If you are like the rest of the American public, your email inbox is probably overflowing with advertisements, business data, announcements, newsletters, and of course, important work information. It is tempting to just click away and open-and-discard, but don’t do it! Between Trojans, spyware, and ransomware, your data and your operations can be severely and irreparably affected by just one successful cyberattack that could occur due to opening an email.
By now we all know that opening an unknown email is bad news. But what signs and red flags should you look for to identify an email that may trigger a disaster? Here are a few things to be aware of as you sort through your daily email list.
Be aware of emails that . . .
- Don’t use your name but call you “sir” or “madam” or other vague title.
- Have attachments that are executable files. Generally, attachments you receive will be documents or graphics with the corresponding “.doc,” “.pdf,” “.jpg,” or “.png” extensions. Avoid opening double extensions or executable file attachments.
- Are from a company or person you do not know.
- Have masked hyperlinks.
- Request personal information that could put you at risk.
- Have a threat or demand in the sender line.
Remember that most emails are safe but all it takes is clicking on the one that isn’t that could damage or lock up your computer system. Training employees on what to look for is a business’ best line of defense, as the employees are the ones receiving and reading through the emails on a daily basis. If you need training or help with protecting your computer systems from cyber crimes, call M&H Consulting at 1-(866)-964-8324 for a free initial consultation.
Hacking incidents are inevitable and one can never know if you or someone you know will fall victim to it. There are, however, several different ways to stay safe and stay on top hackers before the hacking is even done.
A few of the best ways to do so are:
- Stay suspicious of emails – Email is used as a great communication platform, but this also makes it a huge security risk. Many cyberattacks happen through email. Phishing sends innocent emails that are meant to trick their victims. It leads them to a fake website asking for updates on their personal information. The best way to stay aware of emails is to check the sender and make sure it is someone you know. You can also check the IP address of the sender.
- Link locations – Link locations is a huge one. Unknown messages always contain links to unknown sites. When visiting an unknown site it can have major consequences and it usually tends to mimic a familiar site, or it can also simply be unsecure and infected with malware the minute you visit. The best way to know where it is taking you is to copy and paste the link location into a new browser to check what site is on the other side. It is important to know that encrypted sites are always the safest one to visit. You will see HTTPS in the URL, as well as a lock icon on your browser.
- Two-factor authentication – Two-factor authentication requires users to help enter several entry confirmations such as a code texted to a phone, before entering your password. This is a great way to stop attackers from stealing passwords. Most places now have made it as a standard for logging in.
- Sharing personal data on Wi-Fi – It is best to stay away from checking your personal information such as checking your bank account, or buying a plane ticket when using internet in coffee shops, libraries or any free public Wi-Fi.
With these helpful tips you will be well prepared to in case of any phishing attack that occurs.
Early last month, Google fell under attack in a huge phishing operation.
Many received an email that looked similar to an invitation to join a Google Doc from someone they knew on their mailing list. However, once they clicked the link to open the file, you were then directed to grant access to an app that looks like Google Docs. Instead, this was actually a program that sends spam emails to everyone you have previously mailed.
Specifically, this spam email included the following:
- Used the name “Google Docs”
- Used the existing Google login system
- Bypassed any 2 factor authentication or login alerts
- Only detectable as fake if you click “Google Docs’ while granting permission
- Replicates itself by sending itself to all your contacts
This process of sending an email to trick someone into granting access into their personal information is called phishing. It is usually done for malicious reasons, just like stealing a credit card information or tricking someone into sharing their password.
Google released an official statement in which they mention they did indeed resolved the issue. They have removed the fake pages, updated all of their Safe Browsing preferences and system. As a result, they continue to encourage their uses to report phishing emails within their Gmail.
If you have or ever do receive an email like this, do not open it. Always remember to:
- Change your password every three months
- Make sure your passwords are long with lower and upper cases letters, as well as special characters such as several symbols and/or numbers
- Make yourself familiar with the style and fonts and specific uses of Google Docs as it can be incredibly helpful when needed to detect a fake.
In our last blog we discussed email marketing services. This week we are touching on common terms and concepts for email deliverability and success. It is not enough anymore to send out email newsletters or announcements and hope that they are opened and read. It is important to understand which emails get opened, why and how long the viewer read the email and what will work in future campaigns. If you or your company are just beginners when it comes to the email marketing strategizing, here are a few terms that can help steer you in the right direction when planning your next email campaign. Once you understand what the numbers mean, then you can start strategizing your next email campaign.
- Acceptance Rate – The percentage of email messages that are accepted by the mail server. Note that an email being accepted by the mail server does not necessarily mean it will get to an inbox.
- Open Rate – The percentage of recipients who opened your email message. When someone clicks on an email, an image pixel in the email loads and is counted as an open. However, remember to use click through rate for reader engagement metrics.
- Click Through Rate – The proportion of the audience who clicked on one more links contained in an email message. This will give you a better idea of how engaged the viewer was on your email.
- Bounce Rate – The percentage of total emails sent that could not be delivered to the recipient’s inbox, known as a “bounce.”
- Conversion Rate – The percentage of recipients who clicked on a link within an email and completed a desired action, such as filling out a lead generation form or purchasing a product.
- Read Length – The length of time when a person opens an email, until they close it.
- Black List – A list that denotes a sender as a spammer, making it difficult for the sender to get future emails into an inbox.
- Spam – Not asked for, or not work-safe email. Over 90% of email sent is classified as spam.
- Ham – Email that is generally desired and isn’t considered spam.
Email has been around since the first one was sent in 1971. Since then, most of us have developed a love/hate relationship with email. It endlessly piles up in our “inbox”, making the typical office worker collect on average 121 emails daily. According to DMR Stats Online, most employees check their email about 74 times a day! While this may seem time consuming and counterproductive, email is still the most pervasive communication tool around in 2017.
Email marketing has spanned the numerous stages of digital marketing evolution and is still going stronger than ever. This is no surprise given that 269 billion emails are sent daily worldwide. Email marketers however are not all that concerned with how many emails are being sent, but are more concerned about the click through and click open rate for marketing emails. Too many consumers and clients are inundated with too many emails that they do not bother to open or even click on at all. That is where email marketing services come in handy.
In order to conduct a successful email marketing campaign and get consumers to actually open and read your business’s email is a huge feat! Email marketing services can help with some of the following issues surrounding this marketing strategy including:
- Increasing Customer Mailing Lists
- Engage Customers
- Eye-catching Subject Lines
- Personalizing the Email
- Adding Images and Graphics
- Creating a Relevant Call-to-Action
- Optimizing for Mobile
Some of the top email marketing services can be found if you follow these links. Read and research each for the specific needs of your company.
PCMag’s Best Email Software Review
Review’s Best Email Services
We all know the Google name and the power behind the well-known search engine. But did you know that just by signing up for a Google email for you and your employees, that you have the power of cloud computing right at your fingertips? Google’s suite of applications seems to cover every angle of computer-based work including: creating presentations, spreadsheets, documents, and calendars all in a collaborative format! This is a great opportunity for start-ups to reduce costs and maintain a superior level of communications among team members.
The benefits of using Google’s suite of applications are far reaching especially for companies that are highly mobile and operating on a tight budget. The standard version of Google Docs, which is amazing on its own, can be beefed up for just $50 a year or more. That includes cloud-based file storage and help desk services. In addition to the affordability of this suite, Google is highly mobile, meaning users can access files via mobile phones, even the Apple iPad, and of course from desktop computers and notebooks. If your work takes you out-of-the-office often, this may be a sound choice for your small or medium sized business.
Google Docs, spreadsheets, and presentations have other features that are a “must” in today’s collaborative work environment. For example, Google Docs provides automated backup for documents as they are edited. Collaboration is also made simple with Google’s ability of allowing multiple users work simultaneously on the same file. This is critical when a presentation is on a deadline and multiple employees are making changes and additions up to the last minute.
Finally, Google takes all the stress off the business owner by taking care of maintenance and security. Google and the secondary service providers worry about power surges, failed hard drives, upgrades, and compatibility while you run your business. Google’s security track record is also excellent. Data stored with Google is probably as safe as it would be in most corporate data centers.
Talk to M&H Consulting if you want to put Google to work for your company. We can help train and troubleshoot for your company.
Weâ€™ve guided you towards the right steps in moving or expanding your network. Now, today weâ€™ll help you in extending your network when its wireless and you need a wider range of wifi. Before we get into the different ways to extend a wireless network, you need to take into consideration the following: your network needs to be placed in the center of your home or office and avoid placing it behind a door or near any metal walls that could prevent the wireless network from flowing through. Now, letâ€™s get into the more technical ways in which to extend your network.
One option for extending your network is by purchasing a wireless extender in your home. The wireless extender takes the wireless signal you currently have and boosts it for greater use. When setting up the extender, make sure it is plugged in an area with a solid wireless signal. Although this may be the easiest and most affordable way of extending your network, it could be problematic in other areas. Because the connections all happen wirelessly, it is more likely to cause dropped connections and slow down your Internet speed.
The next option is getting a powerline network kit. This kit is a wired network with hidden wires. The kit usually comes together with two Ethernet cables, and two adapters. This extends your network by connecting one of the Ethernet cables to the router while taking the other Ethernet cable and plugging it into whatever other device you would like the network to extend to. Of course, you would have to plug each adapter to each device in order for them to detect each other. Although this can be effective for specific devices, it can take away from extending the wireless to other ones if they arenâ€™t connected to a powerline.
An alternative to the powerline kit is to simply use an Ethernet with a range extender. This option extends better to multiple powerline kits as well as wireless access points (WAP). This option can also help maintain your Internetâ€™s speed and extends coverage better than other options.
The best option, however, is connecting the Ethernet to the WAP directly. This option is best because it doesnâ€™t connect wirelessly and it direct, which means you get fast and reliable Internet. There are many ways in which this can be done. For consultation on which way is the best option for your home or business, contact M&H.
Technology is constantly changing from day to day. Due to these updates there are often changes in pricing and offerings for particular services. One of those services is handling email. There are two options to choose from in most businesses in order to handle email. The first is managing email in-house using software such as Exchange on a Windows server. Then there is the option to use a 3rd party hosted email solution. In the past the pricing for a hosted email solution was not cost effective and did not include several benefits that an in house solution offered. Some things have changed over the past few years to make hosted email a more viable solution. For one the mailbox sizes for the hosted Exchange accounts have increased drastically, mainly due to disk space costs decreasing over time.
Another shift that has indirectly changed things is that Blackberry has fallen out of favor with most companies due to the rise of Androids devices and iPhones. This is dropping the pricing of hosted solutions as support for these newer devices is a bit cheaper than Blackberry devices. The prices do vary, but most hosted providers charge an access fee of $10/month per device for a Blackberry and only charge $3/month for other phones such as the iPhone or Android. Each solution does have their own pros and cons, so let’s take a peek at them.
- Pro – No monthly fees for Exchange
- Pro – No cost to receive email on phones
- Pro – No mailbox limits
- Pro – Intra-Office email is faster
- Con – Exchange must be purchased upfront as well as user licenses
- Con – A server is needed to run Exchange
- Con – A third party subscription for spam filtering is needed
- Con – Owner is responsible for maintaining the Exchange server
- Pro – No need to buy Exchange or licenses
- Pro – Spam filtering service is included
- Pro – No need for a local server for Exchange
- Pro – If local network is down you can still get email outside your office
- Con – Cost ranges from $5-$20/month per user
- Con – Phone access is an extra charge monthly (free to use IMAP or POP though)
- Con – Mailbox limits (although they usually start at 5GB now)
- Con – Downloading large emails takes longer
It is important to mention that not all hosted email providers are the same and one should compare each email provider as they may offer very different services and support. There are email providers out there that will provide email services that are much cheaper but at the sacrifice of features. We typically will recommend going with a provider that uses Microsoft Exchange over an account that just provides IMAP or POP3.
If you have any questions about email solutions for your company or any other IT topic that you may have, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 866-964-8324.