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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.

Business Email User Tips

Business Email User Tips

Email is one of modern society’s best ways of staying in contact on both a business and personal level, but only if you’re effectively utilizing it. We’ll help you implement best practices and other methods to get the maximum benefit of your chosen email solution.

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Tip of the Week: How to Consolidate Your Email Management

Tip of the Week: How to Consolidate Your Email Management

Quick question for you: how many email accounts do you have? How many do you have to regularly check? How many different platforms do they utilize? If there’s too many, important communications are easy to miss in the ensuing mess of messages. Fortunately, there are a few ways that this can be avoided, which we’ll review for this week’s tip.

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Learn to Use Email Safely

Learn to Use Email Safely

Email is a core component to many businesses. With 124.5 billion business emails being sent and received each day, that doesn’t seem to be in danger of ending. Are the emails that are coming and going from your business secure? That may be another story, altogether. In order to keep your email security at a premium, we have outlined the following tips:

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Will You Be the Latest Business to Move Your Email to the Cloud?

Will You Be the Latest Business to Move Your Email to the Cloud?

The cloud helps many organizations expand their territories beyond the physical workplace. Employees can now access data and applications on any connected device. Your office can benefit considerably from cloud-based resources, with email in particular being a standout solution for the cloud.

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Protect Your Business From Phishing Attacks

Protect Your Business From Phishing Attacks

Spam is a major hindrance when running a business that relies on email, but it’s easy to protect your employee’s time from the average spam messages with the right technological support. Unfortunately, hackers have adapted to this change and made it more difficult to identify scam emails. More specifically, they have turned to customizing their spam messages to hit certain individuals within organizations.

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Tip of the Week: Getting Back to Email Security Basics

Tip of the Week: Getting Back to Email Security Basics

Email is a particular favorite attack vector of many who would do wrong by your business, as it is easily one of the most used communications in most businesses today. Do your employees know how large of a responsibility they have to your business security just by using email? In order to prevent unfortunate security blunders, you need to make sure your employees know a few best practices when it comes to handling email securely.

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Business Communications Are Changing Rapidly

Business Communications Are Changing Rapidly

Communication solutions for business are changing rapidly. Most of the new solutions use existing technologies, allowing organizations to get more for the services they already pay for and save money.

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Unified Communications Boosts Organizational Collaboration

Unified Communications Boosts Organizational Collaboration

Communication is one of the most important parts of running an organization, and this is especially true for smaller organizations that need to work closely in order to make progress. Today’s collaborative workplace is dependent on people understanding a unified message and working to succeed in that endeavor. To this end, a unified communications strategy can be extremely helpful.


Defining Unified Communications
What kinds of tools do you use on a daily basis to make sure that everyone stays connected and informed? Be sure to include technology solutions like email, telephone calls, mobile apps, and instant messaging. Now imagine all of it together in one singular platform. When you consolidate so many solutions into one, you make the experience easier for everyone involved, including your employees, supervisors, and administration.

Another aspect of unified communications that makes things much easier for your business is the fact that it’s hosted in a flexible cloud-based environment. Since you’re accessing these platforms through the cloud, you don’t have to worry about hosting and maintaining the infrastructure that these solutions are hosted on (as long as you’re outsourcing this, anyway). This also saves you a considerable amount of time and resources during implementation, as well as lowers the barrier for entry due to its ease of use.

How They Are Good for Business
By building a unified communications system you gain multiple benefits. You enhance security by being able to manage all communications--both inside and outside your organization--from one easy-to-manage dashboard. It is great for organizations that depend on department-to-department collaboration. Just think about how much easier it is to collaborate when there are reliable communication solutions at your fingertips. The end result is a much more efficient and valuable situation that you would see with a more traditional system where you utilize multiple solutions to handle your company communications.

If you want to learn more about how unified communications can work for your company, CTN’s consultants can take you through what it entails to build one, and just how much more efficient your operations can be with enhanced communications solutions. Reach out to us at (610) 828-5500 for more.

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Email Security Basics

Email Security Basics

Email is a modern classic as far as business solutions are concerned, and you’d be hard-pressed to find an office that didn’t use it in some capacity or another. However, because email is so popular, it has become a favorite attack vector of malicious users. Fortunately, there are some basic practices that will help keep your email account secure and your communications private.


Follow Password Guidelines
As you might imagine, one of the most important, basic ways that you can lock down your email account is to ensure that your password is sufficiently strong. Too often, breach statistics (and similar data sets) reveal that passwords are still overwhelmingly insecure. Pet names, birthdates, anniversaries, and favorite sports teams are used as passwords far more than they should be. Some minimal social engineering could very easily provide someone with access to an email account.

To counter this, avoid the temptation to resort to formulaic, easy-to-guess password systems, for instance, smushing your alma mater’s mascot together with the number of your childhood home. Again, these password conventions are the first things that a cybercriminal will try to get into your email account. Instead, do your best to rely on an as-random-as-possible string of numbers and letters, creating a different one for each of your accounts. This will ensure that your passwords are as strong as possible with the added benefit of protecting the rest of your accounts if one of your passwords is discovered.

Of course, for the sake of pragmatism, is it totally realistic to remember a completely random string of alphanumeric characters for everything that requires a password? For many, it isn’t. That’s why many resort to using, rather than a password, a passphrase. A passphrase takes a sentence memorable to the individual and turns it into a mnemonic device. So, a fan of films by Rob Reiner could take a line from one of his works and create a password from it, like “uRdBS” or “HFSTC” from The Princess Bride, or “UCHTT” from A Few Good Men.

Avoid the Unknown
Once you’ve accessed your email, there are a few ways that you can avoid putting yourself at risk. One very important way is to avoid the links in email unless you have verified that they do, in fact, go to (and come from) where they appear.

First, where will the included link direct you? Links can be tricky things, which makes them a favorite of cybercriminals to use in emails. If the link is attached to text, you should hover over it and peek at the status bar that pops up before clicking on it. While the text might say that it brings you to the sender’s official webpage, the link could very well actually direct you to a domain that uploads a virus into your system. If the status bar says that you will be directed to someplace that doesn’t look quite right, skip the link.

You also shouldn’t blindly open an email that hasn’t come from a known or verified source, and even that can now be dangerous. There is a tactic that can be used to great effect as a way to snare even the most cybersecurity-mindful targets called email spoofing. As its name suggests, email spoofing is the act of forging an email’s header so that it appears to have come from someone else, likely someone trusted enough that the email will be opened, interacted with, and read.

As a result, it is best to verify the email with the cited sender whenever possible, through a different means of communication. Whether that means a quick phone call or instant message before you open the email, it is better to be safe than it is to be sorry.

What are some other ways that you keep your email from becoming a security risk? Share them in the comments, and make sure you take a moment and subscribe to this blog!

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Tech Term: Opening the Spam Folder

Tech Term: Opening the Spam Folder

Spam is a tricky subject to talk about, as it seems everyone has a different definition for it. Yet, most have come to the conclusion that spam is a bad thing. For today’s Tech Term, we delve deep into the different kinds of spam out there, as well as theorize about the origin of the term.


Why Spam?
Spam can lead to a considerable amount of wasted time and assets, as well as provide a convenient medium of transportation for threats like malware and viruses. So why is it named after spam, everyone’s favorite canned lunch meat? One theory claims that the folks over at the University of Southern California’s computer lab named it after spam for some unknown reason--perhaps they simply thought it was a funny analogy to make.

The more accepted theory is that spam comes from the Monty Python song. Both the song and spam messages have a lot in common, being both highly repetitive and offering no real substance.

Where Spam Came From
It’s not clear from where spam messages first came. Some believe that spam messages first became a thing on March 31st, 1993. A Usenet user named Richard Depew accidentally posted 200 of the same message to a newsgroup. These messages were then called spam by another user, and Depew used the term in his apology, cementing its terminology.

Another theory regarding the name spam comes from multi-user dungeons, or MUDs, which were a type of chat room named after the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons. These users would fill these chat rooms with a large quantity of unwanted content. Even the MUDers, as they were called, coined these junk messages spam.

There are two other theories related to spam involving Bitnet Relay, a 1980s chat system, and TRS-80, another use of the aforementioned Monty Python song to annoy users.

Types of Spam
Below, you’ll find the various types of spam that you could potentially encounter:

  • Email spam: Email spam messages are likely the most recognizable form of spam. Spam emails contain all sorts of junk that can make navigating your inbox a complete nightmare. Thankfully, there are regulations put into place that keep spam out of inboxes to an extent, but you can always integrate better solutions and software to augment the sorting of spam emails.
  • Texting spam: In much the same way, texting spam is a way to get unwanted messages through to people. It’s interesting to note that emergency texts don’t constitute spam. Similar to how email spam works, the CAN-SPAM Act also applies to text spam.
  • Comment spam: Comment spam is a bit different in nature from the previous two types. You may have noticed some comments that seem unwanted or “spammy” in nature, such as those advertising the selling of products or simply off-topic.

As always, you don’t want to be dealing with spam carelessly. If your business could use assistance preparing for spam, contact CTN for (610) 828-5500.

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Tech Term: What Does “Encryption” Mean?

Tech Term: What Does “Encryption” Mean?

Email is a solution that needs to be protected, lest you expose important information to any onlookers while messages are in transit. Encryption is one of the key ways you can make sure that your messages are safe, but email hasn’t always used this method to secure messages. In fact, it wasn’t until recently that encryption became a staple of the major email providers.


Why Encryption Matters
It’s important to keep in mind that email communications are not always private. Depending on whether or not the email provider offers encryption can potentially expose important information found within the message. The reason you need encryption is simply because you never want to expose this information to outside viewers under any circumstances. You would be doing your company a disservice, and potentially even be in violation of data privacy regulations, depending on your industry.

Either way, our point is that encryption is necessary if you want to avoid the ugly side of the Internet. This includes hackers of all kinds, who would stop at nothing to get past your business’s protections and steal information of value. It’s up to you to put measures in place to stop them in their tracks--before it’s too late.

How Email Encryption Works
Imagine for a moment that your emails are locked in a box. This box remains locked the second that it leaves your organization, and it will stay that way until it is received by someone who has the key. In this case, the recipient will have the key, and the box would be unlocked once it is received by them. In the event that the box is intercepted before it reaches its destination, whoever claims it will not be able to view its contents.

The important thing to remember about encryption is that it needs to be an infrastructure-wide implementation. You can’t encrypt only messages that contain sensitive information, as this can potentially make you an even bigger target in the eyes of hackers. Therefore, you need to ensure that your encryption solution is all-encompassing so as to eliminate any risk associated with email security.

Does your business need email encryption? CTN can help by implementing an enterprise-level email encryption solution that takes into account all of your business needs. We can also provide other types of email security tools, including spam protection that limits exposure to dangerous entities. To learn more, reach out to us at (610) 828-5500.

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Tip of the Week: Managing Gmail with Labels and Filters

Tip of the Week: Managing Gmail with Labels and Filters

Gmail is a great way to take advantage of business email, but do you know all of the ins and outs of how to use some of its finer details? Today’s tip is dedicated to going over some of the more useful features of Gmail, like filters and labels, both of which will be helpful in controlling your inbox.


Labels and Filters
Gmail helps you keep your messages organized through the use of labels and filters. Basically, you can assign rules that will apply to any messages that you receive. By effectively using filters, you can make browsing your inbox more efficient, as well as consolidate similar messages with little effort.

For example, a filter could be used to assign a label to any message that holds “quarterly report” in the subject line. These labels would then be applied to any incoming messages that have that specific criteria.

Creating a Filter
To create a filter in Gmail, just follow these steps:

  • Click the down arrow in the search bar. You can then select specific details that you want to include in your search criteria.
  • Select the criteria that you want your filter to seek. Once you’ve done so, click on Create filter with this search.
  • You’ll then be provided with several options, one of which will automatically mark your conversation as important. Be sure to select the option to Apply the label.
  • Next, select the drop-down menu that’s labeled Choose label. You can then create a new label or one that has already been made.
  • Once the filter has been configured, select the Create Filter button.

Creating a Label
You can also apply labels to your messages, but in order to do so, you first need to make the label. You’ll be able to both apply labels as you receive messages, or apply them to existing messages. We’ll walk you through the process:

  • In Gmail, click on the More option on the left side of the screen.
  • Next, select Create new label.
  • Provide a name for your label and create it.

Now all you have to do is apply the label to your messages.

  • First, open up the message you want to apply the label to.
  • At the top of your screen, select the Label button. You can add a label to any group of messages provided you have selected them all before you click the label button.
  • You must then select each label you want to add. You can also create a new label at this point if you need to.

To learn more about how to take full control of your Gmail inbox, be sure to keep a lookout for similar articles from CTN’s blog.

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Do Your Business Communications Have a Unified Strategy?

Do Your Business Communications Have a Unified Strategy?

Communication is one of the cornerstones on which your business functions, and without it, your daily duties are considerably more difficult. Communication is one of the many ways your organization accomplishes both major and minor tasks, so you want to pay especially close attention to how your business handles phone calls, email, and even mobile devices--both in and out of the office.

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Hitman Email Scam Threatens Your Life, Instead of Your Data

Hitman Email Scam Threatens Your Life, Instead of Your Data

Email scams have become a sort of punchline, often featuring Nigerian princes or wealthy, unknown relatives in need of funds to get home. However, another email scam is anything but amusing, using a unique possession of the target to entice compliance: his or her own life.


This email appears in the target’s inbox with the subject line “Please read this it can be the most important information in your life,” a clear example of clickbait. However, the story that unfolds is worth accessing the email--or at least, it would be, if we weren’t going to tell you the story here.

Once opened, the recipient will find a message that suggests a great drama is unfolding on the periphery of the recipient’s life. According to the email, the recipient has had a contract put out on their head, the sender of this message being the hitman who is charged with taking them out. As the email says, “I received an order to kill you, because your activity causes trouble to a particular person.”

However, in a twist of events, the contract killer has decided to give their target the opportunity to save themselves after studying them. This is clearly a big deal, as the “business rules” of his or her profession do not allow this kind of activity, and so sending the target this message will destroy a twelve-year-long track record of executions. However, since the contract killer intends for this to be their last job, this rule was one that could be broken.

The apparent assassin then goes into the details of this arrangement. For 0.5 Bitcoin, the assassin will hand over the name of the person who arranged the hit as well as any evidence in their possession to bring to the police.

However, the target should not yet call the police, as it would take longer than the two days the target has for the authorities to investigate. The hired gun ends the letter promising to reach out again once the funds have changed hands, and with a pseudo-apology:

“I really regret that you became my prey.”

Perhaps in part because the letter plays out like an assignment from a creative writing class, and perhaps due to the high, high price implied by 0.5 Bitcoin, the scammer responsible has yet to gain any funds. Don’t be the first person to hand over a few grand.

If you happen to receive one of these emails, make sure that you mark it as spam. This helps inform spam filters that this email is unwanted, and might save someone else from contributing to the responsible party’s cache.

For more information on how to avoid scams and cyberthreats, lean on the professionals at CTN Solutions. Give us a call at (610) 828-5500.

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Tip of the Week: 4 Easy Ways to Share Files

Tip of the Week: 4 Easy Ways to Share Files

There are many ways to share a file between two computers. Being familiar with multiple options will certainly come in handy, especially when your preferred method of file sharing isn’t an option (like when you can’t find your flash drive, or maybe you lose Internet connection). For this week’s tip, here are four options to help your business more effectively share files.

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The Most Popular Domains Make the Biggest Targets for Email Spoofing

The Most Popular Domains Make the Biggest Targets for Email Spoofing

Let’s say that you receive an email from a software vendor, say, Microsoft. When you are contacted by a major company like this, do you automatically assume that it’s secure, or are you skeptical that it’s a scam? Ordinarily, it might not seem like a big issue, but all it takes is one click on an infected attachment or malicious link to infect your business’s infrastructure.

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Tip of the Week: Overwhelmed With Email? Try These 3 Helpful Tips

Tip of the Week: Overwhelmed With Email? Try These 3 Helpful Tips

Email is a central part of any functional modern office, but if you aren’t proactive in keeping your inbox under control, you could be wasting time on unnecessary messages or spam. If you want to get the most out of your workday, it’s imperative that you take back control of your business email inbox. Here are three ways that yourself and your employees can clean up your inboxes and waste less time throughout the work day.

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Tip of the Week: How to Spot and Avoid Email Spoofing

b2ap3_thumbnail_email_spoofing_400.jpgLet’s say you get an email from a close friend. It looks like it’s legitimate, until you check the contents of the message. It’s an advertisement, or it’s trying to get you to click on a link to see something “important.” Regardless of what the content of the message is, you should probably slap that bad boy in the Spam section of your email inbox. You’ve just been the target of email spoofing, and it’s more common than you might think.

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Your Professional Business Needs a Professional Communications Strategy

b2ap3_thumbnail_unified_communications_400.jpgIt’s not always easy for businesses to keep up with the latest communications technology. In order to optimize the way your business communicates both internally and externally, it’s critical that you address the following two opportunities for unified communications.

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How to Get a Grip On Your Email Inbox

b2ap3_thumbnail_email_best_400.jpgEmail is an aging communication protocol, but it’s still an important asset nonetheless. Even though society continues to push toward bigger and greater things, the modern office still depends on having an email solution for communication. That said, it’s important to make sure that using it is as easy as possible, especially for the busy business owner.

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