Unsafe Email Alert!  Know the Warning Signs of a Scam

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Feb 21, 2017 8:30:00 AM

Email is cybercriminals' favorite tool to lure their victims into their traps.  In fact, some estimate that 91% of cyberattacks start with phishing -- an email that appears to come from a reputable source that seeks to steal valuable information. Phishing is not new, but it still works. Cybercriminals continue to up their game and can trick even a savvy target. Is it possible you'd fall for an email scam? Lower your chances by learning these warning signs.

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Topics: cybercrime, email

2017 Cybersecurity Threats:  Are You Ready?

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Jan 3, 2017 8:30:00 AM

Stories of high profile cyberattacks were plentiful in 2016.  Experts predict those threats will grow in 2017. While we may hear more in the news about the big targets and massive breaches, small and medium-sized businesses remain the victims of most attacks and the least likely to recover. In 2017, small firms should resolve to bolster their defenses and prepare a response plan in the event of a breach.

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Topics: cybercrime, cybersecurity, small business IT, cybersecurity

SMS Scams:  Don't Be Tricked by a Bogus Text

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Sep 13, 2016 8:30:00 AM

"Don't Click!"  That's the advice TECHPol has given in many blog posts as a way to avoid being the victim of phishing. Phishing is an attempt to access personal or confidential information by sending an email that appears to be from a legitimate source, and asking the recipient to surrender information, often via a bogus website.  Victims may trust the website and provide information or click on the site's link and their device is infected with malware.  When phishing is done via short message service (SMS) or text message, it is known as SMiShing. This method of attack is effective because the quick and immediate nature of texting makes the recipient less likely to think and more likely to click.

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Topics: cybercrime, cybersecurity

Five Small Business IT Realities

Posted by Elizabeth Chisman Moon

Jul 5, 2016 11:15:00 AM

You are opening your own small business.  Congratulations!  It's an exhilarating ride.  Starting from your original idea, to the business plan, to financing, location, permits - you're inundated with details and decisions.
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Topics: Musings, Backup, cybercrime, technology, email

Ransomware on the Rise -- 5 Tips to Protect Your Data

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Apr 26, 2016 8:30:00 AM

Hospitals have been the high-profile target of several recent attacks by cybercriminals who take a computer's or network's files hostage and demand a payment to restore access. The weapon used is a type of malware (malicious software) that is aptly called ransomware. Hospitals are good targets from the criminals' perspective because not only are lives potentially on the line if a hospital network is compromised, making the situation more urgent, but also hospitals tend to spend less time maintaining their networks so they are easy prey. Ransomware attacks are not limited to large, public, or human services institutions. Individuals and small businesses are also likely victims, and attacks are on the rise.  A report by Trend Micro shows more ransomware infections in February 2016 than in the first six months of 2015.  Ransomware cost its victims some $24.1 million last year.  In the face of this growing threat, the best strategy is a good defense.

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Topics: Malware, cybercrime, technology, cybersecurity, cyberthreats

10 Tips to Protect Your Bank Account from Hackers

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Mar 29, 2016 8:30:00 AM

It's hard to imagine a worse nightmare for a small business than having their bank account drained by a thief and finding out there's no recourse, yet that scenario is becoming more common. The FBI reports that Business Email Compromises (BEC) where criminals steal from business accounts using email scams rose 270% from January to August last year.  And, small businesses (1-250 employees) are the most likely targets of phishing campaigns, according to Symantec.   While the law offers some protection for individuals -- if your personal bank account is breached, you'll probably be able to recover the funds after some effort -- business accounts don't have the same legal protections and the banks often won't pay. So, what can you do to protect your company assets?

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Topics: small business, cybercrime, cybersecurity, banking

Real Stories of Cyberscams:  Don't Let it Happen to You

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Mar 1, 2016 9:44:33 AM

TECHPol regularly posts information about how to avoid becoming a victim of cybercrime.  We hope you take it to heart and implement some of our suggestions on how to protect your personal information and that of your company.  In a couple of our posts, we've talked about how humans are often the source of vulnerability in cyberdefenses. (See blog posts: Employees: The Weak Link in Your Company's Cybersecurity and What's the Biggest Cybersecurity Threat: Employees). You may think it can't happen to you, but cybercriminals are sneaky and are increasingly skilled at baiting their victims -- victims who are unwittingly helping scammers by giving out personal information on email or social media that is then used against them.  Criminals are coming up with all sorts of new scams.  The IRS reports that tax scams involving phishing and malware are up 400% this tax season. Here are three examples of real-life cyberscams that recently have come across our desks at Focus Data Solutions.  

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Topics: cybercrime, cybersecurity, cyberthreats

Employees:  The Weak Link in Your Company's Cybersecurity

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Feb 2, 2016 8:30:00 AM

We've said it before, but it's worth repeating, and time and again the evidence confirms it:  employees are a significant threat to your organization's cybersecurity. (See blog post:  What's the Biggest Cybersecurity Threat?  Employees.) It's not that they want to sabotage their employer necessarily, but the reality is that they are often the culprits of security breaches.  Consider the evidence and learn how to bolster your defenses.

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Topics: cybercrime, cybersecurity, cyberthreats

Better Cybersecurity:  Working Together and Sharing Information

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Jan 12, 2016 8:30:00 AM

cyberthreat.malware.jpgIt seems logical that a good way to prevent cyberattacks is to share information about the tactics of cybercriminals.  If potential victims band together to fight cybercrime, there should be a better chance of thwarting it.  That's the idea behind a new law that encourages businesses to share information about cyberthreats with the federal government.

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Topics: cybercrime, cybersecurity, cyberthreats

Seven New Year's Resolutions for Cyber-Health

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Dec 15, 2015 8:30:00 AM


You know you need to protect your technology from cyberthreats and keep it updated as a best business practice, but it may not be at the top of your priority list or maybe it just seems too daunting a task. But wouldn't it be nice to start 2016 in tip-top tech shape and have some peace of mind that you won't have to deal with the headache and financial loss that a cyberattack could inflict?  Here are seven simple steps to take to improve your cyber-health:

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Topics: small business, cybercrime, cybersecurity

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FocusData: TECHPol is a blog on technology and business policy issues affecting small and mid-sized companies.  TECHPol’s primary author, Lori Salley Ring, spent 20-plus years working on Capitol Hill, including as the top staffer on the House Committee on Small Business.  FDS is an IT consulting firm providing managed services, office tech relocation, network security, and IT support for businesses in the Washington, DC and Northern Virginia area.

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About the Author

Lori Salley Ring

Lori Salley Ring

Lori serves as Policy Advisor and Communications Specialist for Focus Data Solutions.  Lori spent more than 20 years working for the U.S. Congress, including as Chief of Staff to a member of the House leadership and as the Staff Director for the Committee on Small Business.  Lori also ran a Washington-based non-profit organization between stints working for the Federal government. 

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