This past weekend, users of Steam, an online gaming platform, were attacked with a typosquatting phishing scam. As you know from our previous posts, a phishing scam is when cyber criminals pose as legitimate companies to steal an online users’ personal or financial information. This type of scam is often perpetrated through emails that appear to be coming from the bank or organization that the user normally interacts with or viruses that hijack your browser with redirects or even establishes a proxy connection within your computer’s settings. When the user attempts to open the email link or contact the legitimate company, they are infected immediately or sent to an illegitimate site where predators are waiting. Typosquatting is when these cyber criminals set up websites that are often registered outside of law-abiding nations where they will not be prosecuted and use a web address or url (uniform resource locator) to ensnare their victims who accidently mistype a legitimate web address. For example, the user may be trying to get to www.cetofnc.com but accidently types www.cetfonc(dot)com or www.computerrepairlkn.com and mistypes it as www.computerepairlkn(dot)com. The “typo” may completely change the intended destination and direct the user to a trap set by these cyber criminals. In this past weekend’s case, the “typo”, sleamcummunity(dot)com instead of steamcommunity(dot)com, sent the unsuspecting users to a replicated steam site (images, links, and all) in Russia that attempted to gain the users’ financial information. Always take care when typing web addresses and recheck your location before providing personal or financial information on a website.
Safeguarding your data files, including your emails, is, in most instances, extremely important and, in general, very simple. Backups of data files to online sources, external drives, or network locations are among the multitude of options to ensure you do not lose your files or emails due to hard drive crashes. The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team, a division of the United States Department of Homeland Security, helps establish guidelines in their published Security Tip (ST06-008).
Lost emails can be very detrimental to your business – even causing possible legal actions to be taken against you or your organization. If you are using an email program like Outlook, you should regularly backup your .pst or .ost database to ensure compliance with government authorities like the United States Internal Revenue Service. Hard copies of emails are also an effective option for ensuring that important documents are not lost or destroyed and are often dictated by your organization’s standard operating procedures.
As you know, Microsoft stopped providing support for Windows XP and Microsoft Office 2003 last month and, while it has been a challenge (and still is for some), most people have accepted it and moved own. Windows 8.1 was a good fit for most of the old Windows XP systems and functions pretty well on them. Windows Vista is scheduled to be supported until 2017 so no issues there yet – besides, most Vista users have already moved on. However, the next big “End of Life” issue (just over the horizon) will be for small businesses – Windows Server 2003 gets axed by Microsoft next year, July 2015. One of the most unfortunate issues with this revelation is that many of the existing Windows 2003 servers owned by small businesses will not support the current server operating system offerings. If nothing is done, many small businesses may be forced to eliminate their servers and Microsoft Exchange in the process and have to find other options. The cost of a new server can run upwards of $2500 – not a bill that struggling small businesses seeing more regulation and cost heaped upon them can easily absorb. Only time will tell if Microsoft stays on top of their game and offers small businesses an out with something like Windows 8.1 which works well on most Windows XP systems. Until then, small businesses with servers need to start looking at their options.