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Don’t Be Fooled by Rising Extortion Email Scams

by Nick Volpe

Over the past few years, there has been a rise in extortion email scams. In short, these are from individuals who say that they have an embarrassing video of the person receiving the email. Are these true? What can you do?

First, the scammer will threaten to send the video, or other embarrassing evidence, to contacts from your email address book. However, if you pay a fee to the scammer, they say that they will not send the message. Yet, the truth is that the scammer is just out for the money. Chances are that they did not actually hacked your computer or capture any information.

 

Ultimately, this trend of extortion email scams is not new; it is just the latest chapter in online email scams.

However, there are some new aspects to this latest threat. The scammers are using publicly available databases of leaked information. Possibly, these databases can be from high-profile data breaches such as LinkedIn, Yahoo, Equifax, and others.

Realistically, private information including email addresses and passwords are likely out there on the dark web. Now, they are being included in these email scams to give the impression of credibility.

Fundamentally, if you see your password in an email threatening you, the hope is that you will react quicker. Don’t be fooled!

Plus, if you want to read more, check out this article.

Whether this scam or another, contact us to learn how IT Edge can help.

PC Backup: Are you as safe as you think?

by Nick Volpe

PC Backup image

 

Your PC backup is just as important as the data itself. Ransomware, phishing, and user error are all risks to your data. We care about your business network, and we want to make sure that you are checking data backups daily. It is critically important that an appointed individual in your business is checking the backups daily and alerting your IT designee when issues arise. Backups are often the only means of recovery, specifically in the event of server failure, virus infection, accidental deletion or lost data, etc.

3-2-1 Backup Strategy

The 3-2-1 PC backup strategy is a key element in understanding a well-planned backup solution. It involves three functions: 3 copies of your data, 2 different mediums, 1 offsite. When considering different options, it is best to plan out your solutions. Ultimately, this will lead to a much better outcome in the long-run. When it comes to IT consulting and backup support, our team has you covered. Although some businesses may not think that they have a lot of data storage, you may be surprised. All of your billing, client lists, and email histories could be at stake.

3 Copies of Your Data

You should have no less than 3 copies of all of your data at any one time. One is the original data and the other two are backup copies. With multiple backup copies of your data, you can have much more peace of mind. Are you doing all you can to make sure that your most important data is kept safe? Ultimately, it is always worth it to take the safe route when it comes to your data.

2 Different Mediums

Keep your backups on different mediums such as a cloud-based backup and a local NAS storage device. That way, if the NAS dies, you have the cloud-based copy or vice-versa. Hence, you are able to hedge your bets if one backup dies. If this is the case, you will be more prepared than before. This can make all the difference in the long-run. Alternatively, without the different mediums of storage, you could be left stranded in the case that one of the types of data storage fails.

1 Offsite

Always keep atleast 1 copy of the data offsite at all times in the event there is a fire, flood, theft, or disaster, you have a copy somewhere else. The best option is cloud-based backup but even a NAS drive that is stored in another location is sufficient. What happens in the case of this physical disaster? Your important data is perfectly fine, elsewhere, out of the firing line of any danger. We can’t think of a better solution!

Contact US for a PC Backup Strategy today

Please take a moment now to find out how your backup is monitored and contact us to discuss your needs. If you are not 100% sure of where you stand or need a new strategy or solution for your business, call us.

What You Need to Know About Email Phishing

by Nick Volpe

Email phishing attacks are on the rise. How can you be protect yourself?

What is Email Phishing?

Fundamentally, email phishing is a method used by bad-guys. Their intent is to trick and bait email users. Plus, it tricks them so that they share confidential information or downloading malware to their computer. Usually, the email looks like it is from a legitimate or trusted sender. This is done in order to gain your trust or to trick you into action.

In the earlier days, the most common phishing attempts were Microsoft emails. Alternatively, they were emails from package tracking companies informing you of an upcoming delivery. More recently, however they are using more sophisticated methods to tricking you into trusting the emails.

Spear Phishing

This type of email phishing is a targeted attack. Honestly, generic phishing scams will send out thousands or millions of unsolicited emails to anyone and everyone.

Yet, with spear phishing, the scammers will use more sophisticated methods.

When sent, these are intended to get specific information from a specific group.

For example, a scammer may have gotten your email address from a compromised banking database. Then, they can use that information to send an email and spear phish your banking log-in information.

CEO Fraud

Realistically, this is one of the biggest growing and dangerous threats.

CEO fraud is a type of spear phishing where a scammer will spoof the email of a business leader or someone of authority in your company.

They request that someone else in the company, usually in accounting, wire money to a fraudulent bank account under the guise of a legitimate business transaction.

Ransomware

Not so much a type of phishing, this is often the goal of a phishing scam. Often, a scammer will send an email with an attachment or link to an infected file.

That file will download, usually in the background, a ransomware variant with the intent of encrypting data. This is very dangerous!

A common example is a fake resume sent to an HR department. The HR rep downloads the Word document or fake zip file which then runs a macro infecting the computer/network with ransomware.

What does it look like?

Here are some common phishing email examples:

Email phishing image    Image result for phishing email

What can I do?

  1. Check out this quiz from our partner to get some good practice with spotting common email phishing techniques.
  2. Make sure you change your email account password regularly. This can be done with a very secure password using the following guidelines:
    • 12+ characters in length
    • combination of uppercase and lowercase letters
    • use multiple numbers
    • use multiple symbols
    • refrain from the use of dictionary words or guessable words or numbers like your birthday or dogs name
  3. Do not click on links in emails. Any reputable company will allow you to call them to confirm. Or, you’ll type in their website address manually versus clicking a suspect link in an email.

Connect with our team to learn more!

Office 365: 4-step migration process

by Nick Volpe

Last time, I discussed the benefits of implementing Office 365 in your organization. In this article, I will explain the migration process to Office 365 from various mail system types.

Step 1: Planning and Scheduling

To have a successful migration, we need planning and a timeline. This is not typically something that can happen in 1 day. It takes a few days of planning and strategy. Not all migrations are the same and some have personality. However, we can generally plan around unexpected or unique cases.

To start, we will figure out exactly how many mailboxes need to be moved over. Then, we’ll get an idea of what devices need to be setup for email to calculate how much time the process will take. Exchange migrations are simplest. POP/IMAP migrations involve manually uploading through Outlook to the new account(s).

Step 2: Making Domain/DNS Changes

Once we have the timing figured out, we’ll login to the domain name registrar or DNS host to make the needed changes and “flip the switch” so to speak. This will start routing emails to Office 365 instead of your old mail system. The internet propagation takes a bit of time so we then typically wait a few hours. This is the quickest part of the process but is the most crucial.

Step 3: Migrate Emails

Coming from Exchange, we would have already begun this step in tandem with Step 2 but typically we would do a final push of data to the new service.  Coming from other mail systems, we would at this point, login to your computers and upload email data to Office 365 manually. This step also involves various tweaks so you don’t notice the difference. This includes setting email signatures, auto-complete history in Outlook, and adjusting Outlook settings appropriately.

Step 4: Wrap Up

In the final step, we will work with the client to get mobile devices configured for the new system and work on any follow-up tasks.  We will also evaluate if there are any new features that can be implemented to increase productivity and convenience like shared calendars or cloud file storage with OneDrive.

Office 365: The best way to do email in business

by Nick Volpe

Office 365Email is still a very important business productivity tool. Most businesses rely on it heavily for communication. In some cases, it’s an archive of information and interactions. Although it is a very old technology, the wheel is still being refined. IT Edge has been migrating clients to new and better email solutions to fit their needs since the 90’s. Office 365 is Microsoft’s cloud platform and software subscription service. We will discuss what the benefits are to moving your email service to it. In a future article, I’ll explain how the process works.

Benefits

Approximately 50,000 small businesses move to Office 365 each month. The numbers, and our experience, show that it is a very reliable and robust email solution. If you are currently on a basic POP or IMAP email service, the benefits should will be significant.  Are you using Microsoft Outlook or syncing your email to your iPhone or Android device? Exchange is a powerful mail system that will keep everything in sync.  It can handle gigabytes and gigabytes of emails and calendar data.  Plus, it is Microsoft hosts the service in its vast datacenters so you don’t have to worry about security and redundancy.

Exchange was designed around Outlook. Everything you love to do in Outlook will work, and in many cases, work better for you.  If you are one of the many companies that has an in-house Small Business or Exchange server, you will no longer have to worry about email outages when your server goes down or power outages.  With Office 365, if your internet or power goes out, hop over to your neighborhood Panera Bread or Starbucks and you are back in business.

Next Steps

Now that you know some of the benefits, give us a call to discuss more. Next time, I will explain the process of migrating. It’s not as bad as you think!

Recent Remote Access Security Concerns

Remote Access Security image

Is your remote access security up to par? Many of you use Microsoft VPN and/or Microsoft Remote Desktop products to connect directly with your PCs or servers.

We have seen a dramatic increase in hacking attempts targeting both styles of connection. In light of these events, we are recommending that you take certain steps to safeguard against these attacks. This will thereby increase your network’s security.

The Client For You

One of the best solutions available is Sonicwall’s SSL VPN client. The Sonicwall appliance handles the VPN authentication tasks, instead of your server. Your PC, laptop, iPad, iPhone, Android, Apple computer, etc. connects using a small, locally installed software client.

Fundamentally, you benefit from a more secure version of VPN encryption. Plus, you also take advantage of multi-factor authentication by means of a separate user account and password for the VPN connection. SSL VPN credentials are separately maintained on the Sonicwall appliance. We encourage the use of unique passwords for a higher level of security.

The Sonicwall router also allow us to restrict certain inbound traffic to commonly used business ports. This is done by identifying a source address or source network. A good example of this is an on-premise Exchange server. We disallow all traffic inbound on port 25, unless the source of the traffic is coming from our SPAM and virus filtering solution.

Is There Another Way?

Alternatively, you can address this issue by moving away from Microsoft VPN / Remote Desktop. You can move to a 3rd party service like GoToMyPC or LogMeIn. Experience has shown that most individuals prefer Remote Desktop over these products for a variety of reasons. Some of these are the speed of access to their business network.

Ultimately, our goal is to increase security while maintaining functional access to business technologies that you currently use. If you do not own a Sonicwall, we can work with you to replace the existing firewall/router in your office to achieve these goals.

We’d encourage you to reach out to your account lead to discuss the particulars of your setup. That way, we can accurately advise on the best way to handle your unique situation. Remote access security should be a priority!

Ransomware – Stricken Client is Back in Business in Less Than 24 Hours

Ransomware – Stricken Client is Back in Business in Less Than 24 Hours

Ransomware is a possible danger to any individual or small business. Are you properly protected?

Ransomware Attack image

A small customer with a peer-to-peer server called in on Wednesday 12/27. The customer said that he opened a virus and all of his data is encrypted and inaccessible. This could be detrimental to any business. Ultimately, this could put a hold on all of your data and information.

What is the solution to this ransomware attack?

Our IT Edge team connected remotely into the machine immediately. We determined that he had not been checking his onsite backup, and the last backup is from October 2015. On the same day, we got the server & backup drive back to our shop and installed a new hard drive. Was this the solution?

Then, we restored the system from the old 2015 full image backup. Hence, this made the system look like it did in 2015. Luckily, the customer had done a backup of their accounting software recently. So, we were able to restore from the previous week.

Afterwards, while carefully examining the infected drive, we discovered that the Outlook data file somehow did not get encrypted. Our team arrived at the customer’s location first thing Thursday morning to deliver the good news. We had him fully operational by 9 AM.

It’s important that your IT provider can get you back up and running quickly when disaster strikes. We have the experience to support you quickly when needed most. Connect with our team to learn how you can get some peace of mind today.

QuickBooks Enterprise: Staying in Tip-Top Shape

by Nick Volpe

QuickBooks Enterprise: Staying in Tip-Top Shape

QuickBooks Enterprise West Chester, PA

Do you use QuickBooks Enterprise software? If so, we suggest taking these steps on a regular basis. Ultimately, these will assist in an effort to avoid data corruption issues.

Fundamentally, our team at IT Edge has found that, over time, QuickBooks data can become corrupt. Yet, by running the ‘Rebuild’ function, you are having QuickBooks Enterprise repair itself. Hence, the preferred steps are as follows:

  1. Get all other users out of QB
  2. Switch to Single User Mode
  3. Go to File > Utilities > Rebuild
  4. It will force you to make a backup, so please do so.
  5. When it’s done, go to File > Utilities > Verify Data

If that comes back with no errors, you are done. However, if you get errors, repeat the Rebuild and Verify functions. We have seen it take 2 rebuilds in some instances to fix things completely. We recommend running this weekly or worst case, monthly.

Data means success. When it comes to QuickBooks, your money is on the line, too. To ensure that your QuickBooks Enterprise data is healthy, consider reaching out to the experts. Prevent that all-important data from becoming corrupted!

If you would like assistance, or have any questions, let us know and we’ll get it scheduled.

Set Up for REMAX Software in Newtown

by Bob Kwiatkowski

Set Up for REMAX Software in Newtown

Remax Software image

REMAX software is vital, too! IT Edge just finished the installation of a new file server and Active Directory domain controller for REMAX Properties, LTD. in Newtown, Pennsylvania.

We’ve been supporting this office since 1998. This is when we met Doug and Chris Terry for the first time. They are a terrific group to work with, both for REMAX software and hardware.

Today, many of the software programs used by the company are cloud-based solutions. However, there is a new SQL-based application. This requires a significantly faster server than the office previously employed.

Chris and I worked together to purpose-build a new Dell server. This new server would fulfill the needs of the company over the next 5-6 years. In addition to the new program, QuickOffice, the new server took the place of the old one. It took over as the networks Active Directory domain controller, Quickbooks server, and file server.

This increased overall speed, for sure. Yet another example of a business that could improve efficiency.

During the installation close-out, we installed a 48 port gigabit Netgear switch and 2TB Buffalo NAS. This was able to improve the overall speed of the network and provide in-house backup solutions, respectively.

Your business could improve from industry-specific software, too. Connect with our team to learn how.

Contractor Software Set Up for Brandywine Valley Concrete

by Walt Ball

Contractor Software Set Up for Brandywine Valley Concrete

Contractor software image

Fundamentally, contractor software is key to any contracting business. Hence, the team at IT Edge just assisted Brandywine Valley Concrete. They are a concrete contractor based out of Downingtown, PA. As many long-standing companies are aware, a working office can be the difference between efficiency and a frustrating experience. Hence, we took steps to ensure that a client could have the most productive workday possible. How did we do this?

First, BVC was a 10 user office, basically running standalone on each computer. Then, We successfully upgraded the workstations to the Pro version of Windows. Plus, we installed a new server to run their Sage Accounting and Estimating software. This waved in a new age of efficiency and productivity for the workplace.

Software Setup with Wiring Included

In addition, we added to the existing wiring. Our team was able to get all users and printers to wired connections. Now, nearly all of their daily computer issues are gone. We were grateful for the latitude we were given to do the job right. Afterwards, they can perform their daily functions without daily issues. Plus, they could rest assured that their wiring was taking care of – all new and ready to go.

They know that they have a reliable company for support as needed in the future. Next, our team will assist with purchasing a domain name and having consistent email for all their users. Realistically, every company has a need for proper IT support. Contractor software and hardware increases effectiveness in the workplace. Plus, it reduces frustrations! Ultimately, there is little substitution for making the work environment a better place to be, especially when it comes to small businesses. You want all of your employees to know exactly what they’re walking into on a day-to-day basis, especially when it comes to something as essential as their computer or other tech.

Honestly, making the choice on the best IT solutions can be a tough decision. Figuring out how to upgrade your systems can be difficult! That’s why you should reach out to an experienced team. At IT Edge, we have done this time and time again. Each time, the businesses come out the other side on top.

Are you interested in learning how your company could benefit from contractor software or hardware solutions? Reach out to our team today.