USERS BEWARE: MICROSOFT 7 END OF LIFE IS NEAR

It’s the end of an era. January 14th, 2020 marks the moment at which Microsoft’s support for Windows 7 will come to a close as Microsoft 7 reaches its End of Life Date. Pledging ten years of product support when the popular operating system was released in October of 2009, Microsoft has fulfilled its commitment and will cease to provide patches, fixes, or technical support to Microsoft 7 users from that date forward. It’s true, businesses who refuse to update their systems will be able to pay a fee for additional support if they choose to stick with Windows 7 but beware ­– risks lie ahead.

 

 

What It Means

 

When products are in a supported state, they enjoy the benefits of essential security updates and patches to keep hackers at bay and make sure the product functions smoothly. In short, the developer (Microsoft) takes the time to make sure the product is keeping up with the times. But when this period ends, that product becomes increasingly vulnerable to bugs, glitches, and emerging cybersecurity threats leaving users with a product that grows more obsolete and unreliable by the day.

 

 

What to Do Next

 

Microsoft strongly recommends upgrading to Microsoft 10. If you’re a current Microsoft 7 user, this move does have some obvious benefits. Firstly, because both operating systems are developed by Microsoft, the migration process is streamlined and straightforward, and in most cases, your files can stay right on your PC as they are. Also, you and your staff won’t have to learn a new operating system as the function and feel will be very similar. If you wish to do so, purchase a Windows 10 update, download the installation file and run it.

 

If you wish to look elsewhere, you can compare and choose from Google Chromebook, Mac products, or a Linux operating system, but be sure that you are making a move to a system that will be supported for many years to come.

 

One Thing to Watch Out For

 

One final consideration before you make the move to upgrade is to double-check that the current applications you are using are supported and will work once you move to Windows 10. If you’ve been delaying making an upgrade with your operating system, you may also have some older applications in daily use that require replacement as well. If you rely on any of these too heavily and fail to make sure that it will be supported once you make the switch, you could be in store for a nasty surprise that damages productivity. Before upgrading systems company-wide, check in with your IT team and test your current applications on Windows 10 to make sure you’re in the clear.

 

Staying up to date and making sure you are adequately supported is a full-time job. Just recently, Microsoft also started up a campaign to inform Microsoft Office 2010 users that the end of free support is only a year away. If you need help managing IT tasks like these, consider utilizing a dedicated MSP like Net Works. Our in-house IT professionals can assist with staying up-to-date on security risks, important updates, and tech trends so you can focus on your business instead of worrying about what Microsoft is up to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOW CLOUD COMPUTING CAN HELP SMALL TO MEDIUM-SIZED BUSINESSES

As a small to medium-sized business owner, it’s a David vs. Goliath scenario. You’re constantly looking for ways to do more with less. One surefire way to level the playing field is to make the migration to cloud computing as soon as possible. And with National Work From Home Week (October 9th – 15th) coming up, it’s the perfect time for us to dive into why moving your data away from your physical workplace could work handsomely in your favor. 

 

WHAT IS CLOUD COMPUTING?

For the unfamiliar, the cloud is an on-demand externally managed service for computer system resources. The cloud can provide data storage, software solutions such as applications, and virtual IT services from a remote location that is easily accessed 24/7 through the internet.

 

THE FIVE MAJOR BENEFITS FOR YOUR BUSINESS

Flexibility

One of the main advantages a smaller business has over its competitors is the ability to be agile, make quick decisions, and respond personally to client’s needs, facilitating stronger relationships. Cloud-based services enhance this by allowing your bandwidth to fluctuate quickly based on your needs. Without your own physical storage to deal with, scaling up or down to service your clients is as simple as snapping your fingers.

 

Ease of Collaboration

This responsiveness and agility also extend to daily workflow. Since teams can access, share, edit, and collaborate on documents from anywhere, anytime, your response times can now rival those of a Goliath sized business with many more employees.

 

Automation

When you run a small business, your attention is a precious resource. Cloud computing allows you to focus it on growing your business instead of managing servers, buying software, or installing updates. When you outsource these to an experienced provider, your file storage systems are updated and maintained automatically so you can zoom ahead without stopping for a service check.

 

Reduced Costs

Another benefit that makes your company act larger than it is, cloud-based solutions cut costs by eliminating the need for expensive hardware, server maintenance, and software licensing or upgrades.  All these are baked into your once-a-month or yearly subscription fee when you migrate to the cloud. Additionally, your newfound workplace flexibility could allow you to pay reduced salaries to talented prospects who are enticed by the ability to work remotely.

 

Improved Cybersecurity

Finally, because your data is now stored remotely, you have access to it regardless of what happens to your laptop or desktop computer. Cloud-based services allow you to remove the risk of physical threats to your data, such as fires or earthquake damage. And if you are the victim of a phishing scheme or ransomware attack, your network isn’t chock full of valuable data just sitting around to be mined by thieves. Many cloud solutions even offer the ability to remotely wipe any data from your laptop in case it ends up lost or stolen.

 

GETTING HELP WITH IMPLEMENTATION

If you want to make the switch but aren’t sure how, get in contact with an MSP like Net Works. Migrating to the cloud requires making tough decisions about what service to use and which aspects of your business should remain on-site in the end. An experienced set of IT professionals like the ones at Net Works can help you make these decisions quickly and get your cloud systems up and running ASAP so you too can experience the magic feeling of working from the comfort of your own home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Value of Outsourcing IT

The importance of IT (information technology) in modern business cannot be overstated. With connectivity linking almost every core business aspect to a piece of technology, it might seem to make sense to keep such an important primary business function in-house. But more and more small and medium-sized business are finding that outsourcing IT service through a Managed Service Provider (MSP) helps them level the playing field against larger competitors and can provide them tremendous value. Here are a few of the ways it does so.

 

CONTROL AND CUT COSTS

 

One of the most obvious advantages of outsourcing is its ability to drastically reduce overhead. Hiring and training employees, buying and maintaining equipment, rolling out the latest software; all these costs are eliminated when passing your IT responsibilities on to a qualified third party. By outsourcing IT, you immediately turn these fluctuating costs into a controlled sum that can be more easily managed and is adaptable to your budget.

 

FOCUS ON CORE BUSINESS

 

As they say, time is money. And when IT is outsourced, you will undoubtedly have more of it to spend on the core areas of your business.  By handing off the complex decision-making responsibilities required to keep IT up-to-date and running smoothly, you are better able to allocate time and energy to improving and promoting the product or service you provide to your customers.

 

GAIN EXPERTISE

 

Just because someone has the qualifications doesn’t mean they have the experience. Even though your new hire might have a strong resume, any respected IT service can assign a team of skilled professionals who have routinely handled the same problems repeatedly through the years and quickly identify a proper solution. By outsourcing, you gain access to industry thought leaders who can provide expert support for any critical IT decisions that arise and will utilize the most cutting-edge solutions available.

 

REDUCE RISK

 

Similarly, when it comes to security and compliance issues, having experienced IT professionals monitoring your systems, 24/7 means the risk of making grave errors that could cost you in the long run is drastically reduced. In a world of constantly evolving cyber threats, it can be a struggle to identify all the ways your system may be vulnerable. But with a top-level cybersecurity team in place, you can rest easy knowing you’re in good hands.

 

 

GROW AND ADAPT QUICKLY

 

In the end, the goal of any business is to grow – and do it quickly. Jumping to the next stage of development when you’ve outsourced your IT department happens at the snap of your fingers. Adjustments that would need long periods of training and implementation can be made promptly, by merely allocating more resources to your account. You’re also provided specialized expertise so as you scale you implement new solutions that make the most sense for your business and not something that will be out-of-date as soon as you expand again. With outsourced IT, there’s no need to struggle with hiring new staff or learning new hardware; simply grow and go.

 

If you might be looking to expand your technological capabilities or want to re-focus your energy back on your core business, consider outsourcing your IT functions.  At Net Works we can provide the best and brightest IT professionals to help you reduce costs, expertly allocate resources, and stay vigilant in a world of increasingly sophisticated cyber threats. Contact us today to find out if outsourcing is the right choice for your business.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lessons We Can Learn from Shadow IT

Tech professionals are smart people. Like cool kids at school, they always have their ears to the ground when it comes to the hippest innovations and hottest gadgets popping up in the tech world. Yet the urge to utilize the latest, fastest, and most efficient innovations has led to a security threat that many IT leaders struggle to manage – the ominously monikered “Shadow IT.”

 

What Is Shadow IT?

 

Shadow IT is the buzzword for the use of unapproved IT systems and solutions within an organization. The current abundance of third-party apps and Software as a Service (SaaS) tools means tech-savvy professionals have a myriad of options to choose from. As users familiarize themselves with these apps, they might begin to feel more comfortable using them or find that they provide functionalities that approved corporate apps simply do not. This trend is not new, but is wildly more pervasive than many CIO’s realize. According to a study, 35% of employees feel the need to work around protocol to work efficiently.

 

The Risks of Shadow IT

 

Obviously, the use of unvetted apps is troublesome from a cyber security perspective as users tend to be unaware of the security risks associated with third-party software. For example, Evernote, a widely used app (more than 25 million users), is popular in business circles even though the info you input into it is stored entirely unencrypted. Beyond the security risks, there are other potential perils. Any info stored on a shadow IT service won’t be a part of company backups and therefore could be easily lost forever. Additionally, if your business needs to be compliant with any laws or regulations, the use of these methods may constitute a violation.

 

Combating Shadow IT

 

Like many workforce issues, the use of shadow IT is best helped by reestablishing or strengthening lines of communication. Over 30 percent of IT workers say they are using unapproved apps because of a slow approval process for new solutions in their corporate environment. Many employees complain that corporate solutions are clunky, have long load times, or don’t offer the latest features. So, start by engaging your employees on this issue by doing the following:

 

Understand

Start by monitoring your network for popular shadow IT services such as Dropbox, Slack, or Evernote and then dig deeper to attempt to assess the scope of the problem.

 

Engage

Once you have a sense of what is being used, gather your team and have an honest dialogue about why these tools are popular. Are they meeting needs that your current systems do not? Or is it merely that the interface is more user-friendly? This will give you a checklist of what to improve to entice your employees to stay within the guidelines.

 

Replace

You are more than justified in throwing down the hammer and demanding your employees simply stop using any shadow IT options. However, finding solutions that address the needs or preferences of your team will help improve efficiency and replace outdated systems. It also creates a positive workplace environment where employees feel their needs are met, and their concerns are heard. Most of the time, replacing the functions of these apps with corporate-approved options will eliminate the need for employees to use them, and the problem will quickly dissipate naturally.

 

Educate

Once you’ve found suitable alternatives, give everyone a grace period before restricting third-party apps. Make sure your team is on the same page about why these apps are forbidden. Then provide proper training for new solutions so everyone can see firsthand how these new systems solve problems that were previously addressed by using shadow services.

 

Get Assistance

The ultimate ally, a dependable Managed Service Provider (MSP) is stocked with professional IT management experts that can consistently find the most advanced solutions for you and implement them before your employees search for a workaround. An MSP like Net Works can also train, educate, and ensure workplace satisfaction by working with your IT team to establish open lines of communication. Contact Net Works today to find out more about how working with an MSP can help you eliminate shadow IT

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Vs. Machine Learning (ML)

Some of the newest buzzwords floating around the tech world, Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), are often used these days interchangeably but are actually quite different. With an ever-evolving tech world achieving breakthroughs at breakneck speeds, these types of confusions are becoming widespread. Here, we’ll break down some of the key differences between the two and explore the ways these advancements may affect the cybersecurity landscape going forward.

 

The Differences Between AI and ML

 

Probably the more familiar of the two, AI, is a more general term that encapsulates all of advanced computer intelligence. Implemented in a system in order to perform tasks that we typically associate with our human brains, AI is a broad term that includes systems used for tasks such as problem-solving, understanding a language, scheduling tasks, or recognizing and identifying objects or shapes.

 

ML, on the other hand, refers to a very precise way of achieving AI. The traditional way of creating an “intelligent” machine would be to give the piece of technology all the answers as you program it. This requires explicitly programming millions of lines of code that breakdown intricate rules and provide decision-making trees to refer to when deciding how to act and react in any given situation. ML instead relies on giving the machine a neural network that works on a system of probability. When fed large sets of data, this neural network predicts outcomes and decides on its own how to proceed in achieving its goal. The addition of a feedback loop means the machine can “learn,” through trial and error, which processes are best at achieving results and in turn readjust its algorithms to fine-tune its approach.

 

Vulnerabilities of AI and ML

 

Because the benefits of self-driving cars, voice-recognition software, and self-learning machines are so evident, the implementation of both ML and AI in business and our daily routines is inevitable. But utilizing these advancements will also come with their share of peril. Because both AI and ML require massive sets of data to become accurate and achieve positive results, they will most likely drive a spike in a particularly concerning type of cyberattack – data manipulation.

 

For the unfamiliar, data manipulation is a hacking technique in which instead of stealing data, cybercriminals change the details to make the data inaccurate. This malicious type of attack is hard to detect, can lead to a myriad of disastrous scenarios, and has already been highlighted by U.S. intelligence officials as a growing concern.

 

Preventing Data Manipulation

 

To combat this impending threat, businesses will have to develop a keen eye for detail, stay hypervigilant, and use a series of endpoint detection and response tools. Utilizing file integrity monitoring systems and carefully logging activity to track real-time data changes will become a necessity as the threat of data manipulation becomes increasingly prevalent.

 

MSP Knowledge and Power

 

If you run a business, it’s your job to stay ahead of the curve on the latest technological advancements and dangers. But understanding incredibly complex advancements like AI and ML and the risks that will arise with their implementation can be overwhelming. That’s why Managed Service Providers (MSP) are becoming increasingly valuable to medium and small-sized businesses in today’s hyper-technological climate. An MSP can provide business leaders with a committed team of professionals that ensure they have the most up-to-date knowledge, tools, and cybersecurity strategies to protect their bottom lines.

 

Looking to be savvy, cutting-edge, and completely secure? Contact Net Works and gift yourself the peace of mind that only working with an expert MSP can provide.

Mobile Protection: Staying Secure in An Evolving Workforce

These days, any location can become an office. With mobile devices becoming more of a necessity than a luxury, most companies have had to expand the boundaries within which work can be done. Yet this trend towards mobile workforces comes with its own new set of challenges. The chief one being: how do you protect the devices that contain your most valuable data? We’ll share a few tips on how your team can stay secure while maintaining their sense of freedom and collaboration.

 

Advantages of A Mobile Workforce

 

Providing employees with mobile devices has tremendous upsides. If trains are stuck or a car breaks down, your employees can work on their phones or from home, and your business won’t miss a step. Flexibility also leads to a happier workforce. When your employees are free to work from home, and adjust to family or personal needs, they feel taken care of. And in turn, employees who feel inspired to work during off hours have the ability to do so. This is proven to increase productivity and morale and help you retain top talent. But the most enticing bonus is a reduction downtime. Employees who do not typically spend all day at their desk become more reachable with a work phone and can respond to emergencies quicker than ever before.

 

Understanding the Risks

 

The benefits of mobile are clear. But before you allow your team to roam, it’s essential to understand the challenges that lay ahead:

 

  • Compatibility issues: Allowing your employees to use mobile devices may mean they are running older operating systems or incompatible versions of popular programs.
  • Physical security: Mobile devices aren’t sitting securely in an office most of the time and therefore are at a higher risk of being stolen or broken. Working in public places creates the potential for sensitive info to slip into the wrong hands inadvertently.
  • Unsecured networks: When your employees work on mobile, they will no doubt use Wi-Fi networks located in airports, coffee shops, or their homes. These networks may feature little or no protection and are well-known for being a goldmine for hackers.
  • Third-party apps: Tablets and cell phones are guaranteed to be full of applications downloaded from a wide variety of developers who may have invasive permissions that allow them to mine company data.

 

Managing Mobile Securely

 

To unlock the tremendous advantages of your mobile workforce, you’ll need to make sure everyone is on the same page. Here a few steps you can take to make sure mobile security is top-of-mind:

 

  • Require multi-factor authentication: Two-step authentication requires that your employee have a physical item on them to prove their identity in addition to regular log-in credentials. Implementing it is crucial.
  • Use encryption: Have your employees utilize VPN’s to add an extra layer of protection against hackers.
  • Create clear policy: No matter what you require of your employees, it’s imperative that you make sure everyone understands what is expected of them. Print out policy forms, get them signed, and schedule future security audits.
  • Hold mobile security training sessions: Ensure every employee has the knowledge and IT training they need to combat potential threats. Make sure to continually check-in to update methods for protection and stay in sync.

 

Because mobile devices in the workforce are so widespread, giant strides are being made every day to make the devices in question more secure. But to be truly safe, you’ll still need to manage the cybersecurity on a wide array of devices in various settings. This is where a Managed Service Provider (MSP) like Net Works can be invaluable. We can be the eye-in-the-sky to help you stay in control while your employees enjoy their freedoms. Contact us today to find out how we can help.

 

The Advantages and Disadvantages Of BYOD

No one wants to be that person. You know the one. The “Three Phone Peter” who needs an extra briefcase to lug around the various devices they need every day. To avoid this excruciating burden, modern workplaces are rapidly evolving towards “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) policies that conveniently allow employees to utilize their own personal smartphones and tablets both at work and home. But while BYOD has its benefits, allowing everyone to waltz into work with their own technology can pose significant challenges to cybersecurity. To honor World Password Day (May 2nd, 2019) here’s a quick guideline on the upsides and potential pitfalls of choosing to implement BYOD in your workplace.

 

Advantages

 

Remember “Three Phone Pete”? With BYOD he’s now looking lean and clean and, along with everyone else in the office, happily using a device he’s familiar with and chose himself. This ease of use may even help boost productivity for the whole team. But the main upside now that your employees use their own devices is a drastic reduction in cost for your business. Initial capital investment and monthly spending can be significantly reduced when you don’t have to outfit and maintain a collection of work devices or pay for monthly data plans. On top of this, since you’re not responsible for tracking the physical whereabouts and usage of these devices, your administrative duties have been significantly reduced as well. So, is it time to kick your feet up and let everyone use whatever device floats their boat? Hold the phone.

 

Disadvantages

 

Even though the advantages to BYOD are numerous, it’s inadvisable to just let loose without understanding the challenges you’ll face once you do so. First, with everyone in the office now using their own device, employees aren’t guaranteed to be using the same applications, operating systems, and software versions. Compatibility issues are sure to arise, and workflow may suffer without strict standards in place. Second, these types of problems are harder to control since you don’t own the devices and therefore can’t direct an IT team to fix these issues without contracts in place protecting them and yourself from liability. Lastly and most importantly, this lack of uniformity and control drastically increases your chances of falling victim to malware hacks and cybersecurity breaches.

 

Properly Managing BYOD

 

With these advantages and disadvantages in mind, the best way to stay safe and in sync when opening the door for BYOD is to have a clear-cut policy in place that lets employees know exactly how you expect them to handle this newfound freedom and what the consequences are for non-compliance. To make it completely clear, sit down and hammer out a tailor-made policy that is specific to the needs of your company and covers:

 

  • What devices are authorized for use
  • What constitutes acceptable use of said devices
  • What security precautions must be undertaken
  • The type of support employees can expect to receive
  • What kind of reimbursement you will offer, if any
  • Disclaimers, potential risks, and liability

 

With BYOD becoming more popular and convenient by the day, chances are you will have employees asking to use their own devices sooner rather than later. If you are concerned about keeping control while loosening the reigns on the types of devices your employees use, consider adding the support of a dedicated MSP. At Net Works we have the expertise to create a uniform policy that balances employee satisfaction with device management and cybersecurity. Contact us today.

Why Hackers Target Small Businesses

With the everyday hustle of running a business, you probably don’t schedule in time for spring cleaning of your office devices or records, and it’s not likely to be something that comes to mind when you do happen to have free time. While it might seem like a simple, inconsequential thing, it’s actually the foundation of a national awareness month.

 

April is Records and Information Management Month, an entire month dedicated to promoting good record keeping and information management. It’s like spring cleaning for your old, duplicate, or insignificant files. This month is a good time to uninstall outdated programs no longer in use, organize files and bookmarks, and even perform backups of your files and system. Not only does organizing and cleaning up these old files help make your data easier to access and sift through, it can also free up space, speed up your network, and even help keep your digital assets safe from hackers.

 

Small businesses in particular are very tempting to hackers, due to the fact that they have more assets than individuals to exploit, and tend to have fewer protections and more vulnerabilities than larger corporations. With a smaller team, many small businesses might not have an in-house IT team that has established proper security, such as firewalls and anti-virus software. Additionally, older programs that were never properly removed might not have been updated recently, and could have vulnerabilities that would make them easy prey for hackers. Small businesses might even have more relaxed policies about passwords, making them easier for hackers to guess or phish from unsuspecting employees.

 

Net Works doesn’t wait for Records and Information Management Month to get to work protecting you from hackers. We understand the specific risks that you, as a small business decision-maker, face in the digital age and with our professional team of tech experts, we can help make your business secure.

 

After a thorough audit of your current security measures, we’ll work with you to determine the best course of action for your business. Net Works can help you identify where your current security measures are lacking, and even help save you time and money by finding more efficient programs and methods for your digital operations. Additionally, we can help keep all of your data safe by encrypting it, while also performing regular backups to the cloud to assure your information is safe and accessible, should a disaster ever strike. By partnering with Net Works, you’ll also receive regular audits to make sure your digital operations are functioning as securely and efficiently as possible, and that no new vulnerabilities have popped up for hackers to exploit.

 

Being a small business doesn’t mean you have to fall prey to the dangers of not having an in-house IT team. Net Works is a reliable, affordable way to keep your staff the size that works for you, without the security risks. Contact us today to learn more about how we can keep your business safe from hackers, and keep your business running smoothly and efficiently.

 

Is It Time to Upgrade The Operating System On Your Office Devices?

Are you using Windows 7, older versions of Outlook for email, or Windows Server version 2011 and below? If so, it’s time to learn about Microsoft’s End of Life Support. You do not want to find yourself in need of tech support for an unsupported product. That’s why being prepared is critical. What products are nearing the end of their support life cycle and what can you do to help your business stay on top of these changes?

 

First, it is important to know when products are being phased out. Microsoft has specific product life cycles. According to their website, support for Windows 7 ends on January 14, 2020. That gives users less than one year to prepare. Windows 7 launched on October 22, 2009, at which time Microsoft committed to ten years of product support. As this time period expires, it is important to note that this lack of support can leave you vulnerable if you do not upgrade your Operating System. For example, those automatic updates that many users get in the habit of ignoring often include critical security patches that you will no longer receive. If you’re using Windows 7, it is time to upgrade.

 

Now that you are thinking about upgrading your Operating System, how do you get started? The process can certainly sound overwhelming. You may have questions, or alternatively, you may be unsure as to what questions you should be asking. It’s time to contact a trusted Managed Service Provider like Net Works to help you navigate this process.

 

What else do you need to know to keep your IT updated? Microsoft has been moving toward a subscription-based model, pushing clients and companies to move toward Office 365 subscriptions instead of the old model of buying a disc, loading Microsoft Office onto your device, and having a perpetual license for the product. Users who have a perpetual license, such as those on Office 2016, will need to upgrade by 2020 in order to use their product in conjunction with the suite of Office 365 products, like SharePoint and Exchange. These end dates are important to keep track of in order to keep all of your products working together. When you connect Office 365 products with “legacy” versions of Microsoft tools, you do not benefit from the full range of the current product capabilities and certain aspects may not work properly. Therefore, it is important to have a trusted Managed Service Provider on your side to help you keep everything working together, make timely upgrades, and keep track of product lifecycle end dates.

 

How else can Net Works help? We can guide you as you choose the right IT products and software solutions for your office. For example, we can go over the pros and cons of moving to Office 365 now, staying with a perpetual license model, or waiting until the End of Life deadline to make any changes. With all the other aspects of running a business taking up time, it can be a challenge for business decision-makers to navigate the many options available. We are here to take IT off your plate and help you ensure you are making the best, most informed decisions possible in a timely manner. With a partner like Net Works on your side, you will not be caught off guard when a product nears the end of its support life cycle, and you will be able to make proactive, informed business IT decisions.

 

Contact Net Works today and be prepared for any changes technology companies throw your way!

Stop Phishing on National Clean Out Your Computer Day

Starting in the year 2000, The Institute for Business Technology began sponsoring a seemingly silly holiday called “National Clean Out Your Computer Day.” But unlike “Groundhog Day,” this tradition could actually help you protect yourself from harmful elements. With Spear Phishing attacks becoming more common and complex, February 11 is the perfect day to take a moment to make sure you’re doing your due diligence. Here are a few reasons why being more devout in your observance of this underrated annual ceremony is in your best interest.

 

It’s No Fun Being the Phish

 

Spear phishing might sound like a fun way to spend a vacation in Hawaii, but it’s actually a scarily sophisticated scheme that will quickly ruin the sunny disposition in your workplace. In a spear phishing attack, hackers pose as seemingly trustworthy sources and send emails designed to get you to click a link, download a file, or respond to an urgent request before you’ve fully thought things through. Spear phishing is usually targeted, with a long-term plan set in place to learn about you or your employees and fool the target with personalized information that makes the requests within seem reasonable and credible. Because human error is the most reliable vulnerability cyber attackers can exploit, these breaches are incredibly commonplace. An October 2017 study by the Better Business Bureau showed that 90 percent of cyberattacks targeting businesses come through phishing emails.

 

Unfortunately for many businesses, these attacks work because they’re very believable. A recent attempt targeted Netflix subscribers by sending emails addressing users by name and stating that their account had been deactivated due to billing issues. They were then linked to a site where they were asked to provide credit card details and other sensitive information. A breach like this is just one of many high-profile examples that show how a basic “fake email” tactic is enough to infiltrate even the largest organizations.

 

Celebrating Creates Peace of Mind

 

If appropriately spent, “National Clean Up Your Computer Day” on February 11 can be the perfect time to take all the proper precautions to prevent attacks like these.

 

Start the day by double checking your email filters. Email filters prevent spam and seemingly malicious messages from reaching you at all, so you won’t even consider responding to them. Taking this a step further, consider implementing a Sender Policy Framework (SPF) to help you prevent spoofing of your email addresses.

 

Next, do some cleanup. If you haven’t cleared them in a while, who knows what potential dangers are lurking in the darkness of your overflowing spam, inbox, and download folders? Getting rid of this unwanted clutter will remove potential pitfalls and create more space in your system to work with.

 

Finally, call a meeting and make sure your entire workforce is aware of the current risks and taking the same precautions. It’s always essential to make sure everyone in your organization understands potential risks and is on the same page about preventing hackers from finding a way to worm their way into your systems.

 

A Powerful Partner Can Protect You

 

Worried you might get phished? Celebrate “National Clean Out Your Computer Day” by partnering with an MSP who can help you stay safe. Working with Net Works will help alleviate stress about all types of phishing schemes and free you up to focus on the aspects of your business you really want to be worrying about. We will be your trusted partner who continuously arms you with the know-how and required tools to confront the latest cybersecurity threats. If you truly value your time and safety, contact Net Works today to learn how we can help keep you from staying late to clear out your computer.