Why Spam is a Small Business Nightmare

Why Spam is a Small Business NightmareFifteen years after the Internet world  united to crack down on spam emails, we are all still struggling with overloaded inboxes. All that unwanted email continues to flood the internet, much of it targeted towards small businesses and the impact goes wider than you might think. Here’s the breakdown of how modern spam works and how it is hurting your business.

What is spam?

Spam is any unwanted message that lands in your email, comes via text, social media messaging or any other communication platform. It might be sent to your main business account, eg your ‘contact us’ email or directed to your employees. Most of the time, spam are annoying but relatively innocent messages from another business inviting you to buy, do or see something. They are newsletters, reminders, invitations, sales pitches, etc. You may know the sender and have a previous relationship with them or they might be a complete stranger. Spam may even be part of a cyber attack.

Why you are getting spammed.

Maybe you or your employee signed up for a newsletter or bought a raffle ticket to win a car. Perhaps you got onto the mailing list accidentally after enquiring about a product, not knowing that simply getting a brochure sent through would trigger a spam avalanche. Often there is fine print that says they’ll not only use your details to send you their marketing, but they’ll share your details with 3rd parties so that they can send you messages too. That single email address can be passed around the internet like wildfire and before you know it, you are buried under spam. Sometimes your details are found through a hacked website, like the recent LinkedIn leak. More often though, your email is simply collected by a computer ‘scraping’ the internet – scouring forums and websites for plain text or linked emails and selling them to spammers. It is easy to see now, how individual office employees receive an average of 120 emails daily, over half of which are spam!

More than annoying.

We all know spam is annoying but did you know it’s also consuming business resources? Your employees are spending hours each week sorting their email, assessing each one for relevance and deleting the spam. Your email servers along with your Internet links are getting clogged with the spam flowing into your business. Too often, legitimate emails from clients and customers get caught up and are accidentally deleted. Plus the temptation to read the more interesting spam emails and productivity drops to zero. On the other side of the business, your email server might be dedicating storage and processing power to spam emails, occasionally to the point where inboxes get full and real mail is bouncing out. While most spam is simply an unwanted newsletter or sale notice, there is also the risk that any links may be a cyber-attack in disguise. Remember one click can open the door to viruses, ransomware, phishing or other security issues which a hacker can then take advantage of.

How to stop the spam?

The 2003 Can Spam Act (a global set of anti-spam laws) requires all marketers to follow certain rules – like not adding people to mailing lists without permission and always including an ‘unsubscribe’ link. So make sure you’re not accidentally giving people permission to email you – check the fine print or privacy policy. Next, look for the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email. Unfortunately, not all of them include the link, or they hide it somewhere impossible to see. The worst spammers take that ‘unsubscribe’ click to confirm that your email address is valid/active and then sell it on.

Take control of your email and talk to us about your anti-spam protections. Call us at 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au.

Office 365 & Email Security

Spam email

As an IT Expert, I get client calls and emails asking me about various emails they receive and whether that particular email is fake or real – almost all time the emails are fake.

To help my clients and others in a similar situation I’ve put together a video that goes through some security tips on how to protect your self from hackers and phishing attempts. The video goes through:

  • First alerts of being attacked.
  • How scammers and hackers try to fool you.
  • How to tell if an email is fake or not.
  • The Do’s and Don’ts.
  • How to tell if you’ve been hacked.
  • What to look for after you have been hacked.
  • How to prevent and protect from hackers.
  • What is 2-step and MFA?
  • What to do after you’ve been hacked.
  • Screenshot examples of phishing emails.

Check out the video below and leave any comments in the fields below.

Is It Worth Having Your Email Server On-Premises?

Cloud Email

There’s not a business around that doesn’t use email on a daily basis. Whether for sending internal memos or communicating with clients and customers, email is a core necessity of all modern businesses. What many modern businesses are doing though, is dropping the in-house email server and moving to a cloud solution. Here’s why you should do the same.

Reduced network problems

Computer network operates in a delicate balance and when one piece breaks chaos follows. Connected systems and processes tend to fail, productivity drops as all focus shifts away from normal activities. It becomes a mad scramble to get the network up again, especially the email servers (the last thing you want is for all your client/customer emails to bounce back!). While it’s good to have confidence in your current computer guru, the assumption that any crashes will always happen when they are available has caused many regrets and panicked phone calls that could have been avoided. When you move to a cloud solution, you’re able to say goodbye to onsite servers and all the accompanying drama, making your remaining infrastructure easier to maintain.

Lower hardware and maintenance costs

Maintaining your exchange servers is costing a tidy sum from hardware repairs and license fees alone. Add in the cost of scaling your server to keep up with your business growth, and suddenly keeping your email in-house doesn’t make financial sense. Instead, consider what it would be like to have predictable costs for your email hosting that covers everything, including the latest technology and round the clock administration. Many solutions offer on-demand plans, so you only pay for the options you want.

You’re still in control

One of the main arguments for keeping your Exchange server on premise is to make sure you have complete control over your email; you’re able to limit physical access, no 3rd party has access to your critical data, and you always know where your data is. While control may have been the deciding factor in the past, the fact is cloud solutions have evolved so much that these arguments are void. Physical security at one of Microsoft’s data farms, for example, goes far beyond that of your locked server room and digital access is strictly limited to those you specify.

Greater protections

Cloud solutions provide automatic protection against many threats, including fire, power outages, viruses and flood. While your own in-house server has anti-virus running and a backup plan, it’s still incredibly vulnerable. Backups get forgotten, virus definitions don’t get updated in time, and you’re very lucky if your own server can survive a fire or flood. Moving your email hosting to a cloud solution removes all that risk, usually with an uptime guarantee that lets your business get on with essential tasks. As email is a critical tool for your business, isolating your systems from risk may be one of the best decisions you make all year.

Spam and Virus Filtering

With thousands or even millions of spam and virus emails hitting servers every day moving your email to the cloud relieves the stress and load of filtering and managing these emails from your local server. It also frees up your internet line by stopping the junk from even reaching your offices as they are stopped dead in their tracks in the cloud.

If you need further help with your email server needs, call us today on 08 8326 4364 or via email at support@dpcomputing.com.au.

Bought a New Device? Here’s the Essential Tech Prep You Can’t Afford to Skip

New Device SetupIt is fun and exciting getting a new device. Sellers like to say that it is ready to use straight from the box – and it is – except not quite the way you need it to work. Yes they all turn on, connect to wifi, and sure, you may be able to browse websites but what about emails, printers, your line of business software, security programs, software updates etc etc. Taking the time now to prepare your new device will save you time, stress, and quite possibly money.

So before you jump in head first here are some of the things to be aware of:

Security Updates and Fixes

The device doesn’t usually come directly from the factory to your office, the device has been in the box for at least a month. In the world of technology a month is an eternity. During time on the shelf, new viruses have come out and new software weaknesses have been discovered. Fortunately, new updates to combat these problems have been released and need to be installed before you go browsing the Internet. We can make sure your device is up-to-date and set to auto update in the future. That way, you know your device is safe to go online.

Data Transfer From Old to New

We can help transfer your data from your old machine to the new one. This way all your important documents and emails are there ready for you to continue working.

Setting up Email and Software

Often email programs need special configurations and settings to connect properly. We find people can sometimes get stuck and not able to send emails or get access to all their old emails. We can get all your emails transferred & setup along with all your other line of business software.

Setting up Hardware

Do you need to print, scan or connect the device to another peripheral?  These tasks that should be plug-and-play but as you know with computers nothing is ever as easy as it sounds!  We can help get you set up, with everything tested and working.

 

Setting up the Network

While tapping in a wifi password is easy enough but it doesn’t mean your browsing is secure or even as fast as it could possibly be. There are also other settings like mapped drives and connections to cloud based services that all need to be setup and tested.

 

So if you have purchased a new device through us we will have done a number of these things before we deliver it and can help and assist with the other steps when onsite. If you are purchasing a new device yourselves it will pay to at least speak with your IT professional to make sure everything is compatible with your network and setup.

If you need more assistance we would love to help you out. Give us a call at 08 8326 4364 or email at support@dpcomputing.com.au.

Four Reasons To Use Anti-Spam Filtering In Your Business

Monitor screen showing spam in the mailbox

Remember the times when spam was obvious and unless you desperately needed a special blue pill they were easy to ignore and delete? The impact on your business was minimal as spam was just an annoyance rather than anything else. Unfortunately spam has now matured into an aggressive threat, marked by sophisticated attacks and rapidly evolving techniques. It is not just random electronic junk mail anymore and is putting a costly strain on your business resources.

How Spam Impacts Your Business

Hackers are now sending cleverly disguised emails to your business containing malware. Once clicked by an employee the malware can infect your computer system or steal your private data. The malware can spread across the entire computer network and beyond – including your clients and vendors. The fact that your employees must pause and examine every email adds hours of lost productivity. Some spam is so convincing that only an expert would be able to visually identify it. Employees are also more likely to miss an important email, either not seeing it arrive at the same time as a spam attack or becoming overwhelmed with the sheer number of emails.

How an Anti-Spam Filter Can Save Your Business

Spam emailEmail clients such as Outlook can perform basic filtering but to rely just on Outlook is not recommended. The best method is to implement a corporate grade filtering solution. Depending on whether you have an on premise or cloud based server an on premise or external filtering options are available. Even if you have an on premise mail server we recommend an external filtering option. An external option stops spam ever reaching your office saving precious bandwidth and server processing time.

Ways in which a spam filter will benefit your business includes:

  1. Block threats before they reach your inbox: The spam filter’s purpose is to block the spam from ever reaching your employees mailboxes. The threat is automatically identified and either held securely or immediately deleted. This is the best way to avoid activating any malware present in spam – as it’s so easy for you or an employee to click on a link in an email that seems authentic and / or important. The effects of that one click may be instantaneous or may lie hidden for months. Removing the email before it is in a users mailbox is a much safer option.
  2. Filter legitimate emails: Real mail needs to be able to stand out and avoid the trash. Anti-spam filtering has sophisticated recognition abilities which block spam only and allow real mail to land safely in mailboxes.
  3. Meet data regulations: Many businesses are subject to strict privacy and data storage regulations, some more so than others. To continue operation, they need to meet conditions including the use of spam filtering to reduce the risk of data breach.
  4. Protect your reputation: You can see how uncomfortable CEOs are when they go public to admit a breach. They must acknowledge that they failed to protect client data or that users may be infected with a virus. Not only do they then face financial loss but their business reputation takes a nosedive. Anti-spam filtering is a simple way to help reduce these types of scenarios.

Filtering has come a long way in recent years, with complex algorithms identifying and catching spam before it becomes a risk to your business. Real emails can now pass safely through without the classic catchcry of ‘check the spam folder’, and businesses can work with greater productivity and more safely than ever before. You need email, but you definitely don’t need spam or the chaos it can bring to your business.

We can block spam and keep your legitimate emails flowing. Call us at 08 8326 4364 or email support@dpcomputing.com.au today!

Why You Should Not Use A Free Email Address For Business

Free email accounts indicated a lack of experience

Many businesses, clients and customers communicate primarily by email and as you know it provides a fantastic ROI – unless you’re using a free email address (like Hotmail, Gmail or one provided by your ISP (internet provider)). If you are still using a free email address you are most likely losing business each and every day.

The downsides of using a free email address are:

An unprofessional look: Imagine if your bank used a free email account – you’d never feel comfortable giving them your personal details let alone your money. How people perceive your business is what can make or break a business. Without a professional touch you will appear as a fly-by-night enterprise. It puts your credibility into question and sends the message that you’re not serious about doing business – or worse – that you are prepared to cut corners and take the cheap option.

It erases your experience: A new or fledgling business often starts out with a free email account. This clearly communicates that they are new, have little experience and are perhaps testing the waters in a new direction. They’re not even remotely proven yet and are firmly within the hobby-zone. Continuing to use the free address once your business moves into the professional arena means you will struggle to build momentum and any experience you have earned will be negated.

It’s forgettable or inappropriate: Your business success hinges on being memorable enough to gain repeat custom and referrals from advertising. Unfortunately free email addresses are filled with hard to remember clutter, for example – franksplumbing_1975@hotmail.com or bookkeeper1198@gmail.com.

Neither of these roll off the tongue, are appropriate for business, or can be remembered without a high likelihood of typos and bounce backs. Branded email addresses such as frank@franksplumbing.com make running a profitable and scalable business much easier.

The email address Is not permanent or safe: When you have a free email address you are at the mercy of the provider. They may cancel your account for any reason or even cease operations. These free accounts are also often hacked and their passwords leaked on a global scale. You get stuck using the same provider (and can’t take advantage of any better deals) as you need to use the old email address because it is on your marketing materials (printed on your business cards, car lettering, flyers etc).

With your own domain name and subsequently your own email address you own it and can move it to a new business-grade email service easily. You also have complete control over the domain and can reset passwords and create and close accounts at will.

Give us a call at 08 8326 4364 to set up your branded business email.

How To Stay Safe While Being Social Online

How do you balance being social with staying safe online??

These days it is common for people to happily share all sorts of their private information online. Unknown to the actual users this sharing builds information stores that can easily become a one-stop goldmine for fraudsters.
Staying Safe Online

It’s not exactly the intention everyone has when they sign up to a social network site (as the whole point of most of their networks is to share your life with your friends) but this social sharing depends on us making certain privacy sacrifices.

So how do you balance being social with staying safe?

On Facebook alone, the average person shares 13 pieces of personal information ranging from a fairly innocent name/email combo, all the way to their mothers maiden name and home address.

It doesn’t sound like a lot, but those 13 pieces have the power to unravel your life within minutes.

Even checking in at home has become the norm for some people, helping to create a multi-dimensional online identity. The details are available to anyone who cares to look, whether they’re a friend keeping in the loop or someone with a much darker agenda.

The problem is that you don’t know who’s looking at your profile or why they are looking.

For example, someone could try accessing your email account by clicking the ‘Forgot password’ link. The email service follows its security rules and asks identifying questions like ‘which high school did you go to? What is your pet’s name?’ These most common identifying checks and their answers are probably available on a lot of peoples Facebook page.

Once your email address is compromised, hackers can use that to break into other services by going through, clicking ‘Reset Password’ on site after site, account after account – since they have full access to your email. So there’s nothing stopping them from compromising all your online accounts.

7 Ways To Secure Your Facebook Without Missing Out on the Fun

  • Preview your profile as others see it (ie see if you can login on a friends account to see what they can see).
  • Review what should and should not be visible to strangers.
  • Consider only sharing partial details, like birth day and month, but not the year.
  • Only ever ‘friend’ or ‘connect’ to people you know and trust.
  • Be wary of duplicate or ‘odd’ friend activity – hackers will often clone or hack a friend’s profile and initiate an urgent and uncharacteristic request (usually for money).
  • Update your past privacy settings too.
  • Set default future sharing to ‘friends only’.

Need help securing your social media privacy? We can help– contact us today on 08 8326 4364 or via email at support@dpcomputing.com.au.