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Internet Surfing Best Practices

  • Use Google Search

Before you start to type the name of a website you have never been to before, try googling it first. Google actively scans just about every website and looks for malicious (harmful) code. If it finds something, it will warn you in the search. Google will also ensure that you end up at the page you are looking for. After googling, be sure to read the information provided below the link in order to learn about the website.

  • Don’t click ANY advertisements

First of all, there is no such thing as a coupon printer. Plain and simple; they do not exist. Secondly, there is no such thing as a good advertisement. Sure, some will take you to the place you want to go to see some golf club or purse, but it is safest to assume that all ads are bad. If you find that ads are starting to market directly to you that means you have been clicking on them and they are tracking what you are interested in.  It may seem easier to click a well-targeted add to see the new fall lineup or a new car, but the more you click ads the more likely you will run into malware. Just google the new fall lineup or car and view it directly on their site.

  • The “YOUR COMPUTER IS INFECTED” banners

No website can tell you what is on your computer. You have to allow a program access to scan your computer before it can tell you what is there. Completely ignore any banner or website that tries to tell you how many things are wrong with your computer. These banners are the birthplace of most adware and malware. More often than not they will infect and slow down your computer and never fix any real issues.

  • Check the address of the site you are on

Does it look like the site you should be on? “Phishing” or “Spoof” websites are designed to look exactly like another website. Here is an example:

phising

This site is setup to look as much like Citibank as possible in an attempt to get credit card information. A foolproof way to ensure you are on the correct website before entering secure information is to review the address bar where the webpage link is located. As you will see in the example, the address is https://web.da-us.citibank.com/… Does this look familiar?  Try to google Citibank and see what google reports as their webpage.  After googling, you will notice that Citibank’s website looks like this: https://online.citibank.com/US/JPS/portal/Index.do. Also, take a hard look at the website itself, does it look official? If you are in question at all, close the window and try Google searching to find the correct location for a website.

  • Check for a SSL Cert

Without getting too technical, SSL certs provide a secure (protected) connection from your computer to the website you are on. That is to say, any data or communication passed from your computer or the website cannot be read by anyone else along the line of communication. You will want to check for these certs on every site that you are entering any confidential information. Below you will see examples of where to check for SSL certs on the common browsers:

Chrome– Chrome

IEHTTPS – Internet Explorer 11

firefox– Firefox

opra – Opera

safari– Safari

Essentially what you are looking for is the ‘s’ at the end of http’s’://www.google.com. Some browsers represent the secure connection as a green lock. If you don’t see the ‘s’ or the green lock, do not enter in any confidential or even personal information.

  • Password use

This can be covered in a topic all by itself but I will touch on it slightly. If you are someone who does not like to keep different passwords for every site, I urge you not to use the same password for everything. Something you can try is to keep a few different passwords and use them for varying levels of security. For example, there will be some sites that ask you to create an account just to view their items for sale. Do not use the same password as your online bank account. Use a password you would not mind if it got stolen and continue to use that password for all sites you could care less about. Another note, if you save your passwords in your browser to ‘Auto-Fill’ realize that someone with access to your computer can now log into every place that has a stored password. If you sync your passwords using google so that all devices have the same saved passwords, realize that your google account password now needs to be the most secure. Someone just needs that one password to

Hackers Attack Small Businesses Too

Most small business owners believe cyber attacks are the concern of large corporations, however nothing could be further from the truth.  According to Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report 71% of cyber attacks occur at businesses with less than 100 employees.[1]

Unfortunately, many “SMBs suffer from ‘It can’t happen to us’ syndrome,” notes Robert Siciliano, security expert for McAfee. “They also typically don’t have the resources to secure their networks to the degree a large enterprise would. But the information on their networks – and access to their bank accounts – still makes them a big target.”  Even though it turns out SMB’s have a larger target on their backs than they realize, two thirds of SMBs surveyed by Symantec say they’re not concerned about cyber threats; and more than 80 percent have no formal cyber security plan.

“Smaller companies are easier to hack,” said Clay Calvert, director of security at MetroStar Systems, a Virginia-based firm. “They don’t have the resources to set up protective barriers.” Big companies, which have the financial resources to upgrade their security, have become less vulnerable.  But this needs to change!  The average cyberattack costs a business $188,000!  You can no longer wait for hackers to target you.  The rise of organized cyber hackers is definitely a scary trend but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world.  There are some things that a SMB owner can do to help:

  • The first step you need to take is to think like the hackers. Ask yourself: Who are my adversaries?  Are they after my intellectual property and trade secrets?  Do they want my customers’ credit-card information?  Or do they view my business as the weak link in some larger application?  This exercise can help you see where your vulnerabilities lie and also help you understand which measures you can take to protect your software.
  • Make sure your code is clean. Many commercial applications use open-source code as components.  The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s National Vulnerability Database discloses more than 4,000 vulnerabilities in these components.  Security software companies, can help you identify and fix any problems with your applications’ source code.
  • Outsource your security operation. While most small organizations can’t afford to build sophisticated IT security systems, Midwest IT Solutions has the scale and know-how to protect your operations and sensitive data.

At Midwest we have the knowledge base and the commitment to service to ensure that your IT security is up to date.  We offer best in class cybersecurity protection.  Unlike other managed service providers who rely on point of service solutions; we employ Unified Threat Management, an all in one security solution.  UTM is a fully integrated, multifaceted approach to protect against network threats. Your IT infrastructure is too important to settle for a less than optimal cybersecurity plan.  Contact us today to get started on your cyber security audit.  Don’t take a chance and go it alone, get Midwest on your side.

[1] Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report 2012. 2012 Accessed April 20, 2016. URL:www. http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/threatlevel/2012/03/Verizon-Data-Breach-Report-2012.pdf.

FBI Warns Businesses of Email Scams

The FBI has issued alerts to all businesses about the spread of BEC scams.  One of the fastest growing hazards facing businesses today is the growth of business email compromise, or BEC scams.  According to the FBI these scams have grown by more than 270% since the beginning of last year.  At their last reporting more than 7,000 businesses have lost more than $1.2 billion in the last 2 years.  At Midwest IT Solutions we help you to manage your IT risk.  We are at the forefront of IT risk management; monitoring, assessing, and evaluating threats to your network no matter where they may come from.  You can be confident knowing that Midwest IT Solutions is in your corner.  While these scams may at first seem less impressive than thefts perpetrated by sophisticated malware targeting banks and other large institutions; a BEC attack is in reality more­­­­ vicious.  They are more versatile and can avoid the basic security steps taken by businesses and individuals.  Instead of simply targeting your machines, a BEC scam targets your people!  Criminals are convincing their victims to hand company money right over to them, and they have been very successful in doing so.  According to the FBI, “The scam has been reported in all 50 states and in 79 countries.  Fraudulent transfers have been reported going to 72 countries; however, the majority of the transfers are going to Asian banks located within China and Hong Kong.

BEC scams are being perpetrated in multiple stages.  In the first stage a traditional email phishing scam is carried out.  Once the criminal has access to an employee’s email account, they will monitor the account for an extended period of time, sometimes up to several months.  During this time the fraudster is learning the financial processes of the target business.  They are learning if wire transfers are used, who initiates them as well as who typical requests them.  Emails are searched for key terms such as, but not limited to: invoice, deposit, president, and wire transfer.  Fraudsters are taking the time to familiarize themselves with the target business’ activities, organizational relationships, interests, as well as travel, or purchasing plans.

Once the reconnaissance phase of the fraud is completed the second phase of the con is initiated.  This portion comes in two different forms.  The first is known as a CEO Phishing Scam.  Crooks create a domain name that is nearly identical to the company’s and send a spoof email that appears to be from the CEO or other high ranking executive.  This email will look totally real and only a very careful reading of the email will give the targeted employee a chance of detecting any sort of problem.  The fraudster impersonating the high level executive requests a wire transfer be made.  The target employee believes that their superior has directed them to transfer funds and, being a good employee, the instructions are carried out.  Because they have spent so much time and effort getting ready to perpetrate this fraud, the criminals are able to create an utterly convincing fund request.  Before anyone has realized what has happened company money has disappeared.

In the second version of this scam, the email of someone within the targeted company responsible for billing and invoicing is taken over and used to send out legitimate appearing invoices instructing that payment be made by wire to a newly designated bank account.  Again, it would take intense scrutiny to notice anything wrong with this phony invoice.  One of the most nefarious aspect of these scams is that they are unlikely to be caught in any spam traps as these are targeted attacks and not mass emails.  These scams continue to grow and evolve as time goes by so it is important to be vigilant.  To protect themselves the FBI has urged businesses to adopt the following processes:

  • Create intrusion detection system rules that flag e-mails with extensions that are similar to company e-mail. For example, legitimate e-mail of com would flag fraudulent e-mail of abc-company.com.
  • Register all company domains that are slightly different than the actual company domain.
  • Verify changes in vendor payment location by adding additional two-factor authentication such as having a secondary sign- off by company personnel.
  • Confirm requests for transfers of funds. When using phone verification as part of the two-factor authentication, use previously known numbers, not the numbers provided in the e-mail request.
  • Know the habits of your customers, including the details of, reasons behind, and amount of payments.
  • Carefully scrutinize all e-mail requests for transfer of funds to determine if the requests are out of the ordinary.

At Midwest IT Solutions it is our job to monitor threats to your business.  We are IT experts ready to help defend you against any attack cybercriminals can dish out.  Don’t go it alone, contact the Midwest IT Solutions today!