Month: January 2023

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What Cybersecurity Attack Trends Should You Watch Out for in 2023?

The new year has just begun and it’s a time of renewal as we plan for the possibilities to come in 2023. It’s also a time when you need to plan for resiliency in the face of ever-present cyberattacks.

Sixty-eight percent of surveyed business leaders feel that cybersecurity risks are getting worse. They have a good reason. Attacks continue to get more sophisticated. They are also often perpetrated by large criminal organizations. These criminal groups treat these attacks like a business.

In 2021, the average number of global cyberattacks increased by 15.1%.

To protect your business in the coming year, it’s important to watch the attack trends. What new methods are hackers using? What types of attacks are increasing in volume? Knowing these things is important. It helps you better update your IT security to mitigate the risk of a data breach or malware infection.

We’ve pulled out the security crystal ball for the upcoming year. And we’ve researched what cybersecurity experts are expecting. Here are the attack trends that you need to watch out for.

Attacks on 5G Devices

The world has been buzzing about 5G for a few years. It is finally beginning to fulfill the promise of lightning-fast internet. As providers build out the infrastructure, you can expect this to be a high-attack area.

Hackers are looking to take advantage of the 5G hardware used for routers, mobile devices, and PCs. Anytime you have a new technology like this, it’s bound to have some code vulnerabilities. This is exactly what hackers are looking to exploit.

You can prepare by being aware of the firmware security in the devices you buy. This is especially true for those enabled for 5G. Some manufacturers will build better firmware security into their designs than others. Make sure to ask about this when purchasing new devices.

One-time Password (OTP) Bypass

This alarming new trend is designed to get past one of the best forms of account security. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is well-known as very effective at preventing fraudulent sign-in attempts. It can stop account takeovers even in cases where the criminal has the user’s password.

There are a few different ways that hackers try to bypass MFA. These include:

  • Reusing a token: Gaining access to a recent user OTP and trying to reuse it
  • Sharing unused tokens: The hacker uses their own account to get an OTP. Then attempts to use that OTP on a different account.
  • Leaked token: Using an OTP token leaked through a web application.
  • Password reset function: A hacker uses phishing to fool the user into resetting a password. They then trick them into handing over their OTP via text or email.

Attacks Surrounding World Events

During the pandemic, the cyberattack volume increased by approximately 600%. Large criminal hacking groups have realized that world events and disasters are lucrative.

They launch phishing campaigns for world events. Attacks come for everything from the latest hurricane or typhoon to the war in Ukraine. Unsuspecting people often fall for these scams. This is because they are often distracted by the crisis.

People need to be especially mindful of scams surrounding events like these. They will often use social engineering tactics, such as sad photos, to play on the emotions.

Smishing & Mobile Device Attacks

Mobile devices go with us just about everywhere these days. This direct connection to a potential victim is not lost on cybercriminals. Look for more mobile device-based attacks, including SMS-based phishing (“smishing”).

Many people aren’t expecting to receive fake messages to their personal numbers. But cell numbers are no longer as private as they once were. Hackers can buy lists of them online. They then craft convincing fake texts that look like shipping notices or receipts. One wrong click is all it takes for an account or data breach.

Mobile malware is also on the rise. During the first few months of 2022, malware targeted to mobile devices rose by 500%. It’s important to ensure that you have good mobile anti-malware. As well as other protections on your devices, such as a DNS filter.

Elevated Phishing Using AI & Machine Learning

These days, phishing emails are not so easy to spot. It used to be that they nearly always had spelling errors or grainy images. While some still do, most don’t.

Criminal groups elevate today’s phishing using AI and machine learning. Not only will it look identical to a real brand’s emails, but it will also come personalized. Hackers use these tactics to capture more victims. They also allow hackers to send out more targeted phishing messages in less time than in years past.

Schedule a Cybersecurity Check-Up Today

Is your business prepared for the cyber threats coming in 2022? Don’t wait to find out the hard way! Give us a call and schedule a cybersecurity check-up to stay one step ahead of the digital criminals.


Featured Image Credit

This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

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Don’t Set Yourself Up to Fail: Tips for Safer Home Security Setups

The global home security market has been growing by leaps and bounds. By 2026, experts expect the market to expand at a rate of 20.1%. This is on top of an expected increase of 21.6% from 2021 to 2022.

From Ring doorbell cams to entire home security systems, consumers want these solutions. Watching your front door from afar has never been so easy. With cloud-based video streams, homeowners can view any part of their home.

Sharing doorbell camera shots on neighborhood social media groups is now common. These home security systems also provide peace of mind at a wallet-friendly cost.

But don’t let the ease of setup fool you. Home security cameras can open your family up to risks if you don’t take precautions. Often, people are so excited to see what they can do, they don’t stop to think about device security.

There are horror stories online about hacked video cameras. This includes strangers saying disturbing things through those cameras to children.

Additionally, in 2019, Ring suffered a data breach. That breach exposed the personal data of over 3,000 Ring users. This included usernames and passwords.

It’s enough to make you reconsider your decision to add extra security. But don’t let those incidents scare you off. You can properly secure a home video camera system to ensure it’s not breached.

Here are some of the things you should do for a safe home security setup.

Make Sure Your Router is Secure

You access an IP security camera via the internet. Any commands going to the system or footage coming from it go through your router. So, you need to make sure that your router is properly secured.

Hackers breach routers so they can get to the devices connected to that network. Ensure your router security protocol is no lower than WPA2. The next generation, WPA3, is even better. These protocols govern the protection of data transmitted through the wireless network.

Give the router a strong password that is at least 12 characters long. Software can crack a password of only 8 standard characters instantly. But a 12-character password with at least one upper case letter, number, and symbol takes 34,000 years.

Change the Default Username & Password

You also need a strong password for your security system’s admin account. You should also change the default device and username. Hackers have lists of all these device defaults and use them to break into these systems.

Changing the default username and password for the device should be one of the first things you do. Otherwise, it could be mere minutes after you connect to the internet that you’re hacked.

Ensure the System Uses SSL/TLS Or Other Encryption

You don’t want the footage from your cameras transmitted for anyone to grab and watch. Make sure the security system you choose notes SSL/TLS. Or another standard encryption.

This ensures that the data cannot be intercepted and accessed. SSL is short for Secure Sockets Layer, and TLS is short for Transport Layer Security. Without a form of encryption, a hacker can easily breach your device.

Keep the Software Updated

If your security system has an automatic update feature, turn that on. Unfortunately, many users don’t think about updating their device software. This leaves it more vulnerable to a hack.

Updates often include important security fixes for found vulnerabilities. You want to make sure updates install promptly. That’s why automating this is best.

Consider Access Levels for Multiple Users

Do you have several family members accessing your cloud-based security device? If so, set up some access levels. Not everyone needs to be at an administrator level.

Hackers love it when they can breach the login of an admin user for an account. This gives them more privileges, like changing settings. Giving lower-level privileges, such as “view only,” to most family members improves security.

Enable Camera Security Features

There will be various security features that are available with your system. Manufacturers often do not enable all security settings by default. The user must turn all or some of them on.

If you’re unsure of what settings should be on or off, we’ll be happy to help. Some home security systems have generous sharing options. This can be an invitation for hackers. You want to restrict these as much as possible.

Make Sure Your Mobile Device is Secure

Most people access their security cam through their smartphone. Make sure that you secure yours and keep it updated with the latest operating system. Hackers can gain access to a security system through a device with weak safeguards.

Add things like:

  • Mobile anti-malware
  • DNS filtering
  • Screen lock
  • Automated updating

Looking for Help Protecting Your Cloud Security System?

Give us a call and schedule a visit. We’ll be happy to help you ensure your security system is set up with best practices.


Featured Image Credit

This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

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Align Your Team to Company Targets with Microsoft Viva Goals

You often hear the words “digital transformation” and “collaboration.” But what do they actually mean? What do they mean for the day-to-day of running your business?

Collaboration can’t happen without shared goals. When departments are siloed and unconnected, priorities can conflict. People are doing their best but may not be moving in the same direction.

Digital transformation is simply the use of technology to better reach business goals. This encompasses moving from analog ways of doing things. Transitioning to tools that are more automated and connected.

Microsoft has been at the forefront of digital transformation and collaboration. Its Viva platform drives an improved employee experience. It does this by use of AI, automation, cloud connectivity, and more.

In this article, you’ll get an overview of Microsoft Viva. Then, we’ll dive into one of the newest Viva offerings, Viva Goals. We’ll explore what it does and how it can help your company meet its targets.

What Is Microsoft Viva?

Microsoft Viva is a line of employee experience applications. These connect to the Microsoft 365 platform, and especially Microsoft Teams. The apps act as add-ons that can build on your organization’s digital capabilities.

There are currently seven apps within the Microsoft Viva line:

  • Viva Topics: Allows organizations to harness knowledge and experience. It serves up relevant topics from the company knowledge base from keywords.
  • Viva Connections: Gives employees a personalized and connected newsfeed. The company newsfeed serves up important news, conversations, and tools.
  • Viva Learning: Consolidates employee training apps. Makes it easy for employees to gain new skills from inside the MS Teams application.
  • Viva Insights: Improves employee well-being and corporate culture. Uses data-driven insights to provide productivity and well-being recommendations.
  • Viva Sales: Reduces the data input needed from salespeople. Serves up helpful lead interaction recommendations.
  • Viva Engage: Cultivates personal networks and community. Fosters engagement and knowledge sharing.
  • Viva Goals: Enables clarity and alignment of corporate goals.

The Viva line expands what businesses may traditionally see as “software.” It creates a connection between Microsoft Office and M365 apps. It also focuses on the people, rather than the tool. Microsoft designed Viva applications to use AI. This makes work easier and gives visibility into actionable data points.

What is Viva Goals?

Viva Goals is one of the newest Viva applications from Microsoft. It connects teams so they’re moving toward a shared set of goals. Employees align, whether someone works in the accounting department or customer support.

Business leaders can look at Viva Goals as a way to solidify company objectives. They can then tie these objectives to meaningful targets for each department.

Viva Goals
Image from Microsoft

For example, say you have a corporate target to provide exceptional customer support. This goal by itself is generic. It doesn’t connect to what teams need to do to make it happen.

In Viva Goals, that target can have directives for various teams. Such as customer support reducing ticket resolution by 8 hours. This brings goals to a meaningful level and allows organizations to track progress.

Here are the key value-adds of using Viva Goals.

Aligns Your Team to the Same Goals

Viva Goals puts company goals and targets in a tangible form. There is a definition of success for teams and individuals. Work outcomes are directly connected to company-wide objectives.

Everyone is on the same page, rather than departments pursuing different targets. With alignment, companies can more easily reach their goals.

Maintains Focus on Goals

Viva connects to other M365 apps, making it easier to gather data insights. These insights help leaders more easily see goal progress.

Employees stay focused on goals. This is because goals connect to their daily work targets. Rather than being something they hear at a company event, goals get infused into the workflow.

Focus on Goals
Image from Microsoft

Integration with Teams & M365

The integration with Teams keeps goals front and center. Employees get recognized for meeting targets and helping the company achieve its goals. This keeps everyone engaged and moving together.

Progress towards goals isn’t kept on a spreadsheet on someone’s cloud drive. Instead, stats on goal achievement live in tools used daily. When goals remain visible, organizations have a better chance to achieve them.

How Do You Get Viva Goals?

If you want to subscribe to Viva Goals as an add-on to your M365 plan, it is currently $6.00/user/month.

For the entire suite of Viva applications, the current price is $9.00/user/month.

Questions About Microsoft 365 or Viva Goals?

Digital transformation with tools like Microsoft Viva is a necessity if you want to keep up. Old ways of doing things are giving way to the cloud, AI, and machine learning. We can help you navigate that territory. Give us a call and schedule a consultation to learn more.


Featured Image Credit

This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

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7 VoIP Setup Tips for a More Productive Office

The global pandemic put a big emphasis on the need to run a business from anywhere. Enabling employees to work remotely requires cloud solutions. This includes collaborative platforms like Google Workspace and Microsoft 365. VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone systems have also become critical.

VoIP allows companies to stay in contact with customers and potential customers. Employees can work from anywhere and still answer the business phone line. Callers get a similar experience no matter where employees may be working, office, or home.

When you have people working from home, those old landline systems are inefficient. This has led to a large movement by businesses to VoIP. Both for necessity and cost-savings.

According to Microsoft, 82% of organizations have reported saving money after implementing VoIP.

While VoIP is the way to go for the future, this doesn’t mean it’s foolproof. Companies that don’t set up their system efficiently, can experience issues. This includes things like dropped calls, low bandwidth, and features left unused.

If you’ve been struggling to make your cloud phone system more efficient, check out these tips below. They provide setup best practices for VoIP. Use these to positively impact your bottom line.

1. Check Network Capabilities

You can’t just assume that you can enable a VoIP system, and all will be well. Your network may not be able to handle the extra bandwidth needs without adjustments.

Things you want to look at include jitter and packet loss. Additionally, review router settings to make sure it can handle peak traffic times. Experiencing dropped calls or choppy audio shows a need to address issues. These may include adjusting network hardware and/or increasing your ISP bandwidth.

2. Prioritize Your VoIP Software Using QoS Rules

Quality of Service (QoS) is a router settings area that allows you to say which traffic is most important. If QoS is not in place, it means resource issues. A large cloud backup could kick in and interrupt your calls because it’s taking up bandwidth.

QoS sets up “traffic lanes” that give priority to certain functions. You’ll want to have your VoIP software prioritized to get the bandwidth it needs. This avoids issues with less critical processes hogging up internet resources.

Using QoS keeps your calls smooth. It also improves the reliability of your cloud phone system. It’s also a good idea to use these rules for other important cloud activities.

3. Provide Quality Headsets for Your Team

A cheap headset can ruin the call experience for a potential customer. If someone calls in and can’t hear anything or gets choppy reception, they’ll quickly get frustrated. They will most likely figure that your company doesn’t have its act together.

Your employees may not be able to afford high-quality headsets. They also may not know what type to buy. Head off potential problems by issuing quality headsets for your team to use.

4. Set Up Departments & Ring Groups

One of the great features of VoIP phone systems is the ability to set up ring groups. You first set up your department groups (accounting, marketing, etc.). Then set the included employee extensions.

Creating a ring group allows you to have a call go to your customer support department as a whole. This is better than one person, who may be busy. That way, the whole group gets the ring, and the first available person can pick up.

Ring groups improve the caller experience by reducing the wait time. It can also mitigate the need for the caller to leave a voicemail and get stuck waiting on a callback.

5. Create Your Company Directory

Auto assistants are extremely helpful and nearly all VoIP systems have them. First, you set up your company directory and then record messages to prompt the caller.

For example, you can set up a message that prompts them to input the last name of the person they are trying to reach. If they aren’t calling a specific person, they can be routed to a department.

While setting up a company directory takes a little effort upfront, it will save much more. You no longer will need to have someone specifically routing every call. Callers can also get to the person or department they need faster. This improves the customer experience and boosts office productivity.

6. Have Employees Set Up Their Voicemail & VM to Email

When you get out of a long meeting, going through a bunch of voicemails can take time. Instead of having to listen to each one to see which calls are a priority, you could simply read through them.

The voicemail to email feature in VoIP phone systems will automatically transcribe voicemails. They are then emailed to the recipient. This improves efficiency. It also eliminates wasted time having to listen to entire messages to know who called.

Have employees set up this feature with their extension and email address. Some VoIP systems also offer an option to have transcribed voicemails sent via SMS.

7. Train Your Team on the Call Handling Process

Don’t leave your employees to jump in and learn a VoIP system themselves. It’s important to train them on the features and the company calling process. This ensures that your team can enjoy all those time-saving features.

Get Help Enhancing Your Business Phone System

Need help improving your business phone system? Looking for a better customer experience? Give us a call and schedule a consultation. We can help!


Featured Image Credit

This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

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5 Ways to Balance User Productivity with Solid Authentication Protocols

One constant struggle in offices is the balance between productivity and security. If you give users too much freedom in your network, risk increases. But add too many security gates, and productivity can dwindle.

It’s a fine balance between the two, but one you can achieve. Organizations need to recognize the importance of both. And not sacrifice one for another.

A recent report from Microsoft notes a dangerous lack of authentication security. Just 22% of Azure Active Directory users had multi-factor authentication (MFA) enabled. This means that over three-quarters were at a much higher risk of an account breach.

Why do organizations fail to adopt important security protocols, like MFA? We know that it’s as much as 99.9% effective at stopping fraudulent sign-ins. Yet so many companies aren’t adopting it.

User inconvenience is the biggest reason. MFA is not expensive. In fact, it’s free to enable in nearly all cloud applications. But if users say that it’s hurting productivity and is a pain to use, companies may not bother with it.

But sacrificing security can hurt productivity worse. Downtime due to a data breach is expensive and can put smaller companies out of business. The main cause of data breaches is credential compromise. So, if you’re not protecting your authentication process, the risk of becoming a breach victim is high.

35% of data breaches initiate from breached login credentials.

There are ways to have both secure and productive users. It simply takes adopting some solutions that can help. These are tools that improve authentication security. But do it in a way that keeps user convenience in mind.

Solutions to Improve Security Without Sacrificing Convenience

Use Contextual Authentication Rules

Not every user needs to go through the same authentication process. If someone is working in your building, they have a certain trust factor. If someone is attempting to log in from outside the country, they do not have that same trust.

Contextual authentication is used with MFA to target users that need to reach a higher bar. You may choose to limit or block system access to someone attempting to log in from a certain region. Or you may need to add an additional challenge question for users logging in after work hours.

Companies don’t need to inconvenience people working from normal locations during typical hours. But they can still verify those logging in under non-typical circumstances. Some of the contextual factors you can use include:

  • Time of day
  • Location
  • The device used
  • Time of the last login
  • Type of resources accessed

Install a Single Sign-on (SSO) Solution

A report on U.S. employees found they use a lot of apps. Workers switch between an average of 13 apps 30 times per day. That’s a lot of inconveniences if they need to use an MFA action for each of those logins.

Single sign-on applications solve this problem. They merge the authentication process for several apps into just one login. Employees log in once and can go through MFA a single time.

Using multi-factor authentication isn’t nearly as inconvenient. Users gain access to everything at the same time. SSO solutions help organizations improve their security without all the pushback from users.

Recognize Devices

Another way to better secure network access is to recognize devices. This is typically done using an endpoint device manager. This automates some of the security behind user authentication. Thus, it doesn’t inconvenience the person.

First, register employee devices in the endpoint device manager. Once completed, you can then set up security rules. Such as blocking unknown devices automatically.

You can also put in place device scanning for malware and automated updates. Both these things increase security without sacrificing productivity.

Use Role-based Authentication

Your shipping clerk may not have access to sensitive customer information. But your accounting team does. One can have a lower barrier to authentication.

Using role-based authentication saves time when setting up new employee accounts. Authentication and access happen based on the person’s role. Admins can program permissions and contextual authentication factors once. Then, the process automates as soon as an employee has their role set.

Consider Adding Biometrics

One of the most convenient forms of authentication is biometrics. This would be a fingerprint, retina, or facial scan. The user doesn’t need to type in anything. It also takes just a few seconds.

Biometric hardware can be costly, depending on the size of your organization. But you can introduce it over time. Perhaps using biometrics with your most sensitive roles first, then expanding.

Additionally, many apps are now incorporating things like facial scanning. Users can authenticate using a typical smartphone, making it much more affordable.

Need Help Improving Authentication Security?

Don’t give up important security because you’re afraid of user pushback. Give us a call and schedule a security consultation.


Featured Image Credit

This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

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