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Thoughts From Abbott’s Inbox Feb 23rd, 2024

I spent much of this morning on the phone with my son in NYC.  He received an email to his business address from LifeLock, stating that there’d been activity on his account through AT&T U-verse.  Fortunately, I’ve convinced everybody around me to be suspicious of this type of thing.  He’s in finance and for compliance reasons, he’s prohibited from sending any emails like this outside of his four walls (I was hoping to look at the links embedded in the email).  So, we tried to get to the bottom of this via phone and text.

 

Four entities involved; LifeLock, AT&T, Norton (antivirus provider) and his employer.  He was under the impression that his employer provided free LifeLock screening as a work perk, so the email wasn’t a big surprise.  He contacted his firm’s IT department which reviewed the email and flagged it as spam. He contacted LifeLock and was told he doesn’t have an account. He contacted Norton and was told that the email address used to send the questionable message was not legit, even though I found a list of their valid email domains on their website, and this one was listed.  And of course, AT&T was useless.  Regardless, most signs point to this being a scam, although the presence (or lack thereof) of a LifeLock account still needs to be confirmed.  That said, with the big AT&T outage yesterday, I wouldn’t be surprised to see hackers trying to take advantage of AT&T users.

 

Long story short, we still don’t have a 100% solution on this.  But, this is another good reminder to think before you click and not provide any login creds (user name/password) until you’ve gone straight to the source.  Don’t click the link- find a number or email on line and contact them directly through a trusted source.  And now, scroll down to learn more about Scottish warriors, iPhone myths, and more.

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Scams

Over 800,000 people reported being taken by Impostor scams in 2023.  And one of the most amazing was the one where a financial writer gave a stranger a shoebox with $50K in it. Really???

AI Obits

A couple of times over the past six months, I’ve gone to Google to search for obituaries of people I either thought or knew had passed away.  Invariably, I got a bunch of search results from random websites with very basic information that had obviously been pulled from somewhere else.  Not until I saw this article did I realize that fake obits, generated by AI, had become an issue.  This isn’t to say that the people being reported on aren’t actually dead (usually they are), but rather that you should confirm that you’re using a valid source with legit information.

CMMC Compliance

We only have a couple of clients who work with the Department of Defense, yet we keep getting asked about CMMC (Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification) compliance.  If you work with the DoD, you’re probably familiar with these requirements (but maybe not yet in compliance), but if you’re looking to add DoD work to your business, you’ll need to learn about CMMC.  Our friends at Trusted Sec are hosting a March 6th webinar on CMMC, and if you’re in manufacturing, it would probably be worth your while to attend.  

iPhone Myths

I’ve dropped sunglasses, pens, and other random items in the toilet over the years, but fortunately not my phone.  And for that reason, I have no experience with throwing it in a bag of rice to dry out.  Now, according to Apple, I’m not supposed to do that, anyway.  Next time you buy a pair of shoes, start a collection of those little silica packets; that way, when you have a wet phone, you’ll have the proper materials to dry it out (or try to).

 

Once your wet phone (iPhone or Android) is back in good working order, there’s no reason you have to keep closing all those apps that are running in the background.  Just as the myth about a bag of rice started somewhere online, so too did the myth that open apps are killing your battery.  They’re not. 

Chinese Spying

If you’ve ever wanted to know how the Chinese government spies on its citizens as well as foreigners, or what hacking tools they have, you might still be able to find data online.  This is thanks to a data dump earlier in the week, in which all of the data released came from a security company with ties to the Chinese government.  

Managed Services Under Attack

I’ve mentioned a few times in the past that Ashton and our peers (deemed “Managed IT Services Providers” or “MSPs”) are under attack by hackers.  They figure that if they can get into our network, then they’ll have access to hundreds of our clients’ networks. CISA recently issued an alert that ConnectWise ScreenConnect has a serious vulnerability which may allow hackers access to managed networks, setting the stage for ransomware and data breaches.

 

Connectwise is one of the tools our industry uses to manage and maintain all of our client networks, and ScreenConnect allows us to gain remote access to networks to troubleshoot.  The moment our team was informed of this vulnerability, earlier this week, we applied the necessary patches.  That said, we know that many of our peers are a little slow to react to this type of thing.

So, if you work with an outsourced IT provider, or are big enough to have Connectwise in house, please make sure that they (or you) have applied all necessary security updates.  

Google Gemini

If you watch or read any news, you’re probably aware of the fact that Google recently released their new AI tool, Google Gemini.  And no sooner had they released it than they had to pause its ability to generate images of people.  Here at the office, Travis decided to upload a pic of yours truly (seen above) and ask Gemini to analyze it.  The result?  “I am unable to generate images of people, as this is against my policy.  However, I can describe the image you sent me; it appears to be a stock photo of a Scottish warrior in a kilt holding a sword.”

 

I think that’s all you need to know to realize that this new tool has many flaws.  

Nancy's Nuggets

Clearly, Nancy thinks I need to pay more attention to sports scores, as she was kind enough to send me this piece about Apple’s new app called Apple Sports.  It’ll give you all the scores you’re looking for in one easy to view screen.

 

She also shared with me the fact that Delta has a flight from Austin to Detroit on April 8th which flies along the path of totality during the solar eclipse.  It’s already sold out (it is Detroit, after all) but there are other Delta flights that will provide an opportunity to get an above ground view of the fun.  Personally, I plan to be at the Indians home opener that day.  

I know that at least a few of my readers would be offended if I failed to acknowledge that it was 44 years ago yesterday when the US beat Russia in The Miracle on Ice. I still remember it like it was yesterday, and I’ll find some time this weekend to watch the movie, as I always do. And since we’re on the topic of hockey, I figured I’d share this goal from earlier in the week, that’s being touted as the goal of the year.  

Have a great weekend.

Abbey

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