March 2014

March 2014

Who Wants To Win A $50 Gift Card?

My quiz question from last month was: According to Hallmark, the No. 1 card-giving holiday is…The correct answer was b) Christmas.

Now, here’s this month’s trivia question. The winner will receive a $50 gift card to Best Buy!

What was first introduced on March 29, 1886?

a) Daily weather forecasts
b) English football
c) Coca-Cola

*Trivia winners are eligible to win again after 90 days of previous win.

Are You Paying 80% Of Your Employees To “Cyberloaf” On The Internet, Watching Cat Videos, Searching For A Better Job Or Accidentally Downloading A Virus On Your Network?

Recently, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of local businesses suffering significant financial and productivity losses due to employees inappropriately using their Internet access during work hours – and much of this is fueled by social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube. Studies have shown that between 60 and 80 percent of people’s time on the Internet at work has nothing to do with work!

What makes this situation so dangerous is that the majority of business owners don’t even realize that it’s going on until it’s too late. By then they have found themselves in the middle of a costly and embarrassing lawsuit because an employee posted something inappropriate online OR downloaded a virus.

In other cases, the owner NEVER finds out, but is inadvertently losing THOUSANDS of dollars because employees are spending 2-3 hours a day to goof off online – and you’re footing the bill.

And age of the employee doesn’t affect an employee’s ability to waste time on the Internet. Older employees do things like managing their finances while younger employees check social media.

A Company Internet Policy Is NOT Enough

A recent study showed that the presence of a strong Internet policy at work was not enough to curb activity, as many employees don’t think it’s wrong to surf the web and a policy was not going to change their minds. Unfortunately, the only way to curb this activity is not only to threaten consequences, but to actually take action and reprimand employees.

Our Free Internet and E-mail Usage Audit gives you the answers to whether you have a problem on your hands. Schedule your Internet and E-mail Usage Audit today by calling our office at 214-329-1349.

If We Knew A Dozen Or More Ways That Cyber-Criminals Could Steal Thousands Of Dollars From Your Company’s Bank Account, Damage Your Reputation And Cripple Your Operations

Wouldn’t You Want Us To Tell You About It?

Imagine walking into your office one morning to discover your computer network was breached by a hacker, exposing not only YOUR company’s data, but also your clients’. Imagine the embarrassment of having to notify your clients that, because of you, their personal information may now be in the hands of cyber-criminals. And hopefully that’s the only damage done…

Operations could be halted or severely limited for days, possibly weeks. Your data corrupt to the point of being useless. Clients lost. Potential lawsuits and government fines for violating data-breach laws. The exorbitant emergency IT fees to get everything restored to working order fast. Then there’s the risk of your bank account being drained dry – and because you’re a business, you are NOT protected by the banks in the same way individual consumers are.

You’re At Greater Risk Than You Think

With St. Patrick’s Day this month, I want to take a moment to remind you that just because you’ve been “lucky” enough to avoid an incident like this in the past doesn’t mean you’re not at risk – in fact, that’s exactly what cyber-criminals want you to think.

That’s why I’d like to offer you a FREE comprehensive Cyber-Security IT Audit that will reveal your exact risk score on over 47 common security loopholes cyber-criminals use on a regular basis to get around firewalls and antivirus software to gain entry to your computer network. Normally we charge $995 for this service, but we’ve decided to give it away to the first 7 companies who request it before March 17th (St. Patrick’s Day). All you have to do is call our office at 214-329-1349 or go online to to find out more details.

Target Data Breach: How to Protect Yourself from Cyber Criminals

Black Friday is considered one of the biggest shopping days of the year in America. Several retailers place huge discounts on their merchandise to get people in their stores and spend money. And it works. An estimated $57.4 billion was spent by consumers the weekend after Thanksgiving in 2013. It wasn’t just consumers shopping at these retailers, though. That same weekend, and the weeks following it, cyber criminals stole credit and debit card information for as many as 40 million clients from Target. That number was increased to 70 million clients less than one month later.

Names, mailing addresses, phone numbers, email, and even PIN numbers were accessed during this breach from a swipe from a credit card transaction, leaving almost no information out. Now that these criminals have all of this information, how do they profit? In this case, an online market was setup which sold YOUR credit card information to other criminals. Anybody could login to the store, select which card information they wanted to purchase, and buy it – typically with a digital currency such as Bitcoin for anonymity. The price of each card varied and was based mainly on if the information was still valid and the card still active. Several of the larger banks helped reduce the effectiveness of this marketplace by automatically sending new cards to their clients, deeming the stolen card information useless and worth nothing.

It’s now being reported that the data breaches aren’t over. Other retailers, such as Neimen Marcus, are coming forward saying their client information has been stolen as well. Although not quite as large as the Target breach, a large amount of client information was stolen and is being used in a similar way as the Target data.

So how do you protect yourself and your money? If you’ve shopped at any large retailer in November or December of last year, especially Target or Neimen Marcus, it is highly recommended you get a new card. Not only will this protect you, it will help reduce the effectiveness of the credit card marketplace the cyber criminals have setup and hopefully put an end to it all together. Visa, MasterCard, and now Target are also doing their part to protect consumers. All three have stepped up their plans to switch to a ‘Chip-and-PIN’ system with their cards by 2015. This standard, already used widely throughout Europe, makes it more difficult to duplicate cards compared to the traditional magnetic strip used today by embedding a microchip on the card in addition to the use of a PIN number.

Monitor your credit card accounts on a regular basis for any fraudulent activities. In addition, you can monitor your credit score monthly by using free resources like Take action today and don’t get your identity or money stolen by cyber criminals.

By: Brett Lemoine

Shiny New Gadget: Nest Protect

The Nest Protect Motto: Safety shouldn’t be annoying.

We have all experience it. That annoying low-battery chirp that 9 times out of 10 wakes you from a dead sleep. Why is it that the smoke alarm battery inevitably runs low in the middle of the night? Then it happen…in your half-awake stupor, you rip it from the wall with intentions of re-hanging it in the morning. More times than not, you forget to replace the batteries and re-hang it and then there you are with no warning system should a fire break out in your home. This annoyance has now become a safety issue.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), almost two-thirds of US home fire deaths happened in homes with no smoke alarm or no working smoke alarm.

The Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarm comes without that annoying chirp or the threat of false alarms. It’s unique structure and settings give you quiet, visual low-battery reminders and allow you to relay to the alarm when the smoke is from that burning grilled cheese versus an actual fire. Its remote features also allow you to manage your alarm and receive alerts via your smartphone.

This innovative device gives you all the protection and security you need, without the annoyances. Get yours today at:

Knock Down The Walls That Block Communication

To be a successful executive you must know how to knock down walls. I don’t mean the walls of brick and steel that hold up buildings; I mean the bureaucratic barriers that hold up communication.

In many companies, communication flows through narrow channels, usually from the top down — chimneys of power, they’re called. People walled off from these chimneys are left to work in an information vacuum.

Today’s successful corporations have demolished the walls that prevent the lateral flow of communication. With the walls gone, information permeates the organization.

Such organizations find it easier to achieve the “Four F’s” that management expert Rosabeth Moss Kanter tells us are essential to business success. A successful company, she says, must be focused, flexible, fast and friendly.

  • You can’t focus the efforts of your entire workforce if your organization is crisscrossed with walls that impede the flow of information.
  • You can’t be flexible if you have a rigid corporate structure in which every division and department is a closed information loop.
  • You can’t be fast if information has to seep slowly through layer after layer of management.
  • And you can’t be friendly if your people don’t talk to other people inside and outside your organization.

If you look around, you may see plenty of boundaries in your own company that need to be removed. One of them may be the door to your office that remains closed to input from your employees. Another might be a rigid boundary between hourly and salaried employees that keeps people in one category from talking freely with people in another. Or it could be a boundary that shuts out ideas that don’t originate in your own organization.

Other boundaries might be the lines that run between divisions of a corporation. If one division develops a new method or a new technology, does it keep it to itself or does it share it with other divisions? Among the toughest boundaries to dismantle are the ones individual managers erect around the borders of their turf.

In the old days, corporations became overpopulated with people who were promoted to their “levels of incompetence.” Armed with the word “manager” in their titles, they staked out their own little turfs and guarded them jealously.

In a corporation without boundaries, advancement means moving into positions in which knowledge can be put to productive use as coaches, advisors or knowledge workers; where expertise is interchanged throughout the organization.

Virus of the Month: Data Theft

“The deliberate theft of information, rather than its accidental loss.

Data theft can take place both inside an organization (e.g., by a disgruntled employee), or by criminals outside the organization.

In 2012 these thefts included hackers breaking into a Belgian credit provider, Dexia, and demanding payment (blackmail) of タ150,000 (US$197,000) to prevent the hackers from publishing confidential information. Another example is India-based call center workers who were selling confidential information on nearly 500,000 British citizens including names, addresses, phone numbers and credit card numbers.

Criminals often use malware to access a computer and steal data. A common approach is to use a Trojan to install keylogging software that tracks everything the user types, including user names and passwords, in order to access the userメs bank account.”

- “Data Theft.” Threatsaurus: the a-z of computer and data security threats. Boston: Sophos, 2009. 31. Print.

Another Reminder Of Why You Can’t Use Home Routers In Your Business

This past Christmas, a hacker reportedly stumbled upon a back door to Linksys and Netgear DSL modems that allow an attacker to reset the router’s configuration and gain Admin access. Not good!

Some routers have this “back door” open to the local computer network while others are open to the Internet side of things, opening up users of these devices to remote Internet attacks. This essentially means that someone could easily gain access to the network and all files located on it.

In the past, this may have taken weeks or months to get out, leaving plenty of time for the manufacturer to get in contact with their clients, right? Not so anymore. In this instance, the exploit was promptly posted up to GitHub in a PowerPoint explaining all of the details and how to exploit the devices. Many others started trying this out (just for fun, of course), and confirmations started flooding in immediately for all to see.

The Bottom Line: If you are concerned at all about the security of the data on your network, you need to have a real, business-class firewall and router in your office. These days, it doesn’t pay to go cheap on IT security.

Password Tip! Want an easy-to-remember password that’s super-secure? Try mixed-entry passwords. While JohnSmith12345 could fairly easily be broken, J1o2h3n4S5mith (inserting the same numbers between each letter in the password) would take about 1,800 years to crack, and is almost as easy to remember!

The Lighter Side: Have You Heard This Before?

  • “March comes in with an adder’s head, and goes out with a peacock’s tail.” Richard Lawson Gales
  • “Up from the sea, the wild north wind is blowing under the sky’s gray arch; Smiling I watch the shaken elm boughs, knowing It is the wind of March.” William Wordsworth
  • “Who in this world of ours their eyes In March first open shall be wise; In days of peril firm and brave, And wear a Bloodstone to their grave.” Unattributed Author
  • “Ah, March! We know thou art Kind-hearted, spite of ugly looks and threats, And, out of sight, art nursing April’s violets!” Helen Hunt Jackson
  • “Slayer of the winter, art thou here again? O welcome, thou that bring’st the summer nigh! The bitter wind makes not the victory vain. Nor will we mock thee for thy faint blue sky.” William Morris
  • “March: Its motto, ‘Courage and strength in times of danger.’” William Morris
  • “Beware the ides of March.” William Shakespeare
  • “In fierce March weather White waves break tether, And whirled together At either hand, Like weeds uplifted, The tree-trunks rifted In spars are drifted, Like foam or sand.” Algernon Charles Swinburne
  • “With rushing winds and gloomy skies The dark and stubborn Winter dies: Far-off, unseen, Spring faintly cries, Bidding her earliest child arise; March!” Bayard Taylor
  • “All in the wild March-morning I heard the angels call; It was when the moon was setting, and the dark was over all; The trees began to whisper, and the wind began to roll, And in the wild March-morning I heard them call my soul.” Lord Alfred Tennyson