Remote Workforces Deliver Business & Employee Benefits

When considering the employee and employer benefits of working remotely, businesses are wise to change. The alternative could make your outfit less competitive.  

If you would like to gain a little perspective on how radically our culture has changed, try this exercise. Pick up a pencil and a piece of paper and write out a half-days’ worth of emails rather than send them electronically. You will probably discover the first one looks more like scribble than cursive writing. And, your productivity will completely tank.

Remote Working Coronavirus

At first blush, the exercise demonstrates our reliance on electronic devices and real-time communication. But on another level, it shows that thought leaders are wise to embrace technological advancements as they emerge. Remote workforces rank among the more innovative trends of the business landscape today.

“To remain competitive in today’s work-from-anywhere environment, companies will need to invest in responsive technology infrastructure and enhanced virtual collaboration tools, as well as training and tailored performance management and incentive strategies for remote workers,” director of HR at the Gartner research group Emily Rose McRae reportedly said.

This shift away from in-house staff to people working from home or on the road once earned mixed reactions from industry leaders. But the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted businesses across the globe to find a way to have valued employees work from home until health crisis passes. Employers and employees alike are discovering this advancement tend to be mutually beneficial when utilizing platforms such as Microsoft Teams.

Mutual Benefits of Remote Workforces

The health crisis has motivated businesses to shift to Cloud-based systems and Microsoft Teams strategies as a short-term measure. But HR departments may want to take the opportunity to scan the workforce landscape because work-from-home expectations are expected to surge and impact hiring.

“By 2030, the demand for remote work will increase by 30 percent due to Gen Z fully entering the workforce. Gartner’s most recent ReimagineHR Employee Survey found that only 56 percent of managers permit their employees to work remotely. Organizations without a progressive remote-work policy will be at a competitive disadvantage for attracting and retaining talent,” according to Gartner.

That being said, these are the reasons why the global trend to remote productivity is well-received by management and staff.

  • Commute & Stress Reduction: No one can dispute the fact that commuting to the office adds unpaid work hours. Sitting in traffic or being packed into commuter rails tends to be an unpleasant way to begin and end each day. Employees and employers share this stressful routine. Remote work platforms such as the Cloud and Microsoft Teams allow all parties to sit down with a morning beverage and log on from anywhere. No hustle, no bustle, no extra hours, and no commuter expenses.
  • Talent Without Borders: Before the massive cellphone footprint, people used landlines with rotary dialing, and long-distance was expensive. In those days, it was common to pay a premium just to call someone in the next state over. But just as your cellphone can connect you to people far outside your region without added expense, so can the Cloud. When projects are conducted in Microsoft Teams via a Cloud-based network, your remote talent pool expands exponentially. A skilled person 1,000 miles away can secure a job they are qualified for, and employers gain access to talent otherwise unavailable.
  • Reduced Infrastructure: An increasing number of organizations that do not necessarily require a brick-and-mortar footprint. These outfits can eliminate that cost in some cases. Other operations can reduce office space expenditures. With remote workforces, less can be more.
  • Live-Work Lifestyles: Millennials and the Gen Z crowd tend to see work and life more closely aligned in their lifestyle than previous generations. The Cloud has been a boon and securing offsite positions allows employees a preferred professional lifestyle. Raising children no longer comes attached to childcare expenses or limited “parent hours” jobs.

Microsoft Teams Supports Remote Workforce Culture

With dispersed workforces increasing, Microsoft Teams ranks among the most business supportive products on the market. It seamlessly works with Cloud-based networks and delivers real-time communication. The platform offers chat, video conferencing, managed channels, shared calendar options, and project space that can provide supervisors with top-tier oversight. In these troubling times, Microsoft Teams use has surged by tens of millions. But industry leaders may also want to consider the long-term benefits of embracing remote workforces into the future.


Top Tips for Improving Data Analysis with the IF Function in Microsoft Excel

Improving Data Analysis with the IF Function in Microsoft Excel

Have you ever wondered what the IF Function in Microsoft Excel actually does?  Here we explore a few top tips for making it save you time while evaluating data. 


There’s no doubt that Microsoft Excel is a robust program. Companies all over the globe utilize this application to analyze, track, and otherwise organize data in an easy-to-read format. But how much do you know about it and the various features that are available? And are you taking the right steps to ensure you’re looking at your spreadsheets in the most efficient manner possible? Here are a few of our tips and techniques to help you save time and improve your data analysis by using the IF Function in Microsoft Excel.

Tip #1: Understand What the IF Function Actually Does to Help Your Workflow

The first real step in making sure you’re using Microsoft Excel’s IF Function appropriately is to understand what it actually does. The IF Function tests whether a condition is true or false, and then performs an action. These actions can be calculations, data entry, or something closely related. The function is incredibly useful if you have large data sets or need to make significant changes, as it is a great way to save time in your workflow.

Tip #2: Creating the IF Function is Incredibly Easy

Creating the IF Function effectively starts with knowing the three parts: the logical test and then a value if true and a value if false. From there, all you have to do to make it work with your spreadsheet is to choose the data sets that you want to evaluate and determine what you want the true and false results to be. To do this, use the IF Function on the Insert a Function menu. Click okay and enter the conditions as you are prompted to do so on the screen.

Tip #3: Knowing How to Nest Functions

It is possible to use multiple IF Function formulas at the same time. In some cases, you might have multiple different possibilities or different levels of data that you want to compare. That’s when knowing how to nest multiple IF Functions becomes important. Nesting functions adds the ability to build more comparisons within your formulas instead of having to complete them separately.

Tip #4: Adding AND and OR to Your Functions

You can also add AND and OR to your IF Functions to make the results much more specific. While this is technically part of understanding how to nest functions, knowing how to do this is an effective way of utilizing the IF Function in a more efficient manner. An example of this is comparing two columns of data: one showing the amount of sales and one determining if an employee has completed training. By adding AND or OR to your IF Function, you can show a specific result, such as those employees that hit a specific sales goal and finished the training program you provided. As you can see, this can be a really easy way to get the information you need without having to spend a ton of time scouring through your entire spreadsheet.

Tip #5: Using Range Names to Make Data Easier to Sort

Range names are essentially a stored label that allows you to identify a range of one or more cells. They are incredibly useful for navigation, formulas, and even printing off specific parts of your spreadsheets. For use with the IF Function, you can utilize data ranges to save time when you’re working on a specific block of values as it allows you to use that range name instead of specific cell names. Range names can have letters, numbers, or an underscore, but cannot have spaces. And they are not case-sensitive, but title case is recommended for ease of viewing.

Tip #6: Remembering to Use Quotations with Text Strings in Your IF Function

Using the IF Function is an incredibly easy way to add text to a specific cell when certain criteria are present. However, you do need to remember to use quotations around your text strings in your IF Function formula. Failure to do this can really mess up your data set and make the formula not work correctly. Should you have a problem getting the IF Function to work for you, this is one of the first things you need to check.

Tip #7: Changing Text with Conditional Formatting Based on Your Result

Not only can you add text or insert a formula with the IF Function, but you can also change text visually with conditional formatting based on your result. It can be done automatically and setup within Excel under the Home tab. Examples of this option in use include turning a specific number bold and red if it does not meet the criteria of your IF Function, or highlighting it in yellow if it does meet certain requirements.

Microsoft Excel is a great way to analyze and interpret datasets. The IF Function allows you to do this in an easy-to-read and simple manner while saving you tons of time in the long run. These quick tips are a great way to skip complicated formulas and really make your spreadsheets work for you.

Microsoft Excel Training


What Is Two Factor Authentication?

Protect Yourself – Use Two-Factor Authentication for Your Business

Learn about what two-factor authentication is and how it works. Once you understand its benefits you will see how helpful it could be for your business.  


Two-factor authentication is something every business should be using to protect themselves and their customers. You know the value of adding layers of security to your business. If you have a brick and mortar operation, you probably have a lot more than a simple lock on your front door. Security cameras, alarms, barriers and more are common for most businesses because one layer of security is never enough. The same is true for online security. Two-factor authentication gives your business and customer another layer of protection beyond the standard password – so why not use it to improve your security?

What is Two-Factor Authentication?

You have probably already encountered two-factor authentication as you navigate the internet for personal or business reasons. All the major tech companies like Google and Facebook are using it because it makes sense to do so. The process of two-factor authentication goes something like this:

  1. Input your username and password. Two-factor authentication starts off just like your standard security measures. You input your username and password for the site you are trying to access or the app you are trying to use. This is the first step of the authentication process, the first factor.
  2. Provide a second factor to authenticate yourself. Here is where two-factor authentication becomes special. It asks for you to provide a second factor that is much harder for hackers to mimic. For example, it might ask to send an authorization code to your smartphone or ask for your fingerprint to verify your identity. Hackers are much less likely to have these available to mimic you and try to access your account.

You have definitely encountered the older way to verify your identity – security questions. But security questions have become less and less effective at protecting your information than they used to be. Most security question answers can be found on your social media account, after all. Hackers can spend just a little time doing some research to find all the answers they need, particularly if they have already stolen your password from another site through their cybercrime efforts.

How to Use 2FA in Your Business

You can easily implement two-factor authentication or 2FA into your current business security efforts – both for your employees and your customers. There are multiple ways you can use two-factor authentication, including:

  • Text Messages (SMS). Most people prefer to use SMS to verify their identities over the other methods listed below because it is so easy to check your text messages and access the authorization code. All the user needs to do is log in with their username and password, then receive the code through SMS and type the code into the verification box. The only drawback to this method is that if the user loses their phone they can’t authenticate.
  • Email. You can also allow users to send their verification code to their email. They need to be able to access their email – which usually isn’t a problem – but if they can’t this method would not work. The other problem that can come up with emails is that they can sometimes get caught in spam filters and never arrive at the person’s inbox.
  • Phone Call. While this option is not used nearly as often as the two above, it is a possibility depending on the system you are using. The user can choose to get a phone call which will use text to speech to deliver the code they need to log in.
  • Tokens. Some companies find it easiest to give employees tokens, either hardware tokens like key fobs or software tokens through apps, that can then be used to provide the second factor in the authentication process.
  • Push Notifications. It is possible to get an app that will allow users to receive push notifications so that they can authenticate their accounts. They get the notification and then click yes or no to authenticate.

2FA is possible using a variety of methods – the most important thing is that you start using it to begin with. Whichever authentication method you choose, your business and your customers will be more secure as a result.

Two Factor Authentication


Know the Digital Threats: 6 Dangerous Malware & How to Stop Them

Know and Protect Your Network From These Malware Threats

Every day, new malware is discovered that threatens U.S. business and individual security. Continue reading to learn about six of the most recent named and dangerous malware threats.  

Back in 2018, U.S. Cyber Command was restructured to become an officially unified combatant command–meaning that it now acts as its unit organized under its commander who reports directly to the Defense Secretary. This critical change became necessary following an increasing amount of sophisticated cyber attacks. Hackers are constantly evolving, constantly upping the ante, and the U.S. Cyber Command is now one of our frontline defenses against those attacks. One way they have assisted the entire country is by diagnosing and alerting the general public of new malware. This is critical information that every business owner and the tech-savvy individual should keep up-to-date on to protect their assets and data.

Malware Threats Business

Know Digital Threats: 6 Dangerous Malware & How to Stop Them

The Basics of Malware

The word malware is a mash-up of malicious software. It is thereby defined as any software that is malevolently used to steal data, compromise computer functionalities, bypass admin controls, or otherwise cause an issue with another person or organization’s computer. As you might expect, malware is a broad umbrella term that encompasses different types of attacks, such as viruses, adware, and Trojan horses.

The 6 New Dangerous Malware Named by the U.S. Cyber Company

There are always new types of malware being created and deployed by malevolent forces. The six new dangerous types of malware announced by the U.S. Cyber Company are ones discovered to have been used by a government-backed North Korean hacking group. These six types of malware have been unleashed against various U.S. targets, but it is yet unknown the scale of those attacks, or all who were targeted. This is why all businesses and professionals need to keep abreast of the latest digital security news.,

The six new dangerous malware named were as follows:

  • Bistromath. This is a variety of trojan horse that features full remote access to allow the hacker to perform file uploads and downloads, system surveys, process and command executions, and, very worryingly, monitor microphones, screens, and clipboards.
  • Slickshoes. This is a form of dropper malware that can load information onto a computer but cannot execute.
  • Hotcroissant. This is a full-featured becoming implant that, once it finds its way into a host computer network, will perform many of the same functions as the Bistromath.
  • Artfulpie. This is another implant malware that will download into a host network and then load its memory to execute dangerous DLL files.
  • Buttetline. Another implant, this one utilizes a faux HTTPS scheme that makes it incredibly hard for many malware-detection security systems to detect.
  • Crowdedflouder. This type of malware executes via Windows to unpack and enable a remote access trojan within the computer’s memory system.

Essential Tips for Preventing Malware Infection From Impacting You & Your Business

The hackers may be getting more sophisticated every year, but so are the good guys. Your browsers, plugins, applications, and software all have teams of tech gurus working on them to make them safer and more resilient to outside attacks continually. The following is a look at a few tips and ways to leverage those assets and be smart to prevent a malware infection:

  • Update all of your browsers, operating system, plugins, applications regularly, and whenever prompted. Ask for a schedule by your tech team if applicable.
  • Never click on any email links or download attachments from unknown or untrusted sources. If you manage a business, make this a company-wide policy. Be wary of any phishing emails from firms you might otherwise trust (such as your financial institution). Always use a separate tab to log into such sources.
  • Practice creating strong passwords and change them at least once every four months.

Contact Our Team for More Information

Subscribe to our blog to stay up-to-date on the latest tech and digital security news and contact us if you have any questions about staying safe from malware.


Use SharePoint to Keep Business Data Organized

Metadata Gives You Control of Disorganized Online Filing Systems

SharePoint gives you a simple solution to keep your online files organized, using metadata to create customized ways to sort and find the information you need.

It’s an all-too-common occurrence. You need to send a business file to a colleague or client. You hesitantly open your file manager window and shudder. Soon, you’re navigating through generations of file folder structures, organizational schemes, and naming conventions that have long been abandoned. An hour later, having spent far too long hunting for the file in question, you find the desired info and can attach it to your email.

Keeping business information organized is not easy. Files, folders, names, and systems come and go, often discarded in a digital graveyard.

Fortunately, there’s a standard Microsoft tool to help you keep information organized.

Sharepoint Metadata

Can I Use SharePoint to Organize Data?

SharePoint is a popular app included in Office 365 and other enterprise versions of the popular productivity suite. In SharePoint, which is essentially a digital document library, you can file documents, create folders, and share with internal and external teammates. It also can use key organizing features to help reduce the chaos in your filing.

The key is metadata. Nearly every file you use has metadata associated with it. Think about some of the common attributes you know about files — file name, creation date, file size, and file type are just a few.

Whenever you change the name of a file, for example, you change its metadata.

The beauty with SharePoint is that you can easily create new metadata categories and use tools to add details. Once the details are entered, you can search and filter on the new metadata to quickly find what you need.

How Can I Use SharePoint Metadata to Organize Work Files?

Here is a step-by-step guide to using SharePoint metadata for file organization. For the purposes of this example, let’s pretend we’re trying to organize social media messages for a marketing campaign. We are going to launch the campaign on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and use video, text, and image files.

Step 1: Find the Files

Start by navigating within SharePoint to the library or document list that contains the files you want to organize. Be sure that you are the site owner to access the tools that allow for customized metadata.

Step 2: Build the Categories

Each new category of metadata will become another column within the document list. Select “Add Column” and give it a name. In our example, our first new column will be “Platform.”

When you create a new column, you can select its type. Among the options are Single line of text, Multiple lines of text, Number, Yes/No, Person, Date, Choice, Hyperlink, and Picture. For our example, we’d probably select Choice and add in the social media platforms.

We can add a second new column for “Media Type” and again choose Choice and enter in Video, Text, and Image as options. If we wanted, we could add a third new column, call it “Completed” and make it a Yes/No type.

Step 3: Apply the Metadata

In our list of social media posts, we can now apply new metadata tags for Platform, Media Type, and Completed. SharePoint has a great feature called Quick Edit that lets you apply metadata to all the documents in a list. You can run through each library option and apply, for example, which items are video entries, which are for Facebook and which are still in progress.

While it can be a bit tedious to go through an existing list of documents, in the long run, the work will pay off handsomely.

Step 4: Filter to Find

The metadata tags allow you to filter on any of the columns (just like a click on the Name column can give you an alphabetized list). Want to see what creatives are ready for each platform? Click on that column heading to see a sortable list. The same goes for looking at posts by type or completion status.

SharePoint is a powerful way to keep your documents organized and searchable in different ways.


7 Myths Small Businesses Still Believe About PC Technology

The 7 PC Myths Draining Your Business Technology Budget

Evaluating your business technology budget? These 7 PC myths could be costing you a lot of money. From slow computers to hacker vulnerability, see how to fix it.  

Slow Computers

Think you’re saving money by keeping those old PCs running in the office? Think again. An Intel study found that using a business PC that’s older than five years costs the business nearly $700 a year in repair and maintenance costs alone. What other costly PC myths are draining your technology budget?

Myth #1: A Slow Computer Has a Virus

Slow computers are productivity killers. If you have slow PCs, studies show that the average employee loses 40 min/day due to downtime.

That’s on top of 29% reduced productivity due to slower processing.

For many years, office workers have proclaimed, “it’s got a virus”. But the truth is there are many reasons that computers slow down over time. And your technology solutions partner will have many troubleshooting techniques in their tool belt to speed up slow work stations.

So if the virus scanner turns up nothing, know that you have options. Here are just a few things you can try:

  • Clearing caches and history
  • Rebooting if you haven’t rebooted for a few days
  • Closing programs and re-opening (not a good long-term solution)
  • Reducing the number of start-up programs
  • Checking for conflicting malware protectors

Myth #2: Macs Don’t Get Viruses

Who knows where this one started? Probably Apple or Apple enthusiasts trying to get a foothold in the business computer market. Truth, Macs are just as susceptible to malware. Whether you’re a Mac business or a PC business, you need a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy.

Myth #3: Letting Your Battery Run Down Before Charging to Extend Battery Life

This was true on older devices. Leaving a laptop docked on a charger would kill the battery life.

But if you have business laptops, tablets and phones that are less than five years old, this is no longer the case. Devices with lithium-ion batteries do not suffer this fate. On top of that, Microsoft, Apple and Android now use machine learning to track your charging habits and avoid straining the battery.

Myth #4: Our Business Is Too Small to Be Targeted by Hackers

Actually, over 50% of cyberattacks happen to small businesses. They’re often less prepared. And they may be complacent, thinking what are the chances they’d attack us?

Most cyber attackers don’t go for the big score. Instead, it’s more efficient to go for the least protected. Attacking 10 poorly protected small businesses versus one better protected medium-sized business will yield a higher ROI for the hackers.

That’s smart business!

Myth #5: Consumer PCs and Business PCs Are Interchangeable

This is especially untrue now. With so many people doing most of their computing on their phones, home computers haven’t needed to advance much beyond the technology of 10-15 years ago.

Instead, manufacturers have focused on the business market, where businesses demand faster processing and greater capabilities. For this reason, the fact is, if you’re buying PCs for business, make sure they can handle business computing.

Myth #6: RAM Is All That Matters

RAM, random access memory, is important for speed. More RAM means less buffering (traffic jams). But a computer is a lot more than RAM. It has an advanced CPU (processor) that uses that RAM most efficiently.

Otherwise, your computer is just a lot of muscle without the brains to use that muscle wisely.

Myth #7: No Need to Replace Computers that Still Work

We already mentioned how much time employees waste on slow computers. That payroll waste and downtime isn’t the only thing you need to worry about when trying to use computers beyond their shelf life of up to five years.

Older computers are also more susceptible to viruses. Eventually, they can’t support current operating systems. Microsoft stops supporting older OS after a while, leaving them open to attacks.

Newer operating systems often also have better productivity tools that streamline business operations. And they’ll work more effectively with new programs you want to install. A technology solutions professional can help you weigh the cost-benefits of getting new PCs.

And for more business technology management tips, follow our blog.


These Phishing Headlines End Up Fooling The Smartest IT Professionals. 

Modern Phishing Email and Article Headlines That Even Fool Savvy Tech Professionals

Learn more about the kind of email phishing headlines that end up fooling the smartest tech professionals, and how you can better protect your business.  

Phishing Headlines

Any tech professional worth their salt understands the damage wrought by unsuspecting users clicking on links inside “phishing” emails. It’s not surprising when tech-challenged individuals end up getting sucked in by today’s social engineering attempts. However, some of the headlines used by hackers manage to fool a lot of experienced IT pros.

Emails aren’t the only place where tech professionals show their vulnerability. Messaging portals in spaces like Facebook and LinkedIn have become prime targets for scammers, especially as traditional email providers step up their protections. In fact, both platforms had the highest success rate for phishing scams when they were included in an email subject line at 28 percent and 55 percent, respectively.

How Do Experienced Tech Professionals End Up Getting Fooled?

It’s hard to imagine how the people charged with keeping company systems safe end up ensnared in these schemes. Security-minded individuals become so comfortable in their knowledge of suspicious emails and technology in general that it makes them less careful. They’re prone to quickly scanning and clicking emails and messages without absorbing the information. It’s already too late by the time they realize their error in judgment.

What Makes a Phishing Headline Successful?

Phishing email headers that include words like “Request,” “Follow-Up,” and “Urgent/Important” tend to have a higher click rate, especially if it seems they come from a colleague or high-level executive. Victims often feel compelled to respond quickly out of fear of not delivering on job expectations. They also worry about costing the company money by failing to follow through on requests related to finance and payments.

The manipulation of that social element can have the same effect on tech workers. They’re more likely to respond quickly to a request that seems to come from a company vice-president. No one wants to be the person preventing them from getting back to company business.

Let’s look at some of the headlines used to fool regular users and IT professionals.

  1. Requests for password changes
  2. Deactivation of Microsoft Office email service
  3. Setting up employee raises for HR
  4. Document sharing using a secure server
  5. Lack of internet service due to scheduled server maintenance.
  6. Address needed for FedEx delivery
  7. Locked company twitter account
  8. Complete steps for Google service
  9. Error with Coinbase
  10. Closed company bank account

How Can Businesses Upgrade Their Current Phishing Protections?

There’s no one step a business can take to prevent someone from falling for a phishing scam. It pays to use a multi-pronged approach to blocking and dealing with suspicious emails and websites targeting company workers.

Tools like SPAM filters, mock phishing practice scenarios, and web filters to block malicious websites should be a priority. It also pays to encrypt sensitive company information, making it harder for employees to share the data with anyone. That goes double for telecommuters who must log into company systems remotely from different devices.

Businesses should initiate company-wide security initiatives and enforce them consistently. Make sure IT employees understand that their knowledge doesn’t leave them immune to these types of attacks.


What You Need to Know about Cyber Security

Cybersecurity education is essential in order to keep businesses one step ahead of this evolving space. Learn about types of attacks and preventative actions.

Cyber solutions are the future of business, with innovation such as the Internet of Things (IoT) gaining increasing popularity. Accordingly, focus on the protection and recovery of networks, devices and programs from cyberattacks is no longer a luxury, but a very basic necessity to remain competitive in today’s landscape. Here is a basic overview of cybersecurity:

Things to know

  • Data breaches are intended to access proprietary information, usually for financial gain. These activities can result in damaged corporate reputations, significant downtime and even the cessation of business viability
  • Hackers are becoming much more sophisticated, and traditional anti-virus software programs may not be sufficient to prevent attacks
  • As more devices and gadgets are connected to networks via IoT, they provide backdoors for hackers to access proprietary data
  • Despite the rising prevalence and notoriety of data breaches, they can be prevented. Cybersecurity often relies less on high-end technology than on common sense and solid security practices /protocols, such as:
    • Restricting employee access to sensitive data
    • Employing strong password controls
    • Educating employees on e-mail security
    • Encrypting data
    • Appropriately secure mobile devices – smartphones, tablets
    • Investing in IT professionals with current cybersecurity knowledge and skills


Types of Attacks

  • Malware is any type of malicious software utilized to gain unauthorized access to a computer
  • Ransomware is a form of malware that locks owners out of their devices/data until a ransom is paid
  • Spyware is a form of malware that spies on users in order to acquire sensitive information
  • Fileless malware attaches to existing programs running on the computer, thereby embedding inside the computer’s memory
  • Viruses are malicious programs usually sent as attachments, and which infect devices once downloaded
  • Watering holes are when a known website is hacked either directly or via a third-party service hosted on the site. In this way, anyone who visits the site is infected
  • Phishing is the act of sending e-mails that trick people into revealing sensitive information
  • Spearphishing is related to phishing but is more focused to prey on specific targets by including relevant details about the individual (usually obtained via research), thus luring them to click on the link
  • Pharming is the act of directing users to illegitimate websites under the guise of a legitimate link
  • Hacking is the act of accessing a network or device without appropriate authorization to do so

Types of Cyber Security

  • Network Security: These are defenses implemented to prevent hackers from gaining access to organizational networks and systems. Examples would be password controls and two-factor authentication
  • Application Security: This is when software and/or hardware is employed to protect against threats from malicious programs. An example would be antivirus programs
  • Information Security: This is the protection of data via restricted access or encryption
  • Cloud Security: These are tools utilized to monitor and protect corporate data stored in the cloud

Keeping You Safe from Juice Jacking

Learn about juice jacking and how to prevent you or employees from becoming a victim. 

Here’s a new cyber threat to worry about: Juice Jacking. Read on to learn what about juice jacking and how to prevent yourself or employees from becoming a victim.

Juice Jacking

What Is Juice Jacking?

One common feature of modern smartphones is that the power supply and data stream pass through the same cable. When you plug your phone in to charge, hackers could theoretically access your phone through the same cable and inject malicious code or steal your personal information.

Your USB connector has five pins. However, it only uses one of those five pins to pass-through power for charging. Two additional pins are used for transferring data. So, when you charge, you could also be opening a port for passing data between devices.

We have only seen unconfirmed reports of juice jacking happening in the real world, but engineers have demonstrated how it is possible. In theory, threat actors might hide a device in a public charging station at airports or hotels. It’s a big enough concern that the District Attorney’s office in Los Angeles recently put out a warning to travels to avoid using public USB charging stations.

The FBI put out a warning about a device that’s small enough to fit inside a USB charger that can steal keystrokes from wireless keyboards. Another device hidden inside a USB charging station accesses your video display. It then records a video of everything you do, which might include passwords, accounts numbers, or PINs.

How To Prevent Juice Jacking From Happening to You or Your Employees

We’ve been warning people about the potential danger of using public Wi-Fi stations for years. Hackers can set up Wi-Fi hotspots in coffee shops and other public places then intercept data as it’s sent back and forth to your device. Now you can add public charging stations to the list of potential problems.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use them. You just need to take basic security precautions to stay safe.

  • Avoid using public USB charging stations or plugging into computers that you aren’t familiar with.
  • Instead, use an AC power outlet and your own charging device. No data transfer is going to take place when you’re using an AC outlet and your charger.
  • Consider external batteries, power banks, or wireless charges if you need a charge on the go.

You should also avoid the temptation to plug into a USB charger you find left plugged in somewhere. It may be waiting for you to plug in and infect your device.

For iOS users, you can also use USB Restricted Mode which allows charging but prevents data transfers under certain circumstances. You’ll find it by going to Settings > Face ID & Passcodes (or Touch ID & Passcode) > USB Accessories. For Android users, USB data transfer should be disabled by default. If you want to check to make sure that’s the case, plug in your phone in a safe place, click on the notification and check USB Configuration options.