Scammers Are Using These 10 Popular Brands To Trick You Into Revealing Your Private Data 

Cybercriminals know the easiest way to sneak under your radar is to pretend to be a brand you know and trust. These large companies have spent years on marketing, customer service, branding and consistency to build a trustworthy reputation, and hackers leverage this to go after you. 

 The most common method is to use phishing attacks. These thieves set up URLs that look scarily similar to the real company’s website. To slip by your watchful eye, here are some of the simple switches hackers make that can go unnoticed: 

  1. Switching out a zero for the letter “O” or a capital “i” for a lowercase “L.” If you’re quickly reading an e-mail, it might look legit.
  2. Adding in a word that seems like it could be a subdomain of the real company, like “”
  3. Using a different domain extension, like “” 

Some criminals will take it a step further and set up a web page that looks identical to that of the real website. When you click the link – via e-mail, SMS or even through social media – several dangerous results can occur. 

The first is that malware can be installed on your computer. Clicking a bad link can set off an automatic malware download that contains malicious files with the ability to collect personally identifiable information from your device, like usernames, credit card or bank account numbers and more. 

The second is the fake website will have a form to harvest your information. This could be login credentials, passwords and, in some cases, your credit or bank information. 

The third most common issue is an open redirect. The link might look legit, but when you click on it, you’re redirected to a malicious website where the intent is to steal your information. 

What brand impersonations do you need to look out for? Well, all of them, but according to Check Point’s latest Brand Phishing Report, there are 10 companies that top the chart in overall appearance in brand phishing attempts. 

Here Are The Top 10 Most Frequently Impersonated Brands In Phishing Attempts In Q2 Of 2023: 

  1. Microsoft (29%) 
  2. Google (19.5%) 
  3. Apple (5.2%) 
  4. Wells Fargo (4.2%) 
  5. Amazon (4%) 
  6. Walmart (3.9%) 
  7. Roblox (3.8%) 
  8. LinkedIn (3%) 
  9. Home Depot (2.5%) 
  10. Facebook (2.1%) 

Take a minute and ask yourself how many of the companies on this list send you regular e-mail communications. Even just one puts you at risk. 

Cybercriminals go the full mile with these scams. They know what types of messages work best for each company to get your attention. 

Here are three common phishing attacks cybercriminals have used under these brands’ good names to gain access to your private information. 

  1. Unusual Activity – These types of e-mails will suggest that someone gained access to your account and you need to change your password quickly. They leverage fear so people will click without thinking, hurrying to change their password before they’re a victim of the attack.They usually have buttons that say, “Review Recent Activity” or “Click Here To Change Your Password.”

    These e-mails can go as far as to show fake login information detailing the region, IP address, time of sign-in and more, like real messages from the companies do to convince you to click.

  2. Fake Gift Cards – These e-mails suggest that someone sent you an e-gift card. When you open the e-mail, they either redirect you to a website to “claim your gift card” or have a button to “redeem now.”
  3. Account Verification Required – These e-mails suggest that your account has been disconnected, and they need you to verify your information. As soon as you enter your login credentials, the hacker has access.

These scams are happening every single day. You’re a target, but so are the unsuspecting employees in your company. Without proper training, they might not know what to look for, panic and try to resolve these “issues” under the radar, ultimately causing the problem. 

There are multiple steps to making sure your network is secure. One would be getting e-mail monitoring to help reduce the likelihood of these phishing e-mails ending up in your inbox. It’s also important to make sure employees know what to look for so that if an e-mail does get by the phishing detection system, they can still keep your company safe. 

The best thing to do is to start here with your FREE Cybersecurity Risk Assessment. We’ll evaluate your network and provide a full report on areas where you are vulnerable and what to do to fix them. There’s no obligation, but you should know where you’re at risk. Click here to schedule your assessment now. 

This HUGE And Recent Data Breach Practically Guarantees YOUR Personal Information Was Stolen 

Back in May, the company MOVEit, a file transfer platform made by Progress Software, was compromised by a Russian ransomware operation called Cl0p. They used a vulnerability in Progress’s software that was unknown to exist at the time. Shortly after the attack was noticed, a patch was issued. However, some users continued to be attacked because they didn’t install it.  

The software is used by thousands of governments and financial institutions and hundreds of other public and private companies from around the world, and it’s been estimated that at least 455 organizations and over 23 MILLION individuals who were customers of MOVEit have had their information stolen. 

Some of the organizations compromised include: 

  • The US Department of Energy 
  • New York City Department of Education 
  • UCLA 
  • Shell 
  • Ernst & Young 
  • Northwest Mutual 
  • Pacific Premier Bank 
  • TransAmerica Life Insurance  
  • Honeywell 
  • Bristol Myers Squibb 
  • Gen/Norton LifeLock 
  • Radisson Hotel 
  • BBC 
  • British Airways 

The majority of those organizations (73%) are based in the US, while the rest are international, with the most heavily impacted sectors being finance, professional services and educational institutions. 

Cl0p is a type of ransomware that has been used in cyber-attacks since 2019. Data stolen is published to a site on the dark web – a section of the worldwide web where cybercriminals sell and trade information without having to reveal themselves. The ransomware and website have been linked to FIN11, a financially motivated cybercrime operation that has been connected to both Russia and Ukraine and is believed to be part of a larger umbrella operation known as TA505. 

What makes this attack so terrible is that many of the organizations compromised provide services to many other companies and government entities, which means it’s very likely their customers, patients, taxpayers and students were compromised by association. And yes, you’re probably one of them.  

The big question is, were you notified? 

For some reason, this breach didn’t make mainstream headlines, but when a company is compromised, they are obligated to tell you if your data was stolen. This can come in the form of an e-mail or snail mail letter. However, due to spam filters, e-mail delivery is clearly not a reliable way to ensure an important message is received, and organizing a letter for over 36 million people can take time. 

If you use the software, you need to ensure that all your passwords and PINs are changed ASAP and you must be on the lookout for any strange activity. Don’t use the same passwords and make sure they are at least 12 characters long, using uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as special characters and numbers.  

You should also ensure that MFA, or multi-factor authentication, is turned on for all critical software applications and websites you use, such as Microsoft Office, QuickBooks, banking and payroll software, your credit card processor, etc. 

Want to know if your company’s information is on the dark web? Click here to request a free Dark Web Vulnerability Scan for your organization (sorry, we don’t offer this for individuals). Simply let us know your domain name and we’ll conduct the search for free and contact you to discuss what was found via a confidential review (NOT via e-mail). Questions? Call us local at 480-464-0202 or toll-free 1-800 984-5204.

Are Your Business Tools Ticking Time Bombs For A Cyber-Attack?  

In June a popular file-sharing software amongst big-name companies likes Shell, Siemens Energy, Sony, several large law firms, a number of US federal agencies such as the Department of Health and more was hacked by Russia-linked cybercrime group Cl0p. Security Magazine reported that, to date, there are 138 known companies impacted by the breach, resulting in the personal information of more than 15 million people being compromised. More are expected to emerge as the investigation continues. 

If you’re reading that list of company names thinking, “I’m just a small business compared to these big guys – that won’t happen to me,” we’ve got news for you. Many of these companies have cyber security budgets in the millions, and it still happened to them, not because they were ignoring the importance of cyber security, but because of a piece of software they use to run their business.  

Progress Software’s MOVEit, ironically advertised as a tool you can use to “securely share files across the enterprise and globally,” “reduce the risk of data loss” and “assure regulatory compliance,” was exploited by a tactic called a zero-day attack. This occurs when there is a flaw in the application that creates a gap in security and has no available patch or defense because the software maker doesn’t know it exists. Cybercriminals quickly release malware to exploit the vulnerability before the software maker can patch it, essentially giving them “zero days” to respond.  

These attacks are dangerous because they are difficult to prevent and can quickly and easily ruin smaller businesses.  

Depending on the organization’s motives, the stolen data can be deleted, held for ransom or sold on the dark web. Or, if you are lucky enough to recover your data, you might still end up paying out thousands or more in fines and lawsuits, losing money from downtime and coming out on the other end with a damaged reputation that causes clients to leave anyway. In MOVEit’s case, the cybercrime agency Cl0p has claimed on their website that their motivation is purely financial and has allegedly deleted data obtained from government agencies as they were not the intended targets.  

What does this mean for small businesses?  

For starters, it underlines the harsh reality that cyber security isn’t just the concern of big businesses and government agencies. In fact, small businesses can be more vulnerable to cyber-attacks, as they often dedicate fewer resources to protection.  

It also means that even if your organization is secure, the third-party vendors you work with and the tools you choose to use in your business still pose potential risks. Most of MOVEit’s customers that were affected likely had strong cyber security measures in place. Even though it was no direct fault of their own, at the end of the day, those companies still must go back to their clients, disclose what happened and take the verbal, legal and financial beating that comes with a data breach.  

The MOVEit hack serves as a grim reminder of the critical importance of cyber security for businesses of all sizes. In the face of an increasingly sophisticated and fast-moving cyberthreat landscape, businesses cannot afford to ignore these risks. Cyber security must be an ongoing effort, involving regular assessments, updates, monitoring, training and more. As this terrible incident shows, a single vulnerability can lead to a catastrophic breach with severe implications for the business and its customers. 

In the digital age, cyber security isn’t just a technical issue – it’s a business imperative. 

If you have ANY concerns about your own business or simply want to have a second set of eyes examine your network for vulnerabilities, we offer a FREE Cyber Security Risk Assessment.  

Click here to schedule a quick consultation to discuss your current situation and get an assessment on the schedule.  

The Key To Scaling Your Company Efficiently 

As a business owner, you know that continuous, steady growth is an essential part of success. When you’re ready to get serious about scaling your organization, several vital activities must happen. Documented workflows and processes, streamlined hiring, onboarding and training, well-oiled marketing systems and more top the list. One key but often overlooked element of scaling success that can make or break your efforts is leveraging technology to enhance operations quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively.  

One resource necessary for growth is the cloud. The cloud, which now integrates with numerous AI tools, giving it more capabilities than ever before, allows you to streamline and automate your operations without large, unnecessary investments. 

In this article we’ll cover what the cloud is, the major benefits you should take advantage of and how you can use it to grow your organization without overspending.  

The cloud is simply a global infrastructure of servers that gives you remote, on-demand access to computer system resources, including data storage, over the Internet instead of on your computer’s hard drive. With these capabilities, your business doesn’t need to invest in its own hardware or software licenses, allowing you to pay only for what you use when you use it. Software and hardware can be expensive, making this is a great solution for businesses in growth mode without unlimited budgets. 

How can the cloud help your organization? Here are 5 benefits to consider: 

  1. Economies of Scale – As mentioned, with most cloud-based programs you can expand the services as your business grows. When revenue increases and you take on more clients, you can choose to upgrade your services or invest in new features or capabilities, so you never pay for more than you need at the time. It takes only a few clicks from an administrator.
  2. Enhanced Collaboration – In a digital world, we need real-time access to tools for collaboration, no matter where our employees are. Cloud-based programs can typically be accessed anywhere in the world on any device by multiple members of the team simultaneously. This allows for colleagues to work on projects together even if they aren’t in a physical office or are in different time zones, increasing productivity all around.
  3. Increased Automation – You can save money and your employees’ time by having cloud-based programs automate certain repeatable tasks such as regular backups, logging and monitoring networks, resource allocation and much more. Most business owners don’t know how many tasks they can automate or how much money and time they can save until they have an IT professional review their network.
  4. Faster Access to Resources – With the cloud, your employees no longer have to wait for extensive downloads or installations. Most tools are readily available instantly, making it easier and faster to get work done.
  5. Reduced Disaster Recovery Costs – Disasters rarely damage cloud-based data and assets that are hosted virtually on servers, not on hardware in the office. Your IT professional should have multiple backups of your data, so if something goes wrong, it will be easy to get it back up and running.  

Cloud-based programs are a great resource for business owners who want scale. They are easy to use, simple and flexible to expand, cost-effective, great for collaboration, more secure than other programs and much more.  

If you think you’re not harnessing all the power that cloud tools provide, you’re probably not. The best next step is to have an IT professional do an in-depth review of your current network to find the areas of opportunity in your business.  

We offer a FREE Network Assessment, where we’ll extensively review your network and sit down with you to review what should be done differently to save you money and enhance your business operations. If you’re serious about scaling and want to do it the right way, click here to book a Network Assessment with our team or call our office (local) 480-464-0202  (toll-free) 1-(800) 984-5204 to get a meeting on the schedule.  

Warning: The Hole In Your Cyber-Insurance Policy That Could Result In Your Claim Being Denied Coverage 

You’ve all heard the stats – small businesses are the #1 target for cybercriminals because they’re easy targets, with a recent article in Security Magazine reporting that nearly two-thirds (63%) of small businesses have experienced a cyber-attack and 58% an actual breach. But what many still don’t understand (or simply don’t appreciate) is how much a cyber-attack can cost you. 

That’s why one of the fastest-growing categories in insurance is cyber liability. Cyber liability covers the massive costs associated with a breach, which may include the following, depending on your policy: 

  • Legal fees to handle any number of lawsuits, including class action litigation against your organization, as well as fines and penalties incurred by a regulatory investigation by government and law enforcement agencies.
  • Negotiation and payment of a ransomware demand.
  • Data restoration and emergency IT fees to recover your network and get it operational again.
  • Customer notifications and credit and identity theft monitoring for clients and employees.
  • Public relations expertise and call center costs for taking inbound calls and questions.
  • Loss of revenue related to being unable to transact; if your operations and data are frozen, you might not be able to process sales and deliver goods and services for days or weeks.
  • Errors and omissions to cover liability related to a failure to perform and deliver services to customers, as well as allegations of negligence in protecting your customers’ data.

If you want to make sure you don’t lose everything you worked so hard for to a cyber scumbag, cyber liability is a very important part of protecting your assets.  

But here’s what you need to know: In order to get coverage, businesses are required by insurance companies to implement much more robust and comprehensive cyberprotections. Obviously, the insurers want the companies they are underwriting to reduce the chances and the overall financial impact of a devastating cyber-attack so they don’t have to pay out – and this is where you need to pay attention. 

MANY business owners are signing (verifying) that they DO have such policies and protections in place, such as 2FA, a strength of password requirement, employee awareness training and data recovery and backups, but aren’t actually implementing them, because they assume their IT company or person knows this and is doing what is outlined in the policy. Not so in many cases. 

Unless cyber security is your area of expertise, it’s very easy for you to misrepresent and make false statements in the application for insurance, which can lead to your being denied coverage in the event of an attack and having your policy rescinded.  

If you have cyber liability or similar insurance policies in place, I urge you to revisit the application you completed with your IT person or company to make absolutely certain they are doing everything you represented and affirmed you are doing. Your insurance agent or broker should be willing to assist you with this process since your IT company or person cannot be expected to be insurance professionals who know how to interpret the legal requirements outlined.  

What’s critical here is that you work with your IT company or person to ensure 100% compliance with the security standards, protocols and protections you agreed to and verified having in place when you applied for coverage. IF A BREACH HAPPENS, your insurance provider will NOT just cut you a check. They will conduct an investigation to determine what happened and what caused the breach. They will want to see tangible evidence and documentation that proves the preventative measures you had in place to ward off cyberthreats. If it’s discovered that you failed to put in place the adequate preventative measures that you affirmed you had in place and would continue to maintain on your insurance application, your insurance company has every reason to deny your claim and coverage.  

If you have ANY concerns over this – including whether or not you need coverage, whether your coverage is sufficient and whether you are doing what you need to do to avoid an insurance denial, click here to schedule a quick consultation to discuss your current situation and to receive a referral to a cyber insurance expert we recommend. 

Further, if you would like us to conduct a FREE cyber security risk assessment to show just how secure and prepared you are for ransomware or a cyber-attack, we can discuss that too! Just click here to schedule a phone consultation.  

Your Personal Titanic Moment

On a recent interview about the Titan sub catastrophe, director of the movie Titanic James Cameron, who has made 33 successful dives to the Titanic wreckage site, pointed out that this tragedy is eerily similar to the 1912 Titanic disaster: the captain of the 1912 RMS Titanic was repeatedly warned about ice ahead of his ship, yet he plowed ahead at full speed into an ice field on a moonless night, resulting in the deaths of over 1,500 innocent souls.  

The captain of the sub Titan and CEO of the company OceanGate, Stockton Rush, was also repeatedly warned about his vessel’s safety, lack of certification for the vessel’s integrity, lack of a tracking device (think airplane black box), their experimental approach to deep dives (despite the fact that this is a very mature and well-understood practice) and lack of a backup sub. He also proceeded to plow ahead at full speed, taking people in an extremely unsafe vehicle, also killing innocent people. If there was ever a case for willful negligence, this is it. 

When it comes to IT security and compliance for small business, this kind of willful negligence is rampant. Sometimes it ends with an abrupt, catastrophic “implosion,” as with the Titan, where a company is destroyed by a ransomware attack, operations shut down, unable to transact, employees and clients harmed and their reputation tarnished.  

In other cases, the risk is there but hasn’t been addressed because nothing bad has happened – yet. Willful negligence in IT security and regulatory compliance to data privacy and protection comes in three forms. 

The first is willful ignorance. Some people running a business are young and inexperienced, too new to the business world to understand the risks they are incurring by failing to protect their clients and themselves. Often, they are being advised by the wrong people – an IT firm that knows how to make their tech work but lacks the expertise to implement good security protections. You kind of can’t blame them for getting it wrong initially, but at some point they’ll get smacked with a cyber-attack and learn the error of their ways the hard way. 

The second type of willful negligence is willfully stupid 

This group CANNOT claim “ignorance” as their defense. They KNOW they should be protecting their business and their clients’ data from cyber-attacks. They’ve heard the stories, they know the laws and may have been warned by their IT company or person, but foolishly believe “that can’t happen to us,” or choose to assume they’re “fine” because they are using a cloud application that promises compliance (which is correct for THEM, not necessarily for YOU). They trust but don’t verify that their IT person or company is actually doing what they’re supposed to, and often lack cyber liability insurance, choosing to take the risk because they’re cheap or can’t be bothered.  

The third type of willful negligence is, in my opinion, the TRUE meaning of willful negligence and the most immoral and unforgivable. Determined negligence. These people stubbornly insist on continuing to operate without proper security protocols in place, without a disaster recovery plan, without any insurance, without assessing and inspecting their environment, refusing to acknowledge ALL facts, history and evidence to the contrary. They know they are acting irresponsibly but don’t care.  

After the tragedy of the sub, multiple experts came forward to point out all the risky behaviors Rush was allowing. The hull had not gone through any type of cyclical pressure testing or thermal expansion and contraction testing. The hatch could only be opened from the outside and not the inside, which wouldn’t allow them to escape if needed in the event of an emergency – one small fire inside would have been catastrophic. No atmospheric system to monitor interior gases such as oxygen, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. No emergency air breathing system. The viewing window was only certified to 4,000 feet, not the 12,500 feet of the Titanic wreck. But the most egregious of all was an egotistical assumption by the CEO that he knew better than everyone else around him. 

I wonder if he put all of this in the brochure and explained that philosophy to the people in the sub who lost their lives that day. 

Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone has a moment in their lives when they place trust in someone they shouldn’t. Everyone has blind spots, and we’re all ignorant and misinformed about something. The question is do you STAY willfully ignorant or stupid to the point of being determined to hold steady to your course of action to the point where you not only do harm to yourself, but to others as well? 

If you do, it’s only a matter of time before you have your own ship sunk, your own personal Titanic-size wreck. Sadly, if you’re the CEO of a company that holds financial data, credit cards, medical records, tax returns, Social Security numbers, birthdays or even the contact details of your clients OR employees, YOUR willful negligence in cyber protection will absolutely harm others.   

5 Essential Tech Tools To Grow Your Business And 2 You Should NOT Waste Your Money On 

Growing your business involves learning how to make money and hang on to it responsibly. When you’re in the weeds, it’s easy to think that a fancy piece of well-marketed software could help dig your way out. That’s usually not the case, and you’ll likely end up paying for software that you don’t need and barely use, and that burns through your bank account. 

On the other end, a few pieces of technology benefit most growing organizations. When set up and implemented correctly, these pieces of software can improve operations, increase efficiency and lend a hand to revenue-generating efforts. Investing in the right technology is not a wasted expense. However, with so many options, especially with the new wave of AI-powered digital tools, it can be challenging to decide which ones you need and which ones are distractions.

In today’s blog, we’re outlining five tech tools you should use to grow your business and a few that will only take up space.  

Tools To Use: 

  • Direct Messaging Platforms – Whether everyone is in-office, remote or hybrid, a communication tool is a must. These tools allow for targeted communication that can be one-on-one, small, select groups, entire departments, channels within the organization or the entire organization. This feature helps to keep messages relevant instead of consuming everyone’s time. Tools like Microsoft Teams or Slack are popular options that offer video call capabilities, integrate with other tech tools, can leverage AI and more. Other critical factors to consider when choosing which software you’ll use are whether it’s high-speed, easy to use and scalable, and whether the company provides great support.  
  • Project Management Software – This is essential for internal and external projects to keep you on track, on budget and organized. Using this tool, you can work with others on your team to set deadlines, assign tasks, monitor deliverables, track issues, connect with clients for feedback or approval and more. However, there are many options available that have more features than you need. When choosing project management software, first see if there are any industry favorites. For example, JobNimbus is specialized software for roofers in the contracting industry. Others exist specifically for health care. Finding these unique options can help you get the project solutions you need. If you’re looking for a general tool, software like Monday, Asana and ClickUp all continue to top the popularity chart. 
  • Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM) – If you’ve been tracking leads and customers via pencil and paper or with a simple spreadsheet, this tool will change the game for you. CRMs allow you to store your customer information in one place, which can help streamline your sales process, strengthen customer relationships, increase sales and run a smoother operation. Again, look for industry-specific options first. After that, tools like Keap or Salesforce come highly recommended.
  • Cloud Computing Solutions – These are vital for all organizations that share data or collaborate on projects. The cloud is a web-based hub that holds all your data virtually and can be manipulated by anyone with access at any time, even at the same time. It syncs to all connected devices to share changes in real time, allowing for better collaboration and scale-up as your company grows. Cloud platforms to consider are Microsoft Azure, Google Drive, Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Dropbox. 
  • Cyber Security Solutions – Digital tools make running your company easier, but they invite new threats into your business. Cyber security is a serious issue for business owners. You handle sensitive data, financial information and more for you and your clients, so safeguarding it against cybercriminals is necessary. Computers, USBs, mobile devices, servers and networks must all be secured.  

 While there are antivirus and firewall solutions available for you to set up on your own, having an IT company with a cyber security expert on the team monitoring your network is recommended. Hackers break through the standard firewalls regularly, which leaves people who think they are protected unknowingly exposed. With 24/7 monitoring, an IT team can patch those holes before cybercriminals can find them. 

 Those are five tools all business owners would benefit from. But what about items you don’t need? Here are two you can avoid wasting money on. 


  • Ineffective AI Tools – With the launch of ChatGPT, a wave of new AI-powered programs has popped up. It seems like there is an AI tool for everything. The problem is, can these tools be used effectively? Many programs were rushed to market and are still in the early stages of development. They have frustrating bugs and limitations and don’t produce quality results. 

Be selective about which AI tools you use. Do you need it? Does it work? Remember, whenever you sign up for another free trial or create an account, you’re giving your private information to a company that could experience a data breach. Choose carefully!  

  • Duplicates – Are you paying twice for the same tool? As software companies merge and develop new features, you might find that you can consolidate your tools in one place. For example, if you’re using Canva to design images for social media and something else like Hootsuite to schedule them, you could reduce the number of tools you use from two to one because Canva can schedule the posts for you! There are likely other areas in your business where this can happen. Spend some time evaluating what you invest in to see if you can eliminate anything. 

 When it comes to running an efficient business, choosing the right tech tools is critical to your success. Instead of spending your limited time researching the best options, let our tech experts help. Using our FREE Network Assessment, we can help you identify bottlenecks and areas of opportunity in your business to help you save money, improve productivity and grow. Click here to book your free assessment now or call our team at 480-464-0202 to get started. 

The One Lesson Business Owners Miss When Training Employees That Can Cost Them Thousands

Training employees on anything can be an expensive process. You incur the cost of investing in necessary materials plus the time it takes away from your employees doing revenue-generating activities. But what’s worse when it comes to cyber security training is the expense you’ll incur if that training fails.  

Recent studies show that human error plays a role in a shocking 90% of data breach cases! Smart business owners are taking a proactive approach and training their employees on cyber security do’s and don’ts. While we applaud their efforts and encourage all owners to take this step, research suggests their efforts aren’t paying off. Despite their willingness to train employees, the number of data breaches continues to increase.  

What gives? We’ll be first to say it – cyber security training can be boring. And what happens during boring presentations? People aren’t engaged, so they tune out and miss the critical information needed to keep your company secure. After the presentation, they sign off, saying they have learned the lessons, but have they really or are they a ticking time bomb in your organization? 

The latter is likely true. If you want the information to stick, you must take some additional steps – and the most important is putting them to the test! 

According to Education World, interactive activities are six times more effective when learning and remembering material than simply listening to a lesson. You can incorporate this tactic by putting employees to the test to find out whether or not they can apply what they learned. 

One of the best ways to do this is to use phishing simulations. Here’s how the process works: 

  • A third party creates a realistic but fake phishing e-mail that shows identifiable signs discussed in the training. An example could be creating an e-mail that is similar to the CEO’s requesting private information, an outside company sending a bad link, etc. You can customize it to look like something relevant that your employees could potentially see and fall for.
  • The employees are then put to the test. You choose which employees will receive what links and what dates the e-mails will be sent. Will they be able to identify the threats or will they fall for the scams?
  • The results are collected and shared with you to develop more comprehensive training programs and help you identify which employees are your biggest risks so you can provide specific coaching. 

 Another great way to use phishing simulations is to send out the tests before the training. When employees see that people in the company are making mistakes, they are more likely to pay attention to the lesson. 

 It’s not enough to just teach the information! It must be learned and implemented every day to be effective and keep your organization secure. 

If you’re looking for effective cyber security awareness training for your employees, our team has a comprehensive program that will engage, teach and test your employees so you can have peace of mind knowing they are working to keep your company safe. Click here to get in touch with our team and get started on your cyber security training session today. 

The Shocking Facts About The New FTC Safeguards Rule That Affect Nearly EVERY Small Business Operating Today 

As former President Ronald Regan once said, the scariest words you’ll ever hear are “We’re from the government, and we’re here to help.”  

In this case, the government is trying to help by forcing nearly all businesses to implement and maintain a strong cyber security program to protect the customer information these companies host – definitely not a bad thing, and all businesses should take this seriously without the government mandating it. 

Sadly, the majority of small businesses don’t take cyber security seriously enough and believe they are doing enough to prevent a cyber-attack when they aren’t, which is why the government is having to step in and create laws (the GLBA Act) to enforce better security protocols.  

What Is The New FTC Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act Safeguards Rule And Who Does It Apply To? 

Back in April of 2022, the FTC issued a new publication entitled “FTC Safeguards Rule: What Your Business Needs to Know.” This was published as a “compliance guide” to ensure that all companies that fall under the Safeguards Rule maintain safeguards to protect the security of customer information. 

While you might think your business is “too small” to need to comply or doesn’t hold any data “that a hacker would want,” you’ll be shocked to discover you are likely to be wrong on both fronts. 

Hacking groups use automated bots to randomly carry out their attacks – and small businesses are their #1 target due to the gross negligence and inadequate protections they have. You are low-hanging fruit. That’s why it’s not only the obvious organizations, such as CPAs, financial institutions and credit unions, that need to comply. Here’s a short list of just a few of the organizations that fall under this new law. You should know that this is NOT a complete list: 

  • Printers that print checks or other financial documents.  
  • Automotive dealers who provide financing for car purchases. 
  • Any organization that accepts credit or loans for the goods and services they sell, whether or not the credit is granted. 
  • Companies that do tax preparation or credit counseling of any kind. 
  • Real estate settlements, services or appraisals.  
  • Career counselors that provide services to people employed by or recently displaced from a financial organization.  

As you can see, the companies that must comply are growing rapidly. Bottom line, if you handle any kind of financial data or personally identifiable information, you need to make sure you are complying with these new standards. 

What You Need To Do Now 

The rule requires you to implement a “reasonable” information security program. But what does that mean? For starters, you need to designate a qualified individual to implement and supervise your IT security program – and you cannot outsource this. Yes, you can and should get a professional IT firm like us to guide you on the implementation, but the buck still stops with you. 

The person you designate doesn’t have to have a background in IT or cyber security – but they will be the person responsible for ensuring your company is taking reasonable precautions to comply with the new security standards. 

Second, the Safeguards Rule requires you to conduct a risk assessment to initiate an effective security program. From there, you would work with your IT company (us!) to roll out a plan to secure and protect the data you have by putting in place access controls, encryption, data backups, 2FA and a number of other protections. 

Cyber security is not something you do once – it’s an ongoing effort of protection as new threats evolve. If you want to see where your organization stands on cyber security, click here to sign up for a quick, easy and completely free Cyber Security Risk Assessment. That is the first step toward complying and will give you the information you need to know about your own security stance. 

Is It Illegal To Track Your Employees’ Activities When They’re Working From Home?

Along with the surge of people working from home or in hybrid situations over the last few years, there has also been an increase in employers looking for ways to monitor their employees’ work activities to ensure they actually ARE working when remote.

This is no surprise given the new “quiet quitting” trend that has now evolved into “Bare Minimum Mondays” and “Try Less Tuesdays.” Sadly, some employees are taking advantage of working remotely as a way of working less.

Of course, not all remote employees are slackers – but how can an employer know the difference? That’s where tools like Teramind and ActivTrak come into play. These are software tools that can be installed on employees’ workstations and laptops to monitor their activity, both while in the office and remote.

Not only will these tools provide insights into productivity and where employees are spending their time, an employer can also see when someone checks in to work and leaves for the day. These apps can also help in ensuring employees aren’t surfing inappropriate websites during work hours using company resources.

While many people are against monitoring, it’s perfectly legal in the US, provided this is for work-related activities on workplace devices. Monitoring laws do vary by state, so you should always check with an HR attorney on any employee-related monitoring. While there is no requirement to gain consent on a federal level, some states require that you establish consent before monitoring.

It’s also legal to monitor company-owned devices outside of work hours, including Internet traffic, search terms, websites visited, GPS geolocation and content viewed, to name a few things. If you issue your employees’ phones, you are legally allowed to monitor them as well. It’s even legal to monitor your employees’ own personal devices if you have a BYOD (bring your own device) to work, provided those devices are used for work purposes.

If you are thinking of rolling out employee-monitoring software, here are a few recommendations.

  • Let your employees know you WILL be monitoring them, and how, before rolling out any monitoring activities. Being totally transparent about what you are monitoring and why is important to establishing and maintaining trust with your employees. Most people would be very upset to discover you were monitoring them without their knowledge. While it’s legally your right (in most states) to monitor without letting them know, we feel it’s best to be open about this so they understand what’s being recorded.
  • Put in writing what is and isn’t allowed during work hours and on company-owned assets. If you don’t want employees visiting what you deem as inappropriate websites and mixing personal activities with work activities on company-owned devices, let them know that. If they work from home, set guidelines such as start and end times for work and how long and how frequently they can take breaks, detailing when they need to be available (at work). No one likes getting a speeding ticket when there’s no speed limit signs posted. Be absolutely clear on your expectations and put them in writing so there’s no risk of “You never told me that…” happening.
  • Get legal advice before implementing any kind of monitoring software, cameras or activities. Laws can change – and with privacy of data becoming more critical (and a legal hot potato), we suggest you work with an HR attorney to make sure you’re not violating anyone’s rights. Recently, the fast-food restaurant White Castle was hit with a lawsuit that could cost them up to $17 billion for using fingerprint login software for their employees to access certain systems. The lawsuit claims they violated Illinois’s biometric identification laws by asking employees to use their fingerprint as a secure way of logging in to their systems without first gaining consent.So, while it’s legal to monitor employees, you still need to be mindful of employment laws and data and privacy protection of the employees you monitor.

Need help implementing a more secure and productive remote workplace? Click here to schedule a quick call to discuss your options and to get ideas on how we can help you and your entire team be productive and safe, no matter where or how you choose to work.