WHAT? The Internet Might Be For Sale

If Washington regulators and certain congress-members get their way some internet customers might receive better connections than others.

“We currently have Net Neutrality which means the internet is pretty much a level playing field,” says Steve Schoen ACD’s Vice President.

vpIf the FCC repeals Net Neutrality, the larger players on the internet, such as AT&T, will be allowed to speed up connections to some websites that can afford to pay for it. Web streaming companies like Netflix and YouTube would have the opportunity to pay a fee in order to reach users at faster speeds than other webpages.

As the New York Times explained, “Pro-net neutrality activists, who argue the principle creates a level playing-field online, are up in arms about the plan. And some tech companies are now speaking out in support of Net Neutrality.

 

 

SANJEEV1“At ACD we think the internet should not have fast lanes for preferred customers and slow lanes for everyone else,” says Sanjeev Verma, ACD’s Director of Network Operations.

If Net Neutrality is ended, the major players on the internet will be able to charge companies for access to “fast lanes,” or even block certain apps altogether.

“Unfortunately many Washington insiders think the end of Net Neutrality is expected to pass,” says Kevin Schoen, ACD’s CEO.

 

 

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Russian Hackers Target Michigan

In Early September, one of America’s largest social media scams was revealed. Disguised as Americans, Russian hackers bought United States advertisement space on Facebook to stir up political unrest. The ads contained content meant to divide Americans on causes regarding the election, gun laws, racism and immigration. The campaign included advertisements, Facebook groups, and pages.

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Fake Russian Ad

It is speculated more than 10 million Facebook users in the United States saw over 3,000 ads. Forty-four percent of the ads were seen before the election, and 56 percent were seen after Donald Trump won the presidency. The Russian ads may have influenced American political stances by causing social division amongst citizens.

Among the states that these ad hacks affected, Michigan and Wisconsin were specifically targeted. These two states were crucial in deciding Trump’s victory, and Michigan saw the closest numbers between the republican and democratic sides in the entire country. Russia’s goal was to influence public opinion and target Michigan specifically knowing that there was heavy competition. The focus on Michigan and Wisconsin adds more evidence to the fact that Russia was attempting to cause ruckus within the presidential election.

Federal officials were able to link the campaign to a covert Russian tech company known as the Internet Research Agency. The company is also guilty of spreading propaganda and fake news stories via the Internet.

Facebook has not yet confirmed or denied any specific ad or group’s affiliation with the Russian hack, but did reveal that 470 pages and profiles are linked to the Agency. The social media giant is working with authorities as well as Google, who announced an investigation into whether or not their advertisement services were compromised.

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Fake Russian Ad

The hack is also said to have spread to other social media channels and sites like Redditt, Instagram and 4Chan.

ACD’s CEO, Kevin Schoen stated in an interview about the topic, “It is pretty common that other entities are trying to influence American elections. Special interest groups are purchasing ads, and not being transparent on how and why they are funded.”

Facebook will now be taking extra precaution when approving the purchases of ad space, and     they will be expecting complete transparency from buyers and their organizations.

 

Malware Exploit Threats Hit New High

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“The shadowy people behind this illegal activity are motivated by the millions of people that are uninformed or have outdated software.”

Malware threats have reached dangerously high levels, according to a new report that highlights the sheer scale of threats facing businesses today.

The latest Kaspersky Lab Malware report, covering the three months of Q2 2017, claims that Kaspersky Lab’s products blocked more than five million attacks involving exploits in this time period.

In total, Kaspersky’s products detected and repelled 342,566,061 malicious attacks from online resources located in 191 countries, with 17.26 per cent of all Internet-connected computers in the world facing at least one attack.

This included a rise in crypto-ransomware attacks, which were blocked on 246,675 unique computers, compared to 240,799 computers in Q1, along with an increase in attempted infections by money-stealing malware that attacks online access to bank accounts, which were discovered on 224,675 user computers, compared to 288,000 user computers in Q1.Y

Your first line of defense is to keep your PCs updated and perform regular security checks in order to ensure that they don’t fall victim to any future attacks.

Information originally published by Mike Moore in ITPROTOCAL

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Hackers Targeting MACs

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“Hackers are going after smaller businesses. Even those using a MAC are not safe.”

A newly discovered variant of malware for MACs is drawing attention to the growing issue of cyber threats against Apple’s computers, which have been long seen as largely immune to the sorts of problems that plague Windows PCs.

The recently uncovered malware – a variant of the “Fruitfly” malware that was discovered in January – is troubling more because of its potential for spying on Mac users than its actual impact. Just a few hundred Macs have reportedly become infected, but researchers say the malware could be used for such surveillance activities as taking webcam photos and capturing keystrokes.

Notably, the Fruitfly malware appears to use some outdated code, from a time before Apple’s introduction of OS X. The malware is “very strange, because it seems to have been around but not doing much,” said Michael Oh, CTO of TSP LLC, a Cambridge, Mass.-based Apple partner. “It’s clearly a proof of concept that somebody had put out in the wild, perhaps in a limited form or perhaps to see how wide it would spread.”

The discovery of the new Fruitfly variant adds to what has already been an unusually active year for Mac-related security threats. Cybersecurity vendor Malwarebytes, which initially uncovered Fruitfly in January, said in a recent report that Mac users saw more malware during the second quarter of the year than they had seen in all of 2016.

Information originally published by CRN

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Spam Is On The Rise…Again!

Remember a few years ago, when you would get more spam than real emails? It is happening again after dropping since 2009. In early 2016, the percentage started climbing again and is now over 60 percent. Why is spam on the increase? 

While spam has always been used to make money, in the last couple of years it has been increasingly weaponized.

Traditionally, spam was used to send advertising directly or through links to other sites to sell products or services. Today, spam is used to entice the recipient to click on a link or an attached file that will install malware on to their computer.

The malware may encrypt (or scramble) the files on the computer or on network file servers. The sender then demands a ransom to unencrypt the files — thus, the name ransomware.

This scheme is prevalent in Michigan. It has become very successful and the ransomware industry is expected to exceed $1 billion dollars in global revenue this year.

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“Hackers, malware and spam are on the rise; a basic understanding of these nuisances is the first step in protecting yourself.”

What types of malware are lurking?

Other types of malware delivered through spam may upload personal information or user names and passwords back to the sender, who will then sell them to other criminals.

Spam is also used in phishing campaigns where an email is sent pretending to be from a reputable company to induce individuals to reveal personal information such as passwords and credit card information. Spear phishing, or Whaling, as it is sometimes called, is a phishing campaign directed at targeted individuals.

Here’s how it works:

Usually sent to specific key people at a company, the email will look like it is from someone with authority like a corporate executive or the owner. It requests sensitive information like a copy of all employee W-2 forms or asks to have money urgently transferred to an account. These campaigns have also been effective in generating millions of dollars of income.

There are some simple and inexpensive ways to protect yourself and your business from these malicious attacks:

– Use a spam filtering service. All company email is directed to the service provider, filtered for spam and viruses and then sent to your company email server. This eliminates fifty percent or more of the email traffic from even getting to your server, freeing up bandwidth and storage space. The top service providers will catch 99 percent of spam and viruses.

– Use good anti-virus and anti-malware software and keep it up to date. This helps protect against the one percent that gets through and from sources of viruses and malware other than email.

– Train your staff. It is pretty easy to spot spam email if one knows what to look for. There are several good programs for recurring staff training. They are usually presented in short two- to three-minute videos that do not require technical knowledge.

Spam email can be much more than a nuisance — it can be very costly. All of the recommended solutions combined typically cost only a few dollars per person each month. A small investment now may save your company money, loss of business reputation, lost productivity and more.

Originally published in Focus Magazine

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Michigan’s Small Towns Are Going Global

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“Eaton Rapids Director of Utilities Scott Poyer, left, and Mayor Steven Platte, right, pose for a picture in downtown Eaton Rapids”

Small Michigan towns such as Charlotte, Mason and Eaton Rapids, are becoming Internet boom-towns by partnering with the right fiber optic company. These towns and many more have turned themselves into mini-startup hubs with new companies that are helping to retain their younger residents.

Mayor Tim Lewis of Charlotte explained that they have had nearly $30 million of economic development in the past three years. This includes housing, entertainment and news business in the downtown area.

Eaton Rapids and Hillsdale – all located in southern Michigan with populations between 5,000 and 9,000 – in recent years collaborated with ACD to implement fiber broadband in their communities. Currently, fiber is available to businesses, schools and utility plants; eventually, residents will start to receive fiber connections as well. Municipal and business leaders in these cities agree that having fiber networks gives them a competitive advantage.

“Having access to the global economy is critical, and without Internet connections, Michigan businesses can’t compete. But if we can help businesses better understand the benefits of a high-speed connection, we can grow and improve Michigan’s economy,” says Eric Frederick, executive director of Connect Michigan.

A better understanding of the need for fiber is vitally important, and these small Michigan towns have achieved a faster and more reliable Internet connection with the help of ACD and fiber broadband.