Monthly Archives: August 2018

The Technology Blog

Employees, Your Business’ First Line of Cyber Defense

By | Business Network Security, Cyber Security | No Comments

Employees, Your Business’ First Line of Cyber Defense

Everyday we hear of a new scam, cyber security threat or instance of fraud and cyber crime. With all the cyber threats and scams out there, it’s easy to feel helpless in this world of cyber security issues. Especially since all the IT and cyber security experts agree that there is no fool proof, 100% guaranteed way to protect yourself from cyber threats and criminals. If it’s difficult for individuals to protect themselves, it’s even more difficult for businesses.

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Employees, Your Business’ First Line of Cyber Defense

Cyber Threats To Businesses

Businesses have more identity information than an individual. If the business does transactions they have credit and debit card info, account information for businesses they work and do business with, their employees personal and tax information; all the information cyber criminals are after. Cyber security services protect your business with technology, but to protect against cyber crime you need to look at the human element.

Best Internet & Cyber Practices For Employees

Having a clear cut policy on internet activity, including personal email and social media use, is extremely important for businesses. Let’s walk through some ways to establish good practices and policies to ensure your employees know how to protect your business.

  1. Clear Responsibilities & Duties – Some of the most successful scams and crimes that are committed begin with and email or phone call. The scammer impersonates a company higher up, say a CEO or CFO, and asks for information from a department member that has access to sensitive company information. They may contact: HR to request employee files or tax information; Accounting for account information or financial reports; IT for security login information. It’s critical that your employees know company policy for requests for information. Also, make sure you foster a work environment that encourages employees to question and double check such requests.
  2. Clean Desk, Clean Work – We’re taught from the moment we begin school as a child to keep your workspace clean and double check your work. As we get older and enter the workforce it’s amazing how we can forget! IT experts say that human error is one of the top ways that systems are compromised and data loss occurs! Keeping desks and workspaces clear and clean means; important files aren’t left in plain sight where unauthorized personnel can view them, written usernames and passwords don’t get left out, it’s easy to spot if an unauthorized person has been snooping. Double checking work means; correct email recipients, policy adherence and proper handling of data and files.
  3. Working Around Non-Company Personnel – More and more people are working from home on a full or part time basis. Employees and employers alike are seeing positive benefits from allowing employees to work from home or away from the office. Even for trusted employees, the fact remains, important company information is being accessed away from the office. Make sure your employees follow best practices to avoid Shoulder Snoopers (public areas are prone to eavesdroppers) and while using public networks.
  4. Knowing Your IT Department – IT Department employees typically have access to all areas of a business. For larger companies, employees working in different departments often don’t know who is in IT or not. Make sure each department knows their IT Support Professional, scammers will often use the technique of calling or emailing employees claiming to be from IT in an effort to get information from the employee.

Let Pros 4 Technology Help Your Business

You love your business. We know that with all you have going on in a day, thinking about and developing cyber security policies and procedures can be put on the back burner. Contact us today to discuss your cyber security needs and protecting your business from cyber crimes.

4 Steps to Avoid Phony Debt Collection Scams

By | Scams | No Comments

4 Steps to Avoid Phony Debt Collection Scams

There are many types of debt and most Americans have some type of debt they’re trying to pay off. From credit cards and car loan debt to mortgages and student loans, even medical bills can add up quickly and turn into a debt payment. People with debt payments usually pay monthly using either automatic withdrawals, over the phone payment methods or by mailing a check. With so many people paying off debt, it’s no surprise that criminals and scammers use debt collection scams to try and rob people.

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4 Steps to Avoid Phony Debt Collection Scams

Phony Debt Collection Scams

Debt collection scams are one of the most frightening types of scams that you can experience. The criminals are persistent and make numerous threats to get your money or personal information. Scammers have been known to threaten and harass people for weeks with lawsuits, court summons, jail time and have even been known to threaten family members into paying up! The persistent and aggressive tactics of the scammer makes debt collection scams one of the worst types of scams we see today.

How Debt Collection Scams Work

The scammer calls you and says that they work for a collection agency, law firm, loan company or government agency, claiming to be collecting an overdue payment. When you tell them, you don’t have any overdue payments or that you don’t have any debt, the “debit collector” begins the next phase of the scam, making threats. The threats seem very real. Typically, the scammer has just enough of your personal info to make you believe that the debt they’re trying to collect is real and the consequences to not paying them are real as well. Do not give into their threats! These “debt collectors” have no legal power to take you to court or sue you.

4 Steps to Spot and Avoid Debt Collection Scams

  1. Ask the “debt collector” to send you an official “validation notice” of the debt. Debt collectors are required by law, in the U.S. and most of Canada, to provide an official notice in writing. By law, the notice must include the name of the creditor, the amount of the debt, and a statement of your rights. If the “debt collector” won’t provide the notice or says they don’t have to provide one, hang up.
  2. Ask for more information. If you do owe money and are making payments on debt and aren’t sure if the caller is real, ask for their name, company, street address, and telephone number. Also, ask them for details of the account in question. If they refuse to give you the information, hang up. If they do give you the information, end the conversation and research the company and contact your lender to check the status of your account. Never give out your bank account information, credit or debit card numbers, or any personal information.
  3. Protect yourself. If you don’t have any outstanding loans or debt, hang up. Don’t press any numbers to speak to an “agent” or follow prompts. Simply hang up.
  4. Check your credit report. The three main credit reporting agencies in the U.S. are Equifax , TransUnion, and Experian. In Canada, go to the Equifax Canadian website. By regularly checking your credit report you can determine if you have outstanding debts and see if there has been any suspicious activity in your name. If you see something suspicious, place a fraud alert on your credit report. If you received a phone call from a fraudulent debt collector that had personal information, place a fraud alert with all three national credit reporting agencies to protect your credit.

Stop Cyber-Snoops & Peeping Toms

By | Cyber Security, Email | No Comments

Stop Cyber-Snoops & Peeping Toms

When you hear Peeping Tom, an image of someone hiding in bushes peering through windows probably comes to mind. A shadowy figure that preys on people and destroys their sense of privacy and security. What if, as you’re reading this, someone was watching you…

Stop-Cyber-Snoops-and-Peeping-Toms

Stop Cyber-Snoops & Peeping Toms

Hacking Your Webcam

In today’s world of smart phones, tablets, laptops, smart TVs and all manner of internet-enabled video and audio recording devices, the reality of someone hijacking your device is all too real. They’re Cyber-Peeping Toms, cybercriminals using your device’s built-in camera and microphone to spy on you and steal your personal information. It may sound like a conspiracy theory, but the threat to your personal information and privacy is real. In January of this year an Ohio man was charged and sentenced to 13 years in prison for hacking and remotely spying on people!

How Cybercriminals Take Control of Your Device

Cybercriminals use remote access Trojans, or RATS, which are a type of malware. RATs create a “backdoor” to your computer, providing the cybercriminal access to your device’s camera and microphone, files, and the ability to record keystrokes. Cybercriminals either create or purchase the malware online. The malware is then hidden in other applications that can be downloaded or attached to emails or embedded in an email link. Criminals will also attempt to by-pass your computer’s firewall to gain access to your webcam.

Why Cybercriminals Hack Your Webcam

The reason why a criminal hacks a database or an individual’s computer is to access private or personal information that they can use or sell. By hacking your webcam the criminal is spying on you during your most private and sensitive situations. If your using your computer for work or personal reasons, cybercriminals can gather information from watching, listening and recording that can be sold or used to blackmail you.

How to Protect Your Identity

  1. Know your devices’ features. From TVs and phones to doorbells and vehicles, more and more products are being made with micro-sized built-in cameras.
  2. Keep your devices safe! Use strong passwords and make sure antivirus software is up to date.
  3. Know what your security software covers. Not all security software is created equal, make sure yours protects against malware intrusions.
  4. Cover the lens. Use a small piece of electrical tape to cover the lens while not in use.
  5. Don’t click that link. When you receive an email from an unknown source, delete it! Don’t be tempted to open it or click on any links.
  6. Only download from a trusted site. Make sure your downloading from websites that you know and trust.

Cybercriminals are always looking for ways to steal your information and identity! They want to watch and listen in on your private moments when you think no one is watching. Don’t let them in! Contact Pros 4 Technology today to keep your network private and secure!

7 Ways to Protect Your Company Against BEC Scams

By | Business Network Security, Cyber Security, Email, Scams | No Comments

7 Ways to Protect Your Company Against BEC Scams

You receive an email from a supplier notifying you of an unpaid invoice and asking you to verify your account info so they can withdraw funds. As a responsible business owner, you immediately verify the info so you’re back in good standing with your supplier. You call your supplier rep to let them know you’ve paid the invoice and you hear the words “you don’t have an outstanding invoice.” By the time you call the bank the money is gone and there’s no way of getting it back.

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Protect Your Company Against BEC Scams

The Growing Threat of BEC Scams

This scenario is becoming all too familiar in today’s world of wire-transfers and automatic withdrawals. Business Email Compromise Scams, or BEC Scams, target businesses of all sizes. Scammers target business owners and employees, trying to get them to perform an action that sends money to the scammers account or send sensitive information that can be used for other crimes, like Identity Theft.  BEC Scams have become so problematic that the FBI has started to warn about them. The FBI assess total damage of BEC Scams at over $3 Billion and counting! In June of 2018, over 70 people were arrested in one coordinated, international BEC Scam investigation!

Why are BEC Scams So Effective?

People and businesses fall prey to BEC Scams because they’re sophisticated and start with gathering intelligence. Scammers typically compromise a CEO or upper management personnel’s email account and study the business and company procedures. Scammers figure out the best way to attack a company before striking. They target all aspects of a business, but typically focus on:

  • HR Departments – Scammers can gain access to employees’ personal information and W-2 forms
  • Accounts Payable – Scammers try and access company accounts and scam employees into transferring money
  • Upper Management & Owners – They’re the initial “in” for scammers. They have all the info and clearances with the least amount of checks and balances

Seven Ways to Protect Against BEC Scams

  1. Verify all changes or updates for account info and payment instructions to vendors and suppliers. 
  2. Maintain hard-copy files and contact lists! In today’s digital world it’s easy to overlook the need for paper. But keep a printed record of vendor contact information and discuss with your supplier representative how accounts payable will be handled.
  3. Train your finance and HR team. Write and implement an action plan for the handling of sensitive information and who is authorized to request it.
  4. Limit the number of employees that have access and authority to use sensitive information or transfer money.
  5. Use two-factor authentication methods wherever possible. It may seem like a hassle but spending a little extra time could save you thousands!
  6. For larger companies and wire-transfers, use out-of-band authentication to verify any and all wire-transfer requests.
  7. Foster open communication in the work place. Make sure your employees know that if they receive non-verbal requests to do something out of the ordinary, that they should question it! Double or even triple-check requests to send money or sensitive information, even if comes their direct boss or upper management!

Pros 4 Technology Can Help

Your business faces cyber threats every day! Let Pros 4 Technology assist you and your company. We want to make sure your company and data is safe from BEC scams and other threats. Contact us  today!

3 Steps to Avoid a Government Grant Scam

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3 Steps to Avoid a Government Grant Scam

Congratulations! Uncle Sam is giving away money and he wants you!

We’ve all seen the emails, letters in the mail or received the phone call. The “government agent” on the phone says the government has a surplus of money and is giving it away in the form of grants to lucky individuals like us. How amazing! We can finally live our dream, start that business we’ve always talked about and live a life without work. There’s just one small, painless step we need to take; make a “one-time” processing fee…

Sound too good to be true? Before you get your hopes up; hang up the phone, delete the email or shred that letter! Remember, free money doesn’t come easy and is never free!

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How to Avoid Government Grant Scams

The Federal Grant Trap

Scammers almost always claim to be a “government agent” working for “XYZ Government Agency” such as “The Federal Grants Administration,” which doesn’t exist. This is the main red flag! A government agency is contacting you about “free” money. While government grants exist, the process of obtaining one is very involved and most companies and individuals applying for one wind up hiring a specially trained Grant Writer. If you are interested to see if you or your business is eligible for a grant, check out Grants.gov for a full list of legitimate Agencies and Government Grants.

Spot and Stop the Grant Scam  

Before you respond to the promise of “free” federal grant money, do a little research. Take time to make sure the promised government grant is legitimate.

  1. Research the agency the “government agent” claims to work for.
  2. If the federal agency does exist, go to Grants.gov  and see if the agency currently has any government grants listed.
  3. Find contact info for the government agency and verify that the “agent” who contact you actually works there.

All They Need is Your Banking Account Number

Scammers will try anything to get a hold of your personal information and bank account number. Government grant scams are just one method. Be wary of any unsolicited phone calls asking for your banking information. A One-time “processing fee” turns into months of headaches. Talk to your financial institutions and make sure you know their contact and identity verification methods.

When you do answer the phone and discover a “government agent” on the other end; write down the phone number and do your research. If it is a scam, report it to the BBB . The BBB investigates, reports and tracks scams, keeping us protected.

Scammers don’t just target individuals! Businesses fall victim to these types of attacks and scams every day! Contact Pros 4 Technology  to learn more about keeping your business secure!