Every business wants to be equipped with the latest and greatest IT equipment and software. Yet, due to realities like budget shortcomings, time constraints, and the lack of knowledge about IT trends, it can be difficult for the average SMB to attain that dreamtechnological setup on their own. However, by being smart about how you approach IT, your company can still have a network that exceeds your expectations.
Here are three basic guidelines that every SMB should build their IT strategy around. These best practices are designed to allow organizations to make the most with what they’ve got. At the end of the day, approaching IT in this manner is a classic case of why it’s best to work smarter.
Be Careful of Spreading Yourself Too Thin Staff members tasked with overseeing a company’s technology are often given more responsibility than they initially signed up for. Employees having schedules stretched thin like this results in being bogged down in the details, like maintenance and repair jobs. This causes big picture initiatives to remain elusive. Every business needs the kind of IT support that moves a company forward, instead of the kind that just puts out fires. To that end, Net It On can help.
By outsourcing routine IT maintenances and repairs to Net It On, we’ll be able to free up your IT staff to research and implement bigger and better IT solutions. This co-managed IT approach isn’t meant to replace your trusted in-house IT staff (if you have one); instead, it’s designed to give them a needed boost. Actually, this basic principle applies to every aspect of business: where you’re stretched too thin, outsource and delegate the responsibility to someone else so you can have time freed up to work on more urgent matters.
Align Your IT Priorities and Your Company Goals It’s impossible to do it all; this is where making priorities come into place. An IT strategy that doesn’t have clear priorities and goals will waste money on keeping current systems running (even if they’re outdated), and risk purchasing solutions that aren’t really needed. Both of these examples are a waste of money. By taking time to prioritize on what your company needs out of its technology, you’ll end up with a network that you’ll actually need, instead of wasting time and money on technology that you may only think you need.
In order to assist your business with prioritizing in exactly what it needs, Net It On is here to offer our support as professional IT consultants. We take the time to really get to know your company’s goals so that we can align them with a supportive IT strategy. Your business only stands to come out on top from consulting with IT experts.
Have a Plan to Accommodate Growth Today’s technology changes rapidly, and successful businesses are rewarded with growth. These two facts are intertwined, and organizations that can’t make this connection will fall short in both arenas. Having your network prepared for the next one, two, and even five years worth of growth will save you a whole lot of headaches and money in the long run. For example, if you have a good idea of where your business will be three years from now, then invest extra money today in IT equipment that can handle future demand, instead of having to totally revamp your IT systems once every year due to unforeseen growth.
It’s also important to keep in mind that enterprise growth must account for the increasing demands of new technology. Take for example the growing network demands of having more mobile devices on your network and hogging your bandwidth. Having an IT strategy in place that accounts for this surge in network traffic will pay off when the amount of mobile and IoT devices doubles over the next few years (which is what the current trend is).
Does your current IT strategy take into account these three fundamentals? Do you even have an IT strategy to guide your technology decision making? If you answered negatively to one or both of these questions, then your business is likely stuck in a technology rut and you would benefit greatly by having an external IT company like Net It On assess the current state of your business’ IT operations. Give us a call at (732) 360-2999 and forever change how your organization approaches IT.
Businesses that have online dealings should always be aware of how much danger their operations are in, especially with the omnipresent threat of hackers. Depending on the severity of the hacking attack, some organizations might not even know they’ve been hacked until it’s far too late. It’s critical that your business is able to identify potential threats before they’ve caused irreparable damage to your infrastructure.
Contrary to popular belief, there are some fairly simple ways that you can use to determine if you’ve been hacked by an outside force. While several of these signs aren’t obvious, they do hint that if it’s not a hacking attack, there’s something severely wrong with your network.
Telltale Signs of Hacking Believe it or not, any of the following signs can signal that there’s something wrong with your computer, including if you’ve been the target of a hacking attack:
Files moved or completely missing: If your files aren’t where you left them, it could be a case of user error, but it’s possible that a hacker or similar threat shifted them around or stole them from you.
Slow computer speed: When your system is infected by malware, worms, and other threats, they eat up your PC’s resources. This means that your computer will run slower than normal. You can check to see how much of your PC’s resources are allocated toward unaccounted for programs or applications by opening the Task Manager (Ctrl+Alt+Delete).
Your browser’s homepage is changed: Unless you intentionally changed your homepage to a sketchy search engine that you’ve never heard of, you’ve more than likely been infected by malware.
New toolbars in your browser: Some applications that you download from the Internet might have questionable attachments included with them. These might install unwanted toolbars, adware, and other problems on your PC, some of which might be malicious.
Questionable access log activity: A clear indication that you’ve been hacked is if you have unauthorized administrators accessing your network from strange locations. Monitoring your access logs is the only way to catch these crooks in action, primarily due to legitimate access credentials being used to log into your network.
Keep in mind that some threats do have measures put into place to ensure that they aren’t detected. In this case, it’s best to run a centralized antivirus solution on your network that’s designed to detect and eliminate advanced threats.
If you’re ever unsure of whether or not you’ve been hacked, or if you’re afraid of being hacked in the future, Net It On can perform what’s called a penetration test. This is where we analyze your network for any weak points that can be used as a point of entry for threats. We can then suggest ways to plug up your defenses so that even the strongest, most dangerous threats have a minimal chance of infiltrating your infrastructure.
One especially important component of a comprehensive security solution is preventing threats from entering your network in the first place. With an enterprise-level firewall and antivirus combination, you can effectively limit your data’s exposure to outside threats, and eliminate those that have infiltrated your infrastructure. You can further augment your network security with proactive measures like spam blocking and content filtering solutions.
For more information about cybersecurity and IT management in general, give us a call at (732) 360-2999.
In 2015, there was an incredible amount of information stolen from organizations all over the world. From healthcare companies to government institutions, nobody was safe from the endless onslaught of hacking attacks. Now, in the wake of these hackers’ destruction, it seems that most of the incidents in question exposed passwords and email address; important credentials that put many users’ security in jeopardy.
These numbers should make plenty of sense; with access to users’ email addresses and passwords (which are required to access many different types of online accounts), hackers and thieves alike are more than capable of causing catastrophic damage to anyone’s reputation and/or pocketbook.
Here are some of the statistics revealed by the Risk Based Security report:
In 2015, there were 4,000 reported data breaches, which exposed 736 million records.
40.5 percent of reported incidents occurred in organizations within the United States, with the amount of data stolen totaling around 65 percent of the data stolen throughout the entire year.
238 million stolen data records came from just four huge data breaches.
142 organizations experienced multiple data breaches in 2015.
The US and UK combined made up 45 percent of all reported data breaches in 2015.
Unless you want your business to suffer the same fate as many big businesses did in 2015, you need to be sure that you’re doing everything you can to protect your business’s assets. One way you can do so is by implementing comprehensive security solutions that are designed to prevent threats from accessing your network in the first place. Enterprise-level firewall and antivirus solutions are great starts, but they should be augmented by other proactive solutions, like spam blocking and content filtering, to limit your end users’ exposure to potential threats. These four technologies are what’s known as a Unified Threat Management solution, and it’s a critical investment for any security-minded SMB.
Another way you can maximize security is by using complex passwords that are difficult for hackers to guess, and to consistently change these passwords. Your passwords should always be as complex as possible, with both lower and upper-case letters, numbers, and symbols, and you should never use the same password and usernames for multiple accounts. Storing your passwords in a password manager is a great way to keep your credentials secure while keeping them as powerful as possible.
Ultimately, the best way to keep your business safe from potential data breaches is to implement proactive security measures designed to mitigate potential problems, while also educating your staff about the importance of security best practices. Net It On can assist your business with both. We can provide the solutions needed to optimize security, while also assisting your team with understanding the importance of data security.
For more information, give us a call at (732) 360-2999.
Businesses utilize a ton of data in order to keep operations running smoothly, but what happens to data that’s unused? Are they files that are potentially sensitive in nature? If your dark data isn’t being stored securely, it could be at risk of data compromisation, or worse. Therefore, it becomes critical to address your business’s dark data issue before it becomes an even bigger problem.
What is Dark Data? Dark data is typically known as information that a business stores, but doesn’t typically take advantage of. In fact, this data rarely serves any significant purpose. Dark data naturally accrues over time; as a business grows, it no longer requires certain types of information, and it eventually just gets stored away because it might see some use somewhere down the line. While this data can hold value, it’s more likely that businesses aren’t well-equipped to handle it in a safe manner.
For example, your business may need to keep a record of a former employee on file for a certain duration of time. Chances are, after that time is up, you aren’t manually going to remove that data. It will simply continue to exist where it has been. Even in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t really costing your business anything to keep this data stored, so what’s the harm?
If your network gets infiltrated and your data is stolen, it can be very harmful. Even though the information is outdated, if you weren’t protecting it, that person’s data has now shifted to the wrong hands, and you are responsible.
Why It’s a Problem While it might seem counterproductive to store so much data that’s not being used, you’d be surprised by how often businesses do just that. For example, if a business has a client who leaves, this information could quickly become dark data. You’re paying to store information that’s rarely, if ever, accessed. Plus, you’re responsible for keeping that information secure. These are the primary reasons that dark data needs to be moderated and secured. If you don’t, your business could run the risk of attracting the attention of hackers, which can lead to heavy compliance fines that can break your budget (and reputation).
How to Solve It It’s clear that dark data is a threat that should be taken seriously, but how is your business handling it? Here are a few possible solutions for your dark data problem:
Implement proper security measures: This should be a no-brainer. You always want to protect the data you store, even if it’s information that you rarely access (like dark data). This includes data that is stored on your in-house network, and data which is stored off-site or in the cloud. Another way you can optimize security is by limiting who has access to your dark data, which can limit its exposure to potentially threatening situations. Create data retention policies: The reason that dark data is a problem is that businesses don’t have measures put into place to help them keep track of what they’re storing. By implementing a proper data retention policy, you can better understand the information you’re storing, and why. These policies should be designed to help your business save on storage costs and to eliminate possible security risks.
Net It On can help your business with all of its data storage needs. Whether your company needs assistance managing or storing your data, or you’re having trouble with deployment and user access, we can help. Net It On’s trusted technicians can help your organization maximize data security, even for information that you might not necessarily access every day.
Remember, taking proactive measures to protect your data is the best way to limit the damage done in the event of a hacking attack. At Net It On, we eat, speak, and breathe preventative measures. To learn more, give us a call at (732) 360-2999.
Sometimes you might hear a song on the radio that you want to look up later, but there’s one problem: you don’t know the song’s name or the artist. Thankfully, there are music apps for your smartphone that can identify these unknown songs.
Here are three ways that you can use your smartphone to identify songs you hear while out and about.
Shazam If you need a free way to identify music using your smartphone, Shazam is a great way to do so. As reported by the Google Play store, it’s used by more than 100 million people every month to identify music and lyrics. All you have to do is download and install the app. Then, tap the button in the Shazam app and it will start listening for something to identify. Shazam displays information on whatever it listens to, like music or tv shows, and you can buy the song or episode right from the app.
Shazam is available on most, if not all, smartphones. Capable of running on Android, iOS, and Windows Phone, and even desktop use on Mac and Windows PCs, Shazam is a great option for anyone who loves music. The free app has advertisements, but if these bother you, you can update to Shazam Encore for $5.59 to remove them.
TrackID TrackID is another app developed to identify music. Produced by Sony, TrackID has many of the same features that Shazam does. The main difference is that TrackID can display information about the artist, like biographies and such. Other than this minor difference, TrackID is pretty much the same app as Shazam, only with a different interface.
TrackID is only available on Android devices, but has plenty of functionality between other social media services, like WhatsApp, Spotify, and Facebook.
Google Voice Search Google has the capabilities to search for a song through Google Voice search, and identify it. In the same way as Shazam and TrackID can identify music, Google Voice Search can listen for music and tell you what’s playing. Once the song is identified, you can conveniently buy it through the Google Play Store.
Unfortunately, these apps only recognize the song when the actual song is playing, so doing your best to belt out Bieber's “Love Yourself” into your smartphone won’t return any results.
Cyber security continues to be a major pain point for small and medium-sized businesses, even if they’re taking the fight to the latest threats with solutions like antivirus and firewalls. Significant progress has been made, yet new threats are born every day. In fact, you might be surprised to find out that a monstrous 27.3 percent of all malware in the world was created just last year.
In total, more than 84 million new samples were detected and neutralized by PandaLabs, with an average of 230,000 samples daily. We currently have 304 million samples of malware registered, which means that more than one in four of all samples ever recorded were registered in 2015 (27.36%).
PandaLabs breaks this figure down even further, sorting these threats out by category and infection type:
That’s a lot of threats that can potentially infiltrate your system, and the number grows daily. Therefore, it has become more important than ever to ensure the security of your business’s systems. If your organization were to be breached by malicious entities, you’re looking at incredibly dangerous and pricey fines that can break your budget. This is especially true if you work with sensitive credentials like credit card numbers and medical records, where you’re subject to regulatory compliance laws like HIPAA and PCI.
If malware is going to continue growing more powerful and prevalent over time, it makes sense to bolster your business’s security as much as possible. As the increasing number of high-profile hacking attacks prove, you shouldn’t be gambling with the future of your business’s technological assets. Fortunately, you don’t have to go about implementing solid cyber security solutions alone. The great part of being in the IT industry is that Net It On knows how to secure systems from threats of all kinds, and we want to share our accumulated knowledge and expertise with your business.
One solution that we wholeheartedly recommend is a Unified Threat Management (UTM) solution. The UTM is one of the most comprehensive security measures that you can take advantage of. It includes an enterprise-level firewall and antivirus solution, and augments their capabilities with proactive measures like spam blocking and content filtering tools. The end result is an all-in-one solution that’s designed to limit your business’s exposure to many different kinds of threats. Of course, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for IT security, so we recommend reaching out for a consultation to determine what type of IT security would fit your business.
For more information about cyber security or UTM solutions, don’t hesitate to call Net It On at (732) 360-2999.
Technology has changed the world. It has changed individual lives, businesses, and the way people communicate with one another. The main reason for this is that technology, and the use of it, happens everywhere. In fact, the world has seen a huge spike in the addition of microprocessors to ordinary objects which allows them to communicate with the digital world. This trend is known as ubiquitous computing.
Ubiquitous Computing Humans are starting to use computers everywhere. The concept is not new. Some of the most celebrated science fiction authors of the 20th century explained worlds that were rife with this type of computing. In most of these stories, the computer (or the technology) is celebrated at first; part of a technological utopia that changes the experience of the stories’ characters. This supposed utopia usually results in some grandiose systemic failure, and the protagonists of the story realize that the ubiquity of this technology was actually a hindrance to humanity, not a blessing.
Many sci-fi stories follow this paradigm. Of course, in a world where the computing we take for granted was just fiction, it’s not hard to imagine technology having some horrific effect on society. In the 21st century, however, technologies are eerily similar to the ones that the likes of Orwell, Dick, Huxley, and Asimov had described have come to fruition, making these interesting fiction stories more into tales of caution about how to handle today’s most dynamic technologies.
The technologies that are described in this literature, have largely been created by humans for the benefit of the society, while largely limiting the role of the individual. This is an important qualification to consider when looking at the viability of true technological ubiquity in our time. Can we make the same mistakes of the people in these science fiction novels? Only time will tell.
How is Computing Starting to Become Omnipresent? The consumer technologies that many people identify as pushing this trend forward - the smartphone, the tablet, and the laptop - just scratch the surface of what is possible with today’s technology. Businesses are able to automate aspects of their organization, giving them the ability to save capital and use more of their money toward building sustainability through diversification. Today’s worker may not be concerned that automated processes will ultimately cost them their jobs, but with more ubiquity throughout the culture, you may begin to see significant shifts toward that ideology.
The main difference that many people are going to see going forward is that they are literally going to be surrounded by technology, and while there are a generation or two that will accept this shift without question, a majority of humans have no choice but to be skeptical. This should not be a surprise, given the context in which they’ve been exposed to technologies like these.
True ubiquity, however, will not be possible until there is a complete acceptance that computing systems actually bring enhanced efficiency. From the perspective of manufacturers, this has already happened. They are simply taking their time creating demand before they commit completely to the idea that every product they manufacture should come with some kind of connectivity. It seems an inevitability that in the very near future, most commercial goods will have this capability.
The Internet of Things Many of the world’s largest software companies have been waiting for the technology to be available to make this concept a reality. It is happening now. Cisco has estimated that the Internet of Things, as it is viewed today, creates a market that is valued at upwards of $19 trillion. A February 2015 report from TechNavio suggests that the products connected to the Internet will exceed 17 billion by 2019. This number doesn’t include connected cars, wearable technology, smart TVs, tablets, smartphones or PCs. That is 17 billion thermostats, lamps, refrigerators, and any other product you can imagine. There are already manufacturers making Internet connected clothes. The technology professionals at Gartner estimate that the service offerings that will accompany those billions of products will exceed $300 billion by 2020.
As you can see, the manufacturers are already chomping at the bit, and according to some of these numbers, the demand is already there. The World Economic Forum has outwardly stated that by 2020 they expect that five billion people will have pervasive Internet possibilities and the Internet will have nearly 35 billion things connected to it.
With this rate of growth, it seems as if ubiquitous computing is inevitable. The future is here and any debate whether goods that are connected to the Internet (and their corresponding services) are ultimately a good thing for humanity, won’t happen. Here’s to hoping that the pitfalls that plagued the science-fiction worlds of 1984, Minority Report, I, Robot, or A Brave New World aren’t inflicted on human society.
If you would like to find out more about the Internet of Things or ubiquitous computing, or simply how to get your business ready for the inevitable, give Net It On a call at (732) 360-2999 today.
Have you ever spent time writing an email to somebody that you haven’t emailed before, hit send, and then wondered if the email address is even valid? For the active email user, this is an all-too-common scenario. How can you know for sure if an email address is valid before sinking time into writing a message?
One scenario where a business person might experience this struggle comes from trying to decipher a handwritten email address, perhaps from a sales convention signup sheet. To get to the bottom of these scribbles, you could call in a forensics team, or better yet, use free online tools.
Email Verification Tools There are many email address verification websites available online, and they all do the same thing. One of the top ones is Verify-Email.org. To use it, simply enter into the form the email address in question, and then select Verify. It takes a moment or two to check, but after the process is completed, you’ll be presented with the information you’re looking for of whether or not the address is valid. Now you can proceed to type your message with the confidence that it will actually end up in someone’s inbox.
Search the Web and Social Media While the email verification tool works great if you have a good idea of what the email address might be, what if the scribbled address is so jumbled that you can’t even make out entire words? For a hard-to-read address like this, performing a basic Internet search and taking advantage of social media may yield enough clues to point you in the right direction.
For example, many email addresses will include a person’s last name, along with the initial of their first name, or a string of numbers. If you can’t figure out what the name in the email address is (and let’s face it, there are some wacky last names out there), try taking a stab at the name on your favorite social network’s search form. If you and the person you're looking for have some mutual contacts and can reasonably be connected in one way or another, then their profile will be generated in the search just by typing a few of the legible letters.
Or, if you know any additional information about the email address, like what town the person is from or what business they represent, then you can search for their name and the additional information in an Internet search engine like Google Search. After trying a few variations of the name’s spelling (and a little luck), you might find a website with the name’s correct spelling, and possibly the email address you’re looking for. Armed with this information, you can now plug the email address with the correct spelling into the email verification tool listed above in order to see if it’s real or not.
You will never know what business opportunities you may miss out on by sending an email to a nonexistent address. However, with a little investigative work, you can know for sure that your message is going where it’s supposed to. Do you have any email tricks that have helped you in a pinch? Tell us your tips and tricks in the comments.
The number of high-profile hacks that have occurred over the past several years continues to climb, and it won’t let up anytime soon. Now, another incident involving Time Warner Cable, a large ISP in the United States, shows that even large companies that deal with sensitive information aren’t invincible from data breaches.
The breach, which happened on January 7, 2016, is estimated to have leaked up to 320,000 Time Warner Cable customers’ email addresses and passwords. Time Warner Cable was informed of the data breach by the FBI, and the cable company proceeded to explain the situation to their customers through both email and direct mail. Users were advised to change their passwords for good measure, but Time Warner Cable continues to deny that their systems exhibited signs of a data breach.
This isn’t the first time that a major ISP has had information breached or stolen by scammers. In November 2015, Comcast dealt with a breach of nearly 200,000 customer credentials, which were found on the black market. This prompted Comcast to reset the passwords. Even though this incident was blamed on phishing attacks that suggested users should hand over their credentials, what happened with Time Warner Cable is up for debate.
Time Warner Cable is under the assumption that the theft was potentially caused by phishing attempts directed at the company, or the result of a data breach of other companies that store Time Warner Cable’s customer information. Regardless of why or how the data was stolen, the fact remains that Time Warner Cable has lost face with their clientele--something that every business owner needs to take into account when dealing with sensitive client credentials.
It ultimately falls on your shoulders to ensure that your business doesn’t face a similar catastrophe, in which your clients’ personal information is leaked or stolen. The most dangerous part of losing track of your organization’s data is the fact that it can lead to immense financial issues. Businesses that fail to recover their data following a critical data loss incident typically go out of business within one year following the incident. Add in the compliance fines, and you have a situation that can quickly escalate beyond your control, breaking your budget and grinding operations to a halt. This is why it’s so effective to prevent breaches from happening in the first place.
Time Warner Cable suggested that their clients change their passwords, which is actually sound advice, regardless of whether or not you’ve been hacked. If you’re still using default passwords, or haven’t changed yours in several months, you could stand to change your password to something more secure. Your passwords should be long and complex, utilizing several different upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. This makes it much harder for a hacker to crack your account through brute force.
Password managers are great tools to help you keep track of complex passwords, without the pain of remembering different strings of characters for each of your accounts. A password manager stores all of your company’s credentials in a secure location, and calls them only when needed. This makes a password manager an invaluable tool for maximizing your password security.
For more information, give us a call at (732) 360-2999.
Businesses are trying to cut costs wherever possible, but the cost of printing isn’t always the most obvious first choice. Businesses consume exorbitant amounts of paper and ink every year, and these resources cost a significant amount of money that could be better spent elsewhere. Thankfully, there are a ton of great solutions that can virtually eliminate the costs of unnecessary printing.
Eliminating the amount of printing your business does accomplishes the following goals:
You use less paper, reducing your environmental footprint.
You spend less capital on paper, ink, and toner.
You reduce the amount of clutter in your office.
There are two technologies that have made storing files vastly easier, without increasing the cost of printing. Combined, your files can be stored digitally in an organized manner, allowing you to keep your office clean and tidy.
The PDF One of the best technologies that keep your office clutter-free is the PDF. Called the Portable Document Format, the PDF does exactly that; it’s a file format that lets users view documents in an electronic environment. The great thing about a PDF file is that it lets you view documents without the need for certain application software or hardware, letting you view the document as-is. Since a PDF is a digital document, they can be stored and filed away on a computer or network, but read on virtually any type of device. This eliminates the need to print physical documents out, reducing the amount of resources you expend on them.
Digital Signatures There are several occasions when a business might need to print out a document that must be signed, like a contract or maybe even a receipt. In this case, it often can’t be avoided that a physical document is needed; you can’t “sign” a digital document, right? Wrong. Instead of asking the document’s recipient to print out the document, sign it, and fax it back to you, digital signatures can be completed in the click of a button. With digital signing solutions, users can send and receive signed documents, all without unnecessarily printing them out. As you can imagine, this saves even more space in your business’s filing system, and helps you get more prompt responses from the signee.
Electronic Record Filing An electronic record filing system is the cornerstone of keeping your business free of physical filing storage. In the past, you might have had to deal with filing cabinets filled with all kinds of documents, like employee files, vendor and customer agreements, etc. These filing cabinets can quickly grow too large to maintain and are difficult to organize. If your records are stored electronically, you don’t have to worry about running out of space, and your files are stored in an easy-to-access library or interface. Plus, they can be backed up.
Net It On can help your business dodge unnecessary printing costs by equipping your organization with a quality document management solution. To learn more, give us a call at (732) 360-2999.
Have you ever been the target of an email spoofer? This can be a difficult question to answer, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Email spoofing can appear to be from legitimate sources, but the most important indicator is if the message looks like spam or fishy in general. If you ever receive a message like this, you might wonder why your spam filter didn’t catch such an obvious trap.
Email spoofing is when a hacker sends you a message that’s disguised as someone else, particularly someone you know or are associated with. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your contact has been hacked (though it could be possible), but it’s still a problem on your end. It’s up to you to identify and delete messages before you inevitably fall for one of these phishing scams. The only way to eliminate the threat of hackers is to take them seriously, and approach scams in an educated and informed manner.
How Email Spoofing Works Email spoofing is a simple process that sounds like a lot of work, but the reality is that anyone with the proper tools can pull it off. All a spoofer needs is access to what’s called a Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) server, and an email software. SMTP servers are fairly simple to find for free, which makes it easy to spoof names. The one on the receiving end will still see the true email address, but it will appear to be from the address or name that the spoofer enters.
Despite how easy it is to attempt an email spoofing campaign, there are still plenty of checks available that make it more challenging to pull off these days. The most notable check is called Sender Policy Framework (SPF), which takes the IP address of the sending server and then compares it to the SPF record of the appropriate domain. If the two don’t match, the receiving server denies the message. The Huffington Post describes how this works using the following example:
Let's say someone tried to spoof Bill Gates (email@example.com): They would send an email on his behalf > the recipient server would then talk back to microsoft.com and say "Hey, I have an email that is coming from 22.214.171.124 stating that it was sent from firstname.lastname@example.org."; > microsoft.com would then tell the recipient server, "No, sorry, it should be coming from 126.96.36.199." and the message would never get delivered.
What You Can Do Against Spoofing Email spoofing, while easy to pull off, often can’t make its way through modern email solutions like Gmail and Outlook. Even if it does make it through a spam filter, spoofed messages can still be somewhat tricky to identify at times. In particular, a spoofer who has researched their target, and who they’re posing as (i.e., “phishing”), can represent a significant risk. What you want to do is look at the email address that sent the message. If it’s different from the email address you have on file, you know it’s a spoofer.
Another obvious way to spot a spoofer is if they make absolutely no attempt to disguise themselves, or if they pose as an institution that you regularly attend. If the message holds any suspicious links or attachments, make sure that you don’t click on them. Chances are that you could be walking right into a phishing scam. If the message asks you to confirm your credentials, don’t do as they ask. Organizations like banks or government agencies will never ask you to confirm information through email. Never log into a website using the links provided in an email unless you’re absolutely positive it’s not a spoofer. Instead, try to navigate to the website through your web browser using their normal URL.
One of the best ways to protect your business from email spoofing is to use an enterprise-level spam blocking solution, like the one Net It On offers. By utilizing such a powerful security tool, you can prevent most of your spam from even hitting your inbox, which means you don’t have to deal with potentially malicious or wasteful messages. To learn more about how you can fight against spoofing and other types of online threats, give Net It On a call at (732) 360-2999.
If you’re still using Windows 8 (instead of the much improved 8.1), we’ve got bad news for you. Microsoft has ceased offering patches and security updates for the Windows 8 operating system, which means that if you want to be using the most secure and up-to-date operating system, you should make the switch to Windows 8.1 or Windows 10.
On January 12th, 2016, Microsoft stopped supporting both Windows 8 and older versions of Internet Explorer (8, 9, and 10). Basically, this means that businesses continuing to use this software will no longer receive patches or security updates, which are critical for ensuring maximum network security and minimal data risk. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean that the software will disappear from your workstations. All that the end-of-life announcement means is that they won’t be updated anymore, turning the unsupported products into “use at your own risk” gambles.
For those familiar with Microsoft’s product support policies, the end of life for Windows 8 might sound out of character for a Windows operating system. For example, Windows 7, which was released over six years ago in 2009, won’t reach its official end of support date until 2020. In comparison, Windows 8 was released in 2012 and only lasted a few solid years. Why?
Microsoft’s choice to stop supporting Windows 8 makes complete sense, especially considering how unpopular the operating system is (not to mention how easy it is for users to upgrade to 8.1). According to NetworkWorld, a study by NetMarketShare puts Windows 8 global use at around 2.76 percent, while 8.1 sits at over 10 percent. As a free update that fixed many of the common complaints that consumers had about Windows 8, Windows 8.1 doesn’t give Microsoft much of a reason to continue supporting Windows 8.
Another huge reason that Microsoft likely cut the cord on Windows 8 so prematurely is due to their efforts to push Windows 10, their latest operating system. Users of Windows 7 and onward have no-doubt been hassled by Windows 10 upgrade notifications, which continue to grow more irritating over time. Despite Microsoft’s continued heckling, Windows 10 is a great operating system that’s more than capable of replacing Windows 8. Before upgrading, however, it’s important to consult a professional technician to ensure that your company’s legacy software will be compatible with your new operating system.
Using outdated operating systems can put your business at risk, especially if these operating systems are no longer supported by their creators. An operating system that doesn’t receive regular patches and security updates becomes a liability. Hackers are always coming up with new ways to exploit vulnerabilities and steal information, so it’s only a matter of time before they come up with ways to compromise Windows 8.
The primary problem with continually updating your business’s hardware and software solutions is that it can ultimately be both costly and time-consuming. For a small or medium-sized business, unexpected expenses can be crippling and budget-breaking. In some cases, legacy applications could be completely incompatible with more recent operating systems, forcing you to invest heavily in new technology solutions. This is why it’s always a best practice to clarify with qualified tech professionals that your upgrade policy won’t completely derail your operations.
To make sure that your technology systems are always up to date and secure, Net It On offers a remote management and maintenance solution that lets us deploy patches and security updates as needed. For more information, give us a call at (732) 360-2999.