Cybersecurity – How to Avoid Being the Next Headline

Understanding cybersecurity is not simple. When we read about a security breach it’s typically caused by an action, or failed security practice of an employee within an organization. No matter the size of the breach, it’s bad press. Data breaches surface daily and these incidents are growing in frequency, size and cost.

It is often more difficult for smaller organizations to maintain security themselves due to lack of resources or even lack of awareness. Small businesses have increasingly become easy targets. In fact, most cyber-attacks occur at companies with fewer than 100 employees. The best way to prevent such breaches is to become better educated and to follow best practices.

  1. Understand the risks. Having a basic understanding of the most common threats is key; everything from phishing, malware, spoofing, systems hacking, social engineering. It’s all bad, and it’s all a threat.
  2. Have a security policy in place that employees understand. Employees are the gatekeepers of your organizations information, so they should be the first layer of defense. Educate all employees about safe practices. Be sure everyone uses complex passwords and make sure personal and confidential information is not easily exposed. Keeping such documentation under virtual lock and key can go a long way to protect confidential information from getting in the hands of the wrong person.
  3. Keep your anti-virus/anti-spam software or other security applications up-to-date. This will help guard against the latest threats and secure your infrastructure.
  4. Verify! Verifying financial requests and confirming details via phone is more secure than email. This practice should be applied to your vendors, clients, and employees.
  5. Practice an incident response plan. Having employees who know what to do in the event of a security breach is the best protection and preparedness you can have. Hackers are often one step ahead of you, but collective accountability is critical.

Having a baseline understanding of your current environment and vulnerabilities is the first step toward building a wall of defense to reduce risk.

Please see the June 2015 edition of Bryley Information and Tips (BITs) for our IT security cheat-sheet.

For more information about ways to defend your company against a cyber-attack, or to inquire about Bryley’s full array of Managed IT Services, please contact us at 978.562.6077 or by email at We’re here for you.

Bryley Basics: Troubleshooting

Gavin Livingstone, Bryley Systems Inc.

Whether smartphone, tablet, PC, or notebook, troubleshooting a problem should follow these basic steps:

  • Research
  • Change one
  • Document all

Research – Why reinvent the wheel? Break the problem down into a keyword-rich statement and take advantage of your favorite search engine. Sometimes, reordering the keywords can provide a better search.

If this yields poor, inconsistent, or inconclusive results, ask a colleague, contact the manufacturer, or call Bryley Systems.

Change one – I’m always tempted to change five or 10 things at the same time, convinced that this will yield a quick solution; I’m hoping that by clicking everything in sight, something positive happen: I am frequently disappointed.

A better approach is to pick the most likely/obvious/basic solution, make this one change, test it thoroughly, and then verify the results before moving on.  In this fashion, you eliminate each possibility –preferably from greatest to lowest probability – to avoid muddling the solution and possibly breaking something else.

Document all – It’s not much use to change anything if you don’t remember your sequence; you can end-up in a death spiral of repeating the same steps, over and over, with the same, undesired, result.

Documenting can take the form of written, typed or recorded notes; whatever is easy and quick, but include enough information to ensure a successful conclusion and to assist if you run into the same situation in the future.

Many thanks to Karl Palachuk of Small Biz Thoughts for his inspiring October 2016 article “Troubleshooting – The Rules”.

Wi-Fi® is not Wireless Fidelity

Garin Livingstone and Gavin Livingstone, Bryley Systems Inc.

Wi-Fi is not an abbreviation for wireless fidelity1; it is a trademarked phrase that refers to wireless communication between electronic devices and a Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) based on the IEEE 802.11x standards.

Wi-Fi is brought to us by the Wi-Fi Alliance®, a worldwide network of companies with the mission to drive the adoption and evolution of Wi-Fi globally.  The Wi-Fi Alliance tests and certifies that WLAN equipment meets its stated standards.

Current standards include:

  • 11g
  • 11n
  • 11ag

Speeds have grown substantially, now rocketing up to a potential 1,300Mbps using the latest WiGig™, 802.11ac, standard (although actual performance is typically significantly less than its potential).


At their core; wireless networks are less secure than wired networks (since a potential intruders does not need a physical connection), although encryption technologies (Wi-Fi Protected Access or WPA and WPA2) exist to secure WLANs.

Large-scale Wi-Fi implementations include:

  • City-wide Wi-Fi – Free Wi-Fi provided in St. Cloud, FL, Sunnyvale, CA, etc.
  • Campus-wide Wi-Fi – Wi-Fi throughout a campus environment

1See ‘Wireless Fidelity’ Debunked by Naomi Graychase of WiFi Planet.

2See WikipediA IEEE 802.11.

What Does a Virtual CTO Do for Your Company?

By A. Baker, Inside Sales Specialist

Virtual CTO = Trusted Advisor = An Essential IT Service!

Technology advances are continually changing. Is your business leveraging these changes to deliver a true competitive advantage?

While the position of CTO (Chief Technology Officer) is a key role for any business, not every organization warrants a full-time person in this position. Many smaller businesses, from a cost perspective, may not employ a full-time CTO because the question they ask is “can our business afford this overhead?”

Small to midsized organizations compete with much larger , well financed companies. However, they may lack the internal resources, especially when it comes to technology management, required to be competitive.

At Bryley Systems, we believe that SMBs (Small and Midsized Businesses) are the backbone of our economy and our prosperity. And although it’s common for SMB employees to wear multiple hats, many wouldn’t be comfortable leading the technology operations. Bryley Systems has created a way for SMBs to adopt a CTO into their organization without the associated overhead cost and responsibilities normally associated with that role.

A Virtual CTO from Bryley will bridge the gap between the business vision and the more technical decisions needed to be made to support those goals. Bryley has a 30-year proven track record across many business sectors. We’re able to communicate in a language that is easily understandable to ensure that our clients can access the technology required for critical business initiatives.

Bryley’s services are at the forefront of technology and are backed by solid experience. Our tailored offerings are focused from client to client, depending upon their IT needs and business planning. Objectives are achieved, risks are managed appropriately, and the organization’s resources are used responsibly, particularly in the areas of computers, office networks, Cloud selections, software selection, and Wide Area Networks.

The cost effective solution to your CTO dilemma, one that addresses the importance of having a CTO without the overhead, is our virtual CTO . Our technology experts are available to you at all times, at an affordable cost, tailored to your specific environment.

Our Virtual CTO will:

  • Enable you to make informed technology decisions and efficiently manage technology within your organization.
  • Bring expert advice to bear on all your technology requirements and ensure proper documentation of all business processes.
  • Ensure a high return on investments (ROI) for all your technology investments.
  • Save on opportunity costs by managing all your technology issues and enabling you to focus on your business.
  • Audit all aspects of technology and ensure your peace of mind.
  • Manage all your IT vendor relationships and negotiate with vendors for all your technology purchases.
  • And much more.

Have the best of both worlds – strategic IT insight and tailored professional advice with an affordable financial commitment.

For more information about the Virtual CTO and Bryley’s full array of Managed IT Services, please contact us at 978-562-6077 or by email at We’re here for you.


Are You Considering Outsourcing IT Services for Your Business?

If you’re not considering outsourced IT, you should be!

Here are 5 reasons to choose Bryley Systems as your Managed IT Service provider!

  1. Predictable cost

Managed IT Service providers offer “packaged” services for a fixed monthly fee. Budgeting your IT doesn’t get any easier than that!

  1. Improved operational efficiency

Your staff will experience minimal downtime if you have a Managed IT Service provider who performs proactive maintenance and remote remediation services.

  1. Enhanced security and compliance

Every Massachusetts company, by law, is required to have IT security policies in place. Qualified Managed IT Service providers will minimize security risks by implementing these policies for your business. Watch our video on how the law applies to your business.

  1. Trained and certified staff

Reputable Managed IT Service providers invest in training and industry standard certifications for their staff, while also providing an environment in which their team members gain experience. Founded in 1987, Bryley Systems has certifications with the following partners: Microsoft, VMWare, HP, Cisco, Untangle and much more!

  1. Stay focused on your core business

Time and resources are limited in every organization.  Let Bryley Systems focus on your IT so you can do what you do best!

To find out if Bryley Systems is the right Managed IT Service provider for your organization, call the Bryley team at 978-212-5806, email us at, or contact us online.

P.S.: Read more about the value of outsourced IT.

Top 5 Common Support Questions – Asked and Answered

Why, Why, Why? These are the questions the Bryley support team hears every day. We know the answers!

1. Why did it fail?

Computers are extremely complex systems.  As complexity increases, so does the likelihood of failure.  A computer depends on many things to go right for it to work properly.  If the smallest thing goes wrong, it can cause failure of the entire system.  The FRU’s (Field Replaceable Units) within a computer system are becoming fewer and fewer such that if something does go wrong, replacing the entire system is often the best option.  Having done failure analysis in a previous life, I can attest to the fact that the process is difficult and the results are not guaranteed.  Sometimes, my best explanation for failures is “cosmic radiation”… or more likely, a defective hard drive.

2. Why didn’t you know this problem was happening?

Bryley Systems monitors feedback from systems covered under a CSP (Comprehensive Support Program) agreement.  There are a variety of alerts that create service tickets for us to investigate.  Results from Patching, AntiVirus and Malware logs are reviewed to insure issues are addressed before they become major problems.  We can’t possibly see everything that’s going on, but we do have a hand on the pulse of our clients’ systems and we monitor their systems on a regular basis.  If you encounter unanticipated or spurious problems, we respond promptly with the expertise and determination to get you back up and running as soon as possible.

3. Why can’t my AntiVirus and AntiMalware protect me from all the Internet Threats?

This is indeed a common question.  Why not one and done?  The reason is that the threat landscape is changing constantly.  There are hundreds of thousands of virus and malware signatures that are used to protect a single system… but that is not always enough.  Dozens if not hundreds of threats appear daily.  There are Cyber-Crime Syndicates in Russia and the Czech Republic that are selling Ransomware tools to anyone interested in cashing in on the encryptions  for money schemes rampant on the internet today.  Symantec estimated that their clients alone are paying more than $500,000 to these criminals each month.  We work on the principal of minimizing your surface of vulnerability.  Criminals are not lazy, but they will opt for the low hanging fruit every time.  We chose AVG and MalwareBytes as our AntiVirus and Anti-Malware software because they are leaders in the industry.  But unfortunately, there are Zero Day Threats that someone has to receive before the signature can be recognized and distributed to protect other unsuspecting folks.  There are vendors working on “Behavior Recognition” to detect suspected Virus or Ransomware behavior that is now being released.  MalwareBytes is working on a module that will likely be a part of their current offerings to conduct similar detections.  Here at Bryley Systems we are constantly watching how effective these new and yet to be proven products perform and will insure that our clients are provided the best protection we can offer.

4. Why don’t we contact the Police or FBI about this Ransomware infection?

Many people, businesses, and institutions have been affected by Ransomware in the past year.  The criminals usually trick you into running their specially crafted code, and then unbeknownst to the victim, this code encrypts every file it can find that could possibly be useful on the system and on the network.  Each new variant is more clever and devious that the previous.  The victim ends up with folders full of useless files they can no longer open or use and they are forced to pay a ransom to the perpetrator.  We at Bryley do not recommend that you pay.  Although you have suffered loss that is often significant, the dollar threshold for reporting this crime to the authorities, Local Police, State Police, and FBI, is $10,000.  You need to prove this loss before you can open the door.  Unfortunately the door has been left open and the impact is profound.   The best way to thwart this kind of attack is to have a good backup system.  That system should be independent of your working environment to maximize isolation from the attack.   We provide a BUDR (Back Up and Disaster Recovery) solution to minimize the impact of an attack such as this.  In addition to protecting important data from everyday disasters, it will allow our clients to restore their files and get them back up and running in a very short time without paying the ransom demand.  Always have backups.  Make sure they cannot be touched by a malicious attack on your systems.  Someday you may be thankful you did.

5. Why do I need a Password to access my system?

In the spirit of best practices and minimizing your surface of vulnerability, you want to close the door to accessing your system by unauthorized personnel.  Most security breaches occur from the inside.  It could be an employee who is in no way malicious, perhaps just walking by and noticing that your system is open while you’re out to lunch.  They didn’t plan to access your personnel records, but the opportunity presented itself.  The criminals have many ways to attack you.  It can sometimes be easy for them to breach your first line of defense and gain access to your network remotely.  Why make it easy?   Protect yourself and your data with Layers of Security, including passwords that are hard to crack.

Bryley Systems can be YOUR Trusted Advisor.

Bryley Basics: Why do my outbound emails show up as spam?

Anna Darlagiannis and Gavin Livingstone, Bryley Systems Inc.

I just got a call from a prospect; he notes that his emails are showing up as spam and his email recipients now think he is a spammer.  This is a topic that many email-oriented organizations experience.

Unfortunately, with ransomware growing more common, spam-filtering efforts are getting more aggressive, which makes it even easier to be labeled a spammer and then blacklisted.  Is it a losing battle?

Spam is unsolicited/unwanted bulk email; it is often easily identified, but can also be a bit ambiguous, making it difficult to separate desired email from undesired.

Spam filters, both free-standing (Reflexion, MimeCast, Proofpoint, etc.) and built-ins (spam-deterrents built into Google Gmail and Microsoft Office365) use various algorithms and keyword searches to review incoming email, apply a spam “score”, and then block those that exceed a specific threshold.  In addition, they blacklist repeat offenders considered spammers, effectively preventing the source emailer from reaching their intended audience.

Subject-line triggers are a significant issue; using words like “Free” or “Viagra” in your email subject line (and within the body of your email) can easily get your message labeled as spam.  Send this email to hundreds of recipients will get you blacklisted as a spammer.

In addition, these are other common email-spam identifiers:

  • Generic greetings
  • Grammatical and spelling errors
  • Unusual use of capitals or punctuation (BUY!!!)

Here’s how to stay off the spam-filter radar:

  • Avoid attachments
  • Check spelling and grammar
  • Provide an unsubscribe option
  • Avoid certain keywords1 and subject-line triggers

1Please see The Ultimate List of Email SPAM Trigger Words by Karen Rubin of Hubspot on January 11, 2012.

Do I need Cyber Liability Insurance?

Gavin Livingstone, President, and Mike Carlson, CTO at Bryley Systems Inc. with Bill Percuoco, Sales Executive at DF Murphy Insurance Agency, Inc.

In general, Bryley retains business insurance to address all areas of significant risk; we ensure that we have sufficient coverage for all big-event issues, while usually requesting the greatest deductible possible.  Cyber Liability Insurance is high on our list of must-have coverage; both for ourselves, and for our clients.

Cyber Liability Insurance is designed to protect consumers of technology services or products.1  It provides coverage for data breaches, known or even undiscovered, and is a risk-transfer option designed to address some of the costs of mandatory notification (required within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and 45 other states) and to deal with the remedial aspects of a data breach.2

Coverage typically includes:

  • Data breach/crisis management costs – Reporting and managing an incident, including remediation
  • Network security liability – Third-party damages due to denial of access
  • Multimedia liability costs – Restitution for defacement of website(s)
  • Extortion liability costs – Losses due to extortion attempts

Organizations that process credit cards are at risk; more so if they store credit-card information on their network.  In addition to credit-card information, a data breach that discloses other types of personal information can introduce extensive liability:

  • Employee information is a risk for any employer.
  • Information collected and retained from medical applications may include confidential medical and/or personal data.

While non-Fortune-5000 organizations are unlikely to be specifically targeted for their data, many of these attacks are broadly distributed, often via forged emails sent to thousands of people.  The attackers gather data from successful attacks and then determine if it is of any use to them.

Another targeted area could be your public presence – web site, Facebook/Twitter, etc.  This is more of an embarrassment than a financial liability, but restoring the web site and regaining access to hacked social-media accounts and the like does have a cost.

Bill Percuoco of the DF Murphy Insurance Agency, Inc. (our insurer), notes that they have recently seen several claims stemming from social engineering where a criminal has tricked an individual into transferring money.  (Social engineering is the psychological manipulation of someone to reveal confidential information or perform a desired action.3)

Due to supporting the technology of our clients, Bryley Systems remains extremely diligent; in addition to our security measures and internal controls, processes, and policies, we have had Cyber Liability Insurance for many years.  Our premiums are based on annual sales, factored by industry, services, policies, security, and risk-exposure; we are likely at the high end since we protect other organizations.

We believe that it is far less expensive to purchase Cyber Liability Insurance coverage than it is to face these situations without sufficient resources.  To that end, we recommend Cyber Liability Insurance to our clients and to all organizations using online technology, particularly those that accept credit cards and/or use online financial, medical, or employee-oriented applications.

1Please see Data breach and cyber liability:  Real risks in a virtual world in the blog at DF Murphy Insurance Agency, Inc. from May 11, 2015.

2Please see Understanding Cyber Liability Insurance from Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agents.

3Please see Social Engineering in Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Bryley Basics: Critical steps before opening an unknown attachment or a link

Since Ransomware and other malware often travel as attachments or web-links, Anna Darlagiannis, Manager of Client Relationships, offers these tips:

1. Don’t open an email or attachment or click on a link within an email if you don’t know who sent it to you….period!

2. Check and see who the email was actually sent to.

If the email was sent to a distribution list, then be especially vigilant before opening it.  For example, hackers can assume that a company’s accounts payable distribution email address is or any other variations such as or  Hackers recognize that accounts payable departments anticipate attachments marked “invoice” or “PO” or other related keyword(s) and will name the attachment accordingly.  Furthermore, distribution lists are typically posted on a company’s website making these email addresses public knowledge and easy targets.

Tip:  Setup rules within Outlook to have emails that are sent to a distribution list automatically move into a specified folder(s).  This will make it easier to know exactly what email address was used to send you the email.

NOTE:  It is NOT safe to assume that all email attachments and/or links sent to your personal email address are safe to open.

3. Check who sent you the email.

Hackers can spoof a name, but they can’t spoof an email address.  The email may be marked with a familiar name, prompting you to open the email and/or attachment/link, but if you pay close attention to the actual email address, you may be surprised.  (Unfamiliar email addresses should never be opened.)  For example, your boss’s name is John Smith and his email address is  You receive an email that is marked “From: John Smith” and assume this came from your boss.  You go to open the email and find an attachment.  At this point, you must also look at the actual email address before opening the attachment.  If the email address isn’t, then delete it and/or block the domain with your SPAM filter immediately and make everyone in the organization aware of what is going on.

If the email address is correct, but the attachment/link/signature/way that the person writes an email looks suspicious, be cautious, call the person that sent you the email (do not email in case the email address is compromised) and ask if what they sent you was in fact legitimate.

4. Scan the attachment with your anti-virus program before opening.

Take the attachment from the email and drag it to your desktop.  From there, right click on the attachment and then scan it using your anti-virus program.  Be sure to update the anti-virus program prior to scanning it, to ensure that you have the latest updates applied to the anti-virus program.

Unfortunately, this approach isn’t full proof.  An anti-virus program may not recognize all viruses, especially if they are newly created viruses.