Recognizing a Phishing Email

Remember the ‘good old days’ of email (like 12-15 years ago) when the most menacing thing we had to worry about was too much advertising spam!We still have advertising spam by the virtual truckload but today we have yet another thing to add to our email worries: Phishing attempts.Phishing is a cleverly disguised email, made to look like it came from a trustworthy source, designed to steal your sensitive information, or worse, simply (and naively) convince you to give it away.

Phishing emails try to get you to do one of two things: first, to simply hand over sensitive information and second, to download malware which more often than not contains ransomware.Ransomware is very, very bad.It will literally take ALL THE DATA on your PC (or server) and encrypt (lock) it so as to make it unusable to you.In order to get the “key” and de-crypt the data back to normal, you must pay a ransom.Usually this ransom payment is around $500 and must be paid in Bitcoin or other non-traceable methods.

So, h…

Passphrases and Your User ID!! (Part 2)

Passphrases and Your User ID!! In our last article we spoke of the “new thinking” of passphrases instead of passwords and we explained how difficult, if not impossible, it is for even a computer to guess your passphrase when it’s larger than 24 or 28 characters. This short article wants to discuss “login credentials”.Login credentials is defined as both your user-id and passphrase. (There may be a 3rd credential, but that’s for another article.) You’ve heard the expression, it takes two to tango.In other words, a passphrase and user-id must be correct and must be for one another before you are allowed access. So, perhaps your user-id is more important than many had thought previously!For those sites that allow you to pick your user-id and passphrase, think of each as a security key. Now, what should one use as a user-id?That’s really up to you, but you can make it easy to remember by using a combination of your nickname, street name, account purpose and/or favorite team name.If at all pos…

Welcome to the first in a series of recommendations on Passwords (Part 1)

Are Passwords on their way out? Passwords are a major part of our lives AND we have numerous (some say countless) amounts of them.They are the keys to our “electronic” locks.Trouble is, our keys are so easy to copy or guess, we might as well not have the locks!
Why do we need and have so many different passwords?
Because almost every one of the sites requiring a password has a different rule set for creating a password.Many require an uppercase character or a lowercase character or must have a number or must have a special character AND cannot be a password you have chosen in the past 45 years! Because we have so many sites where we need passwords, we try to make it easy for us to remember them.Trouble is, if it’s easy for us to remember, it’s easy for the bad guys to guess.Did you know that the most common passwords are:Password, Password123, admin, welcome, letmein, QWERTY, QWERTY1234, 123456 and 123123. So what do many of us do with our passwords so we remember them?We write them down o…

Fighting Cyber Threats - the Internet of Things (Part 3)

This short article is the 3rd in a series to help small business owners grow and protect their businesses in the age of cyber threats and digital piracy.

 Our 3rd article explains, as an introduction, IoT – The Internet of Things, and is directed not only to small business but to all of us who use the Internet.

The Internet is everywhere and the Internet is doing more things for more people than ever before.  One reason for this is the IoT. One formal and technical description of IoT is “The ever-growing network of physical objects that feature an IP address for internet connectivity, and the communication that occurs between these objects and other Internet-enabled devices and systems”.

Whew. Did you get that? I like my description better: IoT are all those devices we put on the Internet like household lights, garage door openers, Televisions, home security cameras, our refrigerators and more!

Although these things may make our lives better, they can be hacked from a sec…

Fighting Cyber Threats - the Small Business Way (Part 2)

This short article is the 2nd in a series to help small business owners grow and protect their businesses in the age of cyber threats and digital piracy.

 Quite a few business owners are hesitant to allow 3rd party vendors and customers to digitally transfer money to their business accounts. They are afraid of “bad guys” or hackers obtaining their checking account number and draining it. After all, we business owners are concerned about having money needed for payroll and “bill pay”!!

No wonder we don’t sleep like we used to.

Well, how about this for a suggestion. It’s not a sleeping pill, but instead, it’s good cyber advice.
Instead of just one business checking account with your bank, open a 2nd checking account. Now use this 2nd checking account as your internet facing account. Meaning, use this account to send and receive payments to and from your customers, vendors and business colleagues.
But wait; don’t I still have a potential cyber risk exposing money to the Interne…

Fighting Cyber Threats - the Small Business Way (Part 1)

As small business owners, we wear many hats in order to grow and protect our businesses.  In today’s Digital Age, we must wear one more; we are the Protector of our business from the threat of Cyber Intrusion, Data Theft, and Financial Embezzlement.

But how can we protect our business when big businesses with deep pockets can barely protect themselves?  We read practically every week another well-known large corporation admit they were “hacked” and millions of customer records have become compromised.  Closer to home, we hear how thousands surrender to “digital pirates” via RANSOMware, where your PC and data are held at ransom by data encryption until you pay the bounty, usually $500 or more.

Keep your head up!  There are things we can do to protect our businesses, and these proactive defenses won’t break the bank.

First, EDUCATE yourself and your employees who have access to business computers.  Passwords should be at least ten characters long, never shared and never writt…