Social Networking And Cyber Security Concept

Phishing Takes Advantage of Your Weakest Security Link

phishing2Phishing is one of the most insidious data security threats to an individual and a business, taking advantage of your weakest security link: people. Phishing is the attempt to obtain personal and business security information by pretending to be a legitimate email communication from a trusted source.

Here’s a recent example of just such a communication that came in to our lead network engineer, Henry:

From: Apple Global Service Exchange <gsx_reply@apple.com>
Date: March 16, 2015 at 6:15:16 PM EDT
To: Undisclosed recipients:;
Subject: Your GSX account need update.

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On the surface, the email looks legitimate and might immediately cause alarm to the recipient. But were you to click on “check your account,” the link would not take you to Apple; instead, it would take you to laflores.net, a website that looks like an exact replica of the Apple sign-in page. Had Henry fallen for the email and entered his information, laflores.net would have his Apple ID, access to whatever account information he had stored there, and possibly enough information to do real harm.

This is an example of a classic phishing attempt. From fake GSX requests to warnings from your bank that your account has been compromised, thereby encouraging you to log in and change your password, every individual who is duped into responding to one of these messages is putting personal and company information at harm.

How Can Your Business Protect Itself from Phishing?

The most important step you can take to protect yourself from phishing, or any cyber-attack, is to have the best network security and enterprise threat detection available. But as you can see from the email that Henry received, phishing emails are still going to reach your employees, so the other effort business leaders must make to protect themselves is to train employees to recognize and reject these emails.

Anti-Phishing Guide

Cybercriminals are insidious and will prey on fear. While emails are most common, pop-up messages warning you that something is wrong will also be used to create enough fear to get someone to click on the links. Some cybercriminals will even phone you to perpetrate the scam.

Teach your employees to watch for these indications of email phishing:

  • The email may not address you personally or refer to your specific user name.
  • The link will look legitimate on the surface but the url will go somewhere other than the company marketed. Hover over the link (without clicking) to see the actual URL. The link may even be very similar to the actual company URL, so be cautious. Rather than click the link, open a new browser and manually type in the actual link of the website in question if you need to check your account status.
  • Many phishing emails will contain syntax or grammar errors. They may have spelling mistakes. If you look closely at the sample above, you’ll see the grammar is off and there are punctuation errors. A professional organization would not send something like this.
  • The email may have a threatening overtone, making it seem that urgent action is required to protect your account.
  • Cybercriminals may even call, pretending to represent the company in question, then ask you for personal information in order to access your account. Most legitimate companies will not make outgoing calls to solicit this information. Hang up and call back to the company’s legitimate support number to verify.

Humans are easy targets because our emotions can be manipulated. A level of skepticism is required in order to keep your personal and business security intact. When in doubt:

  • Don’t click a link
  • Don’t open a file
  • Don’t provide personal information
  • Don’t download anything from unknown sources

Feel free to use this guide with your employees. If you are concerned about your business network security, contact thinkCSC to learn more. 

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thinkCSC Leadership Series: Columbus Is an Intelligent Place to Do Business

by Tom Hastings

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I’ve mentioned before how strongly I feel that Ohio is a great place to do business, so it’s really no surprise that – for the third consecutive year –  Columbus has been named as one of the “Top7 Intelligent Communities of 2015” by the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF). The ICF recognized Columbus for its efforts on several fronts, including:

  • Having the “highest concentration of Fortune 1000 companies in America”
  • The excellent research facilities of Ohio State University (OSU) and Battelle
  • The city’s efforts to tackle the challenges of a higher-than-average low-income population
  • The city’s investment in advanced broadband access
  • The regional economic partnership between Columbus and Dublin (a former Top7 Intelligent Community)

The ICF also recognized the efforts of the Central Ohio Compact in their efforts to make higher education more affordable and accessible, as well as Rev1Ventures (formerly: TechColumbus) for its efforts in fostering business startups. Mayor Coleman was applauded for his efforts to revitalize East Franklinton. All of these efforts have had measurable payoffs, and Columbus has seen a decade of growth in skilled manufacturing.

The selection of the Top7 Intelligent Cities is a 10-month process that begins with nominations of cities around the world. Those nominations are narrowed down to 21 finalist cities, and to reach the top seven cities, those finalists provide detailed data that is analyzed and scored by an independent research firm.

This year’s theme was “The Revolutionary Community.” I find this to be an apt description of Columbus, and one all business leaders can take direction from. We must be flexible, forward-thinking, and willing to embrace the way technology will impact our future growth and economy. Columbus was recognized for “programs aimed at increasing collaboration among government, education, business and institutions.” Increased collaboration and an effort to improve the entire community (not just the bottom line) is something every business leader should add to his or her agenda. In the end, we all benefit from the effort to be better together.

Columbus is now in the running to be named the 2015 Intelligent Community of the Year. The announcement will be made in June at the Intelligent Community Forum’s Annual Summit in Toronto.

Watch the video and learn more about the Top7 Intelligent Communities.

EdTech Takes Center Stage

OETCThe thinkCSC team attends the Ohio Educational Technology Conference (OETC) every year, and we’ve been witness to the explosion in EdTech that has occurred over the last decade. A computer class was once something students took for 30 minutes a day as a way to become familiar with new technology; today’s students come into school knowing and using more types of technology than any previous generation. This is changing the way education is delivered, and schools often find it difficult to keep up.

The future of education is exciting, because technology does hold the key to transforming how students learn. Rather than sitting through a boring social studies lecture, jotting down facts about myriad countries, students can go online and collaborate on projects with students in another countries. Teachers from different schools can collaborate on assignments and projects as well, and as teachers begin to embrace the value of technology, they are finding easier ways to meet all of the added requirements of documentation and testing that would otherwise be burdensome. Even parents are benefitting from the EdTech revolution, enjoying more transparency, from access to information about their children’s’ progress to easier access of school information.

For school administrators, however, each change in technology is accompanied by the stress of determining how to best implement the technology while still working under budget constraints, still keeping students safe, and still keeping data secure. It can be time consuming and troublesome for schools to troubleshoot and maintain equipment, manage warranties, or even to manage backup and recovery solutions that keep the school operational.

thinkCSC partners with K-16 schools to assist in developing cost-effective EdTech strategies. From helping schools purchase hardware and software at discounted rates to providing better-than-OEM warranties that ease the pain of managing tech in schools, thinkCSC is a proud partner in education. If you will be attending #OETC15, please be sure to stop by and see us at Booth 542. To learn more about what we can do to help your school embrace EdTech safely and cost-effectively, contact us.

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IT Trends – 2015 Edition

Crystal BallLast year we predicted several IT trends that are, for the most part today, standard operating procedures for most businesses. From VoIP to secure collaboration using Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing, the big focus last year was the shift away from legacy processes and applications, with the gradual adoption of access-anywhere, work-anywhere work tools that didn’t compromise security.

This year we predict nearly every operational focus trending in IT will have something to do with security. IT security is the trend of 2015.

In fact, the biggest trend of 2015 will be the acknowledgement that no business is secure. No business – from the one-man work-at-home freelancer to the largest international corporation – is immune from incident. If you use technology and access the internet, whether from a smartphone or through applications on a bank of servers, you are a potential target for malware, cyber-attacks, viruses, natural disasters, and other business-disrupting issues.

Managed IT

Managed IT services, while not a new trend, will take center stage for even more companies because the need to maintain state-of-the-art equipment and have access to offline backup and disaster recovery will be too great to ignore and too costly for every non-IT business to do well. Shifting from a capital expenditure model for IT to an OPEX model will also be a priority for businesses striving to remain globally competitive. Managed IT services accomplishes that.

BDR Goes Mainstream

When disaster strikes, business leaders recognize the need for remaining operational. Backup and disaster recovery services provide a cost-effective business continuity solution that reduces downtime and allows you to keep serving customers from anywhere.

Enterprise Threat Detection

Rather than waiting for hackers and malware to highlight security gaps, then developing security patches in response to protect businesses, you can make your approach to security more aggressive. Enterprise threat detection offers proactive security that uses predictive analytics to stay ahead of the next attack. This will become a necessity for businesses of all size.

The most competitive businesses are the ones preparing for possibilities and designing their infrastructure in such a way that they can remain flexible, proactive, and competitive. Managed IT and BDR are not new concepts, but they are trending in 2015 as adoption becomes ubiquitous.

Discover how thinkCSC can help your business. Learn more.

Windows Server 2003 Nears End of Life

windows server 2003If you thought it was tough to adapt to the extinction of Windows XP, you’ll find yourself mired in a tar pit if you don’t soon take action to upgrade your Windows Server 2003 operating system. If your business is utilizing Windows Server 2003, begin your countdown now: Support for Windows Server 2003 will end July 2015, and businesses that hope to escape issues associated with bottlenecks, security, and third-party applications need to upgrade now.

Don’t Let Your Business Be Affected

Even though Windows Server 2003 has a short amount of life left in it, the third-party applications you use are going to create issues sooner than later – and may already be affecting your processing speed and uptime. Newer applications use larger amounts of paged-pool and non-paged-pool memory, something Windows Server 2003 simply wasn’t built to handle. This will cause your server to slow or stop running, requiring a reboot. Slowed and down systems are costly – and in the long run are more costly than upgrading to the recommended Windows Server 2012.

Don’t Let Windows Server 2003 End of Life Herald Your Doomsday

July 14, 2015 may seem far enough away to keep you from sensing any imminent doom, but the application-moving process required to upgrade your server from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2012 is a time-consuming and delicate process requiring:

  • Application inventory
  • Analysis of which applications are using which servers
  • Careful planning of server migration and application updates

With proper planning, your migration from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2012 can be a relatively painless process. The thinkCSC team is here to handle all of the heavy lifting for you. Failure to migrate in a timely manner will result in security issues, reduced functionality, issues with applications on which your teams rely, and increased downtime.

Take Action Now

Windows Server 2003 has moved to the top of the endangered species list. Better performance and security is within your grasp. We recommend upgrading to Windows Server 2012 as soon as possible to ensure ongoing security and stability. If you’re not sure where to start, thinkCSC can facilitate the migration of your Windows Server 2003. Contact us today for more information.

 

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Securing Your Business Network

13900884393bkprReports of security breaches are coming in fast and furiously. What started as a trickle of breaches at a handful of retailers like Target and Home Depot has turned into an all-out assault on business networks across the globe. Security breaches can literally stop your business in its tracks. Securing your business network has never been a more important consideration for your continued business operations.

Network Security – A Necessity

Your network is the heart of your business, connecting your employees to the software, communication, and information applications you need to operate your business. A properly secured network keeps your business operational.

Proper security:

  • Keeps your business flexible as conditions change
  • Provides a secure foundation from which you can interact safely
  • Allows you to collaborate effectively with team members and customers
  • Ensures governmental and industry standards compliance
  • Allows you to control who has information access, as well as how and when information is accessed
  • Reduces costs (data loss and security breaches cost U.S. businesses almost $70 billion a year)
  • Allows you to leverage a flexible and remote workforce without risk
  • Reduces risks of downtime, data loss, and litigation

Developing a secure network is more than just having policies and procedures in place if you don’t have the hardware and software to back up your plan. A truly secure network can only be achieved by making sure every access point – every email address, every laptop, every file – is securely stored, controlled, and monitored.

thinkCSC Offers Superior Network Security

Network security is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. thinkCSC recognizes the need that business owners have to balance security with cost-effective solutions. Our experts begin by conducting a risk assessment: identifying your needs, pinpointing your most critical vulnerabilities, and helping you develop a comprehensive plan and security strategy. From firewall protection to hosted email to offsite data backup in a private, locally owned cloud, thinkCSC has the solutions you need to sleep at night. Schedule your Technical Needs Assessment today.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

1385192667zrjpqNovember seemed to come very quickly this year, and with this festive holiday landing so close to the end of the month, Christmas will be upon us before we know it.

As we edge closer to the quarter-century mark here at thinkCSC, we realize more and more every year how important our clients, team members, and community connections are. We are exceptionally grateful for the continued support of our clients and partners; we are blessed to be part of the Columbus community.

Have a very happy Thanksgiving!

Tom Hastings

Leadership Series: Community Properties of Ohio and CPO Impact

by Tom Hastings

CPO ImpactCommunity Properties of Ohio  (CPO) was initially formed to manage the Community Properties Initiative in Franklin County, managing a $100-million budget and endeavoring to rehabilitate neighborhoods and provide affordable housing for low-income residents of Franklin County, giving them the opportunity to acquire housing, become more stable, and contribute to the success of the community.

What Is CPO?

Community Properties of Ohio are the property management affiliate of Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing (OCCH). Working with OCCH, CPO has led the rehab efforts that provide improved residential opportunities in seven urban neighborhoods around The Ohio State University and Near East Side areas. CPO partners with OCCH in a variety of capacities to ensure affordable housing for Columbus and for Franklin County.

How CPO Benefits Columbus: CPO Impact

CPO works to provide affordable housing, but their mission is to “move residents beyond poverty.” To further their goal, CPO created CPO Impact, a nonprofit foundation established to work in partnership with the United Way of Central Ohio and other foundations.

CPO Impact Corporation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit affiliate of the OCCH and CPO. The primary mission of CPO Impact is to develop initiatives that increase the success of CPO residents. Their key objectives include increasing stability and safety, helping residents move beyond poverty, and providing support for CPO resident children.

Why I Believe in Supporting CPO Impact

Having the safety and security of a home is vital – not just for the people in need but for the entire community as a whole. A community is only as strong as its residents, and one of the ways to strengthen a community is to address the challenges facing the most marginalized members. I urge you to do what you can to support the efforts of the CPO and CPO Impact.

To learn more about how to support CPO Impact, visit www.cpoms.org.

 

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We Help Our Clients Keep Their Promises to Their Customers

Businessman Hand Working With New Modern Computer And Business SWe often talk about our services in terms of what we deliver to our clients:

  • Predictable costs
  • Uptime
  • Enhanced security
  • Collaboration tools
  • Secure remote work options

But what do these benefits really mean to our clients?

Government agencies must meet legislative requirements and serve a body of constituents. School district must not only comply with mandates but also meet parent and student expectations. Private business must remain profitable in a highly-competitive global environment while satisfying both customers and business leaders. thinkCSC services are designed not just to deliver on our promises but to make sure you can keep your promises to your customers.

Predictable IT Costs

Predictable IT costs are good for business because it makes budgeting easier when converting capital expenditures into operating expenses. But it’s not just about managing the budget; it’s also about your ability to offer competitive pricing to customers or meet mandates within the constraints of your budget that truly make predictable IT costs something worth pursuing.

Uptime

Uptime is a common goal for managed service providers. It’s the way that we measure, in part, our ability to deliver on our promises. Uptime also means that you have the ability to meet the needs of your customers when they expect you to.

Enhanced Security

Security is the foundation of the integrity of any business. And while enhanced security is something we offer our clients, our enhanced security really means that our clients have the ability to meet both mandated as well as guaranteed protection of customer data. Whether you operate a business that processes financial transactions or a medical office required to maintain HIPAA standards, enhanced security is as much a necessity of doing business as it is a benefit.

Collaboration Tools

The collaboration tools we offer allow you to securely and efficiently work with team members around the world. And the reason this becomes important is because it allows you to be flexible and responsive, offering your customers the best innovations at the most competitive prices possible.

Secure Remote Work Options

By offering you secure, remote work options, we provide you with freedom. Whether it’s the freedom to attract talent from other locations around the globe or the freedom to work from home yourself, it’s a powerful offering. But what it really means to your customers is that you can be available to meet their needs from wherever you are – or reach the members of your team who can.

Predictable costs, uptime, security, collaboration, and remote workforce tools: Those are the benefits we offer our clients. What we are really delivering, however, is the ability for you to keep their promises to their customers.