There is a new threat that has taken hold recently called "Ransomware".  Essentially it is a virus that quietly (usually over three days) encrypts all the files on your machine until a notice pops up that you must pay a ransom (usually $300 to $900) to get a key to decrypt your files.  Our experience has been that none of the virus protection schemes seems to fully protect against this.  Your best defense is to buy external hard drives and run a backup every three of our days.  Once the backup is finished, unplug the drive and set it aside.  Messy, we know but the alternative is worse.

Watch out for "Phishing"

Here are some things to do to protect yourself and your data from false emails:

Be wary of emails asking for confidential information - especially information of a financial nature. Legitimate organizations will never request sensitive information via email, and most banks will tell you that they won't ask for your information unless you're the one contacting them.

Don't get pressured into providing sensitive information. Phishers like to use scare tactics, and may threaten to disable an account or delay services until you update certain information. Be sure to contact the merchant directly to confirm the authenticity of their request.

Make sure you familiarize yourself with a website's privacy policy. The majority of commercial websites have a privacy policy, which is usually accessible at the foot of the page. The most useful thing to look for is the website's policy on whether it will or will not sell its mailing list.

Most of the spam you receive on a daily basis - as well as potentially dangerous phishing emails - is coming to you because a site you have signed up to has sold your email address to another company. If you're not ok with this happening, it might be worth reconsidering whether you want to sign up to the site.

Watch out for generic-looking requests for information. Fraudulent emails are often not personalised, while authentic emails from your bank often reference an account you have with them. Many phishing emails begin with "Dear Sir/Madam", and some come from a bank with which you don't even have an account.

Never submit confidential information via forms embedded within email messages. Senders are often able to track all information entered.

Never use links in an email to connect to a website unless you are absolutely sure they are authentic. Instead, open a new browser window and type the URL directly into the address bar. Often a phishing website will look identical to the original - look at the address bar to make sure that this is the case

To learn more or set up a meeting email bernie@imark-co.com


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