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Hackers Attack Small Businesses Too

Most small business owners believe cyber attacks are the concern of large corporations, however nothing could be further from the truth.  According to Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report 71% of cyber attacks occur at businesses with less than 100 employees.[1]

Unfortunately, many “SMBs suffer from ‘It can’t happen to us’ syndrome,” notes Robert Siciliano, security expert for McAfee. “They also typically don’t have the resources to secure their networks to the degree a large enterprise would. But the information on their networks – and access to their bank accounts – still makes them a big target.”  Even though it turns out SMB’s have a larger target on their backs than they realize, two thirds of SMBs surveyed by Symantec say they’re not concerned about cyber threats; and more than 80 percent have no formal cyber security plan.

“Smaller companies are easier to hack,” said Clay Calvert, director of security at MetroStar Systems, a Virginia-based firm. “They don’t have the resources to set up protective barriers.” Big companies, which have the financial resources to upgrade their security, have become less vulnerable.  But this needs to change!  The average cyberattack costs a business $188,000!  You can no longer wait for hackers to target you.  The rise of organized cyber hackers is definitely a scary trend but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world.  There are some things that a SMB owner can do to help:

  • The first step you need to take is to think like the hackers. Ask yourself: Who are my adversaries?  Are they after my intellectual property and trade secrets?  Do they want my customers’ credit-card information?  Or do they view my business as the weak link in some larger application?  This exercise can help you see where your vulnerabilities lie and also help you understand which measures you can take to protect your software.
  • Make sure your code is clean. Many commercial applications use open-source code as components.  The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s National Vulnerability Database discloses more than 4,000 vulnerabilities in these components.  Security software companies, can help you identify and fix any problems with your applications’ source code.
  • Outsource your security operation. While most small organizations can’t afford to build sophisticated IT security systems, Midwest IT Solutions has the scale and know-how to protect your operations and sensitive data.

At Midwest we have the knowledge base and the commitment to service to ensure that your IT security is up to date.  We offer best in class cybersecurity protection.  Unlike other managed service providers who rely on point of service solutions; we employ Unified Threat Management, an all in one security solution.  UTM is a fully integrated, multifaceted approach to protect against network threats. Your IT infrastructure is too important to settle for a less than optimal cybersecurity plan.  Contact us today to get started on your cyber security audit.  Don’t take a chance and go it alone, get Midwest on your side.

[1] Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report 2012. 2012 Accessed April 20, 2016. URL:www. http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/threatlevel/2012/03/Verizon-Data-Breach-Report-2012.pdf.

Custom Cloud Solutions

When you are making your choice in cloud providers, you can trust Midwest IT to help you make an unbiased decision based on YOUR needs.

The Value of Outsourced IT

Your days are filled with making decisions that will guide your business into the future.  It is easy to put your IT needs on the back burner, but that will lead to days spent fighting IT fires rather than focusing on your growth.  In the 21st century, technology is at the center of any business.  Your entire operation can grind to a halt due to one computer snag; costing you lost productivity and the potential for lost clients.  According to recent research by CompTIA, the proactive monitoring that a managed service provider offers reduces your costs by 50% per downtime incident.  Outsourcing your IT needs to Midwest IT is the best way to ensure that your business is running smoothly.  We leverage enterprise-level applications to support your business and provide a team of friendly, knowledgeable IT professionals for you and your staff.

Gone are the days when your only concerns were a slow internet connection or a finicky printer.  The information technology environment of today is increasingly complex; a major firewall breach that threatens your data, your VPN failing, or your VOIP not allowing calls are just three problems your business could face.  The costs for keeping a modern office running efficiently on your own can be endless as well.  You need to be confident that all of your hardware and software will continue to work for you – not against you.  This is a job too challenging for just one computer expert to handle.  It is no longer practical, nor preferable, to be a jack of all trades.   At the very least, a help desk employee and a systems administrator are required.  The average combined salary of these positions is $90,000-$120,000 annually, plus the costs of keeping their training and certifications up to date.  These employees would still not be able to handle every computer glitch you are likely to face. In addition to the peace of mind that Midwest IT provides, there are many less obvious financial benefits such as leaner overhead, bulk purchasing and leasing options for hardware and software, as well as compliance with government regulations.

Outsourcing lets you focus on your core competencies while Midwest IT focuses on ours. Instead of just the experience of one person, you gain the knowledge of our full team of IT professionals.  By working with Midwest IT, you benefit from our experience of working with hundreds of clients.  We have already seen most of the IT issues you will face and know exactly what is necessary to avoid or fix them in a timely manner.  IT is Midwest’s core focus, and we can offer solutions to you at a fraction of the cost of an internal department.

FBI Warns Businesses of Email Scams

The FBI has issued alerts to all businesses about the spread of BEC scams.  One of the fastest growing hazards facing businesses today is the growth of business email compromise, or BEC scams.  According to the FBI these scams have grown by more than 270% since the beginning of last year.  At their last reporting more than 7,000 businesses have lost more than $1.2 billion in the last 2 years.  At Midwest IT Solutions we help you to manage your IT risk.  We are at the forefront of IT risk management; monitoring, assessing, and evaluating threats to your network no matter where they may come from.  You can be confident knowing that Midwest IT Solutions is in your corner.  While these scams may at first seem less impressive than thefts perpetrated by sophisticated malware targeting banks and other large institutions; a BEC attack is in reality more­­­­ vicious.  They are more versatile and can avoid the basic security steps taken by businesses and individuals.  Instead of simply targeting your machines, a BEC scam targets your people!  Criminals are convincing their victims to hand company money right over to them, and they have been very successful in doing so.  According to the FBI, “The scam has been reported in all 50 states and in 79 countries.  Fraudulent transfers have been reported going to 72 countries; however, the majority of the transfers are going to Asian banks located within China and Hong Kong.

BEC scams are being perpetrated in multiple stages.  In the first stage a traditional email phishing scam is carried out.  Once the criminal has access to an employee’s email account, they will monitor the account for an extended period of time, sometimes up to several months.  During this time the fraudster is learning the financial processes of the target business.  They are learning if wire transfers are used, who initiates them as well as who typical requests them.  Emails are searched for key terms such as, but not limited to: invoice, deposit, president, and wire transfer.  Fraudsters are taking the time to familiarize themselves with the target business’ activities, organizational relationships, interests, as well as travel, or purchasing plans.

Once the reconnaissance phase of the fraud is completed the second phase of the con is initiated.  This portion comes in two different forms.  The first is known as a CEO Phishing Scam.  Crooks create a domain name that is nearly identical to the company’s and send a spoof email that appears to be from the CEO or other high ranking executive.  This email will look totally real and only a very careful reading of the email will give the targeted employee a chance of detecting any sort of problem.  The fraudster impersonating the high level executive requests a wire transfer be made.  The target employee believes that their superior has directed them to transfer funds and, being a good employee, the instructions are carried out.  Because they have spent so much time and effort getting ready to perpetrate this fraud, the criminals are able to create an utterly convincing fund request.  Before anyone has realized what has happened company money has disappeared.

In the second version of this scam, the email of someone within the targeted company responsible for billing and invoicing is taken over and used to send out legitimate appearing invoices instructing that payment be made by wire to a newly designated bank account.  Again, it would take intense scrutiny to notice anything wrong with this phony invoice.  One of the most nefarious aspect of these scams is that they are unlikely to be caught in any spam traps as these are targeted attacks and not mass emails.  These scams continue to grow and evolve as time goes by so it is important to be vigilant.  To protect themselves the FBI has urged businesses to adopt the following processes:

  • Create intrusion detection system rules that flag e-mails with extensions that are similar to company e-mail. For example, legitimate e-mail of com would flag fraudulent e-mail of abc-company.com.
  • Register all company domains that are slightly different than the actual company domain.
  • Verify changes in vendor payment location by adding additional two-factor authentication such as having a secondary sign- off by company personnel.
  • Confirm requests for transfers of funds. When using phone verification as part of the two-factor authentication, use previously known numbers, not the numbers provided in the e-mail request.
  • Know the habits of your customers, including the details of, reasons behind, and amount of payments.
  • Carefully scrutinize all e-mail requests for transfer of funds to determine if the requests are out of the ordinary.

At Midwest IT Solutions it is our job to monitor threats to your business.  We are IT experts ready to help defend you against any attack cybercriminals can dish out.  Don’t go it alone, contact the Midwest IT Solutions today!

Protect your business!

Tech Budget : May

For small businesses to know what technology to invest in and how much to spend can be very difficult. Too often IT vendors seem to follow a mantra where they ask you to keep spending money as problems arise with no real plan.

Keeping a realistic IT budget can be challenging and many firms end up spending money on problems as they arise instead of proactively addressing issues.  Instead, look at your company goals on a 5 year scale.  This number works great for budgeting out IT expenses because all of your hardware will cycle through its life cycle in one 5 year period.  Planning your hardware purchases in  your annual budget is the first step.  Eliminating surprise expenses and providing peace of mind for our clients is our primary focus.

Not having old equipment that is out of warranty running on your network is the first step to keeping your system from having unexpected downtime.  It is possible to still have hardware issues while they are in warranty, however these problems multiply exponentially when you are operating with older, outdated equipment.  The manufacturer won’t warranty it after your initial purchase, why would you have your business production relying on it.

Midwest’s goal is to provide support and analysis of business needs so your firm can match its ROI with a planned budget every year. We also assist our clients with vendor management, evaluations, and negotiations. We’ve saved individual clients tens of thousands of dollars by helping them negotiate contracts that make sense for their business.

Midwest IT Referral Program!

An overview of the new referral program offered by Midwest IT. You and a friend can now win $100 Amazon gift cards!

We are looking for REFERRALS. And you can help us grow our family! Midwest IT was founded in 2005 and is known for it’s LEGENDARY CUSTOMER SERVICE! And we are looking to add a few customers TO GROW OUR FAMILY. Referral Requirements: Must have at least 15 users, already uses outsourced IT, and you must want a $100 Amazon card! And all you need to do is: WHAT YOU DO: You send an email to Midwest IT and the person you are referring! Midwest IT schedules an on site appointment with them. Once the meeting happens, you both get $100 AMAZON cards! AWESOMENESS!!! Help us to help YOUR FRIENDS, FAMILY & WORK ASSOCIATES. A simple email can: Help Grow Midwest IT! Help friends with better IT! Help you get some extra money. Send us your referrals TODAY. derek@midwest.cc Midwest IT Solutions www.midwest.cc