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Understanding Human Vulnerabilities & Threats


A staggering number of companies were victims of data breaches this past year. In fact, forty-three percent of all organizations reported some type of data breach. How many were breached and did not know?

In a heightened threat landscape, such as that which companies are currently experiencing, mitigating a threat is nearly impossible. However, training personnel to engage security measures in every aspect of conducting business is a necessary step in the reduction of the threat. In the chain of information security it is usually the human and not the system that is the “weak link.”

What are those threats?

There are many threats to organizational computers and the networks those systems are attached to and the majority of those threats need some form of human interaction to activate. What are the goals of these attacks? The principle purpose is to gain entrance and gather as much information as possible by exploiting known human weaknesses.

Phishing,” which is a method that uses fraudulent emails or what looks like a legitimate website address to cause a human to accept the interaction and gather data and information for malicious or illegal uses is the main avenue of approach used in cyber intrusions. Everyone has been the target of a phishing email at one time or another. The question is did the user recognize it as a threat or phishing attempt?

There are generally two purposes for a phishing attempt. One is to gain information directly and the other is to introduce malware into the system. Some malware deploys into the system immediately, but the more dangerous type is those that users will not even realize is there.

The Three Main Types of Phishing are:

  • Smishing – uses an SMS text to get a response, either by phone or link
  • Spearphishing – the perpetrator usually already has a good amount of information on the target group and uses that information to gain information on others in the group
  • Whaling – uses the information gathered by spear phishing to get information regarding the original target, usually an executive

The most appropriate way to counter phishing attacks is through personnel training. Educated employees are the first line of defense against cyber-attacks such as phishing. Inform staff members and everyone that uses the network how to identify cues and triggers used in these types of attacks. Additionally, everyone should have a direct line to security and get them involved as soon as possible. The sooner a threat is identified and quarantined, the less damage it can do to the system.

How to Work Safely from Remote Locations

The internet has made the world our workplace. Coffee shops and small diners make it easy to take our work there while we enjoy a coffee or meal. Nevertheless, WIFI is about as insecure as it gets. It is too easy to mirror a WIFI modem to look exactly like the real one and gain information. Additionally, it is too easy to let down your guard in these places. For most of us, we utilize the same coffee shop or local diner frequently and we know everyone there, from the server to the cook, and even the janitor.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Always check the name of the connection on the WIFI, is it Starbucks or Starbuks. It may be a subtle difference that is easy to accept as the real thing.
  • Sit with your back to the wall and the monitor facing the wall as well.
  • Never leave a laptop, tablet, or phone on the table while using the restroom. Even though the surroundings feel secure because it is familiar, it only takes a second for a laptop to disappear.
  • Avoid contacting the network server with an email using a WIFI link, save it to send from home. This may seem inconvenient, but so is a cyber-intrusion on the company network.
  • It is particularly important to keep all security systems up to date, firewalls up, and AV & anti-malware running.

How to Safely Use Instant Messenger & Email

In this contemporary world, platforms and apps that allow instant messenger and emails have given users a great deal of accessibility to reach out almost effortlessly and communicate globally in just seconds. However, the benefit remains only when used appropriately. Interactions online must be as confidential as a closed-door chat with a subordinate. Once it is written down and published it is no longer private, it is a matter of record. Additionally, if written in ink, it is permanent. When you send an email or instant message IM, it is for all intents and purposes, written in ink. Even though you might delete it, it is still in someone’s server, somewhere.

Due to that permanent nature, never send private information on IM or email. It might seem as though it is safe, but attacks are happening every day. Never send numbers pertaining to credit cards, banks accounts, or social security, and username and passwords in an email or IM. Take the time; make a call. Leaving that kind of information in an email account could be financially disastrous. Hackers are very sophisticated and regularly access emails sitting on servers.

Keep these protocols in mind for drafting an email:

  • Never include any type of harassment, threat, or improper conversation in an email or IM. In addition, avoid contentious conversations such as religion, politics, or sex. Those topics are too offensive and often are taken as harassment.
  • Do not forward any emails that contain any of the above. It is like repeating a rumor; it is just in bad taste.
  • Never send or forward a mass email. Sending an email with multiple addresses is the same as giving someone another individual’s email address without asking them permission to do so. If you must send an email to multiple addresses, utilize the bcc option, so the only address visible is their own.

What is Social Engineering?

Social engineers are those people making a living by taking advantage of the social behavior of others, learning their vulnerabilities and exploiting those to meet their agenda. They are the pizza or sandwich person that is just walking around the office. Or, the person you held the door open for because they were right behind you, even though an access card is needed to get in, yet you did not check if they had one. He is John from IT who calls for your login to fix that bug that everyone has been complaining about since yesterday.

Asking the tough questions will help reduce the human vulnerabilities. Why does someone from IT need my login? Why was the pizza person hovering over that unoccupied desk? Sir, do you have an access card?

How to Use Training to Reduce Human Vulnerabilities

A strong security policy coupled with cyber-security training will provide awareness of the threat and awareness is a valuable weapon in the fight against cyber-attacks.

The three tenants of a good training program are:

  1. Security Language: It starts with asking the tough questions and built-on by utilizing a common vocabulary of knowledge to create an atmosphere of intolerance of bad habits that allow access to the vulnerable system where valuable information is stored.
  2. Legal Compliance: Many organizations must comply with security standards, such as Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard, or the Health Information Privacy Administration Act (HIPAA) particularly those that handle sensitive information. Security must be as much of an integral part of operations in all organizations as it is to those. Protection of information must be a priority made part of the routine, yet can never be routine.
  3. Behavioral Change by Design: Times are changing and behavior must change with the times. Holding the door for someone is still a good deed, but the better deed for everyone is to verify his or her right to access. There are three components to behavior change:
    1. Ability to change, knowing what needs to change
    2. Motivation to change, wanting to make the change
    3. Performing the change, putting knowledge, ability, and motivation together to perform the change.

Awareness of the human vulnerabilities to security while conducting business in a cyber-friendly environment is crucial to protect systems from attacks and intrusions used to gain private or sensitive information. Installing security hardware and software is never going to be enough. Just as using an access card to gain entry does no good when someone holds the door open for an intruder. Changing the mind-set of staff members and all employees is imperative to reducing vulnerabilities to cyber-attacks.

The Senior Partner of CourseVector, Mike Vandling, has considerable background in Information Technology, IT security, and has instilled that philosophy across the company. In his duties at Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs (PSAB), he sets up and enforces IT compliance and security. CourseVector is a company you can depend on to provide trusted servers and hosting at a very reasonable price. Once again, the security of those servers is only beneficial when used appropriately. Security begins with the user. If you have any questions or would like further information pertaining to cyber-security training contact Mike.

Other Articles you may find interesting:

What Does 99.999% Uptime Really Mean

What is Malvertising and Why should I Care?

Real World Security

Pinterest: The Marketing Boost your Business Needs

More than two million people visit Pinterest every day. Using Pinterest can improve your business in extraordinary ways by reducing the number of steps from discovery to conversion dramatically.

Pinterest

The main difference between Pinterest and other social media is “interest” in the product or service that “Pinners” pin. On Facebook, a person may click the “Like” button simply because they like the person that posted it, whereas Pinners pin items of interest. Many will pin things so they can get more information or purchase it later, their followers see their pin, which spreads the word for you, much like a share on Facebook.

Pinners often pin items of interest. According to Shopify, on average, pinned items of interest are repinned 11 times. This will help to multiply the amount of people that see your product or service exponentially.

Unlike Facebook likes, Pinterest pins are weighted by popularity, so that your posts or pins gain strength with time. Unlike Facebook posts that might get many likes for a few days and quickly fade, Pinterest pins grow your visibility and reputation year after year. This concept makes it necessary to use an “evergreen” or long-lasting approach to your business presentation. That does not mean you cannot offer periodic specials or promotion, though those will live on so you must adjust the price after the period of the promotion.

Fact: Products with prices included garner 36 percent more interest or pins than those without.

Creating Your Business Profile

Perhaps the best part about Pinterest is the simplicity in creating an account. The first, and most important, thing when creating your account is to make sure you are creating a business profile. Although, both the business and personal profiles are free, a business profile allows significantly more flexibility with boards (interest areas) and links than personal profiles.

All you need to get started  is an email address.

Pinterest is a visual site, so it is important to keep these key points in mind:

  • Use a professional high-quality head and shoulders photo or logo
  • Use your business location
  • Link to the business website address
  • Link to other social media pages, such as Facebook, Twitter, & LinkedIn
  • Use product images with descriptions

The first item a possible customer will see is your profile picture; make sure that it is eye-catching, high quality, properly sized, and appears professional.

Remember this is the same as a business introduction, so “put your best foot forward,” and use details. This is a chance to build trust and show proof of your existence, proof that you are not a computer. You are a real person with a real address. Reputation management can be the key to success.

Keep the name very simple and on key. The easier it is for people to find your profile the more traffic it will generate. For example, when selling jewelry, be sure and use the word jewelry in your profile name. There is nothing wrong with making your profile name “JJ Jewelry Design.” There is a 15-character limit, so be creative.

Next, prepare the profile description. Prepare a short description utilizing keywords and synonyms from Keyword Planner, or another appropriate source. These should be the same keywords you use for your website. This will help show the relevance to the link back to your website.

Creating Boards

Choose boards (areas of interest) close to your business in line with “rich pins.”  “Rich pins” include movies, recipes, articles, products, and places. According to Vincent Ng, a Pinterest Marketer in, “Pinterest Marketing Tips from a guy that’s been Doing it for 5 Years,” “Rich pins for a blogger is a must, because rich pins are a factor in search rankings for Pinterest. Pinterest prefers to show blog posts or pins that are rich pins,” says Ng. “On top of that, rich pins also have more credibility and authority because rich pins for articles show off, in bold text, the title of the blog post article and the Meta description when clicked through.”

Be sure to enable rich pins on your website. This can be difficult, so you may need the assistance of your website designer. For CourseVector clients, just complete a Support Ticket, or non-clients can request a free marketing evaluation through our SEO services department. Be sure to reference Pinterest on the support ticket.

Another option when choosing boards is to tie boards to the most often searched topics, such as DIY, Food & Drink, Home Décor, Design, Weddings, and Women’s fashion, when possible.

Pam Neely at Act-on.com states business boards should include boards that feature:

  • products/services
  • blog posts
  • email newsletters
  • webinars
  • white papers
  • “How to” videos
  • inspirational quotes
  • events
  • portfolio items
  • Infographics

In fact, she suggests 17 “smart ways” that businesses can create boards.

Use a Pin-it button on your site, so that people can pin the things they like, which will track back to you. Although most people pin things so they can get more information or purchase it later, their pins are seen by their followers, which spreads the word for you, similar to sharing on Facebook.

Track it Back!

Too many pinners simply pin pictures to their boards from their phone. Whereas this is fine for a personal account, it does not work for a business account. Although it is easy to upload photos from anywhere, if those can not be tracked to your website, it is just another image. Make sure your pins take shoppers and potential clients to a place where they can answer your call to action.

Be careful of moving pages. When you move or redirect webpages you will lose traffic. Changing the link on your board is easy, but you cannot change that link on anyone else’s.

Tracking your Pins and Traffic

Like any website you are using for your business, you need to know that it is working for you. Pinterest has added Google Analytics to the dashboard recently, making it easy to check on how many views and repins you are getting, how you are doing with keyword searches, and how much traffic you are getting to your website.

In addition, use https://www.pinterest.com/source/yoururl/ to find out who is pinning your boards and interact with them using comments and newsletters.

Pinterest can be a valuable asset to any business, like any social media. Good marketing is all about exposure and Pinterest is number two of the top social media sites for exposure. By linking other social media sites and websites to the business profile, Pinterest could become an important resource for your business.

A Point worth Noting!

Although Pinterest has a Help Center for users, business owners without much experience on Pinterest or the time to devote to Pinterest might find it advisable to hire a professional search engine adviser or Pinterest marketer. That may sound expensive, but it is not compared to the return on investment. Course Vector can provide Pinterest support or include Pinterest marketing in any of our Digital Marketing Campaigns.

Prosthetic Limbs: Form Meets Function

So many of our young men and women come back from Iraq and Afghanistan in need of prosthetic limbs to resume a normal life. Realistically, 99 percent of us would never need any of the James Bond-esque additions to Gazelle’s prosthetics, but the great action scenes and the unequalled athleticism of an individual with prosthetic devices leaves some of us wondering: what are the real capabilities of these devices?

AdBlock for iPhone

AdBlock on iPhone reduces PPC revenue

AdBlock on iPhone reduces PPC revenue

That pay-per-click advertising campaign may be costing you more than you think, especially if it targets mobile internet users. At this year’s developer’s conference, Apple announced a tool for developers that supports Safari ad blocking extensions. Much like you can download ad blockers for your Mac, you may soon be able to find ad blockers for your iOS.

The Good News

Ads can use up data that could be spent on other things, like checking email (or Facebook) and streaming media. Additionally, pages will load faster. Not to mention, Apple can now target their users with their own ads, increasing their advertising profits (bad news for users / good news for Apple).

The Bad News

While this means fewer ads and an improved user experience, it also means less revenue for advertisers.
With Google being the default search engine on iOS, they stand to lose a lot of revenue from lost ad viewership. The same holds true for those who use Google AdWords as their pay-per-click advertising method of choice. Not to mention, other popular companies that collect user data, sell it to advertisers, and target ads to user interests and search histories. These companies and their advertisers will lose ad revenue.

For advertisers who wish to continue to advertise on the iOS, they must pay Apple specifically to advertise on just one device. This cost is added to what companies are already paying for Google AdWords and other Pay-Per-Click campaigns.

This decline in visible ads is a reminder of how important a roll organic SEO plays in online marketing. Organic SEO, if done correctly, offers:

  • a steady increase in new content
  • a steady increase in new visitors
  • a steady increase in repeat visitors
  • decreased bounce rates

Pay-per-click campaigns have their place. They can be a viable option to increase sales. However, they should not be used in place of organic SEO and traditional marketing methods. Not sure how your website ranks? Many companies offer a free SEO analysis. To maximize marketing dollars, consider adding an organic search engine optimization campaign to your current pay-per-click efforts.

WordPress: How to Format Pages & Post with More Pop!

Although the WordPress content management system is used by 80 million active website owners worldwide, most are not utilizing the editing tool bar to maximize content and make it pop.

wordpress-logo-stacked-rgb

The main reason for creating content to publish on web pages is to engage the reader and get them to respond to a call-to-action. Yet, the majority of web users are not reading full articles, but rather scanning to find the things that interest them.

In order to engage web users, provide rich interesting content and grab their attention, pulling them into the content to connect with them, build a relationship of trust and get them to commit to a call-to-action (CTA).

The rules have changed from print media, where it was necessary to create long paragraphs filled with descriptive adjectives, to where it is now customary to confine paragraphs to two or three sentences. So, to get the web reader’s attention we must make use of formatting tools, such as:

  • Bulleted lists
  • Bold & italicized words or sentences
  • Use of Title Case in Subheads

1. Be Bold, yet Subtle

With a little restraint, the use of bold and italicized formatting is an effective means of breaking up big blocks of text. One very effective means of utilizing bold is to make the first sentence of the paragraph bold to introduce a new concept.

This use of bold breaks up the monotony of continuous text. And, serves two additional purposes as well, it signals to the reader that this sentence is important and draws the reader’s attention to that piece of information from anywhere on the page.

The use of Italicized text follows some of the same rules previously used, but may be applied more liberally. Use italicized text when quoting, when using words that may be anomalous, or unfamiliar to the average reader, to place emphasis on a certain word, or a foreign word, and when using the following:

  • Movie, plays, & TV show titles
  • Magazines, books, and newspaper titles
  • Works of Art
  • DVD, CD, or album titles

2. Bullets

When a paragraph becomes too long or when you have a list of things, use bullets.

3. Subheadings

A practical means of breaking up text into different concepts is the use of subheads utilizing different size headings. Keep in mind that Heading 1 or H1 should only be used once as the title of the piece. If you use title case for subheadings, use it consistently throughout, and don’t capitalize articles and conjunctions.

4. Know Before you Go

Knowing what tools are available on the text editor tool bar and how to use those will make writing that article or blog quicker and more efficient. To customize the toolbar, add or delete features for better familiarity try one or more of these 17 WordPress Plugins to expand your toolbar, some even add social networking functions.

5. Make Use of WordPress Tutorials

One of the best features of WordPress over other CMS platforms is the very large online community of writers and designers who in most cases are more than willing to add written and video tutorials to the WordPress library. Unfortunately, we don’t always have the time to dig around for the right information.

If you need some training that is a little more hands on, Course Vector has the answer in the form of one-on-one WordPress training. If you would like one of our technicians to provide personalized training on your website utilizing shared computer screens, fill out a training request form.

6. Add Relevant Images to Enhance the Point

Images, particularly charts and graphs can go a long way toward emphasizing a particular point. Normally, a large amount of numbers throw off the reader, so percentages and figures contained within a chart or graph can be desirable. To add images to a WordPress page or post select “upload/insert media.” This will initiate a pop-up to drag and drop a photo to a spot stating: “drop files here.” Be sure to complete the alt-text fields and optimize the image to reduce load times and add image tags to XML sitemaps.

The ability to drag and drop images from the internet to your WordPress Media Library is very handy and one WP plugin that facilitates that is Snipi.

7. Formatting Photos

There are many ways to format images to support your text and whether you align them left, right, or center is a matter of choice, but remember to be consistent and try not to put text beside an image unless there is a specific purpose for doing that. Additionally, add keywords to captions when used, this will give the content an SEO boost.

8. Cut & Paste Options

To copy and paste text or images in WordPress you can still use the Ctrl + V the same as you would in an Office application. However, if the text doesn’t look the way you expect, use the “Paste as plain Text” or “Paste from Word” option in your text editor tool bar. Some formatting alterations might be necessary to achieve the desired look.

9. What is a “Soft Return?”

Pressing the enter key will generate a double line space, in order to generate a single line space, it is necessary to use Shift + Enter, this is what is known as a “soft return.”

10. Always Start Strong and Finish Stronger!

Actually, this has nothing to do with formatting, just a good tip! A strong opening and a stronger summary surrounding rich content will keep readers on the page.

So, remember to use these formatting tips and tricks to make your WordPress content pop off the page:

  • Be Bold, yet Subtle
  • Bullets
  • Subheadings
  • Know Before you Go (get familiar with the text editor tool bar)
  • Make Use of WordPress Tutorials
  • Add Relevant Images to Enhance the Point
  • Format Photos
  • Cut & Paste Options
  • What is a “Soft Return?”
  • Always Start Strong and Finish Stronger

What Does 99.999% Uptime Really Mean

Many hosting companies will boast 99% uptime. This might sound good at first, but if you drill down to outage time, 99% isn’t quite as impressive.

99% server uptime translates into almost 4 days of unplanned outages per year. Whereas 99.9999% server uptime translates into less than a minute of unplanned down time per year. That’s a big difference when you consider that these outages can occur during peak business hours.

Don’t be fooled by advertising hype. Even the smallest amount of downtime can amount to hours or even days. Always ask to see a real time monitor, with history, before choosing a web host.

A Bilingual Partnership for Women’s Health

Folic Acid Everyday Spina Bifida Research Network

CourseVector and the Spinal Bifida Resource Network formed a bilingual webpage partnership to combat the effects of Spinal Bifida through a campaign for expectant mothers’ health.

What makes this partnership particularly noteworthy is the truly bilingual nature of this website. Simply by choosing the Language: English or Habla: Español at the bottom of the page, readers are allowed to switch between languages with ease. The ability to read technical and medical advice pages in the reader’s native language is a significant benefit to the Spina Bifida Research Network’s audience.

English

English

Spanish

Spanish



Folic Acid Vitamins

This Spinal Bifida Resource Network (SBRN) initiative’s catch phrase is “Folic Acid Every Day for Good Health!” or “El ácido fólico Todos los Días para la Buena Salud!” Experts recommend to women of child-bearing years that, “Taking 400 micrograms of the vitamin Folic Acid is known to reduce the risk of the birth defect Spina Bifida by up to 70%!”

Gregory S. Liptak, MD, MPH, a contributing editor to the SBRN website, agrees that although there is no known cure for Spina Bifida, which effects nearly eight babies a day, folic acid vitamins help prevent the illness, “Women who are old enough to have babies should take folic acid before and during the first three months of pregnancy. Because half of the pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, the Spina Bifida Association asks women to take a vitamin with 400 mcg (0.4 mg) of folic acid each day during the years of their lives when they are possibly able to have children. Women who have a child or sibling with Spina Bifida, have had an affected pregnancy or have Spina Bifida themselves should take 4000 mcg (4.0 mg) of folic acid for one to three months before and during the first three months of pregnancy.”

Spinal Bifida Resource Network

This website is teaming with information regarding awareness and prevention, as well as recipes that help at-risk women get folic acid naturally. Additionally, the SBRN page is set up for secure donations that go directly to the nonprofit organization that helps families struggling with the effects of Spina Bifida cope both financially and emotionally. Roberta Kestenbaum, SBRN’s Executive Officer underscores the need for financial support from donors, “When families effectively navigate through the intense financial and medical obligations that accompany spina bifida—they win. SBRN provides services and resources to make much of this possible for our families, and every time our families achieve success—we all win.”

CourseVector

CourseVector is duly proud of their association with this organization that provides so much in the way of selfless service to the Spina Bifida community. CourseVector set up the bilingual capabilities for the website, as well as the design and hosting, which permits the SBRN to contribute information regarding Spina Bifida and collect much needed and secure donations for the SBRN community.

CourseVector’s pledge to small businesses and nonprofits

The family owned and operated Web design & hosting service, CourseVector, understands the challenge facing small businesses and nonprofits with a small budget and a big need to reach the communities they support with up-to-date information. A dynamic internet presence is almost a requirement in these contemporary times, when people expect to search and find everything they need. Just because yours might be a small business, with a small budget that does not mean it shouldn’t have the very finest website. Small businesses, nonprofits, and municipalities can have the dynamic website they need to provide them an internet presence for only $48 annually. That same WordPress website we normally charge $299.00 to design and publish online for everyone can be implemented and maintained by our support technicians for small businesses for just $4.00 per month, less than a cup of coffee. Contact CourseVector today and describe the website that will provide that internet presence and we’ll design.

CourseVector Hires Programmer

TFCamp Hill, PA, April 21, 2015 – CourseVector announced today that Tim Fulton has joined the team as a programmer. Fulton brings with him over 13 years of experience in defense training, with a degree in Computer Programming and Applications.

Fulton joins CourseVector to continue our client-centered philosophy of providing high-quality work at prices anyone can afford. They hire freelancers world-wide. Fulton comments “CV’s cloud-based infrastructure makes zip codes nothing but a number. I feel lucky to be joining a company that puts an emphasis on customer service.”

Gabriel Mariani, VP, said “We’re excited to have Tim as part of the CourseVector family. With his experience, we will be able to take on more projects and improve our response time.”

About CourseVector

CourseVector LLC is a full-service web development company, offering hosting, web design, and SEO. The CourseVector team boasts nearly 30 years of experience with hosting, web design, and IT.

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