Information to help you understand the basic ideas or facts.

Phishing Scams – How to Prevent a Disaster


Imagine this. You’re scrolling the internet and your instant messaging pops up. It’s someone you talk to quite frequently, and they’ve sent you a link telling you to check it out. You click the link, and suddenly your files start changing and you can’t open anything. Suddenly you’ve become a victim of a phishing scam.

What just happened?

You sit there confused, but in the back of your mind you understand the link you clicked was not what it seemed to be, and are now wondering what it will take to get the information back?

Phishing is a common cyber crime that has hit many unsuspecting people, and sometimes the results are harmless. Sometimes you are only locked out of your online accounts for few minutes. But other times serious damage can begin the minute your mouse clicks the link.

Hackers target companies and individuals by email, and most people see a link in an email and don’t even consider it is going to be detrimental to click.

A good rule to follow is to limit the links you do click in email messages.  Remember, when protecting yourself from phishing scams, pay attention to the where the link is going to take you, be skeptical of email attachments and pay close attention to the sender email address.

If something looks suspicious, taking the time to check and be sure makes sense.

Getting to a place where you understand how to protect yourself takes effort and some training. This training has come a long way over the years.

Find out how a few quick and focused training sessions can help you and your team improve your skills.  Ask us about some options for effective cyber security training.

World Password Day 2018

How secure are you?

Passwords are your first line of defense when it comes to protecting your private systems and information. Having a strong password in place leaves you just that much more secure.

On May 3, 2018, we celebrated World Password Day, and the facts are simple; most people either don’t understand the importance of a secure password, or don’t want to take the time to ensure information is protected in the simplest way.

I don’t know about you, but I’m just as guilty as the majority of the population for having the same password across the board, changing up one number or letter per platform. Just like you, I’ve left myself extremely vulnerable to hackers of any level.

With digital platforms filling up most of your spare time, it’s important to adhere to the rules and suggestions. Each of these platforms ask for a different sequence of characters, for good reason.

According to Entrepreneur Online, a survey was conducted by TeleSign a few years ago, which polled approximately 2,000 consumers throughout the U.S. and the U.K. The study concluded about 3 out of 4 people use duplicate passwords, some of which haven’t been changed in years.

Good to know I’m not the only one who could lose everything.

In the past year alone, about 40% of people received noticed of personal information being compromised, accounts being hacked, or have had a password stolen. Data breaches are inevitable. Therefore, why aren’t you taking better measures to protect your information.

When is the last time you changed your password? In the same survey, mentioned above, about 21% of people still use passwords they created 10 years ago. If you can’t remember the last time you changed your password, I highly suggest you take the time today to do so.

Keep them long, complicated, a sequence of numbers and letters. You can even generate up passwords for free online. Whatever you do, your password should not be something that can be guessed. No birthday’s please. Pet names are out too.

The next step you can take is to add another level of security. Two-factor authentication is a great way to significantly decrease the risk of any hacker. This method requires an additional type of identification, of which the user has on them at the time.

Passwords are inevitably a part of everyday life, and to be careless with them is simply asking for the worst to happen. Whatever method you use, being aware of how secure you are is detrimental for a future dealing with technology.


If you are curious as to how secure your password is visit www.howsecureismypassword.net. Enter in a password SIMILAR to the one you currently have and sit back and see how long it would take a hacker to enter your system.

 

The Importance of a Basic Backup Strategy

Are you prepared with a basic backup?

It doesn’t always take someone malicious to hack your computer system, but regardless of the reason, if a business is shut down for any matter of time, revenue is lost. The first step in running any business is ensuring there are basic backup plans in place.

Picture this; a freak September snowstorm sends the city into panic. Tree branches are breaking from the weight of the snow, and one just happens to fall on the power line closest to your downtown office. The power goes out and your building is plunged into dark.

Power goes out, operations stop. All your files are now gone and without any way of getting them back, you’re starting at the bottom again.

When breaches occur, for any reason, operations and finance are the first things to be affected, and the network outages caused usually have long-lasting impact. Most businesses cannot come back from even three days spent at a standstill.

So what can you do?

By following the 3-2-1 rule, when it comes to a basic backup strategy, your company will be laughing during the next storm.

Your backup plan should be thought of like this; there should be 3 total copies of data, 2 of which are local, but on different mediums, and at least 1 copy that is offsite.

The local copy is what users rely on for primary access.

  • One of the easiest ways to create a backup is to store copies on any network attached storage, an external hard drive, or a USB drive.

Backup local copy to a local avenue.

  • Gives user immediate, instant access to whatever data needed, despite if it’s been deleted, overwritten, or lost.

Store a copy of all files securely offsite.

  • This helps in the aforementioned disaster. Regardless if something happens to the physical place of business, all data is still safe and secure.
  • There are many cloud-based solutions, which store information on remote servers which are accessed through the Internet.

Regardless of how you are backing up your data, the first step in protecting your business is having that backup plan. Every minute your team is without access will cost more than just revenue.

Take a look at how much it would cost your business if your systems were unavailable.  Try our online calculator yourself or give us a call 403-455-5969. The results might surprise you.

 

 

 

 

Passwords Must Be Unique and Different – MyFitnessPal

The MyFitnessPal app suffers a data breach. What does that have to do with your business? You need to make sure you continue to educate your work team about the importance of having different passwords for accounts you use for work vs accounts you use personally.  If a member of your team used the same password to access MyFitnessPal as is used to access websites related to work, you could be at increased risk.

The 3 things you need to do:

  1. Discuss passwords with your team. Moving from awareness to action improves when you can make it real. This is real.
  2. Have a common sense security policy that is understood, implemented and test it. Moving to compliance starts with education and repeat offenders need to be treated seriously.
  3. Review your security strategy. If you don’t have a strategy for cyber security you will only be able to react. Being proactive gives you more options.

#MyFitnessPal #Databreach

Cyber Security for Marketers

Cyber Security for Marketers: Four Tips to Get Started

Esther Jeohn, head of global marketing at Penta Security Systems Inc, gives information on how you can deflect or even block the cyber-breach blow. Reading these four tips will give you and your PR team ideas on how to stay protected when it comes to cyber security. With the majority of marketing work done on the go, many of the platforms used are Cloud-based.

“The myriad of platforms make my workflow a whole lot easier, but the lack of integrations into one seamless platform inevitably means that information is being distributed to multiple locations. That information could be anything from company financial figures to customer contact information—which, if it fell into the wrong hands, could mean bad business,” says Jeohn in the article, which can be found here.

What can you do, as a marketer, to keep yourself and your company protected?

What is Your Business Continuity Plan?

Did you know, 40% of small businesses in the US never open their doors after a disaster? That’s a big number considering most small business owners not only rely solely on their business as a means of income, they also are emotionally attached to their business since it provides a way to present their skills to the world.

So if their business is so important to them, then why are many small business owners not doing enough to protect it from disasters? In a 2015 survey of 300 small businesses in Calgary, 47% of businesses said they do not have a business continuity or contingency plan in place. That’s a big number considering this survey was conducted not long after the 2013 floods.

Now, while no business would want to get hit by unexpected disasters, it does not mean that owners should not plan for them either. Business Continuity planning is the similar to yearly budget planning or even better: it is like getting insurance!

Think about it: many people get life insurance because they are looking out for their family’s future in case they are no longer around. If you are one of the family earners, you secure your family by getting life insurance. While the emotional pain of you being gone can never be filled, you try to mitigate at least the financial pain by taking out life insurance for them.

This is exactly what business continuity planning does. Like I said earlier, for many small business owners, their business may be the only source of income for them and they build an emotional attachment to this business and just like we do to our loved ones.

So wouldn’t you want to protect this business from any potential disasters?

Here are some helpful links from Calgary Chamber of Commerce and Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) that you can use to start thinking about business continuity planning:

  1. CEMA’s Business Continuity Handbook
  2. Business Continuity Planning Template
  3. Reference Guide for examples

Contact us if you need some guidance on how to incorporate your IT related assets in the Business Continuity Plan.

Do You Have A Business Continuity Plan?

Thirty per cent of business don’t!

At some point in the lifespan of any business, disaster will strike. It’s inevitable. From unsuspecting employees letting lose ruthless viruses, to something much less preventable, such as an electrical fire, any loss of data can be detrimental. The key component to managing any business is having a business continuity plan, so that when disaster recovery is needed, it’s only a phone call away.

In a previous post, we talked about the importance of data backup. Making sure your data is backed up in the proper mediums is fantastic but, having a plan with what to do once the system crashes is just as crucial as saving the data itself.

This is where the idea of business continuity comes into play. Having the ability to continue running your business during these emergency cases will minimize revenue loss, as every minute a server is down is a hit to the company.

There are many examples available of companies that were saved simply by having a backup plan in place, such as the one about Cantey Technology, who lost its entire operation to a lightning strike in 2013.

According to Tracy Rock, InvenioIT.com, the office building in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, was home to the IT company, which hosted servers for more than 200 clients.

The fire caused the entire network infrastructure to melt, burning cable and computer alike. With equipment destroyed beyond repair and an unusable office, a panic should have set about the entire organization. Instead, states Rock, Cantey’s clients had no idea.

As part of their business continuity plan, Cantey had already moved its clients servers to a remote data center, where continual backups were stored. Staff of Cantey were displaced in a temporary office, but no client experienced any disruption of service. Although Cantey Technology had no control over the force of nature, they were still able to avoid massive loss.

Businesses always believe it won’t happen to them, that the backups they have are enough, but the reality is, they aren’t.

According to InventoIT’s 2017 disaster recovery statistics, hardware failure was the leading cause of all unplanned downtime, with power outages accounting for an additional 35 per cent

Even with backups, if a company isn’t sure what to do once the power goes out, there is still unplanned downtime that adds up. Costing between $926 to $17,244 per minute, these numbers include lost revenue, lost productivity, recovery expenses, equipment replacement, and more.

The same statistic report mentioned that 30 per cent of businesses do not actually have a business continuity plan in place, and a portion of those companies haven’t even talked about it.

With the inevitability of a disaster strike, do you want to be apart of that 30 per cent?


If you are curious as to how much your business would lose in the event of a disaster you can input all your data into our online calculator. The results might shock you.

Cyber Security Awareness Month, Equifax, and You

The month of October sure brings a lot to celebrate for us Canadians. Whether it’s feeling gratitude with family and friends while celebrating Thanksgiving or dressing up to celebrate Halloween by devouring all that sweet sweet candy during the whole month of November (or in 2 days….no one is judging). But if there is another celebration the month of October brings, it is for our hard working businesses to celebrate being ransomware free.

In fact, October is the National Cyber Security Awareness Month! What that really means is that all businesses should be taking a moment to evaluate whether their current solutions in place to combat ransom ware will keep their systems safe while keeping business running. This is particularly very important for the hard working small and mid-size businesses that operate lean and do not have dedicated in-house IT departments working 24/7.

But then again, sometimes even with dedicated in-house IT and billions of dollars, one fatal error in its cyber security practice can cause that company to become an example of what not to do when it comes to protecting your business, your customers and yourself. The company that all business owners can learn from in this instance is Equifax.

Equifax has been struggling with their data security breach that wreaked havoc within the company. Here’s what happened: cyber criminals attacked Equifax systems between mid-May and late July causing a data breach that affects 145.5 million people in the US and about 8000 Canadians.

So what went wrong? Clearly, a multi-billion dollar company like Equifax must have invested in the most robust of technology solutions available through their world-class IT services provider (in-house or external)…Well Equifax was alerted of a software breach in March 2017, however, according to former CEO Richard Smith, they failed to fix the issue due to “both human error and technology failures” that resulted in the data breach. Although a repair was released, Equifax failed to install it immediately, giving hackers an opening to break into Equifax’s computer systems.

And why is this a problem for a multibillion dollar company like Equifax? Surely, they can afford to pay their way out of it right?

Wrong. For Equifax, losing a chunk of money whether from offering free identity theft protection products/services to consumers, hiring lawyers to represent them in the legal battles, or through loss of future customers, may be just part of the problem. It is having to turn around the bad reputation and earning the trust of the public back is what will make things extremely difficult for Equifax in the future. Earning this trust may in fact be the worst of its problems.

So, the real question is, what are you as a small or mid-sized business doing to protect you and your customers? Are you being proactive in terms of monitoring your systems? Are your employee adequately trained to know what to do wtih potentially malicious email? If your answer is no or “I don’t know” to any of these, take action. Talk to your IT provider or contact us for a free 30 minute assessment.