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Posted By Tony Meisner, Marcus Networking, Inc., Friday, October 19, 2018
If you have between 5-100 employees our company is the perfect IT consultant for you.  As a family run business we have the flexibility to work with you on a "retainer" as needed basis or all-inclusive.  This allows you to focus on building your business while we act as your CIO and keep technology on a budget.   

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Tags:  Desktop Support  IT Consultant  Security  Technology Advisors  VOIP 

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Identity Fraud Kingpin Caught Because He Flunked Geography

Posted By George (Clint) Frederick CPA PLLC, George Frederick CPA PLLC, Friday, March 11, 2016

Hieu Minh Ngo (Pronounced No), a 26-year-old identity theft kingpin made a million or more a year by selling identity information to other identity thieves, who in turn used the information to comprise individuals’ identities.  Ngo started when he was 16. He hacked retail sites and made as much as $10,000 a day. Hacking credit card information was too much work, so he looked for another swindle.  He created a web portal and combined with social engineering was able to create a massive database by hacking into vulnerable companies that contained data of consumer information.  The information was sold to criminals.  He resold his information to criminals for $1. 

Ngo was caught when another hacker agreed to help him restart his business after his web portal identity had been compromised. Unknown to Ngo the other hacker was working with the Secret Service so his sentence would be reduced.  Ngo turned down meeting in New Zealand since he was wanted there and was afraid he would be handed over to the US since he was also wanted there.  He agreed to meet the undercover agent in Guam.  Only after landing in Guam for the meeting did he realize Guam was a US Territory.  He was promptly arrested and is now serving a prison term.

Ngo’s identity files were sold to at least 1,300 criminals and contained a database of at least 200 million Americans.  The potential revenue: 1,300 times the 200 million files, and when you consider the US Population is about 323 million, chances are your identity is compromised.

As a Certified Fraud Examiner I am constantly aware of the enormous amount of identity thefts that exist today.  As Frank Abernathy, of ‘Catch Me If You Can Fame’ stated, “…if your identity has not been compromised it’s just a matter of time before it is!”

Now, for me it becomes personal.  I filed my daughter’s 1040 tax return this last weekend.  I use a sophisticated tax program favored by CPA’s (according the AICPA Journal of Accountancy). I filed her return using the E – filing system of the program. Her return is a joint return with her husband.  Within 30 minutes of filing the return I was notified the IRS had rejected the return.  The problem “Spouse SSN in the Return Header must not be equal to the Primary SSN on another tax return”.  In other words, the IRS thinks she has already filed her tax return and received a refund.  Note: the average refund for an electronically filed 1040 tax return is averaging $3,100 so far for the 2015 tax returns. 

Stay tuned for further developments – currently the problem rests with the IRS to determine what happened. We are anxiously awaiting an IRS response.

Information obtained from the ACFE Fraud Newsletter of March 7, 2014




Tags:  Identity Fraud  security  small business  taxes 

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Small Businesses Moving to the Cloud in 2015

Posted By Mark Wahlstrom, Sequence Media Group, Tuesday, February 3, 2015

According to, many small businesses are moving to the cloud this year. Doing away with costly "on premises" technology will not only help the bottom line, it may be safe and less complex. It's still important to remember to routinely back up data to add another layer of protection.

Online Video Services for your business

Sequence Media Group specializes in timely, broadcast quality HD video, designed specifically for web syndication and distribution. Let us help your discover the power of video marketing. Learn more

Tags:  arizona  asba  cloud computing  mobile  scott drake  security  small business  technology 

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Five Ways to Improve Onsite Business Security

Posted By Guest content contributor, Lee Ying, Monday, November 10, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, November 11, 2014

In This day and age, there’s a lot of attention being paid to digital business security. This makes sense, given our society’s ever-increasing dependence on digital technology, and the near-constant reports of businesses having their digital databases illegally accessed. However, while you’re strengthening the cyber-walls that surround your sensitive digital data, you need to make sure that you don’t neglect your business’ physical security. After all, all of the antivirus programs and firewalls in the world aren’t going to do much good if a criminal kicks in a window and makes off with your company’s valuables. Here are five ways that you can improve your business’ onsite security.


A door that is solid steel is not easy to pick, and can withstand a lot of damage before it breaks. Investing in steel security doors is like building a wall around your business, and the mere presence of massive metal doors may act as a deterrent to potential criminals. When coupled with state-of-the-art electronic locks, you have a barrier that is impenetrable to all but the most determined prowlers.


Most criminals depend upon their ability to get in and out without being detected. As such, should something unexpected happen, such as a light activating or an alarm sounding, most intruders will simply abandon the attempt and escape. Motion sensors—which are electronic devices which respond to the presence of living persons in a building—can be hooked up to lights or alarms, effectively deterring any criminal who manages to gain entrance to the building. Likewise, glass-break detectors which are designed to sound alarms when a window has been shattered can help defend some of the more-accessible entry points.


Although electronic keypad locks are certainly useful for securing buildings against unauthorized access, they have two flaws: First, given that there is generally a single entry code which is shared among multiple employees, it’s difficult to keep track of who exactly has access to the code; criminals may be able to acquire the code from careless workers. Second, employees who have trouble remembering the code may find themselves unable to enter. Key-card access locks, on the other hand, provide quick, easily-trackable access without the need for an unregulated code. And, when combined with a secondary keypad lock, the property becomes even more difficult to access without clearance.


Oftentimes, criminals will actually visit a business during operational hours before committing themselves to a break-in. This gives them the opportunity to locate valuables and gage security without putting themselves at risk. Therefore, it’s important to quickly identify and verify the purpose of any unrecognized individual who enters the business. By arranging the office in a neat and tidy way that allows employees to quickly notice any visitors, employers can limit the danger of unauthorized eyes gathering information for use in future crimes. At the same time, business interiors should be arranged in such a way as to allow any operating surveillance systems see every part of the interior, eliminating any usable hiding spots that criminals could take advantage of.


Perhaps the most important defensive measure that a business can have is an adequate surveillance system. Modern business surveillance, which generally consists of multiple cameras and feeds recorded through the cloud for easy off-site access, is an investment that can easily pay for itself by deterring or identifying criminals. By setting up cameras both inside and outside of your property, and either hiring a monitoring service or hiring your own employee to monitor the feed, you can effectively protect your business at all hours of the day. New motion-sensing cameras can even be implemented which only activate when movement is detected, so that the you don’t have to pay for the power to keep them running at all hours. This is how advanced new systems such as Pro-Vigil are able to keep various companies secure.

The other option is to hire a full security team. Some companies find that they do prefer hiring a full team as opposed to a surveillance system. This option is generally a bit more costly, but does have its advantages.

Guest content contributor: Written by Lee Ying, a freelance writer specializing in both large and small business security.

Tags:  business security  digital security  security 

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Study Shows 44% of Small Businesses Hacked | How to Protect Yourself

Posted By Arizona Small Business Association, Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The costs associated with computer and website attacks can run well into the thousands and even millions of dollars for a small company. According to a 2013 survey by the National Small Business Association 44% of small businesses have been victimized. Those companies had costs averaging $8,700.

Tags:  hackers  identity protection  Security 

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JP Morgan Chase Data Breach Hits Half Of U.S.Households

Posted By Mark Wahlstrom, Sequence Media Group, Wednesday, October 8, 2014
JPMorgan Chase last week confirmed that hackers managed to access personal data for more than 83 million customers, including 76 million households and seven million small-business online accounts.

Tags:  arizona news  business  data breach  jp morgan chase  security 

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The Guide to Password Security (and Why You Should Care)

Posted By Gabriel Salcido, Arizona Small Business Association, Thursday, August 7, 2014

Find out how your password security can be compromised, and how to create and manage secure passwords.

Reports of a massive security breach circulated this week. There are a lot of questions about the extent of this alleged breach, but if you're concerned that your password and credentials have been taken, we recommend updating your passwords. Here's our advice for creating a strong password you can actually remember.

How are passwords exposed?

Before we dive into the how-tos of creating secure passwords, it's important to understand why you need a supersecure password to begin with. After all, you might be thinking, "Who would want to hack little old me?"

There are a few ways your account passwords can be compromised.

  1. Someone's out to get you. Enemies you've created, exes from your past, a nosy mother, an intrusive spouse -- there are many people who might want to take a peek into your personal life. If these people know you well, they might be able to guess your e-mail password and use password recovery options to access your other accounts. (Can you tell I'm speaking from experience?)

  2. You become the victim of a brute-force attack. Whether a hacker attempts to access a group of user accounts or just yours, brute-force attacks are the go-to strategy for cracking passwords. These attacks work by systematically checking all possible passphrases until the correct one is found. If the hacker already has an idea of the guidelines used to create the password, this process becomes easier to execute.

  3. There's a data breach. Every few months it seems another huge company reports a hacking resulting in millions of people's account information being compromised. And with the recent Heartbleed bug, many popular websites were affected directly.

What makes a good password?

Although data breaches are out of your control, it's still imperative to create passwords that can withstand brute-force attacks and relentless frenemies. Avoiding both types of attacks is dependent on the complexity of your password.

Ideally, each of your passwords would be at least 16 characters, and contain a combination of numbers, symbols, uppercase letters, lowercase letters, and spaces. The password would be free of repetition, dictionary words, usernames, pronouns, IDs, and any other predefined number or letter sequences.

The geeky and security-savvy community evaluates password strength in terms of "bits," where the higher the bits, the stronger the password. An 80-bit password is more secure than a 30-bit password, and has a complex combination of the aforementioned characters. As a result, an 80-bit password would take years longer to crack than a 30-bit password.

Ideal passwords, however, are a huge inconvenience. How can we be expected to remember 80-bit (12-character) passwords for each of our various Web accounts?

Creating secure passwords

In his guide to mastering the art of passwords , Dennis O'Reilly suggests creating a system that both allows you to create complex passwords and remember them.

For example, create a phrase like "I hope the Giants will win the World Series in 2013!" Then, take the initials of each word and all numbers and symbols to create your password. So, that phrase would result in this: IhtGwwtWSi2013!

The next option is to use a password generator, which come in the form of offline programs and Web sites. The best choice here would be to use an offline generator, like the appropriately named Random Password Generator, so that your created passwords can't be intercepted.

While you experiment with different passwords, use a tool like How Secure is my Password? to find out if it can withstand any cracking attempts. This particular Web site rates your password's strength based on how long it would take to crack. If it's too easy, the meter will let you know what elements you can add (or remove) to strengthen it.


Check the strength of your passwords at the How Secure Is My Password site, which indicates how difficult your password is to crack, and whether it's on the site's common-password list.
Screenshot by Eric Franklin/CNET

Microsoft offers its own online strength checker, and promises that the form is completely secure. Mac users can use the built-in Password Assistant to check their passwords' security.

Enable two-step-verification

Any time a service like Facebook or Gmail offers "two-step verification," use it. When enabled, signing in will require you to also enter in a code that's sent as a text message to your phone. Meaning, a hacker who isn't in posession of your phone won't be able to sign in, even if they know your password.

You only have to do this once for "recognized" computers and devices. Here's how to set up two-step verification for many popular websites.

Keeping track of secure passwords

If you follow one of the most important commandments of passwords, you know that you absolutely must have a unique password for every service you use. The logic is simple: if you recycle the same password (or a variation of it), and a hacker cracks one account, he or she will be able to access the rest of your accounts.

Obviously, you can't be expected to memorize dozens of crazy, 16-character-long passwords.

This guide thoroughly explores the different options for managing your passwords, including things like storing them on a USB drive, and even writing them down. Although it's ultimately up to you, he presents a strong argument for using the ol' sticky note method.

Using a password manager

Password managers store all of your passwords for you and fill out your log-in forms so that you don't have to do any memorizing. One of the most secure and intuitive password managers is LastPass.


The LastPass password vault in Chrome.
LastPass Inc.

LastPass is unique in that it is made of two parts, coupling an offline program with a browser plug-in. All encryption and decryption happens on your computer so that your data doesn't travel over the Internet and is not stored on any servers.

As you create new accounts or change your passwords, LastPass will ask you if you'd like to create them using its password generator, which is designed to generate hard-to-crack passwords.

If you choose those routes, you'll still have to remember at least one thing: your master LastPass password. Do be sure to make it extra-secure and composed of at least 12 characters to ensure that it's not vulnerable to any brute-force attacks.

It's worth noting, however, that just like any software, LastPass is vulnerable to security breaches. In 2011, LastPass experienced a security breach , but users with strong master passwords were not affected.


Tags:  hack  password  security 

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