You’re no stranger to the endless threats lurking in your email inbox. But have you ever considered that an email that seems to be from Microsoft could end up being your worst nightmare?
Microsoft, the tech giant we all know and trust, has become the most imitated brand when it comes to phishing attacks. That’s where cybercriminals send you an email that contains a malicious link or file. They’re trying to steal your data.
And while Microsoft isn't to blame for this, you and your employees need to be on high alert for anything that seems suspicious.
During the second quarter of 2023, Microsoft soared to the top spot of brands imitated by criminals, accounting for a whopping 29% of brand phishing attempts.
This places it well ahead of Google in second place (at 19.5%) and Apple in third place (at 5.2%). Together, these three tech titans account for more than half of the observed brand imitator attacks.
But what does this mean for your business?
Despite a clear surge in fake emails targeting millions of Windows and Microsoft 365 customers worldwide, careful observation can help protect you from identity theft and fraud attacks.
Whilst the most imitated brands change from quarter to quarter, cyber criminals are less likely to change their tactics.
They use legitimate-looking logos, colors, and fonts. Phishing scams frequently use domains or URLs that are similar to the real deal. But a careful scan of these, along with the content of any messages, will often expose typos and errors – the tell-tale signs of a phishing attack.
One of the latest attacks claims there has been unusual Microsoft account sign-in activity on your account, directing you to a malicious link. These links are designed to steal everything from login credentials to payment details.
And whilst tech firms continue to be popular scam subjects, many cybercriminals have turned to financial services like online banking, gift cards, and online shopping orders. Wells Fargo and Amazon both rounded up the top five during Q2 2023, accounting for 4.2% and 4% of brand phishing attempts respectively.
What can you do to protect your business?
The answer is simpler than you might think. The best course of action when it comes to phishing is to slow down, observe, and analyze. Check for discrepancies in URLs, domains, and message text.
If we can help you keep your team aware of the risks, get in touch.
Have you heard about the latest productivity update from our friends at Google?
They've just added a little feature to Google Calendar that could make your life a whole lot easier – especially if you’re a hybrid worker.
Remember back in 2021 when they first introduced the option to share your working location with your colleagues? They've taken it up a notch.
Now, you can set up multiple locations for any given day on your calendar. So whether you're splitting your time between the office and home, or out and about as a mobile worker, Google’s got you covered.
Picture this: you're only in the office for half a day before you head off to a client meeting. With this new feature, your colleagues will know exactly when and where to find you.
Google is all about helping us work smarter, not harder. They know that loads of us are still working remotely, or juggling a mix of office and remote work. This update is specially designed for hybrid workers.
It's only available to those with a Workspace account, including:
- Google Workspace Business Standard/Plus
- Enterprise Standard/Plus
- Education Fundamentals/Standard/Plus
- The Teaching and Learning Upgrade
Unfortunately, personal accounts won't have access just yet.
The working location feature will be switched on by default. But if you prefer that your colleagues can’t find you (we’re not judging… we all get distracted at work) you can easily disable it.
If we can help you get the most out of everyday applications like calendars and email, get in touch.
In the fast-evolving world of technology, business owners and managers like you are always on the lookout for the next big thing to give them a competitive edge.
Have you considered how AI tools might be able to help?
ChatGPT – or Generative Pretrained Transformer, if you want to get technical – has been making big waves all year. It’s an AI model developed by OpenAI that’s designed to generate human-like text based on the prompts it's given. Think of it like having a professional writer at your beck and call, ready to generate content, answer queries, or even draft emails whenever you need.
Lots of other AI models have also been released, including one from Google called Bard. Unlike ChatGPT, Bard can browse the web for its answers (you can do this in ChatGPT, but you must be a paying Plus subscriber and have switched on web browsing in the settings).
Some businesses already use AI tools, mainly for customer service and content creation. That’s like buying a Ferrari just to drive to the grocery store. They can do so much more!
Here are three of the other ways an AI tool can turbocharge your business…
- Stay ahead with trend detection: Remember the feeling when you realized too late that the last ‘big thing’ could’ve been a gold mine? With an AI tool, you'll be the one setting the trends, not following them. Simply ask it to "Provide a short analysis of the latest [insert your industry] trends", and you're armed with powerful knowledge.
- Enhance productivity with keystone habits: Increased productivity is the holy grail for any business owner. With an AI tool, you can tap into cutting-edge research to supercharge your work habits. Just ask for the "top 5 latest ways to [improve a specific area]". We bet you spot a new idea you’d never thought of.
- Make better decisions with summaries of complex events: Ask your tool to explain [something complex] to a 12 year old… that’s a clever way to get a summary anyone can understand.
ChatGPT, Bard and all the others are more than just AI writing assistants… they’re your secret weapon in the business world. It's time to stop using your Ferrari just for the grocery runs and start taking it for a real spin.
If we can help you use AI more in your business, get in touch.
Are you aware that the rise in global VPN usage has skyrocketed? The reasons are clear as day: Virtual Private Networks offer increased security, anonymity, and allow access to geo-restricted content online.
But here's the million-dollar question: Are all VPNs created equal?
The answer is a resounding no. And that has potential implications for your business.
Free VPNs, although tempting with their zero-cost allure, aren’t always what they promise to be. Why, you ask? Let's take a closer look at free VPN services.
For starters, it's important to understand that running a VPN service comes with substantial costs. Servers, infrastructure, maintenance, staff – these aren't free.
So how do free VPN providers keep the lights on? Some employ tactics that could compromise your privacy and security.
Imagine this: You're sipping your morning coffee, browsing the net through a free VPN, believing your online activities are private. In reality, your sensitive information might be collected and sold to the highest bidder.
Cyber criminals, advertizers, even government agencies could potentially get their hands on your data.
Shocking, isn't it?
Moreover, free VPNs are notorious for injecting unwanted ads and tracking cookies into your browsing sessions. Ever wondered why you're suddenly bombarded with eerily accurate ads? It's probably your free VPN service cashing in on your browsing habits.
Now, consider the potential danger if an employee downloads a free VPN on a company device, or on their personal device that they use for work. Company data could be exposed, representing a significant business risk. Picture a scenario where your company's sensitive data falls into the wrong hands - a chilling thought, isn't it?
So, what's the solution?
It's crucial to educate your employees about the risks associated with free VPNs. Encourage the use of reliable, paid VPN services that guarantee no logging of data, robust encryption, and superior user privacy.
In fact, you may choose to provide one to them. If we can help you find the safest, most suitable VPN for your business, get in touch.
Remember, when it comes to online security, free often comes at a higher cost. Isn't it worth investing a few $$ a month to protect your company's valuable information?
You may think that cyber-attacks only happen to large corporations. But unfortunately, that's not the case.
According to a recent report, almost two-thirds of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) suffered at least one cyber attack over the past year. That's a staggering number, and it should serve as a wake-up call for businesses everywhere.
But it gets worse.
More and more businesses are also experiencing repeat attacks, with 87% reporting at least two successful attacks over the past year. And on average, a company suffers almost five successful cyber incidents.
The question is, why are these attacks happening, and what can you do to prevent them?
The most common types of cyber-attacks that businesses face are malware and ransomware.
Malware is malicious software. It invades your system and can cause all sorts of problems, from slowing down your operations to stealing your data.
Ransomware is even more dangerous as it encrypts your data, making it impossible for you to access it unless you pay a ransom fee. This can be devastating for any business and can lead to significant losses and downtime.
What factors are contributing to more successful attacks?
One reason is the rise in BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). This means employees using their personal devices to access company information, which can be risky.
Another factor is the explosion of productivity apps, which can create security vulnerabilities if not properly secured.
Finally, the number of devices we're using now means there are more entry points for cybercriminals to exploit.
The good news is that there are steps you can take to protect your business. Here are five solid security steps you can take.
- Use strong passwords: Passwords are your first line of defense, so make sure they're strong and unique. Better yet, use a password manager that can create and remember randomly generated passwords
- Keep software up to date: Software updates often contain security fixes, so make sure you're always running the latest version. This applies to both your operating system and all applications you use
- Train your staff: Educate your employees on how to identify phishing emails and other scams. You can also run regular security awareness training sessions to keep everyone up to date
- Backup your data: Doing this means if you do suffer a cyber attack, you can restore your systems quickly and with less disruption
- Use antivirus software: This can help protect your systems from malware and other threats. Make sure you're running a reputable and up-to-date solution
Remember, prevention is always better than cure. Take action today to help you stay protected.
And if that seems like a lot of extra work, let us help. Get in touch today.
Have you heard the saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words"? It seems cybercriminals have too, and they're using it to their advantage.
In a new twist on phishing campaigns, cybercriminals are luring victims to click on images rather than downloading malicious files or clicking suspicious links.
Let's dive into the warning signs, so you can keep your business safe from these sneaky attacks.
First things first, what's the big deal about clicking on an image? It might be promoting a killer deal or a one-time offer.
But when you click on the image, you don’t go to the real website. Instead, it’s a fake site designed to steal your personal information.
Imagine being lured in by a cute cat photo only to find out that Mr. Whiskers was actually a wolf in sheep's clothing! Not so cute anymore, right?
So, how can you tell if an image is part of a phishing campaign? Here are some warning signs to look out for:
- Unexpected emails: Did you receive an email from someone you don't know or weren't expecting? Be cautious! It's like accepting candy from a stranger – you never know what you're getting yourself into.
- Too good to be true: If an email promises you a free vacation or a million dollars just for clicking on an image, remember the golden rule: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Spelling and grammar mistakes: We all make typos, but if an email is riddled with errors, it could be a sign that something is going on.
- Mismatched logos or branding: If an email claims to be from a reputable company but the logo or branding doesn't match up, assume it’s a scam.
Now that you know what to look for, let's talk about how to protect your business from these image-based phishing attacks:
- Educate your employees: Knowledge is power! Make sure your team is aware of the latest phishing tactics and knows how to spot the warning signs.
- Keep software up-to-date: Just like you wouldn't drive a car with bald tires, don't let your software become outdated. Regular updates help patch security vulnerabilities that cybercriminals might exploit.
- Use strong passwords: It might be tempting to use "password123" for all your accounts, but resist the urge! A strong, unique password for each account can help prevent unauthorized access. Using a password manager is even better.
- Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA): MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring people to verify their identity through another method, such as a text message or fingerprint scan.
- Backup your data: In case disaster strikes, make sure you have a backup of all your files. That way, you won't be left high and dry if your data is compromised.
Whilst cyber criminals are getting smarter and smarter with their tactics, there's no need to panic. By being aware of the warning signs and taking proactive steps to protect your business, you can stay one step ahead of these digital tricksters.
Remember, not all that glitters is gold – or in this case, not every cute cat picture is just a cute cat picture. Stay vigilant, and don't let the scammers win!
UPDATE: This controversial image enhancement feature now seems to have been removed by Microsoft, following privacy concerns.
Don't be mistaken, we love Microsoft Edge (and think you will too), but lately, something has come to our attention that we wanted to share.
It's always a good idea to be aware of what your browser is doing behind the scenes. And there’s an Edge setting that you might be interested to learn about. It’s one that sends the images you view online to Microsoft.
While this might not seem like a big deal on the surface - it’s done to enhance the images - some business owners might be concerned about the privacy implications. After all, you never know who might be looking at your browsing history.
The good news is that it's easy to disable this setting if you're concerned about it. Here's how:
- Open Microsoft Edge and click on the three dots ("More actions") in the upper-right corner of the screen
- Select "Settings" from the drop-down menu
- Scroll down and click on "Privacy, search, and services"
- Under the "Services" section, turn off the toggle switch next to "Improve your web experience by allowing Microsoft to use information about websites you browse to improve search suggestions or to show you more relevant advertising"
That's it! With just a few clicks, you've disabled the feature that sends images to Microsoft.
Of course, there are other settings in Edge that you might want to explore as well. Like the ones that control your data collection preferences, or the ones that limit pop-ups and redirects.
Why should you take a few minutes to check out your browser settings? Well, for one thing, it can help protect your privacy and security online. By being aware of what your browser is doing, you can make informed decisions about what data to share (and what to keep private).
Plus, exploring your browser settings can be a fun and educational experience in its own right. You might discover new features or hidden gems you never knew existed.
And don't worry, you don't have to be a tech expert to understand these settings. In fact, Microsoft has done a great job of making them simple and straightforward, with clear explanations and helpful tips along the way.
If you ever get stuck, our team is happy to help. Get in touch.
How many times a day do you respond to an email without really thinking about its contents?
Maybe it's a request for some information. Perhaps it’s asking you to pay an invoice. All mundane stuff. But no sooner than you’ve hit send, you've fallen victim to a Business Email Compromise (BEC) attack.
A BEC attack occurs when a cybercriminal gains access to your business email account and uses it to trick your employees, customers, or partners into sending them money or sensitive information. They do this by impersonating someone senior, and abusing their position of trust.
It might sound like something that only happens to big corporations, but that's not the case.
According to the FBI, small and medium-sized businesses are just as vulnerable to BEC attacks as larger ones. In fact, these attacks have cost businesses more than $26 billion over the past few years.
And Microsoft brings more bad news, with its recent findings showing that they’re getting both more destructive and harder to detect.
So, what can you do to protect your business from BEC attacks? Here’s our advice:
- Educate your employees: They are the first line of defense against BEC attacks. They need to know how to spot phishing emails, suspicious requests, and fake invoices. Train them regularly on cyber security best practice, like strong passwords, multi-factor authentication, and secure file sharing.
- Use advanced email security solutions: Basic email protections like antispam and antivirus software are no longer enough to block BEC attacks. You need more advanced solutions that use artificial intelligence and machine learning to detect and prevent these attacks in real-time. Look for email security providers that offer features like domain-based message authentication, reporting, and conformance (DMARC), sender policy framework (SPF), and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM).
- Set up transaction verification procedures: Before transferring funds or sensitive information, establish a verification process that confirms the authenticity of the request. This could include a phone call, video conference, or face-to-face meeting. Don't rely on email alone to confirm these types of requests.
- Monitor your email traffic: Regularly monitor your email traffic for anomalies and unusual patterns. Look for signs like unknown senders, unusual login locations, changes to email settings or forwarding rules, and unexpected emails. Make sure you have a clear protocol in place for reporting and responding to any suspicious activity.
- Keep your software up to date: Ensure that you're always running the latest version of your operating system, email software, and other software applications. These updates often include vital security patches that address known vulnerabilities.
BEC attacks are becoming more common and more sophisticated, but with the right awareness, training, and security solutions, you can protect your business.
Don't wait until it's too late – take action today to keep your business safe.
If you want to know more about how to protect your business from cyber threats, our team is always ready to help you. Give us a call.
Have you ever felt frustrated by the flood of notifications from your multi-factor authentication (MFA) app?
Well, cybercriminals have too. And they're taking advantage of “MFA fatigue" to try to gain access to your sensitive business data.
MFA is essential for keeping your data secure. It adds an extra layer of security to your apps and accounts by asking you to verify your identity in two or more ways, such as a password and a code sent to your phone.
The constant alerts can be overwhelming though.
Attackers know this and will bombard employees – sometimes in the middle of the night – with a constant stream of MFA notifications. This makes it more likely someone will authenticate a login attempt through frustration, tiredness, or just to get the notifications to stop.
But now there's a new weapon in the fight against MFA fatigue.
Microsoft Authenticator has introduced number matching as a way of making sure your MFA notification is from the correct login attempt, preventing cyber criminals from taking advantage of notification fatigue.
How does number matching work?
When you receive an MFA notification, the app will display a randomly generated number. You then need to input this number to authenticate the login attempt and prove you're not a cybercriminal trying to access your business data.
That's not all. Microsoft Authenticator also allows for biometric authentication, which means you can use your face, fingerprint, or other unique physical features to prove your identity and combat the threat of MFA fatigue attacks.
With these security measures in place, your business can stay ahead of cyber criminals and keep your sensitive data better protected.
If you already use Microsoft Authenticator, number matching is ready to use. Simply make sure your app is up-to-date, and you'll be protected.
If you use another MFA system and want to look at how to make your security better or easier, we can help. Get in touch.
Microsoft has just announced an option for people to trial new features before their general release in Windows 11.
This isn’t about fixes to security flaws – everyone gets those at the same time.
This is an opportunity for businesses to jump the queue to receive new features and updates first.
Worth the risk?
Patience is a virtue!
Sure, it may be tempting to give in to the tantalizing prospect of new features… nobody ever wants to wait. But jumping aboard any trial phase comes with risks.
Bugs, errors, and other stumbling blocks could have a significant impact on your operations, potentially causing chaos in your daily workflow.
Waiting until features have completed a thorough trial process gives you the advantage of other people’s experience. They’ve already dealt with the complexities so, by the time you get the new features, they’ll be polished and dependable. And isn’t that more important for the smooth running of your business?
Trust us, the safe road is the smart road, especially when your business systems are involved. The benefits of being an early adopter may seem enticing, but you don't want to end up being the guinea pig.
Remember the old adage… good things come to those who wait!
We’re all for keeping up with the latest technology and software updates, but there is a time to exercise caution, and this is one of those times. Don't be tempted by the shiny new features.
- Be patient
- Stay safe
- And ensure that when the time comes, you're getting something that’s proven to work
Microsoft already has a lot of (tested and approved) features that can boost productivity and make your work processes smoother. We spend a lot of time helping businesses find the right ones for them. If we can do the same for you, get in touch.