Why Phishing Scams Are Bad & How Not to Bite

We’ve all seen them. From that dashing Nigerian Prince who promises you riches to that text with a mystery parcel who needs your “delivery preferences”, phishing scams are more convincing than ever these days. Next time you come across an email that seems…well, phishy, take some time to think. Educating yourself on what makes up a phishing scam will help you better protect yourself and your loved ones.

What Makes Phishing So Dangerous?

According to phishing.org, “Phishing is a cybercrime in which a target or targets are contacted by email, telephone or text message by someone posing as a legitimate institution to lure individuals into providing sensitive data such as personally identifiable information, banking and credit card details, and passwords”. 

Phishing scams have gotten more advanced over the years and are becoming more difficult to spot, due to the fact that they use names and information personalized to you. They also usually are too good to be true (Not today, my sweet Nigerian Prince), or, have a sense of urgency. People can get flustered by the sense of urgency, making them less likely to pay attention to details.

For example, I have received emails at my office that look like they are coming from my boss, Pete Fardal. It’s addressed with his name, and the email requests that I help him with a task, then asks for my personal phone number. Creepy, right? 

After investigating further, I noticed that I didn’t recognize the email address. Pete confirmed that he sent no such email, but it was very convincing. Heck, the senders even knew that Pete was one of my supervisors! Our office has even received mail-in scams, where they are physical letters asking for personal information.

variety of fishing lures displayed on table

“Phishing” lures come in many shapes & sizes. | Photo: mirandableijenberg

How Does Phishing Work?

Phishing scams start with an attacker who wants you to take some sort of action so that they can reach their goal – to compromise control of your computer, or to steal private information (identity, passwords, & financial access).

It’s called “phishing” because the attacker is dangling bait in front of you (promise of money, gifts, a high stake situation, etc), hoping that you’ll bite. Once you bite, you’ll realize that it was just a sad, fake worm and you’re stuck with a hook though your face. Ouch. 

I’ll use a currently rampant phishing scam to help explain how they work. In 2020, many people have received a text message posed to be from a mailing service, alerting you that you need to enter delivery details for a package that’s waiting for you. Once you click the link, you are taken to a fake amazon page and promised a free (expensive) prize for completing a survey. 

At the end of the survey, you’re invited to enter credit card information – since you *only* have to pay for shipping and handling. Little do you know, written in the fine print is permission to make you a subscriber to their service, allowing them to charge you a monthly fee and steal your money. 

man holding and looking at mobile phone by a window

Take a second to think before you click that mystery link. | Photo: Tom Holmes

 

How Can I Protect Myself From Phishing Scams?

These phishing scams are an extra threat to internet safety because they are more convincing than some other forms ofscamming. You can block one sender, and it’ll come back to you from a different number. So, how do you best protect your personal information? Ask yourself these questions next time you’re unsure if a message is phony or not:

  • Who’s it from?
    • If the sender information is outside of your organization and vague (“yourboss@thatorg.com”), or it seems out of character for whoever they posed as, always double check.
  • Who’s it to?
    • Check if you were cc’d/mixed with a random group of individuals. This can be a sign that it was a mass-sent email, and probably fake.
  • What’s the date?
    • Did you receive this message in “normal” hours, or was it sent at an unusual time, such as 3am?
  • Is the Content Relevant?
    • Check if the subject matches the body message
    • Is it just a long link with no other text? What is the context?
    • Does the destination link match the hyperlinked text (only hover over the link to check, be careful not to accidentally click it)?
    • Does the hyperlinked text look like a popular site, but have a slight spelling change(Amazon.com vs. Anazon.com)?
    • Is the message encouraging me to take an action that will result in a reward or avoiding consequence?
    • Does the message make me feel confused or uncomfortable?
    • If it is from someone I recognize, is this type of message out of character for them?
    • Is this message asking for personal information, such as my phone number, social security number, or credit card information?

Phishing scams aren’t going away anytime soon, so make sure that you’re aware of their tactics. Asking yourself these questions may save you a lot of regret (and money) in the future. If you’re looking to strengthen your network security, check out our networking services or contact us for a complimentary consultation. Now, get out there and practice some good internet safety!

How Can My Small Business Get Free Grant Money From Facebook & Google? – COVID-19 Relief

The past few months have affected everyone differently, but small businesses are especially vulnerable to the changing economy. Luckily, Facebook and Google have both launched programs that award grants to small businesses struggling as a result of COVID-19. Facebook is offering $100 million dollars in cash grants and ad credits, and Google is awarding $340 million in ad credits.

If you want guidance and personalized assistance for setting up and targeting your ads, learn about iPoint’s digital advertising services here. For retargeting ads, or steering past visitors back to your website, learn about or display ad services here.

 

In order to qualify for Facebook’s grant, you must:

  • Be a for-profit company
  • Have between 2 and 50 employees
  • Have been in business for over a year
  • Have experienced challenges from COVID-19

 

Once applications open in your area, you will have two weeks to apply for your grant. In the meantime, Facebook recommends collecting the necessary paperwork, which includes:

  • Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN)
  • Partnership documents
  • Business license
  • Proof of incorporation
  • Official registration

 

The application will also ask for your contact information, a brief description of your business, and how you will use the money to benefit your business and your community. Here is a link to more information about the grant program (including an option to sign up for informational email alerts):

https://www.facebook.com/business/boost/grants

And a link for how to best prepare for your application:

https://www.facebook.com/business/boost/grants/application-guide

 

In order to qualify for Google’s ad credit, you must:

  • Be a SMB (small-medium business)
  • Have spent with a Google Ads account in ten out of twelve months of 2019, and in January and/or February of this year

 

The credits will only be for future use, and it is applicable across the Google Ads platform including Search, Display, and YouTube as well as all campaign types. The credits must be used before the end of December 31, 2020. After that, the credit expires. Google will gradually start awarding the credits in late May, and will message businesses about their qualification status during the following months. Here the article Google posted for more information:

https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/9803410

 

We hope that you find this information useful and supportive during this time. We can’t wait to see what good you’ll do with the grant money!

Are You Prepared for Business Closures Due to the Coronavirus?

You may experience Fort Collins Coronavirus business closures for 2-3 weeks due to quarantine and infection, leading to an increase of IT related issues. In addition to helping you with your Fort Collins digital marketing and network needs, iPoint is ready to set you up with a secure remote workplace solution, allowing employees to stay at home – away from spreading and infecting the office and other employees.

We have several options to get you connected to your servers or workstations securely: either through VPN or remote software technologies.

For over 18 years, we have been using these technologies that have built-in encryption so that you know your data is safe from hackers and data interception over the internet. Our team also realizes that some of you already have the ability to work outside your business, so if you need additional connections, we can also assist with those requests.

We are currently experiencing an increase of requests, so don’t wait – contact us today to schedule a review or setup an appointment regarding Coronavirus business closures. Our technicians realize that taking care of these setups is a top priority, we are working to ensure that you will not experience an interruption as this virus continues to spread quickly.

 

 

Click here to learn about iPoint’s Remote Workplace Solutions and to get more information on how iPoint can help keep your business running during Fort Collins Coronavirus Business Closures.

 

Stay safe and healthy,
iPoint

9 Digital Marketing Tactics for 2019

With every new year, there is always plenty of new things: new ideas, new tech, new moments, new predictions of the future, new trends, and more newness. With all this, it is easy to think that most of these new ideas aren’t worth learning and that they are just fads that will past. We decided to dedicate our first blog post of 2019 to 9 digital marketing tactics you can no longer ignore in 2019. Still don’t believe us? We have the stats to prove it.

  1. Chatbots—Maybe you’ve noticed when you visit some pages on Facebook, the messenger box comes up and in it there’s a message that offers you answers to questions you could possibly have. With 1.4 billion people interacting with chatbots, it’s easy to see why businesses are starting to save majorly. People like chatbots because they’re responsive, give answers quickly, and never lose patience.

 

  1. Personalization—we truly hope you haven’t been ignoring this one as it proves time and time again how valuable it is to marketing. Even 96% of marketers believe that personalization is a main driver in the customer- business relationship. In email marketing, personalized emails are 3 times better than just blast emails.

 

  1. Video marketing—Now we know this can seem like a lot of work and expensive with having to buy a new camera, but hear us out, some of the best cameras we have seen are in your pockets right now! That’s right, your phones. By creating captivating videos, you give your brand more shareable content that works to get your name out into the public. With 52% of consumers saying that watching product videos makes them more confident in online purchases, why wouldn’t you want to use the strategy?

 

  1. Influencer marketing—Sometimes word of mouth is the strongest marketing tactic you can use. People feel others are more trustworthy other than the brands themselves. So even if you can get clients to vouch for your products and services, you are likely to do better in future sales.

 

  1. Social Messaging Apps—Here’s one that might seem like new and scary territory but hear us out. With 1.3 billion monthly users actively using Facebook Messenger, wouldn’t you want to market your company’s services where your potential customers are spending their time? It also gives you a way to personalize you marketing message just a little bit further.

 

  1. Visual Search—With this new way of searching, users can get more specific results that brings users to your products. Pinterest has even started using this new searching method for users to take a picture of something they like and then they can learn where they can buy their own, something that can be used for most businesses!

 

  1. Voice Searching—Did you know that 50% of all searches will be voice searches by the year 2020? Better get used to the changing technology because it’s coming quick. For example, Domino’s allows customers to make their orders through Alexa. Just think about how you can start using voice searches to help customers find your products or services more easily.

 

  1. Social Media Stories—There is no doubt about it, social media is continually growing and will only get bigger. Now with the platforms adding “stories” your business can show insider videos of what it is like in your office or show off your products. It allows people to feel closer to your brand and continue building those important relationships you’re always looking to build.

 

  1. Artificial Intelligence—From analyzing consumer behavior, search patterns, and other data, it is easy to see why AI is going to be an important tool for businesses. You can understand how consumers find your products, and that is really important information to have to make finding your products simpler. AI can help optimize your customer service and give you an edge against competitors.

We know some of these strategies seem like a lot to do, but they will only help your business grow and be more relatable.

As always, if you ever have any questions feel free to reach out to any of our digital marketing specialists. Happy New Year!

Common Interview Questions and Answers

When job searching, one of the least favorite parts is the interview process. It can be nerve wrecking. We decided to dedicate this week’s blog post on some very common interview questions and tips on how to answer them to help ease your worries. Remember, it’s all about confidence and being prepared. Let’s dive in.

  1. “Tell me about yourself”- This is one of those questions that we hated being asked on the first day of school and we still hate it now. How are we supposed to answer this question? Do we give them an extensive life story? No. this question is just used as an ice breaker and tells the interviewer how the rest of the interview will go. You can use this question to describe past roles and strengths you’ve gained.
  2. “Why are you interested in this position” – This question gives the employers a feel for if you want that specific position with that specific company or if you’re just looking for a paycheck. This is a good place to explain how your strengths match specific job duties or requirements to show you’ve done your research on the company beforehand.
  3. “Tell me about a time you experienced conflict with a co-worker and how you dealt with it” – This is not the time to tell the HR professional about the time your boss overheard you gossiping about another co-worker. This question is used to understand how you handle professional conflict since it is bound to happen in the work-place. Your answer needs to focus on the solution and what you’ve learned from the experience.

Want to learn more about commonly asked questions and get ideas on how to effectively answer them to impress HR professionals? Read this blog post from HubSpot, click here!

We know no one truly liked job searching. But interviewing is a skill that will help you go a long way. Be sure to always be practicing your skills.

5 Office Outing Ideas

Fall is one of those seasons that everyone is excited about for the first week or so, but then find themselves already being sick of the cooler weather quickly. You might be noticing that in your office, people are losing a lot of motivation, they seem stressed, or they just look like they need a break. Looks like it is time to plan an office outing. Office events are a great time for those working in your company to get together, bond, release some stress, and hopefully become more motivated. Now, we get it. Planning these events can be stressful because not everyone agrees on what is fun. We came up with a list of 5 things your office can do to take that extra stress away from you! 5 ideas aren’t enough? We have an article from HubSpot with 22 more ideas for you and your office!

 

  1. Cook off– well, who doesn’t like food? This is a great way to make those in your office who don’t often work together be on a team. You get to know different people a little better and make something (hopefully) delicious! You can get creative and give an ingredient that they MUST use, like marshmallows or maple syrup, or you can make them create something within a food group (like make a type of ice cream! This idea is sure to keep everyone full of laughter and food!
  2. Karaoke night– Can’t imagine your office neighbor singing “it’s raining men”? Well maybe you don’t need to imagine, you can just watch! Karaoke bring people out of their shells and it’s a great way for people to get to know others in the office in new ways. You can give bonus points for best acts, funniest performances, best or worst singers and more.
  3. Escape Rooms– Have you heard about the new sensation yet? These rooms are used for office outings all the time, and there’s a big reason why-people love them! Spend some time trapped in a room with your coworkers (yikes!), solving puzzles, trying to get out. You can see new sides of people and test your creative thinking.
  4. Volunteer– Here’s an idea everyone can get behind-giving back. It is a great bonding experience for anything to give back and it’ll give the office time to come together and do something greater than themselves. You can create some great memories and create some good. Whether it’s working at a soup kitchen in the morning, or painting a fence for a neighbor, volunteering is a great way for offices to destress and bond.
  5. Office trivia– Think you know your office inside and out? Test your knowledge against your coworkers. This is a great game for laughs and could even just be a way to break up the day. You could put up a question on a white board every day and see who gets the most questions right.

Planning events can be stressful but hopefully this helps take that stress away! Keep your employees motivated and excited about working for you. A little but of fun and play goes a long way. For more ideas, check out this HupSpot article with more ideas by clicking here.

Did 2018 Go as Planned?

With everyone welcoming October next month (wow, time flies!), we felt it would be a good time to reflect on the new tech that has come out, and what people expected technology to do in the beginning of 2018. We did some research and found a Forbes post about the top seven tech trends we were sure to see in 2018. Let’s look at each trend and see if it was a true forecast.

  1. AI Permeation

It was assumed that AI would start to be included in everyday lives. Whether it be through apps, ways of ordering food in drive through, or through search engines. We agreed that AI has continued to grow throughout the year, but maybe not as much as expected. It isn’t something people often think about- and, we might have just moved closer to automation with people always on standby rather than AI.  What do you think?

  1. Digital Centralization

“Alexa, define that for me.” It’s true. People are relying more and more on smart technology and are looking for a way to centralize it all. Could you imagine if we could control our phones, watches, TVs, refrigerators, and all other devices with just one? Google and Amazon are trying to get there with Alexa and Siri, but we didn’t get as close as we may have expected.

  1. 5G Preparation

Well, this one is kind of clear to see we haven’t met the mark yet. It was thought of that we would be moving to a new 5G network in 2018, but so far it looks like we haven’t.

  1. Data Overload

Data is always being collected because we are always on our phones and consuming more data. It was estimated that there would be security issues and data overloads. Just ask Facebook and twitter, this happened a lot in 2018.

  1. Seamless Conversations

As we’ve seen, speaking to our devices has become a bigger thing. Alexa and Siri seem to know what we are trying to mean and can give us what we want on command. It was thought that communicating with technology would have minimum hiccups by the end of 2018…what do you think?

  1. White Collar Automation

Has your job been taken over by a robot or AI? Hopefully not. But It was believed that soon many jobs would have large AI components to it. Personally though, we haven’t really seen a big change over the last year.

  1. UI Overhauls

As we are still looking at screens and really interacting with them, there hasn’t been a crazy breakthrough of screen less technology. There’s still more time in the year though, so we’ll see.

Technology is unexpected and new changes are coming every day. We just wanted to take a quick look at what was expected to come out of this year and so far, what has truly come through to the public. What were technology trends you thought we would see for this year?

Motivational Monday – 5 Tips on Staying Motivated

It’s the time of year when students go back to school, life settles down, and you get into a more consistent schedule. You might even be able to feel a change in the weather. Fall can be exciting, but it is also a time people lose a lot of motivation. Since it’s Monday, we decided to dedicate this week’s blog post to talking about our best tips to staying motivated.

 

  1. Set a goal and visualize it to the smallest detail

See yourself planning it out, working on tasks, and finishing the goal. Even the most elite athletes claim they imagine and can even feel the sweat dripping off their nose when they finish their race. This just pushes them harder to finish their goal. Visualizing the goal makes you realize that it’s possible and that itself can motivate you.

 

  1. Write out a list of reasons you want to accomplish the goal

These are the reasons that ground you and prove to yourself why the goal is important. It will give you something to always look back on and remind yourself why you’re working towards the goal in the first place. By writing down the goals with paper instead of just typing them, you make a deeper mental connection allowing yourself to feel more motivated on finishing the goal.

 

  1. Break the goal up into smaller, manageable pieces

A main factor in people losing motivation is that they feel their goal is too big and that they will never be able to reach the end. By breaking up the goal into manageable pieces, you allow yourself to see how far you’ve come and celebrate the small steps you’ve taken to completing the goal. Before you know it, you will have reached your goal without it ever feeling like it was too big of a project.

 

  1. Get the help you need

Only because it is your goal, doesn’t mean others can’t help in the process. Bringing in a buddy might even increase your motivation because you will have someone to keep you accountable. Sometimes a fresh set of eyes will help you see things in a new way and that can push the process forward.

 

  1. Prepare a plan for how you will conquer your loss of motivation

Now you may think this is defeatist thinking, but it is the opposite. It is almost inevitable that you will hit a wall and maybe even face some setbacks. But preparing for these setbacks allows you to have a plan of action and not lose motivation.

 

It’s important to remember everyone loses motivation and you are not alone. Hopefully these quick tips can help you keep motivation as we move into the new seasons.

Beware Phishing Scams and How to Keep your Passwords Safe

We have been seeing quite an increase in attempts to obtain sensitive information through email, also known as phishing.  These emails disguise themselves in ways that makes them look trustworthy in hopes that you’ll click on their link and enter in your information which they then use for malicious purposes.  One of the more prevalent ones of late is an email that claims to have your password and actually lists a password which you have likely used in the past or possibly even presently (if you don’t change your passwords often).  If you’re looking for more information, here is article/tech tip from the NY Times in regards to this particular type of phishing attempt and how they may have come to know a previously used password.

Good password practice is to use passwords that are a minimum of 8 characters – alphanumeric and symbols.  For more sensitive information, it is a good idea to change the passwords every 3-6 months or use two-factor authentication.  A two-factor authentication example is a code that is sent to your phone despite logging in properly with your password.  Most financial institutions are already implementing this methodology.  Make sure your passwords have nothing to do with your personal information (such as your birthday, the street you live on, where you work, etc). Although you may not mind if someone knows that personal information about you, it makes knowing your password easier for hackers. It is recommended that you use random numbers, letters, and symbols in password. Check this web site for a strong password.

If you have any questions/concerns regarding this, feel free to contact us and we would be glad to assist you. We at iPoint would love to help you navigate through possible phishing scams and assist with other tips to keep all your sensitive information safe.

Let Me Introduce You to AirPoint

You know about iPoint, but have you heard of our sister company AirPoint? AirPoint holds all our drones services because we knew there was so much to offer, we just had to branch off our business. From thermal imaging to aerial photographer, we can cover all your drone needs to launch your business into new heights. We know this can be a lot to take in, so we wrote up this blog so you can wrap your hands around all our services and how they can help you!

 

Commercial Services: These services include aerial photography, aerial videography, and even live streaming events. This is your one stop shop when it comes to taking photos of your entire business landscape or getting a new perspective of your land. If your business is hosting a 5k run/walk event, or something else, we can also live stream the vent so more people can learn and really understand what the event is about! We’ve helped residential areas with their photography, as well as other businesses like Fort Fun to show off all they have to offer.

 

Data & Imaging Services:

3D and GPS Mapping: It’s that simple. We map out the flight and launch the drone. As the drone flies via GPS, it captures aerial imagery. Imagery is processed to create collaborative 3D & GPS Mapping. When collection’s that simple, you can focus your energy on analyzing the data rather than figuring out how to gather it. You save time while collecting millions of data points in one short flight. AirPoint uses the top drone GPS mapping software program in the industry to provide high-resolution aerial 3D & GPS Mapping Services that are invaluable to facility managers, engineers, contractors, farmers and developers who need to make informed and targeted decisions regarding site analysis, infrastructure, volume calculations, agricultural yields, surveys, situational changes and more.

Volumetric Surveying: Whether you’re checking to see if you have enough material to cover a particular area, or providing a financial report of your inventory, accurate, efficient and safer volumetric measurement makes all the difference. Significantly less expensive than traditional measurement and survey methods, aerial drone surveying gives you results in hours instead of days, rendering highly accurate 3D models from 25 – 400 feet aloft. Businesses large and small in industries across the board are boosting productivity, automating reporting and saving time with professional drone services. Modern unmanned aircraft are superior when comparing the time and expense of traditional ground-based volumetrics.

Thermal Inspections: Preventive maintenance can help save millions of dollars for companies before equipment or structures fail. Our thermal camera provides inspections in a variety of industries. This FLIR camera can be mounted on either of our drones. And the air-to-ground thermography results are amazing. In contrast, FLIR cameras see every nut and bolt in areas impossible to reach before – every leak (even those invisible to the naked eye) with no downtime, quicker turnaround and no risk to employees. You’ll not only save time, you’ll save money. You can perform multiple drone inspections at multiple sites per day that are easy to interpret and apply.

 

We love our drones here at iPoint. If you ever have any questions about our services or how it can help your business, feel free to contact us and we will be happy to help!