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Don’t Get Scammed Shopping Online

We all love the convenience and ease of online shopping, but unfortunately it comes with risks. Even with evolving security measures, scammers are consistently using new tactics and technology to deceitfully steal your personal information and money. Below are a few tips to keep your online transactions secure and make your online shopping experience a good one!

 

Be aware of fake online shops: Make sure the shop you are buying from is legitimate. Look for customer reviews, contact information and a return policy. Blurry photos, strange syntax, and a lack of information about the company are usually red flags.

 

Don’t save your credit card information: It does save a lot of time but storing your payment information on a website can make you a prime target. It’s worth the extra steps to protect your financial information and just re-enter your credit card number the next time you shop on a site.

 

Look for luxury dupes: Most of the time, if a deal looks too good to be true – it is. Use online shops that offer authentication checks or are well-established e-commerce sites. Many sites may promise designer items, only to send cheap look-a-likes or nothing at all.

 

Be wary about extra requested information: Be suspicious of any online shop that asks you for information that seems outside of the norm, like your social security number or occupation. Those should be strong indicators that they are looking for more than just selling you a product.

 

Use a secure method of payment: Always use a protected method of payment, such as a credit card or PayPal. Avoid using wire transfers, gift cards or even debit cards. Such payments are difficult to recover or trace.

 

It’s important to stay on top of scam tactics and to educate yourself on how to be vigilant when shopping online. Our blog is a great resource to help you find tips and updates on how to safeguard your personal and financial information.

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August 1, 2023

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Simple Ways to Help Your Employees Avoid Getting Hacked

In today's digital age, cybersecurity is a paramount concern for businesses of all sizes. One of the weakest links in the cybersecurity chain is often the employees themselves. Educating and empowering your employees to recognize and prevent cyber threats can significantly enhance your organization's security. Below, find simple yet effective ways to help your employees avoid falling victim to hacking attempts.

Conduct Regular Security Awareness Training: Invest in comprehensive security awareness training programs for your employees. Educate them about the latest cybersecurity threats, such as phishing emails, social engineering, and malware. Regularly update the training materials to stay current with emerging threats.

Enforce Strong Password Practices: Weak passwords are an invitation to hackers. Encourage your employees to create strong, unique passwords and avoid using the same password for multiple accounts. Implement a password policy that includes minimum length, complexity, and regular password changes. Consider using password managers to generate complex passwords.

Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide multiple forms of authentication, such as a password and a unique verification code sent to their mobile device. Encourage your employees to enable MFA for their accounts, especially for critical systems and applications, significantly reducing the risk of unauthorized access, even if passwords are compromised.

Keep Software and Systems Updated: Outdated software and operating systems often contain security vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. Encourage employees to update their devices with the latest security patches and software updates. Enable automatic updates whenever possible to ensure timely installation of patches.

Use Secure Wi-Fi Networks: Train your employees to be cautious when connecting to Wi-Fi networks, particularly public ones. Encourage using virtual private networks (VPNs) when accessing company resources remotely. Ensure your organization's Wi-Fi network is encrypted and secure, and limit access to authorized personnel only.

Exercise Caution with Email and Attachments: Phishing emails remain one of the most prevalent methods hackers use to gain unauthorized access. Train your employees to scrutinize emails, checking for suspicious senders, grammatical errors, and unexpected attachments or links. Implement email filtering systems to flag and quarantine potentially malicious emails.

Implement Strict Access Controls: Adopt the principle of least privilege, where employees only have access to the resources necessary for their roles. Regularly review and update user access rights and promptly revoke access for employees who no longer require it, minimizing the risk of unauthorized access or data breaches.

Protecting your organization from cyber threats starts with empowering your employees to become the first line of defense. Implementing these simple yet effective strategies can significantly reduce the risk of your employees falling victim to hacking attempts. Cybersecurity is an ongoing effort, and continuous education and reinforcement are essential to maintain a strong defense against evolving threats.

 

ICC can help you execute cybersecurity awareness training for your staff. In addition to instructing, we provide network security, patches, and updates. If you are missing any of these components of cybersecurity, call 970-419-0602.

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July 18, 2023

hacking, employee IT training

Cybersecurity Awareness Training

When it comes to cybersecurity, many businesses forget a significant factor in their line of defense – staff training. This is especially important with more and more people working remotely. In fact, in Proofpoint’s 2022 State of the Phish Report, 81% of organizations said that more than half of their employees are working remotely, but just 37% educate workers about practices for remote working. It’s not enough to focus on security frameworks, software updates, and compliance requirements: It’s critical to raise awareness and educate your team to boost your business's cybersecurity level. Here is some advice on establishing a cybersecurity awareness training program at your workplace:

 ●   Include all employees. The entire team should be trained, not just leadership members.

●   Training is an ongoing effort. Cyber awareness education is not just a one-time session. Depending on the size and turnover of your staff, training should occur quarterly – or even monthly if warranted – supplemented by posters, newsletters, and email correspondence.

●   Be comprehensive. There are many aspects of cybersecurity to consider. The key topics to include are email-based phishing, malware, Wi-Fi security, ransomware, mobile device security, and best practices for passwords and Internet safety.

●   Consider consequences. The Proofpoint survey discovered that 55% of organizations take action against employees who fall for actual or simulated phishing attacks. A scale of disciplinary actions may start with a one-on-one discussion with a manager and could ultimately result in termination, especially for repeated offenses.  However, 24% of organizations surveyed said a consequence model is not the right fit for their company’s culture.

ICC can help you execute cybersecurity awareness training for your staff. In addition to instructing, our defense strategy includes providing network security, email security, patches and updates, and quarterly cybersecurity reviews. If you are missing one piece, you may risk your business. To get started, call 970-419-0602.

 

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June 13, 2023

Why an IT Audit is Important for your Business

Most companies rely heavily on their IT network, and use it as a tool that will help their business grow, operate more efficiently, and give them the tools to be competitive in their market. Unfortunately, in today’s technological landscape it is vital to consider risks – and most importantly – be prepared for them. Poor preparation can lead to data loss – or worse – and a serious disruption in your business. 

Businesses should consider an IT audit as part of their network management. An IT audit is a detailed assessment of a company’s tech policies, web services, equipment, software applications, security protection and operating system. When reviewing each of those assets, IT auditors look for any gaps that could be a security risk or hinder a company’s growth. At the end of the evaluation, a report outlines what was done during the audit and recommendations to fix any potential security risks or needed upgrades.

There are several reasons a company should conduct an IT audit. First and foremost is protecting your company’s data. An audit can find places where your company’s defense against hackers is weak. Cybersecurity threats can come from outside or even inside the company. Looking at who has access to your devices and software is all taken into consideration. An audit also reassures that your business is fully compliant with any laws and policies relevant to your industry and business procedures. This is important, because if it’s discovered that your business is not compliant, your company could face serious penalties and consequences. Finally, an audit is a good opportunity to make sure all your hardware and software is running efficiently. 

ICC can help you keep operations running smoothly. We conduct a number of audits and tests, as well as put tactics in place, to significantly reduce the possibility of an attack and make sure your network is running to its highest performance. Our audits include analysis of data backups, compliance, internet connectivity, cybersecurity, antivirus evaluation, and so much more. If you are missing one piece of the pie, you may be putting your business at risk and could be faced with significant business disruption or financial loss.

To learn more about ICC’s audits, visit https://www.iccusa.net/services/it-audits. To schedule an IT audit, give us a call at 970-419-0602.

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May 15, 2023

The Importance of Proper Cabling Installation

Are you stepping on cables when working at your desk? Do you feel like you’re looking out for wires when walking around the office? Cable installation is extremely important in any office or business space to avoid safety risks, space constraints or damage to your office network. Cables keep your networks connected and communications going, including the Wi-Fi and security systems – all critical to your daily business – so you don’t want to risk damaging them. 

Keeping cables properly organized also makes troubleshooting problems inside your business look presentable to clients and gives your staff a more efficient work environment. 

Cable installation might seem like an easy task to control, but it can be challenging to feed and organize cables and wires around desks, office furniture and in closets. Consider including cable management in your technology support. Besides safety hazards, tangled or unmanaged cables can result in cord damage and possibly cause the cords or outlets to overheat. Too many wires and cables around office hardware can disrupt airflow that can also cause equipment components to get hot.

Some ways to control and organize cables is with the use of wire guides, floor cable covers, ties and cable loom tubing that help prevent cords from getting tangled or stepped on. Replacing cables can get expensive so you’ll want to install everything neatly right from the start.

Cables provide the most reliable connections in keeping your network running at an optimum level. Proper cable installation provides better throughput and helps software run smoother and may increase Internet speed, allowing you to work more productively. Any kinks in or damage to the cable can slow down connections. Additionally, cable types vary and deliver different levels of performance; it’s important to know which cable types are going to work best for your network.

Good cable installation and maintenance is important to your company’s operations. ICC can help keep your office cables and wires organized and clean, so your office equipment is running at maximum efficiency. ICC experts can help you design your office space, install, implement, manage, and maintain your entire IT system to ensure the safety of your employees and get the best performance from your equipment, including cabling. ICC consultants are your trusted, technical experts to keep your business going. 

If you need new equipment installed or even reconfigured, please give us a call at 970-419-0602.

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April 12, 2023

Hardware vs. Software

Computer lingo has very much become part of our office vernacular, but it’s important to use the terms correctly. Although it may seem obvious, there are many people who frequently interchange the words hardware and software. If a problem arises – or you’re speaking with an IT consultant – it’s important to be able to identify these correctly.

Simply put, hardware refers to the physical, tangible components of your computer system, which includes your monitor, keyboard, mouse, and peripheral equipment like scanners and printers. Hardware is also used to describe devices like laptops. 

Software refers to the programs and applications that run on your hardware, such as web browsers, graphic design programs and office suites. The software is installed into the hardware and is what actually makes the hardware functional. One can’t perform without the other. We need both software and hardware to get tasks done on our computer systems.

A key difference between hardware and software is that hardware can wear over time from extended use. Software doesn’t wear out, though technology changes and it can be affected by a virus! Software can be upgraded with new features, but hardware most of the time needs to be replaced with newer models because new features aren’t available on older models.

The working relationship between hardware and software is crucial to helping you get your job done, and is important to your company’s operations. ICC can help keep your hardware and software running smoothly and our experts can help you install, implement, manage, and maintain your IT system. When it comes to hardware, ICC will recommend reliable products for a consistently high-quality lineup. ICC has partnerships with leading industry distributors, and has many years of experience supporting our recommended products. When it comes to hardware and software, ICC consultants are your trusted, technical experts to recommend the right hardware and software to suit your business needs. 

If you need new hardware or software, or are looking to upgrade, please give us a call at 970-419-0602.

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March 13, 2023

What is Phishing and Why is it Important to Know?

Phishing attacks continue to be a security hazard to businesses. Phishing is when a cybercriminal disguises as a trusted source to trick an employee into opening an email, clicking a link, or downloading a document.  If that happens, it can result in your computer being infected by malware, and your financial information and customers’ personal information being stolen or lost. The damage control can be irreparable – not to mention the damage to your company’s reputation.

There are different categories of phishing:

Email Phishing: As described above, this is an attempt to obtain access to sensitive information using deceptive emails or ads. Many times, there is a sense of urgency tied to really motivate the recipient to open or click on the links.

Spear Phishing: This is more of a tailored attack, using information that is of interest to the targeted group or person, such as news stories, to lure them into opening a link.

Whaling Attack: This type of phishing is directed at senior executives in a company, often to manipulate them to reveal highly sensitive information or even authorize a wire transfer.

Domain Spoofing: When a fake website name or email domain is used to trick a recipient into engaging with a malicious email or website.   

Take phishing scams seriously and dedicate resources to spot these.  Train employees and protect your business, understanding the consequences of not making this a priority could be serious. Prioritize making sure everyone is aware of phishing scams, how to recognize and develop a plan to respond if you are targeted. 

ICC can help you understand and learn how to NOT fall prey to phishing scammers. We can put a comprehensive plan in place to protect your data. We conduct a number of audits and tests, as well as put tactics in place, to significantly reduce the possibility of an attack, protect your data and most importantly – have the ability to restore it. Our defense strategy includes network security, email security, security patches and updates, employee education, backups and quarterly cybersecurity reviews to boost your defenses against cybercriminals and lost data. 

If you are missing one piece of the pie, you may be putting your business at risk and could be faced with significant business disruption and financial loss. To get started call us at 970-419-0602.

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February 13, 2023

Life After Windows Server 2012

If your business relies on Microsoft’s Windows Server 2012 operating system, we recommend you start thinking about replacing it. Now 10 years old, Microsoft will officially stop offering support for Windows Server 2012 on October 23, 2023. It’s not because anything has gone wrong with that system; it’s just because the newer operating systems are more efficient and secure. 

You might be tempted to continue using Windows Server 2012 until it no longer works for you, but there are some potential pitfalls in doing that:

  • Since there won’t be any updates after October 23, 2023, your system’s cybersecurity will be weaker putting your data at risk.
  • Your business won’t get any technical support, increasing the likelihood of performance issues and breakdowns.
  • Finally, depending on your business, using an older, unsupported operating system may not be compliant with data privacy customer regulations. You will need to move on and upgrade your system.

If learning you’ll need a new operating system just put you into panic mode, don’t worry! Starting early can help minimize stress and cybersecurity risks for your business. Plus, we are here to help! ICC will review available options with you, whether it’s replacing your current server or moving to a cloud server. We’ll handle the process of assessing the scope of work, upgrading your system, and testing and training your team on the new operating system.

ICC can help you keep operations running smoothly, and we would love to put a comprehensive plan in place to protect your data. We conduct a number of audits and tests, as well as put tactics in place, to significantly reduce the possibility of an attack, protect your data and most importantly – have the ability to restore it. Our defense strategy includes network security, email security, security patches & updates, employee education, backups and quarterly cybersecurity reviews to boost your defenses against cybercriminals and lost data. If you are missing one piece of the pie, you may be putting your business at risk and could be faced with significant business disruption and financial loss.

Ask us about upgrading your system and start planning now. Give us a call at 970-419-0602.

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January 10, 2023

Holiday Tips From the ICC Team

The holidays are upon us! While Santa is making his list of who’s naughty or nice, you are probably making your own lists of what needs to get done. With consumer activity at a high and many staff members taking time off, the holidays can be stressful for small businesses. Let technology help you get ready and be safe over the season, whether that’s at the office or at home. Here are tips from the experts at ICC:

Kirk Bane, President & CEO: Hardware can be repurchased if stolen, but your data can’t be replaced. If you plan to close your office at all during the season, make sure to backup your data either with an external hard drive – located offsite – or cloud storage.

Jesse Courchaine, Managed Services Director: Make sure you have a crisis communication plan in place. The holidays are a prime time for hackers. Create an “on call” list and make sure everyone knows who to call or what to do if a security breach were to happen.

Shaun Bullock, VP of Sales: Your website doesn’t go on vacation when you do, so make sure you still have some support available to monitor live chat help, social media engagement, etc. Consider posting a notice on your home page or sending customers an email letting them know about reduced hours over the holidays.

Mason James, Senior Technical Consultant: Make it easy for customers to find relevant information on your website. Use banners or highlight most requested information like holiday return policies or shipping deadlines on your home page.

Austin Gardner, Technical Consultant: Make sure the software on all your devices is up to date. A lot of the connection issues people face is due to outdated software.

Jim Otepka, Technical Consultant: Especially if you’re an online retailer, you may want to consider boosting your WiFi connection for the holiday season. The easiest way to do this is by upgrading your router and installing a range extender.

Bryan Richmond, Technical Consultant: When you leave the office, make sure to log out of all accounts and applications. That way no one will have access to your accounts via your physical desktop or laptop. 

Patrick O’Brien, Technical Consultant: If you’re traveling, take photos or scan important documents like your passport or driver’s license and store them in a secure account like Google Drive or iCloud.

Dan Gepner, Technical Consultant: Be very cautious of phishing scams at the office and at home. Unfortunately, the holidays bring out more cyberhackers than usual. Even if an email sounds familiar do not click on any links or download attachments. They are written to deceive you.

Ryan Tool, Technical Consultant: Turn off Bluetooth and NFC (Near Field Communications) when not in use to reduce the risk of cyberhackers getting into your data.

Tyler Harnden, Business Development: These days it’s important to provide different payment methods. If you don’t have them already, consider adding options like mobile wallets (i.e. Apple Pay). You don’t want a customer abandoning a purchase because you’re not offering their preferred method of payment. 

Josh Layton, Business Development Consultant: The holidays are often the busiest shopping time. Use this time to collect information on what your customers like, get an idea about their shopping habits, and more. This data can be very helpful later.

Teri English, Project Manager: Take advantage of automation. Get all social media posts and eblasts created in advance and schedule them to publish while you’re out of the office.  

Susie De-Foort, Finance Manager: Whether it’s your personal or business account, regularly check your online activity for anything unusual. Set up alerts with your bank to notify you of any suspicious activity or new purchases.

Rebecca Flores, Administrative Assistant: This may be a good time to change passwords. Use passwords that are long and use multi-step verification whenever possible for personal and business use.

ICC can help you with more ideas to keep operations running smoothly over the holidays. We can put a comprehensive security plan in place to protect your financial information. We conduct a number of audits and tests, as well as put tactics in place, to significantly reduce the possibility of an attack, protect your data and most importantly – have the ability to restore it. Our defense strategy includes network security, email security, security patches & updates, employee education, backups and quarterly cybersecurity reviews to boost your defenses against cybercriminals and lost data. If you are missing one piece of the pie, you may be putting your business at risk and could be faced with significant business disruption and financial loss.

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December 12, 2022

Tips to Avoid Credit Card Fraud This Holiday Season

The holidays are right around the corner. For many that means a time to be joyful and giving. For others, it marks the perfect time to take advantage of increased spending to steal consumers’ personal financial information. 

It’s a sad reality that during a time of year that is meant to be merry, we need to be very careful of thieves and hackers. A click of the mouse to add items to your online shopping cart may seem like the easiest way to get holiday shopping done, but online shopping offers a window of opportunity for cyberhackers if not done securely. (Even while shopping in-person, we need to be vigilant of credit card skimmers.)

In 2020, consumers reported 4.7 million cases of fraud, identity theft and other consumer deceptions!

Below are a few tips to protect you, your credit and identity as you shop:

Look for secure websites: If you’re shopping from a new website make sure there is an “s” included in the web address. It should be “https” in the URL not just “http.” The ‘s’ is for secure. A small padlock icon should also be present in the address bar.

Be on the Alert: If it’s an option, activate alerts from the card company to let you know when your credit card has been used or when a suspicious transaction has been made.  Or when there is a charge made above a certain dollar value. Setting alerts will allow you to act fast and freeze your card if necessary. 

Stay Private: Do your online shopping on a private network. NEVER be tempted to shop online using free public WiFi at a coffee shop or library. If you’re shopping online outside of your home or office, make sure you use a VPN, virtual private network.

Be Vigilant with Emails: Do not click on any links or download attachments from a sender you don’t know. Such a mistake can put your personal information into the wrong hands. There are companies that may even pose as FedEx, UPS or another delivery service to say “your package is on its way” with a fake tracking link. That phish bait will give cyberattackers access to your financial information. Always be vigilant! 

Get Chipped: Chip cards are safer to use than magnetic stripe cards. When using a chip card, an encrypted code is generated each time a transaction is made. The code helps to conceal your credit card numbers. 

Use Unique Passwords: There are many of us who are guilty about using the same password or two for everything. This is dangerous! Although it can be challenging to remember or keep a record of all your passwords, it is best to use different passwords for each shopping site you use. If a cybercriminal gets a hold of one of your passwords, they will attempt to use it on other websites. Use a mix of lower case, upper case, symbols and numbers to make passwords difficult to crack.

ICC can help put a comprehensive security plan in place to protect your financial information. We conduct a number of audits and tests, as well as put tactics in place, to significantly reduce the possibility of an attack, protect your data and most importantly – have the ability to restore it. Our defense strategy includes network security, email security, security patches & updates, employee education, backups and quarterly cybersecurity reviews to boost your defenses against cybercriminals and lost data. If you are missing one piece of the pie, you may be exposed to cyber-attacks and could be faced with significant business disruption and financial loss.

Source: https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/reports/consumer-sentinel-network-data-book-2020/csn_annual_data_book_2020.pdf

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November 16, 2022

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