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4 Things You Must Know About Ransomware Attacks

Posted by on Aug 9, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 4 Things You Must Know About Ransomware Attacks

It sounds like something out of a Liam Neeson movie, but ransomware attacks don’t take people hostage; they seize your computers. The University Of Calgary recently learned just how expensive these attacks really are, to the tune of $20,000. Here are four things you must know in order to protect your personal or business data from being compromised and losing money in the process.  How Do You Know If You’ve Been Attacked? Most people know if their computer has been hit with malware, but ransomware can be a little different. It actually encrypts the files on your computer, leaving them inaccessible. And unlike with some types of malware, you really can’t decrypt or get rid of it on your own. Ransomware can scramble your file names, leaving you clueless as to which ones have been affected. But if you’re still in doubt, a message will be displayed, letting you know that you have been infected, a ransom is due, how much you have to pay, and a deadline for payment. There have also been occasions where phony messages from the Department of Justice have flashed across the screen, saying that illegal activity has been detected on the computer, and to avoid jail time, you must pay a fine. Attackers, if they’re smart, will ask you to pay in bitcoins, a form of digital currency that can’t be traced but can be spent all the same at certain places. Should You Pay Up? Once you pay the ransom, you’re supposed to get a decryption key that will release your files. So it seems the logical thing to do. But there are a number of things to weigh when deciding whether or not you should give the money to the attacker as nothing is guaranteed.  The University of Calgary ultimately decided that paying the attacker was pretty much a no-brainer because of the type of research they do and the fact that faculty and staff both depend on being able to access information for work. And although students were not targeted, they still were not able to get their email for a short period of time, which placed an enormous burden on their studies. Officials admitted they knew there was no guarantee they would be granted access to their files again, but it was a risk they were willing to take.  Whether you pay the ransom or not, ransomware attacks are criminal behavior, so involving the police as well as getting help from cyber experts is strongly recommended. You should also notify the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. It may be possible to find the suspect before losing your money. But law enforcement, with the help of IT professionals, can continue on with the investigation after you’ve paid the ransom. Are You At Risk? Assessing your risk for a ransomware incident is similar to gauging your openness to any sort of malware attack. In other words, anyone is prey. But there are some common threads to look for. Cyber criminals will pretty much target anyone and everyone they can, but it seems as though the healthcare industry has been hit more than others. Why? Well, doctors and hospitals are more vulnerable, especially with patients’ lives at stake. Therefore, they are more likely to pay the ransom. But here’s the thing: attackers don’t generally seek out a particular...

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Talking Telephones: Choosing A Commercial Phone System

Posted by on Sep 11, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Talking Telephones: Choosing A Commercial Phone System

As a small business owner, you have unique needs in terms of your phone system, communication tools and overall infrastructure. Most commercial telephone systems are often created for larger businesses and corporations, which makes it tough to scale them properly for a small business. If you can’t afford the investment and you’re not sure how to make the most of your phone system plans, you’ll want to consider the features you really need. Here are some things to think about as you narrow down your choices. What’s In a Number? Your company’s phone number is a key part of your brand identity, because it’s one of the main things your customers will use to communicate with you. Before you invest in any kind of phone system for the business, you’ll want to think about what you need from your phone number. Do you already have an existing number that you don’t want to lose? If your customer base recognizes your phone number already, you’ll want a system that lets you keep it in place. You might also want to think about the accessibility of 800-number service. If you’re looking to offer your customers a toll-free way to reach you, that requires a system that supports 800-number calls. When you choose your 800-number, think about getting one that spells your business name or product. That makes it easy for customers to remember and sets your brand apart. What’s On The Record? For many businesses that handle customer service calls and consumer complaints, having the ability to record calls for training, documentation and legal record-keeping is vital. If you need to know that you have a record of the calls from your customers, you need a telephone system with recording and archiving functionality. These recorded phone calls are great for training new employees as well as for legal protection purposes. They also make it easier to monitor your customer service staff’s performance and interaction with your customers. For accurate employee reviews, this is useful. And, with the archiving functionality, you have the ability to pull previous phone calls and evaluate them in the event of a customer complaint about one of your employees. What’s The Location Situation? Do you work from one primary location, or are you spending time in several different places on a regular basis? Think about where you work the most. If you’re in your home office or on the road with customers as often as you are in the office, you need a phone system that moves with you. Virtual telephone systems allow you to route calls to any line, so you can direct your inbound calls to whichever line you have accessible at the time. If you spend your time in the office primarily, though, a standard landline should be sufficient. What’s the Growth Potential? One thing that every small business owner needs is a phone system that will grow with the business. After all, the goal is for your company to be successful and to grow larger over time, so you need a phone system that can adapt to that as needed. If you need to add an employee or two, having to call a technician to install new phone jacks and lines can be time consuming. Opt for a system that’s scalable and easily...

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Starting A Business? 4 Graphic And Web Design Problems To Avoid

Posted by on May 13, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Starting A Business? 4 Graphic And Web Design Problems To Avoid

Branding and promoting your new business can seem like an easy task. However, many new businesses take on the job without realizing there are critical mistakes they need to avoid. Bad Logos When you are building a business, developing a good logo is critical for branding and your image. Most novices are excited about designing a logo, but make the mistake of using several images and elaborate fonts, which create a distracting logo. Use simple images and familiar fonts, or consider only using fonts for your logo. Remember, your logo is used in different forms of visual media and must look good in different formats and sizes. Your logo also needs to work in both color and black and white. Look at your logo in full color, then change it to black and white. If parts of the image or typography are difficult to view after changing the color, you need to make adjustments that do not rely on color for clarity or contrast. Confusing Advertising Whether you are advertising online or through print or broadcast media, visual advertisements are critical to reach a broad audience. You need to send a message to your audience without the opportunity to explain the concept, and your message needs to grab their attention. Problems occur when the audience has difficulties understanding the objective of your ad because the message is unclear. Be direct and concise with your audience. You need to get your message across in a glance by using bold fonts and vivid graphics. Limit your text to a few words or a sentence at most. Another problem occurs when the audience cannot quickly determine the brand. Well-known companies have enough brand recognition to advertise a product purely based on a logo or slogan. When you are a new or small business, you do not have the brand recognition to rely on, so your branding should be obvious. The name of your business and corresponding logo should leap off the page and leave no questions in your audience’s mind. Unfriendly Websites Since many people make purchases or do research about a product or service online, you need to invest effort into creating and maintaining a proper website. Mobile users make up a large percentage of website viewers. This means having a website that is not resizable or that is difficult to maneuver on a mobile device could quickly decrease business and leave visitors with a poor impression of your business. The easiest way to overcome this problem is to choose a website template that automatically adjusts to the viewer’s monitor. However, you need to spend time viewing your website on multiple devices. Just because your website fits a smaller device, does not mean the text is legible or the website is easy to navigate in a smaller size. The aesthetics of your website are also important. A clean and simple interface is better than an elaborate interface with many graphics. Make sure areas of your website where customers can place orders and find your contact information are easily accessible. Keeping your website simple and effective can reduce problems with slow load times, which are a deal breaker for many online shoppers. Potential customers can quickly find a similar product or service on another website that loads quicker. Inconsistency You should strive...

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