Phishing emails have been around for quite some time, and for their entire existence they have gotten the better of even the most seasoned employees. What exactly contributes to their success? What kinds of subject lines go into creating a phishing email that users find to be convincing enough to actually want to click on and follow through on? Let’s take a look at a recent study that might glean some insights into this.
Email is a crucial part of any modern business, but it’s not always the most fun topic to cover. It’s more of a necessity than something super exciting, like machine learning or automation. Still, this does not make it any less important, so why don’t we discuss some of the ways you can make sure your organization’s email server is as secure as possible?
One of the greatest challenges posed by email security is that it’s not as easy as setting up a security tool like a firewall and being done with it. When it comes to email, inboxes are constantly facing a barrage of new threats, and an employee can easily override your security solution to let a malicious message through. For an employee who doesn’t know what to look for in a malicious spam message, letting a threat through like this is as easy as overriding the security prompt from your antivirus software with a single click, simply because they “think they know better.” Therefore, included in your network security strategy needs to be a way to train your team on what to look for in an email threat. This is a formidable task since hackers are always looking for new ways to get around well-known traps by creating new threats. One mistake that businesses often make is assuming that, because they’ve hired employees who are competent at their jobs, that they will also be good at spotting email threats. Unfortunately, it’s too easy for these two skill sets to be mutually exclusive. After all, there’s not a whole lot of classes about spotting email threats at business school. Instead, when it comes to understanding email threats, many computer users only depend on what they’ve come across in blog articles like this that they’ve stumbled upon. Or maybe their knowledge comes from something that was briefly mentioned in a training seminar from years ago. It would do your business well to be proactive about email security by providing your staff formal training on the subject, regularly. Not sure how much your team knows about email security? One way to gauge their knowledge is to ask if they know about phishing attacks. If their reply is in regards to bait and tackle, then you’ll know that they’re behind the times, and thus, are susceptible to an email phishing attack. What’s an email phishing attack? Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t know. The only way for you to protect yourself from such an attack is to know what to look for. To that end, here’s a good definition from Indiana University of what an email phishing message is: Phishing scams are typically fraudulent email messages appearing to come from legitimate enterprises (e.g., your university, your Internet service provider, your bank). These messages usually direct you to a spoofed website or otherwise get you to divulge private information (e.g., passphrase, credit card, or other account updates). The perpetrators then use this private information to commit identity theft. Essentially, hackers who use phishing tactics are banking on their victims being ignorant of their con in order for it to work. What’s worse, someone who can’t spot a phishing attack, will be easy prey to a spear phishing attack. This is where a hacker spends extra time on their message to personalize it, making it appear like a legitimate message from a company that you regularly do business with, or even from your IT department. These messages are often more difficult to spot because they don’t have a generic feel to them, which is an easy giveaway for most spam messages. To learn more about what email threats you and your team need to look out for, […]
Using the Outlook Polling Feature To create a poll, pull up Outlook and start a New Email. Proceed as you would with any email, filling out your subject line and identifying who it should be sent to. You can then insert a poll by clicking into the Insert tab and selecting the Poll option, or by navigating to the Options tab of your message, clicking Use Voting Buttons, and selecting Poll. A window will appear that allows you to specify the question you want to ask your recipients, as well as the capability to customize your answers. You can add additional responses by clicking +Add option. Be warned, the poll has a character limit of 330, many of which are taken up by the poll structure itself, so keep your polls brief. To authorize multiple responses, you can toggle the Multiple answers button to green. Once your poll is completed, click Insert poll into email, and it can be shared. Reviewing Your Results Once you’ve created this poll, the results will appear to you in your version of it. So, if you keep it brief, Microsoft has provided a very useful way for its users to collect feedback. You can also review your results—as well as how the vote broke down amongst your users—by clicking on Review answers or the button labelled Open in Excel. A Few Caveats You should be aware that this feature is only available to those using a Microsoft 365 hosted email account, with a subscription to Microsoft 365. So, does this sound like something you could use? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!
Boost Engagement with Responsibility The experience that participants of an in-person meeting have is naturally going to be very different than it would be in a remote meeting. The natural flow of conversation is interrupted by the limits of the very tool that enables the conversation to take place at all. This can lead to inconsistent participation and side conversations taking place… bad enough in person, but debilitating to a remote session. Preparing an agenda ahead of time and giving each participant something that they will be responsible for during the meeting can help to minimize the chances of this. Streamline Your Meeting Just as is the case in person, a remote meeting that involves too many people can be counterproductive and ineffective when collaboration is the goal. With an overly large group, there are just too many potential distractions to derail your efforts. Lagging technology and excessive background noise can swiftly diminish a meeting’s value, so to minimize the chances of this happening, resist the urge to pack your meetings and stick to those whose presence is essential. This also helps to add to the engagement that participants can have, as a smaller group offers more opportunities to speak. Disable Muting When someone has muted themselves during a remote meeting, they have effectively disengaged from the conversation. Consider it: by muting themselves, they can no longer contribute, and there’s the potential that they could allow their attention to wander more easily. While briefly muting can help to minimize interruptions, it should not be sustained longer than necessary when meeting. How have your remote meetings gone? What have you done to make the most of them? Share your approach in the comments!
What Are Unified Communications? Speaking plainly, “unified communications” are a business’ strategy to improve its collaborative capabilities by implementing various communication solutions for its staff to use. Oftentimes, this strategy is referred to as unified communications and collaboration. It is important to differentiate between these two parts, as they are—while similar—two different concepts. The Difference Between Communications and Collaboration We’re all familiar with the concept of water cooler talk. People gather around a common area and chat for a moment. This is a prime example of communication, as coworkers are talking to one another, but there isn’t necessarily any productive benefit to be directly gained from their conversation. For an example of collaboration, we would turn to the conference room, where coworkers go to discuss projects, hashing out ideas and pooling their talents. Basically, collaboration will involve communication, but not all communication counts as “collaborative.” Why Implement Unified Communications? Unified communications can deliver substantial benefits to the businesses that put them in place. For just a few examples: Improved productivity and performance. Unified communications gives the members of your team improved access to shared resources, along with the tools necessary for collaboration to take place. As a result, your team members can work together (even if working remotely) to produce a superior result. Improved user experience. With these collaborative tools, your employees will find it much more achievable to meet your expectations. Because of this, they will be more satisfied with the work they are tasked with while they increase their overall productivity. Improved budgeting. As unified communication platforms tend to be cloud-based, these services are billed per month and are therefore a scalable operational expense. This helps to make your available budget more flexible. Improved cohesion. By tying all of your communications together and tracking interactions and individual projects, unified communications make it far easier to keep everyone involved up to date on important information. Interested in learning more about unified communications, or any other beneficial IT solution? SRS Networks is here to help. To find out more, give us a call at (831) 758-3636.
Why Phishing Attacks are So Dangerous There are various factors that contribute to the risks associated with phishing attacks. One of the biggest contributors: the very low barrier to entry that a phishing scam requires of the person conducting it. Picture a hacker for a moment. What do you see? If you’re anything like the average user, you mind jumps to the imagery that pop culture has cultivated. A dark room, awash in a pale blue-white glow from an array of monitors, with someone hunched over a keyboard, fingers elegantly typing with the confidence of a concert pianist. While this picture has long been accepted by audiences as the way that a hacker looks, it is a fabrication. A lot of real-life hacking has pivoted to rely on psychology more than computer sciences and programming. Instead of manipulating code, a hacker focuses on manipulating the user. Why pick a lock if you can fool someone into handing over their keys? Unfortunately, phishing attacks are as effective as they are simple. Most users just don’t know what to look for to tell a legitimate email or website from a fraudulent one. Most aren’t even anticipating that they’ll be targeted at all. As a result, the scenario plays out like this: a hacker sends out an email that looks as though it is from a popular bank. To the untrained eye, it seems to be legitimate, and it may have even fooled the filters the user has set up to organize their emails. This is precisely how phishing attacks work—by getting the user to believe that the email is legitimate and having them play right into the attacker’s hands as a result. Whether the phishing email links to a malicious website or carries a malicious attachment, they are not to be taken lightly. How to Spot a Phishing Attempt While we aren’t trying to inspire paranoia, any email you receive could be a phishing email, which means you need to consider each one you receive. Make sure you follow the next few steps to prevent yourself from being taken advantage of. Check the tone. Is the email you’ve received trying to elicit an extreme emotion from you? Is it blatantly urgent, asking information about an account of yours without any reason to, or simply making a truly unbelievable offer? Attackers will often shape their phishing messages to instigate an emotional response. Stay rational. Check any links before clicking. It is startling how much trust people will put in a link. Hackers have numerous ways to hide the actual destination of a link, many of which indicate that the link is faked… although you need to know what to look for. Let’s consider PayPal for a moment. A legitimate PayPal link would direct to paypal-dot-com. However, if you were to add something—anything—between “paypal” and “dot-com”, the link would obviously go somewhere else. There are various other rules to keep in mind, too. For instance, the “dot-com” in the domain should be the last dot-anything and should be immediately followed by a forward slash (/). Here’s a brief list of safe examples, and some unsafe and suspicious examples: paypal.com – Safe paypal.com/activatecard – Safe business.paypal.com – Safe business.paypal.com/retail – Safe paypal.com.activatecard.net – Suspicious! (See the dot immediately after PayPal’s domain name?) paypal.com.activatecard.net/secure – Suspicious! […]
First of all, what is a CRM? CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, which is the technology that assists your business in tracking and cultivating your interactions with those you work with, pretty much as it says on the box. Not only does this help you keep track of all your business contacts, the many integrations that can be found for these kinds of solutions give you additional resources and capabilities to use to your advantage. Let’s go over the common integrations that CRM solutions offer to help you improve your business processes. Calendar Integration When you need to keep track of your customers and interactions you have with them, establishing a schedule to stick to is an important step. After all, you don’t want to have meetings overlap with your other activities and cause conflicts. Utilizing a CRM that integrates with your business calendar to helps you avoid overscheduling your activities, while also ensuring you are prepared to sustain your interactivity with your contacts. By automatically syncing your calendars to the events outlined in your CRM, your team can keep your projects and initiatives in progress while minimizing any potential scheduling and internal communication issues. Call Center and Customer Support Integration Your CRM solution should also work collaboratively with your external customer service and support tools. Let’s say that one of your customers reaches out to you with a question for your support team. It doesn’t make sense for your sales team to answer the call first, so a system that can direct these calls to the appropriate party from the get-go leads to increased productivity and improved customer relationships. Syncing these two solutions together can lead to impressive improvements across the board. Email Integration Many businesses also rely on email communications to keep in touch with their clients and customers. Using a CRM to power these communications can assist a business in lead generation and more personalized marketing efforts. Using a CRM to its full potential can help promote your operations and entice your prospective customers to reach out to you more often, often assisted by the integrations that are incorporated into it. For more ways that you can use your technology to increase your business’ productivity and efficacy, subscribe to this blog, or give SRS Networks a call at (831) 758-3636.
The Clean Up Tool We’ve all been a part of an email chain that ultimately becomes useless, with redundant and repeated messages adding more confusion than context. To counter this, Microsoft Outlook offers the Clean Up tool. In an email conversation, users send messages back and forth to one another and create a thread. However, these threads can sometimes pull in and duplicate the same messages, over and over – especially as participants respond back and forth. Using the Clean Up tool, you can delete these redundancies from your email chains, or even from entire folders. To clean up an individual conversation, select that conversation thread in your inbox. Find the Clean Up icon in the ribbon on top of Outlook and click it to display a drop-down menu, giving you the option to Clean Up Conversation, Clean Up Folder, or Clean Up Folder & Subfolders. Selecting one will prompt you to confirm your choice, allowing you access to your Clean Up settings, which allow you to further define how and which things should be cleaned up. Scheduling Your Messages There are plenty of reasons that you’d want an email to be timed just right – for example, would you rather your employees email you at the end of the day with information relevant to the next, or would you prefer to get emails pertinent to that day, first thing? Outlook allows you to choose, offering the ability to schedule messages with Future Delivery. After writing the email as you normally would, access Options, and find the Delay Delivery option. Clicking it will open a Properties box, which will include a checkbox labeled “Do not deliver before” under Delivery Options. Selecting this box and providing a date and time will ensure the message will not be delivered before then. Once you’ve done so, close the Properties box and send your message as you ordinarily would. Using Outlook Shortcuts Like many of today’s solutions, Outlook offers keyboard shortcuts to make your use of the program more efficient. These shortcuts cover a variety of functions, from composing new messages (Ctrl+Shift+M) to moving a message from one place to another (Ctrl+Shift+V). You can easily insert hyperlinks by pressing Ctrl+K, or flag an important message using Ctrl+Shift+G. These are just a few basic ways that you can start to manage your Outlook emails a little more effectively. To be notified whenever we have more handy IT tips and other technology blogs, subscribe today!
1. Video Conferencing While it’s hard to beat face-to-face conversation when you’re trying to communicate, video conferencing provides what is possibly the next best thing. Video conferencing solutions enable you to hold meetings with groups that could very well be separated by vast distances, without sacrificing too many of the communicative benefits of a face-to-face, in-person meeting. As a result, collaboration is more convenient via the increased accessibility to the rest of a team. 2. Chat Platforms For those conversations that need little more than a sentence or two to complete, a chat platform is an excellent tool for business users to leverage. Not only do these platforms offer an efficient means of collaboration, they also maintain a record of what has been discussed and what progress has been made on a project. Teammates can share ideas and inspiration as they strike, advancing towards their final goal more effectively. 3. Voice over Internet Protocol Voice over Internet Protocol, often referred to as VoIP, has proven to be an extremely cost-effective communication tool for businesses to use. As it runs off of your existing Internet connection, you can eliminate the added cost of traditional telephony, only needing to pay a relatively nominal fee for the minor equipment needed. Furthermore, VoIP is very easily scalable, featuring more or less plug-in-and-play functionality. In short, VoIP allows you to provide your employees with a necessary communication tool, without breaking the bank. 4. Mobile Devices/Bring Your Own Device Mobile devices have been a somewhat controversial topic in the workplace, especially since smartphones turned what was once a simple means of communication into a phone, a web browser, and a comprehensive entertainment suite in one compact package. However, with the right preparations, mobile devices can prove to be a huge benefit to a business’ operations. After all, if configured to be sufficiently secure, a mobile device could allow an employee to maintain their productivity from effectively everywhere. Bring Your Own Device (or BYOD) strategies can compound this benefit by eliminating the need to procure mobile devices as well and allow an employee to work with a device that they are comfortable with – more likely than not improving their productivity. 5. Intranet Maintaining a company intranet – effectively, a centralized portal for employees to access files they need – makes it easier for all employees to remain productive. This includes those utilizing BYOD or who work remotely. An Intranet solution is a solid means of uniting your workforce toward a single goal. 6. Cloud Services Most cloud services today have some aspect of collaborative capabilities baked in. What this means is that multiple members of your organization can work together on a document, regardless of where they are, with everyone’s updates reflected for everyone. The primary benefit to this is that collaboration isn’t something that everyone involved needs to assemble for, which allows progress to be made more quickly. 7. Unified Communications One of the best tools for a business’ communication needs is a unified communications platform. This platform enables your employees to keep each other apprised of progress toward goals, as well as promotes collaboration between them. Offering a variety of communication methods via a single platform, unified communication solutions are a great tool for the business that takes its internal interactions seriously. SRS Networks […]