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New Office in Harleysville – February 2018

We are excited to announce that we are in our new office space located in Harleysville, PA.  We were working out of very nice temporary space while the new location was fitted out.  The new space gives us adequate space for our planned growth over the next several years.

Nothing has changed as far as our mailing address and phone numbers.

 

 

New Team Members

Please join us in welcoming Mike Heffley as the newest member of our team! Mike comes from the telecom industry and has a wealth of experience in web services, product management and marketing.

He will be leading our new web services group which will be responsible for all areas of our new Web Services division which includes the ability to assist your current marketing department or fully manage your online presence.  Below is just a partial list of the services Mike’s team can now provide you and your company:

*   Webmaster Services and Website Management
*   Ecommerce Website Management and Development
*   Ecommerce Platform Upgrades and Migration Services
*   Online Marketing Services Consulting
*   SEO Services and Consulting
*   Email Marketing
*   Social Media Management
*   Online Advertising Campaign Management
*   Online Analytics Setup and Monitoring
*   Project Management of  Website  Projects

Mike uses a whole picture approach to working with companies regarding their online marketing needs.  The first thing that we recommend is a phone or face to face consult to allow us to understand what you want to accomplish with your online marketing.  We can build a customized program for your requirements and then add to it as your online needs grow.

Stop Phishing Before It Happens

Can You Stop a Phishing Attempt?

Mike Heffley and son fishingI had the opportunity to go camping with my family this past summer.  It was a great little adventure, and when I asked my 6-year-old son what his favorite part of the trip was, he said fishing.

It got me thinking that as business owners, managers, employees, and individuals we are subject to phishing attempts multiple times a day.  My son was so excited that he caught his first fish on our trip.  I’ll always remember the excitement in his eyes as we reeled in that little 4 inch sunny (that we released).  He then proceeded to catch about 5 more, and much to me and my wife’s amusement, one was deemed big enough to keep and take back for dinner!  Imagine how excited scammers are when they get a few nibbles and eventually hook a phish!

With ubiquitous wifi at every coffee shop, airport, and even many downtown areas, there are an unlimited number of hackers and scammers out there phishing for your corporate, personal, and employee information.  Some of these attempts are geared to get very small pieces of information, seemingly not too important.  They allow a scammer to understand how a company “talks” internally, including names and emails of key department heads. They are able to build a corporate profile and can impersonate an internal employee.

Other cyber threats are more obvious if you know what to look for.  Sadly though, some of these phishing ploys are well thought out and many unsuspecting users fall for them.  One popular phishing scam is a fake email from a big bank saying your account was compromised and you need to login in through this special link to update all your information and confirm your personal details.  Many of these are very well thought out and catch some big fish!

And of course, we have ransomware (crypto viruses), malware, advertising bots etc. that can get onto our laptops and tablets and then find their way into company servers where they cost businesses millions of dollars a year in lost data, paid ransoms and time to rebuild systems.

And to clear up a few scams, Microsoft or the IRS will NEVER call you asking for your personal information or to login into your PC to do a free update to Windows or your processor.  Never!  Ever!  Not happening!

Imagine if there were a super smart fish (some really are).  This fish learned that hooks and plastic lures and glowing colored fake salmon egg balls are bad.  This fish learned to avoid such lures and bait.  Compared to other fish that did not know what this fish did, who would have the best chance of not falling for a fishing lure?  Obviously, the fish that learned a bit about the lures and traps used by those trying to catch it.

The same goes for us.  Many phishing ploys are reasonably easy to identify and avoid if you learn what to look for, and learn the common lures and bait used to trick unsuspecting users.  Hackers and Phishers go for volume, don’t do what the masses do and learn to protect yourself and your organization.

Some of the well-known email scams have even made it into pop culture and are the butt of comedians jokes like a rich prince/businessman in the middle east or Africa needs you to help him get their funds into the USA and if you share your bank info, he will share his wealth with you.  You just need to fund the account with $X and confirm your brokerage account info and you will be rewarded handsomely. As crazy as this sounds to most people reading this, I have a very good friend who’s father fell for one of these and it wiped out most of his retirement.

To see some recent cybersecurity hacking successes that compromised surprisingly large organizations, you can check out our previous post from a few months ago about recent cyber attacks.  There are many more since that list was published not that long ago.

By learning what to avoid, you can save yourself and your company a lot of money, time and lost data.  At DTS we launched a product earlier this year that helps companies train their employees on how to identify and avoid common and some not so common cybersecurity attacks including phishing, malware and more.  You can learn more about our Cyber Security Service here.

We do this through a series of online videos and courses and we quiz and test users to see if they understand the training.  If they do not pass, we have them review the training until they understand it.  We also send periodic fake phishing attacks to see if they can identify and avoid them in real life.

We also have higher cybersecurity options that can go far beyond what traditional IT companies offer their clients regarding network and data protection.  Edge security was the gold standard in data protection, meaning if your network perimeter was protected, and nothing could get in through your routers and firewalls etc. you were good.  This is not the case today and has not been for quite some time.  We now routinely set up advanced threat monitoring protocols including behavioral-based monitoring for clients that are concerned with data breaches (internally or externally).

Behavioral-based monitoring goes beyond monitoring for a virus or trojan or even rogue corporate spy.  It flips the equation to say what behavior is normal, and if we detect abnormal behavior what do we do?  For example, an employee has access to a database with sensitive client data.  As part of their job they may access 50 to 200 records a day.  If we detect that this employees login is accessing 300 records in 30 seconds, we know this is not normal, and we shut down that process and send out an alert to determine if this was a legitimate data retrieval call or a data breach.

Remember that not all data security threats are external.  Some threats are internal, and some are intentional.  A business needs to think proactively about protecting their data.  If sensitive data is successfully breached, fines and lawsuits are getting increasingly more expensive.

If you would like to talk to us more about advanced cybersecurity for your organization please call us or fill in our contact form and we will set up a call or in-person visit to discuss your concerns further.  You can find our contact information here.

 

IT Security Like Playing Cat & Mouse

Keeping ahead of the bad guys…

In the field of Cybersecurity, keeping ahead of the bad guys is a never ending battle.  Cybersecurity experts develop advanced software and hardware defenses, and then the bad guys find ways around and through them. Traditional software based solutions claim to be secure, but hackers always find new vulnerabilities and strike unsuspecting companies – and often remain undetected. Organizations install firewalls and antivirus like they have been told, yet hackers, malware, and Ransomware get inside. What can a small or mid-sized company do to keep up with the never-ending challenges of data security?

The answer is our CloudXSecurity services which include customized protection services that extend beyond just the traditional hardware and software. Our comprehensive solution covers all the bases including ongoing risk analysis, policies and procedures, Cybersecurity awareness training, behavior analysis, routine vulnerability mitigation, mobile device management, encryption, and incident detection and response – just to name a few. Our solutions help companies meet and exceed industry requirements including GDPR, PCI, GLBA, and 23 NYCRR 500.

We keep you protected, so you can sleep at night.

elephant traps lead to seo mistakes

SEO and Elephant Traps

I have been interested in SEO for almost a decade now, and online marketing even longer.  In internet years that is a long time.  Way back when I was learning how to do  SEO  – and DSL was amazingly fast, I was always amused by the get rich quick charlatans of old (think 2002,2003,2004… era).  They always had the next new thing,  only to be replaced by the next new thing in a few weeks or months, depending on the niche and their target audience. Now that still happens today, but it was much more pervasive back then.

I studied them from a marketing perspective. Unethical as some were, they were still amazing at getting folks to part with their $17, $19, $49 etc. for the chance to get rich by pushing a button or following a proven ‘system’.  I delighted in learning the angle, finding the up-sell and down-sell paths and watching their back-end marketing funnels.  I confess I even bought a few trinkets just to see what they were peddling and to get on their buyers’ list.  It was downright fascinating.  Sadly for me, I never hit that elusive $50M / year while working 4 hours a week lifestyle…

When old-school SEO became all the rage, one of the party tricks these guys and gals did was to do ‘live’ SEO during a webinar or a live event.  They would pick some term, do a search and prove their target site did not rank for it, and then amazingly in a few short minutes to an hour they were ‘ranking #1 on Google’ for an amazing keyword like “purple elephant bait in downtown Philadelphia PA 19103″… Whhhhhooaa, cool, aaah…  The crowd was amazed!

They would be demonstrating how their software or secret SEO skills could achieve these amazing ranking results so quickly.   The hook was something like, see how easy it is?  Now imagine if you followed my system / used my software and you ranked a site for “gourmet coffee online”, or the top-selling product on eBay or Amazon and put an affiliate link on your site.  Now for only $29 I’ll give you my hard learned secret sauce system…

As funny as that seems to me today, these same folks still exist today, but they have changed up their act.  Now they call and offer unsuspecting businesses too good to be true SEO programs with some sort of guarantee to “get on the front page of Google” or your money back or some sort of similar click bait or phone scam.

Here is the interesting part of this scam. They absolutely can say this and not ever be called to task for a refund, because many of these type of churn and burn firms will indeed get their clients on the front page of Google, just not for any keyword terms that are of any value.  The other problem is these types of offers usually involve old techniques that can do more harm than good over the medium to long run.

So where am I going with this walk down memory lane?  Shortcuts and ranking terms just to rank terms rarely work out well for business owners.  Here is a completely made up example.  Full Disclosure: no elephants were hurt in the writing of this article.

Let’s pretend you we were hired by a company in East Asia that manufacturers humane elephant traps.  This company, for reasons not fully understood, wants to rank #1 on Google for “elephant traps” in the USA and Internationally.  Based on this information and assuming you know how to do SEO, there are two very different approaches you would take from this point in the project.

 

Project Approach #1:

We know our customer wants to rank for “Elephant Traps” in the USA and Internationally.  We take them at their word and sign them up for an SEO program.  Then we do some keyword metrics research, see who also ranks for “elephant traps” and realize that the first few positions are very competitive with strong sites.

We inform our client that the competition is very difficult and it may take a lot of time and effort to rank them on the front page of the SERPs for their chosen keyword target.  They are well funded and tell us they do not care about price, they just want to sell more elephant traps and ranking #1 is their goal.

We mutually agree to move forward with the uphill battle, and since our company is very good at SEO, we are certain that with the correct budget and timeline we can win this battle.

For those following along at home: what was the critical step missing above?

Flash forward 18 months: our SEO heroes ranked their client #3 and are closing in on #2, intent that #1 is possible and the only acceptable outcome.  Unfortunately, despite a great job at ranking their site, the companies sales have not increased measurably, and their bounce rates coming from the search term “elephant traps” is over 90%.  They have a nice looking site, good landing page etc.

What went wrong?  Read on to approach #2 to find out.

 

Approach #2

Elephant Trap Chess MoveSimilar to our first group of unlikely SEO heroes, we do a high-level review of the desired search term and determine as our first group did, that competition is very high. However, we know that many times the keyword(s) a client thinks they want to rank for are not always the ones they should rank for.

What you say?  Well, once we realized the competition was difficult, we then started to evaluate the competitors’ sites for SEO metrics etc.  As we were doing this, we noticed that a lot of our competitors’ sites were linking to and being linked to from chess related sites.  Chess, as in the game.  As we researched further we realized that in fact the first 20 SERP results (pages 1 and 2) were all taken by chess and sales related articles and sites.

It turns out that the term “elephant trap” is a specific reference to a chess move in which a pawn sacrifice is turned down.  We will not go further as chess is not the focus of this article, but it was interesting to read up on.

It also turns out that the term is used as a way of saying don’t miss the obvious dangers, risks etc. in whatever endeavor someone is talking about.

So it turns out that even if we succeed in ranking the client on the first page or even #1 in Googles SERPs, we failed them at being an ethical SEO and marketing company and making sure it made sense to rank for what they asked for.

If you are interested in having an SEO evaluation of your site and want to know if we can help you attract more qualified visitors to your site, please get in touch with us.

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