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How to Spot a Phishing Attack

How to Spot a Phishing Attack

Text from the e-mail sounds legitimate enough, but in reality, you may be the victim of a phishing attack. Identity thieves, masquerading as Royal Bank, PayPal, or other financial or Internet companies, try to dupe you into clicking phony links to verify personal or account information. You’re asked for home addresses, passwords, social security numbers, credit cards numbers, banking account information, and so on.

Bottom line: Never click links embedded in suspicious e-mails. When you hover the cursor over a link such as www.paypal.com, it actually leads elsewhere.

To lend authenticity to these appeals, the spoof e-mails often are dressed up with real company logos and addresses, plus a forged company name in the From line (for example, From: support@ebay.com). Phishing may take the form of falsified company newsletters. Or there may be bogus requests for you to reconfirm personal data.

So how do you know when the e-mail request you’re reading is really a phishing attack?

  • Obvious giveaways in some fake e-mails are misspellings, rotten grammar, and repeated words or sentences.

  • No company on the level is going to ask you to reconfirm data that’s been lost.

  • Reputable companies usually refer to you by your real first and last names and business affiliations rather than Dear Member or Dear PayPal Customer.

  • If you have doubts that a communication is legit, open a new browser window and type the real company name yourself (for example, www.ebay.com or www.paypal.com.) Your gut instincts concerning phony mail are probably on the mark.

Here’s an excerpt lifted from a phishing attack:

Dear TD Customer,

(URGENT) Your TD Online Banking has been suspended. To unlock your account, click here.

New Income Tax Forms for Canada

New Income Tax Forms for Canada

The new year brings some changes to personal income tax for Canadians. Here are the 2017 TD1 forms for you and your employees:

Federal TD1:  https://www.abovestudio1.com/forms/td1-fill-17e.pdf

Alberta TD1: https://www.abovestudio1.com/forms/td1ab-fill-17e.pdf

And for those not in Alberta, the forms for all the provinces can be found at:

http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/formspubs/frms/td1-eng.html

For any of your Xero, WagePoint payroll or Apple Technology needs, please contact us.

Happy New Year!

Your team at Above Studio 1

above.care™ Managed Services: Terms of Engagement

above.care™ Managed Services: Terms of Engagement

above.care™ Tight Managed Services

Terms of Engagement

We like Plain English over heretofore and wherein. This document explains in plain english what an above.care™ Tight Managed Services membership is, and how it benefits you.

We update this document constantly as technology evolves and we improve our services.

These Terms address the maintenance of operating systems, network software, device configuration, security, safety, and reliability of your computing infrastructure.

Definition: Managed Services

“Managed services is the practice of outsourcing on a proactive basis management responsibilities and functions and a strategic method for improving operations and cutting expenses. It appears as an alternative to the break/fix or on-demand outsourcing model where the service provider performs on-demand services and bills the customer only for the work done.” — Wikipedia

We want to be on your bench as your I.T. department. There are 3 keys to giving you the best experience possible:

  1. Proactive Monitoring and Maintenance – Our cutting edge software agents for Mac are like Heart Monitors and Pulse Oximeters. We can often fix problems before you’re even aware of them
  2. Automated security and stability updates – Our software agents make it easy for your end users to be confident their systems are secure, safe, and completely up to date. They even monitor for Malware and Viruses, automating a response when necessary.
  3. Prescribed and Proven Methodologies – We recommend and support a curated line of business class networking hardware and software solutions, carefully chosen to make the finest level of support easy for all.

What We Do:

  1. Automated Health and Wellness monitoring of each Mac for which a membership is purchased.
    1. When our above.care™ Wellness Monitoring Agent is installed it will notify us of exceptions and irregularities.
    2. Response to irregularities or exceptions is free of charge if the effort requires less than :20 minutes.
    3. Our goal is to respond proactively to these irregularities or exceptions, when possible before you’re even aware there’s a problem.
  2. Manage Software Installations and Updates
    1. When installed, our above.care™ Tight Agent automatically installs software updates and patches including security updates to OS X and security updates to many common Mac based applications.
    2. We maintain and constantly update a large catalog of software for you, making it easy to find safe and secure software that is Mac compatible. These titles are available on any Mac on which our above.care™ Tight Agent is installed and can be found using the App “Managed Software Center”.
    3. We may enable the Virus Scanning feature of our above.care™ Tight Agent.
  3. Manage Your Server
    1. Where a Mac qualified with an above.care™ Tight Membership is a Server, we may provide Administrative oversight of day to day maintenance using secure remote access tools, specifically Apple Remote Desktop through a secure VPN connection.
    2. We use enterprise class I.T. Governance techniques, influenced largely by The COBIT, and set out in our IT Governance Baseline Checklist.
    3. We may provide a solution for off-site “Cloud Based” backup of a server if appropriate.
  4. Manage Your Network
    1. When you have your fleet of Macs enrolled in an above.care™ Tight Membership, and we provide recommended network infrastructure, oversight and management of that infrastructure is free if the response requires less than :20 minutes.
    2. Your network infrastructure (i.e. Routers, Switches and Access Points) must have been purchased through us and must be capable of remote or cloud based management (eg: Meraki, DD-WRT).
    3. If we recommend and implement an MDM (Mobile Device Management) system, ongoing oversight and management is free if the response requires less than :20 minutes.
  5. Maintain and Monitor a Server Backup
    1. Our above.care™ Wellness Monitoring Agent will proactively notify us of an exception to normal backup routines. Our response is free of charge if resolution can be completed in less than :20 minutes.
    2. An above.care™ Tight Membership includes a free cloud based backup of your server. We may recommend additional backup strategies if fast recovery is mission critical.

You agree to:

Communicate openly with us

We view our relationship as organic— our responsibility to you evolves. You count on us to keep you informed of emerging concerns, and we rely on you to keep us informed of problems or changes to your IT environment.

We can solve most any problem if we’re aware of it.

Pay our fees

We sometimes like to say “you pay us not to see us”. If we’re doing our jobs the way we like, we’re sheltering you from complexity, and keeping things safe, healthy, and functional behind the scenes.

You agree to pay $60 per month for each Mac enrolled in our above.care™ Tight Managed Services Membership. Custom pricing may be negotiated when membership quantities exceed 5 Macs.

For Macs with an above.care™ Membership, if we can provide a resolution to your support question in less than :20 minutes, it’s free. Support time in excess of :20 minutes is billed at our “members rate” of 50% off our standard rate (currently $160 per hour).

Use our electronic support tools when possible

We provide a means for you to ask for help electronically— this approach allows us to be efficient, documenting issues thoroughly and repurposing the knowledge when appropriate.

Termination

We don’t enforce a contract. We believe you’ll recognize value in maintaining your above.care™ Memberships, and we work hard to ensure that.

Either of us can terminate membership with 30 days notice.

Email: Your Business’ Forgotten Intellectual Property

Email: Your Business’ Forgotten Intellectual Property

Small businesses depend on their email more than ever, and too often when we’re introduced to a new client, we find considerable weaknesses in their email systems.

One of the best things we bring to our new SME (Small and medium-sized enterprise) clients is a kind of standardization of their email infrastructure– essentially introducing “commercial grade” systems to replace “consumer grade” systems.

In our experience, costs for these kinds of systems, specifically some flavour of “in-house” Microsoft Exchange server, would start at about the $5,000 mark for equipment, and would come with some requirement for oversight in the form of an I.T. employee or an expensive maintenance contract with a traditional I.T. company. And if your business needs any form of archival for it’s incoming and outgoing email, the costs increase greatly. If we estimated the cost of the I.T. oversight at $500 per month (which is uncommonly conservative), and the cost for an archival solution at $1,800 per year, that puts the 3 year amortized cost at about $25,000.

Our Rackspace Hosted Exchange Complete bundle, a truly “Best of Breed” solution, changes all that. For a 10 user small business, 3 year amortized costs would be about $5,400. But there are a bunch of things about this approach that make it even more remarkable:

  • 1 Terabyte of Storage for mailboxes
  • Worry free backup and redundancy
  • Unparalleled availability (that is, you’ll never have to worry that your mail server is offline because your local internet provider is janky).
  • No need to interact with a grumpy I.T. guy

And possibly one of the most compelling things is the ability to have complete insight into all the Intellectual Property assembled inside your email system. Every email message, replete with all the attachments– budget spreadsheets, customer quotes, legal documents, etceteras, all become easily searchable by anyone in your organization that needs that capability.

Contact us today to talk about making your email system serve you better.

Alberta Gains a Cloud Accounting Expert

Alberta Gains a Cloud Accounting Expert

Xero: Beautiful Accounting Software

In today’s competitive business world, companies must evolve if they are to survive and thrive.

Today, 1 week after attending the annual Xero conference in Denver, Above Studio 1 attained Bronze Certified Partner status from Xero, maker of the world’s most beautiful accounting software for small to medium sized businesses.

Edmonton based Above Studio 1 is a hybrid Accounting and Technology firm. As Apple Certified Consultants, Xero certified partners, and Cloud experts, they can help reinvent a company’s processes and technology for growth, efficiency, security, and happiness.

“We know business and technology, and we can get you off those PCs and onto gorgeous equipment, beautiful accounting software, and smart cloud integrated systems” said Michael Reinhart, Above Studio 1 founder. “We’ve seen so many clients suffering pain and bleeding money because of stodgy, decrepit, and restrictive PC based systems. We liberate you from the old world.”

Suzanne Morter (CMA), Above Studio 1’s lead Consulting Accountant and Certified Xero Advisor will guide clients on the journey to Cloud based accounting.

Xero announced on June 4th, 2015 that they’re involved in a strategic partnership with Apple, Vend, and Deputy to provide specialized solutions aimed at revolutionizing the business of retail using Apple’s iOS devices.

About Xero

Xero​ (@Xero; ASX/NZX: XRO) i​s beautiful, easy to use online accounting software for small businesses and their advisors. Xero has over 500,000 su​bscribers in more than 180 countries, and seamlessly integrates with over 400 third­ party tools. Xero was ranked No. 1 by Forbes as the W​orld’s Most Innovative Growth Company​i​n 2014 and 2015.

About Above Studio 1

Above Studio 1 is Alberta’s best consultancy for evolving the Information Technology systems of small to medium sized businesses. Above Studio 1 uses modern techniques and products to help businesses get the most bang for their IT buck, allowing business people focus on the things that make them happy.

Suzanne Morter (CMA, B.Mgt.) Joins Our Team

I’m delighted to announce that Suzanne Morter (CMA, B.Mgt.) has joined our team.

Now, our clients can benefit from “turn-key” accounting setup, bookkeeping counsel, and “business intelligence”– and they’ll also love her warm, energetic and tactical approach.

From Suzanne’s LinkedIn page:

At the end of the day, your life will be easier, you will have more time on your hands and you will know, at any moment, exactly how your business is fairing.

Ultimately, we believe that Cloud technology and innovation will change the way business is run forever.

Contact us today to talk about how Cloud integrated software will change your business. We’re ready to help you grow!