Reliable Networks Blog

6 Discontinued Technology Tools You Should Not Be Using Any Longer

One constant about technology is that it changes rapidly. Tools that were once staples, like Internet Explorer and Adobe Flash, age out. New tools replace those that are obsolete. Discontinued technology can leave computers and networks vulnerable to attacks.

While older technology may still run fine on your systems that doesn’t mean that it’s okay to use. One of the biggest dangers of using outdated technology is that it can lead to a data breach.

Outdated software and hardware no longer receive vital security updates. Updates often patch newly found and exploited system vulnerabilities. No security patches means a device is a sitting duck for a cybersecurity breach.

Approximately 1 in 3 data breaches are due to unpatched system vulnerabilities.

Another problem with using discontinued technology is that it can leave you behind. Your business can end up looking like you’re in the stone ages to your customers, and they can lose faith and trust.

Important reasons to keep your technology updated to a supported version are:

  • Reduce the risk of a data breach or malware infection
  • Meet data privacy compliance requirements
  • To keep a good reputation and foster customer trust
  • To be competitive in your market
  • To mitigate hardware and software compatibility issues
  • To enable employee productivity

Older systems are clunky and get in the way of employee productivity. If you keep these older systems in use, it can lead to the loss of good team members due to frustration.

49% of surveyed workers say they would consider leaving their jobs due to poor technology.

Following is a list of outdated technology tools that you should replace as soon as possible. Are any of these still in use on your home computer or within your business?

Get Rid of This Tech Now If You’re Still Using It

Internet Explorer

Many moons ago, Internet Explorer (IE) used to be the number one browser in the world. But, over time, Google Chrome and other browsers edged it out. Including its replacement, Microsoft Edge.

Microsoft began phasing out IE with the introduction of Microsoft Edge in 2015. In recent years, fewer applications have been supporting use in IE. The browser loses all support beginning on June 15, 2022.

Adobe Flash

Millions of websites used Adobe Flash in the early 2000s. But other tools can now do the animations and other neat things Flash could do. This made the tool obsolete, and Adobe ended it.

The Adobe Flash Player lost all support, including security updates, as of January 1, 2021. Do you still have this lingering on any of your computers? If so, you should uninstall the browser plugin and any Flash software.

Windows 7 and Earlier

Windows 7 was a very popular operating system, but it’s now gone the way of the dinosaur. Replacements, Windows 10 and Windows 11 are now in widespread use. The Windows 7 OS lost support on January 14, 2020.

While it may still technically run, it’s very vulnerable to hacks. Microsoft Windows OS is also a high-value target for hackers. So, you can be sure they are out there looking for systems still running this obsolete version of Windows.

macOS 10.14 Mojave and Earlier

Because of the cost of iMacs and MacBooks, people tend to hang onto them as long as possible. Once these devices get to a certain point, updates no longer work. This leaves the hardware stuck on an older and non-supported macOS version.

If you are running macOS 10.14 Mojave or earlier, then your OS is no longer supported by Apple, and you need to upgrade.

Oracle 18c Database

If your business uses Oracle databases, then you may want to check your current version. If you are running the Oracle 18C Database, then you are vulnerable. Breaches can easily happen due to unpatched system vulnerabilities.

The Oracle 18C Database lost all support in June of 2021. If you have upgraded, then you’ll want to keep an eye out for another upcoming end-of-support date. Both Oracle 19C and 21C will lose premiere support in April of 2024.

Microsoft SQL Server 2014

Another popular database tool is Microsoft’s SQL. If you are using SQL Server 2014, then mainstream support has already ended. And in July of 2024, all support, including security updates will stop.

This gives you a little more time to upgrade before you’re in danger of not getting security patches. But it is better to upgrade sooner rather than later. This leaves plenty of time for testing and verification of the upgrade.

Get Help Upgrading Your Technology & Reducing Risk

Upgrades can be scary, especially if everything has been running great. You may be afraid that a migration or upgrade will cause issues. We can help you upgrade your technology smoothly and do thorough testing afterward. Schedule a technology review today.


Featured Image Credit

This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

Did You Just Receive a Text from Yourself? Learn What Smishing Scams to Expect

How many text messages from companies do you receive today as compared to about two years ago? If you’re like many people, it’s quite a few more.

This is because retailers have begun bypassing bloated email inboxes. They are urging consumers to sign up for SMS alerts for shipment tracking and sale notices. The medical industry has also joined the trend. Pharmacies send automated refill notices and doctor’s offices send SMS appointment reminders.

These kinds of texts can be convenient. But retail stores and medical practices aren’t the only ones grabbing your attention by text. Cybercriminal groups are also using text messaging to send out phishing.

Phishing by SMS is “smishing,” and it’s becoming a major problem.

Case in point, in 2020, smishing rose by 328%, and during the first six months of 2021, it skyrocketed nearly 700% more. Phishing via SMS has become a big risk area. Especially as companies adjust data security to a more remote and mobile workforce.

How Can I Text Myself?

If you haven’t yet received a text message only to find your own phone number as the sender, then you likely will soon. This smishing scam is fast making the rounds and results in a lot of confusion. Confusion is good for scammers. It often causes people to click a malicious link in a message to find out more details.

Cybercriminals can make it look like a text message they sent you is coming from your number. They use VoIP connections and clever spoofing software.

If you ever see this, it’s a big giveaway that this is an SMS phishing scam. You should not interact with the message in any way and delete it instead. Some carriers will also offer the option to delete and report a scam SMS.

Popular Smishing Scams to Watch Out For

Smishing is very dangerous right now because many people are not aware of it. There’s a false sense of security. People think only those they have given it to will have their phone number.

But this isn’t the case. Mobile numbers are available through both legitimate and illegitimate methods. Advertisers can buy lists of them online. Data breaches that expose customer information are up for grabs on the Dark Web. This includes mobile numbers.

Less than 35% of the population knows what smishing is.

It’s important to understand that phishing email scams are morphing. They’ve evolved into SMS scams that may look different and be harder to detect.

For example, you can’t check the email address to see if it’s legitimate. Most people won’t know the legitimate number that Amazon shipping updates come from.

Text messages also commonly use those shortened URLs. These mask the true URL, and it’s not as easy to hover over it to see it on a phone as it is on a computer.

You need to be aware of what’s out there. Here are some of the popular phishing scams that you may see in your own text messages soon.

Problem With a Delivery

Who doesn’t love getting packages? This smishing scam leverages that fact and purports to be from a known shipper like USPS or FedEx. It states that there is a package held up for delivery to you because it needs more details.

The link can take users to a form that captures personal information used for identity theft. One tactic using this scam is to ask for a small monetary sum to release a package. Scammers created the site to get your credit card number.

Fake Appointment Scheduling

This scam happened to a community in South Carolina. They had recently had an installation of AT&T fiber internet lines in their neighborhood. Following the installation, AT&T did a customer drive to sign people up for the service.

During this time, one homeowner reported that he received a text message. It pretended to be from AT&T about scheduling his fiber internet installation. He thought it was suspicious because the address they gave was wrong. The scammer had wanted him to text back personal details.

Get Your Free Gift

Another recent smishing scam is a text message that doesn’t say who it’s from. It says, “Thank you for your recent payment. Here is a free gift for you.” It includes a link at the bottom of the message.

This is a widespread scam that many have noted online. And it’s an example of a scammer using a common fact. The fact that most people would’ve paid some type of bill recently and mistake the text to be from a company they know. It also lures people in with the promise of giving them a free gift.

Does Your Mobile Device Have the Security It Needs?

Smishing scams are very clever and can easily infect your device with malware. Do you have the proper security precautions (mobile antivirus, DNS filtering, etc.)?

If not, give us a call. We can help!


Featured Image Credit

This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

How Using the SLAM Method Can Improve Phishing Detection

There is a reason why phishing is usually at the top of the list for security awareness training. For the last decade or two, it has been the main delivery method for all types of attacks. Ransomware, credential theft, database breaches, and more launch via a phishing email.

Why has phishing remained such a large threat for so long? Because it continues to work. Scammers evolve their methods as technology progresses. They use AI-based tactics to make targeted phishing more efficient, for example.

If phishing didn’t continue working, then scammers would move on to another type of attack. But that hasn’t been the case. People continue to get tricked. They open malicious file attachments, click on dangerous links, and reveal passwords.

In May of 2021, phishing attacks increased by 281%. Then in June, they spiked another 284% higher.

Studies show that as soon as 6 months after training, phishing detection skills wane. Employees begin forgetting what they’ve learned, and cybersecurity suffers as a result.

Want to give employees a “hook” they can use for memory retention? Introduce the SLAM method of phishing identification.

What is the SLAM Method for Phishing Identification?

One of the mnemonic devices known to help people remember information is the use of an acronym. SLAM is an acronym for four key areas of an email message to check before trusting it.

These are:

S = Sender
L = Links
A = Attachments
M = Message text

By giving people the term “SLAM” to use, it’s quicker for them to check suspicious email. This device helps them avoid missing something important. All they need to do use the cues in the acronym.

Check the Sender

It’s important to check the sender of an email thoroughly. Often scammers will either spoof an email address or use a look-alike. People often mistake a spoofed address for the real thing.

In this phishing email below, the email address domain is “@emcom.bankofamerica.com.” The scammer is impersonating Bank of America. This is one way that scammers try to trick you, by putting the real company’s URL inside their fake one.

Check the Sender

You can see that the email is very convincing. It has likely fooled many people into divulging their personal details. People applying for a credit card provide a Social Security Number, income, and more.

Doing a quick search on the email address, quickly reveals it to be a scam. And a trap used in both email and SMS phishing attacks.

Scam Email search

It only takes a few seconds to type an email address into Google. This allows you to see if any scam warnings come up indicating a phishing email.

Hover Over Links Without Clicking

Hyperlinks are popular to use in emails. They can often get past antivirus/anti-malware filters. Those filters are looking for file attachments that contain malware. But a link to a malicious site doesn’t contain any dangerous code. Instead, it links to a site that does.

Links can be in the form of hyperlinked words, images, and buttons in an email. When on a computer, it’s important to hover over links without clicking on them to reveal the true URL. This often can immediately call out a fake email scam.

Hover over links without clicking

When looking at email on a mobile device, it can be trickier to see the URL without clicking on it. There is no mouse like there is with a PC. In this case, it’s best not to click the URL at all. Instead go to the purported site to check the validity of the message.

Never Open Unexpected or Strange File Attachments

File attachments are still widely used in phishing emails. Messages may have them attached, promising a large sale order. The recipient might see a familiar word document and open it without thinking.

It’s getting harder to know what file formats to avoid opening. Cybercriminals have become savvier about infecting all types of documents with malware. There have even been PDFs with malware embedded.

Never open strange or unexpected file attachments. Use an antivirus/anti-malware application to scan all attachments before opening.

Read the Message Carefully

We’ve gotten great at scanning through text as technology has progressed. It helps us quickly process a lot of incoming information each day. But if you rush through a phishing email, you can miss some telltale signs that it’s a fake.

Look at the phishing example posted above in the “Links” section. There is a small error in grammar in the second sentence. Did you spot it?

It says, “We confirmation that your item has shipped,” instead of “We confirm that your item has shipped.” These types of errors can be hard to spot but are a big red flag that the email is not legitimate.

Get Help Combatting Phishing Attacks

Both awareness training and security software can improve your defenses against phishing attacks. Contact us today to discuss your email security needs.


Featured Image Credit

This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

How Often Do You Need to Train Employees on Cybersecurity Awareness?

You’ve completed your annual phishing training. This includes teaching employees how to spot phishing emails. You’re feeling good about it. That is until about 5-6 months later. Your company suffers a costly ransomware infection due to a click on a phishing link.

You wonder why you seem to need to train on the same information every year. But you still suffer from security incidents. The problem is that you’re not training your employees often enough.

People can’t change behaviors if training isn’t reinforced. They can also easily forget what they’ve learned after several months go by.

So, how often is often enough to improve your team’s cybersecurity awareness? It turns out that training every four months is the “sweet spot.” This is when you see more consistent results in your IT security.

Why Is Cybersecurity Awareness Training Each 4-Months Recommended?

So, where does this four-month recommendation come from? There was a study presented at the USENIX SOUPS security conference recently. It looked at users’ ability to detect phishing emails versus training frequency. It looked at training on phishing awareness and IT security.

Employees took phishing identification tests at several different time increments:

  • 4-months
  • 6-months
  • 8-months
  • 10-months
  • 12-months

The study found that four months after their training scores were good. Employees were still able to accurately identify and avoid clicking on phishing emails. But after 6-months, their scores started to get worse. Scores continued to decline the more months that passed after their initial training.

To keep employees well prepared, they need training and refreshers on security awareness. This will help them to act as a positive agent in your cybersecurity strategy.

Tips on What & How to Train Employees to Develop a Cybersecure Culture

The gold standard for security awareness training is to develop a cybersecure culture. This is one where everyone is cognizant of the need to protect sensitive data. As well as avoid phishing scams, and keep passwords secured.

This is not the case in most organizations, According to the 2021 Sophos Threat Report. One of the biggest threats to network security is a lack of good security practices.

The report states the following,

“A lack of attention to one or more aspects of basic security hygiene has been found to be at the root cause of many of the most damaging attacks we’ve investigated.”

Well-trained employees significantly reduce a company’s risk. They reduce the chance of falling victim to any number of different online attacks. To be well-trained doesn’t mean you have to conduct a long day of cybersecurity training. It’s better to mix up the delivery methods.

Here are some examples of engaging ways to train employees on cybersecurity. You can include these in your training plan:

  • Self-service videos that get emailed once per month
  • Team-based roundtable discussions
  • Security “Tip of the Week” in company newsletters or messaging channels
  • Training session given by an IT professional
  • Simulated phishing tests
  • Cybersecurity posters
  • Celebrate Cybersecurity Awareness Month in October

When conducting training, phishing is a big topic to cover, but it’s not the only one. Here are some important topics that you want to include in your mix of awareness training.

Phishing by Email, Text & Social Media

Email phishing is still the most prevalent form. But SMS phishing (“smishing”) and phishing over social media are both growing. Employees must know what these look like, so they can avoid falling for these sinister scams.

Credential & Password Security

Many businesses have moved most of their data and processes to cloud-based platforms. This has led to a steep increase in credential theft because it’s the easiest way to breach SaaS cloud tools.

Credential theft is now the #1 cause of data breaches globally. This makes it a topic that is critical to address with your team. Discuss the need to keep passwords secure and the use of strong passwords. Also, help them learn tools like a business password manager.

Mobile Device Security

Mobile devices are now used for a large part of the workload in a typical office. They’re handy for reading and replying to an email from anywhere. Most companies will not even consider using software these days if it doesn’t have a great mobile app.

Review security needs for employee devices that access business data and apps. Such as securing the phone with a passcode and keeping it properly updated.

Data Security

Data privacy regulations are something else that has been rising over the years. Most companies have more than one data privacy regulation requiring compliance.

Train employees on proper data handling and security procedures. This reduces the risk you’ll fall victim to a data leak or breach that can end up in a costly compliance penalty.

Need Help Keeping Your Team Trained on Cybersecurity?

Take training off your plate and train your team with cybersecurity professionals. We can help you with an engaging training program. One that helps your team change their behaviors to improve cyber hygiene.


Featured Image Credit

This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

Home Security: Why You Should Put IoT Devices on a Guest Wi-Fi Network

The number of internet-connected devices in homes has been growing. It’s increased exponentially over the last decade. A typical home now has 10.37 devices connected to the internet. PCs and mobile devices make up a little over half of those and the rest are IoT devices.

IoT stands for Internet of Things. It means any other type of “smart device” that connects online. IoT devices in a home can be everything from your streaming stick to your smart refrigerator. Smart baby monitors and Alexa voice assistants are also IoT.

There’s also been another change that has happened over the last couple of years. It has been the increase in remote and hybrid work. The pandemic caused a major shift in where we work, turning the standard office paradigm on its head.

Now, working remotely has become the norm for many companies around the world. This has put increased scrutiny on the security of all those IoT devices. They are now sharing a Wi-Fi network with business data and devices.

Here are two alarming statistics that illustrate the issue with IoT security:

  • During the first six months of 2021, the number of IoT cyberattacks was up by 135% over the prior year.
  • It’s estimated that over 25% of cyberattacks against businesses involve IoT devices

Hackers Use IoT Devices to Get to Computers & Smartphones

Smart devices are a risk to any other device on a network. They are typically easier to breach. So, hackers will use them as a gateway into more sensitive devices.

A criminal may not care about the shopping list stored in your smart refrigerator. But they’ll breach that IoT device to see what other devices are on the same network.

The hacker can then use sharing and permissions that are often present on home networks. Through these, they gain access to your work computer or mobile device. These devices hold important data, and access to personal details.

Why are IoT devices less secure than computers and smartphones? Here are a few reasons:

  • They usually won’t have antivirus or anti-malware capabilities
  • Users often don’t update IoT devices regularly
  • They have basic interfaces which can hide a breach of the device
  • People often don’t change the default device username and password.
  • Sharing settings on IoT devices makes them easier to hack

Improve Security by Putting IoT on a Separate Wi-Fi Network

Just about all modern routers will have the ability to set up a second Wi-Fi network, called a “guest network.” This shows up when you connect to Wi-Fi as a separate Wi-Fi that a device can use to get online.

Separate Wi-Fi

By putting all your IoT devices on a separate network you improve security. You cut that bridge that hackers use to go from an IoT device to another device on the same network. Such as those that hold sensitive information (computers and mobile devices).

In fact, when you separate those two (IoT devices and sensitive-info devices) a hacker can’t see all. If they breach one of your smart devices, they can’t tell you have a PC or smartphone. This is because they’re on the other network.

This is an important layer of security to use. Whether you’re a remote worker or use your computer for home budgeting and banking, it can help. All PCs and smartphones usually contain access to online banking or personal information.

Here are the steps to take to separate your IoT devices. (Note, you can also have this done by us, we’ll be happy to handle all these steps for you.)

  • Step 1: Log into your router settings.
  • Step 2: Look for an area that allows you to set up a guest network. This will be different for each router, so you may need to access a help guide online.
  • Step 3: Set up the guest network according to the router prompts. Make sure to use a strong password.
  • Step 4: Edit the password for your existing network. This keeps IoT devices from automatically reconnecting to it.
  • Step 5: Connect all IoT devices in your home to the new guest network.
  • Step 6: Reconnect your sensitive devices (computers, smartphones) to the preexisting network. Use the new password.

As you add any new devices to your home network, make sure to connect them to the appropriate network. This keeps the layer of security effective.

One more tip: When naming your Wi-Fi networks, don’t use descriptive names. This includes things like “IoT network” or your name, address, or router model name.

It’s best to use names that won’t give the hackers valuable information they can use in attacks.

Need Help Upgrading Your Home Cybersecurity?

With so many remote workers, hackers have begun targeting home networks. They know they can contain sensitive business as well as personal data. Don’t leave yourself open to a breach. Schedule a home internet security review today!


Featured Image Credit

This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.