The phishing craze that’s blindsiding users

Most phishing attacks involve hiding malicious hyperlinks hidden behind enticing ad images or false-front URLs. Whatever the strategy is, phishing almost always relies on users clicking a link before checking where it really leads. But even the most cautious users may get caught up in the most recent scam. Take a look at our advice for how to avoid the newest trend in phishing.

What are homographs?

There are a lot of ways to disguise a hyperlink, but one strategy has survived for decades — and it’s enjoying a spike in popularity. Referred to as “homographs” by cybersecurity professionals, this phishing strategy revolves around how browsers interpret URLs written in other languages.

Take Russian for example, even though several Cyrillic letters look identical to English characters, computers see them as totally different. Browsers use basic translation tools to account for this so users can type in non-English URLs and arrive at legitimate websites. In practice, that means anyone can enter a 10-letter Cyrillic web address into their browser and the translation tools will convert that address into a series of English letters and numbers.

How does this lead to phishing attacks?

Malicious homographs utilize letters that look identical to their English counterparts to trick users into clicking on them. It’s an old trick, and most browsers have built-in fail-safes to prevent the issue. However, a security professional recently proved that the fail-safes in Chrome, Firefox, Opera and a few other less popular browsers can be easily tricked.

Without protection from your browser, there’s basically no way to know that you’re clicking on a Cyrillic URL. It looks like English, and no matter how skeptical you are, there’s no way to “ask” your browser what language it is. So you may think you’re clicking on apple.com, but you’re actually clicking on the Russian spelling of apple.com — which gets redirected to xn—80ak6aa92e.com. If that translated URL contains malware, you’re in trouble the second you click the link.

The solution

Avoiding any kind of cybersecurity attack begins with awareness, and when it comes to phishing, that means treating every link you want to click with skepticism. If you receive an email from someone you don’t know, or a suspicious message from someone you do, always check where it leads. Sometimes that’s as simple as hovering your mouse over hyperlink text to see what the address is, but when it comes to homographs that’s not enough.

In the case of homographs, the solution is unbelievably simple: Manually type in the web address. If you get an email from someone you haven’t heard from in 20 years that says “Have you checked out youtube.com??”, until your browser announces a fix, typing that URL into your browser’s address bar is the only way to be totally sure you’re safe.

For most, this trend feels like yet another development that justifies giving up on cybersecurity altogether. But for small- and medium-sized businesses that have outsourced their technology support and management to a competent and trustworthy IT provider, it’s just another reason to be thankful they decided against going it alone. If you’re ready to make the same decision, call us today.

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Sly phishing attack catching users off guard

You pay close enough attention to the links you click to avoid clicking on something like goolge.com or evrenote.com…right? Because if you’re not, you could end up exposing your computer or smartphone to a host of malware. The newest phishing attack strategy is the worst of all, and can catch even the most astute users off guard.

What are homographs?

There are a lot of ways to disguise a hyperlink, but one strategy has survived for decades — and it’s enjoying a spike in popularity. Referred to as “homographs” by cybersecurity professionals, this phishing strategy revolves around how browsers interpret URLs written in other languages.

Take Russian for example, even though several Cyrillic letters look identical to English characters, computers see them as totally different. Browsers use basic translation tools to account for this so users can type in non-English URLs and arrive at legitimate websites. In practice, that means anyone can enter a 10-letter Cyrillic web address into their browser and the translation tools will convert that address into a series of English letters and numbers.

How does this lead to phishing attacks?

Malicious homographs utilize letters that look identical to their English counterparts to trick users into clicking on them. It’s an old trick, and most browsers have built-in fail-safes to prevent the issue. However, a security professional recently proved that the fail-safes in Chrome, Firefox, Opera and a few other less popular browsers can be easily tricked.

Without protection from your browser, there’s basically no way to know that you’re clicking on a Cyrillic URL. It looks like English, and no matter how skeptical you are, there’s no way to “ask” your browser what language it is. So you may think you’re clicking on apple.com, but you’re actually clicking on the Russian spelling of apple.com — which gets redirected to xn—80ak6aa92e.com. If that translated URL contains malware, you’re in trouble the second you click the link.

The solution

Avoiding any kind of cybersecurity attack begins with awareness, and when it comes to phishing, that means treating every link you want to click with skepticism. If you receive an email from someone you don’t know, or a suspicious message from someone you do, always check where it leads. Sometimes that’s as simple as hovering your mouse over hyperlink text to see what the address is, but when it comes to homographs that’s not enough.

In the case of homographs, the solution is unbelievably simple: Manually type in the web address. If you get an email from someone you haven’t heard from in 20 years that says “Have you checked out youtube.com??”, until your browser announces a fix, typing that URL into your browser’s address bar is the only way to be totally sure you’re safe.

For most, this trend feels like yet another development that justifies giving up on cybersecurity altogether. But for small- and medium-sized businesses that have outsourced their technology support and management to a competent and trustworthy IT provider, it’s just another reason to be thankful they decided against going it alone. If you’re ready to make the same decision, call us today.

Posted in General Articles C, Security | Tagged , , , , , | Comments closed

Homographs: the newest trend in phishing

So much of cybersecurity depends on adequate awareness from users. Phishing for example, preys on people’s fears and desires to convince them to click on hyperlink images and text before checking where they actually lead to. However, with the latest trend in phishing, even the most cautious users can get swept up. Read on to educate yourself on how to avoid this dangerous scam.

What are homographs?

There are a lot of ways to disguise a hyperlink, but one strategy has survived for decades — and it’s enjoying a spike in popularity. Referred to as “homographs” by cybersecurity professionals, this phishing strategy revolves around how browsers interpret URLs written in other languages.

Take Russian for example, even though several Cyrillic letters look identical to English characters, computers see them as totally different. Browsers use basic translation tools to account for this so users can type in non-English URLs and arrive at legitimate websites. In practice, that means anyone can enter a 10-letter Cyrillic web address into their browser and the translation tools will convert that address into a series of English letters and numbers.

How does this lead to phishing attacks?

Malicious homographs utilize letters that look identical to their English counterparts to trick users into clicking on them. It’s an old trick, and most browsers have built-in fail-safes to prevent the issue. However, a security professional recently proved that the fail-safes in Chrome, Firefox, Opera and a few other less popular browsers can be easily tricked.

Without protection from your browser, there’s basically no way to know that you’re clicking on a Cyrillic URL. It looks like English, and no matter how skeptical you are, there’s no way to “ask” your browser what language it is. So you may think you’re clicking on apple.com, but you’re actually clicking on the Russian spelling of apple.com — which gets redirected to xn—80ak6aa92e.com. If that translated URL contains malware, you’re in trouble the second you click the link.

The solution

Avoiding any kind of cybersecurity attack begins with awareness, and when it comes to phishing, that means treating every link you want to click with skepticism. If you receive an email from someone you don’t know, or a suspicious message from someone you do, always check where it leads. Sometimes that’s as simple as hovering your mouse over hyperlink text to see what the address is, but when it comes to homographs that’s not enough.

In the case of homographs, the solution is unbelievably simple: Manually type in the web address. If you get an email from someone you haven’t heard from in 20 years that says “Have you checked out youtube.com??”, until your browser announces a fix, typing that URL into your browser’s address bar is the only way to be totally sure you’re safe.

For most, this trend feels like yet another development that justifies giving up on cybersecurity altogether. But for small- and medium-sized businesses that have outsourced their technology support and management to a competent and trustworthy IT provider, it’s just another reason to be thankful they decided against going it alone. If you’re ready to make the same decision, call us today.

Posted in General Articles B, Security | Tagged , , , , , | Comments closed

Mac Pro gets revamped

Mac Pro users have long awaited the release date of the new workstation, and who could blame them when the current model has been available since 2013. Thankfully, Apple just confirmed that the revamped Mac Pro is on its way. From specs, features, and design changes, here’s the latest information we have about Apple’s high-end desktop.

Processor

The new Mac Pro is rumored to feature the next-generation Intel Xeon E5 processor. While the current models are configurable up to 3.5GHz for the six-core option, 3.0GHz for the eight-core option, and 2.7GHz for the 12-core option, the 2018 model could offer up to 14 or 18 cores per processor. What’s more, each model will likely come equipped with the Iris Pro Graphics P580, a highly powerful graphics processing unit (GPU) that will make heavy file renders a breeze.

However, there’s a small chance that Apple might abandon Intel chips altogether and move to AMD’s RYZEN 7 CPUs, which just set a new standard for high performing CPU processors.

RAM and storage

The new Intel Xeon chips are rumored to have DDR4 memory controllers, and if that’s true, you can expect uber fast memory and low latency without having to worry about issues with overheating. Currently, the 15-inch MacBook Pro comes with 16GB RAM, so it’s likely that you could expect the same RAM with the updated entry-level model of the Mac Pro. And because Apple knows that users usually work with very large files, an option for 2TB flash storage could be possible.

Ports

Claims that the new Mac Pro might offer more Thunderbolt ports in the form of USB-3 are also up in the air. This makes sense as it brings Thunderbolt to USB-C at 40Gbps which ensures faster data transfer speed.

While a number of users wish Apple would offer PCI slots so they could add faster SSDs and more powerful video cards, looking back at the company’s previous releases, we don’t think you should get your hopes up just yet.

Design

According to Apple, the triangular design of the Mac Pro’s thermal core was what limited them from offering updates to the machine. Because of that, we’ll probably see a completely new design in the 2018 model.

Prices

Apple just rolled out some minor updates to the current Mac Pro, including enhanced specs at lower price points. For the $2,999, you now get a 6-core Intel Xeon processor, dual AMD FirePro D500 GPUs and 16GB of memory. And for $3,999, you now get an 8-core processor and dual D700 GPUs.

Having said that, you can expect slightly higher prices for the new Mac Pro than the current models, like with most new Apple releases.

Release date

The timeframe is 2018, but keep in mind that the present Mac Pro was unveiled at WWDC in 2013 and supply was so restrained that people didn’t get theirs until the following spring. Therefore it’s highly possible that the new model will be launched at WWDC 2018 during summer and won’t probably ship until the end of the year.

Stay tuned for more updates on the new Mac Pro. And if you’d like to know more about other Apple products, or learn how they can streamline your operations, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.

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New Mac Pro speculations

Since 2013 when the current Mac Pro model was released, nothing has been confirmed regarding the progeny of the high-end workstation, until now. When will the new Mac Pro be released? What can you expect under the hood? How much will it cost? We answer all that and more.

Processor

The new Mac Pro is rumored to feature the next-generation Intel Xeon E5 processor. While the current models are configurable up to 3.5GHz for the six-core option, 3.0GHz for the eight-core option, and 2.7GHz for the 12-core option, the 2018 model could offer up to 14 or 18 cores per processor. What’s more, each model will likely come equipped with the Iris Pro Graphics P580, a highly powerful graphics processing unit (GPU) that will make heavy file renders a breeze.

However, there’s a small chance that Apple might abandon Intel chips altogether and move to AMD’s RYZEN 7 CPUs, which just set a new standard for high performing CPU processors.

RAM and storage

The new Intel Xeon chips are rumored to have DDR4 memory controllers, and if that’s true, you can expect uber fast memory and low latency without having to worry about issues with overheating. Currently, the 15-inch MacBook Pro comes with 16GB RAM, so it’s likely that you could expect the same RAM with the updated entry-level model of the Mac Pro. And because Apple knows that users usually work with very large files, an option for 2TB flash storage could be possible.

Ports

Claims that the new Mac Pro might offer more Thunderbolt ports in the form of USB-3 are also up in the air. This makes sense as it brings Thunderbolt to USB-C at 40Gbps which ensures faster data transfer speed.

While a number of users wish Apple would offer PCI slots so they could add faster SSDs and more powerful video cards, looking back at the company’s previous releases, we don’t think you should get your hopes up just yet.

Design

According to Apple, the triangular design of the Mac Pro’s thermal core was what limited them from offering updates to the machine. Because of that, we’ll probably see a completely new design in the 2018 model.

Prices

Apple just rolled out some minor updates to the current Mac Pro, including enhanced specs at lower price points. For the $2,999, you now get a 6-core Intel Xeon processor, dual AMD FirePro D500 GPUs and 16GB of memory. And for $3,999, you now get an 8-core processor and dual D700 GPUs.

Having said that, you can expect slightly higher prices for the new Mac Pro than the current models, like with most new Apple releases.

Release date

The timeframe is 2018, but keep in mind that the present Mac Pro was unveiled at WWDC in 2013 and supply was so restrained that people didn’t get theirs until the following spring. Therefore it’s highly possible that the new model will be launched at WWDC 2018 during summer and won’t probably ship until the end of the year.

Stay tuned for more updates on the new Mac Pro. And if you’d like to know more about other Apple products, or learn how they can streamline your operations, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.

Posted in Apple, General Articles C | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed

New Mac Pro: latest rumors

For years, Apple users have been holding on to nothing but online rumors concerning the release date of the new Mac Pro. Thankfully, Apple just confirmed a radical revamp of its high-end workstation. Although official information on the different models’ specs and features have not been confirmed, hints have been made about what could be in store for Mac Pro users.

Processor

The new Mac Pro is rumored to feature the next-generation Intel Xeon E5 processor. While the current models are configurable up to 3.5GHz for the six-core option, 3.0GHz for the eight-core option, and 2.7GHz for the 12-core option, the 2018 model could offer up to 14 or 18 cores per processor. What’s more, each model will likely come equipped with the Iris Pro Graphics P580, a highly powerful graphics processing unit (GPU) that will make heavy file renders a breeze.

However, there’s a small chance that Apple might abandon Intel chips altogether and move to AMD’s RYZEN 7 CPUs, which just set a new standard for high performing CPU processors.

RAM and storage

The new Intel Xeon chips are rumored to have DDR4 memory controllers, and if that’s true, you can expect uber fast memory and low latency without having to worry about issues with overheating. Currently, the 15-inch MacBook Pro comes with 16GB RAM, so it’s likely that you could expect the same RAM with the updated entry-level model of the Mac Pro. And because Apple knows that users usually work with very large files, an option for 2TB flash storage could be possible.

Ports

Claims that the new Mac Pro might offer more Thunderbolt ports in the form of USB-3 are also up in the air. This makes sense as it brings Thunderbolt to USB-C at 40Gbps which ensures faster data transfer speed.

While a number of users wish Apple would offer PCI slots so they could add faster SSDs and more powerful video cards, looking back at the company’s previous releases, we don’t think you should get your hopes up just yet.

Design

According to Apple, the triangular design of the Mac Pro’s thermal core was what limited them from offering updates to the machine. Because of that, we’ll probably see a completely new design in the 2018 model.

Prices

Apple just rolled out some minor updates to the current Mac Pro, including enhanced specs at lower price points. For the $2,999, you now get a 6-core Intel Xeon processor, dual AMD FirePro D500 GPUs and 16GB of memory. And for $3,999, you now get an 8-core processor and dual D700 GPUs.

Having said that, you can expect slightly higher prices for the new Mac Pro than the current models, like with most new Apple releases.

Release date

The timeframe is 2018, but keep in mind that the present Mac Pro was unveiled at WWDC in 2013 and supply was so restrained that people didn’t get theirs until the following spring. Therefore it’s highly possible that the new model will be launched at WWDC 2018 during summer and won’t probably ship until the end of the year.

Stay tuned for more updates on the new Mac Pro. And if you’d like to know more about other Apple products, or learn how they can streamline your operations, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.

Posted in Apple, General Articles B | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed

Reasons to back up your mobile devices

2017April20Business_CIt makes a lot of sense for electronics firms to pack a variety of functions into mobile devices and expand their usefulness. Instead of confining their use to communications, companies such as Apple, Samsung, and others have turned mobile phones into mini-computers that can serve as a substitute for your laptop, or as a storage device. If you’re using mobile phones as a communications and storage device, backing up now would be a wise move.

Malware on mobile

More than 50% of the world’s adult population use a mobile phone with internet connection, so dangers in these handy devices are to be expected. Scarier than the thought of being offline is being online and exposed to malware.

If you use your mobile devices as an extension of your work computers, backing up is a must. Mobile phones have become as vulnerable to malware as laptops and desktops have, especially if you consider the fact that many professionals and business owners use them for emailing confidential documents and storing business-critical files.

Device disasters

Other than malware, other types of disasters can happen on your device. Because you carry it wherever your go, your device can easily be stolen, misplaced, or damaged. They may be easily replaceable, but the data contained in them may not. Having completely backed up data on your devices helps prevent a minor inconvenience from turning into a disastrous situation.

Backup options

Performing backups in iPhone and Android devices is a seamless process. Their operating systems require only minimal effort from users, and backing up entails nothing more than logging into their Apple or Google account. However, other users have different devices with different operating systems, slightly complicating the process.

Mobile devices’ safety is essential to business continuity plans. So whether your office users are tied to a single operating system or prefer different devices, there are options to back up all your organization’s mobile devices. There are cloud backup services that enable syncing of all devices and that back up files, contacts, photos, videos, and other critical files in one neat backup system. These mobile backup tools are offered on monthly or lifetime subscription schemes, which provides small businesses with enough flexibility to ensure protection.

Mobile phones have become so ubiquitous to how people function that many feel the need to have two or more phones, mostly to have one for personal use and another for business. With all these options on hand, there’s no excuse for not backing up data on your mobile devices.

Our experts can provide practical advice on security for your business’s computers and mobile devices. Call us for mobile backup and other security solutions today.

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Back up your mobile devices now

2017April20Business_BMobile phones’ sizes and styles went through massive changes in the last few years. And as their looks and dimensions changed, so did their functions. With better capacity and bigger storage, mobile phones turned into veritable mini-computers that businesses were quick to adopt as a vital office tool. Naturally, hackers got the memo. With new schemes targeted specifically towards mobile devices, you’d be well served backing up the files in your mobile device, now.

Malware on mobile

More than 50% of the world’s adult population use a mobile phone with internet connection, so dangers in these handy devices are to be expected. Scarier than the thought of being offline is being online and exposed to malware.

If you use your mobile devices as an extension of your work computers, backing up is a must. Mobile phones have become as vulnerable to malware as laptops and desktops have, especially if you consider the fact that many professionals and business owners use them for emailing confidential documents and storing business-critical files.

Device disasters

Other than malware, other types of disasters can happen on your device. Because you carry it wherever your go, your device can easily be stolen, misplaced, or damaged. They may be easily replaceable, but the data contained in them may not. Having completely backed up data on your devices helps prevent a minor inconvenience from turning into a disastrous situation.

Backup options

Performing backups in iPhone and Android devices is a seamless process. Their operating systems require only minimal effort from users, and backing up entails nothing more than logging into their Apple or Google account. However, other users have different devices with different operating systems, slightly complicating the process.

Mobile devices’ safety is essential to business continuity plans. So whether your office users are tied to a single operating system or prefer different devices, there are options to back up all your organization’s mobile devices. There are cloud backup services that enable syncing of all devices and that back up files, contacts, photos, videos, and other critical files in one neat backup system. These mobile backup tools are offered on monthly or lifetime subscription schemes, which provides small businesses with enough flexibility to ensure protection.

Mobile phones have become so ubiquitous to how people function that many feel the need to have two or more phones, mostly to have one for personal use and another for business. With all these options on hand, there’s no excuse for not backing up data on your mobile devices.

Our experts can provide practical advice on security for your business’s computers and mobile devices. Call us for mobile backup and other security solutions today.

Posted in Business, General Articles B | Tagged , , , , | Comments closed

Why you need to back up your mobile devices

2017April20Business_AThere was a time when mobile phones were used exclusively for calling and texting. Now, they can do so much more. Regardless of your level of tolerance or skill for managing documents in such a small gadget, mobile devices allow you to send and receive email, download and upload media files, store data, and even close business deals. As mobile devices became indispensable in everyone’s personal and professional life, the security risks have also increased — and backing up became more critical than ever.

Malware on mobile

More than 50% of the world’s adult population use a mobile phone with internet connection, so dangers in these handy devices are to be expected. Scarier than the thought of being offline is being online and exposed to malware.

If you use your mobile devices as an extension of your work computers, backing up is a must. Mobile phones have become as vulnerable to malware as laptops and desktops have, especially if you consider the fact that many professionals and business owners use them for emailing confidential documents and storing business-critical files.

Device disasters

Other than malware, other types of disasters can happen on your device. Because you carry it wherever your go, your device can easily be stolen, misplaced, or damaged. They may be easily replaceable, but the data contained in them may not. Having completely backed up data on your devices helps prevent a minor inconvenience from turning into a disastrous situation.

Backup options

Performing backups in iPhone and Android devices is a seamless process. Their operating systems require only minimal effort from users, and backing up entails nothing more than logging into their Apple or Google account. However, other users have different devices with different operating systems, slightly complicating the process.

Mobile devices’ safety is essential to business continuity plans. So whether your office users are tied to a single operating system or prefer different devices, there are options to back up all your organization’s mobile devices. There are cloud backup services that enable syncing of all devices and that back up files, contacts, photos, videos, and other critical files in one neat backup system. These mobile backup tools are offered on monthly or lifetime subscription schemes, which provides small businesses with enough flexibility to ensure protection.

Mobile phones have become so ubiquitous to how people function that many feel the need to have two or more phones, mostly to have one for personal use and another for business. With all these options on hand, there’s no excuse for not backing up data on your mobile devices.

Our experts can provide practical advice on security for your business’s computers and mobile devices. Call us for mobile backup and other security solutions today.

Posted in Business, General Articles A | Tagged , , , , | Comments closed

An essential checklist for WordPress users

170px_shutterstock_387379513Wake up. Take a shower. Get dressed. These are just some of the numerous tasks we do every single day. They may not be fun, but they are essential to our daily routine. Managing a website is very much the same. By going through the necessary steps, you can ensure the speed and security of your website. Also, it doesn’t take long to complete!

Make backups
It’s crucial that you perform a daily offsite backup of your WordPress files and database. This ensures data security in the event of a network breach or natural disaster and facilitates the resumption of your business’s regular operations. Although plugins like BackUpWordPress and hosting servers like SiteGround automate the backup process, you should still perform manual backups.

Verify backups
Not only should you be making backups, you should also be verifying them. By doing so, you are making sure that the backed up files are going where they are supposed to, and backups are being restored. The last thing you need is a failed backup strategy on the day you need it most!

Daily security reports
If you ask any cybersecurity expert, “Is it crucial to maintain a daily network security report?” the answer will be a resounding YES. While you might not have enough time to carry out thorough inspections and create these reports yourself, you can rely on security monitoring services like Securi. Not only does it carry out the inspections, it sends an SMS notification of any suspicious activity and even emails you a daily status report.

Malware scans
Cybercriminals are growing in both number and sophistication. With every passing day, new strains of malware are developed and released onto small- or medium-sized businesses. Unless you are a bonafide hacker yourself, detecting malware might be a little tricky. WordPress plugins like Wordfence keeps your website safe using the latest firewall rules, malware signatures, and malicious IP addresses.

Speed audits
Slow and steady might be qualities valued by some, but not so much for your website. Plugins like Google PageSpeed Insights test how fast your site loads. Because if it takes more than five seconds, you should consider implementing caching and other measures to speed up your site. Slow sites put off visitors and lower search rankings.

Review your site
For this step, sit down with an impartial friend and let them explore your website. A fresh pair of eyes might highlight issues you might have overlooked, such as forgetting to update the copyright date in your footer.

Forbes, National Geographic, and The New York Times are all powered by WordPress, which means you are in good company. By sticking to the checklist, you too can harness the power of this online, open-source website creation tool. Or, instead of signing up for half a dozen services that need daily check-ins, why not have us take care of all of it for you? If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to send us an email or give us a call!

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