Beware of new Phishing attack disguised as an update! Photo examples in post….

The Internet is great for providing entertainment, information, or anything else you could imagine. It is also filled with malware and other programs that cause harm to your computer. One of the methods these programs use to infect your computer is called phishing.

Think of it like actual fishing. A piece of bait is used to draw the target’s attention. Once that bait has been taken, the program is then installed. Sometimes the programs cause more annoyance than actual harm. Other times they quietly steal your personal information and pass it along. Here are some tips you can follow to help limit your chance of falling victim to a phishing scheme.

1.  Never download or install anything unless you are sure of what it is. A lot of the time, these phishing attacks pose as one thing but are really something different.
2.   Be wary of any windows that popup while you are on the Internet. More often than not, it is a phishing attack hoping you will click on it.
a. When you close any popups, always use the X in the upper right corner. Pay close attention that you are clicking the correct X. Sometimes these popups are cleverly designed and have their own X they hope you will click on.
3.   Along the same lines, be cautious when clicking on anything telling you software is out of date, especially when on the Internet. Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome do not alert the user in a popup. If you see any of these, close them by using the X in the upper right corner.
4.   Be skeptical of any window or popup stating your computer is infected. This is one of the more popular phishing schemes. Antiviruses are smart enough to work without you telling it to clean your computer. Your safest bet is to just close the Window. If you really have an infection it will alert you again.

We have added a few pictures of various phishing attacks. Remember to be 100% sure of what you are downloading and close any obnoxious popups with X in the upper right corner. Following these simple rules should make your time on the Internet more enjoyable.


Mobile Security, Part II: Managing your passwords securely

Many consumers are questioning the security of their mobile transactions and monitoring their online accounts and digital assets more carefully in recent weeks.  With scares like Heartbleed and the breach in Target consumer information in recent months, the threat of identity theft and website fraud seems to be on the rise.  According to a web article by USA Today, their user survey showed consumers are checking personal online banking accounts and credit card balances more frequently to better monitor fraud.   With all the anxiety and upheaval surrounding these security concerns, many users are adapting the method of keeping different passwords for different websites, in an attempt to be more secure.


In our last post we addressed how to develop a secure password or passphrase for your devices, applications, and websites.  Another challenge to users is the amount of passwords individuals are expected to remember for different apps, websites, personal online accounts, business account access, and sometimes also school account access.  It is not recommended to store sensitive information on your mobile device, so how do you record that information for reference while still maintaining separate passwords for security purposes?  Our experts have a few ideas for storing and recording sensitive information on your computer or mobile device.


  1. DO NOT RECORD PASSWORD INFORMATION: One of our technicians specializes in network security and administration for our company and our clients.  He says he never records password information for his personal accounts because it is too risky.  If he forgets his password, he prefers to go through the website’s recovery prompts to retrieve or reset his log-in information.
  2. TRY NOT TO STORE PASSWORDS ON MOBILE DEVICES: While there are exceptions to every rule, our technicians suggest passwords and personal data be stored as little as possible on mobile devices.  If you feel you must write down or record your password to remember it, make sure you don’t label it as such, and then keep it in a safe place.  Some users even develop a code to help them remember their log-in information!  For instance, if your password is a name and number that is significant to you, it would be easy to create a code or some prompts to help jog your memory!  Let’s say your password is the year you were born and the name of your street:  1975Mastin. Your reminder prompt could say: birth year (YYYY)street (M—-n) to give you an idea how many characters are in the password, and a clue as to the code you used.
  3. USE A SECURE SPREADSHEET TO ORGANIZE SENSITIVE INFORMATION: There are security risks associated with storing any data, no matter the method, but some users like to organize their sensitive information in a password-protected spreadsheet on their laptop or desktop computer. If that is the method you choose, please use our tips to develop a strong password to protect your digital assets! For our administrative staff accessing multiple vendor sites each day, this method is preferred.  This way it is easy to copy and paste information from the spreadsheet, so it becomes less of a chore to change the passwords regularly.

Different methods work better for different users.   As soon as you find a method that suits you, your personal information will be much more safe and secure.   Now that you know how to keep your information safe at home, make sure you check out our next post about safe browsing on your mobile device over public Wi-fi.


By: Lacey Rickert, Marketing Director at HCCS, Inc.



Attention Apple Users: Update now to avoid security risks!

by HCCS, Inc. Due to the announcement earlier this week of security risks associated with Apple Devices, we urge any Apple users to perform software updates on their devices immediately, to avoid being victimized by the breach in Apple’s software.   According to sources at many news outlets, including the New York Times, Apple identified a problem in its mobile and desktop operating systems that could allow for hackers to access what you thought to be secure transactions and sessions on your device.  The problem has to do with a coding error in their web connectivity software that validates the security certificates being sent back and forth when you’re establishing a secure connection.  Because of this issue, the browser on your device cannot verify the authenticity of an encryption certificate. What that means is, any hacker could pretend to be your Amazon shopping cart, your bank account or your personal e-mail and cause serious harm, not to mention the increased risk of identity theft. We urge all Apple customers to update their software as soon as possible! Most Apple users can download the update through their general settings on their device.  Keep an eye out for additional security tips from our experts!

Lacey Rickert, Marketing Director