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December 2018

Tech Tip Of The Month

Scam Alert

Scam Alert

Have you ever seen a pop-up message instructing you to click a link or call a number because of a virus? If this happens, stop what you are doing. Do not click a link. Do not call a number. Never grant an unknown party access to your computer.

#1 Disconnect your infected computer from the internet or turn it off.

#2 Check to see if you have a good backup of your data

#3 Notify your manager or supervisor.

What is WannaCry?

What to do if your computer is taken over by ransomware

Business Security: Best Practices

A vigilant cybersecurity-aware business culture should be continually evolving, adopting new standards and best practices for keeping computers and data safe and secure.

Layered security protection can include an up-to-date Written Information Security Policy (WISP) in compliance with industry requirements and state data security laws, as well as regularly scheduled Security Audit Scans which help to:

  • Identify “inactive” user accounts that could be exploited
  • Call out weak user passwords that could be invitations to hackers
  • Uncover unauthorized rogue devices that may have been added to your network
  • Find other threats that may be diminishing your overall network health and security

Welcome Summer!

Traveling over the summer months? Let your business associates know when to expect to hear from you by setting up an out of office auto-reply.

Not sure? Here’s how!

IT Challenge: Bored & Brilliant

A challenge to disconnect from your phone

Tech Tip Of The Month

Shopping Safely & Securely

Do you see a little green lock in your browser’s address bar?

The symbol – as well as the “s” (for Secure) in “https” is a recognized sign that you are using a secure encrypted connection. And you’ll want to see that if you are planning to provide credit card or other personal information over the web. While no prevention is ever 100% foolproof, training yourself to look before you buy is a good start!

And remember: you should never use a debit card to shop online!

Technology & You

Don't Be Scammed

Don’t forget smart email skills in the rush for convenience or sales – email scammers will be doubling their efforts around the holidays hoping you’ll be too distracted to be wise!

Don’t be a victim of that fake shipping notice or reference to an order you didn’t place. Cross check and verify the sending email.
Be wary of e-greeting cards and emails from unknown addresses.
If a deal – especially one with a link you should follow – seems too good to be true, it probably is!

Read more to learn more.

Productivity

Honor your Employer on Cyber Monday!

Honor your Employer on Cyber Monday!
Did you know that US employers, on the whole, lose approximately $449.8 million for every 15 minutes of work time spent online shopping?

Here’s hoping you have a productive AND thrifty Cyber Monday!

More Tips for Safe Shopping (on your lunch break!)

Security

Public WiFi - Resist the Convenience

Public WiFi – Resist the Convenience
Have you ever been sitting in your favorite coffee shop and taken advantage of the few minutes of quiet – and the free public WiFi – in order to send a few important emails?

Consider the cost of convenience:
Open WiFi networks are often unencrypted – so anyone who may be snooping can see the unencrypted web pages you may visit.
Fake public WiFi networks often look very similar to legitimate networks. They are designed to trick you into using a monitored network where login information and passwords are at risk.
Malware can be distributed through unsecure WiFi.

You could be offering up the websites you visit, personal communication, your location, files you send – including photos, passwords, and login credentials.

Bottom line? Don’t use public WiFi to shop online, log into your financial institution, or access other sensitive sites – ever.

Why You Really Need to Stop Using Public WiFi

How to Avoid Public WiFi Security Risks

Traveling over the holidays? Read this first.

Tech Tip Of The Month

Consider Encrypting Your "Thumb" Drive

Flash drives can contain valuable sensitive information and should not be handled carelessly.

The MA Data Security Laws and sound cybersecurity policies require the encryption of all personal or sensitive data. Although there are several third-party apps available to encrypt USB flash drives connected to your PC, we recommend using Bitlocker, the built-in Windows tool.

If you’re looking for a 3rd party option that can also work with your Apple computer, PC World has some additional recommendations.

Security

Office Horror Stories

Many organizations pour hours of time into the thorough formulation of a reliable data backup and business disaster recovery plan, only to live through the horror of watching strategies fail – thanks to a lack of reliable automated technology and accurate monitoring and alerting when systems are needed most. Would your business survive a major data loss?

Here are a few things to consider as you formulate your backup and disaster recovery strategies:

Back Up vs. Disaster Recovery

Virtualization and Data Back Up

Productivity

Don't be afraid of your Inbox

Does the size of your mailbox give you the shakes?

Is the fear of losing an email giving you nightmares?

Don’t drown in your inbox. Breathe deeply; face your fears.

Innovations

Lost and Found

Have there ever been times where you lost a device and wish you had some type of GPS tracking? Or wondering if your children are safe on Halloween night and wanting to track them via GPS?

Consider these new technology solutions:

Security

The Equifax Security Breach Affects 143 Million US Consumers

We want to make you aware of a recent IT security breach at Equifax since it may affect you and your employees:

“September 7, 2017 — Equifax Inc. (NYSE: EFX) today announced a cybersecurity incident potentially impacting approximately 143 million U.S. consumers…The information accessed primarily includes names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. In addition, credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 U.S. consumers, and certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers, were accessed.” – https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com

You can visit the following Equifax website to see if your personal information has potentially been compromised. Equifax is also offering identity theft protection services for those individuals whose personal information may have been compromised. The Federal Trade Commission’s website offers additional information about how to protect yourself against fraud after a breach.

Consumers with additional questions are urged to visit Equifax’s website or contact its dedicated call center at 866-447-7559. The call center is open every day (including weekends) from 7:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m. Eastern Time.

Please feel free to forward this to other people who may need to be informed about this potential security risk.

Concerned about IT security for your business? Call Balsam Technologies today at 978-281-3339 or email at info@balsamtech.com.

Tech Tip Of The Month

Dollars and Sense

Not sure why your computer is soooooooooo slooooooow………?

Is it old and ready for replacement?
Maybe it just needs a little tune-up and TLC?

Here are some how-to’s for steps you can take to try and squeeze some more life out of your computer before you run to the store for a new machine:

FOR MICROSOFT WINDOWS COMPUTERS:
1. Change your power settings
2. Disable programs that run on startup
3. Disable shadows, animations, and visual effects
4. Launch the Windows troubleshooter
5. Get help from the Performance Monitor (Windows 10)
6. Kill bloatware and adware

FOR APPLE COMPUTERS:
A few more steps could be involved – some ideas appear in these articles:
https://discussions.apple.com/docs/DOC-5291
https://discussions.apple.com/thread/7198733?start=0&tstart=0

Security

Parents: Be Wise!

Concerned about protecting your children’s/student’s identities and personal information? Here are some helpful tips and guides…

Tips for Protecting Your Student’s Computer

Protecting your Personal Information

Protecting Your Child’s Privacy Online

Technology & You

Class is (soon) in Session

Thinking about what technology to buy – or avoid – for your student as you look toward the new school year? Here are some tips for navigating the labyrinth of “back-to-school” advertisements:

The Back-to-School Tech You Need (and Don’t Need)

Tech Tip Of The Month

Gone Phishing

Did you know that 91% of cyberattacks begin with a user clicking on a phishing email?
Scammers try to copy email and text messages from legitimate companies to trick you into entering personal information and passwords. Never follow links or open attachments in suspicious or unsolicited messages. If you need to change or update personal information, contact the company directly. Be suspicious if you receive the following:

The sender’s email address or phone number doesn’t match the name of the company that it claims to be from. EXAMPLE: From: FedEx [mailto:tracking@afedex.com]
The message starts with a generic greeting, like “Dear customer.” Most legitimate companies will include your specific name.
A link appears to be legitimate, but when you hover over it with your mouse, you can see it point to a URL that match the address of the company’s website. EXAMPLE: Link says, “FedEx invoice for tracking” but the link directs to http://auburnmachine.com/file.php?
The message looks significantly different from other messages that you’ve received from the company.
The message requests personal information, like a credit card number or account password.
The message is unsolicited and contains an attachment.

Still unsure? If the email came from someone in your address book, send them a new email asking if they sent the “phishy” one. Better safe than sorry!

Finally, be a smarter clicker with these helpful tips.

Security

Password PROTECTED? Choose Wisely!

What do these passwords have in common?

  • 123456
  • qwerty
  • password1
  • admin
  • football
  • 121212

Answer: They are among the worst passwords used in 2016..
Get smart with these helpful password protection strategies from one of our valued partners!

Looking for even greater protection? Consider two-factor authentication for logging into your company’s most sensitive systems.

Innovations

What is the IoT—Internet of Things?

Think your refrigerator can’t talk to your phone? What about your toothbrush? Think again.

Here’s the buzz about the “Internet of Things” and how it relates to the Cloud.

Tech Tip Of The Month

Scam Alert

Have you ever seen a pop-up message instructing you to click a link or call a number because of a virus? If this happens, stop what you are doing. Do not click a link. Do not call a number. Never grant an unknown party access to your computer.

#1 Disconnect your infected computer from the internet or turn it off.

#2 Check to see if you have a good backup of your data

#3 Notify your manager or supervisor.

What is WannaCry?

What to do if your computer is taken over by ransomware

Business Security: Best Practices

A vigilant cybersecurity-aware business culture should be continually evolving, adopting new standards and best practices for keeping computers and data safe and secure.

Layered security protection can include an up-to-date Written Information Security Policy (WISP) in compliance with industry requirements and state data security laws, as well as regularly scheduled Security Audit Scans which help to:

  • Identify “inactive” user accounts that could be exploited
  • Call out weak user passwords that could be invitations to hackers
  • Uncover unauthorized rogue devices that may have been added to your network
  • Find other threats that may be diminishing your overall network health and security
Welcome Summer!

Traveling over the summer months? Let your business associates know when to expect to hear from you by setting up an out of office auto-reply.

Not sure? Here’s how!

IT Challenge: Bored & Brilliant

A challenge to disconnect from your phone