for anyone to get involved in.

Gone are the days of 1980s sci fi movies, where computer hackers were dark, mysterious and possessed savant-like levels of intelligence.

Today anyone with the inclination and $50 to spend can pick up a powerful piece of software that will enable them to hack into your computer systems and wreak havoc.

Funnily enough – the best way to be 100% sure a hacker can’t break into your business is to not use computers. We all know that’s not possible. The second best way is to make sure you have next generation cybersecurity protection and tools in place.

Call us today at (734) 457-5000 or email at info@mytechexperts.com to chat about your cybersecurity coverage.

Are You Using Multi-factor Authentication Yet?

Robust security is key for storing data. Cyber-criminals are targeting all businesses all the time, using clever automated tools to sniff out weaknesses they can exploit. Don’t make it easy for them.

Multi-factor authentication gives you another level of security when logging into apps.

What is it? You’ve probably used it when you log into your bank account. You enter your password, then on the next screen, you click to have a code texted to your phone, which you enter as a second, single-use password.

The thing is, it’s not just for your bank. You can use it to access many applications.

It’s simple to set up, and you can use it for any account that holds data you’d rather not fall into the wrong hands.

There are lots of different ways to do multi-factor authentication to protect your business’s data:

• The text message approach: That’s lots better than nothing, but is the least secure multi-factor authentication
• Generate a code on your cell phone: This is better
• Have a special small USB device that must be plugged into your laptop

If you’re unsure how to set this up, please give us a call at (734) 457-5000. We’d love to help.

Buyer Beware: New Phishing Scams Appearing On Craigslist

Craigslist email scams come in many shapes and forms, but in general, a Craigslist email scammer is known to do at least one of the following things:

● Ask for your real email address for any reason at all.
● Insist on communicating by email only (using either your Craigslist email or your real email).
● Send you fake purchase protection emails that appear to be from Craigslist itself.

Asking for your real email address
Scammers might ask you for your real email address for any of the following reasons:

The scammer claims they want to send payment via PayPal. Scammers posing as buyers might try to talk you into accepting online payments, such as those via PayPal.

Once you give your PayPal email address to the scammer, however, they can easily send you a fake PayPal confirmation email to make you think that they paid when they really didn’t.

The scammer claims they use a third-party to securely handle the payment. Similar to the PayPal scenario above, a scammer (posing as either a buyer or a seller) might ask for your real address so that they can send a fake email that appears to come from an official third party.

These types of emails typically are cleverly designed to look like they offer a guarantee on your transaction, certify the seller, or inform you that the payment will be securely handled by the third party.

The scammer intends to send you multiple scam and spam messages. A scammer who asks for your real email address might be creating a list of victims they’re targeting to hack their personal information.

They could be planning to send you phishing scams, money or lottery scams, survey scams or even social network scams.

Insisting on communicating entirely by email
Scammers might insist on talking exclusively by email for any of the following reasons:

The scammer can’t speak to you by phone or meet up in person. Many Craigslist scammers operate overseas and don’t speak English as their first language, which is why they prefer to do everything via email. If they’re posing as a seller, they almost definitely don’t have the item you’re trying to buy and are just trying to get your money.

The scammer is following a script and has an elaborate personal story to share. Scammers use scripts so that they can scam multiple people. If they’re posing as a buyer, they might refer to “the item” instead of saying what the item actually is.

Since English is typically not most scammers’ first language and they operate around the world, it’s very common for them to misspell words or use improper grammar. And finally, to back up why they can’t meet up or need payment immediately, they’ll describe in detail all the problems they’re currently facing/have faced in order to get you to sympathize with them.

The scammer is looking to pressure you to make a payment, or wants to send a cashier’s check. Using their elaborate story, the scammer who’s posing as a seller might ask you to make a deposit via a third party such as PayPal, Western Union, MoneyGram, an escrow service, or something else.

They might even convince you to make multiple payments over a period of time, looking to extract as much money from you as possible before you realize you’re not getting what you’re paying for.

On the other hand, the scammer who’s posing as a buyer might offer to send a cashier’s check, which will likely be discovered as fraudulent days or weeks later.

Beware of anyone who tells you they’re in the military. This is a strong sign of a scam.

Sending fake purchase protection emails
Scammers have been known to send protection plan emails that appear to be from Craigslist. Of course, Craigslist doesn’t back any transactions that occur through its site, so any emails you receive claiming to verify or protect your purchases via Craigslist are completely fake.

The most important thing you can do to avoid getting involved in a Craigslist email scam is to never give away your real email address to anyone you’re speaking to from Craigslist.

How To Protect Your Business From Phishing And Spearphishing

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

One of the best ways to protect your business against these types of attacks is by educating your employees on the methods these criminals exploit to gain access to your employees and your sensitive information. But beyond that, there are some methods you can use in conjunction with education to help protect your business.

Pre-delivery
Using filters can help prevent malicious emails from reaching your employees’ inbox and is effective for preventing indiscriminate attacks but not targeted ones.

More useful, however, are solutions that not only filter emails before reaching the inbox but incorporating virus scanners, real-time intent analysis, reputation checks, URL checkers, and other assessments before any email reaching your employee. We have an offering that can help you prevent an attack before it even starts. [Read more…]

Zoom Zero-Day Bug: Webcam Hijacking And Other Intrusive Exploits

Jason Cooley is Support Services Manager for Tech Experts.

Internet safety is always a concern and there are a large number of tools available to assist with that. Depending on how much security you need, you may need to run multiple pieces of software. Antivirus, antimalware, firewalls, and even 2-factor authentication are security measures all doing different things.

Even with all of these types of security layers in place, there is no such thing as guaranteed safety. You can be as careful as possible and avoid anything seemingly questionable, but one thing you can’t avoid are security exploits.

An exploit could be used to track a user’s history, and possibly even every keystroke. This could potentially send passwords for anything you enter on the computer.

Recently, Zoom, a video conferencing application, was discovered to have a severe vulnerability on the Mac platform. This exploit was a very simple one: a person attempting to access your webcam could send a legitimate Zoom meeting invite, but set with certain settings on a certain server.

When the link is clicked, even without accepting the invite, the client is silently launched, turning on the end user’s webcam. Even if the Mac user had uninstalled Zoom, the client would silently reinstall and launch.

Back in 2017, a much larger user base was at severe risk of an exploit that would allow hackers to silently install malware to take remote control of the user’s computer. The CVE-2017-11882 exploit was a flaw in Microsoft Office software.

If Office was installed, a Visa paylink email was sent, and when the user opened the word document attached, it launched a PowerShell command installing Cobalt Strike, granting remote control to whoever deployed it.

It was not long before Microsoft had a security fix rolled out, but if the software was installed prior to installing the security update, the remote control software would persist and have free reign on not only one computer, but also be able to travel through the network.

These vulnerabilities are discovered in normal software and have been found in Windows’ core system more times than you probably realize. Microsoft is typically quick to roll out updates when they have the power to fix the flaw, even if it isn’t their software. This illustrates the great importance of keeping Windows up to date.

Sure, if you are at work and have an IT team like the staff at Tech Experts, your updates are managed and prioritized. While some updates are optional or just good for a more user-friendly experience, important security updates should always be installed as soon as possible.

As Windows 7 updates come to an end this year, any of these types of exploits will remain unfixed. Switching to Windows 10 or replacing your computer is the only way to keep getting the latest patches for these intrusive exploits.

If you are already on Windows 10, make sure you have antivirus installed. As always, check your system regularly for updates and get help if you need it – your safety depends on it.

Small Businesses Are Under Cyber Attack

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Ransomware, crypto jacking and phishing are now the biggest threat to the survival of small- and medium-sized companies (not to mention large companies, local governments, and even the federal government). Here are some sobering statistics:

  1. Ransomware or hackers attack a business every 14 seconds in the United States.
  2. Sonicwall (a major firewall vendor) reported a 300% increase in the frequency of attacks in 2018.
  3. Ransomware attacks on healthcare organizations will quadruple by next year.
  4. The financial impact of ransomware attacks against small companies is predicted to reach $11.5 billion dollars in 2019.
  5. MOST ALARMING: 91% of cyberattacks begin with a spear phishing email, the most common way to infect a company with ransomware.

The threat landscape has changed significantly in the last 12 months. It used to be the reliability of our client’s backups and disaster recovery options that would worry me at night. [Read more…]

Mozilla And Google Boosts Anti-Tracking And Security

Jason Cooley is Support Services Manager for Tech Experts.

Internet security changes all the time and so does the variety of issues. We have to be sure to run anti-virus, watch out for infections and phishing, and regularly change our passwords just to start the process of being safe on the Internet.

There are people that spend time to create these viruses and other hidden or unwanted system modifications.

While their motivation may not be known (usually money), one of the hazards of using the Internet is dealing with the headaches these things can cause.

On top of regular infections, there are many data gathering processes that can run in the background of your system.

These can be gathering data to send to someone attempting to steal your information. There are also websites that gather data when you visit, login, or create an account.

While there are instances where gathering data is used maliciously as I mentioned, it is also something legitimate sites can be guilty of. In 2019, you may have heard of sites like Google and Facebook gathering information, but what and how much are they gathering? What can you do about it?

Earlier this year, the International Computer Science Institute investigated Google and the Applications linked with its Playstore.

Applications downloaded from Google and the Playstore can gather data, and that can be used to create your Advertising ID. This ID is unique, but is and can be reset.

Many applications were also linking that Advertising ID with the hardware IDs of a device, such as the MAC address. This is forbidden as it allows the data to be permanently stored, even when you erase your history and erase the application data. Google is addressing the issue and already forcing some applications to change its data gathering process.

Google is also stepping up security for mobile devices in another way. Users that are familiar with Chrome and its password storing may know the browser version of Google can suggest a strong password.

This is now coming to mobile devices as well, which will sync security across all devices, prompting you to use a strong and unique password when it is determined your password is weak or frequently used.

Facebook may be the king of data harvesting. I am sure many of you have searched for something on the Internet, then noticed ads on Facebook showing that item. This is part of targeted advertising done by Facebook.

Facebook has the ability to follow you around the web, checking your browser habits and collecting user data anytime you are on a site with a Like or comment section from Facebook attached.

Mozilla Firefox introduced the Facebook Container extension for its browser last year, which keeps Facebook isolated.

While it has been out for awhile, 2.0 was just released, which blocks those sites with the Facebook links from gathering information.

Firefox is stepping up the anti-tracking to another level as well. The browser debuted its new “Enhanced Tracking Protection.” Mozilla teamed up with Disconnect, an open source anti-tracking program to create this new protection that blocks over 1,000 third party websites from gathering data while you browse the Internet.

This feature is enabled by default once the browser is updated to its newest version.

Some may not worry about their privacy online, but for those who do, it’s time to update.

How To Save Your Business From Phishing Scams

Workplaces today are filled with computers and machines, but just as these workstations optimize efficiency and profit, they also increase the possibility of attacks designed to steal, destroy, or corrupt your data through the use of malicious programs.

The most probable avenue for these malicious programs is through phishing scams. To understand how to stop these attacks, you must first understand what a phishing scam entails.

A phishing scam is an attempt for someone to steal sensitive information or install malware onto your PC by tricking you into clicking a link, opening an attachment, or providing personal information.

Although these attacks use tactics that trick people every day, you can stay safe by staying smart. Through time and practice, it can become easy to spot a phishing attack and keep your PC and personal information safe.

If you receive an email containing a threatening message, usually one demanding immediate action, it is probably a phishing scam. Most of these messages try to trick users into clicking a link or opening an attachment with threatening messages like, “Your account has been compromised! You are no longer protected! Click here to protect your account!”

Once you click the link, though, you are redirected to a phishing site.

Another example may be what seems to be an email from your boss’ boss demanding sensitive information to complete company documentation. Always beware when you see a threatening or demanding message.

Another indicator of a phishing scam is an unfamiliar email address or domain name. Some scammers may use domain names or email addresses similar to your normal contacts, but they will never be the same. If you notice an inconsistency, report the email.

Phishing scams can also normally be identified by the sender’s grammar skills. Here is an example from a phishing email: “Click here to cancel this request, else your öffice 365 accöunt…” Terrible grammar and unfamiliar characters as shown here are indicators of a scam.

Lastly, be wary of any request for any type of personal or sensitive information whatsoever, even if it initially seems to be from a trustworthy source.

Even if it does not show any other signs of being a phishing scam, always double and triple-check the authenticity of the request.

If you do stumble across a phishing scam, your best course of action would be to delete the email in question without opening any attachments or clicking any links.

In addition, you should report the incident to your superior or your IT service provider. If a phishing attack happened to you, it can happen to your coworkers as well.

Giving sensitive company information away to a scammer is the last way you want to start your week.

Their tactics are always changing, so the best way to fight attacks like these is through education and awareness rather than programs or filters. Remember the red flags of a phishing scam, and you will have no problem keeping your business safe and secure.

What Are The Newest Phishing Attacks?

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Phishing is a term adapted from the word “fishing.” When we go fishing, we put a line in the water with bait on it, and we sit back and wait for the fish to come along and take the bait. Maybe the fish was hungry. Perhaps it just wasn’t paying attention. At any rate, eventually a fish will bite, and you’ll have something delicious for dinner.

How Does Phishing Work?
This is essentially how cyber phishing works. Cybercriminals create an interesting email, maybe saying that you’ve won a $100 gift certificate from Amazon. Sound too good to be true? Find out! All you have to do is click the link and take a short survey.

Once you click the link, a virus is downloaded onto your system. Sometimes it’s malware, and sometimes it’s ransomware. Malware includes Trojans, worms, spyware, and adware. These malicious programs each have different goals, but all are destructive and aimed at harming your computers. [Read more…]

How To Reduce Pop-Ups And Other Browser Best Practices

Jason Cooley is Support Services Manager for Tech Experts.

One of the most annoying things about browsing the web are pop-ups. Depending on your browser, your ability to limit or block pop-ups is probably built-in. If it’s not, there is definitely an extension for that purpose.

There are also other ways to ensure you have the best and fastest browsing experience possible.

Before we get into which browsers have which kind of pop-up blocker, let’s examine a fact. Pop-ups are annoying, but not always intrusive or unwanted.

There are instances where I need a pop-up from a site as it may be an internal page that has been requested or a log-in box. This can be frustrating as we may not know a pop-up is coming from a link. It may appear that nothing has happened.

So how do you know? The best practice and safest way is to allow pop-ups from sites you trust (as needed).

Say you’re on your banking site and you click log-in. Normally, a pop-up log-in box is displayed, but nothing happens. The pop-up has been blocked.

In the browser, you can enable this webpage to allow pop-ups, thus restoring your access and keeping you secure in the process.

In addition to pop-ups, users must also be on the lookout for pop-under windows. These are typically pages that open with other pages, like a tag along. They also frequently occur when attempting to leave a web page. They pop underneath other windows, hence the name. In most cases, pop-up blockers will stop most pop-unders.

So what about the browsers? Well, let’s just cover the Big Three: Chrome, Edge, and Firefox.

These browsers all come with a built-in pop-up blocker – all of which can be enabled in the settings page of the browser.

In most cases, these will do what you want them to: stop pop-ups. However, there are some instances where pop-ups or pop-unders make it through. There are third party extensions for most browsers that will typically offer more security.

Now that these pop-ups are handled, what else can we do to make a better browser experience? There are a few things you can do to perform sort of “maintenance” on your browser.

Clearing your cache (stored data) can help a website that doesn’t want to load very quickly. Most people know about clearing your browsing history, but there are other clean-up methods available.

There are a few different types of stored data associated with browser use. Some of this is background information, temporary data, passwords, and preferences. You can choose which parts to remove, so you can still keep your saved information without having to reenter it.

Another quick and easy tune up process is to remove any unused browser extensions. This can help with basic browser speed and performance.

Maintaining a generally healthy system is also a key to browser speed. Malware and adware can often specifically affect browsers. Any malware affecting the entire system would affect your browsing speed as well.

The best practice you can have is to use a strong antivirus and scan your computer regularly. There are many factors at play and paying attention to all of them is key to the best browsing experience.