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True North Networks has been serving the Swanzey area since 2002, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

4 Reasons to Unplug During Your Next Vacation

Staying plugged in, whether it be at an event or on vacation, is the new norm. We have our mobile devices right by our side at all times to check social media, email, and even snap photos to remember the experience—whether it be from the sand, lake, or mountaintop.

But, as a result, you defeat the purpose of getting away in the first place—to kick your feet up, unwind, and recharge your mind and body.

Below are some reasons why unplugging may help you truly relax on vacation:OutOfOffice wp 770x385

1. You’ll remember more.

Think about it. The time you spend taking an Instagram-worthy photo, editing it on the spot, and uploading it to keep your friends, family, and social acquaintances looped in on all you’re enjoying is time taken away from you actually enjoying the moment you’re in.

Going back to the photo of the grandmother in the crowd, how much do you think everyone else around her remembers about that day? Chances are, not as much as they could have if they put their phones in their pockets or purses and soaked up their surroundings.

2. You’ll truly soak in your surroundings.

Yes, that’s another key benefit in and of itself. You see, staring at the world through your phone can seriously limit the number of beautiful things you have the pleasure of seeing with your own eyes within the destination you’re exploring.

When you’re not glued to your phone, you’ll probably notice a lot more like the local animals, architecture, people, and even your kids’ excitement over seeing new things.

3. You’ll feel closer to your vacation crew.

The thing is, mobile devices can often make you feel less close to the people you’re with because you’re so focused on what’s going on with the people behind the screen, whether it be those you know or celebrities. In fact, evidence suggests that even when people aren’t actively checking them, the mere awareness that their smartphone is turned on and close by leads to distracted, lower-quality interactions.

So, push all that aside and truly focus on the people you’re with—your vacation crew. And, cherish your time with them because life moves quickly, and, to quote Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, “If you don’t stop and look around every once in awhile, you could miss it.”

4. You’ll maximize the benefits of taking a vacation.

Last but certainly not least, maybe you and your family are feeling seriously bogged down when it comes to the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Thus, what do you do? You book that much-needed vacation destination of choice where relaxation awaits. Well, not if everyone’s attached to their phones the entire time. I say that because, when you don’t find the time to unplug, you’ll lose out on maximizing the benefits of taking a tech-free (or tech-limited) vacation. Benefits such as:  

  • Reduced feelings of stress and increased feelings of relaxation.
  • Improved concentration and creativity.
  • Increased mental clarity.
  • Improved health.
  • A restful night’s sleep.
  • Support of a healthy work/life balance.



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5 Reasons To Have a Data Backup & Disaster Recovery Plan

Having a data backup and recovery plan is important to the overall success of your business. Without one, your business can suffer from permanent data loss, massive downtime, and unnecessary expenses. This being said, a large majority of SMBs still feel as though they can go without a data backup and recovery plan … which is a huge mistake.

Here are five reasons it’s more important than ever to have a data backup and recovery plan for your SMB.   

ALL Data is a targetimages

Whether you’re a dentist or an attorney, working at a Fortune 500 company or building up a mom-and-pop shop, your data will always remain vulnerable to threats. Viruses, accidents, and punk teenagers halfway across the world are not picky. They will attack any business of any type, and they will do it to fulfill a vendetta, acquire sensitive data, or simply because they can. In fact, 43% of all cyber attacks specifically target small businesses.


The thing about data loss is that it’s not always the direct result of a tornado or massive flooding (like most people tend to think). Instead, over half of all data loss incidents are the result of human error or hardware malfunctions — both of which are hard to prevent. In other words, data is incredibly easy to lose, and there are a variety of “everyday” situations that can make this happen.



When you lose data, one thing is certain: downtime. Without your data, it will be incredibly hard for employees to work. Imagine how difficult it would be to work without your mission-critical business applications or how much harder it would be to handle clients if you don’t have any contact information or account status. In these situations, your business will be forced to do whatever it can to recover lost data. If you don’t have a recovery solution, then your restoration efforts will become rebuilding efforts, starting from scratch to recreate whatever was lost.  


Again, if you lose data without a recovery option, then you’ll be forced to start over with your data. However, some data simply cannot be recovered; it’s irreplaceable. And when this happens, it will be much harder for your business to recover 100% of the information you worked so hard to gather, create and deliver.


Imagine for a minute that you do lose irreplaceable data. How would you feel trying to explain this to your clients? Would you be embarrassed? Most likely. And how exactly do you think your clients would feel? Probably a little irritated and a lot nervous. Maybe even annoyed enough to never do business with you again. Losing data will affect the way your clients (and the public in general) view your business and their relationship with you. They will think you lack professionalism, and they will feel as if you aren’t capable of protecting their data.


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Cyber Actors Target Home and Office Routers and Networked Devices Worldwide

Alert (TA18-145A)

Cyber Actors Target Home and Office Routers and Networked Devices Worldwide

Original release date: May 25, 2018

Systems Affected

  • Small office/home office (SOHO) routers
  • Networked devices
  • Network-attached storage (NAS) devices


Cybersecurity researchers have identified that foreign cyber actors have compromised hundreds of thousands of home and office routers and other networked devices worldwide [1] [2]. The actors used VPNFilter malware to target small office/home office (SOHO) routers. VPNFilter malware uses modular functionality to collect intelligence, exploit local area network (LAN) devices, and block actor-configurable network traffic. Specific characteristics of VPNFilter have only been observed in the BlackEnergy malware, specifically BlackEnergy versions 2 and 3.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recommend that owners of SOHO routers power cycle (reboot) SOHO routers and networked devices to temporarily disrupt the malware.

DHS and FBI encourage SOHO router owners to report information concerning suspicious or criminal activity to their local FBI field office or the FBI’s 24/7 Cyber Watch (CyWatch). Field office contacts can be identified at CyWatch can be contacted by phone at 855-292-3937 or by email at Each submitted report should include as much informaiton as possible, specifically the date, time, location, type of activity, number of people, the type of equipment used for the activity, the name of the submitting company or organization, and a designated point of contact.


The size and scope of this infrastructure impacted by VPNFilter malware is significant. The persistent VPNFilter malware linked to this infrastructure targets a variety of SOHO routers and network-attached storage devices. The initial exploit vector for this malware is currently unknown.

The malware uses a modular functionality on SOHO routers to collect intelligence, exploit LAN devices, and block actor-configurable network traffic. The malware can render a device inoperable, and has destructive functionality across routers, network-attached storage devices, and central processing unit (CPU) architectures running embedded Linux. The command and control mechanism implemented by the malware uses a combination of secure sockets layer (SSL) with client-side certificates for authentication and TOR protocols, complicating network traffic detection and analysis.


Negative consequences of VPNFilter malware infection include:

  • temporary or permanent loss of sensitive or proprietary information,
  • disruption to regular operations,
  • financial losses incurred to restore systems and files, and
  • potential harm to an organization’s reputation.


DHS and FBI recommend that all SOHO router owners power cycle (reboot) their devices to temporarily disrupt the malware.

Network device management interfaces—such as Telnet, SSH, Winbox, and HTTP—should be turned off for wide-area network (WAN) interfaces, and, when enabled, secured with strong passwords and encryption. Network devices should be upgraded to the latest available versions of firmware, which often contain patches for vulnerabilities.

Rebooting affected devices will cause non-persistent portions of the malware to be removed from the system. Network defenders should ensure that first-stage malware is removed from the devices, and appropriate network-level blocking is in place prior to rebooting affected devices. This will ensure that second stage malware is not downloaded again after reboot.

While the paths at each stage of the malware can vary across device platforms, processes running with the name "vpnfilter" are almost certainly instances of the second stage malware. Terminating these processes and removing associated processes and persistent files that execute the second stage malware would likely remove this malware from targeted devices.



  • May 25, 2018: Initial Version


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Traveling This Summer? Posting Your Travel Plans on Social Media Puts Your Security at Risk

Have you thought about what your boarding pass might say about you and what data might be leaking publicly on that piece of paper that you most likely discard in the seat pocket in front of you? Turns out it is most risky than you think.

What is PNR?

june 2018

PNR stands for “passenger name record”, which is a data rich record that’s generated every time you book a flight. This record is a 6 character alpha numeric code that aids in managing your booking through the airline’s website. It contains confidential information such as name, date of birth, passport details, car or hotel bookings, last 4 digits of the payment credit card, etc. So you may ask, how does this affect me and my security? Example below:

Imagine you are a hacker. You may know that I have just flown from London to Bangkok with British Airways, for example. You also know that my return flight is in two weeks, I flew economy and on the outbound a vegetarian meal was requested. You put the pieces together based on your travel history and craft the following email, acting as British Airways: “If you require a vegetarian meal for your return flight, please click the link below to “order it now”. As an important customer of ours, we would like to upgrade you to “business class” as well and to do so, please click the below link to accept the offer”.

With all of the accurate information mentioned, who wouldn’t click that link?

Unfortunately, the aviation sector, like many industries, has a lot of work of work to do when it comes to cybersecurity, but we as passengers also have a responsibility for our data, too. Let’s not make it easy for the bad guys.

What can we do to reduce this risk?

  • Don’t post pictures of your boarding pass or luggage tags online.
  • Try to avoid identifying which airline you are flying with in any social media posts. If I didn’t know which airline you were using it would take a lot longer and a lot more effort to go through trying each airline’s website flying that route to find the one you were using.
  • Destroy your boarding pass and luggage tags securely. Use a cross cut shredder ideally.  Keep them in your possession until you return home and you can dispose of them securely and certainly don’t leave them in the seat back in front of you on the plane!
  • Only give the airline the information it marks as essential when booking your flight. If it is not marked as a compulsory field then leave it blank.  Reduce the amount of personal information they hold on you in the first place.

Information taken from:

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So Your Company Wants to Adopt VoIP...... Is Your Network Ready to Make the Transition?

As it turns out, there are many potential benefits to switching to a VoIP telephone system. Below are some of the ways that making this change can decrease cost and time investments while increasing VOIP phoneproductivity for your business:

Low Cost Per Call:

A VoIP telephone system utilizes Internet Protocol to make calls. Instead of using telephone lines, all communication data is turned into packets and sent over the IP network. The IP network your business uses could be your Internet connection, a direct IP connection to your telephone service provider or a combination of both. 

Service Mobility:

On a traditional phone system, a line that runs to a home or business is assigned its own phone number. Any movement that takes place then becomes a trial of remembering the right codes or keys to dial on your phone. A lot of time can then be wasted by contacting phone companies to transfer services and phone numbers to new locations.

With a VoIP phone system, there are no physical limitations and you have the freedom to move as your business demands.

Versatility of Features:

Using VoIP phone systems allows you to multi-task with the most tech-savvy devices, allowing you to be the most productive you can be. Features such as voicemail to text and being able to forward messages and voicemail easily, and many more are available with VoIP phone systems. Because the VoIP service always goes with you, the features you find helpful can be added or subtracted with ease, allowing the system to grow with your business.

Simple Conference Calls:

Since all VoIP calls use a converged data network instead of dedicated phone lines, creating and participating in conference calls are made much easier.

Efficient Client Interaction:

In today’s global economy, businesses can be located anywhere which can mean frequent travel. This often means that meetings require travel. With a VoIP service, there is no reason to lose the ability to conduct important calls or to fail to forward essential documents.

Reliable in a Pinch:

A common worry that surfaces about VoIP is the fact that if the internet stops working, so does the ability to make calls. However, this doesn’t have to happen and like other features in VoIP phone systems, is incredibly flexible. The capability to choose where your calls are forwarded, and how, means that you also don’t have to lose productivity because of local power outages or weather-related events. If the office phone can’t be answered, your mobile device or laptop can.


Making the Right Decision for Your Business:

Understandably, any recommendation that requires wholesale shifts in how companies conduct business sounds too risky. Considering a move to a VoIP phone system can be confusing with all of the services and features that are available. It’s always best to have a knowledgeable, reliable VoIP partner at hand to assist you with major business decisions like this one. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you with your phone needs.

Resource taken from:

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