10 Easy Steps to Building a Culture of Cyber Awareness

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Cyberattacks are a constant threat in today’s digital world. Phishing emails, malware downloads, and data breaches. They can cripple businesses and devastate personal lives.

Employee error is the reason many threats get introduced to a business network. A lack of cybersecurity awareness is generally the culprit. People don’t know any better, so they accidentally click a phishing link. They also create weak passwords, easy for hackers to breach.

It’s estimated that 95% of data breaches are due to human error.

But here’s the good news, these mistakes are preventable. Building a strong culture of cyber awareness can significantly reduce your risks.

Why Culture Matters

Think of your organization’s cybersecurity as a chain. Strong links make it unbreakable, while weak links make it vulnerable. Employees are the links in this chain. By fostering a culture of cyber awareness, you turn each employee into a strong link. This makes your entire organization more secure.

Easy Steps, Big Impact

Building a cyber awareness culture doesn’t require complex strategies or expensive training programs. Here are some simple steps you can take to make a big difference.

1. Start with Leadership Buy-in

Security shouldn’t be an IT department issue alone. Get leadership involved! When executives champion cyber awareness, it sends a powerful message to the organization. Leadership can show their commitment by:

  • Participating in training sessions
  • Speaking at security awareness events
  • Allocating resources for ongoing initiatives

2. Make Security Awareness Fun, Not Fearful

Cybersecurity training doesn’t have to be dry and boring. Use engaging videos, gamified quizzes, and real-life scenarios. These keep employees interested and learning.

Think of interactive modules. Ones where employees choose their path through a simulated phishing attack. Or short, animated videos. Videos that explain complex security concepts in a clear and relatable way.

3. Speak Their Language

Cybersecurity terms can be confusing. Communicate in plain language, avoiding technical jargon. Focus on practical advice employees can use in their everyday work.

Don’t say, “implement multi-factor authentication.” Instead, explain that it adds an extra layer of security when logging in. Like needing a code from your phone on top of your password.

4. Keep it Short and Sweet

Don’t overwhelm people with lengthy training sessions. Opt for bite-sized training modules that are easy to digest and remember. Use microlearning approaches delivered in short bursts throughout the workday. These are a great way to keep employees engaged and reinforce key security concepts.

5. Conduct Phishing Drills

Regular phishing drills test employee awareness and preparedness. Send simulated phishing emails and track who clicks. Use the results to educate employees on red flags and reporting suspicious messages.

But don’t stop there! After a phishing drill, take the opportunity to dissect the email with employees. Highlight the telltale signs that helped identify it as a fake.

6. Make Reporting Easy and Encouraged

Employees need to feel comfortable reporting suspicious activity without fear of blame. Create a safe reporting system and acknowledge reports promptly. You can do this through:

  • A dedicated email address
  • An anonymous reporting hotline
  • A designated security champion employees can approach directly

7. Security Champions: Empower Your Employees

Identify enthusiastic employees who can become “security champions.” These champions can answer questions from peers. As well as promote best practices through internal communication channels. This keeps security awareness top of mind.

Security champions can be a valuable resource for their colleagues. They foster a sense of shared responsibility for cybersecurity within the organization.

8. Beyond Work: Security Spills Over

Cybersecurity isn’t just a work thing. Educate employees on how to protect themselves at home too. Share tips on strong passwords, secure Wi-Fi connections, and avoiding public hotspots. Employees who practice good security habits at home are more likely to do so in the workplace.

9. Celebrate Successes

Recognize and celebrate employee achievements in cyber awareness. Did someone report a suspicious email? Did a team achieve a low click-through rate on a phishing drill? Publicly acknowledge their contributions to keep motivation high. Recognition can be a powerful tool. It’s helps reinforce positive behavior and encourages continued vigilance.

10. Bonus Tip: Leverage Technology

Technology can be a powerful tool for building a cyber-aware culture. Use online training platforms that deliver microlearning modules and track employee progress. You can schedule automated phishing simulations regularly to keep employees on their toes.

Tools that bolster employee security include:

The Bottom Line: Everyone Plays a Role

Building a culture of cyber awareness is an ongoing process. Repetition is key! Regularly revisit these steps. Keep the conversation going. Make security awareness a natural part of your organization’s DNA.

Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility. By fostering a culture of cyber awareness your business benefits. You equip everyone in your organization with the knowledge and tools to stay safe online. Empowered employees become your strongest defense against cyber threats.

Contact Us to Discuss Security Training & Technology

Need help with email filtering or security rules setup? Would you like someone to handle your ongoing employee security training? We can help you reduce your cybersecurity risk in many ways.

Contact us today to learn more.


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Don’t Risk It! Why You Shouldn’t Skip Vulnerability Assessments

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Cyber threats are a perpetual reality for business owners. Hackers are constantly innovating. They devise new ways to exploit vulnerabilities in computer systems and networks.

For businesses of all sizes, a proactive approach to cybersecurity is essential. One of the most crucial elements of this approach is regular vulnerability assessments. A vulnerability assessment is a systematic process. It identifies and prioritizes weaknesses in your IT infrastructure that attackers can exploit.

Some businesses may be tempted to forego vulnerability assessments. They might think it’s too costly or inconvenient. Small business leaders may also feel it’s just for the “big companies.” But vulnerability assessments are for everyone. No matter the company size. The risks associated with skipping them can be costly.

In 2023, there were over 29,000 new IT vulnerabilities discovered. That’s the highest count reported to date.

In this article, we explore the critical role of vulnerability assessments. As well as their benefits and how they help to maintain a robust cybersecurity posture. We’ll also look at the potential consequences of neglecting them.

Why Vulnerability Assessments Matter

The internet has become a minefield for businesses. Cybercriminals are constantly on the lookout for vulnerabilities to exploit. Once they do, they typically aim for one or more of the following:

  • Gain unauthorized access to sensitive data
  • Deploy ransomware attacks
  • Disrupt critical operations

Here’s why vulnerability assessments are crucial in this ever-evolving threat landscape:

  • Unseen Weaknesses: Many vulnerabilities remain hidden within complex IT environments. Regular assessments uncover these weaknesses before attackers can exploit them.
  • Evolving Threats: Experts discover new vulnerabilities all the time. Regular assessments ensure your systems are up to date. And that they’re protected from potential security gaps.
  • Compliance Requirements: Many industries have regulations mandating regular vulnerability assessments. This helps to ensure data security and privacy compliance.
  • Proactive Approach vs. Reactive Response: Identifying vulnerabilities proactively allows for timely remediation. This significantly reduces the risk of a costly security breach. A reactive approach is where you only address security issues after an attack. This can lead to significant financial losses and disruptions to your business.

The High Cost of Skipping Vulnerability Assessments

Some business owners might think vulnerability assessments seem like an unnecessary expense. But the cost of neglecting them can be far greater. Here are some potential consequences of skipping vulnerability assessments:

Data Breaches

Unidentified vulnerabilities leave your systems exposed. This makes them prime targets for cyberattacks. Just one breach can result in the theft of sensitive data and customer information.

Financial Losses

Data breaches can lead to hefty fines and legal repercussions. As well as the cost of data recovery and remediation. Business disruptions caused by cyberattacks can also result in lost revenue and productivity.

The current average cost of a data breach is $4.45 million. This represents an increase of 15% over the last three years. These costs continue to increase, making cybersecurity a necessity for ongoing business survival.

Reputational Damage

A security breach can severely damage your company’s reputation. It can erode customer trust and potentially impact future business prospects. Both B2B and B2C customers hesitate to do business with a company that has experienced a breach.

Loss of Competitive Advantage

Cyberattacks can cripple your ability to innovate and compete effectively. This can hinder your long-term growth aspirations. Rather than forward motion on innovation, your company is playing security catch-up.

The Benefits of Regular Vulnerability Assessments

Regular vulnerability assessments offer a multitude of benefits for your business:

  • Improved Security Posture: Vulnerability assessments identify and address vulnerabilities. This means you significantly reduce the attack surface for potential cyber threats.
  • Enhanced Compliance: Regular assessments help you stay compliant with relevant industry regulations. As well as data privacy laws your business is subject to.
  • Peace of Mind: Knowing your network is secure from vulnerabilities gives you peace of mind. It allows you to focus on core business operations.
  • Reduced Risk of Costly Breaches: Proactive vulnerability management helps prevent costly data breaches. As well as the associated financial repercussions.
  • Improved Decision-Making: Vulnerability assessments provide valuable insights into your security posture. This enables data-driven decisions about security investments and resource allocation.

The Vulnerability Assessment Process: What to Expect

A vulnerability assessment typically involves several key steps:

  1. Planning and Scoping: Define the scope of the assessment. This includes outlining what systems and applications are part of the evaluation.
  2. Discovery and Identification: Use specialized tools and techniques to scan your IT infrastructure. They will look for known vulnerabilities.
  3. Prioritization and Risk Assessment: Classify vulnerabilities based on severity and potential impact. Focus on critical vulnerabilities that need immediate remediation.
  4. Remediation and Reporting: Develop a plan to address identified vulnerabilities. This should include patching, configuration changes, and security updates. Generate a detailed report that outlines the vulnerabilities found. As well as their risk level, and remediation steps taken.

Investing in Security is Investing in Your Future

Vulnerability assessments are not a one-time fix. Your business should conduct them regularly to maintain a robust cybersecurity posture. By proactively identifying and addressing vulnerabilities, you can:

  • Significantly reduce your risk of cyberattacks
  • Protect sensitive data
  • Ensure business continuity

Remember, cybersecurity is an ongoing process. Vulnerability assessments are a vital tool in your security arsenal. Don’t gamble with your organization’s future. Invest in vulnerability assessments and safeguard your valuable assets.

Contact Us Today to Schedule a Vulnerability Assessment

When was the last time your business had any vulnerability testing? No matter your size, we can help. Our vulnerability assessment will look for any weaknesses in your infrastructure. Then, we take the next steps and provide you with actionable recommendations.

Contact us today to schedule a vulnerability assessment for better security.


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7 Common Pitfalls When Adopting Zero Trust Security

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Zero Trust security is rapidly transforming the cybersecurity landscape. It moves away from traditional perimeter-based security models. In this approach, every connection attempt is continuously verified before granting resource access.

56% of global organizations say adopting Zero Trust is a “Top” or “High” priority.

This approach offers significant security advantages. But the transition process presents several potential pitfalls. Running into these can harm a company’s cybersecurity efforts.

Below, we’ll explore these common roadblocks. We’ll also offer guidance on navigating a successful Zero Trust security adoption journey.

Remembering the Basics: What is Zero Trust Security?

Zero Trust throws out the old “castle and moat” security model. The one where everyone inside the network perimeter is trusted. Instead, it assumes everyone and everything is a potential threat. This is true even for users already inside the network. This may sound extreme, but it enforces a rigorous “verify first, access later” approach.

Here are the key pillars of Zero Trust:

  • Least Privilege: Users only get access to the specific resources they need to do their jobs, no more.
  • Continuous Verification: Authentication doesn’t happen once. It’s an ongoing process. Users and devices are constantly re-evaluated for access rights.
  • Micro-Segmentation: IT divides the network into smaller segments. This limits the damage if a breach occurs.

Common Zero Trust Adoption Mistakes

Zero Trust isn’t a magic solution you can simply buy and deploy. Here are some missteps to avoid:

Treating Zero Trust as a Product, Not a Strategy

Some vendors might make Zero Trust sound like a product they can sell you. Don’t be fooled! It is a security philosophy that requires a cultural shift within your organization.

There are many approaches and tools used in a Zero Trust strategy. These include tools like multi-factor authentication (MFA) and advanced threat detection and response.

Focus Only on Technical Controls

Technology indeed plays a crucial role in Zero Trust. But its success hinges on people and processes too. Train your employees on the new security culture and update access control policies. The human element is an important one in any cybersecurity strategy.

Overcomplicating the Process

Don’t try to tackle everything at once. This can be overwhelming, and smaller companies may give up. Start with a pilot program focusing on critical areas. Then, gradually expand your Zero Trust deployment bit by bit.

Neglecting User Experience

Zero Trust shouldn’t create excessive hurdles for legitimate users. Adopting controls like MFA can backfire if employees aren’t involved. Find the right balance between security and a smooth user experience. Use change management to help ease the transition process.

Skipping the Inventory

You can’t secure what you don’t know exists. Catalog all your devices, users, and applications before deploying Zero Trust. This helps identify potential access risks. It also provides a roadmap for prioritizing your efforts.

Forgetting Legacy Systems

Don’t leave older systems unprotected during your Zero Trust transition. Integrate them into your security framework or consider secure migration plans. Forgotten legacy systems can lead to data breaches that impact your entire network.

Ignoring Third-Party Access

Third-party vendors can be a security weak point. Clearly define access controls and check their activity within your network. Set time-limited access as appropriate.

Remember, Zero Trust is a Journey

Building a robust Zero Trust environment takes time and effort. Here’s how to stay on track:

  • Set Realistic Goals: Don’t expect overnight success. Define achievable milestones and celebrate progress along the way.
  • Embrace Continuous Monitoring: Security threats are constantly evolving. Continuously watch your Zero Trust system and adjust your strategies as needed.
  • Invest in Employee Training: Empower your employees as active participants in your Zero Trust journey. Regular security awareness training is vital.

The Rewards of a Secure Future

Avoid these common mistakes and adopt a strategic approach. This will enable your business to leverage the big advantages of Zero Trust security. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Enhanced Data Protection: Zero Trust minimizes the damage from a potential breach. It does this by limiting access to sensitive data.
  • Improved User Experience: Streamlined access controls create a smoother experience for authorized users.
  • Increased Compliance: Zero Trust aligns with many industry regulations and compliance standards.

Are you ready to take the first step with Zero Trust security? Equip yourself with knowledge, plan your approach, and avoid these common pitfalls. This will enable you to transform your security posture as well as build a more resilient business in the face of evolving cyber threats.

Schedule a Zero Trust Cybersecurity Assessment

Zero Trust is quickly becoming a security expectation around the world. Our team of cybersecurity experts can help you get started deploying it successfully. Deploying it is a continuous journey towards a more secure future. We’re happy to be your trusted guides.

Contact us today to schedule a cybersecurity assessment to get started.


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Here Are 5 Data Security Trends to Prepare for in 2024

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With cyber threats evolving at an alarming pace, staying ahead of the curve is crucial. It’s a must for safeguarding sensitive information. Data security threats are becoming more sophisticated and prevalent. The landscape must change to keep up. In 2024, we can expect exciting developments alongside persistent challenges.

Over 70% of business professionals say their data privacy efforts are worth it. And that their business receives “significant” or “very significant” benefits from those efforts.

Staying informed about these trends is crucial. This is true whether you’re an individual or a business safeguarding valuable data.

Here are some key areas to watch.

1. The Rise of the Machines: AI and Machine Learning in Security

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are no longer futuristic concepts. They are actively shaping the cybersecurity landscape. This year, we’ll likely see a further rise in their application:

  • Enhanced Threat Detection: AI and ML algorithms excel at analyzing massive datasets. This enables them to identify patterns and anomalies that might escape human notice. This translates to a quicker detection of and reaction to potential cyber threats.
  • Predictive Analytics: AI can predict potential vulnerabilities and suggest proactive measures. It does this by analyzing past cyberattacks and security incidents.
  • Automated Response: AI can go beyond detection and analysis. Professionals can program it to automatically isolate compromised systems. As well as block malicious activity and trigger incident response procedures. This saves valuable time and reduces the potential impact of attacks.

AI and ML offer significant benefits. But it’s important to remember they are tools, not magic solutions. Deploying them effectively requires skilled professionals. Experts who can interpret the data and make informed decisions.

2. Battling the Ever-Evolving Threat: Ransomware

Ransomware is malicious software that encrypts data and demands a ransom for decryption. It has been a persistent threat for years. Unfortunately, it’s not going anywhere in 2024. Hackers are constantly refining their tactics, targeting individuals and businesses alike. Here’s what to expect:

  • More Targeted Attacks: Hackers will likely focus on meticulously selecting high-value targets. Such as critical infrastructure or businesses with sensitive data. They do this to maximize their impact and potential payout.
  • Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS): This enables those with limited technical expertise to rent ransomware tools. This makes it easier for a wider range of actors to launch attacks.
  • Double Extortion: Besides encrypting data, attackers might steal it beforehand. They then may threaten to leak it publicly if the ransom isn’t paid, adding pressure on victims.

3. Shifting Strategies: Earlier Data Governance and Security Action

Traditionally, companies have deployed data security measures later in the data lifecycle. For example, after data has been stored or analyzed. But a new approach towards earlier action is gaining traction in 2024. This means:

  • Embedding Security Early On: Organizations are no longer waiting until the end. Instead, they will integrate data controls and measures at the start of the data journey. This could involve setting data classification levels. As well as putting in place access restrictions. They will also be defining data retention policies early in the process.
  • Cloud-Centric Security: More organizations are moving towards cloud storage and processing. As they do this, security solutions will be closely integrated with cloud platforms. This ensures consistent security throughout the entire data lifecycle.
  • Compliance Focus: Data privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA are becoming increasingly stringent. As this happens, companies will need to focus on data governance to ensure compliance.

4. Building a Fortress: Zero Trust Security and Multi-Factor Authentication

We’re in a world where traditional perimeter defenses are constantly breached. This is why the “Zero Trust” approach is gaining prominence. This security model assumes that no user or device is inherently trustworthy. Users and programs need access verification for every interaction. Here’s how it works:

  • Continuous Verification: Every access request will be rigorously scrutinized. This is regardless of its origin (inside or outside the network). Systems base verification on factors like user identity, device, location, and requested resources.
  • Least Privilege Access: Companies grant users the lowest access level needed to perform their tasks. This minimizes the potential damage if hackers compromise their credentials
  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): MFA adds an important extra layer of security. It requires users to provide extra factors beyond their password.

5. When Things Get Personal: Biometric Data Protection

Biometrics include facial recognition, fingerprints, and voice patterns. They are becoming an increasingly popular form of authentication. But this also raises concerns about the potential for misuse and privacy violations:

  • Secure Storage Is Key: Companies need to store and secure biometric data. This is ideally in encrypted form to prevent unauthorized access or breaches.
  • Strict Regulation: Expect governments to install stricter regulations. These will be around the collection, use, and retention of biometric data. Organizations will need to ensure they adhere to evolving standards. They should also focus on transparency and user consent.

How to Prepare for Evolving Data Security Trends

Feeling a bit overwhelmed? Don’t worry, here are some practical steps you and your organization can take:

  • Stay Informed
  • Invest in Training
  • Review Security Policies
  • Embrace Security Technologies
  • Test Your Systems

Schedule a Data Security Assessment Today!

The data security landscape of 2024 promises to be both intriguing and challenging. We can help you navigate this evolving terrain with confidence.

A data security assessment is a great place to start. Contact us today to schedule yours.


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Google & Yahoo’s New DMARC Policy Shows Why Businesses Need Email Authentication… Now

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Have you been hearing more about email authentication lately? There is a reason for that. It’s the prevalence of phishing as a major security threat. Phishing continues as the main cause of data breaches and security incidents. This has been the case for many years.

A major shift in the email landscape is happening. The reason is to combat phishing scams. Email authentication is becoming a requirement for email service providers. It’s crucial to your online presence and communication to pay attention to this shift.

Google and Yahoo are two of the world’s largest email providers. They have implemented a new DMARC policy that took effect in February 2024. This policy essentially makes email authentication essential. It’s targeted at businesses sending emails through Gmail and Yahoo Mail.

But what’s DMARC, and why is it suddenly so important? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Let’s dive into the world of email authentication. We’ll help you understand why it’s more critical than ever for your business.

The Email Spoofing Problem

Imagine receiving an email seemingly from your bank. It requests urgent action. You click a link, enter your details, and boom – your information is compromised.

The common name for this is email spoofing. It’s where scammers disguise their email addresses. They try to appear as legitimate individuals or organizations. Scammers spoof a business’s email address. Then they email customers and vendors pretending to be that business.

These deceptive tactics can have devastating consequences on companies. These include:

  • Financial losses
  • Reputational damage
  • Data breaches
  • Loss of future business

Unfortunately, email spoofing is a growing problem. It makes email authentication a critical defense measure.

What is Email Authentication?

Email authentication is a way of verifying that your email is legitimate. This includes verifying the server sending the email. It also includes reporting back unauthorized uses of a company domain.

Email authentication uses three key protocols, and each has a specific job:

  • SPF (Sender Policy Framework): Records the IP addresses authorized to send email for a domain.
  • DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail): Allows domain owners to digitally “sign” emails, verifying legitimacy.
  • DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance): Gives instructions to a receiving email server. Including, what to do with the results of an SPF and DKIM check. It also alerts domain owners that their domain is being spoofed.

SPF and DKIM are protective steps. DMARC provides information critical to security enforcement. It helps keep scammers from using your domain name in spoofing attempts.

Here’s how it works:

  1. You set up a DMARC record in your domain server settings. This record informs email receivers (like Google and Yahoo). It tells them the IP addresses authorized to send emails on your behalf.
  2. What happens next? Your sent email arrives at the receiver’s mail server. It is looking to see if the email is from an authorized sender.
  3. Based on your DMARC policy, the receiver can take action. This includes delivery, rejection, or quarantine.
  4. You get reporting back from the DMARC authentication. The reports let you know if your business email is being delivered. It also tells you if scammers are spoofing your domain.

Why Google & Yahoo’s New DMARC Policy Matters

Both Google and Yahoo have offered some level of spam filtering. But didn’t strictly enforce DMARC policies. The new DMARC policy raises the bar on email security.

  • Starting in February 2024, the new rule took place. Businesses sending over 5,000 emails daily must have DMARC implemented.
  • Both companies also have policies for those sending fewer emails. These relate to SPF and DKIM authentication.

Look for email authentication requirements to continue. You need to pay attention to ensure the smooth delivery of your business email.

The Benefits of Implementing DMARC:

Implementing DMARC isn’t just about complying with new policies. It offers a range of benefits for your business:

  • Protects your brand reputation: DMARC helps prevent email spoofing scams. These scams could damage your brand image and customer trust.
  • Improves email deliverability: Proper authentication ensures delivery. Your legitimate emails reach recipients’ inboxes instead of spam folders.
  • Provides valuable insights: DMARC reports offer detailed information. They give visibility into how different receivers are handling your emails. As well as help you identify potential issues. They also improve your email security posture.

Taking Action: How to Put DMARC in Place

Implementing DMARC is crucial now. This is especially true considering the rising email security concerns with email spoofing. Here’s how to get started:

  • Understand your DMARC options
  • Consult your IT team or IT security provider
  • Track and adjust regularly

Need Help with Email Authentication & DMARC Monitoring?

DMARC is just one piece of the email security puzzle. It’s important to put email authentication in place. This is one of many security measures required in the modern digital environment. Need help putting these protocols in place? Just let us know.

Contact us today to schedule a chat.


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Beware of Deepfakes! Learn How to Spot the Different Types

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Have you ever seen a video of your favorite celebrity saying something outrageous? Then later, you find out it was completely fabricated? Or perhaps you’ve received an urgent email seemingly from your boss. But something felt off.

Welcome to the world of deepfakes. This is a rapidly evolving technology that uses artificial intelligence (AI). It does this to create synthetic media, often in the form of videos or audio recordings. They can appear real but are actually manipulated.

People can use deepfakes for creative purposes. Such as satire or entertainment. But their potential for misuse is concerning. Deepfakes have already made it into political campaigns. In 2024, a fake robocall mimicked the voice of a candidate. Scammers wanted to fool people into believing they said something they never said.

Bad actors can use deepfakes to spread misinformation. As well as damage reputations and even manipulate financial markets. They are also used in phishing attacks. Knowing how to identify different types of deepfakes is crucial in today’s world.

So, what are the different types of deepfakes, and how can you spot them?

Face-Swapping Deepfakes

This is the most common type. Here the face of one person is seamlessly superimposed onto another’s body in a video. These can be quite convincing, especially with high-quality footage and sophisticated AI algorithms.

Here’s how to spot them:

  • Look for inconsistencies: Pay close attention to lighting, skin tones, and facial expressions. Do they appear natural and consistent throughout the video? Look for subtle glitches. Such as hair not moving realistically. Or slight misalignments around the face and neck.
  • Check the source: Where did you encounter the video? Was it on a reputable news site or a random social media page? Be cautious of unverified sources and unknown channels.
  • Listen closely: Does the voice sound natural? Does it match the person’s typical speech patterns? Incongruences in voice tone, pitch, or accent can be giveaways.

Deepfake Audio

This type involves generating synthetic voice recordings. They mimic a specific person’s speech patterns and intonations. Scammers can use these to create fake audio messages. As well as make it seem like someone said something they didn’t.

Here’s how to spot them:

  • Focus on the audio quality: Deepfake audio can sound slightly robotic or unnatural. This is especially true when compared to genuine recordings of the same person. Pay attention to unusual pauses. As well as inconsistent pronunciation or a strange emphasis.
  • Compare the content: Does the content of the audio message align with what the person would say? Or within the context in which it’s presented? Consider if the content seems out of character or contradicts known facts.
  • Seek verification: Is there any independent evidence to support the claims made? If not, approach it with healthy skepticism.

Text-Based Deepfakes

This is an emerging type of deepfake. It uses AI to generate written content. Such as social media posts, articles, or emails. They mimic the writing style of a specific person or publication. These can be particularly dangerous. Scammers can use these to spread misinformation or impersonate someone online.

Here’s how to spot them:

  • Read critically: Pay attention to the writing style, vocabulary, and tone. Does it match the way the person or publication typically writes? Look for unusual phrasing, grammatical errors, or inconsistencies in tone.
  • Check factual accuracy: Verify the information presented in the text against reliable sources. Don’t rely solely on the content itself for confirmation.
  • Be wary of emotional triggers: Be cautious of content that evokes strong emotions. Such as fear, anger, or outrage. Scammers may be using these to manipulate your judgment.

Deepfake Videos with Object Manipulation

This type goes beyond faces and voices. It uses AI to manipulate objects within real video footage. Such as changing their appearance or behavior. Bad actors may be using this to fabricate events or alter visual evidence.

Here’s how to spot them:

  • Observe physics and movement: Pay attention to how objects move in the video. Does their motion appear natural and consistent with the laws of physics? Look for unnatural movement patterns. As well as sudden changes in object size, or inconsistencies in lighting and shadows.
  • Seek original footage: If possible, try to find the original source of the video footage. This can help you compare it to the manipulated version and identify alterations.

Staying vigilant and applying critical thinking are crucial in the age of deepfakes.

Familiarize yourself with the different types. Learn to recognize potential red flags. Verify information through reliable sources. These actions will help you become more informed and secure.

Get a Device Security Checkup

Criminals are using deepfakes for phishing. Just by clicking on one, you may have downloaded a virus. A device security checkup can give you peace of mind. We’ll take a look for any potential threats and remove them.

Contact us today to learn more.


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10 Most Common Smart Home Issues (and How to Fix Them)

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Back when you were a kid, living in a “smart home” probably sounded futuristic. Something out of Back to the Future II or The Jetsons. Well, we don’t yet have flying cars, but we do have video telephones as well as smart refrigerators and voice-activated lights.

But even the most advanced technology can have analog problems. Hackers can get past weak passwords. Bad connections can turn advanced into basic pretty quickly.

Have you run into any issues with your smart home gadgets? Not to worry! We’ve got your back when it comes to troubleshooting several common smart home issues.

Here are some of the most frequent problems along with simple steps to get your smart haven back on track.

1. Connectivity Woes

Are your smart gadgets refusing to connect to Wi-Fi? The main claim to fame of smart devices is that you can access them wirelessly. An internet connection is also vital to integrate several devices into a smart home hub.

If your device is having connection issues, check the basics first. Restart your router and your devices. If that doesn’t work, ensure you’ve positioned your router centrally. This gives you optimal signal strength. Consider a mesh network for large houses. Or invest in a Wi-Fi extender for better coverage.

2. Device Unresponsiveness

Now that we have voice-activated devices, we expect them to always answer. It can be frustrating when a device won’t respond to its “wake word.” We might even raise our voice and ask again… only to be ignored.

Are you having trouble with your smart devices not responding to commands? A simple power cycle (turning them off and on) can often do the trick. Check for software updates on your devices. As well as the corresponding apps. Updating software can fix bugs and improve performance.

3. Battery Drain

Smart devices, especially those battery-powered, can drain quickly. Adjust settings to reduce power consumption. Disable features you don’t use. Such as notification lights or constant background updates. Consider replacing batteries with high-quality ones for optimal performance.

4. Incompatibility Issues

Not all smart devices are created equal. Just because it says “smart” on the box doesn’t mean it plays well with others. When a new device won’t interact with your network, it can mean money down the drain.

Before you buy, check to ensure your devices are compatible with each other. Build your devices around your smart home platform. Review the manufacturer’s specifications thoroughly to avoid compatibility headaches.

5. Security Concerns

Security is paramount in a smart home. There have been horror stories about hacked baby monitors. These stories can get real very fast. You need to pay attention to securing your devices. Rather than getting caught up in plugging them in as fast as possible.

Use strong and unique passwords for all your devices and accounts. Enable two-factor authentication wherever available. Keep your devices and apps updated with the latest security patches.

A few other smart device security tips include:

  • Change the default device name on your network. Choose something generic.
  • Put smart devices on a separate “guest” network. This keeps them separated from devices with more sensitive data.
  • Turn off unnecessary sharing features. These are often enabled by default.

6. App Troubles

Are you running into sporadic problems? Bugs that crop up intermittently?

Sometimes, the problem might lie with the app itself. Check if any app updates are available and install them. Try logging out and logging back in to refresh the connection. If issues persist, uninstall and reinstall the app.

7. Automation Gone Wrong

Smart home automations can be convenient, but sometimes they malfunction. Review your automation rules and ensure they’re set up correctly. Test them individually to identify any faulty triggers or actions.

8. Limited Range

Some smart devices have a limited range. Check the manufacturer’s guide so you know what to expect. Move your devices closer to the hub or router for better communication. Consider using repeaters or extenders if the distance is an issue.

9. Ghost Activity

Ever experienced your smart lights turning on or off randomly? This could be due to factors such as:

  • Accidental voice commands
  • Faulty sensors
  • Scheduled automations you forgot about
  • A hacked device

Review your automation settings and disable any you don’t need. Investigate if your devices are picking up unintended voice commands from other sources. Change passwords and watch out for breaches.

10. Feeling Overwhelmed

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re dealing with several smart devices. Don’t hesitate to consult your device manuals and online resources. You can also get help from our IT experts for specific troubleshooting steps. These resources can offer more guidance tailored to your situation.

Need Help Securing Your Smart Home?

A smart home should simplify your life, not complicate it. These simple solutions can help you navigate common issues. It’s also important to get a smart home security assessment to keep your family protected.

Contact us today to schedule a security checkup for your smart home and gain peace of mind.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

Eye-opening Insights from the 2023 Annual Cybersecurity Attitudes and Behaviors Report

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We are living in an era dominated by digital connectivity. You can’t overstate the importance of cybersecurity. As technology advances, so do the threats that lurk in the online world.

Often, it’s our own actions that leave us most at risk of a cyberattack or online scam. Risky behaviors include weak passwords and lax security policies. As well as thinking “This won’t happen to me.” This is why human error is the cause of approximately 88% of data breaches.

The National Cybersecurity Alliance and CybSafe are working to correct poor cyber hygiene. Each year, the duo publishes a report on cybersecurity attitudes and behaviors. The goal is to educate both people and businesses. To educate them on how to better secure their digital landscapes.

This year’s study surveyed over 6,000 people across the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Germany, France, and New Zealand. The survey asked about several things. These include knowledge of cybersecurity risks, security best practices, and challenges faced.

The report reveals some eye-opening insights. These include how people perceive and respond to cyber threats. As well as what they can do to improve their cybersecurity posture. Here are some of the key findings from the report.

We Are Online… a Lot

It’s no surprise that 93% of the study participants are online daily. The logins we create continue to expand, as well as those considered “sensitive.” Sensitive accounts hold personal information that could be harmful if stolen.

Nearly half (47%) of the study’s respondents have ten or more sensitive online accounts. This amplifies risk. Especially if people are using the same password for two or more of those accounts.

Online Security Makes People Frustrated

Most people (84%) feel that online security is a priority. But as many as 39% feel frustrated, and nearly the same amount intimidated. It can seem that you just can’t get ahead of the hackers. Just over half of people thought digital security was under their control. That leaves a whole lot that don’t think so.

But that is no reason to let down your defenses and become an easy target. There are best practices you can put in place to safeguard your online accounts that work.

These include:

  • Enabling multi-factor authentication on your accounts
  • Using an email spam filter to catch phishing emails
  • Adding a DNS filter to block malicious websites
  • Using strong password best practices

People Need More Access to Cybersecurity Training

One way to reduce human errors associated with cybersecurity is to train people. The survey found that just 26% of respondents had access to cybersecurity training.

It also broke this down by employment status. We see that those not actively employed are most lacking. Even those employed can use more training access and encouragement. Just 53% report having access to cybersecurity awareness training and using it.

Employers can significantly reduce their risk of falling victim to a data breach. They can do this by beefing up their security awareness training. There is also a large opportunity to provide more training. Particularly to those retired or not actively employed.

Cybercrime Reporting Is Increasing

Over a quarter (27%) of survey participants said they had been a victim of cybercrime.

The types of cybercrimes reported include:

  • Phishing (47%)
  • Online dating scams (27%)
  • Identity theft (26%)

Which generation reported the most cybercrime incidents? Millennials. In fact, Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation reported the fewest.

Cybercrime incidents by generations
Source: The Annual Cybersecurity Attitudes and Behaviors Report 2023

No matter where you fall in the generations, it’s important to adopt security best
practices. We’ll go through some of these next.

Online Security Best Practices to Reduce Your Risk

  1. Strong, Unique Passwords:
    • Start with the basics. Create strong, unique passwords for each online account.
    • Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
  2. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA):
    • Enhance your account security with multi-factor authentication.
    • MFA adds an extra barrier to unauthorized access. Even for
      compromised passwords.
  3. Regular Software Updates:
    • Keep all your software, including operating systems and mobile
      apps, up to date.
  4. Beware of Phishing Attacks:
    • Exercise caution when clicking on links or opening attachments
      especially in emails from unknown sources.
    • Verify the legitimacy of emails and websites. Check for subtle
      signs, such as misspelled URLs or unfamiliar sender addresses.
  5. Use Secure Wi-Fi Networks:
    • Ensure you connect to a secure and password-protected Wi-Fi
      network.
    • Avoid using public Wi-Fi for sensitive transactions. Unless using a virtual private network (VPN).
  6. Data Backup:
    • Regularly back up important data to an external device or a secure
      cloud service.
  7. Use Antivirus and Anti-Malware Software:
    • Install reputable antivirus and anti-malware software on all devices.
    • Regularly scan your systems for potential threats.
  8. Be Mindful of Social Media Settings:
    • Review and adjust your privacy settings on social media platforms.
    • Limit the amount of personal information visible to the public.
  9. Secure Your Personal Devices:
    • Lock your devices with strong passwords or biometric
      authentication.
  10. Educate and Stay Informed:
    • Educate yourself and your team through cybersecurity awareness
      programs. This fosters a culture of vigilance and preparedness.

Schedule Cybersecurity Awareness Training Today

A little education on cybersecurity goes a long way toward protecting your data. Our experts can provide security training at the level you need. We’ll help you fortify your defenses against phishing, scams, and cyberattacks.

Contact us today to schedule a chat.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

Be Careful When Scanning QR Codes – There’s a New Scam Going Around!

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QR codes are everywhere these days. You can find them on restaurant menus, flyers, and posters. They’re used both offline and online. QR codes are convenient and easy to use. You just scan them with your smartphone camera. You’re then directed to a link, a coupon, a video, or some other online content.

With the rise in popularity of QR codes comes an unfortunate dark side. Cybercriminals are exploiting this technology for nefarious purposes. Scammers create fake QR codes. They can steal your personal information. They can also infect your device with malware or trick you into paying money.

It’s crucial to exercise caution when scanning QR codes. This emerging scam highlights the potential dangers lurking behind those seemingly innocent squares.

QR Code scan
Image source: Adobe Stock

The QR Code Resurgence

QR codes were originally designed for tracking parts in the automotive industry. They have experienced a renaissance in recent years. As a result, they’re used as a form of marketing today.

They offer the convenience of instant access to information. You simply scan a code. They’ve become an integral part of various industries, including retail and hospitality.

Unfortunately, cybercriminals are quick to adapt. A new phishing scam has emerged, exploiting the trust we place in QR codes.

How the Scam Works

The scammer prints out a fake QR code. They place it over a legitimate one. For example, they might stick it on a poster that advertises a product discount or a movie.

You come along and scan the fake QR code, thinking it’s legitimate. The fake code may direct you to a phishing website. These sites may ask you to enter sensitive data. Such as your credit card details, login credentials, or other
personal information.

Or scanning the QR code may prompt you to download a malicious app. One that contains malware that can do one or more of the following:

  • Spy on your activity
  • Access your copy/paste history
  • Access your contacts
  • Lock your device until you pay a ransom

The code could also direct you to a payment page. A page that charges you a fee for something supposedly free.

Here are some tactics to watch out for.

Malicious Codes Concealed

Cybercriminals tamper with legitimate QR codes. They often add a fake QR code sticker over a real one. They embed malicious content or redirect users to fraudulent websites.

Fake Promotions and Contests

Scammers often use QR codes to lure users into fake promotions or contests. When users scan the code, it may direct them to a counterfeit website. The website may prompt them to provide personal information. This can lead to potential identity theft or financial fraud.

Malware Distribution

Some malicious QR codes start downloads of malware onto the user’s device. This can result in compromised security. Including unauthorized access to personal data and potential damage to the device’s functionality.

Stay Vigilant: Tips for Safe QR Code Scanning

Verify the Source

Be cautious when scanning QR codes from unknown or untrusted sources. Verify the legitimacy of the code and its source. This is especially true if it prompts you to enter personal information.

Use a QR Code Scanner App

Consider using a dedicated QR code scanner app. Use that rather than the default camera app on your device. Some third-party apps provide extra security features. Such as code analysis and website reputation checks.

Inspect the URL Before Clicking

Before visiting a website prompted by a QR code, review the URL. Ensure it matches the legitimate website of the organization it claims to represent.

Avoid Scanning Suspicious Codes

Trust your instincts. If a QR code looks suspicious, refrain from scanning it. Scammers often rely on users’ curiosity. Be careful when scanning QR codes that you see in public places. Don’t scan them if they look suspicious, damaged, or tampered with. Exercising caution is paramount.

Update Your Device and Apps

Keep your device’s operating system and QR code scanning apps up to date. Regular updates often include security patches that protect against known vulnerabilities.

Be Wary of Websites Accessed via QR Code

Don’t enter any personal information on a website that you accessed through a QR code. This includes things like your address, credit card details, login information, etc.

Don’t pay any money or make any donations through a QR code. Only use trusted and secure payment methods.

Contact Us About Phishing Resistant Security Solutions

QR codes can be useful and fun. But they can also be dangerous if you’re not careful. Always scan them with caution. Protect yourself from scammers who want to take advantage of your curiosity.

This scam falls under the umbrella of phishing. Phishing is one of the most dangerous modern risks for individuals and organizations. If you need help ensuring your devices are phishing resistant, just let us know.

Contact us today to learn more.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

9 Signs That Your Smart Home Device Has Been Hacked

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Smart home devices are becoming more popular and convenient. But they also pose some serious security risks. Hackers can target these devices to access your personal information. As well as spy on your activities or cause damage to your home.

Often the dangers of smart home devices fall under the radar. Seventy-five percent of people feel some level of distrust about the use of their data. Yet most people are willing to use smart home technology.

As we enjoy the convenience of smart living, it’s crucial to be vigilant about cyber threats. A hacker may have compromised your smart system without you even knowing it.

How can you tell if a hacker has compromised your smart home device? Here are some signs to look out for.

1. Unexpected Behavior

Unexpected behavior is the first sign someone has compromised your smart home device. If your device starts acting erratically, it’s time to investigate. Erratic behavior can include:

  • Lights flickering
  • Thermostat settings changing
  • Smart locks behaving unpredictably

Hackers often manipulate smart devices to create disturbances. Noticing these irregularities early can prevent further damage.

2. Unusual Network Traffic

Monitoring your home network is a fundamental aspect of cybersecurity. Have you observed a sudden surge in data usage? Noticed unusual patterns in network traffic? If so, this could indicate unauthorized access.

Hackers may exploit your smart devices to launch attacks or steal sensitive information. Regularly check your router’s activity logs. This helps you stay vigilant against abnormal network behavior.

3. Strange Sounds or Voices

Smart speakers and voice-activated assistants have become commonplace in many households. If you start hearing unfamiliar voices or strange sounds from these devices, it’s a red flag.

Hackers may use compromised devices to eavesdrop or communicate with household members. This poses serious privacy concerns. Ensure that your smart devices are only responding to authorized voices.

4. Device Settings Modification

Smart devices offer customizable settings to cater to individual preferences. Have you noticed unauthorized changes to these settings? Such as alterations in camera angles, sensor sensitivity, or device preferences? If so, there’s a high likelihood that a hacker has compromised your device.

Regularly review and update your device settings. This helps you maintain control over your smart home ecosystem.

5. Unexplained Data Transfers

Smart devices often collect and send data to the cloud for analysis or storage. Keep an eye on your device’s data usage. Be wary of unexplained data transfers. Hackers may exploit vulnerabilities to extract sensitive information from your devices.

Regularly review the data usage patterns of your smart devices. This helps you to identify any suspicious activity.

6. Device Inaccessibility

Suddenly finding yourself locked out of your smart home devices could be a sign of hacking. Hackers may change passwords or enable two-factor authentication without your consent. They can take control of your accounts. This renders you unable to access or manage your devices.

Always act promptly to regain control. Secure your accounts if you suspect unauthorized access.

7. New or Unknown Devices on the Network

Regularly review the list of devices connected to your home network. Do you spot unfamiliar or unauthorized devices? If so, it’s a clear sign that someone may have breached your network.

Hackers often connect to your network. They do this to exploit vulnerabilities in smart devices or launch attacks. Secure your network with strong passwords. Also, consider implementing network segmentation for added protection.

8. Frequent Software Glitches

Smart devices receive regular software updates. These updates patch vulnerabilities and enhance security. Have you noticed frequent software glitches? Or has your device failed to update? It could be a sign of interference
by a malicious actor.

Ensure that your smart devices are running the latest firmware. This ensures it has the latest security patches and bug fixes installed.

9. Emails or Messages Confirming Changes You Didn’t Make

Some smart devices send notifications or emails to confirm changes such as changes in settings, passwords, or device access. Did you receive such confirmations for actions you didn’t take? If so, this is a clear sign of unauthorized access.

Take immediate action to secure your account. This includes changing passwords and reviewing access permissions.

Need Help Securing Your Smart Home & Peace of Mind?

As our homes become smarter, so must our approach to cybersecurity. The first step in safeguarding your digital domain is recognizing signs. The signs that a hacker has compromised your smart home device.

Remember, smart home devices can make your life easier and more comfortable. But they also need careful maintenance and protection.

Need some guidance? We can help you ensure that your smart home remains a secure haven of innovation. Instead of a vulnerable target for cyber threats.

Contact us today to schedule a smart home security consultation.


Featured Image Credit

This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.