At the beginning of the year, the FBI warned businesses to protect themselves from cyber attacks by foreign entities, saying activity has spiked in the past 18 months.
Hewlett Packard and IBM are among the businesses most recently targeted. There’s a National Counter-Intelligence and Security Center that manages intelligence efforts for the U.S. government. It recently launched a campaign to address continuing threats. The center warns that many companies need to be more to protect against cyber theft.
Foreign governments accused of cyber attacks against the U.S. include Russia, China, Iran and North Korea, with China receiving the most scrutiny in recent reports.
According to Entrepreneur magazine, hackers create fake social media accounts to get people to reveal work and personal information. One of the ways to guard against bad actors is to carefully scrutinize social media requests from people that aren’t personal connections and to research apps before using or downloading them, as well as keeping antivirus software up-to-date.
The FBI warning including a brochure entitled, “Know the Risk, Raise Your Shield” that targets federal employees. The recent warnings follow a string of cases against individuals and organizations accused of stealing proprietary information from U.S. government and businesses.
Nine cases filed since July 2018 include two hackers investigators say are linked to the main Chinese spy agency. Knicknamed APT 10, they allegedly stole corporate and government information via cyber attacks on employees.
The breach of private businesses by Chinese hackers first hit news headlines in 2014, when Sony Pictures was hacked. This prompted an agreement in 2015 between Chinese President Xi Jinping and then President Barrack Obama that curbed cyber attack for a while.
At FireEye, a cybersecurity firm, analysts track hackers working on behalf of the Chinese government. The firm’s representative says attacks are on the uptick recently. These hacking groups are referred to as Red Leaves, cloudhopper, and APT10.
Managed Service providers are among the groups targeted. MSPs supply technology, telecommunications and other services to business clients. If they can break the security systems of such companies, Chinese hackers gain access to the sensitive data of the MSP’s clients.
APT10 has routed malware via an MSP network to its business targets. However, there are many steps businesses can take to protect their employees and data from prying eyes in cyberspace.
U.S. businesses should take proactive measures to safeguard against cyber attacks from Chinese hackers via email, social media and other points of entry.
This includes ensuring that advanced detection tools are utilized on network and email servers to safeguard access to company data. Regular threat assessments and employee training can help. This provides a diagnosis of the state of a firm’s cyber defenses regarding advanced persistent threats that attempt to find breaches in the company’s firewall. Precautions taken against the intrusion of foreign governments include:
A shared mailbox in Microsoft Outlook will prove invaluable if your team is collaborating on a project, as they can exchange messages from a central platform. A communal email center is also an asset if your employees are responsible for responding to customer inquiries. Outlook Calendar allows members to create events or let others know when they’ll be out of the office. When you create a shared mailbox in Outlook, members can monitor messages via a public email alias, which usually appears as email@example.com. The sender appears under this alias, too, rather than by name. Group members can now communicate without logging into the mailbox or conveying personal information. If you’re new to using shared mail in Outlook, here are some “how-to” tips to help you get started.
Before you use the mailbox, you will need to have an office 365 admin for your company or organization set it up and add you as a member. If you are the admin, follow these steps:
Once the admin has created the public mailbox, close Outlook and restart it. The mailbox should appear automatically in the Folder pane. Note that it may take a few minutes to display after the admin added it, so if you don’t see it, wait a bit, then close and restart Outlook again. If you still cannot locate the shared mailbox, you will have to add it manually.
If you want to access the calendar right after the admin created the shared mailbox, you will need to close and restart Outlook to gain access to it. The shared calendar connected with the public mailbox is added to your Calendars list automatically. To use the shared calendar in Outlook, navigate to calendar view and choose the shared mailbox. From there, you can manage schedules and appointments. This feature allows all team members to be on the same page about schedules and appointments.
When the mailbox has been created, the corresponding Contacts list is automatically added. To access it with Outlook:
If you or your team members need to take work on-the-go, you can access the shared mailbox from a smartphone or tablet, too. Unfortunately, the Outlook app on your mobile device won’t allow you to use the shared mailbox, but there is a workaround. Follow these steps to use your primary mailbox and the shared one simultaneously:
In Outlook on the web, you should see the mailbox in your Folder list. Just as you can do with your primary folders, you can expand or collapse the shared mailbox folders. If you want to remove the shared mailbox from the Folders list, right-click Shared mailbox and choose Remove shared folder.
As a member of a shared mailbox, you also have access to the shared calendar. This feature allows you to create, edit and delete events (that you or someone else created) and make the information available to all members. To use the calendar from a mobile device:
With a shared mailbox, you can send, receive and reply to messages just as you do with your primary mailbox. However, if you want to send automatic replies, only the admin is authorized to set this up. You cannot give anyone outside your organization access to your shared mailboxes. If you want to include people outside your business in your group correspondence, you can create a Group in Outlook instead.
Creating a shared mailbox is a helpful way to ensure that your team stays up-to-date on appointments, schedule changes and group messages. It’s also a critical tool for connecting with customers and vendors. Keeping members “in the know” improves communication, employee performance and morale.
You already know what IT stands for: information technology. What you might not know is that most companies have a pretty poor grasp of how best to put IT to work for them.
Why? For the simple reason, that too few businesses take the time to consider the best approach to managing IT needs. They assume it’s as simple as keeping the computers running and the network humming, but that’s not it at all. Not by a longshot.
Actually, the nature of your IT setup has a significant bearing on the efficiency, productivity and profits of your company. By outsourcing your IT needs to an expert, you can majorly fuel your business growth today.
Outsourcing Is a Time-Tested Model
The first obstacle to overcome in using outsourced IT as a means of cutting costs and increasing profits is fear. Many people, unfortunately, are intimidated by taking this critical step.
Outsourcing IT is nothing new though, explains Business.com. “What started as a novel practice of U.S. companies sending IT jobs to India in the 1990s has now become a $88.9 billion industry that connects businesses with IT experts worldwide, from Belarus to Argentina.”
It’s not just big businesses, either: “Companies of all sizes make use of this service to cut down on costs, bring innovation into the business and open up more time to focus on core operations.”
In other words, this is a well-established business model that companies the world over are using the pad out their bottom lines and streamline their workflows. With time-tested results across companies and industries, there’s no reason to fear it – and that’s just the beginning of the benefits.
You No Longer Rely on a Break/Fix Model
Most businesses have a small IT staff on hand. Depending on the size of the company, that might mean a dozen personnel members, a single employee, or Richie over in accounting who is “pretty good” at troubleshooting network problems.
Now, that’s not to say that you can’t have your own staff and get along fine. But in this “break/fix” model, you’re waiting for something to go wrong before you respond. That means you could potentially suffer a breakdown during a seriously important time (Black Friday or April 15th, for instance), which would dramatically affect your bottom line.
It also means you have relatively little ability to forestall those breakdowns. Without the in-depth knowledge that comes from being steeped in the IT profession, you can’t predict coming obstacles and work around them before they become an issue. As you might expect, however, companies that manage IT for you can do just that.
Outsourced IT Can Help You Grow Intelligently
An unfortunate side effect of rapid growth, many businesses find, is that they quickly bloat their existing infrastructure and aren’t sure where to go from there. For instance, the number of orders coming into the system exceeds your ability to manage those orders. Or the number of new products creates a need for a vastly more agile website, but you haven’t created it yet, resulting in backlogged orders and emails.
Those are just a few examples, but they highlight an important point: Without an IT expert in your midst, your information technology fails to grow with your business. Instead, it can only hurry to catch up later on – at which point you might have ticked off many of your formerly enthusiastic prospects.
You can avoid that when you worked with outsourced IT professionals. They know exactly how to plan for changes coming down the pipeline and adjust your systems to accommodate them upfront. Next time you roll out a new product, for instance, they can adjust the infrastructure to handle additional orders. Or they might help you speed up your system at a crucial time – again, Black Friday and Tax Day come to mind.
Whatever you need, they can help you see it coming and respond intelligently, rather than just waiting for the worst to happen.
You Can Focus on What You Do Best
If you’re reading this article, then money says you’re not an IT expert. You are an expert in your niche industry, which is why you started a business in the first place. Logically, your best bet for growing your business is to continue focusing on what makes it thrive. That might mean:
As you can see, “Stopping in the middle of your busy day to fix a finicky router and get the finance department back online” is not on that list. That’s because it does not add measurably to your business growth. At best, you can address the issue quickly so that it doesn’t dampen your workflow.
An IT company, on the other hand, can help you avoid that altogether. They can take care of the issue – or even better, stop it from happening in the first place – while you focus on what made your company great in the first place: interacting with VIPs, attracting clients and customers, innovating.
The takeaway? By turning your IT needs over to a true professional, you can stop worrying about whether you’re “doing it right” and start focusing on what you do best. Say goodbye to the days of confusion, anxiety and technical failure, and hello to a new era of productivity and growth now.