cybersecurity

Current phishing trends that may impact YOUR cybersecurity

When it comes to phishing in 2022, cybercriminals continue to target people more than tech infrastructure. That is, ‘pirates’, using social engineering, are probing for weaknesses in our defences, rather than in our cybersecurity defences. After all, it’s easier to get someone to open the 6ft gate than to find a way to climb over it or punch through it. Which brings us to our first major 2022 phishing trend:

Help Ukraine, Help the people, Help the children.

As insidious as this is, phishing and cryptocurrency scams are using the Russian invasion of Ukraine to their advantage. Indeed, as 2020 was to Covid phishing scams, 2022 is to the Ukrainian conflict, with new cyber threats popping up daily that pull on heartstrings to collect donations, data and/or cryptocurrency from victims. Look out for email subject lines such as ‘Support Ukrainian Children’ or ‘Ukraine donations desperately needed.’ (And only ever donate to organisations that you have confirmed are 100% legitimate.)

Brand and business impersonation

This form of phishing is increasing not only in scale but also in sophistication. As users become savvier, phishing attackers are using brands or businesses that we know and commonly interact with to create a facade of legitimacy. Users are asked to click on links and provide personal information; including passwords – via emails titled ‘Data breach’, ‘Potential account termination’ or ‘Password reset required’. And these emails are (allegedly) coming from the likes of Microsoft, LinkedIn and Amazon. Always be suspicious of emails that link you to a site requesting for your log-in and other details. Never provide your credentials via such a link. 

Tax season scams

Tax season: time to buy some last-minute office equipment (or some top-tier business tech!), worry about the shoebox of receipts and fend off tax-season scams. The main thing to remember when it comes to tax time is that the ATO will never ask for personal information by email or text. (And they’ll never call you with a doom-laden message threatening arrest or jail time, either.) Any such message – requesting your tax file number or credit card details – can be disregarded as cyber fraud.

And remember: clicking such a link can also lead to disaster; potentially allowing scammers access to your computer system and then holding you or your business to ransom. If in any doubt: DELETE.

The ATO also has a regularly updated list of scams if you need to verify or report a problem.

Contact Geelong’s cybersecurity experts to reduce your risk of being scammed

At Geelong Technology Group, we’re kind of enthralled by scammers. (They’re always doing something new! Smishing attempts keep proliferating! They’re getting tricksier!) And we keep up with the latest cybersecurity threats. But what we really love is helping homes and businesses in Geelong, Ocean Grove, Barwon Heads, Torquay, the Bellarine Peninsula, the Surf Coast, Golden Plains, Colac and Warrnambool with their online security. We’re here to help with our anti-piracy solutions and cyber-attack prevention services, so don’t hesitate to contact us today on 1300 GET GTG (1300 438 484). Or drop by to chat with the team at 166 Francis Street, Belmont.

Online safety

Kids Online Safety: Five Handy Tips for Parents

When it comes to taking care of our children, the world can seem a very scary place – and the internet even scarier. But attempting to keep kids offline in 2022 is just not going to cut it, so how can we protect them from the darker parts of the web and ensure their online safety?

There are two simple answers to this question – knowledge and communication. If we can empower ourselves and our children with information, and ensure they come to us in situations where they feel uncertain or suspicious, these are huge steps towards cyber safety.

Educate yourself

Do you know how to stay safe online? Have you taken control of your own privacy and security settings, checked your social media conversation controls, and looked into using a password manager? The easiest place to start when it comes to cyber security is with yourself – then, armed with this knowledge, you’ll be ready to help your kids.

Other education actions include talking to your child’s school about the online protection they offer, as well as checking out the main apps and websites your child is interested in to ensure the content is age-appropriate and to understand how they operate. 

Know – and use – parental controls

An innocent online search can quickly lead to a rabbit-hole of not-so-innocent information or images. Parental controls and search-engine filters – although not 100% accurate – can help prevent your child from accessing the majority of online violent and/or sexual material. There are free and paid options when it comes to parental controls, with different levels of protection – the Australian Government’s eSafety website has an excellent Taming the Technology section that covers protections you can access via your home wi-fi network, computers, devices, gaming consoles, smart TVs, web browsers and more.

Note that it’s a great idea to get your child on board with using these controls – discussing with them that they are age and experience appropriate, and letting them know that the use of these tools can be reviewed and changed as they get older. 

Talk openly with your kids (and get involved!)

As noted in point two, talking with your kids, and getting them on board with ensuring their own online safety, is the key here. Your child should know that they can always talk to you about something they’re unsure of online, and they should also know the responsible online behaviour you expect of them (see point four). Encouraging kids to think critically about what they read and see online and teaching them about the public and permanent nature of internet interactions gives them the power to make their own sound – and safe – decisions.

One way to have these open and supportive discussions is to get involved in your kids’ online experiences – talk about their favourite games or apps, take turns to play, and chat about the risks of the internet while you’re there in the midst of it. Talk to your kids about what you think is appropriate – and remind them that this may be different for other families.

Set some ground rules (and be prepared to stick to them!)

What these rules entail will be unique to your family and should also be tailored to the ages of your children. Some things to consider, though, include:

  • the amount time of spent online (or using devices in any manner)
  • where in the house online access can occur (common areas only, for instance)
  • the type of apps that can be accessed or websites that can be visited
  • any definite no-nos when it comes to online interactions (such as never posting or trading personal pictures, never revealing personal information, only being ‘friends’ with people you already know offline, and always telling a trusted adult about any online communication that was odd or scary).

Remember: the consequences for breaking these ground rules should be clear and discussed as a family so that everyone knows where they stand.

Lead by example

Okay, so we all know this one is the hardest, but consider making some rules for the parents too! This might include not looking at your phone during ‘family hours’ and/or switching off work alerts during the same. Don’t be a ‘do as I say, not what I do’ parent!

Need more help? Talk to the Geelong cyber-security experts

Remember, these conversations with your kids aren’t about creating anxieties in your child or preventing them from accessing the many entertainment and educational benefits of the online world. The real end goal here is to give your children the knowledge and skills to use this incredible tool in a responsible and safe manner.

For more information about keeping your children safe online, check out the government’s eSafety website for parents. The helpful team at Geelong Technology Group are also here with plenty of online and cybersecurity experience – don’t hesitate to give us a call on 1300 GET GTG (1300 438 484) or drop by our store at 166 Francis Street, Belmont if you need some further advice or tech assistance.

network

Setting up your small business computer network

When it comes to setting up a small business, there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of decisions to make. One of the most important is what your computer network will look like, and how it will operate. Functionality and simplicity should be key drivers in all of your networking decisions – whether you are just starting out or looking to update your existing network to meet the growth requirements of your business.

Part 1: Assess your requirements (now and into the future)

So, at the moment there’s just the three of you (or five, or 10) – and you know you need a network to share access to the internet and company printers, and to files from one another’s computers. If you add staff in the next six or 12 or 18 months, will your office and your proposed network have the space to accommodate them? Thinking and planning ahead may save a lot of time, effort and money down the track.

Part 2: Decide on your networking needs

When it comes to networking, the main choices are wired, wireless or hybrid:

Wired networks have great advantages in terms of reliability, speed and security, but installation can be tricky depending on the physical layout of your office – ethernet cables will need to be installed, and once they’re in place the location of your devices is (relatively) set in stone. Understanding your business floor plan and mapping out your hardware and equipment is incredibly important if you’re going to go with wired technology.

Wireless networks are the option of choice for many businesses because of their greater flexibility. No cables mean you are free to wander the office with your laptop – working from the couch or the lunchroom table as you please. No cables also means lower installation costs. Wireless technology, however, is often slower than wired tech, and can be affected by physical interference (walls, pipes etc).

Hybrid networks, using a combination of wired and wireless connections, give the best of both worlds – speed and security via ethernet if required or the freedom to roam using wireless access if your team members need a breather on the couch!

Part 3: Talk to the Geelong computer network specialists and put it all together

Remember that there are security and data protection risks when it comes to networking, and we highly recommend that you speak to an expert before you start purchasing and installing your modem/router/adapter/firewall/switch/cable/access point etc. (not to mention your computers and printers!).

At Geelong Technology Group we can work with you to understand your networking needs and then build the best IT network solution for your unique situation – whether you’re just starting out or you need a scalable overhaul. Our technicians have decades of experience assisting businesses of all sizes to create the computer networks that work for them. We can also help out with data back-up solutions, security setup and maintenance, and remote access for those employees working from home.

Don’t put up with wi-fi dropouts, snail-paced buffering or redundant technology – give us a call and overhaul your productivity today! Servicing Geelong, the Bellarine Peninsula, the Surf Coast and surrounding regions, GTG are your business IT solution specialists. Contact our experienced IT technicians on 1300 GET GTG (1300 438 484) or email support@geelongtechnology.com.au

gaming

Ready, Set, Game: Setting up your PC for gaming

Setting up for gaming on a PC is one of those ‘how long is a piece of string’ exercises – you could cobble together what you need from what you have, or you could head towards the stratosphere and join international gamer/YouTube phenomenons who allegedly spend upwards of $100,000…

We kind of hope you sit somewhere closer to the former option (because let’s face it, that kind of spend is a bit crazy), but we also acknowledge that the PC remains the best platform for gaming, so let’s explore what you might need:

Ergonomics

Whatever your budget, the ultimate gaming setup still needs to address the issues that concern any PC user – namely an ergonomic workstation setup. Indeed, when you consider how easy it is to get involved in a game and for hours to pass in the blink of an eye, having the right setup for your body’s health is even more important.

Start your setup with a desk that you can comfortably fit your legs under and onto which you’ll be able to rest your forearms easily (with your elbows at a 90-degree angle and your wrists in a straight-line position). Next, and possibly most importantly, is your chair: if you’re going to be spending a lot of time gaming, an investment in a gaming chair is also an investment in your posture and spinal health. A great gaming chair has a high-back design to cradle your whole body, height-adjustable armrests, and height-adjustable head and lumbar cushions. Other game-chair features may include memory-foam construction, deep-recline functionality, and breathable materials.

Hardware for gaming

Unlike consoles, games released for PCs (and we’re talking hundreds of thousands of titles) have different tech requirements, with some far more demanding than others. If you’re investing in a new setup, it’s a great idea to do a little research first – considering your processor, graphics card, RAM, and storage requirements against the types of games you’re planning to play.

The processor is the heart of your setup, determining performance, while the GPU (graphics processing unit) creates the beautiful face to your games, with high-end graphics cards allowing high frame rates, thus making higher resolutions playable without any lag. There are plenty of pre-built PC options available that will allow a great gaming experience, or you can pick and choose your individual requirements and go for a custom-built gaming PC.

Beyond the box, the next most important piece of gaming hardware is your monitor (or, in many cases, monitors). After all, how better to appreciate the detailed graphics of your favourite games than on a high-resolution monitor? As well as resolution (and the actual screen size), other things to consider when purchasing a gaming monitor include refresh rate, response time, colour accuracy, and available ports (and cost!).

Accessories for gaming

Okay, so this is where you can really start to have a little fun with your PC gaming setup. Accessories to consider include:

  • a gaming headset (look for comfort, durability, true stereo sound or simulated surround sound, and a microphone for team-based games; options include wired or wireless)
  • a gaming keyboard (comfort, responsiveness, and reliability should come first here, but decisions will need to be made regarding switch types, full-sized or tenkeyless (TKL), backlit or no, and wired or wireless)
  • a gaming mouse (with options including wired or wireless, various hand grips, RGB lighting, programmable buttons, and even weights you can add or remove to improve your gaming accuracy)

You can also go above and beyond with additional speakers (for true surround sound), a webcam (if you plan to stream your gameplay), customisable lighting to attach beneath your desk or behind or above your monitor, a cable management tray or box, and blue light reduction glasses (to reduce eyestrain and to avoid messing with your sleep patterns too much).

Contact the Geelong PC gaming specialists

From a pre-built PC on a budget to a high-end, liquid-cooled custom-build, the team at Geelong Technology Group can help with all of your PC gaming needs. After all, we have staff members who enjoy their gaming as much as you do (if not more!) and we have the experience and knowledge to put together the perfect setup for the games you want to play.

Call us today for the best gaming system setups in Geelong and surrounding areas, including Ocean Grove, Barwon Heads, Torquay, the Bellarine Peninsula, the Surf Coast, Golden Plains, Colac, and Warrnambool. 

1300 GET GTG (1300 438 484)

📍 166 Francis St, Belmont

Social Engineering

What is social engineering? The psychology of phishing, smishing and scareware

When it comes to the security of our computers and online devices, what we often think of first is keeping them free of insidious viruses – throwing up firewalls and ensuring our anti-virus protection is bang up to date. Unfortunately, those protections can be quite easily overcome by one small vulnerability – human psychology.

Social engineering: a definition

Social engineering is the process of manipulating people in order to obtain confidential information or to trick users into making security mistakes. The term is used to cover a broad range of malicious activities from phishing, smishing, vishing (voice phishing) and scareware, to deceptions such as the ‘honey trap’ (whereby attackers pretend to be romantically interested in the victim) and the well-known ‘Nigerian prince just briefly needs your bank account’ scam.

Social engineering: how does it work?

When it comes to cyber-security, people are often the weakest link in the security chain, with the unpredictability of mistakes made by users making them harder to identify and avoid. It is much easier, for example, to pretend to be a company tech support agent and fool a user into giving up their password than it is to hack that same password (unless, of course, the password is password1!)

Social engineering attacks happen in one or more steps. Particularly when it comes to business attacks, a hacker may first investigate their target to gather background information, such as weak security protocols or potential points of entry. They will then move to gain the victim’s trust and to provide motivation for the user to give up information or to grant access to business resources.

Social engineering: what are a hacker’s motivational methods?

Knowing your Psychology 101 is a good way to avoid being scammed, as social engineering relies almost exclusively on what are known as the ‘principles of influence’ (a theory established by psychologist and professor Robert Cialdini in 1984). These methods of influence include:

 

Authority – whereby an attacker poses as someone ‘in charge’, requesting (ordering!) compliance.

Consensus – influencing users by convincing them that this is ‘what everybody else is doing’.

Familiarity – after all, if you receive an email from a friend, surely the link they have provided is legitimate?!

Intimidation – whereby the attack comes with a threat of negative consequences should the request not be granted.

Scarcity – ‘Only five left!’ or ‘While supplies last!’, which goes hand in hand with:

Urgency – ‘Act now or it will be too late!’

 

Note that scarcity and urgency often both relate to that little human tendency towards greed – many of us don’t want to miss out on something great, which can lead us to clicking first and thinking (and possibly regretting) later.  

Defending against social engineering attacks

When it comes to protecting your business and safeguarding against malicious social-engineering attacks, your defence should be four-pronged:

  1. Ensure the lines of communication within the company are open and positive. If an employee believes that an attack has occurred due to their inadvertent error, the first thing you want them to do is report it – not hide it away in fear of reprisal.
  2. Train your staff to recognise the various methods of influence and to always think, check and double check before providing sensitive information. Cybersecurity staff awareness is key!
  3. Test the effectiveness of your training (yes, you can do some phishing yourself to check if you catch anything!) and redeploy the training often to ensure it is always fresh in the minds of your employees.
  4. Close your protection circle by also implementing cybersecurity measures – this will not only limit the number of attacks getting through to your staff, but can also help to minimise any damage caused by a successful attack.

Call Geelong’s cybersecurity experts 

Servicing Geelong, the Bellarine Peninsula, the Surf Coast and surrounding regions, Geelong Technology Group helps small and medium businesses succeed by supporting and managing their IT requirements. Armed with the latest social-engineering information, we can not only assist your business with security awareness, we can also implement comprehensive cybersecurity solutions, ensuring your important business information is cybersecure.

Give us a call today to find out more on 1300 GET GTG (1300 438 484) or stop by our showroom at 166 Francis St, Belmont.

small business IT challenges

Five small business IT challenges (and how they can be overcome)

As small business owners know, being a minnow in a big pond poses unique challenges. Without the resources available to larger corporations, small business owners need to navigate rough business waters with ingenuity and creativity. Tech can often play an important role in aiding SMBs, but it can also become a frustrating roadblock if things aren’t going to plan. So what are those tech challenges small businesses face? And how can they be overcome?

Staffing and technology expenses

Specialised internal IT staff are greatly in demand, and having an ‘IT Department’ – even if its a department of one – is out of the question for many small businesses. Technology spend – whether its on upgrades to existing hardware, advanced business products or new systems – can also put a significant strain on an organisation’s IT budget. (Link here to Nov Blog #1)

Too many IT business options, not enough time (or knowledge)

With an ever-growing number of programs and systems available to support and grow businesses, choosing the correct technology solution for your business is an ever-more-difficult and time-consuming proposition. Does the technology have all of the functionality you will require? Or, conversely, a surplus of options that you really don’t need? Will the tech be compatible with your daily operational needs? Is scaling up with the technology in the future going to be possible or problematic? All of these questions and more need to be answered before you invest your hard-earned cash.

Integration issues

Following on from the previous point, the lure of embracing new technology can play havoc with older IT systems, applications and business assets. Certainly, new IT options can help small businesses level the playing field with larger competitors, but only if their integration does not introduce inefficiencies or operational disruptions.

Employee accessibility

As well as working seamlessly with your existing infrastructure, new tech for small businesses also needs to work with – and for – your staff. SMBs may not have the staffing capabilities to ensure that new technology system roll-outs are smooth and timely, keeping downtime to a minimum. The technology vendor will likely provide training videos and tutorials, but a formal induction to become acquainted and comfortable with a new platform may not be possible for smaller organisations.

Data safety and security

Having the right back-up solutions and disaster recovery procedures is imperative for every business, no matter their size. But how many SMBs have these measures ready to go if a server crashes or there’s a power outage? Hackers are also becoming more sophisticated at targeting small businesses, many of whom lack the requisite cybersecurity resources to tackle these looming threats.

Get the right advice to conquer SMB IT challenges

For many SMBs, these five challenges are considered par for the course – a necessary evil when it comes to running a smaller organisation – because they aren’t aware that better IT support results are possible. 

Small business IT systems need regular maintenance to run smoothly and securely. However, keeping on top of things – both of existing structures and emerging technology options – doesn’t all need to be done in-house. If you’re not a tech-driven company, the best way to ensure your business is tech-savvy in the most budget-friendly way is to have highly capable partners that can steer you in the right direction. An experienced IT support partner, such as the knowledgeable team at Geelong Technology Group, can help your business address and overcome all of these challenges. Offering expert advice, tailored to your unique business situation, GTG will help your business take advantage of technology, avoiding its pitfalls in the process.

Give us a call to chat about your IT support needs today. 1300 GET GTG (1300 438 484)

Business IT Support

The Lowdown on Budgeting for Your Business IT Support

Budgeting: there’s a word few people love the sound of! But for small and medium businesses, budgeting for your IT support is a crucial step to getting the right support at the right price to meet your unique business requirements. Customisation is key!

Why should I budget for IT support?

It’s easy to fall into the mindset that business technology is a necessary evil – a set of items and services that you need to ‘shell out for’. At Geelong Technology Group we urge you to turn that thinking on its head. Technology is an investment in the operation of your business; supporting your company’s goals, helping to exceed your customers’ expectations and enhancing your ability to respond to changing business environments. Spending wisely on tech and IT support is prudent finance.

What should my IT support budget include?

IT is an integral part of nearly all businesses, and beyond the hardware required for your business (computers, laptops, tablets and mobile phones, for example), IT support may extend to VoiP communication systems (link here to Oct Blog #2), network servers, cloud storage, cyber security, data back-up, software and more. It’s a long list, and not all of it may be relevant to your situation, so first steps in the budgeting process involve assessing what you do and do not need.

What level of support do I need?

If your business doesn’t already have an IT strategy, using the budgeting period to craft one is an easy way to conquer two tasks with one planning session. Look closely at all aspects of your business and nut out what support you need and how that will allow your business to grow and thrive (and survive any knock-backs). Many businesses think they can take a less-is-more approach to IT support and still operate effectively. Unfortunately, this is often not the case, and may set up SMBs for problems down the track when their IT infrastructure falters or fails at a crucial juncture.

It’s a good idea to approach your IT support in the form of a health appraisal; think about keeping your business in tip-top shape with a proactive day-to-day plan, while also anticipating possible expenses for unexpected issues or changes that may arise. Evaluating your needs will allow you to firm up your IT requirements for both your current situation and for future scalability – giving your chosen managed services provider (MSP) the clearest information to recommend and price an IT support strategy.

How much should my IT support cost?

Unfortunately (and fortunately!) there is no ‘one size fits all’ model when it comes to IT support expenses. Pricing will be dependent on your business activities, size, set-up and the amount of support required, with recent research indicating that IT budgets as a percentage of revenue range from around 2% up to 8%, with the average, depending on business type, around 3% to 4%.

The good news for smaller businesses is that outsourced IT support is often a lot cheaper than employing staff onsite – and it can deliver a wide range of technical expertise. Managed IT services through an MSP can also be tailored to your needs at any given time, allowing for scalability up or down should circumstances require.

Speak to Geelong’s remote support specialists

Truly the only hard and fast rule about tech support budgeting is that there is no hard and fast rule – it comes down to what your business needs. So just to reiterate – customisation is key.

At Geelong Technology Group we work with numerous businesses of different sizes and across different sectors, tailoring their IT support to meet their unique requirements. If you’re seeking transformational results that consistently make better use of your IT budget, take a moment to get in contact with Geelong’s IT professionals today. 1300 GET GTG (1300 438 484)

Managed Services Provider

Managed IT Support: Switching Your Business IT to an MSP (Managed Services Provider)

Business downtime due to IT issues has got to be one of the most frustrating issues a company can face. And there are enough frustrating issues to face in this 2021 world without adding to them! Outsourcing to a managed IT services provider is a delegation that will not only offer a PROACTIVE approach to the management of your technology infrastructure but will also free up you and your team to get back to day-to-day business.

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