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CTN Solutions has been serving the greater Philadelphia area since 1997, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Tip of the Week: Ransomware Is Exploding… Is Your Business Ready For The Blast?

Tip of the Week: Ransomware Is Exploding… Is Your Business Ready For The Blast?

When it comes to Internet threats, ransomware is the one that causes the most fear, especially for small and medium-sized businesses, as it should. According to the Cisco 2017 Annual Cybersecurity Report, ransomware is growing at a yearly rate of 350%. Are you’re doing all you can to prevent your business from becoming another ransomware statistic? Here’s five very good tips that will help you avoid becoming a victim of the next big ransomware attack!


  1. The First Line of Defense: You and your employees are the first line of defense against ransomware - and all malware. Educating yourself and your employees on the dangers and best practices to keep yourself, your data, and your network safe against ransomware is honestly the best way to protect your business from a cyber threat. Keep yourself apprised of the best ways to prevent victimization.
  2. Whatever You Do… DON’T PAY THE RANSOM: You might have heard this before. It’s something that nearly everyone discussing ransomware says or writes about at some point. Paying ransom is no guarantee that you’re going to get your data back. In fact, the first payment is often a gateway to increasing demands and your data is still gone. Don’t Pay the Ransom! Instead of paying the criminals who have hijacked your data - contact your IT service provider and let them know what is happening.
  3. Backing Up Data on a Regular Basis: Regularly backing up data is the most effective way to prevent losing your data from ransomware. In the event that a ransomware attack does find its way onto your network, you have a copy of that network and data backed up in its entirety from just a few minutes before. Make sure that a copy of that backup is not stored on the infected network, or lost to hackers.
  4. Keep Security Software and Patches Up-to-Date: New ransomware is always being introduced. New variants of malware are always being created, which threaten your network. Luckily, your operating system and software are always working overtime to come up with ways to keep your data and network secure. Updating your security software and paying attention to patches is a great way to make sure that you’re protected when ransomware strikes.
  5. Beware of Email: One of the primary methods of ransomware transmission and infection is email. Users should be cautious of any email that is unsolicited or unexpected, particularly if there is a link or attachment.

For Microsoft Windows users, there is a lot of good information about ransomware contained on the Ransomware FAQ that is regularly updated in the Windows Defender Security Intelligence (WDSI) database of threats to Windows computers. That is just for starters - for those of you who want to make sure they’re doing everything possible to reduce their chance of contracting ransomware, reach out our security experts today at (610) 828-5500.

It’s estimated that ransomware attacks will cost businesses $5 billion in 2017 and that number only includes those who pay ransom. Imagine if everyone who was attacked paid their ransom. Are you familiar with these five ransomware tips? Is there anything else you have found to be effective? Let us know in the comments below.

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SMiShing: A New Mobile Computing Scam

SMiShing: A New Mobile Computing Scam

Chances are, you’ve heard of phishing before--emails that promise some benefit or prize if you click on the included link, that actually results in trouble for you and your data. Unfortunately, as technology has embraced mobility, so have phishing attempts. This is why you must also be aware of SMiShing scams.


What Is SMiShing?
SMiShing is a mobile variant of phishing that involves the use of a text message, rather than an email, to catch the target in the phisher’s net. These attacks are highly reliant on the target’s compliance with the instructions the cybercriminal provides, as well.

These attacks can be more effective than the typical phishing attack, as the general public is increasingly aware of cyber threats--yet don’t expect these threats to manifest in their cell phone.

Just as one would experience in the ‘typical’ phishing attack, a ‘smisher’ will likely try to gain your trust in order to extract credentials. This ultimately allows them access to the accounts they obtained the credentials for, permitting them to wreak havoc and/or steal what they please. This is especially dangerous if they gain access to any client financial information you may have on file. Alternatively, some smishers will claim that if you don’t access a link and enter your personal information, then you will be charged daily for some service. Naturally, if this service is one that your organization has not signed up for, this message should be reported to IT and then disregarded.

How To Spot SMiShing Scams
First, if you suspect that a message is fraudulent, then reach out to confirm that the message truly came from the sender. To do so, reach out via a different channel than your text, such as calling an official service number to speak directly to a representative. This allows you to confirm that the message was legitimate or fraudulent without exposing yourself or the business to greater risk.

In essence, avoid responding to text messages from senders that you don’t know, especially when the number is a 5000 number. This indicates that the message was an email sent as a text message, which is often a tactic used by scammers.

Finally, keep an eye out for any messages that contain downloadable apps. These are a favorite method to introduce malware to a mobile device. If an app doesn’t come from an official app store, it is likely a piece of disguised malware.

How To Be The Most Safe
If in doubt, confirm before you answer. Additionally, a VPN (or virtual private network) can help you maintain your mobile security, especially when paired with these practices.

CTN Solutions can help you to put these safeguards, and others, in place for your business devices. Give us a call at (610) 828-5500 to get started.

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Who Needs To Be Involved In Network Security? Simple: Everyone

Who Needs To Be Involved In Network Security? Simple: Everyone

Network security is an important part of keeping both your business and your staff away from online threats, but it’s not enough to implement the best, most comprehensive solutions on the market. There are a surprising number of facets to network security, and in order to optimize protection against online threats, you’ll need to know all of them. Thankfully, you don’t have to do this alone.


By educating your staff on how to act under precarious situations, you’re giving them valuable knowledge that can help them protect your business, even when management isn’t watching. First, let’s examine the role that your business’ IT department plays in its security. You can then augment security with both employee education and outsourced assistance.

Your Internal IT Department
Your IT department is generally your first line of defense against threats to your business infrastructure. They monitor your network for any signs of danger, as well as install patches and security updates to eliminate known problems on your network. But what if you don’t have an IT department? Small businesses often forego an internal IT department for the sake of saving a few bucks, or simply because they can’t afford it in the first place. In this situation, your employees end up doing most of the technology maintenance, but this can be a dangerous gamble. Who knows if their maintenance is performed correctly? Plus, it’s just more time that’s taken away from productive employees.

Your Employees
Even with an internal IT department and security solutions, your technology can only handle so much. Training your employees on how to identify dangerous situations can help you prevent them from doing something foolish, like downloading the wrong attachment or clicking on the wrong link. Furthermore, educate them on proper password protocol and ensure that they use complex passwords at every opportunity. This includes using both upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. Also, be sure to inform your employees of how to identify suspicious messages, and above all else, encourage them to tell IT about anything that looks out of place.

What You Do
Even without an internal IT department, there are ways for you to get more done with the limited resources at your disposal. Instead of going out of your way to do all the IT work yourself, use the assets that you would spend in labor on this and use them to acquire outsourced work. Often, it’s much cheaper than hiring an in-house IT department, and you get the assistance of trained IT professionals without dipping into your limited time and resources. It’s the best way to approach IT, as your internal team can focus on their jobs without the interruption of technology troubles.

Does your business need IT security? CTN Solutions can help. To learn more, reach out to us at (610) 828-5500.

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Protecting Your Data Is Easier With A VPN

Protecting Your Data Is Easier With A VPN

Does your business focus enough on security? One of the best solutions that you can consider is a virtual private network, or VPN. By implementing a VPN solution, you can improve the security and privacy on your devices, even while out of the office, on business trips or at conferences. What can a VPN do for your business?


Essentially, a VPN can mask your traffic so you can access your company data securely while out of the office. It does this through powerful, military-grade encryption protocol that scrambles your data while it’s in transit. The data is then decrypted when it has reached its destination, keeping hackers from taking advantage of any data that they could steal. It’s an important asset that lets your organization and its employees remotely access data while on the road, on mobile devices.

The VPN’s primary use is to access important information on your business’s network without worrying about the data being swiped by hackers. This lets your workers continue to be productive even when they aren’t in the safety of your in-house network. VPNs allow your business to keep a virtual desktop running, which can let your workers access their in-house desktop without being in the office.

Of course, priority #1 should always be security, especially considering that cybersecurity is such a threat to businesses of all sizes. Criminals take full advantage of advances in technology just like security professionals do, so leaps and bounds in security developments also present new challenges for hackers to overcome.

Now, what if you’re on a business trip and you need to access your data? While your hotel or coffee shop might have a Wi-Fi password, there’s no way that you can guarantee its security (since you’re not the one managing it). If you access sensitive data over this connection, there’s a chance that hackers could be lurking in the shadows, watching and waiting to make their move. They don’t even have to be in the same room as you. They could be down the hall with the shades pulled over the window, watching your every move on the network.

The point we’re trying to make is that public Wi-Fi is unpredictable and dangerous, if you aren’t protected. A lot can be said about the person whose data is being stolen, and hackers can use that data to their advantage. A VPN can protect your business’s assets, even when you’re out of the office.

We’ve seen other uses for VPNs, as well. They can ensure privacy of residents or secure access to websites that are protected by geographic restrictions. For example, China has outlawed the use of VPNs since they are often used to get around the Great Firewall, giving citizens access to information that they otherwise would not be able to view. Other countries continue to follow suit, including Russia, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Venezuela. While this makes it more difficult for businesses in these countries to secure themselves, just think about the implication that this presents. VPNs are so secure that countries known for censorship and cyber espionage are banning them because they conflict with their agendas. It’s impossible to regulate traffic that’s encrypted like this, so they flat out ban the technology.

If your business wants to ensure protection while on the go, a VPN is a good start. To get started, reach out to CTN at (610) 828-5500.

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Your Search Bar Is Now More Secure

Your Search Bar Is Now More Secure

August saw yet another Patch Tuesday designed to resolve security issues in Microsoft products. Out of the 48 vulnerabilities resolved, 15 affected Windows, while 25 were rated as critical, 21 as important, and 27 that allowed for remote code execution. This might sound a little overwhelming, so we’ll try to simplify it a bit--a lot of flaws were fixed, and the majority of them can be considered dangerous for your organization.


Since only 15 affected Windows itself, you might be wondering where the others were applied. Other Microsoft products, including Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Sharepoint, SQL Server, Hyper-V, and Kernel, all required a response from the developer. Only two of these flaws affected all versions of Windows and Windows Server, yet none of them were being exploited in the wild by hackers trying to find their next victim.

There is one vulnerability, however, that should require your immediate attention, and this is the one which targets the Windows Search function in your device. The vulnerability in question, CVE-2017-8620, can be exploited remotely via Server Management Block (SMB) to take over a system. This includes both a Windows workstation or a Windows Server unit. Thankfully, the flaw doesn’t exist in SMB itself, and is unaffected by the dangerous threats like the WannaCry ransomware and NotPetya.

According to the Windows advisory, the vulnerability is exploited through the way that Windows Search handles objects in memory. Basically, hackers can send specialized messages through Windows Search to change user permissions. Once they have done so, the possibilities are limitless. Hackers could install, remove, or change applications on the targeted device, as well as view, change, or delete data stored on it. Even scarier is the ability to create an entirely new account with full administrator privileges.

This type of vulnerability is something out of a hacker’s dream, allowing them to take full advantage of a victim’s computer with relatively little trouble. The good news is that as long as you apply the required patches and security updates, the issue can be resolved easily enough. How does your organization combat vulnerabilities? You need to implement patches and security updates in at least some capacity, as not doing anything at all is a recipe for disaster--especially with a threat as thorough as the above mentioned. Thankfully, there is a solution for organizations that either don’t have the time or the resources to implement patches.

Outsourced IT services, including remote patching and maintenance, can be acquired by organizations of all sizes, without breaking your budget or dragging down operations, due to maintenance. You can take advantage of enterprise-level solutions designed to help your organization optimize security, without hiring an internal IT department and adding new salaries to your budget. CTN Solutions can help your business identify and repair weaknesses in its computing infrastructure. To learn more, reach out to us at (610) 828-5500.

Our clients that are subscribed to our Managed IT services will be covered and will be getting the Windows updates once it has been fully tested.

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Your Computer's Infected... What Do You Do Next?

Your Computer's Infected... What Do You Do Next?

It’s one of the most commonly-known computer issues: infection. There are plenty of threats out there that could potentially take hold of your PC. The question is, do you know how to proceed if one does? This blog will go into just that.

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Tip of the Week: Lock Your Computer By Simply Walking Away With Dynamic Lock

Tip of the Week: Lock Your Computer By Simply Walking Away With Dynamic Lock

Security best practices demand that a workstation should never be left unlocked. However, it can be really tempting to leave it unlocked if you only plan on stepping away for a moment--but unfortunately, that moment can easily turn into many if you are distracted from your task. Fortunately, there is now a fix that relies on the one device most of us are never without: our phones.

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Tip of the Week: Using These Websites Can Help Preserve Your Privacy

Tip of the Week: Using These Websites Can Help Preserve Your Privacy

Everyone has a right to privacy. However, with the popularity of social networks, the Internet is a very hard place to remain a private individual. Digital communication is everywhere. Cybercrime has become a fairly regular event. This week’s tip of the week takes a glance at three websites that you can use to help enforce your right to privacy.

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Have You Lost Control Of Your Network?

Have You Lost Control Of Your Network?

There are some tasks that are essential to the health of your business’ network. For example, you need to make sure that you are engaging in regular network management activities. Do you know what this task entails?

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective PC Users

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective PC Users

Security is one of the most crucial pain points of all businesses, but sometimes it can be tricky to implement solutions if you’re not sure what you specifically need. Network security isn’t easy, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be hard. If you have difficulty reinforcing a security state of mind in your office, we have good news for you; by keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be able to keep your business more secure than it would be otherwise.

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Here’s How to Make the Internet Far Less Distracting for Your Team

Here’s How to Make the Internet Far Less Distracting for Your Team

The average office worker needs to access the Internet in order to do their job. What they don’t need to access is cat videos, memes, social media, online games, and malware-ridden websites. How can a business owner clamp down on Internet activity in their office? By equipping their network with a content filtering solution, of course.

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3 Ways to Prevent a Smartphone Thief From Also Stealing Your Data

3 Ways to Prevent a Smartphone Thief From Also Stealing Your Data

While it’s certainly a bummer to have your smartphone stolen, it’s even worse if the thief accesses your data. To help prevent this nightmare scenario, security professionals have developed some clever solutions.

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Eliminate Webcam Worry With a Piece of Tape

Eliminate Webcam Worry With a Piece of Tape

Even webcams are susceptible to infestation from RATs, though they may not be the same creatures that haunt subway tunnels or dank basements. Remote Access Tools can be troublesome and, in some cases, invasive. RATs can be used to remotely access a computer and perform any number of functions, including turning on a device’s webcam.

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Why the UTM is the Ultimate Security Solution for Businesses

Why the UTM is the Ultimate Security Solution for Businesses

Though network security is a necessity, it’s difficult to plan for every single possibility. Small and medium-sized businesses have trouble accounting for the many threats that lurk on the Internet, as security often requires a professional’s touch. As experts ourselves, we’ll discuss the many security solutions available to your organization, as well as what your best option is.

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A Look Back at 2016’s Biggest Cyber Security Stories

A Look Back at 2016’s Biggest Cyber Security Stories

2016 saw many notorious data breaches, along with developments in malware and other threats to security. It’s always helpful to reflect on these developments so that the knowledge can be used in the future to aid in developing new strategies for taking on the latest threats. How will your business learn from the mistakes of others in 2017?

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Is Your Company’s Data Encrypted? It Should Be

Is Your Company’s Data Encrypted? It Should Be

Data might be the most important aspect of your organization, but how well do you protect it throughout your network? Every organization has data like personally identifiable information and financial credentials stashed away somewhere on the network, so security isn’t something that you can ignore. One of the best ways you can safeguard your data is through the use of encryption.

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Hackers Use Social Media to Scam Employees Into Handing Over Company Data

Hackers Use Social Media to Scam Employees Into Handing Over Company Data

Social media is a great way for organizations to share information about their products and services, but while it’s great for those who want to reach a new audience, it’s also exposing you to another audience that you may not want to be familiar with: hackers. Believe it or not, there are hackers who are trying to take advantage of the personal information you share on your social media accounts.

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Google Throws Down the Gauntlet for Hackers to Breach Their New Phone

Google Throws Down the Gauntlet for Hackers to Breach Their New Phone

There are many ways to fund a project, but one of the more interesting ways to do so in today’s web-centric culture is through crowdfunding. It’s been so effective that even major companies like Google are using it to their advantage. Google’s latest project encourages users to hack into the Nexus line of mobile devices to collect potential vulnerabilities, with the promise of prizes for those who are successful.

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What Can We Learn From the Library of Congress’ Recent Hack Attack?

What Can We Learn From the Library of Congress’ Recent Hack Attack?

Believe it or not, there’s more news in Washington D.C. than matters concerning the upcoming election--namely the fact that the Library of Congress was struck by a DoS (Denial of Service) attack in July, supporting the members of government in their calls for an apparently much-needed update to the Library’s systems.

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Are You Aware of the Bloatware Security Risk?

Are You Aware of the Bloatware Security Risk?

Have you ever downloaded software off of the Internet, but to your dismay, it comes bundled with other free software? We’re talking about toolbars and other unwanted software that might install alongside your desired application. It should come as no surprise that bloatware can cause problems for your computer, but it also comes with the added pain of being a major security red flag.

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