Tip of the Week: The Internet of Things Poses Threats to Your Organization’s Network

Posted January 31, 2018 by

Concept art of many devices connecting to each other.The Internet of Things (IoT) has become one of the central parts of connectivity in a tech-centric world. Despite the incredible convenience that these devices offer to users, they come with considerable security risks that absolutely need to be kept in mind. We’re going to discuss some of the ways you can keep the IoT from being a security hazard while optimizing how much you get out of it.

Does the Device Need Connectivity?

The first question you should ask about your IoT device is if it actually needs to be connected or not. The reason for this is simple; the more connected devices on your company’s network, the more risk will be involved with your network. Certain IoT devices could be leveraged by hackers and other dangerous entities to spy on you, steal your data, or track your current location. If the device is worth the risk, you could potentially take advantage of great services that you might otherwise not get. If it’s not worth it, though, perhaps you’re better off not using the device. If the device is that of an employee, you should ask them to leave it disconnected during the day.

Have You Optimized Security?

In any environment where you’re using an IoT device, you need to make sure that security is at the top of its game. Ensure that all of your firmware is updated, and that any security patches to fix any major vulnerabilities that might be present on your network have been applied. To make things easier, this process can largely be automated. You should also consider investigating your router to make sure that it’s updated properly as well.

It also is worth mentioning that your router may support guest networking, which means that you can use this capability to protect your business network from the risks of the IoT. By relegating IoT devices to the guest network, you can protect the business side of things from potential issues.

Passwords are a great way to make sure that security is at its maximum. You should never reuse passwords for devices or accounts. If these guidelines are followed, you’ll have an easier time keeping your accounts from being compromised.

Make Sure Your Devices Are Maintained and Monitored

Your business should have practices put into place that promote transparency with the ongoing use of Internet of Things devices. For example, you should be monitoring user permissions.

Most of your IoT device issues can be resolved just by asking yourself one simple question: Do you even need the devices in the office? If not, they shouldn’t be there.

If your business needs help with managing devices in the workplace, reach out to Excalibur Technology at (877) NET – KING.

Perpetrators of Three Major Cyber Crimes Have Pled Guilty

Posted January 29, 2018 by

Cyber Crime Concept. Handcuffs and judge gavel on Laptop Computer.Every so often, it’s nice to hear about when the good guys win and cybercriminals get their comeuppance. Three such cybercriminals have entered guilty pleas to charges related to major cybersecurity events.


Mirai was a malware strain that creates a botnet out of enslaved Internet of Things (IoT) devices. By leveraging the resources of these IoT devices, Mirai took down networks and websites. Twenty and 21-year-olds Josiah White and Paras Jha have pled guilty for developing and leveraging Mirai.

The duo were co-founders of Protraf Solutions LLC, a company that would mitigate DDoS attacks. Their business model was to sell their solutions to their DDoS victims, or use the DDoS attack the old-fashioned way: as a means of collecting ill-gotten monies from those desperate enough to pay them to stop the attack. Along with 21-year-old Dalton Norman, White and Jha also used Mirai to power a click fraud scheme that net them about 200 Bitcoin, Norman alone netting 30.

Mirai ultimately went on to power one of the biggest attacks the world has ever seen, using IoT devices to take down Dyn, causing many major websites to go down.

Ultimately, the three young malware developers were each charged with click fraud conspiracy, earning each a $250,000 fine and a stay of up to five years in prison. Jha and White plead guilty to conspiracy charges for writing and using Mirai and were each sentenced to an additional 5 years in prison and $250,000 fine, as well as three years of supervised release.

NSA Data

An employee of the National Security Agency, Nghia Hoang Pho, pled guilty on December 17, 2017, to a charge of “willful retention of national defense information.” According to the United States Justice Department, Pho was hired in 2006 as a developer for the Tailored Access Operations unit. The Tailored Access Operations unit, or TAO unit, creates specialized hacking tools that are used to collect data from the information systems used by overseas targets.

Between 2010 and March of 2015, Pho removed classified data and stored it on his home computer, which utilized antivirus software from Kaspersky Lab. Kaspersky Lab is suspected of having been exploited by Russian hackers to steal documents, perhaps including the ones Pho removed and saved at home.

The United States Department of Homeland Security has since issued a directive that bans the use of Kaspersky software in federal agencies. Pho could face up to 10 years in prison and is scheduled for sentencing on April 6.


One of four men who faced indictment in March of 2017 has pled guilty to hacking into Yahoo and exposing the usernames, passwords, and account information for essentially every Yahoo user, with the number of victims counting to about one billion.

Twenty-two-year-old Karim Baratov, a Canadian, has been charged with working for two members of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation. In his work for the FSB, Baratov hacked into 80 accounts, as well as a total of over 11,000 webmail accounts since 2010. Baratov also provided hacking services that enabled access to accounts with Google, Yahoo, and Yandex, via the use of spear-phishing through custom content and a malicious link.

For his activities, Baratov has pled guilty to a total of nine counts. One count, for aggravated identity theft, has a mandatory sentence of two years, while each of the other eight counts could net him 10 years in jail and a fine of $250,000. However, the federal sentencing guidelines established in the United States could reduce the final sentence considerably.

While it is nice to see those responsible for cybercrime paying their dues, it is even better for certain cybercrimes to be prevented in the first place. Excalibur Technology can help your business with that. Call us at (877) NET – KING.

Upgrading Your Technology? Be Careful of What You Do with the Old

Posted January 26, 2018 by

Large pile of old electronicsTake a moment to look around and take in the amount of technology surrounding you. How often do you think this technology is replaced, and what do you think happens to the old tech? There needs to be more thought and effort put into its disposal than just throwing out a hard drive that no longer seems to function. Unfortunately, however, this seems to be the preferred method of disposal.

A discarded device follows the same path as the rest of the contents of your trash bin. Either your discarded piece of technology will find itself in a landfill, or left somewhere in a third-world country. Either way, the device is now a complete waste, as the materials used to construct it are now little more than bits of precious metals, glass that has almost certainly been broken by this point, and other bits and pieces.

The statistics surrounding e-waste can be pretty staggering. For example:

  • 2016 alone saw 45 million tons of electronics thrown away.
  • Only 20 percent of e-waste makes it to be documented and recycled.
  • The raw materials in devices that are thrown away value in at about $55 billion, smartphones contributing $9 billion to that total.
  • 76 percent of all e-waste goes unaccounted for.

Of course, as technology advances, there is going to be more and more e-waste produced. However, there is another issue regarding e-waste that your business could be especially affected by if your e-waste isn’t handled properly, and that’s your business’ data security.

Security Concerns

If your devices are discarded with information still on them, that data is at severe risk of being compromised, especially since the devices are no longer in your possession.

What if you got a new smartphone, and just toss out the old one? Sure, it’s dead now, but all it would take for any data it held to be compromised is someone with a charger cable and a basic knowledge of how to break into a phone. Now, any accounts that you used on the device, both business and personal, are at the mercy of your phone’s new owner. They could access your company’s data in the cloud with a discarded external hard drive.

To avoid this, not only do you need to dispose of your old technology properly, you need to also make sure that any information on them is properly wiped and/or destroyed before you do so. While you could destroy the device yourself, the better option is to reach out to the professionals at Excalibur Technology. We know how to properly see that your devices are destroyed without the risk of leftover data causing your company grief. We’ll even help you to recycle your device, so there’s less of a chance of it landing in a dump somewhere.

To learn more about proper device disposal, give us a call at (877) NET – KING.

Tip of the Week: Filters and Labels Help Organize Your Gmail Inbox

Posted January 24, 2018 by

Gmail iconGmail is an excellent tool for business use, even more than many business owners may realize. Did you know that it even has the capability to keep itself organized? For today’s tip, we’ll go over how to use filters and labels to keep your Gmail inbox organized and easy to use.

An Intro to Labels and Filters

Labels and filters are just a few ways that Gmail can help to keep your messages organized. You can assign rules that are applied to messages as they come in. These rules make a filter, which analyzes your incoming messages and ensures that these messages are sent to the right label. These labels allow you to view messages more conveniently, consolidating those that have certain factors in common.

For example, you could create a filter that assigns a particular label to any message that has “Quarterly Reports” in the subject line. That label can then be used to access any and all messages with “Quarterly Reports” in a single, consolidated list.

Creating a Filter

Creating a filter in Gmail is fairly simple.

  • Once in Gmail, click the down arrow in the search bar at the top. This allows you access to greater detail in your search criteria. Fill in the details that you want your filter to pay attention to, whether it is who the email has come from, or if the subject line contains a particular word or phrase.
  • Once your criteria have been established in this window, click Create filter with this search in the bottom-right corner of the window.
  • You will be given a list of options, including the option for the message to be automatically ‘starred,’ or marked as important. For our purposes, we are concerned with the option to Apply the label.
  • Next to the Apply the label option, there is a drop-down menu labeled Choose label. You have the option to create a new label from here, or select from those you have already made.
  • Once your filter has been properly configured, click the Create Filter button.

Creating a Label

While creating your filter gives you the opportunity to create a label, there are times that you may want to have a label prepared that you can add messages to manually, or to already have one to direct a filter towards. Fortunately, creating a label and adding it to a received message is also fairly simple.

  • In Gmail, click the More option on the left of the screen.
  • From there, click Create new label.
  • Name your label and click Create.

To add this label to a message:

  • Open the appropriate message.
  • At the top, click the Label button. You can also add a label to a group of messages by selecting them before you click the Label button.
  • Select each label to be added. You can also create a new label from this point by typing in a new name.

Now you’re ready to take even greater control of your Gmail inbox. For more handy IT tips and tricks, subscribe to the Excalibur Technology blog!

Four Major Benefits of Business Intelligence

Posted January 22, 2018 by

Business Intelligence concept using colored pyramid design. Processing flow steps: data sources, ETL - data warehouse, OLAP- data mining, data analysis, strategyUtilizing the data that you have acquired is a process that is referred to as business intelligence. Regardless of your business’ size, business intelligence solutions can deliver definite benefits. We’ll review a few of these benefits here.

Business Intelligence answers business questions

With the right tools, you can extract and analyze raw data in real-time to inform your business decisions. These tools will also organize this data into a comprehensive, and often visual, format. This enables any member of a team to potentially make informed decisions as needed, streamlining whatever process that resource is working on. This data can also be leveraged to improve client profiles and target promising contacts. As a result, profits can be increased through decreasing wasted funds spent on poor fits. On the same token….

Business intelligence provides opportunities to cut costs and time investments

Through the use of metrics and data derived from business intelligence measurements, you can identify where your available funds are most effectively used, and when it may be more effective to allocate them to another effort.

Additionally, business intelligence can enable your business to leverage automation, eliminating the risk of human error while freeing up your staff to work on those tasks for which automation isn’t well-suited.

Business Intelligence delivers valuable insights

Without business intelligence tools, a company could be stuck waiting until the end of a campaign or initiative to discover whether or not it was effective. However, with BI at your disposal, your company can get a head start on tracking satisfaction, profitability, and other key metrics in real time. This allows you to identify and resolve issues in your campaign, so you can take the steps needed to fix them before the campaign is a wash.

Business Intelligence promotes collaboration and cooperation

Another great benefit to business intelligence software is the data sharing and exporting capabilities it usually has. In a business climate that relies on being in-the-know, your team needs to have the ability to access the latest data you have available without issue.

Need help putting business intelligence solutions in place? Excalibur Technology can help! Give us a call at (877) NET – KING today.

Unpaid Invoices Were an $825 Billion Problem Last Year

Posted January 19, 2018 by

A stamp that says "PAST DUE" in red.Businesses exist to make money. Regardless of what that money is intended for, be it to sustain someone’s lifestyle or to bankroll a cause, a business will cease to be without an incoming cash flow. Unfortunately, unpaid invoices can make that cash flow stutter and slow to a trickle, and many businesses experience this problem as billed money doesn’t come in.

This presents those who rely on a small-to-medium-sized business to make a living – from the CEO to the employees – with another problem. How can they be paid if the business isn’t receiving its payment for services rendered until 30, 60, or even 90 days later? Many industries have begun to make these their typical payment terms. Consequently, businesses have found it difficult to continue their operations without the financial inundation from their current clients. You may have encountered this kind of issue yourself.

If so, you are not alone by any stretch. Estimates attribute 5% of the entire national gross domestic product to unpaid invoices, with the average small business waiting to be paid around $84,000. Eighty-one percent (81%) of these invoices are past due by 30 days, which is especially bad when one considers that the average small business only has 27 days of capital saved up and available to them.

All in all, estimates put the total amount owed to small businesses due to unpaid invoices at $825 billion.

Even without taking that sum into consideration, this is a clear issue that many businesses face whenever their invoices are not answered in a timely fashion. If these businesses don’t have any funds to spare beyond what is needed to stay in business (assuming they have even that), how will they ever make the improvements they will need to stay competitive? How many projects have you abandoned halfway because it caused too much financial drain?

While it may seem to make no sense to invest your much-needed capital after we’ve just announced that your company may fail without it, there is a simple way to save your business money as you work to get what you’re due. With managed services from Excalibur Technology, your capital spending on your technology management can be transferred into a predictable, and budgetable, consistent schedule. We can also provide you with the solutions to help you track who is repaying their debt to you, and who isn’t.

Call (877) NET – KING for more information.

Tip of the Week: A Secure 2018 Relies on Powerful Passwords

Posted January 17, 2018 by

PostIt note that says "My Password: 123456"Password security is one of the most important parts of using an online account. It seems that the average user runs into the paradox of password security by using either complex, hard-to-remember passwords, or simple and less-secure passwords that put their accounts at risk. Even if the user is aware of the benefits that come from using a secure password, chances are that they will sideline security in favor of ease of access.

According to a list of the worst passwords in 2017 compiled by Splashdata, some of the worst passwords included “password” and “123456.” These two have topped the list since at least 2010, when Splashdata made their debut survey. Other passwords included in the top five include “12345678,” “qwerty,” and “12345.” Even “starwars” made the list at #16. For further reference, you can view the list of the worst passwords in 2017 here.

Best practices for password security are relatively well-known, especially considering how many experts study this particular field. Here are some tips from the guidelines recommended by the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team, or US-CERT. In fact, US-CERT was created by the Department of Homeland Security for the specific purpose of preserving online security against threats.

Some sites or applications force users to use these best practices when creating a password, so do yourself a favor and keep these in mind:

  1. Use different passwords on different systems and accounts.
  2. Don’t use passwords that are based on personal information that can be easily accessed or guessed.
  3. Use a combination of capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
  4. Don’t use words that can be found in any dictionary of any language.
  5. Develop mnemonics (or spoken memory tricks) such as passphrases for remembering complex passwords.
  6. Consider using a password manager program to keep track of your passwords.

Excalibur Technology is of the firm mind that you should never underestimate the importance of network security best practices–particularly password security. To learn more about how you can secure your business, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.

ALERT: Meltdown/Spectre Hardware Vulnerability Requires Action

Posted January 15, 2018 by

Illustration of a magnifying glass over a laptop screen, revealing a bug.Just a few months after finding themselves in a firmware fiasco, Intel is making news for all the wrong reasons. This issue had the potential to affect the CPU of a device, causing a severe dip in the performance of the device.

In a blog post by a user going by the name Python Sweetness, an issue was reported, describing “an embargoed security bug impacting apparently all contemporary CPU architectures that implement virtual memory, requiring hardware changes to fully resolve.” This means that, thanks to this bug, the interactions that different programs would have with the CPU would be affected.

Under normal circumstances, a CPU will have two modes that it operates under: kernel, which permits the user to make changes to the computer itself, and user, which is considered a ‘safe’ mode. Python Sweetness discovered a bug that blurred the distinction between the two modes. The bug allowed programs run in user mode to also access kernel mode, possibly allowing malware to access the computer’s hardware.

However, the circumstances have proven to be less dire than they originally appeared. The expectation was that this bug would cause entire processes to shift back and forth between user and kernel mode, hamstringing the speed at which the device would operate. There was also the expectation that this issue would not be able to be resolved without a hardware change.

For PCs with Windows 10 installed and an antivirus that supports the patch, the fix should already be in place. However, to confirm this, go to Settings > Update & Security to see if there are any updates waiting to be installed. If not, check your update history for Security Update for Windows (KB4056892) or check with your antivirus provider to find out when it will be supported. The patch will not install until it sees that the antivirus has been updated to a version that the vendor verifies supports this patch.

Android devices had an update pushed on January 5 to provide some mitigations, with more protections coming in later updates. These patches have already been pushed to Google-branded phones, like the Nexus and Pixel lines, and may have been on other Android devices. It doesn’t hurt to check, and if you haven’t been updated, go online and put pressure on your carrier on a public forum.

Google Chrome should be updated with similar mitigations on January 23, with other browsers updating soon after. To help protect yourself until then, have your IT team activate Site Isolation to minimize the chance of a malicious site accessing data from another browser tab.

Other devices (such as NAS devices, smart appliances, networking equipment, media equipment, etc.) may also be at risk, as they are using similar hardware. It’s really important for business owners to have their entire infrastructure reviewed and audited.

These kinds of issues help to demonstrate the value of an MSP’s, or managed service provider’s, services. MSPs like Excalibur Technology are sure to keep themselves informed on the latest developments in IT security and any resolutions they can pass on to businesses like yours, if they don’t implement them on your behalf.

As a result, you and the rest of your team can go about your business without having to concern yourself with solving issues like these, knowing that you can trust the team who is solving them for you. For more ways that an MSP can help keep your business security and operations optimized, reach out to Excalibur Technology at (877) NET – KING.

Personalities are Key to Successful Networking

Posted January 12, 2018 by

Hands using a smartphone below a glowing globe.Almost everyone has, at one time, worked with someone with whom their personality clashed, whether they did not get along or just didn’t work effectively together. While this is a perfectly natural phenomenon of both nature and nurturing, it is best to put personal differences aside when forming a professional relationship with a coworker.

This was the focus of Networking Like a Pro, a publication by Dr. Ivan Misner and Brian Hilliard. In it, they explore how personalities come into play in the workplace, and how each person’s behaviors influence their interpersonal relationships. While most people display the traits of many personality types, the book makes the assertion that all people fall into four predominant personality types, especially where business is involved. Business networking is strongly influenced by how well your behavioral type meshes with another’s.

So, does this mean that you just won’t be able to network with some people, and with others it will be effortless? Not so.

Misner and Hilliard offer advice on how to best interact with these behavioral types by understanding what really makes them tick. These types are as follows: Go-Getters, Nurturers, Examiners, and Promoters.


When dealing with a Go-Getter, you have to think–and move–fast. The Go-Getter is determined to get the results they are looking for ASAP, and if the rules need to be bent in order to get them, so be it.

To communicate with a Go-Getter, you need to make the value that you offer them clearly relevant and essential to their goals. More specifically, you need to make them see how you can help speed up their operations without sacrificing the results they strive for. The Go-Getter will also want to hear that they have options to choose from, but would rather hear a pitch than they would a heavily-planned-out script. With a Go-Getter, stick to the highlights, and deliver on your promises.


Where a Go-Getter has more of a “now, if not sooner” attitude, a Nurturer sees the value in taking their time where business matters are concerned, operating with patience. Nurturers are also natural team players, surrounding themselves with supportive allies and willing to offer assistance wherever it is needed. They can be overly tolerant, however, willing to endure a less-than-ideal situation than ready to take a risk to change it.

Honesty is the best policy when working with a Nurturer. To work with them, you will first need to build their trust. You can help this process along by gently guiding them toward a mutually beneficial solution. To accomplish this, you also need to maintain contact with the Nurturer, regularly providing evidence as to how a business relationship with you can provide simplicity and support.


A born skeptic, an Examiner will thoroughly examine and evaluate everything that they may work with–including the people. They will unsurprisingly be predisposed to perfectionism, and at the very least, are very thorough. The Examiner is a strong conversationalist, as they use their stores of knowledge and information to their advantage. Efficiency is also a virtue to the Examiner, and so they will move on once their objective has been met, whether that is to the next assignment or to the next event.

As you build a connection with an Examiner, you need to be concise and clear about your position and why it is worth their time to be involved. Lean on facts and evidence to make your point, and only use small talk and stories if they add to the evidence that you are a dependable provider. You need to be sure that you put your best foot forward when interacting with an Examiner, as they will be forming a very strong opinion of you from the get-go.


A Promoter is a salesman, usually an extrovert, and a thought leader. They have the drive to spread any good idea they find, more often identifying them instinctively than through research-based evidence. Promoters often attend industry events to network and socialize. They are usually juggling many different projects, and are rarely confrontational.

Communicating with a Promoter requires you to match their speed and align your needs with their priorities. One such priority is their professional image, so you need to make sure that your offer increases their visibility in the industry. As you deal with a Promoter, make sure that you document the finer details of your agreements in writing, and you fulfill your end of the bargain promptly and professionally. Furthermore, you should always give a Promoter plenty of help whenever it is required to prove that you are the best choice for their needs.

These strategies should enable you to network more directly, with the end result being more business relationships that provide mutual benefit. Which of these personality types do you think you most embody? Tell us in the comments!

Tip of the Week: 5 Handy Android Shortcuts

Posted January 10, 2018 by

Android logoWith business becoming more and more mobile, there is a greater need for the devices we use to offer features that allow the user to boost efficiency and avoid downtime. It just so happens that Android devices come with a few little-known ways to accomplish these goals. For this week’s tip, we’ll go over a few ways your phone can be used more efficiently.

Fast Snap

If there are two apps that you use frequently, and often need to switch between as reference, you’ll appreciate this feature. Pressing the overview key (the little square icon) will switch you between the two apps you used most recently. If you are on your device’s home screen, this action will pull up the application you were using last.

Fast Vibrate/Do Not Disturb

We’ve all been in a position where a sudden ringing of a phone would be frowned upon, a situation that’s extremely likely in a business setting. If you find yourself in such an occasion and you realize your phone is still at full volume, you can simply activate the screen and hold the volume down button. This will set the device to vibrate mode.

If vibrate is still too loud, pressing the volume down button once again after the phone has been set to vibrate will activate Do Not Disturb, saving you from having your phone go off at an inopportune time.

Notification Customization

If a particular app is interrupting your workday needlessly, you can tell your Android device under what circumstances that app can provide you with a notification. When the next notification pops up, press and hold the notification until you are offered the opportunity to dictate when the app can ping you through some additional settings.

Freeze Reboot

If you ever find yourself with an inexplicably locked-up and frozen device, you can force it to reboot with the Power and Volume Up buttons. Pressing both down simultaneously for anywhere from 10 to 15 seconds will cause your device to restart. If it doesn’t, that may be a sign that something more serious is happening, or that your phone simply needs a recharge.

Power Button Ends Call

If you’re like most business users, you’re busy from the beginning of the workday to the time you clock out. This is especially true if your work takes you out of the office. To save a few extra moments of time, there’s an easier way to hang up a call on your Android device. Instead of fumbling around to press the end call button on your touchscreen, the power button can be used to end the call.

In your settings, access Accessibility and engage the Power Button Ends Call setting. This enables you to end a call with a much easier gesture that you can successfully pull off without looking.

Excalibur Technology
Excalibur Technology
Excalibur Technology
Excalibur Technology
Excalibur Technology
Excalibur Technology