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Law Firms Need to Protect Themselves Against Security Breaches  

Cybersecurity is evolving.  This is more than just a technology issue or an added clause in the retainer agreement—it’s the biggest risk that law firms face in 2017.  Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Weil Gotshal & Manges, two of the largest firms in the United States, got caught in a major cybersecurity breach later linked to a $4 million-plus insider-trading scheme.  Other law firms that were hacked in the past five years include Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, NYC law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Weil Gotshal & Manges and Wiley Rein, one of the largest law firms in Washington, D.C.  Today, cyber risk is just a part of doing business for law firms – big ones and large ones.

Law FIrms Cyber Security

What The Bad Guys Are Doing To Law Firms

Law firms are an easy target for hackers, and hackers seek ways to monetize their break-ins.  They use ransomware to steal data and use blackmail blocking access to the firm’s computer system until the ransom is paid.  Another strategy is to threaten the publication of embarrassing information.  And if law firms don’t comply with the demand, they risk losing confidential data permanently.  Here are three top reasons why cybercriminals target law firms.

  • Hackers seek to take advantage of large amounts of quality and valuable documents. By focusing on law firms, they can gain quick access to confidential information like financial data for clients, technical secrets and business strategies.
  • It’s a quick detour for information. Instead of targeting large corporations, they can quickly garner and select more valuable information from the company’s outside counsel.
  • It’s well-known that law firms have low levels of security. Some large companies even have just a few techs in their IT department.  Plus, a busy law office doesn’t have the time to upgrade security measures, and hackers know that.

The threat to law firms is real.  “In the spring of 2016, more than 40 of America’s top law firms were targeted for information on global mergers and acquisitions in one single hacking event. As reported by DataBreaches.net, the American Bar Association confirmed that approximately 25% of all U.S. law firms with 100 or more lawyers had experienced a data breach in 2015. These incidents occurred in the form of website attacks and break-ins.  Lost or stolen items, like computers or cell phones, also contributed to these statistics.  During the same year, 15% of all law firms reported an unauthorized intrusion into the computer files of their practices. “

Ways Law Firms Can Fight Back

Law firms can make it difficult for hackers.  All the technology in the world cannot protect a law firm. People are the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain, and employees need to be better trained at spotting things like a phishing email.  Law firms can fight back by keeping backups disconnected from the internet and network.  This way, they can’t be hit by malware.  Patches need to be installed to fix holes in security and updates to the software should be done on a regular basis. This will prevent leaving the door open and letting cybercriminals in.  Archives, unidentifiable users, and executable files should be blocked.  And if using cloud storage, the law firm should control the encryption key itself.  The cybersecurity program should always meet the needs of all clients.  There should be effective restrictions on all mobile devices.  If a breach should occur, systems need to be set to capture log data. Law firms should also share threat information about vulnerabilities with others.

Awareness is key.

The Most Common Attacks Law Firms Face

Law firms face the same most common attacks as other types of companies and organizations. Here’s a list of the most common five:

  • Socially engineered malware
  • Password phishing attacks
  • Unpatched software
  • Social media threats
  • Advanced persistent threats

Both strong end-user education and updated anti-malware are very effective to fight socially engineered malware.  Anti-spam vendors should be used to have clean inboxes.  Up to 70 percent of email is spam.  Unpatched programs like Adobe Reader should be perfectly patched to decrease the risk of an attack.  Rogue friends and bad applications are often seen on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.  Many of the worst hacks actually start on social media.  Law firms need to make sure that employees do not share corporate passwords and use sophisticated logins to ward off hackers who disguise themselves as friends.  The most common method for an advanced persistent thread is to send a specific phishing campaign.  It’s easy to trick employees with this strategy.  Preventing this type of attack is tough, but law firms need to understand their own network traffic patterns to catch it.

It’s important that law firms ensure its defenses are aligned with the most common attacks. If you’d like to learn more about how to protect your law firms against cyber attack, contact Paradigm Network Solutions in Toronto and The Greater Toronto Area at (416) 490-9019 or email at sales@ittoronto.com.

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How Non-Profits Manage to Make Profits With Managed Services

Non-Profit Managed IT Services & Support

The primary function of a non-profit should be to fulfill its goal, not worry about IT. Learn how non-profits can use managed services to maximize operational efficiency while minimizing IT expenditures.

Nonprofit IT services

It seems like a contradiction in terms that non-profits are supposed to make profits, but that’s the way things work in the non-profit world. Since your number one priority is to provide the support needed to achieve your worthwhile goal, you need to raise as much money as possible to plow back into your cause – whether that is providing a needed service, conducting research, or spreading the word. But the big irony is that raising money costs money. Potential donors want to know that the majority of their donations will go towards doing good, so you want to keep your administrative expenses as low as possible. That’s easy enough when you’re just a one or two people operation, but it gets tougher as your organization grows.

Many non-profits find that technology expenses eat up a huge portion of their budget. This requires staffing, software, and hardware just to start out. Then you’ve got to worry about keeping up-to-date and maintaining online security. IT management can become a real money pit, draining funds away from your stated purpose. Considering all the out-of-pocket costs involved in managing technology, you might be asking yourself whether it is really possible for a non-profit to manage to make profits.

The great news is that the answer is yes, with something called managed services. At Paradigm Network Solutions, we provide managed IT services that help non-profits in Toronto and The Greater Toronto Area manage the technical end of your business, while you concentrate on achieving your non-profit goals. Here’s how it works:

What are Managed Services?

If you are managing your own IT needs, you are responsible for choosing software, worrying about security, and managing the day-to-day functionality. If something goes wrong, you might need to bring in an IT expert at an added cost to fix the problem. On the other hand, managed services can be used to eliminate as much of the internal IT management needs as desired.

As the name implies, managed services are services that are managed by an outside company. In this case, a Managed Services Provider, or MSP, is contracted to manage the information technology needs of the non-profit organization. The MSP provides a defined set of services based on its contract with the non-profit. The contract could cover individual services, or the entire IT gamut, depending on the needs of the organization. Examples of managed services for non-profits might include:

  • Day-to-Day Operations: Instead of trying to analyze and upgrade your software and hardware needs, an MSP can be used to provide servers and consistently monitor your network to be sure that it is operating at maximum efficiency.
  • Donor Management: Since donations are the lifeblood of any non-profit organization, effective donor management is a high priority goal. Non-profits need to identify and motivate potential donors, while still communicating consistently with current donors to meet fund-raising goals.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Organizations are required to adhere to a wide range of regulatory guidelines to maintain their non-profit status, and are often subjected to audits by various agencies. It is crucial to have the necessary data easily at hand to pass these audits with flying colors. The MSP can collect and collate the necessary data on an ongoing basis so there is no need to scramble when informed of an audit. Accurate data is also necessary for reporting to the non-profit’s board or for use in annual reports to donors.
  • Online Security: With recent events in the news about data breaches and non-profit phishing scams, your organization needs to be extra vigilant and proactive in its efforts to eliminate security breaches. An MSP can be used to monitor online security and consistently upgrade technology platforms to counteract the latest threats.

The Benefits of Using Managed Services for Your Non-Profit

The main benefit of using managed services for a non-profit is the lower administrative costs. With an MSP, your organization does not need to purchase, maintain and upgrade the necessary hardware and software to operate efficiently. You don’t need to have a team of computer pros on hand and don’t have to spend your time worrying about your IT needs. Simply meet with your provider, communicate your needs, agree on a plan of action, and then concentrate on what you do best – providing a valuable service to your constituents. While you’re running the organization, the MSP is providing:

  • Computer Pros: Your organization might find it hard to attract and retain the computer expertise needed to manage your data needs, but an MSP has a team of experts that only deals with IT each and every day.
  • 24/7 Management: Can your organization afford to hire more than one computer pro so that you have round-the-clock coverage? What happens if a new threat is detected at night, or a server crashes over the weekend? An MSP has 24/7 coverage so you don’t have to worry.
  • Security: It can be impossible for you to stay up-to-date on all the latest cybersecurity threats. That’s where the MSP comes in – all they do is monitor systems for possible breaches. Their job is to look for threats and come up with remedies.
  • Updates: Just as soon as you think you have the latest system in place, something new comes out that might put you behind the eight ball. The MSP is constantly evaluating, analyzing and upgrading systems so you get the benefit of the latest and best for your organization.
  • Budget Control: With a well-negotiated MSP contract, you’ll know exactly what your IT costs will be for the year, and won’t have to build any “wiggle room” into your budget.

Find out how managed services can make a difference for your non-profit organization.

Contact Paradigm Network Solutions today at (416) 490-9019 or sales@ittoronto.com and ask us how your non-profit can manage to make more profits with managed services.

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Happy Cyber Security Month Everyone!

October is Cyber Security Safety Month—How To Keep Your Business Secure Online.

Cyber Security Awareness Month

Threats Continue to Increase.  Unless You Take Specific Steps, Your Business Is in Jeopardy.

Staying safe and secure online is becoming more difficult all the time. Cyber criminals seem to be everywhere, waiting for any weakness in your IT network.

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM), and has been since 2003 when the National Cyber Security Alliance and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security worked to raise awareness about this increasing threat to our nation’s security.

Cybersecurity Threats Are Increasing.

There’s no doubt that the prevalence of confidential data stored online tempts cybercriminals. Protecting IT is no longer optional – It’s a requirement.

Even with all the focus on security over the past few years, few are truly prepared to respond quickly and effectively in the event of a data breach. With governments now imposing stringent requirements for data-breach notifications, it’s imperative that you stay up-to-date, educate yourself, and comply with regulations—If not, your business and livelihood is literally at risk.

Having stringent cybersecurity guidelines in place may make the difference between an attack damaging to your business, or one that could strike a fatal blow to your organization.

Education is Key.

National Cyber Security Awareness Month stresses the need for education with a curriculum that spans five weeks:

Week 1: NCSAM encourages you to take steps to grasp the vast scope of cyber attacks that occur in the U.S. every year — More than 169 million personal records are exposed via both private businesses and government entities.

Week 2: They stress that you educate your employees at all levels by providing professional training to help them protect your organization from cyber threats.

Week 3: Combating cybercrime is the focus this week.  Educate yourself and your team on the ways that cybercriminals obtain personal information.

Week 4:  Our lives are increasingly interconnected, through the Internet of Things (IoT), and the need for cybersecurity professionals who can deal with today’s threats.

Week 5: NCSAM stresses the need for a hardened infrastructure to withstand all but the most brutal cyberattacks.

The Stop.Think.Connect.Toolkit

Cybercriminals target computers regardless of their physical location, or who they belong to. You’ll find resources on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) website to help keep your organization safe with the:

  • Entrepreneurs and Small Business Tip Card
  • Cybersecurity Overviews
  • Social Media Guide
  • Internet of Things (IoT) Tip Card
  • Mobile Security Guide

These materials will help you educate your staff, and your customers, about how to stay safe online. Best practices such as changing your security passwords on a regular basis and making them secure and difficult to guess can be implemented with ease once your team understands the significant damage that can occur from hackers or other cybercriminals.

Our Shared Responsibility

The theme for 2017’s month-long event is “Our Shared Responsibility.” It highlights the important role each of us plays in keeping information safe. Whether its users who create a password that’s easily hacked or IT support staff that can’t keep up with critical patches for software, everyone must work together to create a culture of cybersecurity. Employee education, awareness, and ongoing training are the basis to promote positive security practices on an ongoing basis.

Corporate Oversight

Some business professionals indicate that security compliance measures are already in place and that they follow a C-suite level requirement. However, countering cyber risk requires oversight on all levels of an organization.

Understanding and mitigating these risks won’t guarantee that your business is safe from cyberattacks.  However, it may help you bounce back from them with more resilience.

The costs associated with preventing a data breach are much lower than attempting to salvage business relationships with suppliers and customers in the event of a cyberattack – Not to mention the potential liabilities or claims that could occur.

Working with professionals in the cybersecurity industry is one of the best ways to ensure that you’re not only prepared for any eventuality, but that you have a solid plan in place and can start damage control immediately after an attack.

The team at Paradigm Network Solutions understands these challenges.  We’ll work with you to create a comprehensive security plan to protect your business in Toronto and The Greater Toronto Area from data breaches, malware or other cyber threats.  Contact our security professionals at (416) 490-9019 or sales@ittoronto.com to schedule your no-obligation consult.

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How IT Managed Services Solve Nonprofit Budgeting Woes  

Maintaining your nonprofit’s strategic mission focus is critical and often requires next-generation technology to an executive on objectives. IT managed services providers offer exceptional support and value, with a cost structure that is sustainable for mid-size nonprofits.  

Nonprofit Managed Services

Guiding your nonprofit organization to true sustainability while maintaining exceptional mission impact can be a challenging task and one that is littered with damaging assumptions. Navigating through the landmines requires a full understanding of business realities and concepts and how they relate to a nonprofit environment, which can be very different than for-profit strategies and financial leadership principles. For-profit organizations may look for ways to reduce long-term costs by paying additional funds upfront, while not-for-profit organizations may find it more fiscally responsible to spread payments over time. This is one of the many reasons that IT managed services are especially applicable for nonprofits — the ability to reduce upfront costs and still receive exceptional support for new technology initiatives.

Vital Improvements

Nonprofits are often running incredibly lean, with only a minimal staff to do the massive number of required tasks, often while meeting aggressive fundraising or mission-oriented goals. In this go-go-go mentality, technology can fall by the wayside — with the unfortunate side-effect of causing more frustration for donors and staff alike. Even simple items such as optimizing donation pages for mobile delivery can be out of reach for beleaguered nonprofit teams, even though this straightforward fix would likely net significant new dollars that could be put towards the mission of the organization. Data security is another overlooked area for nonprofits, which can be especially dangerous considering the high likelihood that fundraising organizations are storing personal information, causing increased liability concerns as well as negative publicity should a breach occur. Updating key systems and maintaining adequate security levels are vital improvements that nonprofits need on the technology side of the business.

Tech Adoption and Effectiveness

When technology isn’t effective, it’s unlikely that adoption levels will lag behind as well. Employees are quick to research workarounds when they perceive that a certain task is taking longer or being less efficient than expected, which can result in data and security lapses that can be difficult to overcome. It’s important for financial leaders of nonprofits to set aside adequate funds to maintain and improve business systems that will support the overall mission of the organization. Unfortunately, there are unique challenges associated with nonprofit organizations, such as sudden swings in funding levels and the inability to quickly budget additional funds should there be an emergency such as a serious software or hardware breakdown.

Lifecycle Planning

Technology teams are always planning for the next generation of hardware, software and business needs — which requires a thorough understanding of the technology landscape as well as the financial chops to advocate leadership for upgrades and essential new expenditures. This lifecycle planning is what keeps constituents able to complete transactions with the nonprofits, and provides employees with the tools needed to perform daily activities. When the unexpected happens, such as several computers that break down before their lifecycle is scheduled to end, a nonprofit can be forced to pull funds away from mission projects to keep technology running. This has a ripple effect on the organization that can cause an extended recovery period. With IT managed services, lifecycle planning becomes much more fluid as business leaders are able to lease expensive hardware instead of purchasing upfront to reduce the requirement for capital outlay.

Systematic Cash Flow

IT departments in for-profit, as well as not-for-profit organizations, have an ongoing struggle around budgeting, due to the variable nature of technology in general. It can be difficult to project twelve months to three years in advance what the costs are for technology projects to keep the organization moving forward, but that is exactly what IT directors are called upon to do on a regular basis in the nonprofit world. Costs are normalized as much as possible over a long period of time to reduce the risk of large, unexpected expenses that could derail other projects. The dependable, flat-rate IT support associated with managed services provides a proactive system of monitoring and maintenance to ensure that your organization’s data stays safe and that operations continue uninterrupted even in the event of a natural disaster or other calamities.

Enterprise-Level Performance and Reliability

Just because nonprofits may be smaller or have a reduced budget, doesn’t mean that the complexity level is lessened! Fortunately, IT managed services such as cloud hosting, business networking, telecom services and more provide enterprise-level functionality at a greatly reduced price. Healthcare organizations often struggle with security and compliance, and managed services providers (MSPs) are able to help support even these complicated needs at a rate that most nonprofits can afford due to the shared nature of these services. In addition, an MSP can function as an extended staff member and provide valuable knowledge about the industry or specific market segments that your internal IT team may not have time to research.

Learn more about how your nonprofit can benefit from IT managed services when you contact Paradigm Network Solutions today at (416) 490-9019 or via email to sales@ittoronto.com. Our security and services professionals will work with you to understand your key requirements and craft a solution that will work for your Toronto and The Greater Toronto Area organization.

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Privacy Levels to Pricing: What You Need to Know About Buying a VPN  

Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, provide you with an added layer of security for your business systems and sensitive data. Learn how to find the right VPN solution for your unique needs.  

VPN Technology

If you’re considering adding a VPN, or Virtual Private Network, service to your business infrastructure, you may be overwhelmed looking at the various choices available on the market today. VPN services provide you with the ability to protect your privacy, securely encrypt internet traffic and can also help protect your business from cyber criminals. Remote workers have been utilizing VPNs for years in order to connect to a corporate environment without compromising overall security of the organization. Demand continues to grow for this affordable technology, due in large part to increased travel demands and the practice of using contractors instead of full-time employees become more mainstream.

What is a VPN?

A Virtual Private Network provides an individual or an organization with additional levels of security, allowing files to be shared safely regardless of the physical location of any endpoints. Technically, a VPN is simply a Wide Area Network that is exceptionally secure, incorporating many of the features that you would expect to find in a traditional firewall. Few of these features are noticed by users, however, they all happen behind the scenes. What users will notice is that there are generally additional steps involved in accessing a corporate network via a VPN, such as requiring a generated key code or utilizing a dongle for added security. VPN services essentially create a secure data tunnel between the provider’s server and the user, allowing a connection that cannot easily be breached.

Why a VPN is Important.

Today’s workers are increasingly mobile and have a true business need to access information from a variety of locations that may or may not be secure. For instance, you wouldn’t necessarily want your users to access your corporate network when utilizing WiFi from a coffee shop, due to the dangers associated with this activity — catching the eye of a cyber criminal, for instance. However, with a VPN your employees can easily gain the ability to read or write to their files on your corporate server securely and with the risk associated with creating a port into your systems from a less-secure location or entry point. The ability to quickly and easily view data when they are away from the office allows employees to be more productive and efficient throughout their week.

VPN Considerations.

Today’s global business world requires creative solutions, and a local VPN allows you to access data from other countries as if you were physically in that country. The location of your VPN server is important for that reason, as it allows you to overcome geo-blocking restrictions — which can come in handy if you’re doing business internationally. There are a variety of other points to consider when you’re reviewing VPN solutions, such as:

  • Data Caps: How much data is included in your plan can be significantly different depending on your service provider. Limited data amounts may be paired with exceptionally high overage costs, making it important to review not only the included amount of data but what happens when you exceed your monthly or quarterly allotment.
  • Number of Servers: While you may think of it in terms of purchasing a single VPN server, what you’re actually getting, is access to a bank of VPN servers — making it critical that you ask your service provider the size of their server bank. A limited number of servers could mean a general slowdown for your business or an inability to meet increased needs in the future.
  • Included Devices: Most VPN providers cap the number of devices that can connect per organization, often with a limit of 3 devices per individual covered by the plan. Higher level tiered pricing may allow for up to 5 devices per user, but the price differential can be significant. Keeping in mind the device cap and the expected usage level by your employees will help ensure you can right-size your VPN plan and still leave room for future growth. Personal devices are not the only ones that need to be counted in your overall cost estimation, however. Keep in mind that each router, server, and other network storage devices will also need a unique access point.
  • Data Security and Privacy: While nearly all service providers do some type of data logging and user data capture, keep this aspect in mind when making your final decision. If your employees will be accessing critical financial or healthcare-related data, logging should be minimal and quickly released by the VPN service provider to ensure that it complies with all federal regulations.
  • Pricing: Subscription periods can greatly reduce the overall costs of a VPN. If you’re willing or able to sign a longer-term agreement, you are much more likely to receive favorable pricing within your contract. If you’re testing a monthly service before deciding to take the plunge, the short-term investment may be greater than you would expect. Prices can start as low as free or only $10 per month, depending on your requirements as far as the number of users, required servers and security levels.

In general, a Virtual Private Network is a simple way to maintain strict security standards throughout your business while providing your employees with the flexibility that they need to access business-critical information when, where and how they need to work. Fast, effective and affordable, this technology provides the added level of security that businesses need to stay mobile. Ready to get your business started with a VPN solution that you can trust? Contact Paradigm Network Solutions today at (416) 490-9019 or via email to sales@ittoronto.com. Our security professionals will work closely with you to scope your business needs and ensure that any solution we recommend will work well for your organization.

Contact Paradigm Network Solutions today at (416) 490-9019 or via email to sales@ittoronto.com. Our security professionals will work closely with you to scope your business needs and ensure that any solution we recommend will work well for your organization.

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Are You Using the Latest Features in Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams introduces more features for educators, Skype users, freelancers, and more!

Microsoft Teams

Make sure you’re taking advantage of them for your business.

Microsoft Teams is a social space/messaging service for companies using Office 365.  It’s great for growing companies.  And now, Microsoft has added some new features that increase Teams’ usability for multiple industries. Let’s check out the updates!

Guest Access

Of all the recent updates, Guest Access has the ability to rapidly grow Teams far beyond what it was in the past. It’s a handy feature that lets you access Teams from outside your company in a secure way. This comes in handy when you need to interact with the team while working on a temporary project. You can easily manage what guests are allowed to view or edit, and reports on their activity.

Before Guest Access, Teams was limited to groups within your company. Sure, there were ways to add guests to O365 temporarily, or when working in other programs, but you couldn’t include them in the nuts-and-bolts of your projects.  Now you can safely let outside teams and team members join Teams with access to all the same features as your internal teams.

Guest Access makes it easier to:

  • Partner and work together on events and projects.
  • Include freelancers or other independent contractors in your project without making them a permanent part of your company.

Note: There’s an important caveat here. You must be listed in the Azure Active Directory to join as a guest. This is temporary and will be replaced with a more common Microsoft Account.  But, for the time being, freelancers may have to jump through extra hoops if they want to join Teams.

Educator Controls

Teams was originally developed for the commercial market. However, Microsoft is heavily involved in developing educator resources, so it’s no surprise that Teams is making its way into the classroom. Current updates integrate Teams with OneNote to make it more useful for educational purposes.

  • Teachers can access their Class/Staff Notebooks from within the Teams window. This makes it easy to make quick changes in response to Team discussions (with less danger of forgetting about them in the future).
  • Anyone on the Team can view the non-restricted parts of a Class Notebook, and use the Notebook features to get their work done. This also includes support for editing within a browser.

Skype Integration

This is just a rumor, but it’s a strong one with some very good evidence. In September 2017, an accidental message appeared in Skype for Business that said:  “Skype for Business is now Microsoft Teams!” The announcement was a mistake, and many assume that it’s an upcoming change Microsoft has yet to officially announce. Microsoft has been working to expand its social video offerings in Office 365, and the integration of Skype and Teams would make a lot of sense from a commercial perspective. Look for this in upcoming upgrades, and if you use Skype for Business, start looking into the Teams experience.

Tabs

Tabs is a very simple feature that’s vital for Teams, and it’s bound to be even more important in the future. Basically, it’s a little plus sign located at the top of the Teams chat window—Click on it, and you can add an O365 file button to the toolbar so it’s available to everyone on your Team. This lets you customize your Team by adding documents to the toolbar for instant access. This is immensely useful in a number of ways. It lets you:

  • Include training materials and resources for newcomers;
  • Post current project documents the Team is editing;
  • Refer to wikis or whitepapers with more information, and much more.

Tabs is compatible with multiple file formats and programs like Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, specific websites, and more.

Connectors

Think of Connectors as a more advanced version of Tabs. With Connectors, you can connect an external app to Teams and display content in the channel. This is an involved process – It only works with some apps, and requires authentication so there’s less danger of malware infection or other problems. However, it includes popular apps like Twitter, Trello, Yammer, and a lot more. This makes Connectors a particularly handy conversion tool if you’re moving from an older service to Teams and you need to keep some functionality—Or if using particular app would help you complete projects more effectively.

Bots

There’s now a bot directory that allows you to upload specific bots from various services to Teams. These chatbots are typically created to search for information, or to complete simple tasks based on queries. With chatbots, you can instantly bring up information about polls, ticket prices, meeting schedules, available flights, and much more. If Cortana can’t-do what you need within Teams, then take a look at the available chatbots to see if one of them will work for you.

Why not check out Teams for your business?  If you need assistance, Paradigm Network Solutions can help. We provide a variety of data and security services to growing businesses in Atlanta and surrounding areas.  To learn more about our offerings, call (416) 490-9019 or email us at: sales@ittoronto.com

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WARNING: Researchers Detect LinkedIn-Based Phishing Scam

Phishing scams like this one are more common than ever – without the right cybersecurity services in Toronto and The Greater Toronto Area, your business will be left vulnerable.

Phishing

You and I know that effective communication with co-workers and clients is crucial, but are you sure your employees are practicing safe email and messaging conduct? If you don’t already have the best cybersecurity services in Toronto and The Greater Toronto Area, your answer is probably,
“I’m not sure”, right?

Cybercriminals are smart – they adapt quickly and continually come up with new ways to take advantage of businesses like yours. A popular tactic among hackers today is “phishing”, a method in which they send fraudulent emails that appear to be from reputable sources in order to get recipients to reveal sensitive information and execute significant financial transfers. With only a surprisingly small amount of information, cybercriminals can convincingly pose as business members and superiors in order to persuade employees to give them money, data or crucial information.

At this point, phishing attempts are nothing new, but without the right cybersecurity services in Toronto and The Greater Toronto Area, you can still fall victim to a common phishing scam. A new scam has just been brought to our attention, so we’re sharing the specifics with you so that you and your team can avoid it.

Researchers from Malwarebytes have recently discovered a number of fraudulent messages coming from hacked Premium LinkedIn accounts that ask the recipient to enter their email credentials on phishing site for their respective email provider. The deceptive link may not appear as such, given that the messages abuse the popular link shortening service ow.ly to send message recipients to the phishing page.

Once the user’s email, password, and other information have been entered into the fraudulent website, the damage is done. The hacker can then take the information and do even more damage with it. It’s the new and constantly evolving cybercrime threats like these that make cybersecurity services in Toronto and The Greater Toronto Area so vital.

The key to phishing methodology is that it doesn’t rely on digital security vulnerabilities or cutting edge hacking technology; phishing targets the user, who, without the right training, will always be a security risk, regardless of the IT measures set in place. The reality is that small and medium-sized businesses like yours are put at great risk if you don’t have cybersecurity services in Toronto and The Greater Toronto Area.

So what’s the answer? What can the average business member do to keep themselves and their company safe when criminals are employing such deceitful methods? In addition to equipping your business with the best cybersecurity services in Toronto and The Greater Toronto Area, you should also:

  • Never give out private information: The trusted institutions with which you do business will not ask you for your private information. They already have your account numbers, social security number, and your passwords. They won’t have any good reason to ask for it again, right? If an email from a superior or external contact asks for that info, it is likely a scam, so be sure to confirm the request by phone or in person.
  • Never click on a link before you hover over it with your mouse: If you hover over a link with your mouse, your computer will show you where that link is actually taking you. Many times, criminals will give you what looks like the right link (such as www.YourBank.com) but when you hover over the link with your mouse it actually will show something different (such as www.YourBank/2340937fvt5.com). If the link is not as advertised, then don’t click.
  • Always check up on unexpected email attachments. If you get an email from someone you know with an attachment that you weren’t expecting, give them a call or send them an email to confirm that the attachment is from them and is legitimate before you open it.

The fact is that phishing attacks continue to happen on a regular basis; new variations on the same old trick that pop up over and over again points to a bigger problem than the scams themselves. Cybercriminals keep doing the same old thing because users keep falling for the exact same tactics without ever seeming to learn from the experience. That’s what makes ongoing cybersecurity training, and further support that comes from cybersecurity services in Toronto and The Greater Toronto Area such a crucial part of business today.

Waiting for another major cyberattack to start making the rounds is not the time to start looking at training your staff. Making cybersecurity education a routine for your entire team – management included – is the most effective way to stop a phishing attempt. Allow Paradigm Network Solutions to help – we’ve been providing cybersecurity services in Toronto and The Greater Toronto Area to a number of businesses like yours for years, and we will do the same for you.

Want to learn more about the steps you can take to protect your business against phishing? Contact Paradigm Network Solutions at sales@ittoronto.com or (416) 490-9019 for proven cybersecurity services in Toronto and The Greater Toronto Area.

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The Top New Ways Technology and Fundraising are Working Together for Nonprofits

Nonprofits need tech solutions that work: Here’s how the market is helping out.

Non Profit IT Services

Technology and NPOs have always had an interesting relationship: Nonprofits tend to be less impressed customer-focused marketing, and less willing to invest in new long-term technology unless the ROI is visible, preferably with a few industry examples to back it up. However, a technology used correctly can be an advantageous source of savings and efficiency for NPOs, often targeting the very problems they want to get rid of.

The key is finding the latest tech solutions that are having a provable impact on organizations beyond the hype for “the most recent thing.” Let’s take a look at the top trends that impress us the most.

The Cloud Continues to Revolutionize Structure

Cloud data means less dependence on hardware and the enablement of flexible, fast organizations that don’t have to rely on traditional structures when their important data can be anywhere, at any time. This has proven particularly beneficial for NPOs, which tend to prefer more adaptability and more flexible work arrangements including remote work, working from home, scheduling trading, and more. In other words, your data is better off if it can be accessed from the cloud.

The key, however, is finding cloud services that you can trust. It is not a good idea to change your organizational structure based on cloud services without proper encryption and verification. The good news is that professional options like OneDrive and Google Storage have proven to been reliable storage options, and are available free or with discounts for NPOs.

The New Age of Digital Payments

NPOs love digital payments, and for a good reason: They enable immediate payment based on appropriate calls to action that can be connected compelling content or messages, giving donors something to do with their emotions while bringing in funds more reliably. But today’s digital payment options go far beyond the normal PayPal link: Facebook now has an option that allows people to donate while they are still on the social network. YouTube has donation cards that can carry viewers away to an online payment option. Twitter and Snapchat are experimenting with $Cashtags and Snapcash for instant methods of giving away money. Even Gmail has an automatic money transfer option for those you exchange emails with. It’s an exciting time for digital payments, and a good idea to review the latest technology services for nonprofits to see how they are changing.

Chatbots for More Than Just Selling

Chatbots are finally coming into their own, and that includes a lot of interesting applications for non-profits that sometimes have trouble communicating their full mission. For those who haven’t encountered many before, a chatbot is a system that pops open a chat window on a website and offers information or services for visitors. These are automated systems with AI capabilities, so a real person doesn’t need to manage them – they can explain things all on their own, and well-crafted chatbots are skilled at making conversations look as normal as possible.

These days, chatbots are a popular marketing topic and are likely to become ubiquitous as time goes on. You can craft them in Facebook, buy them for your website, and program them for your Skype software. For nonprofits, this means the bot can pop up ready to have a conversation with any visitors about what the nonprofit is, how it works, and what connections it has to local events or news. Since chatbots are already being used to sell products within the app, we also expect to see donation options that the bot can offer interested visitors, increasing funding as well as awareness.

CRM for Donors

Today’s customer relationship management solutions are diverse and, thankfully, much more modular than in the past, allowing organizations to pick out the services they need with the guarantee they are all designed to work together across the same platform. And these vendors have no trouble working with NPOs – after all, a customer and a donor share most things in common when it comes to managing and using data. So a good CRM system can help reach more donors, utilize information more effectively, and create more powerful sales funnel.

One way we’re seeing this benefit today’s donors is via email: While it’s trendy to think of email as an “old” method of communication, it’s actually doing very well on the marketing front – indeed, when it comes to results, good old fashioned emails keep on improving, especially in the mobile sector: Social media remains popular for personal use, but many people just prefer to conduct more professional matters, including donations, through email.. If you don’t have a CRM system set up to take advantage of email messaging, it’s time to consider one.

More Applications for the IoT

The Internet of Things, in abstract, is pretty easy to understanding: A bunch of smart devices send data to their respective services, and we learn more about things while also gaining greater control over the technology around. However, finding specific ways this impacts NPOs is a bit more challenging: However, there’s a ton of potential in the IoT and the ideas currently being tested here are exciting.

Roughly, smart devices for non-profits fall into two different groups. The first is infrastructure: When smart devices can tell you how well concrete pillars are holding up, how much heat buildings are retaining, and how efficiently energy or water are used, then nonprofits become very interested in accessing that data for their reports and fundraising. The second group are sensors that can be used in marketing. For example, we are entirely making up: “Thanks to our new partnership with GeoTesla, every time your car passes a local city park you can choose to automatically donate $1 to our land improvement project!”

App Partnerships

One of the greatest advantages of today’s apps is that they can be created by even small organizations, and they are adaptable enough that any NPO can find a way to use apps. Not sure where they may fit in with your goals or partnerships? Check out some of the more innovative uses of non-profit apps currently at work for ideas. However, app creation requires a lot of cost-benefit analysis and asks quite a lot of donors (when was the last time you wanted to download another app on your phone?). Remember to stay creative!

For more information on our non-profit managed services and other IT services for nonprofits (including consultations on what you need), contact Paradigm Network Solutions at sales@ittoronto.com or (416) 490-9019! We can help Toronto and The Greater Toronto Area nonprofits like yours.

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Do Hackers Have Your Info? — Probably.

The Aftermath of the Equifax Hack

Do you have a credit report in the US? Then there’s a good chance your private information is now in the hands of hackers. Find out what you need to do now!  

Equifax Hack

Almost everyone in the US with a credit score is now at risk for identity theft. Hackers gained access to the sensitive information of at least 143 million people, including names, social security numbers, birthdays, and driver’s license numbers.  Plus, they have credit card numbers for over 209,000 Equifax customers.

This hack, the fifth largest data breach in history, occurred sometime during mid-May to June 2017. Equifax realized the breach occurred on July 29, but waited until September 7 to release a statement to its customers—that there was a good chance their sensitive information was compromised.

The backlash from the press was quick and harsh, as well as from the public—especially when three Equifax executives admitted to unloading company stock just days after the discovery of the breach. Top company officials promised that they would do everything in their power to correct the situation, but instead of taking full blame, they deflected much of it onto the software the company they use, Apache STRUTS a free, open-source framework for developing Java applications.

As Equifax struggles through its PR nightmare, I suggest that all my clients take action now to minimize the risk of identity theft resulting in a financial nightmare of their own.

First Things First: What You Need to Do Now.

This data breach is too large to just sit there and hope it won’t affect you. Now is the time to get out in front of this thing and to take action to help protect yourself. But what can you do?

First, don’t panic and try to relax. Yes, this is a serious situation, and customers have every right to feel frustrated, but writing an angry email or calling to scream at a customer representative at Equifax won’t solve anything or help stop criminals from stealing your identity.

When you can once again breathe normally, consider freezing your credit report. A credit freeze is one of the most powerful weapons against identity theft. A credit freeze prevents anyone, including yourself, from accessing your credit report without the use of a special pin number to “thaw” the report. This helps to stop criminals from using your credit information to apply for a loan or credit cards.

There are three credit reporting companies in the US. When you freeze your credit at one of them, it won’t do any good unless you freeze the others as well. Equifax is currently offering everyone in the US the ability to freeze their credit report for free, but it’s important to know that the company won’t charge fees when you use the thawing option. The two other credit reporting companies, Experian and Transunion, are currently charging fees to both freeze and thaw credit reports, but it’s worth the small expense for more peace of mind.

After freezing your credit, it is time to find out what personal information hackers may have stolen about you. While Equifax is making promises to inform every customer whose credit card information the breach affected, it may be weeks or more before you hear anything. You can speed up the process by checking online to learn if hackers may have your information. To handle the large volume of additional calls, the company set up a hotline at 1-866-447-7559. This hotline is open every day from 7 AM to 1 AM Eastern.

Finally, if you don’t already have credit monitoring, make sure you enroll in a program now. Equifax is offering free credit monitoring through a partnership for one year.  However, there are many other credit monitoring services that may be more appropriate for your needs. It’s a mistake to sign up for a free year with Equifax and think you can cancel the service after 12 months. The fact is the threat won’t end after only one year. Protecting your credit report from fraud is your lifelong responsibility. Whether you choose to hire a company to help protect your credit report through automatic monitoring, or if you prefer to keep watch on it by yourself, it is a modern-day necessity.

Moving Forward

The Equifax data breach is likely to continue to cause repercussions for months, and even years down the road. Hopefully, this breach is the wake-up call everyone needs to take to modernize the way the US financial industry handles credit. It’s a good sign that the US government is promising an extensive investigation into the Equifax hack and cover up. As a response to the outrage of the voters, Senators are already reintroducing the Stop Errors in Credit Use and Reporting (SECURE) Act, which would give people more control over their credit reports. The Act would give consumers many additional rights, including the ability to view the same reports the credit-reporting companies send to lenders, to freeze the credit reports of minors, and to sue companies that violate any credit-reporting rules.

Senator Brian Schatz said that the SECURE Act is only the first of several actions the US Senate is planning to implement to prevent something like the Equifax hack from having devastating impacts in the future.

If you have any questions about how the Equifax hack could further affect your or your business, contact Paradigm Network Solutions at (416) 490-9019 or sales@ittoronto.com.  We’re always here to help.

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Do You Know What Your Children Are Doing When They’re Online?

The only thing more essential than online privacy protection, in general, are the laws, rules, and regulations designed to protect the most vulnerable among us: our children. Here’s what you need to know.  

Kids Safety Online

Wow! Did you know that as of June 20, 2017, there were approximately 3.88 billion Internet users worldwide? To put this into perspective, that’s about 51.7% of the total population of planet Earth!

However, most discussions regarding the ubiquitous use of digital resources fail to place proper emphasis on the people who are actually being affected the most: our children. Make no mistake, primary age children are more connected, more mobile and more social than their parents or grandparents ever were thanks to the wonders of the World Wide Web. This poses a number of interesting (and potentially dangerous) implications in terms of online privacy that are essential for us to explore.

Children and the Internet: Facts and Figures

According to a study conducted by the experts at Kids Matter:

  • Nearly 95% of children between the ages of eight and 11 years of age have had access to the Internet at least once in the last four weeks.
  • Those who fall into this age range are also much more likely to use more multiple Internet-enabled devices than their “grown up” counterparts.
  • The average 10 to 11-year-old child uses three devices throughout the course of their day. These aren’t just laptops and desktop computers, either—They extend to game consoles, iPads, music devices and so much more.

 

In a world where 21% of children between kindergarten and second grade have cell phones, do we really think that we’re doing enough to protect their privacy on the Internet?

Also, consider statistics like the following compiled by the experts at GuardChild.com:

  • 17% of 12 and 13-year-old kids said that they’ve received an email or some other type of online message that contained photos or words that made them feel uncomfortable. Only 7% of parents, however, were actually aware of this.
  • 44% of children who fell into the same age bracket said that they’ve watched something online they knew their parents wouldn’t approve of. Only 28% of parents said that they were aware of this.
  • Girls are much more likely to become the target of cyber bullying than boys.
  • Only 15% of parents said that they felt like they were “in the know” about the social networking habits of their children. Plus, many of them were totally unaware about how these activities and behaviors could lead to much more serious problems like cyber bullying.

 

It’s true that steps have been taken to protect the privacy of children online. Most social networking sites require users to be at least 13 years old before they can get approved for an account. However, these “safeguards” are incredibly easy to get around with just a few quick mouse clicks. It’s clear that something more must be done, which is where regulations like COPPA come into play.

What is COPPA?

Short for “Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule,” COPPA was created by the Federal Trade Commission in the United States in an effort to better protect children when they use the Internet. It imposes a number of requirements on both website and online services that are specifically directed at those under 13 years of age. It details what personal information can be collected, how that information must be stored and protected, and much more.

The law itself was proposed in 1998, and first went into effect in April of 2000. As technology in general and the Internet have evolved rapidly since then, it should come as no surprise that the law has done the same.

Some of the more important requirements of COPPA for compliance include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Websites must post a “clear and comprehensive” online-privacy policy that outlines what information they are collecting from people under the age of 13.
  • Websites must make a “reasonable effort” to provide direct notice to a child’s parents about the above information collection.
  • If any child under the age of 13 is going to sign up for a particular site or service, they need to obtain “verifiable” parental consent.
  • Website and online services operators must provide a “reasonable means” for a parent to review ALL personal information collected from a child. They must also have the ability to maintain that information or refuse its further use.

 

As one might expect with a topic this important, COPPA violations can be incredibly severe. In 2006, for example, the website Xanga was fined $1 million for repeatedly allowing children under the age of 13 to sign up for and to use accounts without getting verifiable parental consent. Mrs. Fields Cookies, The Hershey Company, Kidswirl and Imbee are also examples of high profile sites that have been on the receiving end of COPPA violations in the past.

Online privacy protection is one of the most important topics of the digital era. However, during all of the discussions about massive data breaches and business intelligence, we must not forget to acknowledge and look after those who need it the most: our children.

Kids these days are being exposed to technology and the Internet at an increasing rate, and at a far earlier age than any other generation in human history. It’s up to all of us to work together to make sure they can enjoy the many advantages, with as few of the downsides as possible.

If you’re in Toronto and The Greater Toronto Area and would like to find out more about this or any other essential IT topic, please don’t delay—Contact Paradigm Network Solutions at (416) 490-9019 or sales@ittoronto.com.

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