Should you make a ransomware payment!

Should you make a ransomware payment!

Should you make a ransomware Payment?
Your business gets hit by a ransomware attack, and your valuable data is locked away by cyber criminals demanding a huge ransom fee.

You can’t afford to pay it. But there’s a twist – just like those “buy now, pay later” schemes, some ransomware gangs are offering victims payment extension options.

Recent research reveals that ransomware groups are getting creative with their extortion strategies. One group is even offering victims various choices when it comes to their ransom demands. These “choices” include:

Paying to delay the publication of their stolen data, with a standard fee of $10,000… or paying to have their stolen data deleted before it’s made public.

The exact amounts charged are often negotiated with victims, adding a chilling dimension to the whole ordeal.

To increase the pressure on victims, these ransomware groups have added some terrifying features to their web sites. These include countdown timers displaying how much time businesses have before their data is released, view counters, and even tags revealing the victim’s identity and description.

It’s all designed to make victims feel cornered and more likely to give in to the demands.

You might be tempted to pay that ransom to protect your business data. Paying is always a bad idea and here’s why…

Paying doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get your data back or that the cyber criminals won’t demand more money later.

By paying, you’re essentially funding criminal activities, encouraging them to continue their attacks on others.

Paying a ransom might even get you into legal trouble, as some governments have made it illegal to pay cyber criminals.

So, what can you do to safeguard your business from falling victim to ransomware?

  • Ensure you have regular, secure backups of your data. This way, you won’t be at the mercy of cyber criminals.
  • Educate your staff about the risks of ransomware and train them to recognise phishing emails and suspicious links.
  • Invest in robust cyber security software and keep it up to date.
  • Keep your systems and software updated with the latest security patches.
  • Segment your network to limit the spread of ransomware if one device gets infected.
  • Develop a clear incident response plan, so you know exactly what to do if you’re ever hit by a ransomware attack.

Paying cyber criminals rarely makes things better, and we’re seeing businesses that do pay become targets time and time again. Instead, invest in the proactive measures above to help you stay secure. And if we can help you with that, get in touch.

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Best Practices To ‘Celebrate’ National Change Your Password Day: How Does Your Password Stack Up?

Each year on February 1st, we celebrate Change Your Password Day. While it’s not a holiday that gets you off work, it serves as a good opportunity each year to do a quick check-in and make sure you’re using strong passwords that will keep your accounts protected.

The suggested ‘rule’ used to be to change your password every three months. With advanced tools like password managers and data encryption, experts now say the type of password you use is more important than how often you create a new one. We’re sharing up-to-date advice on how to create a strong password that will keep your account secure and hackers guessing.

Make It Complex

Aim for complexity by combining uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. Avoid easily guessable information like birthdays, names or common words. The more intricate and unique your password, the harder it is for hackers to crack it.

Longer Passwords Are Harder To Crack

Long passwords provide an added layer of security. According to Hive Systems, brute-force hacking can crack an eight-character password in less than one hour! When creating a new password, aim for a minimum of 12 characters, and consider using passphrases—sequences of random words or a sentence—which can be both strong and easier to remember.

A random passphrase would be something like: cogwheel-rosy-cathouse-jailbreak.

This passphrase was generated from the website useapassphrase.com, which will auto-create a four-word passphrase for you if you’re stumped.

Use Unique Passwords For Each Account

Resisting the temptation to reuse passwords across multiple accounts is crucial. If one account is compromised, having unique passwords for other accounts ensures that the damage is contained. Consider using a reputable password manager to help you generate and store complex passwords securely.

*Do NOT use Google or your browser’s password manager. If your Google account is compromised, all of your passwords will be too. Talk with your IT team about what password management tool they recommend for you and your organization.

Update Passwords Yearly

As long as your account hasn’t been compromised, you only need to change your passwords once a year to minimize the risk of unauthorized access. The only time a regular password change routine would be exceptionally helpful is if someone has access that you don’t know about. A frequent password change can make it more challenging for attackers to maintain access to your accounts over an extended period of time.

Engage Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Implementing multi-factor authentication is another easy way to make your password bulletproof. MFA typically involves combining something you know (your password) with something you have (like a code sent to your phone). Even if your password is compromised, MFA significantly reduces the chances of unauthorized access.

Set Up Strong Password Recovery Alternatives

Leverage password recovery options like security questions or alternative e-mail addresses. It’s important to choose questions with answers that are not easily guessable or have publicly available information so “What’s your mother’s maiden name” is out!

Use Password Managers

You don’t have to try and remember every password, and you shouldn’t write them down on a sticky note on your desk. Instead, use a good password management tool that is secure and will handle keeping track of your passwords for you.

Bonus points for turning off the auto-fill feature. Hackers can infiltrate sites and install a little bit of code on a page that creates a second, invisible password box. When your password manager autofills the login box, it will also fill in the invisible box, giving hackers your password. This isn’t overly common, but it still poses a risk.

Regularly Review Account Activity

Monitor your account activity for any suspicious logins or activities. Many online platforms offer features that notify you of login attempts from unfamiliar devices, allowing you to take swift action in the event of unauthorized access.

It’s also always good to be aware of phishing attempts, never click suspicious links or attachments in e-mails, avoid public Wi-Fi and only use secure connections and educate and train your team on what to look for when it comes to cybercrime so they can protect themselves, you and the company.

As cyber threats continue to evolve, mastering the fundamentals of cybersecurity, like creating strong passwords, becomes paramount. By making informed choices and staying proactive, you can significantly enhance your online security.

However, as the leader of your organization, it’s important to remember that nothing is foolproof. Educating your team on cybersecurity best practices is essential, but mistakes can and will still happen. For most, it’s not a matter of if, but when. You must have a robust cybersecurity plan in place. The right IT team will make sure you have every protection in place to keep you safe and a crisis management plan ready if something goes wrong. To find out what gaps you have in your cybersecurity system, we’ll do a FREE Cybersecurity Risk Assessment. Click here to book yours now.

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How “Cheaper” IT Providers Sneak In Expensive Hidden Costs

Is your company looking to hire an IT firm? Unfortunately, unless you’re tech-savvy or experienced with IT contracts, there can be hidden costs that you wouldn’t expect or know to look for. While it can sound appealing to go for the cheapest firm, that decision can end up costing you more in the long run due to carve-outs and hidden fees in the contract. Cheaper IT firms will omit certain services from the original agreement and later nickel-and-dime you to add them on or by quoting you inadequate solutions that you’ll later need to pay to upgrade.

To help you weed out these companies that are not the bargains they advertise themselves to be, there are a few key elements to consider determining if your quote is insufficient, overpriced or underquoted.

Insufficient Compliance And Cybersecurity Protections:

A ransomware attack is a significant and devastating event for any business; therefore, it’s imperative that the IT company you’re working with isn’t just putting basic (cheap) antivirus software on your network and calling it a day. This is by far the one critical area most “cheaper” MSPs leave out.

Antivirus is good to have but woefully insufficient to protect you from serious threats. In fact, insurance companies are now requiring advanced cyber protections such as employee cyber awareness training, 2FA (2-factor authentication), and what’s called “advanced endpoint protection” just to get insurance coverage for cyber liability and crime insurance. We provide those standards in our offering, so not only do you greatly reduce your chances of a cyber-attack, but you also avoid being denied an important insurance claim (or denied coverage, period).

Inadequate Recovery Solutions:

One thing you also want to make sure you look for in your IT firm proposal is that they do daily backups of your servers and workstations, as well as any cloud applications your company uses (Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, etc.), because online applications do NOT guarantee to back up your data. You also need to make sure your backups are immutable or unable to be corrupted by hackers. Again, most insurance companies now require immutable backups to be in place before they’ll insure against ransomware or similar cyber events.

Transparency About On-Site And After-Hours Fees:

This might take you by surprise, but most IT firms will charge EXTRA for any on-site or after-hours visits. We include ALL of this in our agreements, but ‘cheaper’ MSPs will intentionally leave this out and add it on later to make the sticker price appear lower. Make sure you understand what is and isn’t included in your service agreement before signing.

Nonexistent Vendor Liaison And Support:

Will they help you with all of your tech, or just select pieces that they’ve installed? Some IT firms will charge you hourly to resolve tech support issues with your phone system, ISP, security cameras, printers and other devices they didn’t sell you but that still reside on the network (and give you technical problems). These fees can stack up over time. As a client of ours, you get all of that INCLUDED, without extra charges.

Cheap, Inexperienced Techs And No Dedicated Account Managers:

One way some companies cut costs is by skimping on customer support and expertise. Many of the smaller MSPs will hire technicians under a 1099 agreement or find cheaper, less experienced engineers to work on your network and systems. The more experienced and knowledgeable a tech is on networking and, more specifically, cybersecurity, the more expensive they are.

Further, many smaller MSPs can’t afford dedicated account managers, which means you’re depending on the owner of the company (who’s EXTREMELY busy) to pay attention to your account and to look for problems brewing, critical updates that need to happen, upgrades and budgeting you need.

Good account management includes creating and managing an IT budget, a custom road map for your business and reviewing regulatory compliance and security on a routine basis to make sure nothing is overlooked. You get what you pay for, and this is NOT an area you want overlooked.

BEFORE you sign on the dotted line, it’s important to make sure that you fully understand what IS and ISN’T included in the service you are signing up for. It’s VERY easy for one IT services provider to appear far less expensive than another UNTIL you look closely at what you are getting.

If you’d like to see what dependable, quality IT support looks like, book a call with our team, and we’ll be happy to give you a quote that covers everything you need. To Schedule Your FREE Assessment, please visit www.limbtec.com/contact-us or call our office at 01752 546967.

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Need to Show the Tangible Value of Cybersecurity? Here’s How

Need to Show the Tangible Value of Cybersecurity? Here's How

You cannot overstate the importance of cybersecurity. Especially in an era dominated by digital advancements. Businesses and organizations are increasingly reliant on technology to drive operations. This makes them more susceptible to cyber threats.

66% of small businesses are concerned about cybersecurity risk. Forty-seven percent lack the understanding to protect themselves. This leaves them vulnerable to the high cost of an attack.

Conveying the tangible value of cybersecurity initiatives to decision-makers can be challenging. The need for protection is clear, but executives want hard data to back up spending.

We’ll explore strategies to effectively show the concrete benefits of cybersecurity measures. These can help you make the case for stronger measures at your company. As well as help you understand how your investments return value.

How to Show the Monetary Benefits of Cybersecurity Measures

Why does demonstrating the monetary value of digital security measures pose a challenge? The benefits of cybersecurity are often indirect and preventive in nature. This differs from tangible assets with direct revenue-generating capabilities.

Investments in robust cybersecurity protocols and technologies are akin to insurance policies. They aim to mitigate potential risks rather than generate immediate financial returns. Quantifying the exact monetary value of avoided breaches or data loss can be elusive. These potential costs are hypothetical. They’re also contingent on the success of the cybersecurity measures in place.

Additionally, success is often measured by incidents that do not occur. This complicates efforts to attribute a clear monetary value. As a result, companies grapple with finding certain metrics. Ones that effectively communicate this economic impact.

Below are several ways to translate successful cybersecurity measures into tangible value.

1. Quantifying Risk Reduction

What’s one of the most compelling ways to showcase the value of cybersecurity? It’s by quantifying the risk reduction. Companies design cybersecurity initiatives to mitigate potential threats. By analyzing historical data and threat intelligence, organizations can provide concrete evidence. Evidence of how these measures have reduced the likelihood and impact of incidents.

2. Measuring Incident Response Time

The ability to respond swiftly to a cyber incident is crucial in minimizing damage. Metrics that highlight incident response time can serve as a key indicator. They can illustrate the effectiveness of cybersecurity efforts.

It’s also possible to estimate downtime costs. And then correlate those to a reduction in the time it takes to detect and respond to a security incident. This demonstrates potential savings based on faster response.

The average cost of downtime according to Pingdom is as follows:

  • Up to $427 per minute (Small Business)
  • Up to $16,000 per minute (Large Business)

3. Financial Impact Analysis

Cybersecurity incidents can have significant financial implications. Businesses can quantify the potential losses averted due to cybersecurity measures. Businesses do this by conducting a thorough financial impact analysis.

This can include costs associated:

  • Downtime
  • Data breaches
  • Legal consequences
  • Reputational damage

4. Monitoring Compliance Metrics

Many industries have regulatory requirements for data protection and cybersecurity. Demonstrating compliance with these regulations avoids legal consequences. It also showcases a commitment to safeguarding sensitive information. Track and report on compliance metrics. This can be another tangible way to exhibit the value of cybersecurity initiatives.

5. Employee Training Effectiveness

Human error remains a significant factor in cybersecurity incidents. Use metrics related to the effectiveness of employee training programs. This can shed light on how well the company has prepared its workforce. Prepared it to recognize and respond to potential threats. A well-trained workforce contributes directly to the company’s cybersecurity defenses.

6. User Awareness Metrics

Beyond training effectiveness, there are user awareness metrics. These gauge how well employees understand and adhere to cybersecurity policies. Use metrics such as the number of reported phishing attempts. As well as password changes and adherence to security protocols. These metrics provide insights into the human element of cybersecurity.

7. Technology ROI

Investing in advanced cybersecurity technologies is a common practice. Showcasing the return on investment (ROI) can be a powerful way to show value. Use metrics that assess the effectiveness of security technologies. Specifically, in preventing or mitigating incidents. Such as the number of blocked threats. This can highlight the tangible benefits.

8. Data Protection Metrics

For organizations handling sensitive data, metrics related to data protection are paramount. This includes monitoring the number of data breaches prevented. As well as data loss incidents and the efficacy of encryption measures. Show a strong track record in protecting sensitive information. This adds tangible value to cybersecurity initiatives.

9. Vendor Risk Management Metrics

Many organizations rely on third-party vendors for various services. Assessing and managing the cybersecurity risks associated with these vendors is crucial. Metrics related to vendor risk management showcase a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity. Such as the number of security assessments conducted. Or improvements in vendor security postures.

Schedule a Cybersecurity Assessment Today

Demonstrating the tangible value of cybersecurity starts with an assessment. One that uncovers the status of your current security measures. Knowledge is power when fostering a culture of security and resilience.

Give us a call today to schedule a chat.Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

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5 New Cybersecurity Threats You Need To Be Very Prepared For This Year

5 New Cybersecurity threats you need to be ready for

The year of 2023 marked a significant turning point for cyber-attacks with the introduction and wide proliferation of AI (artificial intelligence), now in the hands of people who wish to do you harm and who are actively using it to find faster and easier ways to rob you, extort you or simply burn your business to the ground.

As I write this, I’m well aware there’s a tendency to shrug and just accept the “we’re all gonna get hacked anyway” mantra to avoid having to deal with it. Further, like overhyped weather reports, it’s also tempting to just ignore the warning signs, thinking all of this is just fearmongering rhetoric designed to sell stuff.

However, it truly is becoming a situation where the question is no longer IF your organization will be hacked, but WHEN. The Hiscox Cyber Readiness report recently revealed that 53% of all businesses suffered at least ONE cyber-attack over the last 12 months with 21% stating the attack was enough to threaten the viability of their business.

This year is going to be a particularly nasty one, given the U.S. presidential election along with the ongoing wars between Russia and Ukraine and Israel and Hamas. Tensions are high and hacking groups are often motivated by revenge as well as money.

Now, here are the 5 biggest developments in cyber threats you need to know about.

1. The Proliferation Of AI Powered Attacks:

If cybersecurity is a chess game, AI is the Queen, giving the person in possession the most powerful advantage for whomever plays it best. All cyber-related reports expect to see highly sophisticated deepfake social engineering attacks on the rise designed to separate you from your money.

We’ve already seen scams using AI-generated voices of family members, calling relatives to claim they’ve been injured, kidnapped or worse, to extort money. This is also being used to hack into companies by getting employees to provide login information to people they think are their IT department or boss.

This is where employee awareness training comes in, as well as controls such as MFA (multi-factor authentication), come into play. One of the things we do here at Limbtec is Carry out regular Training, and simulated attacks.

2.Increased Risk Of Remote Workers:

The expansion of remote work is a trend that is not going away; and with that comes an exponentially greater risk for cyber threats. From laptops being carried around and connected to suspicious Wi-Fi to mobile phones providing a “key” to logging into critical applications (like your bank account, Microsoft 365, line-of-business and credit card applications), these devices pose a high risk for being easily lost or stolen. Further, when people use their own devices or work remote, they tend to mix business and personal activities on the same device.

That employee who frequents gambling or porn sites may be using the same device used to login to company e-mail or critical applications. Even logging into personal social media sites that get hacked can provide a gateway for a hacker to get to YOUR company’s information through a user’s (employee’s) personal accounts.

3.Escalation Of Ransomware Attacks:

There are an estimated 1.7 million ransomware attacks every day, which means every second 19 people are hacked worldwide. If you’ve been lucky enough to avoid this, know that someone else is getting hacked on a very frequent basis, and you are very likely to be hit.

Last year, ransomware attacks increased by 37% with the average ransom payment exceeding $100,000, with an average demand of $5.3 million.

Fortunately, not all ransom attacks are successful. Businesses are getting much smarter about cyber protections and have been able to put in place protections that prevent hackers from successfully extorting their victims. One of the ways we protect our clients from ransomware is BY using advanced protection measures to help prevent the attack in the first place.

4.IoT Attacks:

IoT, or “Internet of Things,” is a term to describe the proliferation of Internet-connected devices. Today, even kitchen appliances, like a refrigerator, can be connected to the Internet to tell you when it’s time to change the water filter to alerting you if there’s a power outage.

This means hackers have a FAR greater number of access points into your world. If there are 100+ more doors to walk through in a house, you have a much greater security risk than if there are only five. That’s why IoT attacks present such a problem for us, and a huge opportunity for the hackers.

While many people know they should lock their PC, they might not be as meticulous in locking down their fridge or their dog’s tracking collar, but those could all provide access to you, your devices, e-mail, credit card and personal information.

To try and combat the out-of-control tsunami of cybercrime, the government is initiating more comprehensive federal and state laws requiring business owners to have in place “reasonable security” protections for their employees and clients.

The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has been the most active in this space, bringing numerous actions against companies it alleges failed to implement reasonable security measures, issuing monetary penalties.

Of course, all 50 states plus Washington D.C. have passed laws imposing security requirements as well as data breach notification laws that require businesses to notify anyone whose data and PII (personally identifiable information) has been stolen or accessed by hackers via the company. For example, in California, under the California Privacy Rights Act (CCPA), a business could face a penalty of $100 to $750 per consumer and per incident if that company gets hacked and the court determines they failed to put in place reasonable security procedures.

Not Sure If You’re As Protected And Prepared As You Should Be?

To make sure you’re properly protected, get a FREE, no-obligation Cybersecurity Risk Assessment. During this assessment, we’ll review your entire system so you know exactly if and where you’re vulnerable to an attack.

Schedule your assessment with one of our senior advisors by calling us at 01752 546967 or going to https://limbtec.com/contact-us

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How Small Businesses Can Approach Workforce Technology Modernization

Technology plays a pivotal role in driving efficiency, productivity, and competitiveness. For small businesses, workforce technology modernization is both an opportunity and a challenge.

Embracing modern technology can empower small businesses. It can help them thrive in a digital era. Yet many of them don’t keep up with modernization. For example, over 30% of small businesses haven’t upgraded systems in 4+ years.

Some of the reasons SMBs don’t upgrade their tech include:

  • Limited funding
  • Unsure how to modernize technology
  • Stuck in the “old way is fine” mentality

The benefits of upgrading technology are many. One study found the following. That 45% of businesses modernizing tech saw improved ROI for IT investments. Other important benefits include improved employee retention and decreased cybersecurity risk. Not to mention the productivity and time-saving advantages.

Is your small business looking to modernize its workforce technology? Here are some steps to get you started.

Assess Your Current Technology Landscape

The first step in any technology modernization initiative is to conduct an assessment. You need to fully understand your current technological infrastructure. Identify existing strengths and weaknesses. As well as outdated systems and areas where technology could enhance business processes. Understanding your starting point is crucial. It helps in developing a targeted and effective modernization strategy.

Align Technology Goals with Business Objectives

Technology should not be an isolated component. But rather, a strategic enabler aligned with your business goals. Clearly define how technology can support and enhance your business objectives. Whether it’s improving customer engagement. Or streamlining internal processes and expanding market reach. Ensure that your technology modernization efforts align with your overarching business vision.

Focus on Cloud Adoption

The cloud has emerged as a game-changer for businesses of all sizes. Embracing cloud technologies can offer small businesses several benefits. These include scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness.

Consider migrating key applications and data to cloud platforms. This can enhance accessibility, collaboration, and data security. Cloud solutions can also simplify software updates and maintenance. This frees up resources for other strategic initiatives.

Invest in Collaborative Tools

Effective communication and collaboration are essential for small businesses. Invest in collaborative tools and platforms. These ease seamless interaction among team members, regardless of their physical location. Examples are video conferencing, project management, and document sharing tools. These tools can enhance teamwork and productivity. This fosters a cohesive work environment even in remote or hybrid setups.

Look at Cybersecurity Measures

There is an increasing prevalence of cyber threats. So, cybersecurity should be a top priority for small businesses undergoing technology modernization. Put in place robust cybersecurity measures. Focus on protecting sensitive data and customer information. As well as your critical business assets.

Cybersecurity measures include:

  • Firewalls
  • Antivirus software
  • Regular security updates
  • Employee training
  • Threat identification & response

Embrace Mobile-Friendly Solutions

  1. In a world where mobility is paramount, adopting mobile-friendly solutions is key. Ensure that you’ve optimized business applications and platforms for mobile use. This allows employees to work efficiently from various devices. This enhances flexibility. It also accommodates the evolving expectations of the workforce. Employees value the ability to work on the go.

Look at Remote Work Options

The global shift towards remote work has accelerated. Small businesses should prepare to embrace flexible work arrangements. Modernize your technology infrastructure to support remote work options. These provide employees with the tools and connectivity they need. As well as helping them maintain productivity outside of the traditional office environment.

Consider Automation for Efficiency

Automation can significantly improve operational efficiency for small businesses. Identify repetitive, time-consuming tasks. These can often be automated to streamline workflows. Look at things like customer service chatbots and automated invoicing systems. Embracing automation can free up valuable human resources. As well as reduce the risk of errors in routine tasks.

Provide Ongoing Training and Support

Introducing new technologies requires commitment. A commitment to ongoing training and support for your workforce. Ensure that employees have the necessary skills to leverage the new tools effectively. This may involve providing training sessions. As well as creating user-friendly guides. And offering a support system to address any issues that may arise during the transition.

Watch and Adapt to Evolving Technologies

  • Technology is a dynamic field. Staying ahead requires a commitment to watching and adapting to emerging trends. Regularly assess the technology landscape. Work with your IT provider. We’ll help you identify new solutions that could benefit your business. A proactive approach to staying current ensures your small business remains competitive.

Need Help Upgrading Your Workforce Technology?

Workforce technology modernization is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. It’s a strategic journey that requires careful planning. As well as alignment with business objectives. By embracing these practical strategies, small businesses can leverage technology. And use it to enhance their operational capabilities. They also position themselves for sustained success in the digital age.

Need help with workforce technology modernization? Give us a call today to schedule a chat.Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

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This new search feature in Edge is a revolution

This new search feature in Edge is a revolution

Microsoft’s at it again, presenting us with new features week after week. This time it’s all about making our online searches smarter and more efficient in the Edge browser. If you’ve been on the fence about switching to it, this might just be the push you need.

Edge has a cool new feature, as revealed by Mikhail Parakhin, CEO of Advertising and Web Services at Microsoft. Imagine this: you’re searching for something important for your business – maybe it’s market research or the latest trends in your industry. You type in your query, and you get results from not one but two search engines at the same time.

How does it work?

Let’s break it down. Say Bing is your default search engine. Now, when you hit the search icon, you won’t just see Bing’s results, you’ll also get a peek at what Google (or your alternative search engine of choice) has to offer. This dual view works both ways, ensuring you’re not missing out on any valuable information.

In business, information is gold. Having access to comprehensive search results means you’re more likely to find the most relevant, diverse, and valuable information. No more switching between browsers or tabs to compare search results – Edge now does that for you in a single view.

Some people have raised concerns about potential visual clutter from combining two engines’ results. It’s a valid point, and thankfully, Microsoft is listening. Parakhin hinted at the possibility of customising your ‘backup’ search engine to streamline the experience. While the sidebar’s width is currently fixed, there’s an openness to explore deeper customisation options soon.

This feature in Edge is quite a lure. It simplifies the task of searching, making research quicker and more effective. You get the best of both worlds without the hassle of juggling multiple windows.

And it’s more than just a convenience; it’s a step towards smarter, more efficient browsing, especially for us in the business community. It demonstrates Microsoft’s commitment to improving user experience and staying competitive in the browser game.

For current Edge fans, this is an exciting upgrade. For everyone else, it’s a compelling reason to consider making the switch.

Need a hand finding time-saving tools for your business? Get in touch.

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Top Data Breaches of 2023:Numbers Hit an All-Time High      

Top Data Breaches of 2023:Numbers Hit an All-Time High

The battle against cyber threats is an ongoing challenge. Unfortunately, 2023 has proven to be a watershed year for data breaches. Data compromises have surged to an all-time high in the U.S. This is based on data from the first 9 months of the year. Meaning that numbers will only end up higher for the year.

The last data breach record was set in 2021. That year, 1,862 organizations reported data compromises. Through September of 2023, that number was already over 2,100.

In Q3 of 2023, the top data compromises were:

  • HCA Healthcare
  • Maximus
  • The Freecycle Network
  • IBM Consulting
  • CareSource
  • Duolingo
  • Tampa General Hospital
  • PH Tech

This data underscores the relentless efforts of cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities. As well as access sensitive information. Let’s take a look at the main drivers of this increase. And the urgent need for enhanced cybersecurity measures.

1. The Size of the Surge

The numbers are staggering. Data breaches in 2023 have reached unprecedented levels. They’ve increased significantly compared to previous years. The scale and frequency of these incidents is concerning. They emphasize the evolving sophistication of cyber threats. As well as the challenges organizations face in safeguarding their digital assets.

2. Healthcare Sector Under Siege

One of the most disturbing trends is the escalating number of breaches in healthcare. Healthcare organizations are the custodians of highly sensitive patient information. As a result, they’ve become prime targets for cybercriminals. The breaches jeopardize patient privacy. They also pose serious risks to the integrity of medical records. This creates a ripple effect that can have long-lasting consequences.

3. Ransomware Reigns Supreme

Ransomware attacks continue to dominate the cybersecurity landscape. Cybercriminals are not merely after data. They are wielding the threat of encrypting valuable information. Then demanding ransom payments for its release. The sophistication of ransomware attacks has increased. Threat actors are employing advanced tactics to infiltrate networks and encrypt data. They are also using many different methods to extort organizations for financial gain.

4. Supply Chain Vulnerabilities Exposed

Modern business ecosystems have an interconnected nature. This has made supply chains a focal point for cyberattacks. The compromise of a single entity within the supply chain can have cascading effects. It can impact several organizations downstream. Cybercriminals are exploiting these interdependencies. They use vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access to a network of interconnected businesses.

5. Emergence of Insider Threats

External threats remain a significant concern. But the rise of insider threats is adding a layer of complexity. It’s added to the already complex cybersecurity landscape. Insiders inadvertently contribute to data breaches. Whether through malicious intent or unwitting negligence. Organizations are now grappling with a challenge. They need to distinguish between legitimate user activities and potential insider threats.

6. IoT Devices as Entry Points

The proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices has expanded the attack surface. There’s been an uptick in data breaches originating from compromised IoT devices. These connected endpoints range from smart home devices to industrial sensors. They are often inadequately secured. This provides cyber criminals with entry points to exploit vulnerabilities within networks.

7. Critical Infrastructure in the Crosshairs

Critical infrastructure has become a target of choice for cyber attackers. This includes energy grids, water supplies, and transportation systems. The potential consequences of a successful breach in these sectors are often financial. But that’s not all. They can also extend to public safety and national security. As cyber threats evolve, safeguarding critical infrastructure has become an urgent imperative.

8. The Role of Nation-State Actors

Geopolitical tensions have spilled into the digital realm. Nation-state actors are increasingly playing a role in sophisticated cyber campaigns. These actors are often driven by political motives. They use advanced techniques to compromise sensitive data and disrupt operations. This is to advance their strategic interests in the global cyber landscape.

9. The Need for a Paradigm Shift in Cybersecurity

The surge in data breaches underscores the need to rethink cybersecurity strategies. It’s no longer a question of if an organization will be targeted but when. Proactive measures include:

  • Robust cybersecurity frameworks
  • Continuous monitoring
  • A culture of cyber awareness

These are essential for mitigating the risks posed by evolving cyber threats.

10. Collaboration and Information Sharing

Collaboration among organizations and information sharing within the cybersecurity community are critical. Especially as cyber threats become more sophisticated. Threat intelligence sharing enables a collective defense against common adversaries. This allows organizations to proactively fortify their defenses. They do this based on insights gained from the broader cybersecurity landscape.

Protect Your Business from Devastating Data Breaches

The surge in data breaches in 2023 serves as a stark reminder. It reminds us of the evolving and pervasive nature of cyber threats. There is an urgent need for heightened cybersecurity awareness and robust defensive measures. As well as a commitment to adapt to the ever-changing tactics of cybercriminals.

Need help protecting your business? Give us a call today to schedule a chat.Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

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How Can You Leverage theNew MS Teams Payment App?

New Teams Payment App

Are you a small business owner or a freelancer who offers services online? If so, you might be wondering how to get paid by your customers in a fast and convenient way. You might have tried different payment platforms. But they often require you to switch between different apps or websites. This can be time-consuming and confusing.

There is now another option to streamline the payment process. Microsoft has launched the Teams Payments app. This is a new feature that allows you to request and receive payments from your customers. You do it within Microsoft Teams meetings.

The Teams Payments app is currently available in the United States and Canada. Subscribers to Teams Essentials and Microsoft 365 business get it at no charge.

How Does the Teams Payment App Work?

The Teams Payments app is simple to use. You can get the app from the Microsoft AppStore. You add it to your Teams account and connect it to your preferred payment service. You can choose from:

  • Stripe
  • PayPal
  • GoDaddy

Once you have set up the app, you can start requesting payments from your customers in Teams meetings.

How Do You Send a Payment Request?

To send a payment request, you just need to open the meeting chat. Then, select the Payments icon from the messaging extensions. Then, you can fill out a simple form. It includes the amount, currency, description, and recipients of your request.

You can send the same request to several people if you want. The app will generate a card that shows the status of each payment, whether it is unpaid or paid.

Image credit: Microsoft

Your customers will see the same card in their meeting chat. They can click on the Pay Now button to complete their payment. The system will redirect them to the payment service that you have connected to the app. There, they can enter their payment details and confirm their transaction.

Once they have done that, they will see a confirmation message in the chat. You will receive a notification that your payment has been processed.

Image credit: Microsoft

Benefits of Using the Teams Payment App

The Teams Payments app has many benefits. Both for small businesses and freelancers who offer online services. Here are some of them:

It saves time and hassle.

You don’t need to switch between different apps or websites. You can easily request and receive payments from your customers. You can do everything within Teams meetings. This makes it more convenient and efficient for both parties.

It increases customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Your customers will appreciate the ease of paying you through Teams meetings. They don’t need to create an account or download an app to pay you. They can complete their transaction in a few clicks right inside the meeting.

It boosts your revenue and cash flow.

You can get paid faster and more securely by using the Teams Payments app. You don’t need to wait for invoices or checks to clear. You can receive your money within minutes of completing a service. Either directly into your bank account or PayPal account.

It enhances your professional image and credibility.

You can show your customers that you are using a reliable and trusted payment platform. One built by a well-known company that has been a technology leader for decades. You can also add a seller policy to your payment requests. Here you can specify your terms and conditions, cancellation policy, refund policy, etc.

It helps you keep track of payments.

Keeping track of payments is crucial for financial management. With the Teams Payments App, you can track transactions in real-time. You’ll receive instant notifications for successful payments. It will help you maintain a comprehensive record of your financial interactions.

It’s seamlessly integrated with Microsoft 365.

The Teams Payments App seamlessly integrates with Microsoft 365. You can leverage the power of Microsoft’s ecosystem. Using it to manage your communications, collaborations, and payments together. No need for more logins or complicated setups – it’s all within one platform.

It increases productivity.

Efficiency is the key to productivity. You reduce the time spent on payment-related tasks by integrating Payments into Teams. This efficiency translates into increased productivity. It allows you and your team to focus on core business activities and driving growth.

The Teams Payments app marks a significant leap in digital business transactions. By leveraging this powerful tool, you’re simplifying payments. You’re also enhancing customer experiences, ensuring data security, and boosting productivity.

We Can Help You Get More Out of Microsoft 365

The Teams Payments app is a great way to simplify and streamline your payment process. It can help you save time, increase customer satisfaction, and boost revenue.

Need help with this or other Microsoft 365 tools? Our experts can work with you to help you make the most out of your Microsoft subscription.

Give us a call today to schedule a chat.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

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Here’s what’s in store for the last ever Windows ‘Moments’ update

Here’s what’s in store for the last ever Windows ‘Moments’ update

Microsoft is soon going to release its latest update for Windows 11, known as “Moment 5” or the “February 24 Moment.” This update is expected to start rolling out in the next few weeks and it comes with some noteworthy changes that you’ll want to keep an eye on.

But first, let’s address one thing: After this update, Microsoft is going back to its roots with annual updates for Windows 11.

What does that mean for you? Well, it means you can expect more stability and fewer major overhauls to your operating system. It’s time to bid farewell to those frequent “moment” updates and embrace a more predictable schedule.

Now, let’s dive into what Moment 5 has in store for us…

One of the standout features of this update is the enhancement of Windows 11’s built-in accessibility features. Microsoft is improving the user experience for those who rely on these.

Voice Access now supports multiple monitors and additional languages. It introduces “voice shortcuts” for custom voice-activated commands. Narrator gains the ability to preview new natural voices and works alongside voice access for various tasks.

One notable change is the ability to write directly into text boxes using a stylus across the operating system. This feature streamlines the use of digital pens, eliminating the need for a dedicated handwriting panel.

For the first time ever, Microsoft is making some in-box apps uninstallable. Apps like Edge, Camera, and Photos can be removed if you don’t intend to use them.

Microsoft is also making the Windows Search pane more flexible. This update allows third-party search providers like Google or Yahoo to create plugins for the Windows Search pane. So, if you prefer another search engine over Bing (and let’s face it, many of us do), you’ll have the option to switch.

The Nearby Share feature (it’s like Apple’s AirDrop) gets a boost with “friendly name” support. You can give your PC a more readable name, making file sharing more user-friendly. Additionally, Windows Spotlight, which displays Bing’s background of the day, will become the default wallpaper setting.

Copilot is getting better. It can now be “undocked,” making it more versatile and accessible. You’ll also find the Copilot interface in the Windows ALT+TAB menu for quick and easy access.

And Microsoft is making changes to the Widgets Board. You’ll be able to disable Microsoft News integration, allowing for a widget-only layout if you prefer not to have news headlines in your Widgets Board. Plus, third-party news services can build plugins to integrate with the Widgets Board, providing more options for users.

Notepad will include a character count feature and an “Edit with Notepad” shortcut in context menus for select file types.

In a nutshell, Moment 5 brings a host of improvements and enhancements to Windows 11, making it more accessible, user-friendly, and versatile.

For business owners, these updates can improve productivity and streamline workflows for you and your team. If you haven’t already made the move to Windows 11, now’s the time! We can help you with that – get in touch.

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