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At SpireTech, our managed services clients often contact the helpdesk to determine if an email is fake or not.  We thought it’d be helpful to put together a short instructional video to help you identify some common signs that an email is a phish or fake email.

While this doesn’t cover all the possibilities, we think it hits on the most common ones. Another thing we’re seeing occasionally is a real, targeted email to a client purporting to be be from an owner of the company or a vendor. Always pick up the phone if there’s any question on the validity of an email, and contact our service desk if you need help!  Read more...


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Windows 7 is reaching the end of its life and support on January 14, 2020. It’s now time to plan your upgrade to Windows 10.

What’s happening to Windows 7?

Windows 7 (as well as Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2) will no longer be supported by Microsoft after January 14, 2020. This means there will be no more software updates or security patches. Continuing to use the operating system could make you out of compliance with industry standards. Microsoft customer service will also no longer be available for Windows 7.

Unsupported operating systems are often targeted by cyber attackers specifically because they no longer receive software updates or patches to fix flaws and vulnerabilities. By continuing to use Windows 7 past its end of support, your PC will become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses.

Your organization may also be out of compliance with industry or legal standards if you continue to run on unsupported software or operating systems.  Read more...


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If you regularly use Skype for Business in your organization, you may now know that Microsoft has begun replacing Skype with Teams. Microsoft Teams is a new platform that acts as a hub within Office 365 and brings together chat, meetings, notes, and integrations with other Office 365 applications like SharePoint.

Depending on how your organization is handling this transition, you may already be using Microsoft Teams and be rerouted to it for your chats, meetings, and presentations. The Teams UI is certainly different from Skype! Here are some quick tips on starting a chat, voice call, or video call with another person, and presenting your desktop to others when in a meeting or call.

Start a chat with a user in Teams

  1. Go to the search bar at the top of the Teams application.
  2. Begin typing the name of the person you want to connect with.
  3. Select the user when they appear.
  Read more...

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used with permission from Norton by Symantec, by Steve Symanovich

You’re probably no stranger to those little pop-up windows. They tell you software updates are available for your computer, laptop, tablet, or mobile device.

You might be tempted to click on that “Remind me later” button. Don’t do it. Or, at least don’t put off updating your software for long.

Software updates are important to your digital safety and cyber security. The sooner you update, the sooner you’ll feel confident your device is more secure — until the next update reminder.

Why are software updates so important? There are a lot of reasons. Here are 5 that show why it’s important to update software regularly.

1. Software updates do a lot of things

Software updates offer plenty of benefits. It’s all about revisions. These might include repairing security holes that have been discovered and fixing or removing computer bugs. Updates can add new features to your devices and remove outdated ones.  Read more...


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used with permission from FTC.gov., by Colleen Tressler

Phishing is when someone uses fake emails or texts to get you to share valuable personal information – like account numbers, Social Security numbers, or your login IDs and passwords. Scammers use your information to steal your money, your identity, or both. They also use phishing emails to get access to your computer or network. If you click on a link, they can install ransomware or other programs that can lock you out of your data.

Scammers often use familiar company names or pretend to be someone you know. Here’s a real world example featuring Netflix. Police in Ohio shared a screenshot of a phishing email designed to steal personal information. The email claims the user’s account is on hold because Netflix is “having some trouble with your current billing information” and invites the user to click on a link to update their payment method.  Read more...


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Think about this scenario: A friend tells you that they received a message from your email address that wasn’t really sent from you. They think you’ve been hacked and your account is sending malicious emails to friends. How do you know if your email address account has been compromised, or if this malicious attempt is just spoofing your email address?

Email “spoofing” means that an attacker is impersonating you by pretending to send an email from your account. The recipient of the email will see your email… but if you dig deeper into the email message’s contents, you can often see whether the email was truly sent from your account or only made to appear so.

This type of impersonation is possible because email messages can show a difference between “display” information and the actual information embedded in what’s called the “email header”. Spoofing is an attempt to forge the email header, taking advantage of email protocols’ lack of authentication.  Read more...


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used with permission from Microsoft Industry Blogs

Small businesses can use AI to improve their bottom line

Chatbots cut business costs by $20 million last year. By 2022, that savings is expected to jump to $8 billion.[1] That’s an increase of about 75% in five years. Artificial intelligence (AI) allows customers to ask questions, compare products and pricing, and make purchases, without speaking to a sales representative. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their enterprise relationships without interacting with a human. Not only does this empower consumers, but it saves your business time and money with fewer personnel on the payroll.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

To understand what AI means today, it helps to go back in time. In the mid-19th century, when a person carried out a task that required thinking, problem solving, planning, learning, or reasoning, it was said that they had to “apply intelligence” to accomplish the job.  Read more...


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used with permission from Microsoft, by Athima Chansanchai

If you need to allot time to take care of the items on your to-do list, wouldn’t it be great if you could drag and drop those tasks right into your calendar? Now, you can.

The new Tasks experience in Outlook.com helps you manage tasks without breaking your flow or leaving your inbox. Powered by To-Do, you can now create tasks by dragging and dropping an email to your task list. Or, easily schedule items by dragging a task to your calendar. Your tasks then travel with you on the To-Do app.

Check it out in action:

  Read more...

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used with permission from SBA.gov., by Anita Campbell

Bad online reviews can cause potential customers to shop elsewhere, negatively impacting your business’ bottom line. If your business has received a bad online review, here are steps you can take to handle it and minimize the damage.

Respond to Customer Reviews

Ignoring a bad review won’t make it go away. On the other hand, responding to customer reviews can result in better ratings and improve your business’ online reputation.

The Harvard Business Review analyzed tens of thousands of hotel reviews and responses from TripAdvisor. The study found that around a third of reviews on TripAdvisor receive a response and almost a half of hotels respond to reviews. According to the study, hotels that respond to customer reviews receive 12 percent more reviews and their ratings increase by an average of 0.12 stars.

Yelp for Business Owners points out that responding to reviews is a great way to learn from your customers and build goodwill among your most vocal customers.  Read more...


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used with permission from FTC.gov., by Andrew Smith, Director, FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection

Mention the word “ransomware” at a meeting of small business owners and you’ll feel the temperature in the room drop by 20 degrees. A ransomware attack is a chilling prospect that could freeze you out of the files you need to run your business. When FTC staff met with business owners across the country, you cited ransomware as a particular concern. New resources from the FTC can help protect your company from this threat.

Ransomware: How It Happens

What is a ransomware attack? It can start innocently enough. An employee clicks on a link, downloads an email attachment, or visits a website where malicious code is lurking in the background. With just one keystroke, they inadvertently install software that locks you out of your own files. The cyber crook then demands a ransom, often in the form of cryptocurrency.  Read more...

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