Gmail tricks for effective email management

2016May_Google_BThere are a lot of web-based email platforms in the marketplace. Many come and go, but there’s a reason Gmail has crossed the 1 billion monthly active user milestone and is still standing strong as one of the world’s most popular web-based email clients. It’s extremely easy to use and is always up-to-date and secure, courtesy of Google. But if you’re just using Gmail for sending and receiving emails, you’re really missing out on some of its nifty features that allow you to manage your email more effectively. Here are some tips to make the most of Gmail.

Unsend emails

Ever had that moment when you’re in a hurry to type up an email and send it off only to notice a few seconds later there were a couple of mistakes? Maybe you’ve forgotten to attach a file or misspelled a word. Heck, you may have even sent it to the wrong recipient! Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. This is the moment where Gmail’s ‘Undo Send’ feature will become your new best friend. You can activate this by clicking on the gear icon on the top right hand corner of Gmail, then go to Settings. Scroll down to Undo Send and hit the Enable box. Now you have up to 30 seconds to click the ‘Undo’ button that will pop up once your email’s been sent.

Create to-do lists

Gmail provides an easy way to create a task list that you can use to keep track of all the things you have to do in a minimizable window. This way you won’t have to send yourself an email and clutter your inbox every time you need to remind yourself to do something. Adding a to-do list is easy; simply click the Mail menu in the upper left corner of the Gmail window and choose Tasks. A small window will appear in the bottom right corner of the page, and here you can type in your tasks and check the boxes once you’ve completed each of them.

Prioritize emails

Some emails are too important to be buried in a crowded inbox. This is where you can use Gmail’s Star feature to your advantage. Adding stars is a way to single out emails that need to be read later or require a follow-up. You might already know that clicking the yellow star beside the email will highlight the line and makes the message easier to find. But there’s a way to take things up a notch. Navigate to Settings and scroll down to the Stars section. Here you can drag the stars from the ‘Not in use’ row up to the ‘In use’ row to make them active. Once you’re done, hit Save. You could use the blue star for emails that need a follow-up, red for problems, question mark for the ones that require clarification and so on.

Use canned responses

Have you ever had to answer the same questions sent by clients over and over again? Well you’re in luck. Gmail has a productive hack that allows you to create and send off repetitive messages in just a few clicks. Activate it by heading over to Settings, Labs and click the Enable button in the Canned Responses tab. Now type up a response email. Click the arrow in the lower right corner of the message box and select Canned responses. You can add common phrases, sentences or email bodies that you find yourself using a lot, whether for marketing inquiries, sales pitches or client requests.

With these Gmail features you can save time, get more things done and become more productive. If you want to learn more about Gmail or any other Google apps, please get in touch with us today.

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Master your messages with these Gmail hacks

2016May_Google_AGmail has become a powerful email option for businesses since it can be attached to your domain. Easy to use, accessible from anywhere and always up-to-date, it has a lot to offer business users. But if you only use Gmail to send and receive emails, you’re barely scratching the surface of its true capabilities and lesser known features. Here we’ve listed some of the most useful Gmail tricks that will help you take full advantage of what Gmail has to offer beyond sending and receiving messages.

Unsend emails

Ever had that moment when you’re in a hurry to type up an email and send it off only to notice a few seconds later there were a couple of mistakes? Maybe you’ve forgotten to attach a file or misspelled a word. Heck, you may have even sent it to the wrong recipient! Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. This is the moment where Gmail’s ‘Undo Send’ feature will become your new best friend. You can activate this by clicking on the gear icon on the top right hand corner of Gmail, then go to Settings. Scroll down to Undo Send and hit the Enable box. Now you have up to 30 seconds to click the ‘Undo’ button that will pop up once your email’s been sent.

Create to-do lists

Gmail provides an easy way to create a task list that you can use to keep track of all the things you have to do in a minimizable window. This way you won’t have to send yourself an email and clutter your inbox every time you need to remind yourself to do something. Adding a to-do list is easy; simply click the Mail menu in the upper left corner of the Gmail window and choose Tasks. A small window will appear in the bottom right corner of the page, and here you can type in your tasks and check the boxes once you’ve completed each of them.

Prioritize emails

Some emails are too important to be buried in a crowded inbox. This is where you can use Gmail’s Star feature to your advantage. Adding stars is a way to single out emails that need to be read later or require a follow-up. You might already know that clicking the yellow star beside the email will highlight the line and makes the message easier to find. But there’s a way to take things up a notch. Navigate to Settings and scroll down to the Stars section. Here you can drag the stars from the ‘Not in use’ row up to the ‘In use’ row to make them active. Once you’re done, hit Save. You could use the blue star for emails that need a follow-up, red for problems, question mark for the ones that require clarification and so on.

Use canned responses

Have you ever had to answer the same questions sent by clients over and over again? Well you’re in luck. Gmail has a productive hack that allows you to create and send off repetitive messages in just a few clicks. Activate it by heading over to Settings, Labs and click the Enable button in the Canned Responses tab. Now type up a response email. Click the arrow in the lower right corner of the message box and select Canned responses. You can add common phrases, sentences or email bodies that you find yourself using a lot, whether for marketing inquiries, sales pitches or client requests.

With these Gmail features you can save time, get more things done and become more productive. If you want to learn more about Gmail or any other Google apps, please get in touch with us today.

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4 brilliant Gmail tips to optimize your inbox

Email concept with laptop ang girl handsIt’s not a stretch to say that Gmail is one of the best and most popular email services in the world, having over 1 billion monthly active users. With powerful tools that allow you to gain control of your inbox, Gmail has become the platform of choice to both business and individual users. While Gmail is already great, there are many little-known features that will help empower your email experience and make sure that you’re getting the most out of your accounts. We’ve compiled some of them right here.

Unsend emails

Ever had that moment when you’re in a hurry to type up an email and send it off only to notice a few seconds later there were a couple of mistakes? Maybe you’ve forgotten to attach a file or misspelled a word. Heck, you may have even sent it to the wrong recipient! Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. This is the moment where Gmail’s ‘Undo Send’ feature will become your new best friend. You can activate this by clicking on the gear icon on the top right hand corner of Gmail, then go to Settings. Scroll down to Undo Send and hit the Enable box. Now you have up to 30 seconds to click the ‘Undo’ button that will pop up once your email’s been sent.

Create to-do lists

Gmail provides an easy way to create a task list that you can use to keep track of all the things you have to do in a minimizable window. This way you won’t have to send yourself an email and clutter your inbox every time you need to remind yourself to do something. Adding a to-do list is easy; simply click the Mail menu in the upper left corner of the Gmail window and choose Tasks. A small window will appear in the bottom right corner of the page, and here you can type in your tasks and check the boxes once you’ve completed each of them.

Prioritize emails

Some emails are too important to be buried in a crowded inbox. This is where you can use Gmail’s Star feature to your advantage. Adding stars is a way to single out emails that need to be read later or require a follow-up. You might already know that clicking the yellow star beside the email will highlight the line and makes the message easier to find. But there’s a way to take things up a notch. Navigate to Settings and scroll down to the Stars section. Here you can drag the stars from the ‘Not in use’ row up to the ‘In use’ row to make them active. Once you’re done, hit Save. You could use the blue star for emails that need a follow-up, red for problems, question mark for the ones that require clarification and so on.

Use canned responses

Have you ever had to answer the same questions sent by clients over and over again? Well you’re in luck. Gmail has a productive hack that allows you to create and send off repetitive messages in just a few clicks. Activate it by heading over to Settings, Labs and click the Enable button in the Canned Responses tab. Now type up a response email. Click the arrow in the lower right corner of the message box and select Canned responses. You can add common phrases, sentences or email bodies that you find yourself using a lot, whether for marketing inquiries, sales pitches or client requests.

With these Gmail features you can save time, get more things done and become more productive. If you want to learn more about Gmail or any other Google apps, please get in touch with us today.

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How to more efficiently use your Android data

2016Apr29_AndroidPhone_CYou rely on your Android’s mobile data plan to read and send emails, keep up with local news and stay in touch with business colleagues. That’s why it’s so frustrating when your data runs out. You feel disconnected from the world and your business while on the go. So what can you do to reduce your data usage without disrupting your normal Internet activities on the go? Here are some ideas.

Data Saver for Chrome

We all know surfing the web sucks up data. But did you know there’s a way to reduce the amount of it used while riding the Internet waves? Google Chrome enables you to do just that by compressing Chrome pages, reducing data use by 30-35%. To activate this feature, press the three dots on your Chrome browser > Settings > Data Saver. Switch it on here, and start saving data now.

Video Compression on Opera

Google Chrome isn’t the only browser with a compressing feature that saves data. The Opera mini browser also compresses data, but with video instead. Of course, if you’re trying to save data it’s a good idea to avoid streaming video while not connected to Wi-Fi, but if you must do so, follow these steps on your Opera mini browser to load videos faster while saving data: go to Settings > Data Savings and tick the video compression box.

Eighty-six Facebook and other data-draining apps

This extremely bloated app has caused multiple problems for Android users. Not only has it been linked to causing Android phone slowdown, but it also consumes a ton of data. A few alternative ways to access Facebook sans the application are to use the web app Tinfoil or via your Google Chrome web browser.

And while we’re on the subject of applications, consider deleting other apps that consume high amounts of data. Of course you likely have dozens of apps on your phone, so how do you know what’s consuming the most? Simply go to Settings > Data usage. From here you can see what apps are consuming the most data and delete them if you so choose.

Restrict background data

If there ever was a nemesis to data usage, it would be background data. This pesky feature of Android consumes data when you’re not browsing the web or using an app. To prevent this from happening, click Settings > Data Usage > Restrict Background Data.

Mind your auto-updates

Just because a new version of an app is available doesn’t mean you should update it right now. Doing so when not connected to Wi-Fi eats up a lot of data, which is why it’s important to turn off auto-updates because when switched on your apps will update automatically regardless of whether you’re connected to a Wi-Fi signal or simply using data. So set your Android to only update in the presence of Wi-Fi by going to Google Play Store > Settings > Auto Update Apps > Auto-update Apps over Wi-Fi Only.

Hold-off on streaming music

We know you love streaming music on YouTube, Spotify, and similar sites but, let’s be honest, this is killing your data. There’s nothing wrong with streaming music from these sites in and of itself, simply wait till you can connect to Wi-Fi to do so. In the meantime, listen to music you have stored on your phone to get your tunes in.

Take your apps offline

Many apps provide an option to access them offline without consuming any data. Google Docs is a prime example. You can choose which documents you’d like to access while not connected to the Internet. Make it a habit to check which of your apps have offline access options and enable that setting whenever possible.

Saving data on your Android device is not rocket science. Most of the time you simply need to be a bit more conscious of your online activities, and you can save a tremendous amount of data in the process. Hopefully these tips will help you do just that. If you’d like to learn how else you can improve your Android devices, get in touch with our experts now.

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Reduce data usage on your Android device

2016Apr29_AndroidPhone_BIt’s the middle of the month and you’re waiting to meet a colleague outside a restaurant. As you wait, you idly browse the web and check emails, and then suddenly you’re hit with the notification you dread most. Your Android phone’s data is almost out. Questions race through your mind…how will I make it through the last couple of weeks with limited data? Should I buy more? Should I just suck it up and use the slower connection once it’s gone? Let’s face it, these are all questions you want to avoid. And here’s how you can do just that with some tips to save data on your Android phone.

Data Saver for Chrome

We all know surfing the web sucks up data. But did you know there’s a way to reduce the amount of it used while riding the Internet waves? Google Chrome enables you to do just that by compressing Chrome pages, reducing data use by 30-35%. To activate this feature, press the three dots on your Chrome browser > Settings > Data Saver. Switch it on here, and start saving data now.

Video Compression on Opera

Google Chrome isn’t the only browser with a compressing feature that saves data. The Opera mini browser also compresses data, but with video instead. Of course, if you’re trying to save data it’s a good idea to avoid streaming video while not connected to Wi-Fi, but if you must do so, follow these steps on your Opera mini browser to load videos faster while saving data: go to Settings > Data Savings and tick the video compression box.

Eighty-six Facebook and other data-draining apps

This extremely bloated app has caused multiple problems for Android users. Not only has it been linked to causing Android phone slowdown, but it also consumes a ton of data. A few alternative ways to access Facebook sans the application are to use the web app Tinfoil or via your Google Chrome web browser.

And while we’re on the subject of applications, consider deleting other apps that consume high amounts of data. Of course you likely have dozens of apps on your phone, so how do you know what’s consuming the most? Simply go to Settings > Data usage. From here you can see what apps are consuming the most data and delete them if you so choose.

Restrict background data

If there ever was a nemesis to data usage, it would be background data. This pesky feature of Android consumes data when you’re not browsing the web or using an app. To prevent this from happening, click Settings > Data Usage > Restrict Background Data.

Mind your auto-updates

Just because a new version of an app is available doesn’t mean you should update it right now. Doing so when not connected to Wi-Fi eats up a lot of data, which is why it’s important to turn off auto-updates because when switched on your apps will update automatically regardless of whether you’re connected to a Wi-Fi signal or simply using data. So set your Android to only update in the presence of Wi-Fi by going to Google Play Store > Settings > Auto Update Apps > Auto-update Apps over Wi-Fi Only.

Hold-off on streaming music

We know you love streaming music on YouTube, Spotify, and similar sites but, let’s be honest, this is killing your data. There’s nothing wrong with streaming music from these sites in and of itself, simply wait till you can connect to Wi-Fi to do so. In the meantime, listen to music you have stored on your phone to get your tunes in.

Take your apps offline

Many apps provide an option to access them offline without consuming any data. Google Docs is a prime example. You can choose which documents you’d like to access while not connected to the Internet. Make it a habit to check which of your apps have offline access options and enable that setting whenever possible.

Saving data on your Android device is not rocket science. Most of the time you simply need to be a bit more conscious of your online activities, and you can save a tremendous amount of data in the process. Hopefully these tips will help you do just that. If you’d like to learn how else you can improve your Android devices, get in touch with our experts now.

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How to reduce data usage for Android devices

2016Apr29_AndroidPhone_AWhat happens when the data well runs dry? Your 2, 3 or 4 gig plan is out, and then what? While you’d probably rather not think about it, we all know you’re either forced to use a slower connection or connect to the Internet through Wi-Fi. Certainly this is not the worse thing that could happen to you, but for many Android phone users it’s a scenario you want to avoid at all costs. So how can you reduce your data usage while still getting the most out of it? Here are a few tips to consider.

Data Saver for Chrome

We all know surfing the web sucks up data. But did you know there’s a way to reduce the amount of it used while riding the Internet waves? Google Chrome enables you to do just that by compressing Chrome pages, reducing data use by 30-35%. To activate this feature, press the three dots on your Chrome browser > Settings > Data Saver. Switch it on here, and start saving data now.

Video Compression on Opera

Google Chrome isn’t the only browser with a compressing feature that saves data. The Opera mini browser also compresses data, but with video instead. Of course, if you’re trying to save data it’s a good idea to avoid streaming video while not connected to Wi-Fi, but if you must do so, follow these steps on your Opera mini browser to load videos faster while saving data: go to Settings > Data Savings and tick the video compression box.

Eighty-six Facebook and other data-draining apps

This extremely bloated app has caused multiple problems for Android users. Not only has it been linked to causing Android phone slowdown, but it also consumes a ton of data. A few alternative ways to access Facebook sans the application are to use the web app Tinfoil or via your Google Chrome web browser.

And while we’re on the subject of applications, consider deleting other apps that consume high amounts of data. Of course you likely have dozens of apps on your phone, so how do you know what’s consuming the most? Simply go to Settings > Data usage. From here you can see what apps are consuming the most data and delete them if you so choose.

Restrict background data

If there ever was a nemesis to data usage, it would be background data. This pesky feature of Android consumes data when you’re not browsing the web or using an app. To prevent this from happening, click Settings > Data Usage > Restrict Background Data.

Mind your auto-updates

Just because a new version of an app is available doesn’t mean you should update it right now. Doing so when not connected to Wi-Fi eats up a lot of data, which is why it’s important to turn off auto-updates because when switched on your apps will update automatically regardless of whether you’re connected to a Wi-Fi signal or simply using data. So set your Android to only update in the presence of Wi-Fi by going to Google Play Store > Settings > Auto Update Apps > Auto-update Apps over Wi-Fi Only.

Hold-off on streaming music

We know you love streaming music on YouTube, Spotify, and similar sites but, let’s be honest, this is killing your data. There’s nothing wrong with streaming music from these sites in and of itself, simply wait till you can connect to Wi-Fi to do so. In the meantime, listen to music you have stored on your phone to get your tunes in.

Take your apps offline

Many apps provide an option to access them offline without consuming any data. Google Docs is a prime example. You can choose which documents you’d like to access while not connected to the Internet. Make it a habit to check which of your apps have offline access options and enable that setting whenever possible.

Saving data on your Android device is not rocket science. Most of the time you simply need to be a bit more conscious of your online activities, and you can save a tremendous amount of data in the process. Hopefully these tips will help you do just that. If you’d like to learn how else you can improve your Android devices, get in touch with our experts now.

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Understand these 4 types of hackers

2016Apr28_Security_CWhy do hackers attack? Is it for money, notoriety, or political reasons? Many business owners never ask these questions, and instead only think about the means of how a cyber attack takes place. But knowing the motive behind a hacker’s attack can help you understand whether or not you’re a target and what data you need to protect. So let’s take a closer look at 4 different types of hackers and their motives.

Script Kiddies

When it comes to skill level, Script Kiddies are at the bottom of the totem pole and often use scripts or other automated tools they did not write themselves – hence the name. With only an elementary level of technical knowhow, Script Kiddies usually don’t cause much damage…usually. The Script Kiddy virus known as the Love Bug which sent out an email with the subject-line “I LOVE YOU” fooled millions of people, including some in the Pentagon, in the early 2000’s. The virus reportedly caused around 10 billion in lost productivity and digital damage.

So who is a Script Kiddie? Most of the time they’re simply bored youth looking for a thrill or notoriety. Many never evolve into a full-time hacker, and instead just use their skills as a hobby. Oddly enough, many Script Kiddies find a career later on working in the security industry.

Hacktivist

If you’ve heard of Anonymous, LulzSec or AntiSec, then you’re familiar with Hacktivists. These groups are made up of members of varying skill levels, all the way from Script Kiddies to some of the most talented hackers in the world. Their mission is largely politically motivated as they aim to embarrass their targets or disrupt their operations, whether that be a business or government body. Two of the most common ways they attack their target are by stealing sensitive information and exposing it or denial of service (DDoS) where a server is overloaded till it finally crashes.

As a small or medium-sized business owner you are not necessarily immune to Hacktivist disruption. If your business or a company you’re associated/partnered with participates or provides services that can be seen as unethical, such as Ashley Madison (who fell victim of a major Hacktivist attack last year), then you too may be targeted by Hacktivists.

Cyber Criminals

Often talked about in the media and well-known by most SMBs, cyber criminals are after one thing: money. Their targets run the gamut, including everyone from individuals to small businesses to large enterprises and banks. But what do these targets usually have in common? They either have a very valuable resource to steal or their security is easy to exploit…or a combination of both of these. Cyber criminals can attack in a number of ways including using social engineering to trick users into providing sensitive information, infecting an organization/individual with ransomware or another form or malware, or exploiting weaknesses in a network.

Insiders

Perhaps the scariest type of hackers are the ones that lurk within your own organization. Insiders are made up of disgruntled employees, whistleblowers or contractors. Oftentimes their mission is payback; they want to right a wrong they believe a company has perpetrated toward them, so they’ll steal sensitive documents or try to disrupt the organization somehow. Edward Snowden is a prime example of an insider who hacked his own organization – the US government.

Now that you know what motivates your enemy, you’ll hopefully have a bit of an idea as to whether or not you’re a target. To learn more about how to secure your business from these types of hackers, get in touch with our experts today.

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4 different types of hackers

2016Apr28_Security_BHackers come in all shapes and sizes. From kids trying to gain notoriety on the Internet to political groups trying to send a message, the motives for a cyber attack vary widely. So how can you protect yourself? It all starts with getting to know your enemy a little better. Here’s a profile of four different types of hackers.

Script Kiddies

When it comes to skill level, Script Kiddies are at the bottom of the totem pole and often use scripts or other automated tools they did not write themselves – hence the name. With only an elementary level of technical knowhow, Script Kiddies usually don’t cause much damage…usually. The Script Kiddy virus known as the Love Bug which sent out an email with the subject-line “I LOVE YOU” fooled millions of people, including some in the Pentagon, in the early 2000’s. The virus reportedly caused around 10 billion in lost productivity and digital damage.

So who is a Script Kiddie? Most of the time they’re simply bored youth looking for a thrill or notoriety. Many never evolve into a full-time hacker, and instead just use their skills as a hobby. Oddly enough, many Script Kiddies find a career later on working in the security industry.

Hacktivist

If you’ve heard of Anonymous, LulzSec or AntiSec, then you’re familiar with Hacktivists. These groups are made up of members of varying skill levels, all the way from Script Kiddies to some of the most talented hackers in the world. Their mission is largely politically motivated as they aim to embarrass their targets or disrupt their operations, whether that be a business or government body. Two of the most common ways they attack their target are by stealing sensitive information and exposing it or denial of service (DDoS) where a server is overloaded till it finally crashes.

As a small or medium-sized business owner you are not necessarily immune to Hacktivist disruption. If your business or a company you’re associated/partnered with participates or provides services that can be seen as unethical, such as Ashley Madison (who fell victim of a major Hacktivist attack last year), then you too may be targeted by Hacktivists.

Cyber Criminals

Often talked about in the media and well-known by most SMBs, cyber criminals are after one thing: money. Their targets run the gamut, including everyone from individuals to small businesses to large enterprises and banks. But what do these targets usually have in common? They either have a very valuable resource to steal or their security is easy to exploit…or a combination of both of these. Cyber criminals can attack in a number of ways including using social engineering to trick users into providing sensitive information, infecting an organization/individual with ransomware or another form or malware, or exploiting weaknesses in a network.

Insiders

Perhaps the scariest type of hackers are the ones that lurk within your own organization. Insiders are made up of disgruntled employees, whistleblowers or contractors. Oftentimes their mission is payback; they want to right a wrong they believe a company has perpetrated toward them, so they’ll steal sensitive documents or try to disrupt the organization somehow. Edward Snowden is a prime example of an insider who hacked his own organization – the US government.

Now that you know what motivates your enemy, you’ll hopefully have a bit of an idea as to whether or not you’re a target. To learn more about how to secure your business from these types of hackers, get in touch with our experts today.

Posted in General Articles B, Security - News and General | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Different types of hackers defined

2016Apr28_Security_AKnow thy enemy. When it comes to hackers, most business owners get hung up on the technical and mechanical details of a cyber attack forgetting another important aspect: motive. Why are they attacking people and organizations in the first place? And who are they targeting? By answering these questions you’ll have a better understanding of what resources need the most protection in your business.

Script Kiddies

When it comes to skill level, Script Kiddies are at the bottom of the totem pole and often use scripts or other automated tools they did not write themselves – hence the name. With only an elementary level of technical knowhow, Script Kiddies usually don’t cause much damage…usually. The Script Kiddy virus known as the Love Bug which sent out an email with the subject-line “I LOVE YOU” fooled millions of people, including some in the Pentagon, in the early 2000’s. The virus reportedly caused around 10 billion in lost productivity and digital damage.

So who is a Script Kiddie? Most of the time they’re simply bored youth looking for a thrill or notoriety. Many never evolve into a full-time hacker, and instead just use their skills as a hobby. Oddly enough, many Script Kiddies find a career later on working in the security industry.

Hacktivist

If you’ve heard of Anonymous, LulzSec or AntiSec, then you’re familiar with Hacktivists. These groups are made up of members of varying skill levels, all the way from Script Kiddies to some of the most talented hackers in the world. Their mission is largely politically motivated as they aim to embarrass their targets or disrupt their operations, whether that be a business or government body. Two of the most common ways they attack their target are by stealing sensitive information and exposing it or denial of service (DDoS) where a server is overloaded till it finally crashes.

As a small or medium-sized business owner you are not necessarily immune to Hacktivist disruption. If your business or a company you’re associated/partnered with participates or provides services that can be seen as unethical, such as Ashley Madison (who fell victim of a major Hacktivist attack last year), then you too may be targeted by Hacktivists.

Cyber Criminals

Often talked about in the media and well-known by most SMBs, cyber criminals are after one thing: money. Their targets run the gamut, including everyone from individuals to small businesses to large enterprises and banks. But what do these targets usually have in common? They either have a very valuable resource to steal or their security is easy to exploit…or a combination of both of these. Cyber criminals can attack in a number of ways including using social engineering to trick users into providing sensitive information, infecting an organization/individual with ransomware or another form or malware, or exploiting weaknesses in a network.

Insiders

Perhaps the scariest type of hackers are the ones that lurk within your own organization. Insiders are made up of disgruntled employees, whistleblowers or contractors. Oftentimes their mission is payback; they want to right a wrong they believe a company has perpetrated toward them, so they’ll steal sensitive documents or try to disrupt the organization somehow. Edward Snowden is a prime example of an insider who hacked his own organization – the US government.

Now that you know what motivates your enemy, you’ll hopefully have a bit of an idea as to whether or not you’re a target. To learn more about how to secure your business from these types of hackers, get in touch with our experts today.

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Ransomware alert for healthcare practices

2016Apr27_Healthcare_ARansomware is becoming a growing problem for the healthcare industry. And with around a dozen attacks on hospitals being reported since the beginning of the year, you may be wondering just how severe the problem is. Should you be alarmed? How can you protect your practice? Here’s an inside look at how the ransomware epidemic is affecting the US and Canadian healthcare systems.

The ransomware strike on Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center on February, 5 was one of the first major attacks this year. The hospital lost control of its computer system to hackers and was forced to pay them $17,000 to regain control.

“The quickest and most efficient way to restore our systems and administrative functions was to pay the ransom and obtain the decryption key. In the best interest of restoring normal operations, we did this,” stated Allen Stefanek, president of the medical center.

Thankfully, access to Hollywood Presbyterian’s EMR system was restored on Monday February, 15, over a week after the initial attack. So what can be learned from this story? Well, it raises a very important question…

Should you pay a hacker who’s infected your system with ransomware?

It’s a vexing question, and unfortunately the consensus on the answer is split. The problem is that the ransomware is very intelligently designed. And while it may sound absurd to pay so much money to a hacker, especially when there’s no guarantee your systems will be restored, oftentimes there’s not much choice.

“The ransomware is that good. To be honest, we often advise people just to pay the ransom.” said Joseph Bonavolonta, an Assistant Special Agent of the FBI’s CYBER and Counterintelligence Program.

While Bonavolonta and other law enforcement officials have advised to pay the ransom, the US government has oddly enough said the opposite. In a release made public late last month, they noted, “Individuals or organizations are discouraged from paying the ransom, as this does not guarantee files will be released. Report instances of fraud to the FBI at the Internet Crime Complaint Center.”

The reasoning behind this argument is that by paying the ransom, you’re encouraging hackers to attack more practices.

How deep does the ransomware epidemic go?

According to Symantec’s 2015 Internet Security Breach Report, the healthcare industry had the highest number of data breaches for four years in a row and suffers 37% of all breaches that occur. In fact, last year alone there were more than 250 separate incidents of data breaches in healthcare totaling over 112 million records. And the problem doesn’t look to be getting any better as many experts believe that attacks are likely to grow in number and scale.

Why healthcare?

Hackers know that most healthcare facilities haven’t installed proper security measures to protect themselves. Hospitals have tight budgets, often emphasize convenience over security and have multiple entry points into their system, all of which makes them easy prey for cyber criminals. Of course hackers don’t breach a system just because it’s easy. They do it because there is valuable information stored inside, and healthcare facilities are ripe with info that can fetch a high price on the black market and help criminals steal a patient’s identity. The fact that the system is easier to breach just makes healthcare facilities a more alluring target

What can you do?

It all starts with paying more attention to security in general. But some tips to help any practice secure their system should include staff training that allows employees to better identify phishing emails, restriction of access to sensitive information, encryption and two factor authentication. While these are a few basic tactics you can use to get started, consulting an IT provider that specializes in healthcare security can be a wise decision that provides peace of mind and safety for your valuable data. We are happy to help your practice gain the highest level of security possible. Give us a call today to learn more.

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