Category Archives: How To’s and Tips

Your Bank Emails

Your bank emailed you…  or did they?

What does an email from a cybercriminal look like compared to your bank?  For example, Bank of America…

The email above LOOKS so authentic…

What is RIGHT?

– Bank of America logo looks real.

– Color and style of email is similar to Bank of America’s customer emails.

– Return email address is one of those used by Bank of America.

– Website appears to be a Bank of America website.

What is WRONG?  (You need to watch for this information.)

– The formatting of the email is not correct.

– The typeface of the P.S. is different.

– The signature is BOA Member Services Team, which is not used today.

– The copyright is BOA LLC, not Bank of America.

The more sophisticated thieves direct you to a website that looks like your bank.  See the example below.  Do you know how to recognize it is a hoax designed to capture some of your private information?

One way / ANSWER:  ALWAYS look at the domain name address.  Make certain you are confident it is correct.  If it appears to be suspicious, then do not proceed.

All of the other aspects explained below about email phishing also apply to a website.  These are relatively simple ways to confirm what you click on is safe.

In general, phishing emails include:

Ways to identify phishing and spoofing emails include:

1. Links that appear to be from your bank… but are NOT – Test any link by placing your cursor it, but do not click.  Your email program should display the destination URL.  Does it match the correct web address to your bank?  If not, you can search past emails you have to see if it is another domain name used by your bank.

2. Urgent requests – Banks do not threaten to close your account if you fail to respond to an email.

3. Warnings about system and security updates – Banks may inform you of pending system upgrades and/or security updates, but they do not require any personal information from you to complete these changes.

4. Requests for personal information – No reputable bank ever asks or demands that you reply via email with your personal information, such as your driver’s license #, Social Security #, ATM or credit card #, PIN #…

5. Do NOT fall for “the deal” – Banks are not hucksters.  They do not push you to ask you to do something and in return you get a huge payoff.  They do not pay you to complete surveys.  They do not ask you to do anything that requires you to enter your account number, PIN…

6. Obvious typos, grammar, and formatting errors – As mentioned above, although cyber thieves are smart they still seem to make mistakes in their email requests.  However, be warned:  Today, the mistakes they make are rare.  The phishing emails and websites now online posing as your bank can be very convincing.  You may have to choose safety over timeliness.

7. Someone once said, “Assumptions are the mother of all mistakes.” Do not assume your computers, mobile devices, and networks are secure from phishing, ransomware, and other cyber theft attempts.  Confirm

Business Needs:  If you are concerned about these risks for your business or nonprofit, then don’t wait.  Contact Inter-Quest online or call (608) 571-3071 to schedule a conversation with Lisa Fichter, one of our Senior Problem Solvers.  She can schedule a free, no obligation conversation about your situation.  She can help you assess your risk, and for a limited time, even provide a free network security assessment if you like.

Personal Needs:  As an individual concerned about an email you received you visit, a good approach is to call your bank to confirm if they sent the email or directed you to a website.

THE GOOD NEWS

You can avoid most phishing scams and other hacker attacks, including ransomware.  The only solution is to fully protect every computer, mobile device, and network of your organization with the latest anti-virus, firewall, and other applicable security tool.

The most cost effective way to do this is to have your systems kept secure daily by a professional I.T. security firm, such as Inter-Quest, highly qualified, diverse, 20-year-old I.T. services team with offices in Beaver Dam and Madison, Wisconsin.  Their team of computer experts provide IT security and managed services to businesses, government, and nonprofits.

Contact Inter-Quest online or call (608) 571-3071 to schedule a conversation with Lisa Fichter to confirm your employees and sensitive company data are safe from cyber criminals.

Anti Virus Myths Debunked

Top 5 Antivirus Myths Debunked

Top Five Myths about Antivirus Software

Antivirus is software that every computer user should have on their computer regardless of the computing platform. However, for some reasons, this becomes hard to wrap the mind around due to some myths and untrue information about the antivirus software. This makes some users afraid of installing the software on their machines. The most common myths include;

You will only visit safe websites

This is among the main excuses that people use to avoid antivirus software. However, the truth is that there is no safe site and there is no website that is 100 percent secure and not prone to potential threats. In fact, most of the most secure sites have become prey to viruses and hackers.

The attackers are working around the clock looking for means to exploit and improve their techniques so that they can match the security level. With this said you should not consider ruling out the idea of having antivirus for your computer as you are aware that no website can be termed as entirely safe.

Antivirus will slow down your machine

This idea has misled a lot of people who believe that security solutions like antivirus can slow down their computer. Although there is some truth in the argument, the fact is that antivirus can only slow down a computer if it does not meet the system requirements for it to run smoothly. Moreover, this happens if many scans are running concurrently or if you have installed more than one antivirus program or if there are too many activities happening simultaneously which leads to an overlap which slows down your computer. With the advanced encryption, an antivirus program should not cause any changes in the speed of the system.

You do not need a Mac protection

The Mac owners think that they do not need antivirus protection and that they are safe. However, the truth is that they need the protection as much as the window users do. No system is completely safe, and they are all prone to security threats.

Hackers are not interested in your system

Some people feel like their machines are not carrying any information that can draw the attention of hackers, but what they fail to understand is that as long as they are using the Internet, any information is useful to hackers. Thus no one should ignore their computer’s security.

You do not need to use the Internet

Some people tend to think that they will not log into any systems thus they are not at risk. But what would be the use of having a computer if you are not going to use the Internet from time to time? Time will come when you will not have a choice, and for this, it is better to be safe always.

You need to invest in getting quality antivirus software due to many reasons which include:

    You can never predict when virus will attack your PC

    Once the damage is done, it may cost you a lot to repair. Thus it is wise to avoid the future repair costs

    Protecting personal data

    Protecting others

Just like in everything else, there is a lot of false information about antivirus software, and it is essential to be knowledgeable about it no matter how convincing it may sound.

Help! My IT Guy Quit

Backup Plans In Case Your IT Guy Quits

Every business whether a small or big requires an IT staff to provide knowledge and expertise to ensure that all the operations run smoothly. If you only have one or two individuals in your office who can make tools work, problems can arise at an unexpected time, and this could even get worse if the guy quits. It is never a simple task to hire another IT guy since your new guy has to obtain information about your previous staff to do the job effectively. There are many things you have to put in place to ensure that you are safe in case the employee decides to quit.

Check if you have a game plan. You will be stunned by just how much knowledge your IT staffs have in their head, and when they decide to walk out the door, they walk with all the knowledge, and you will be left desperate if you want your business to keep running. Some of the things you should ensure to have for backup include;
Documentation

It is safe if you are aware of the type of software licenses you have bought and the period they cover. Also, you should have authentication keys in case you wish to reinstall the software. Ensure that all the hardware is guaranteed and that you have the warranty in the event of a breakdown. Another essential document to have is the records of the contracts you ever had with the cloud service vendors. Such records can save you big time in case you are in a crisis.
Backups and Network Restoration

You should be aware of the kind of system that your IT expert is applying to back up your data and know how often it is backed up. Ensure to have all the necessary passwords and usernames, and it is advisable to learn more about IT such that if the network goes down unexpectedly, you know all the necessary steps you need to follow to bring it up again. Also, make sure you have a disaster recovery plan.

Security

Security is a very critical aspect of every business, and it would be a disaster if your IT guy quits and you are not aware of what should be done to deny them access to your system after they are gone. This will pose a threat to your business since you just cannot trust everyone and assume that it will be okay if a former employee is out there with all your company’s information including the deep secrets. You do not know what they can do especially if they left when you were not in good terms. Ensure to protect yourself.
Know about your current projects

Ensure that you know everything that is going on with your network. Do a follow up on the progress and everything that needs to be done soon. You should know when you need to install new Internet access tools otherwise, you will be caught off guard. You should have a list of the things that need to be done and the current progression and make sure that the list has all the information you need in case of reference or consultation like the date when it should be done, and the contact information of the involved personnel. This will help you stay prepared even with the absence of your IT staff.

Support system

Most IT guys are likely to use the support ticketing system to collect data required to solve network problems. In such cases, if there is one in your firm, make sure you know the ticket system’s details like the login password and username. Also, make sure to research as much about it as possible like how to log in and how they function and stored. The tools are your gateway to solving any future IT breakdown since they show you both the issue and the solution. It is good if you have all the information needed about them to avoid stress when your IT staff is no longer there for you.

Ensure you have contacts of people you can look up to

You will be safe if you have information about a person you can call for help in an emergency. These are third party vendors that you are confident they will not let you down whenever you need them. Make sure you have information about the service contract for every vendor like when the contract expires and the terms and condition of the contract including the payment terms. The information is crucial since if you are aware of the expiry date, then you know when it needs to be renewed and the payment helps you to decide which vendor is more suitable. Third party vendors are of great importance since you will always know you are covered with or without an IT staff.

Compile the information about monitoring tools

Most IT guys use monitoring tools to make sure that the network is safe and to monitor everything going on with the network, ensure that you have a list of these monitoring tools and all the credential information about them. Also, make sure you know how they work and how to make reports if you find yourself in a crisis. With such information, you can keep your network monitored always, and you will not have to go through breakdown or insecurity crisis.

Hire a managed IT service

The other solution to get out of this stress is by hiring Managed IT service. This is a great privilege for you since it reduces the chances of your IT support just disappearing on you without notice. Also, they keep all your detailed records thus if you decide to hand over the job to another company, they will have access to the previous management easily. Managed IT services also reduce the cost for you. It is the best solution for you to get rid of all the network stress.

With the above backup plans, nothing will ever go wrong as much as the business network is concerned. Losing a person you entrusted with a task can be frustrating and stressful, but you always have to ensure that you are ready to go even if they leave.

A How-to Guide for Creating an Awesome Social Media Strategy

When is the last time you sat down to plan your company’s social media goals? It is important to keep your social media in line with your current marketing strategy. Here are five steps to get you started?

Step 1: Align Social Media to Your Company’s Goals

To have the impact you envision, your social media needs to align with your company’s overall goals and corporate values. When designing or revamping social media campaigns, pull out for a 50,000-foot view to ensure that you aren’t just meeting your social media marketing goals, but maximizing the impact social media can have on the whole company.

Some goals that achieve this could include:

Increase Brand Awareness

 

  • Follower count for your social profiles
  • Referral traffic from social media and clicks on your social media posts
  • New leads collected through social media and conversion rate of leads

 

Media Grow Revenue

 

  • Signups or revenue from social ads

 

Boost Brand Engagement

 

  • Build a community around your social media tied to your business
  • Number of posts, likes, and comments for Facebook
  • Number of participants, tweets per participant for Twitter
  • Number of daily active users for Slack

 

Increase Mentions in the Press

 

  • Potential reach, influencers and shares about your content, includes percentage that ask about industry-related topics

 

Learn about Your Customer

 

  • How many conversations with social media customers
  • Pay attention to their suggestions or feedback for product or content improvements

 

Step 2: Break Out Goals into Tactics

Map out the specific actions needed to accomplish the goals you’ve set. Here’s are some ways to this:

  • Create a list of influencers in the target niche and approach them for sponsored posts
  • Direct message each to try to form a relationship
  • Initiate a sponsored post with 1 brand or influencer per month

 

Step 3: Prioritize your Plan

Every marketing team has limited resources. In order to be effective, you need to develop tactics and a social media marketing plan based on those tactics. So, how do you set priorities? Try Product Plan’s model which compares value vs. complexity.

  • Evaluate how much value each tactic will create for the business
  • Compare that to the effort each tactic takes, as well as the complexity
  • Prioritize by the highest value tactics with the least effort and complexity involved
  • You cannot predict exactly how much time and effort each tactic takes or the actual value proposition it will bring to the business. This is an educated guess designed to focus and redirect your efforts on an ongoing basis.

 

Step 4: Assign Tasks and set Dates for Goals

 

  • After you rank specific tactics that you plan to use to accomplish the company’s social media goals, add two items to each tactic.
  • Assign people to work on and be responsible for each tactic.
  • Set a target date for when each tactic should be accomplished.

 

Step 5: Analyze and Adapt the Plan Frequently

After you set your plan, schedule time on a regular, recurring basis, to adjust the plan and pieces in motion. Adapt your goals and tactics frequently, but smoothly. If something isn’t working or generating measurable impact, don’t get attached. Kill it and start fresh. Regular brainstorming sessions with co-workers in leadership and sales can help generate new ideas. Don’t be afraid to farm out ideas to and from entrepreneurial coworkers.