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How to Avoid Online Scams this Holiday Season

This holiday season, experts expect cyberattacks to rise by 60 percent. Retailers and consumers will see a spike in cybersecurity alerts on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with heightened risk for the remainder of the year. Below are practices WesTec recommends to avoid online scams this Christmas.

Analyze Email Advertisements and Deals

Most attacks are a result of commodity malware. Scammers send phishing emails, often posing as your favorite brand, to try and steal your financial information. These emails often include misspelled words and misused grammar. If you suspect any email you receive is a scam, avoid clicking any URLs. This is how scammers steal your data or install malware on your computer. Instead, to verify the email came from the true brand, visit their website and see if they are offering the same deal.

Shop from Established Brands

Sometimes deals look too good to pass up. If an unknown website is offering a seemingly impossible deal, you could be looking at an online scam designed to steal your credit card information. Shoppers can look for the https in a retailer’s site URL, compared to http. The ‘s’ stands for secure and ensures all communications between the browser and website are encrypted. 

Avoid Public WiFi

If you plan to shop online, avoid purchasing on public WiFi. These networks are often unsecured, meaning anyone with a computer acumen can view what you are browsing and steal your personal information.

Use a Credit Card

Pay with a credit card when making gift purchases. A credit card offers the best liability protection against potential fraud, unlike debit cards. If scammers gained access to your debit card information, they could drain your accounts.

Make Sure All Passwords are Unique

It’s easier to use the same password for all accounts. But is it safer? If a hacker discovered your login credentials, they could easily hack into other accounts and steal your information. To best protect yourself, your data, and your financial information, make sure each account has a random and unique password. For more information about password security, visit our recent blog post. With the holiday season quickly approaching, be proactive in identifying online scams. For more information about cybersecurity and avoiding attacks from scammers, contact us.

Hack the Hackers with Password Security

hacker attempting to steal passwordsHave you ever been the victim of a cyber attack? Do you use the same password for all of your accounts? Follow our guide to outsmart the hackers with increased password security.

How Hackers Get Your Passwords

Before you can better protect your accounts, you must understand how cybercriminals access steal your information. Typically, a hacker will compromise your account in one of three ways. 
  • Personal attack: Hackers target your account specifically. They will typically guess your email password and use password recovery options to access other accounts.
  • Brute-Force attack: Hackers systematically check all possible passwords until the correct one is found.
  • Data Breach: Hackers attack large companies, resulting in millions of compromised accounts.  

What Makes a Good Password?

Ideally, your password should be at least 16 letters and contain a combination of numbers, symbols, uppercase and lowercase letters. Passwords should not include any repetition, dictionary words, usernames, pronouns or IDs. Make a strong password by thinking of a phrase and then use the initials of each word, as well as the numbers and symbols, to combat potential attacks. For example, if your phrase is “Do you think a hacker will guess my 16 character password for Facebook?!”, your password might be: Dytahwgm16cp4F?!

Enable Two-Step Authentication When Possible

If any sites or accounts offer two-factor authentication, take advantage of it. This system works to limit hacking attempts by making a user authenticate their identity with a second method of verification. Check out our recent blog post about two-factor authentication for more information.

Use a Password Manager

The best thing you can do for your accounts is have a different password for each one. However, if you follow this one cardinal rule of password security, keeping up with all passwords can be difficult. Using a password manager allows you to save all of your passwords in a secure spot with a strong master password.  WesTec offers consulting for any individuals or businesses wanting more information about password security, network installation, or managed IT services. Contact us for more information.
two-factor authentication benefits

The Benefits of Two-Factor Authentication

As technology continues to advance, additional security measures become necessary. Until now, single-factor authentication has been the standard. Single-factor authentication requires a username and password to enter an account. Consumers need additional security measures as cybercriminals become smarter. This is where two-factor authentication helps protect sensitive information and log-in credentials.  Two-factor authentication (2FA) isn’t a new concept, but is a necessary additional layer of security. It usually works by requiring the submission of a username and password, then asks for something additional to prove you are who you say you are. For example, some businesses will send a pin number to your cell phone you must provide for entry into a site.

Improved Security

With a second form of identification needed for verification, two-factor authentication makes it harder for an attacker to impersonate a user. In the event a cybercriminal gains password access, they can’t produce the additional element required to authenticate.

Increased Productivity and Flexibility

Employees can work remotely when their employers implement a second factor of authentication. They can securely access important applications, data, documents and back-office systems from any device or location with little risk.

Lower Security Management Costs

Approximately 40% of all help desk calls are related to password resets. With secondary authentication, businesses can expect less of the budget to be spent on security needs. It provides a safe way for employees or consumers to reset their account password by using the additional element to prove their identity, meaning they can handle the issue without contacting an IT professional.

Reduce Fraud

Identity theft is a common goal of cybercriminals. With two-factor authentication, businesses add extra mobile protection for customers, the site and the transaction. Adding a second element in your authentication process builds a sure brand consumers trust.  Ready to add two-factor authentication to your website? Contact your Houston IT experts.

Why Your Office Needs an Access Control System

Installing an access control system proactively protects your business. ID key entry, fingerprint scanners and video monitoring can ensure only authorized individuals enter a space. WesTec’s access control systems are completely customizable, making it easy for companies with all budgets to protect its employees and assets.

Customizable Access

An access control system can be customized to fit the needs of a business. For example, you can restrict access to certain areas to specific employees. A company can also restrict the times employees enter the building, but give 24/7 access to necessary personnel. Systems can also track an employee’s hours by recording when he or she clocks in and out.

Protection From Intruders

Access control systems make it difficult for unauthorized individuals from entering a space. With the right hardware, including video monitoring, management can monitor a door when an intruder forces it open.

Data Security

If you store expensive equipment, sensitive data or financial information on-site, consider installing an access control system. WesTec employees can set up two-factor authentication for added security. With an additional authentication measure, such as a fingerprint scanner or pin code, there is no risk of an intruder entering with a keycard.

Employee Safety

Today’s society becomes more violent with each passing day. In a world where threats could be anywhere, it is important employees feel protected. Door access control guarantees the only individuals in a space are the ones meant to be there. WesTec offers a variety of access control systems from leading manufacturers. To find the perfect access control system for your business, contact WesTec Services’ highly trained personnel.

4 Reasons CCTV is the Best Way to Protect Your Business

Closed-circuit television is one of the most effective forms of video surveillance. It is a highly-advanced technology that allows businesses to continually monitor their facilities. Here are four reasons CCTV has proven to be the leader in video surveillance.   Stop Crime Before It Happens Like most security systems, a lot of the job is done just by installing it. CCTV uses a group of circuited modern security cameras. The placement of those cameras alone is often enough to deter criminals before they commit a crime. Your security cameras will capture a recording if something does occur, but usually surveillance cameras are a natural deterrent.   Catch Crime If It Happens Hopefully having a CCTV system in place is enough to deter potential criminals from trying anything, but on the off-chance something happens your video surveillance will certainly catch it on film. Having a physical recording when filing a police report gives you an exponentially better chance that the authorities can find the person(s) responsible. You have the event recorded and potentially can even ID a suspect from the recording.   100% Coverage CCTV is as close to fool-proof surveillance that money can buy. It is virtually impenetrable and immune to human error. It records everything that happens, and you can set up as many cameras as you feel is necessary to cover the entire area. Between the constant, uninterrupted surveillance and its self-sufficiency, even your employees will be kept honest by your CCTV system.   Complete Self-Maintenance You can leave your CCTV system running 24/7/365 without the burden of having someone physically on-site to manage it. There is no need for a guard to sit at your business through the night or to pay personnel to come in on holidays. With CCTV recording everything at your business, you can rest easy knowing that nothing will happen that you don’t know about.   Protecting your home or business is important. At WesTec, we have a staff of trained professionals ready to assist you and answer any questions you may have. Contact our experts today to inquire about setting up CCTV surveillance at your company.
The Importance of Security Systems for Businesses - Westec Services

The Importance of Security Systems for Businesses

For a business owner, securing the business property is a top priority. Because commercial business security is so essential, it is important to ensure the appropriate security systems are installed.   In addition to promoting a professional business appearance, camera systems provide long-term benefits to a company. Here are a few reasons why camera systems should be implemented within commercial business premises:
  1. Protect Assets – As a business, valuable assets include the property itself, equipment, and private information. Businesses with security systems intact are less likely to have theft take place than those with none.
  2. Detect Criminal Behavior – With cameras, crime is less likely to occur because most criminals are deterred by security. However, if in the case it doesn’t, criminals can be caught sooner and are more likely to be identified with cameras in place.
  3. Preventative Measures – CCTV systems include access control systems and intruder alarm systems to alert authorities of suspicious activity. If a criminal appears at a business and notices cameras, it could prevent the crime from occurring altogether.
  4. Save on Insurance – If businesses invest in security systems for their property, they may be qualified to receive insurance discounts depending on their provider.
  5. Safeguard Staff – A business owner has the responsibility of protecting all work personnel. Installing high-tech cameras on the property can reduce liability risks and allow employees to feel comfortable and safe in the workplace.
WesTec Services offers cost-effective security products and installation for commercial businesses–providing a true turnkey solution for property safety. At WesTec, our professionals will survey the designated area to determine how many cameras are needed, where the cameras should be located, perform camera installation requirements, and ensure camera functionality–while remaining compliant with any budget. If your business is ready to take security to the next level with reliable CCTV or IP systems, contact WesTec today.

4 BYOD security risks you should prepare for

4 BYOD security risks you should prepare for

 August 23rd, 2018
4 BYOD security risks you should prepare for

Personal computing is with us wherever we go. Thanks to the rise of the mobile industry, smartphones and tablets allow us to take work home with us. And with the bring your own device (BYOD) strategy, businesses have never been so productive. However, BYOD can pose a number of security risks if you’re not careful. Here are some BYOD security issues you should know before implementing it.

Data leakage

The biggest reason businesses are wary of implementing a BYOD strategy is because it can leave the company’s system vulnerable to data breaches. Personal devices are not part of your business’s IT infrastructure, which means that these devices are not protected by company firewalls and security systems.

Employees might also take work with them to places outside of your company premises that don’t have adequate security settings, thus leaving your system vulnerable to inherent security risks.

Lost devices

Another risk your company has to deal with is the possibility that employees will lose their personal devices. If devices with sensitive business information get lost and fall into the wrong hands, anyone can gain unauthorized access to valuable company data stored in that particular device. Therefore, you should consider countermeasures and protocols for lost devices, like remotely wiping a device of information as soon as an employee reports it missing or stolen.

Possible hacking

Personal devices tend to lack adequate data encryption to keep other people from snooping on private information. On top of this, your employees might not regularly update their devices’ software, rendering their devices and your IT infrastructure susceptible to infiltration.

Connecting to open WiFi spots in public places also makes your company vulnerable and open to hackers, because hackers may have created those hotspots to trick people into connecting. Once the device owner has connected to a malicious hotspot, attackers can see your web activity, usernames, and passwords in plain text

Vulnerability to malware

Viruses are also a big problem when implementing BYOD strategies. If your employees use their personal devices, they can access sites or download mobile apps that your business would normally restrict to protect your system.

As your employees have the freedom to choose whatever device they want to work with, the process of keeping track of vulnerabilities and updates is considerably harder. So if you’re thinking about implementing BYOD strategies, make sure your IT department is prepared for an array of potential malware attacks on different devices.

BYOD will help your business grow, but it comes with IT security risks that you should be prepared to handle.
Need help mitigating these BYOD risks? Call us today, and let’s find the best IT security solutions for your company.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

New Spectre-style attack discovered

New Spectre-style attack discovered

August 7th, 2018
New Spectre-style attack discovered

Security experts are constantly discovering new potential threats, and quite recently, they’ve found a new type of Spectre-style attack more dangerous than the original. Here’s a quick rundown of the new Spectre variant.

Spectre 101
For those who don’t know, Spectre is a vulnerability in modern computer chips like Intel and AMD that allows hackers to steal confidential information stored in an application’s memory, including passwords, instant messages, and emails. Malicious code running on a computer or web browser could be used to exploit this vulnerability, but ever since Spectre was discovered, Microsoft, AMD, Intel, and other tech companies released a series of updates to fix it.

What is NetSpectre?
To perform Spectre attacks, malware would have to run on a targeted machine to extract sensitive data. But in late July, Austrian security researchers found a way to launch Spectre-style attacks remotely without locally installed malware. The new attack is called NetSpectre and it can be conducted over a local area network or via the cloud.

So far, it’s impractical for average hackers to use this method to steal data. In tests, researchers were able to steal data at a rate of between 15 to 60 bits per hour, which means it would take days to gather corporate secrets and passwords. As such, NetSpectre will probably be used by hackers who want to target specific individuals but don’t want to resort to obvious methods like phishing scams or spyware.

Experts also warn that while NetSpectre may be impractical now, hackers may develop faster and more powerful variants in the future.

How should you protect your business?
NetSpectre attacks exploit the same vulnerabilities as the original Spectre so it’s important to install the latest firmware and security updates. You should also secure your networks with advanced firewalls and intrusion prevention systems to detect potential NetSpectre attacks.

Last but not least, working with a reputable managed services provider that offers proactive network monitoring and security consulting services can go a long way in protecting your business from a slew of cyberthreats.

If you’re looking for a leading managed security services provider, why not talk to us? We provide cutting-edge security software and comprehensive, 24/7 support. Call us today for more information.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

IT security policies your company needs

IT security policies your company needs

July 23rd, 2018
IT security policies your company needs

When it comes to Internet security, most small businesses don’t have security policies in place. And considering that employee error is one of the most common causes of a security breach, it makes sense to implement rules your staff needs to follow. Here are four things your IT policies should cover.

Internet

In today’s business world, employees spend a lot of time on the internet. To ensure they’re not putting your business at risk, you need a clear set of web policies. This must limit internet use for business purposes only, prohibit unauthorized downloads, and restrict access to personal emails on company devices. You can also include recommended browsing practices and policies for using business devices on public wifi.

Email

Just like the Internet policy mentioned above, company email accounts should only be utilized for business use. That means your employees should never use it to send personal files, forward links, or perform any type of business-related activities outside their specific job role. Additionally, consider implementing a standard email signature for all employees. This not only creates brand cohesion on all outgoing emails, but also makes it easy to identify messages from other employees, thus preventing spear phishing.

Passwords

We’ve all heard the importance of a strong password time and time again. And this same principle should also apply to your employees. The reason is rather simple. Many employees will create the easiest to crack passwords for their business accounts. After all, if your organization gets hacked, it’s not their money or business at stake. So to encourage employees to create strong passwords, your policy should instruct them to include special characters, uppercase and lowercase letters, and numbers in their passwords.

Data

Whether or not you allow your employees to conduct work on their own devices, such as a smartphone or tablet, it is important to have a bring your own device (BYOD) policy. If your employees aren’t aware of your stance on BYOD, some are sure to assume they can conduct work-related tasks on their personal laptop or tablet. So have a BYOD policy and put it in the employee handbook. In addition to this, make sure to explain that data on any workstation is business property. This means employees aren’t allowed to remove or copy it without your authorization.

We hope these four policies shed some light on the industry’s best security practices. If you’d like more tips or are interested in a security audit of your business, give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Regularly evaluate your cybersecurity

Regularly evaluate your cybersecurity

July 5th, 2018
Regularly evaluate your cybersecurity

Experts estimate that the global market for cybersecurity products this year will exceed that of last year. At first glance, an increase in spending seems necessary and shows that businesses are becoming more aware of cybersecurity issues. But a closer look may prove otherwise. Learn why your company could be investing on cybersecurity products the wrong way.

Uncover threats and vulnerabilities

Every business should evaluate the current state of its cybersecurity by running a risk assessment. Doing so is one of the easiest ways to identify, correct, and prevent security threats. After discovering potential issues, you should rate them based on probability of occurrence and potential impacts to your business.

Keep in mind that risk assessments are specific to every business and there is no one-size-fits-all approach for small business technology. It all depends on your line of business and operating environment. For instance, manufacturing companies and insurance groups have totally different applications to secure.

After tagging and ranking potential threats, you should identify which vulnerabilities need immediate attention and which ones can be addressed further down the line. For example, a web server running an unpatched operating system is probably a higher priority than a front desk computer that’s running a little slower than normal.

Tailor controls to risks

Instead of spending time and money evenly on all systems, it’s best that you focus on areas with high risk. You should address these issues immediately after an assessment, but also put plans in place to evaluate their risk profiles more often.

Assess existing products

Chances are, your organization has already spent a great deal of money on security products and their maintenance and support. By conducting risk assessments more often, you can improve the strategies you already have in place and uncover wasteful spending. You may discover that one outdated system merely needs to be upgraded and another needs to be ditched. Remember, your existing products were purchased to meet specific needs that may have changed immensely or disappeared altogether.

It’s much harder to overcome cybersecurity obstacles if you’re not regularly evaluating your IT infrastructure. Contact our experts for help conducting a comprehensive assessment today!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Mission: WesTec will be a “turn-key” solution for all of its clients’ business connectivity needs. It will offer efficient and effective solutions, directly and with strategic partners, that create tangible value for its clients at every point of contact. Westec will serve all people and entities with a servant’s heart.

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