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stratecta - ransomware security

Overcoming The False Hope of a Ransomware Attack (Part 1)

Every modern business deals with a certain amount of technology. From tech companies that consist internally of nothing but professionals at computers to minimally technical industries that still rely on databases and business software to keep everything running smoothly, the need for a secure network and backups of archived business data is universal. When your data is in danger and it looks like there’s a chance of recovering anything that has been lost, most companies will jump through flaming hoops for any either planned or, worse, unplanned recovery method. That is exactly why ransomware is so terrible. The hope of getting your files back after a disaster is often more powerful than the fear of losing them in the first place.

While you may think that your files are being held hostage, your disaster recovery plan is much more reliable than any hacker’s “promise” that you’ll see your files again.

Malware Has Always Wiped Files

To understand the innovation of ransomware, it may help to have a better grasp on the history of malware as a whole. Ransomware is just one of the most recent innovations in a long chain of malicious, invasive software. In fact, while there has been a significant rise in the ability of malware to actually do something like steal credit card numbers or extortion, malware has traditionally been almost completely pointlessly evil. Worms have roamed the web since before the internet unification seeking out vulnerable systems and often infected websites are simply left up to hurt anyone who comes across them.

When an infection is successful, whether it was targeted or random, the malware’s goal is simply to cause pain. Spamware makes your system unusable with constant pop-ups, spyware steals your login information and uses it for fraud or more spam, and many forms of malware despite the name will simply explore your files, deleting or corrupting them as it goes. Hackers have always deleted files for fun and there’s no reason to assume that they’re going to stop now just because they’ve also figured out how to make a little side cash.

What Ransomware Does

When ransomware gets onto your computer, it’s first act is usually to lurk around for a while. During this time, it may finish installing itself, spread from the first computer into the local network, and map all your files. These processes usually happen quietly using background resources and the delay often masks the true infection point, whether it as a bad website, a phishing email, or an actual hacker security breach in which the ransomware was placed on your computer. Continue reading

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Digital Transformation: Things a Digital Document Can Do that Paper Can’t

When companies are wondering whether or not to go through the most basic stage of the digital transformation, moving from paperwork documents to digital document management, there are often a lot of fears about how implementation and unfamiliarity with the new system will slow down productivity and potentially confuse the staff. However, the same things can be said about any major change, including drastically altering the catered lunch menu. The real thing that administrators and business owners should be considering about the digital transformation is all the ways that digital document management can enhance the efficiency of your business both in predictable and unpredictable situations.

To help you understand the drastic difference between a business run on paper and a business run through digital documents and software, let’s narrow the focus down to the humble document. All the things that can be done with a digital document, but on for which the original and every copy is paper.

1) Same Document Form for Drafts and Final Copies

The first thing to realize is that no one writes their documents on typewriters anymore which means that nearly 100% of modern documents and paperwork start in digital form on a word processor. That word processor saves a digital document which is then printed out. Though many companies who work with paper still think of a paper copy as ‘the original’, in truth, the originals of all but historical documents are now digital. The paper is the real copy and every time an edit is made or a new version is drafted, the document is created in digital form, printed to paper, and then interacted with.

Why not just skip the paper stage? When you work with digital documents, there’s no need to print unless a client needs a physical copy for a specific reason like pen-and-ink signatures or they request a hard copy for their own private records. Otherwise, you can receive, develop, work with, and submit documents all in a single digital form.

2) Infinite Editing of a Single Document

When you’re working primarily with physical copies of your paperwork, edits are not just challenging in that they must be done carefully and neatly. Every old copy will need to be tossed in favor of new print-outs of the edited work. Edits on paper are permanent or, even with hand-written documents done in pencil, require wear and tear on both the eraser and the paper.

Digital documents, on the other hand, can be edited an infinite number of times, revised, corrected, and collaborated on without an eraser white-out/liquid-paper, or constant printing and re-printing because digital edits are easy and cost nothing. Along the same lines, the edited document and the original can be the same file, ensuring that everyone who has access now has access to the updated version. Continue reading

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5 Techniques to Help Dealership Staff Improve Cyber-Security (Part 2)

Welcome back to the second half of our two-part article on how to help your dealership staff become an important part of the cyber-security effort. They are responsible for handling reams of customer personal information and protecting the financial interests of every client who comes through your doors. This means keeping account information safe, even from people who claim to be the friends and family of your customers. Last time we talked about line of sight on staff computer screens and the reasons why personal data is so vital to protect. Let’s pick up on access to employee computers.

3) No Customer Access to Employee Computers

There are two kinds of computers in a dealership, those set aside for customers to manage their finances and buy insurance on, and those that employees use to sell cars and manage customer accounts. If it can possibly be helped, do not let customers use employee computers. These have software, data access, and possibly saved log-in information that could give customers access to information and actions they should not have.

Worse than accidentally letting a customer access your control software is the fact that not all hackers live in Russia. There are plenty right here in the states and they will absolutely take an opportunity to ‘phish themselves’ on your machine, quickly pop in a malware-riddled USB device, or find a way to email themselves data on your system. If a customer is allowed to use an employee computer, watch them very closely and do not, under any circumstances, allow outside data devices to be plugged into a dealership computer.

4) Never Open Email Attachments

Speaking of phishing, the current leading form of hacking and social engineering all tied into one. Phishing occurs when a hacker sends a false email with an infected attachment. The email either appears to be from a friend or coworker or it can pose as a message from a concerned “customer”. There are many different phishing strategies ranging from convincing the victim that the attachment is an important work document to thinking it’s a funny cat picture. The only thing in common is that the hacker must convince a staff member to click their infected link in order to spread the malware. Continue reading

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The Complete Digital Transformation Checklist – Is Your Company Up to Speed? (Part 2)

Welcome back to our complete digital transformation checklist. Last time we covered the importance of starting with a website including a live chat feature, the inevitability of a mobile app, and why every modern company can and should have a CMS. We ended the article by promising more acronyms and as we hate to disappoint, let’s start today with the EMS.

4) Industry-Specific EMS – Enterprise Management Software

The term EMS stands for enterprise management software and this acronym is, in fact, incredibly vague. The kind of software you need to run your business depends on your industry and size but believe us, at this point there is a fast and capable EMS for almost every industry on the planet from field services to finance management. Look into software built specifically for your industry and consider streamlining the vast majority of your procedures. EMS’s can offer inventory tracking solutions, connect to your CRM for improved customer relations across the board, and are usually built to address concerns unique to the industry like specific safety inspections, appointment scheduling, and so on.

5) VOIP – Internet Phones for Everyone

If you are still paying a telco company for wired office phones and costly cell phone plans, it’s time to join the rest of the online community in internet-based phone services instead. VOIP has come a long way since Skype for individual users introduced the population at large to the idea in the first place. There are now VOIP companies that cater exclusively to businesses and call centers and the flexibility is amazing. Not only can you scale a VOIP plan to any size of team or company, you can also access numbers from anywhere including mobile devices simply by logging into an online platform.

6) AI-Assisted Data Analysis

Data analysis, once one of the most tedious chores of any sales, research, or IT team, can now be handled almost 100% by self-learning computer programs. The power of large-scale data analysis and AI intuition can cut the time you spend on data analysis down to a fraction while multiplying the available results data your teams have to work with. The fact of the matter is that computers are both better and faster at skimming data and drawing trend charts.

7) IoT Devices and Sensors

IoT (Internet of Things) is the latest craze in business technology and it looks like it’s here to stay. The concept behind IoT devices is simply that they are wifi-enabled and can be controlled from a Smart Home hub or a mobile device from anywhere in range of the wifi network. Businesses are using IoT security cameras for wireless access to their security footage. IoT lights that can be remotely switched off and a programmable IoT thermostat can work together to significantly reduce your power bills. Plus, employees are delighted by almost all IoT gadgets like, say, an IoT coffee pot that can start brewing before anyone physically gets to the break room. Continue reading

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The Complete Digital Transformation Checklist – Is Your Company Up to Speed? (Part 1)

Though the first companies to ‘go digital’ did so as far back as the 90s, many industries and individual businesses have been putting off their digital transformation for decades. In the vast majority of these cases, the original decision to hold off on digitizing was a wise one. The industry software wasn’t ready and there were a few too many unknowns for the comfort of older well-established businesses with customers who relied on them to keep things running smoothly.

However, times change as they always do and we’re not in the 90s world of hit-or-miss HTML websites or primitive database EMSs anymore. Business software, data analysis, internet technologies, and the overwhelming social move to online communities have significantly changed the playing field. Where it once was a good idea to stick with paperwork or old management systems, no you’d be a fool not to have a full-featured online presence and AI-assisted data analysis for everything from marketing to bug hunting. Whether you’ve started your digital transformation or are still slowly considering your options, it may help to see the full scope of what a completely digital company would have in their IT suite.

  • Website
  • Mobile App
  • CRM
  • Industry EMS
  • VOIP
  • AI Data Analysis
  • IoT Devices
  • Cybersecurity
  • Cloud Documents and Backups

1) Website

If there’s one asset that pulled companies of the 80s into the modern digital world, it’s the business website. As people’s lives become more and more about what they do online, having a website is in many cases better than having a brick-and-mortar venue because the potential ‘foot traffic’ is infinitely higher and often determined by the effectiveness of your SEO to catch people looking for your services in a search engine.

Home, About, Services, Contact

Original business websites could be almost anything but these days a format and a precedent have been set. People now understand the basic layout of almost all business websites and expect a few key elements. Home is your landing page and should showcase the business itself. About is your page where you tell the company’s history, share your goals, and possibly introduce a few team members. Services can also be Products and enumerates what you have to offer. Contact, of course, is a quick and easy way for customers to send you emails.

Live Chat

Live chat is all the rage these days and is being incorporated into company websites by businesses all over the world. If you don’t have a live chat integration yet, consider getting one. When your customers are able to contact you while browsing your website, communication is instant, as is your access to their conversion funnel. Continue reading