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VNET Radio Podcast – Episode 2 – February 19th – Tax Time Cyber Security



  • Tax Time Strategies to Prevent From Becoming the Next Cyber Security Victim

    Almost every day the news is filled with stories about the latest data breach that is impacting millions of people across the United States. The chart from CSO below shows the Biggest Data Breaches of the 21st Century – with Yahoo’s breach in 2013 impacting 3 Billion People!

    Biggest Data Breaches in the 21st Century

    Biggest Data Breaches of the 21st Century

    Due to the advances in artificial intelligence and the prevalence of technology in all our lives, hackers have more opportunities than ever to prey on unsuspecting victims in society. According to recent data, cybercrime is at an all-time high and has exceeded $1.5 Trillion Dollars in worldwide losses.

    As nearly 90 percent of Americans will prepare and submit their taxes online in 2020, hackers are working overtime to scam more individuals than ever before.

    Here are a few tips that we have compiled to help keep your personal and professional information safe this tax season.

    Protect your personal data as you would your most prized possessions

    Quick audience question – Do you lock the doors of your house at night?

    For most of us, the answer is a resounding yes (unless we live in a remote area where our only potential intruder might be a friendly woodchuck).

    Locking your doors at home is an easy and generally effective method to prevent an intruder from stealing your personal possessions. In the same manner, individuals and organizations need to take similar simple steps to protect their most prized digital possessions.

    Just like locking your door is a simple solution for your home, individuals can take simple measures to protect their personal data.

    Do not provide your information over the phone to someone stating they are from the IRS

    The IRS does not ask for payments or provide status updates on your tax return via telephone calls. If you receive a call from the IRS, it is most likely a robocall designed to scam you into providing information to a hacker. Any official communication from the IRS will be done through the mail and will have the IRS seal on the document. If you received a suspected e-mail or call from the IRS, report it to them to help protect fellow taxpayers.

    Double-check online links to Federal, State, and Local tax documents

    Hackers know that most individuals and corporations file their taxes online and have set up websites that look like official government sites. These sites ask you to enter your personal information for access but redirect to a sophisticated network designed by the bad guys.

    Before completing any on-line forms, double-check the links and make sure they are located at the IRS or other official government entities. If in doubt, use the tried and true method and call your local government office to confirm you are visiting the correct website before proceeding.

    Received a suspicious request from a co-worker or Human Resources? – STOP and Verify!

    Business E-mail Compromise and impersonation attacks are on the rise as cybercriminals try to infiltrate organizations large and small.

    As more and more companies move towards cloud technologies, hackers are becoming more effective at infiltrating internal resources to impersonate trusted individuals to get others in the organization to submit information to the cyber-criminals. Messages from Human Resources or the CEO are quickly opened and responded to by innocent employees – only to find out later that that e-mail was not really from those individuals.

    Suspicious Email

    Suspicious Email

    During tax season, we are often anxious to receive a copy of our W-2 or other tax forms to ensure that we can complete our taxes on time – and hopefully score that refund! Hackers play on this sense of urgency and write e-mails to request information to solicit an immediate response.

    By responding quickly, the details are often overlooked, and the hackers now have received the data they were looking for through the impersonation attack.

    Rather than being the first to reply, individuals should stop and read the message. If it seems suspicious, delete it and contact the individual who sent it via the phone to confirm that it was a legitimate request. By taking a few seconds to review what you are reading and confirm its identity, you can save your organization from becoming the latest cybersecurity victim.

    Take the Battle to the Cyber Criminals

    Although the cybercriminals are constantly evolving their methods to gain access to your personal and organizational data, your organization is not alone in the fight to keep your data safe.

    Velocity Network has partnered with the leading security companies in the industry to help protect organizations from the impact of cyber threats. Preventing the threats start with a multifaceted approach to rethinking security.

    Contact VNET today for a Risk-Free Cyber Security Assessment and to learn more about how securing your data should be your number one priority.

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  • Five Technology Resolutions to Start 2020

    5 Technology Resolutions of 2020
    As the new year begins, now is the time to dedicate a few minutes to review your current technology and security practices. To help you focus your time and energy, we have listed the top five technology resolutions to start 2020. 

    2020 Top Technology Resolutions 

    1. Take control of your password management 

    Passwords are everywhere, and all of our devices, services, and website logins require a unique password. Unfortunately, password management is one of the takes that many of us leave to chance. Remembering the password complexity requirements is never easy, and most of us click on the Forgot Password link to reset the passwords that we forget. 

    With the rash of cyber attacks and security breaches in the United States, the likelihood that a password or login is compromised is on the rise. These breaches require you to be diligent in changing your password credentials and monitoring your accounts for suspicious activity.  

    Password managers like LastPass or other management tools are a great way to organize your digital resources for 2020.  

    Link: The Best Password Managers for 2020 

    2. Lockdown your devices 

    In today’s fastpaced world, it is easier than ever to misplace a device. Although there are technology apps and tools to locate lost smartphones or notebooks, what happens while they are lost is the question.  

    If your device does not require a pin code or facial recognition to access, make sure you activate those security measures. Without a locking mechanism, anyone can access your data if they gained control of your device.  

    Even with a lock mechanism enabled, hackers can still gain access to your accounts if they are able to steal your login information. Therefore, it is recommended to activate two-factor authentication (when available) to ensure that in the event your account is compromised it cannot be accessed without the additional required information. 

    Two-factor services such as Authentication Codes from apps like Google or Microsoft or Text Messages sent to a cell phone are critical to prevent unauthorized access. E-mail, Online Banking, or any essential business application, should always have two- factor capabilities active to increase the security of these applications.  

    Link: Two Factor Authentication Setup Instructions  

    3. Develop a Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan 

    Data is the most critical item on any workstation or corporate network. Imagine losing all of those precious photos of your children or not being able to access essential client data needed to process an order for your business.  

    Unfortunately, most individuals and organizations lack reliable data backups, and they do not have a comprehensive plan to recover from a technology outage.  

    A simple strategy to follow is the 3-2-1 Backup Plan.  

    • (3) Three Separate copies of your data 
    • (2) On Two Different mediums (Local Device + External Storage) 
    • (1) Keep One Copy Offsite in the Cloud 

    This strategy will enable you to recover your files, but it is only as good as your ability to verify that your backups are working. We always recommend that you monitor the status of your backups to confirm that they are working. If an issue arises, IT firms like VNET can address any failures quickly to ensure that your data is secure and you can sleep at night. 

    Link: Data and Backup Recovery Methods 

    4. Budgeting for Replacement of Legacy Devices 

    On January 14th, 2020, Microsoft ended support for Windows 7 workstations. Launched on July 22nd, 2009, Windows 7 has been Microsoft’s flagship operating system for over a decade. However, with the end of support, Microsoft is no longer releasing security patches and updates to the current version Windows 7 operating system 

    Organizations that must meet compliance or regulatory requirements are the most vulnerable to the need to upgrade to Windows 10 (or purchase Windows 7 extended support).  

    Other legacy devices such as firewalls or software also need to be reviewed to determine if they have reached their end of life or support status. New NextGeneration Firewalls are designed to help protect organizations against the latest security threats, and Artificial Intelligencedriven software packages can help proactively stop viruses or ransomware attacks before they cripple an organization.   

    Link: Advanced Threat Protection Solutions 

    5. Security Training and Awareness 

    Although organizations and individuals can spend lots of money on the latest in technology, all of that can be for not if users are not aware of the latest security threats. Much like a fire drill at a school, organizations need to provide proper training and awareness programs to their employees to ensure that they are mindful of the data that they use. Most security breaches are caused by employees who innocently click on a spoofed link or are duped into an impersonation scheme that exposes the entire organization to a security threat.  

    By properly safeguarding data through security policies and training individuals on the impact of their actions in the organization, the probability of a security breach will be dramatically reduced.  

    Link: Strategies to Improve Your IT Defenses 

    Since 1990, our team at Velocity Network has worked with partners to take the complexity and worry out of their IT systems. Let us help make your IT Worry Free by conducting a RiskFree Security and Network Assessment.   

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