When Santa’s Workshop Has IT Troubles, They Know Who to Call

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We work with many businesses, but one, in particular, may surprise you. Let’s talk about how our co-managed IT services made one specific organization’s critical processes a lot easier to manage during their busiest time of year:

Jangle leaned back from his monitor and sighed, rubbing his eyes—half out of tiredness, half out of stress. As much as he loved this time of year (as an elf, it was only natural that he would), there were parts that he could admit he hated. The newly-transferred co-manager turned to the other North Pole’s IT department manager, Ginger.

“So, are you seeing this too, Ging?”

Ginger glanced over at his screen. He was amazed that she could see at all, with all the stream from her perpetually full cup of cocoa fogging up her glasses. Her brow furrowed, telling him she knew exactly what he was talking about.

“Yeah, that doesn’t make sense.” She frowned and glanced back at her monitor, stirring her mug with a candy cane as she examined the displayed data.

“I didn’t think so, either.”

Sighing again, Jangle leaned forward to examine the information once more for himself. Before him was a rundown of all the other departments at the North Pole—List Management, Toy Assembly, Coal Acquisition, Elven Resources, Packaging and Processing, and of course, the Garage—and all of the technologies that each department currently had in place, accompanied by the name of the elf signed in to use each workstation. Looking again, he confirmed that he had seen what he thought he saw.

During their time as co-managers of the North Pole’s newly-formed IT Department, Jangle and Ginger had not only trained a hand-picked team of elves to staff their department; they had made it a point to implement technology systems that would help to make their job much more manageable. One of these systems was a remote monitoring and management system, which allowed their team to keep track of all the Pole’s various tools and technology solutions and preemptively catch issues. This system was causing him so much confusion at the moment. According to his plan, there was an elf in two places at once.

It seemed that one of the elves assigned to the Coal Acquisition team was also working in Packaging and Processing… literally; his display was telling him that Jolly Cookiescarf was currently using his laptop in the mining office while also logged in on a tablet in ribbons and bows.

Sighing again, Jangle called over one of the elves in his department. Trinket Cracklecane locked her workstation and wheeled her chair over.

“Yeah, boss?”

Jangle looked at his enthusiastic team member. “Have you seen any sign of a virus in our systems? I have an elf that appears to be logged in on multiple devices simultaneously.”

Trinket’s face scrunched up in confusion. “No, I don’t think so. Let me check again, and I’ll call up 4Corner IT to ask if they can see anything.”

Since the year before, the Pole had been working with 4Corner IT, bringing on the managed service provider as an extra IT resource to work with their newly-formed internal IT team. The remote monitoring and management services that the MSP provided had prevented many issues from materializing caught early enough to be fixed preventatively.

Trinket clacked away at her keyboard for a moment, and after a quick scan of her display, turned back to her managers.

“No sign of a virus, but I’ll call up 4Corner IT and see if they have any insight into what’s going on.”

As Trinket picked up her phone—connected via the North Pole’s new VoIP (Voice over Icicle Protocol) setup—Jangle and Ginger looked at each other. Ginger spoke up first.

“So, assuming it isn’t a glitch, what do you think is going on?”

Jangle rubbed his temples. While this wasn’t a huge issue, per se, he had learned from experience that these kinds of things could (and usually did) escalate into much larger problems if they weren’t addressed quickly.

“Honestly, it could be a couple of things. I mean, there’s the obvious answer, that someone is sharing their login credentials with someone else… but that doesn’t make sense because we’ve made sure that each elf has access to the tools they need. I mean, something could be misconfigured on our end, too.”

Click. Trinket placed her handset back in its cradle.

“Well, I talked to 4 Corner IT. Based on what they can see, we have an active user logged in at two places at once. They’re going to kick both users out and push a password reset.”

“Okay,” Jangle replied. “So with that taken care of, it sounds like we need to track down Jolly and find out who he shared his credentials with, and then make sure he doesn’t do it again..”

Ginger nodded, and the two started. Descending into the mines, Jangle and Ginger expertly navigated the candy cane catwalks that led to the control center that ensured that the Pole had the coal needed for distribution each year. Walking in, they saw Jolly sitting at his workstation, updating the calculations of how much coal the Pole would need for the big day.

“Hi, Jolly, can we talk for a second?” Ginger asked politely.

Jolly started, clearly not expecting company, and pulled off his headphones. Loud carols could be heard emanating from the speakers. “Yeah, is something wrong? I just got a prompt to reset my password.”

“Well, Jolly, we noticed that you were logged in at more than one place, and we just wanted to check and see if you had shared your passwords with anybody.”

Jolly nodded. “Yeah, Biscotti had forgotten his, so I figured it would be easier if he and I just shared. My account also has access to everything he needs, so it just made sense to share it instead of bothering you guys.”

“Well, we appreciate that, Jolly,” Jangle said. “However, it’s important that you don’t share your access credentials. I mean, I know that Biscotti probably wouldn’t do anything bad with them, but you can never be too careful, you know? I mean, what if somebody called him up, pretending to be with the Tooth Fairy or someone, but they were trying to ruin Christmas? They could easily phish your credentials out of him, and you’d be on the hook too.”

“Oh! I never thought about it that way. It makes sense, I suppose. Sorry about that!”

Ginger nodded. “That’s okay, just as long as you don’t do it again. Maybe we should remind the team here about the importance of password security once things calm down a little bit.” She looked to Jangle to see if he agreed. He did.

“I’ll reach out to 4Corner IT to see if they have any suggestions. In the meantime, I don’t see the harm in sending out a quick email to everyone to reinforce proper password practices.”

Ginger nodded again in response, and the two co-managers returned to their team to strategize their internal security awareness improvements.

We can provide your business with the same services to our friends up north. Reach out at (954) 474-2204 to find out what we can do for you.

In-House or Remote, Automated Tools Bring Value

Automation, as a concept, is a valuable capability… whether an employee is working remotely or is located in the office for regular operations. Indeed, many businesses are now encouraging their team members to do both. Let’s review how a hybrid workplace can have a positive experience with automation in place… and why it’s essential for security’s sake.

What Can Be Accomplished Through Automation?

There are many business processes that automation can make more efficient simply by removing the limitations inherent in human involvement (not to mention that the human worker can spend their time on other tasks).

For example, data can be processed much more quickly than an employee could ever do manually, making automation an excellent asset for that reason alone. Of course, this is far from the only advantage that automation can provide to your hybrid workforce. Another primary reason to use automated solutions is for the sake of your security.

Automated Security Brings Benefits to Remote and In-House Team Members

Automatic Security Helps Fight Automated Attacks

Sometimes, you have to fight fire with fire. Modern cybercriminals have embraced automation and other artificially intelligent threat vectors. To stop these attacks effectively, systems that can independently evaluate and mitigate potential threats will be critical.

Automated Tools Provide a Bird’s-Eye-View of Your Defenses

In addition to taking the majority of the workload off your team members where handling threats are involved, an automated security system can help by providing critical insights. By observing any devices used to access company resources, your business can use these tools to evaluate where the most significant vulnerabilities lie. This way, you’re given insights into how your security needs to improve.

Automated Tools Can Save Your Team a Lot of Time

Regardless of how you’ve decided to use automation in your company, your team will have less on their plates to distract them from their actual responsibilities. As a result, more time can be dedicated to producing revenues and other, more desirable outcomes.

We can help you manage your operations in such a way that automation serves you to your most significant advantage, as well as putting numerous other benefits into place. Give us a call at (954) 474-2204 to learn more.

Blockchain Technology Does Have Some Practical Uses

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The blockchain is one of the more recent new technologies that businesses have been considering for their offices. Blockchain technology could have been implemented to solve a host of different problems, but the world simply was not ready for it. Is it ready now? Perhaps—let’s take a look at three applications for the blockchain in today’s business world.

What Is Blockchain?

Blockchain technology is essentially a distributed database that stores data. Most databases are centralized, but with blockchain technology, each piece of information is stored on a block, or what is officially known as a node. These nodes are created whenever data is added to the chain, and all nodes are connected to other nodes. This chain of data is not governed by one person, but is spread out and duplicated so that every entity represented on the blockchain has a complete record of it. Each node is also encrypted, meaning that it cannot be edited. If the information needs to be altered, then a new node must be created.

The first technology to use the blockchain was the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, but it’s used for many other purposes these days. Here are three of them:

Improving Banking

Blockchain technology is perfect for financial transactions. Considering how everyone with a checking account understands how much of a pain keeping an updated ledger is, you might be relieved to know that blockchain technology makes it easier to manage. Each transaction gets its own node, and since it is a distributed system, it can work for multiple users at a time to create smart contracts. Basically, when two entities enter into an agreement with stipulations, blockchain can enable a payment when the conditions are met, essentially automating the flow of capital.

Improving Supply Chains

The COVID-19 pandemic has created countless problems for the supply chain, but blockchain technology is making it easier than ever to manage effectively. The distributed nature of a blockchain can work through multiple points on the supply chain, and as such, it is a great tool for procurement and distribution. If companies know where each product or component they need is at any given time, then transparency is improved as a whole.

Improving Healthcare

Many users thought that using the blockchain would be ideal for a healthcare system, and companies are trying to leverage it for problem-solving. There are businesses out there creating applications that can improve patient, care provider, and insurance information, all while giving patients better control over their medical information. Security is, of course, a major concern when personal information like this is concerned, so blockchain could prove to be a major boon for the healthcare industry.

Blockchain can be a great and exciting new tool, but we want to hear your thoughts on it. Do you think there is a way for your business to leverage it? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to our blog.

Applying Life Lessons to Improve Your IT

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Sometimes it can be challenging to manage your IT solutions, but much of the advice that applies to technology is just general advice for living a good life. Let’s take a deeper dive into these ideas and see if we can use specific life lessons in a business IT setting when it comes time to improve your IT.

Prepare for the Unexpected

Your IT infrastructure will present you with unexpected circumstances, so the best you can do is not let them catch you unawares. Your servers could fail someday, or a hacker could infiltrate your network and put your data at risk. You might even experience structural damage to your building, rendering it inoperable.

But believe it or not, you can prepare for these kinds of events. You need to understand that the unexpected can happen anytime, so you must implement preventative measures and plans to handle them when they do surface.

Don’t Skimp on Quality

There are certain parts of running a business that you can get away with spending a little less on, like the office K-Cups or generic brand snacks, but IT is certainly not one of these things. The lower the quality goods you purchase for your business, the more you are likely to spend in the long term finding the appropriate solution. You might even wind up paying more to replace hardware or purchasing new solutions entirely.

You should prepare to plan your expenses around the kind of business you want to run. This means implementing only what works best for you and not the accepted norm. Neither company is the same, so their IT shouldn’t be, either.

You Don’t Have to Know Everything

Just like life often is, implementing your IT solutions can be a long and confusing ordeal, one that is full of inaction and incorrect choices. While you might have a broad idea of what your IT infrastructure should look like, it can be hard to make the correct choices. This is fine and expected for someone who might not be an IT professional. Nobody knows everything, and you can’t expect yourself to.

There will always be parts of running a business where there is an apparent knowledge deficit, so make sure that you rely on experts in these fields whenever possible. You might choose to rely on an IT provider to improve your IT in your office, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Better to get it done right the first time!

To learn more about the services we offer and how we can help improve your IT, give 4 Corner IT a call at (954) 474-2204.

Phishing Email Subject Lines You Should Know

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Even the best employees will encounter situations where they might accidentally put your organization at risk due to a phishing attack. What are some telltale signs of a phishing scam, and how can you tell when you need to be cautious? Certain phishing email subject lines can be indicative of their threat level. Let’s take a look.

Expel published a report on the most common subject lines of phishing emails, and the consensus was that they all urged the reader to take action of some sort. For employees who are impulsive and don’t think twice about their activities, this can be devastating, and that’s not to mention the businesses who employ them.

The study examined 10,000 known malicious emails and found keywords used in phishing emails. Many of them used a sense of urgency to convince the reader that action was necessary. This tactic is nothing new for phishing scams, and considering this language is also used in marketing emails, it’s no wonder that the lines get so blurry with this topic.

Ben Brigida, Director and SOC of Operations at Expel, had this to say regarding the matter: “Attackers are trying to trick people into giving them their credentials. The best way to do this is to make the email look legitimate, prompt one clear action, and lace it with emotion – urgency or fear of loss is the most common. The actions are as simple as ‘go to this site’ or ‘open this file,’ but the attacker wants you to be moving too fast to stop and question if it’s legitimate.”

In other words, simple and more direct subjects for phishing emails make for an easier hacking experience. This is reflected in the keywords utilized. You’ll notice that these subject lines also mimic those used by legitimate businesses. Here are three of the most common:

  • RE: INVOICE
  • Missing Inv ####; From [Legitimate Business Name]
  • INV####

Imagine receiving an invoice from a company with the threat of shutting down an important service that your business relies on. You might have so much going on in your business that you don’t even think twice and assume that you haven’t made the payment. Naturally, this is what the hacker is counting on. Take a step back and consult the appropriate resources before making a payment or clicking on a link. Sure, it could be legitimate—many invoicing companies and automated software use similar language—but it could also be a scam.

Other common phishing subject lines include words like “required,” “verification required,” or stem from file sharing, action requirements, or service requests. The tags that often get assigned to emails, like New or Update, don’t exactly help matters.

What are your thoughts on these phishing email subject lines? Would you or your employees click on them accidentally? Don’t take any chances with your network security—get in touch with 4 Corner IT today.