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Increasing Effectiveness of Newsletters as IT Security Training Tools | Pro-IS

IT Security Newsletters are great Training Tools

As a Boulder, Fort CoIlins, Loveland, or Northern Colorado Business owner you are most likely doing everything you can to educate your team about IT Security. If your organization uses, or is considering using, a newsletter as a part of your IT security training program, there are things you can do to more effectively engage readers and improve their retention of the material.

With a newsletter, you can’t be certain that your employees are reading the articles or, if they are, that they find the material interesting and useful enough to remember what they’ve read. Along with providing information specifically related to your workplace, including things readers can use at home, adding some IT-related horror stories, and sprinkling in some humor can significantly improve the effectiveness of your newsletter. Word will spread and readership should grow.

it security spam and phishing newsletter

Give them Information they can use at Home (and also at Work)

Your employees are more likely to read and remember something in an article if it benefits them outside the workplace. Surveys have indicated that newsletter readers not only retained this type of information longer, but that they often shared it with their friends and families. When it comes to a dry subject like IT security principles, achieving that level of interest and information retention is a huge accomplishment.

An example could be an article focused on shopping securely online. Information about how to tell if a website is secured with encryption, why sensitive data should never be provided if it isn’t, and what risks are associated with clicking on suspicious links in emails could be included. As employees read and retain material provided in these types of articles, they develop good general security habits, thus the organization benefits as well.

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Occasionally Include Something Shocking

Unfortunately, there are horror stories out there about things like the 80-year-old widow who lost her retirement nest egg as a result of a phishing scam. Perhaps worse are the reports of children victimized by criminals because they shared too much information on social media. Readers remember these types of stories and the lessons learned from them, especially if they identify with the victims.

Some may balk at using this type of subject matter in a company newsletter but consider that including articles like these could prevent employees or their family members from being victimized. And again, the level of security awareness developed as a result of these articles will certainly extend to the workplace. Do not share too much information, avoid clicking on links or responding to suspicious emails, and be aware of the latest scams being perpetrated. These are but a few of the lessons to be learned from incidents like these.

it security and phishing

Make them Laugh

Everyone loves to laugh. Adding to a newsletter some funny technology-related memes, photo-bomb images, and text messages gone awry does not require a great deal of space or effort, but it does spark interest and will have readers looking forward to the next issue. Survey results from newsletters that incorporated humor indicated that was what employees enjoyed the most. These bits of content need not just be funny.  They can be educational as well. The Internet is full of stories, images, and memes that can be used in humorous ways to illustrate the need for good security practices.

In Closing

Try spicing up the company IT newsletter using these suggestions.  The inclusion of this type of content in addition to information specific to your organization should markedly increase the effectiveness of your newsletter as an IT security training delivery tool.

If you need an IT Managed Service Provider

If you’re in Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley, Denver, Boulder, or the surrounding area and don’t have an IT Service Provider or are looking for managed IT support, cyber security, IT services, or IT coverage, contact Pro-IS for a free consultation (970) 613-0980.

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Advantages of Working with a Managed IT Service Provider

What are the Benefits of Working with a Managed Service Provider?

Working from home in Colorado in the age of COVID has brought new phishing opportunities due to more insecure internet connections of remote workers, resulting in criminals exploiting unpatched systems and architectural weaknesses. The growth of cloud services also brings bugs and vulnerabilities. Ransomware is expected to get worse, this includes hackers stealing data before encryption, packaging malware, and other threats.

Cyber ​​attacks like phishing and ransomware are on the rise and many businesses are vulnerable to costly security breaches. The stolen information lost productivity, and a damaged reputation are some of the potential downsides of these types of cyber attacks.

One of the best ways to protect against potential attacks is to use an experienced Managed Service Provider (MSP). Working with an MSP can significantly reduce costs because they bring the experience and technical expertise needed to protect your company’s data. Here is how your business can reduce risk.

Using internal employees to secure information systems and supporting them to continuously update internal security technology can be very expensive. This is especially true for small or medium-sized businesses.

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1. Antivirus Applications

Antivirus applications are often misconfigured or outdated, rendering them useless and leaving businesses vulnerable to attack. With a Managed Service Provider, you can be sure that your antivirus applications are properly installed and monitored daily.

2. Server and network management 

With managed IT services responsible for your server and network, your company is prepared to prevent and detect data breaches. They have the tools, latest technologies, and resources to avoid costly downtime. MSP can also provide remote support to domestic workers in case of potential violations.

3.  Security Risk Assessment 

The first thing a trusted MSP will do is conduct a thorough audit of your IT system, including cloud services, computer software and hardware, operating systems, and security services to assess whether there are any security holes that require immediate attention. Vulnerability testing is essential to protecting your business from all angles.

cyber malware attacker

4. Constant System Monitoring

One of the main benefits of outsourcing your IT needs is that an MSP has the resources to monitor your computer network 365 days a year 24/7, which in-house IT system administrators cannot. That way, any suspicious activity on your computer system – hardware and software – is flagged in real-time, no matter when it happens.

5. Disaster Recovery

Even the most secure businesses have IT problems from time to time, and when things go wrong, how quickly you can get your business back up and running is critical and every second matters, With MSP, you can create disaster recovery that helps you quickly restore operations and reduce costly delays.

6. Internal Employee Training

A reliable managed IT service provides effective training for internal employees so that everyone understands potential risks and threats they can help keep company information secure. Employees need to know what to look for and what to do if they see something suspicious.

managed it support company in fort collins

7. Endpoint Security

With the trend of working from home showing no signs of slowing down, most businesses need to ensure that home worker network access points are properly configured and managed so that these endpoints do not pose a security risk. A Managed Service Provider can cross this off your to-do list by protecting all devices regardless of location.

8. Network Penetration Testing Services

It can be very difficult for companies to effectively identify and analyze their vulnerabilities. That’s why network penetration testing services exist – to identify all the holes and vulnerabilities in your current network and system setup. Knowing your weaknesses is the most valuable IT knowledge your business can have.

If you need an IT Managed Service Provider

If you’re in Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley, Denver, Boulder, or the surrounding area and don’t have an IT Service Provider or are looking for managed IT support, cyber security, IT services, or IT coverage, contact Pro-IS for a free consultation (970) 613-0980.

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5 Signs Your Small Business Needs a Managed IT Service

Does Your Colorado Small Business Needs a Managed IT Service?

Here in Fort Collins, Boulder, Denver, & Northern Colorado NorthernTechnology has become an integral part of doing business. In fact, most small businesses rely on technology to function daily. Technology is essential for running your business smoothly, from handling customer inquiries to processing payments.

But with technology comes the need for expertise and IT support. That’s where managed IT services come in. Managed IT services provide you with peace of mind knowing that your technology infrastructure is being monitored and managed by experts. Here are five crucial signs that your small business needs a managed IT service:

it support company in fort collins colorado

1. You Don’t Have an IT Budget

No budget for your own IT team? No problem. Managed IT services include all aspects of maintaining and managing your IT infrastructure, from ensuring that your systems are up-to-date and secure to providing help desk support for your employees. This can be a valuable service for businesses that don’t have the resources to maintain their IT infrastructure on their own. Not only will it save you money in the long run, but it can also free up your time so you can focus on more important things.

2. You’re Not Keeping Up With Technology Trends

Technology is constantly changing, and it can be hard to keep up with the latest trends. If your business is using outdated technology, you may be at a competitive disadvantage. Managed IT services can help you keep up with the latest technology trends and ensure that your business uses the best possible technology. When it comes to technology, it pays to stay ahead of the curve.

it support team working in boulder

3. Your Employees Are Complaining About Technology Issues

Are your employees always complaining about slow computers, issues with the internet, or other problems with your business’s technology? Many small business owners find that they are either working a second job as their company’s unofficial tech support or — more commonly — at the mercy of IT support helplines. Instead of taking hours of productivity from your work day, enlisting the support of managed IT services can often solve technology issues within an hour — without needing to navigate through a supplier’s frustrating phone menu for phone support.

4. You’re Not Meeting Compliance Requirements

Data security and cybersecurity are increasingly big concerns for businesses in the Internet Age, with an ever-growing list of compliance requirements to be met. Ensuring your business meets compliance requirements can be a real headache — from auditing your technology to investing in solutions, implementing new compliance policies and procedures, and more. Luckily, managed IT services will take care of the entire process for you, giving you peace of mind and protection from any compliance issues down the line.

5. You’re Experiencing Unplanned Downtime

Unplanned downtime can cost businesses countless hours of lost productivity and profit, and suppliers rarely appreciate the urgency of the situation. But with a managed IT service a phone call away, you can give your small business a new ally — one who does appreciate that urgency and will get you back online quickly and efficiently.

Technology is essential for small businesses, but it can also be a headache. If you’re dealing with any of the abovementioned issues, it might be time to consider a managed IT service. Managed IT services provide you with expert support so you can focus on running your business more effectively — with less downtime, more compliance, and more efficient technology supporting what you do.

managed it provider

If you need Managed IT Services

If you’re in Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley, Denver, Boulder, or the surrounding area and don’t have an IT Service Provider or are looking for managed IT support, cyber security, IT services, or IT coverage, contact Pro-IS for a free consultation (970) 613-0980.

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Steps to Improve the Loading Time of Your Website | Pro-IS IT Services

Steps to Improve the Loading Time of Your Website | Pro-IS IT Services

Many businesses in Fort Collins, Boulder, Loveland, Denver, & Colorado, are using the online space to present their products and offerings to customers. In addition, the online world has become an important medium for businesses to connect with their existing customers as well as reach out to new ones. However, like any technology, your online business presence can only be as effective as how responsive it performs. In order to best maximize your presence, it is preferable to have a highly responsive and fast website. With these notes in mind, here are several steps you can integrate into your website design to improve performance.


Reduce Server Requests 

A website’s response time is largely influenced by the amount of requests required to download the primary components of the page. These include media, images, scripts, interactive elements, and more. Identify any visual elements on your website that consume a lot of resources and see which ones you can eliminate. By doing this, you can minimize the amount of HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) requests. With fewer requests, your website can load faster. Since websites change over time, you may find new images or elements you can identify that may not be needed for your website. These items can be added to your list of elements to cut out on the next website update you perform with your team.

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Website File Compression

In many cases, large files can be an impediment to how responsive a website is and how fast it loads. You can shrink the size of files hosted on your website even further to improve the loading experience. Many site platforms may automatically compress HTML (Hypertext MarkUp Language) content, but consider using your team to manually go through large files on your website and see if you can compress them even further. This is comparable to cutting weight on your website and helps make it more responsive on different platforms.


Install a Caching Plugin 

A website cache allows more static elements on your website to be automatically rendered on most browsers. This can be especially valuable if you have certain elements on your website that are likely not going to be modified or changed for a long time. With a plugin in place, you can help your website save more of these types of files in browser caches. The first 50 percent of your visitors may come to your website without any prior history, which means having a cache that preserves local memory can help cut down on loading times for them.


Avoid Excessive Redirects 

While redirects can be helpful in directing old links, it is important that those links themselves are updated if they are displayed on any areas of the website. The website can consume additional resources if there are more links that have to be redirected. Instead of leaving older links unchanged on your website, update them as well so the server doesn’t have to process additional redirects. By reducing the number of times these requests have to be made, the pages can be more responsive and load faster as a result.

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Keep an Eye on Server Performance 

A great server can sometimes still run into faulty issues that may go unnoticed. In addition, many hosting companies are still prone to sudden slowdowns or inefficient data usage that they may not alert you about. It is important to keep an eye on the amount of file usage your websites are consuming on the server and make sure they are not reaching or surpassing their limits. By managing your server’s performance and resource limits, you can better utilize your hosting capacity to maintain good website performance.

Whether you are running online ads or have built up an e-commerce presence for your website, it is important to have it running at a responsive speed. A great performing website is one that can work efficiently on multiple platforms. As you work with your team in designing and setting up the hosting for your website, consider the aforementioned factors as well. With a fast-loading and responsive website, you can further gain more out of your online marketing strategies.

If you’re in Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley, Denver, Boulder, or surrounding area and don’t have an IT Service Provider or are looking for managed IT support, cyber security, IT services, or IT coverage, contact Pro-IS for a free consultation (970) 613-0980.

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Cybersecurity Tips | IT Support & Service | Managed IT

Learning Management Systems Streamline Cybersecurity Training

Technical controls can never be 100% effective in stopping attacks targeting human vulnerabilities. Here in Fort Collins, Loveland, Boulder, Denver, & Northern Colorado, the best defense is a highly-trained workforce. Some organizations are subject to regulatory requirements mandating user cybersecurity training. But putting together and maintaining an effective training program from scratch requires a great deal of time and resources.

Perhaps a Learning Management System (LMS) application is the right solution to meet your company’s training needs. Ask yourself a few questions. Is your current training program adequate? Can the training content be easily updated to address new and evolving threats? Is progress tracked and measured to evaluate the program’s effectiveness? Can you quickly and easily generate status and completion reports? Can you afford to have your IT staffers devote more time than necessary to training program development and management when their time and skillsets would be better used elsewhere? If you answered “no” to one or more of these questions, read on.

it support professionals

For many, LMS utilization saves time and money

A LMS provides a software platform that streamlines the development and maintenance of coursework that can be accessed at any time from any computer with an Internet connection. Many LMS applications now also allow learners to take courses using their phones. There is no need for organizations using LMS technology to maintain classroom spaces and workstations for the purpose of delivering training. The need for employees to travel to remote locations to complete courses is eliminated, along with the expenses associated with doing so. Student enrollment, progress monitoring, and course completion reporting are also streamlined. The time management and resource efficiencies provided by a LMS can result in significant cost savings for organizations utilizing them.


The LMS coursework development and training delivery system

A LMS allows its administrators to custom-tailor courses to fit their specific needs and satisfy any applicable regulatory requirements with user-friendly interfaces and development tools.

The delivery methods incorporate audio, video, and text presented in an interactive training environment. Chat capabilities and online forums may also be included to provide learners with the opportunity to interact with other students and their trainers.

From any computer with an Internet connection, students and training administrators have access to courses, results, training campaign progress information, scheduling, archives, and evaluations.

The training environment is highly-customizable. Company branding and logos can be included in the interface and features can be added or removed based on the training system administrator’s preference or need. Multi-lingual training environments are also available for those who need them. Multiple separate training portals for different learner groups can be created within the LMS environment.


Continuous and immediate Cybersecurity course update functionality

As new threats emerge and training requirements change, it is critical that courses be updated as soon as possible. The LMS provides course administrators with the ability to quickly access and edit course content and add resources to the coursework, making them immediately available to learners.

Ongoing training program management

Efficiency in the addition, removal, and enrollment of users in coursework is dramatically increased when using an LMS. Learner groups are easily created and managed. Moving students from one group to another is a quick and simple process. Messaging and reminder functionality are readily available. If needed, LMS capabilities can allow users to upload assignments and projects, sharing them with trainers, fellow students, or both.

Reporting capabilities

The ability to run detailed reports to evidence the completion of training programs and to evaluate the progress and effectiveness of those programs can be critically important, especially to organizations subject to regulatory requirements. An LMS can generate customizable reports detailing learner progress, group, and individual course completion stats, the number of time users spend on training, and more.

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In Conclusion

LMS technology offers cybersecurity training capabilities that allow organizations to save money and free up time for IT personnel to devote to other tasks. The LMS automates many of the tasks associated with course development, deployment, and learner management. The flexible and detailed reporting functionality makes it easy to track student progress and course completion and allows for the generation of reports that can be used to evaluate the program’s overall effectiveness. LMS training is readily accessible from any computer with an Internet connection and is highly customizable. Could an LMS application be the right choice to meet your company’s training needs?

If you’re in Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley, Denver, Boulder, or the surrounding area and don’t have an IT Service Provider or are looking for managed IT support, IT services,  cyber security, IT services, or IT coverage, contact Pro-IS for a free consultation (970) 613-0980.


Protect Your Privacy: Choosing a Free Secure Browser for Your PC | PRO-IS

Choosing a Free Secure Browser for Your PC

Concern regarding the erosion of personal privacy is growing, and for good reason. There isn’t much you can do online without revealing data about yourself, like the types of products you buy, the sites you visit, and information about your identity. Your activities are tracked, you are targeted for advertising, and, in some cases, the information you unknowingly and unintentionally leave behind is compromised and put to use by hackers and identity thieves.

Most browsers have settings you can enable to protect your private information to some degree. They do this by erasing certain data from your computer once you are done browsing. But these settings do not prevent sites you visit, or your Internet Service Provider (ISP), from accessing potentially sensitive information about your computer, your browsing history, and your identity. The good news is that there are browsers, available at no cost, that do provide added layers of privacy protection.

What privacy settings are available with the most popular browsers?

In November of 2019, a technumero.com article listed Google’s Chrome browser as number one on its most popular browser top ten list. A March, 2020, article from ZDNet.com confirmed Chrome’s number one rating. This extremely popular browser offers “Incognito Mode” which, when activated, will prevent your computer from saving browsing history information, data entered into online forms, cookies, and other information from sites you visited. Cookies are used to subsequently identify and track website visitors’ activities. Incognito Mode does not, however, block your computer’s Internet Protocol (IP) address or your identity information from the sites you visit, nor does it conceal your browsing history from your ISP. As a Fort Collins, Boulder, Denver, or Northern Colorado resident privacy is important.

Microsoft’s Edge browser offers InPrivate Mode, which is similar to Chrome’s Incognito Mode. Like Chrome’s privacy mode, InPrivate does not hide your computer’s information from the sites you visit. When you browse using Chrome, Edge, and some other browsers, the data you leave behind at sites you visit can be combined with other information already available online to identify you even if you do not log into an account. Think of this as being similar to searching your name in Google, except that your IP address and other data revealed through your browser is used as search criteria to gather more information about you from various sources.

The privacy settings in these browsers share a commonality. They focus on blocking data, like browsing history and tracking cookies, from being stored locally on your computer rather than preventing data about you and your computer from being revealed to websites and your ISP as you browse. This approach seems counter-intuitive. According to security professionals, the best way to effectively protect your privacy when using these browser privacy settings is to combine them with the use of a separate Virtual Private Network (VPN) application. A VPN protects your identity by creating a secure tunnel through which data is transmitted, making it more difficult to gather information about you and your online activity. One may question whether a browser’s privacy mode should be providing this level of protection without the need to add separate VPN functionality.

Two free browsers to consider to better protect your privacy

From a developer’s point of view, accessibility to the underlying programming code used to create a browser application is important when determining whether the security settings in that browser can be trusted. Chrome, Edge, and some other popular browsers do not allow full access to their source code. The browser applications listed below do allow such access, thus their code can be audited by developers world-wide. This is not meant to imply that Chrome, Edge, and others cannot be trusted, but rather that those utilizing open source code invite scrutiny by industry professionals to ensure that their programming incorporates effective controls to protect users’ privacy.

The Tor browser has been publicly available since 2002 and tops many industry experts’ lists of browsers providing the highest level of security. Tor protects its users’ anonymity by bouncing their Internet traffic around their world-wide network, thereby concealing users’ true IP addresses and device information from the sites they visit. Not even Internet Service Providers have access to information about sites visited by their customers using Tor. Tor also blocks ads and scripts (text-based commands) from being automatically downloaded to your computer. Recall that security experts recommend implementing VPN applications with their encryption technology to protect privacy while using browsers like Chrome and Edge. Tor actually includes functionality that uses encryption to add security to connections between your device and unsecured sites.

On the negative side, Tor has a history of being used for some nefarious purposes, like hiding the identities of hackers looking for ways to penetrate networks. For this reason, some sites, networks, and governmental entities are configured to limit or block access to those using Tor. Additionally, because of the additional routing used to conceal IP addresses and other data, Tor’s performance is noticeably slower than that of other browsers. Overall, however, Tor is a free and very effective tool you can use to protect your online privacy while browsing the Internet. Versions of Tor are also available for your Android and Apple devices. You can find more information and download the Tor browser at torproject.org/download/.

The Brave browser was just released for Windows, Apple, and Android devices in 2020, so it is a relative newcomer. Like Tor, Brave optimizes privacy by blocking ads, data requests, scripts, and tracking cookies. Also like Tor, Brave adds encryption to secure connections to otherwise unsecured sites. Brave differs from Tor in that it does not bounce users’ traffic through multiple relays world-wide, thus Brave is significantly faster and is not subject to being blocked by some networks and sites.

Overall, because Brave outperforms Tor by functioning more like a Chrome or Edge browser and providing faster connectivity, many prefer it for everyday browsing activities. While it is not quite as secure as Tor because it lacks the masking capabilities, Brave offers a much higher level of security than most browsers, including Chrome and Edge. And, as a tip of the hat to Tor’s edge in security, Brave has now built in some optional Tor functionality in its privacy mode. The basic Brave browser can be downloaded at brave.com/download/.


Those concerned with protecting their privacy and identities may wish to consider switching to a more secure browser. The best-known, most widely used browsers, including Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge, take a different approach to privacy than do browsers like Tor and Brave. Chrome, Edge, and others focus primarily on preventing certain data, like browsing history and cookies, from being stored on the user’s computer. Tor and Brave provide that functionality as well, but also protect their users’ data from being collected by the sites they visit. Additionally, Tor and Brave provide encryption capabilities not included with Chrome, Edge, and others. Why not take advantage of the added security provided by one or both of these free tools?

If you’re in Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley, Denver, Boulder, or surrounding area and don’t have an IT Service Provider or are looking for managed IT support, cyber security, IT services, or IT coverage, contact Pro-IS for a free consultation (970) 613-0980.

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Phone Settings You Should Verify for Security | Pro-IS IT Services

Another Assault on Privacy: Phone Settings You Should Verify Now

Android and iPhone devices automatically generate unique identifiers in the form of character strings known as mobile advertising IDs (MAID). These MAIDs are used to track the activities of device users and build individual profiles on them. Companies use the profile data to send targeted ads to the devices.

Tech companies have routinely claimed that these profiles are anonymous and that, although they identify devices by their MAIDs, they do not include the personal identities of device users. But a July 2021 article published by Vice.com has revealed that MAIDs are being used by unscrupulous data brokers in conjunction with other data sources to match devices to their users’ personally identifiable information (PII). This PII data could include full names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, device IP information, and more. User profiles combining tracked activities with sensitive PII information are then being sold by these brokerage companies, compromising device users’ privacy and subjecting them to significant risk.

Both iPhone and Android devices now have settings that can be easily changed to prevent the tracking of your activities using MAIDs.

mobile cell phone security

The phone issue in detail

In a statement provided to Vice.com’s Motherboard affiliate during the course of its investigation, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden said that, “If shady data brokers are selling this information, it makes a mockery of advertisers’ claims that the truckloads of data about Americans that they collect and sell is anonymous.” Wyden went on to express concern that making the PII data available to foreign entities and governments could pose a risk to national security. Having this much PII information combined with tracking data also makes individuals more vulnerable to impersonation scams, identity theft, spear phishing, home title theft, and other cyber attack variants.

As part of the investigation, a Motherboard representative contacted one of these data brokers and posed as a potential customer. Per the Vice article, the brokerage’s CEO advised that the company did, in fact, link PII data to tracking information collected using MAIDs and that, in addition to name, address, email, IP information, and phone numbers, other data categories that could be included in profiles were “too numerous to list.” For more specific information about this data brokerage firm and its quoted representative, see vice.com/en/article/epnmvz/industry-unmasks-at-scale-maid-to-pii.

When explaining the scope of the issue, a researcher interviewed for the Vice article said that the PII of anyone running phone apps with ads could be collected and sold by unscrupulous entities. The researcher, Zach Edwards, also said that the risk level for members of the military, law enforcement personnel, and government officials is particularly high given the potential that they will be targeted by foreign entities.

Motherboard investigators asked Apple and Google whether they had policies relating to data brokers using MAIDs to create profiles that unmask the identities of their device users. Per the Vice article, both organizations acknowledged receiving the request for comment, but neither provided answers.

phone data

Phone settings that disable data sharing using MAIDs

While they didn’t answer Motherboard’s question, both Apple and Google have built functionality into their phones that allow users to disable this particular type of data sharing.

Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) option allows users to opt out of receiving targeted ads. Open Settings on your iPhone, select Privacy, then scroll down and tap Apple Advertising. Move the toggle switch to the left. If you’d like to see what information your phone has already collected about you, tap View Ad Targeting Information.

In April of 2021, three months prior to the publication of the Vice.com article, Apple’s iOS update to version 14.5 significantly changed how iPhone apps can collect and share data going forward. If you’ve installed that update, your apps should already be prompting you for permission to share tracking data.

Per the Vice article, Google announced that, early in 2022, they plan to roll out functionality similar to the opt-in requirement included in Apple’s 14.5 iOS update. In the meantime, Android users can open Settings, scroll down and tap Google, then select the Ads option. Move the toggle switch to the right to Opt out of Ads Personalization. Once you’ve enabled this setting, apps attempting to share out your MAID will be provided with a string of zeroes, instead.


In conclusion

Data collected from phones, tablets, and PCs is being packaged and sold as a commodity by people search sites and other data brokers. The very nature of some PII data, like real property records, requires that it be publicly accessible, thus allowing it to be scanned and matched with other data sources to build extensive profiles on you, your family, your neighbors, and anyone else who accesses the Internet.

This explosion in data mining and brokerage has resulted in a dramatic increase in cyber attacks and also in the development of privacy-related applications like personal virtual private networks, anonymizing domain name services, encrypted email and messaging apps, and private browsing options. And now, perhaps a bit later than they should have, Google and Apple have decided it would be best to protect their customers by giving them the option to block the sharing of their data.

If you are concerned about your privacy and would like to make sure your phone isn’t sharing information that is being used by unscrupulous data brokers, it only takes a minute to follow the instructions in this article and verify that your privacy settings are enabled.

If you’re in Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley, Denver, Boulder, or surrounding area and don’t have an IT Service Provider or are looking for managed IT support, cyber security, IT services, or IT coverage, contact Pro-IS for a free consultation (970) 613-0980.

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5 Phishing Scams for your Company to Watch for in Colorado

There are many Common Phishing Scams to Watch for in Colorado

Many companies in Fort Collins, Boulder, and Denver already have an established cyber-security strategy in place. However, not all are as robust as they could be. Cybercriminals know some businesses can’t keep up with their attacks — and they’re taking advantage of it.

Phishing attacks are especially dangerous because they prey on human nature. Therefore, it’s vitally important that you include other key people in your cybersecurity safety net — your employees. Because phishing attacks can cost your company a lot of money and valuable information, it’s now more important than ever for employees to be educated with phishing awareness training to spot a phish.

phishing scam

What is phishing?

Phishing happens when scammers impersonate a trusted company or person to gain access to sensitive information. The goal is to steal your passwords, account numbers, identity documents (IDs), and/or financial data. Phishing scams are typically delivered via email or text message, but scammers also use phone calls and websites to trick you. The cybercriminals behind phishing campaigns carefully craft messages to appear as if they come from legitimate sources, such as an email from a coworker or a pop-up from your computer’s operating system.

When users click on a link or download an attachment in these emails, it downloads malware onto their computers (or worse). This gives the attackers access to everything on your computer or network — including potentially sensitive financial information or trade secrets. The best way to protect yourself and your business from phishing is to be informed about it.

These five proactive strategies will not only help you educate your employees, but they will also prevent them from being susceptible to a phishing attack in the first place:

cyber phishing scam

1. Look for misspellings and poor grammar in emails  

When you receive an email from a person or company you don’t know, it’s important to question the validity of that email. Even if the emails look like they are coming from people or companies you know, it’s still worth questioning whether these emails are legitimate. One way to check if an email is legitimate is to see if the message contains spelling and grammar errors. While some people may be quick to judge someone based on their spelling or grammar, hackers who send phishing emails typically aren’t too concerned with this aspect of their messages.  

This can mean that spelling errors and poor grammar can be a telltale sign that the email was sent by a hacker looking to gain access to your information and accounts. If your work account receives an email from another business but that email contains multiple spelling errors and poor grammar, it might not be an authentic message from that business. Likewise, if an unfamiliar sender sends you an email with multiple misspellings and improper use of commas, periods, or other punctuation marks, there’s a good chance they’re trying to trick you with a phishing scam.


2. Don’t reply to emails asking for your account numbers, passwords, or PINs

If someone asks for your email address, password, or personal identification number (PIN) number over email, you can — and should — categorically ignore the request. If an email says that your account has been hacked and you must click on a link to reset your password, ignore it. If a Nigerian prince asks for your bank account number so they can give you millions of dollars, just know that this is a scam and they’ll instead take all the money in your account. The only time you should provide those numbers is if you initiate the request yourself through an official company platform or website. Even then, be cautious!


3. Don’t click on a link embedded in an email unless you know who it’s from and that it’s safe

One of the most common phishing tactics is to include a link in an email, which then takes you to a malicious website that asks for personal information. Some attackers even go so far as to make the link text something benign, like “document” or “photo.” Don’t trust them! If in doubt about the sender’s identity, it’s best to call the sender directly using their actual contact information (the number from their business card or your company website listing) than risk clicking on a link that could compromise your computer and allow hackers access to sensitive data.

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4. Don’t download a file unless you know who it’s from and that it’s safe

You should never download an attachment from someone that you don’t know, or from a source that you’re suspicious about. The same applies to unsolicited emails from individuals or companies that you know but rarely receive emails from. When in doubt, confirm by calling the sender and confirming their identity and the legitimacy of the email.

Attachment files can be used to spread harmful viruses and malware to your computer, which hackers can use to infiltrate your personal data on your computer, your employer’s network (if you’re using a company device), or even access banking information if it is saved on your computer.


5. Be suspicious of messages that contain threats, request urgent action, or create fear

One of the most common types of phishing emails is the threatening message. These messages are designed to generate fear in the email reader so that they will take immediate action and click on a link or open an attachment. A cybercriminal might pose as a bank or other financial institution and threaten to close your account if you don’t quickly visit their site by clicking on a link provided. This threat generates fear, which encourages the recipient to click on the link.


Bottom Line on Phishing Scams

It’s important to understand that phishing is a real threat — it’s not just about getting your money or supporting hackers and thieves. It can also result in the loss of proprietary information or sensitive data, like customer lists and credit card numbers. Some phishing attacks are designed to install malware on your computer or network, which could lead to identity theft and fraud in the future.

If you’re in Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley, Denver, Boulder, or surrounding area and don’t have an IT Service Provider or are looking for managed IT support, cyber security, IT services, or IT coverage, contact Pro-IS for a free consultation (970) 613-0980.

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Is your Colorado Company Website Outdated?

Almost every business in Fort Collins, Boulder, Denver, or Loveland has a website, no matter how small or how big they are. The website is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to advertise your business, and at the very minimum, allows you to provide your customers and potential customers with information about your products and services, hours of your business and contact information.


Cyber Security: 3 Common Strategies Used by Scammers & How to Protect Yourself from Cybercrime

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Cyber Security: 3 Common Strategies Used by Scammers and How to Protect Yourself from Cybercrime

With cybercrime on the rise, keeping your personal information safe online by watching out for cybercrimes is now important than ever. As Fort Collins, Boulder, Denver, and Northern Colorado residents, we are well aware that scammers are constantly coming up with ways to hack into people’s phones, personal computers, tablets and internet accounts to get access to their personal information and money. It is therefore necessary to familiarize yourself with the strategies used by these fraudsters to so that you can protect yourself.

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Here are some of the common tactics used by scammers to gain access to people’s personal information and money, and how you can protect yourself from cybercrime:

1. Phishing Scams

When scammers create fake emails or web pages that appear to be from a legitimate organization or person, it is referred to as a phishing scam. Usually, you will be asked to provide your bank account details, password, credit card number or Social Security number via that email or web page. Scammers can also contact you by phone or text message pretending to be from a genuine business like a telephone, bank or internet service provider and ask you for your personal information.

For instance, the scammer can tell you that the bank or company needs to verify customer records because of a technical error that erased customer data. Phishing messages are written in such a way that they look authentic, and usually copy the format used by the company the scammer is pretending to be from, including their logo and branding. The rule of thumb is to never give your personal information to anyone over the phone or online if you are not one hundred percent certain who they are.

If the email or phone call seems suspicious or looks off, it most likely is. And, if you make the mistake of giving the scammer your personal details, the details will be used to carry out fraudulent activities, like using your credit cards and stealing your money. So, avoid giving your personal information over the phone or online, unless you are absolutely sure who you are dealing with. 


2. Ransomware

Another tactic used by cybercriminals that you need to watch out for is ransomware. Ransomware is malware that cybercriminals use to freeze phones, tablets and computers in order to steal important data, demanding a ransom. Ransomware prevents you from using those gadgets or accessing particular files until you have paid the ransom. It usually encrypts your files so that you cannot open them. Examples of ransomware include CryptoLocker, CryptoWall, Reveton and Locky.

Because ransomware is distributed as malware disguised as a file that is legitimate, you may assume that it is a legitimate file and install it on your device. However, when installed, it can lock your device and display a “lock screen” with a message stating that if you want to have access to your computer, pay a ransom. You can avoid ransomware by ensuring that you do not click on links or attachments from email addresses you don’t know, and do not download or open files from untrusted websites. Also, make sure that you keep your software up to date on all your gadgets, in particular antivirus or internet security software.

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3. Charity Scams

You should also watch out for fake charities whose aim is to take advantage of your compassion and generosity for others in need. Although supporting charity organizations is a great thing to do, it is important to make sure that you do not become a victim of scammers. These fraudsters impersonate genuine charities and contact you, asking you for donations, usually after major events or a natural disaster. They can set up donation pages or send you fraudulent emails just to steal your money.

Before you donate money to charity, make sure that you do your research first. Avoid new organizations established for a particular crisis. Instead, go for those trusted organizations that have been around for some time. And watch out for charity organizations whose names are very similar to popular charities. Also, be on the lookout for phony social media accounts, emails, phone calls and crowdfunding requests, including email attachments from contacts that are familiar. Do not rush to donate your hard-earned money without properly evaluating the charity organization first.

The Bottom Line on Cyber Security

Cybercrimes are real, and some people have been victims of cybercriminals. The first thing you need to do to protect yourself from cybercrime is to familiarize yourself with the tactics used by cybercriminals to gain access to your personal details and ultimately steal your hard-earned money. Then, take the necessary steps to avoid being a victim of cybercrime.

If you’re in Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley, Denver, Boulder, or surrounding area and don’t have an IT Service Provider or are looking for managed IT support, cyber security, IT services, or IT coverage, contact Pro-IS for a free consultation (970) 613-0980.