Russian Hackers Bypass Two-Factor Authentication

Russian-backed hackers pose a huge cyberthreat to America on a daily basis. Now, that threat is especially elevated due to Putin’s unyielding attack, crossing western red lines by invading Ukraine.

“Cyber is a capability that Russian security forces have used in the past and as the decision calculus changes, that may change what’s in play,” former Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency director Chris Krebs said.

Two-factor authentication, also referred to as 2FA, is a vital aspect to secure accounts and data. However, it is not flawless. Russian hackers have successfully beaten the secure system by disguising their access, pretending to be legitimate account holders.

Hackers exploited accounts as early as May 2021 that were linked to an unnamed non-governmental organization. In the breach, hackers accessed sensitive data, according to a report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the United States Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

Victims were mostly those with weak passwords or long-dormant accounts. Once the hackers were able to break into the accounts, they enabled 2FA. After the systems viewed the hackers as legitimate, they ran widespread viruses. One of which was the “PrintNightmare” Windows Print Spooler vulnerability.

Roughly three-quarters of ransomware money ended up in the hands of Russians, according to the BBC.

Is your computer or laptop secure from hackers? Contact the experts at Creative Programs and Systems to lock down your personal information today. We can help protect your vital information and thwart hackers’ attacks.

Founded in 1994, Creative Programs and Systems provides professional results for all computer needs. We design, create, and code an array of custom software programs and websites; offer top-notch digital marketing services including enhanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and paid advertising; repair and provide support for computers of both residential and professional nature; build custom systems and servers, and offer secure data backups. Need assistance or want to learn more? Call us at 810-224-5252 or e-mail info@cpsmi.com.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

April 2022 Newsletter- Launch of Wolf Survival Website

Creative Programs and Systems is proud to announce the launch of a new website for Wolf Survival Gear! This e-commerce website is powered by Shopify, a proprietary platform for online stores. The owner of Wolf Survival Gear needed a turnkey, ready-to-go system that could handle a significant yet relatively quick import of all their various products, and we accomplished this using Shopify. It took us less than two months to design the website and build out the specifics.

Wolf Survival Gear is an online source for camping, prepping, and survival supplies. They are an authorized reseller for Readywise (high-quality dehydrated and freeze-dried foods) and Rothco (wholesale military, tactical, and outdoor clothing and gear.)  All products are drop-shipped, direct from the warehouse to the consumer, and are easily coordinated using the admin panel set by Shopify’s software.  

Since Wolf’s new site has been up and running, the digital marketing team at CPS has worked diligently to boost their social media presence and online advertising. We grew their Facebook followers by almost 3k and generated over 50k ads through Google and Bing, bringing in over 10K users since February 2022. According to Shopify reports, Wolf Survival Gear was rated in the top 7% of stores launched the same week in obtaining website traffic. They have sold multiple products via the platform – all in a short amount of time!  

Contact Creative Programs and Systems to strategize a new website design and digital marketing plan customized to meet your needs and help your business grow. Do you have a current website or marketing campaign that is not producing results? We can assist! Our team is terrific at identifying issues and finding solutions to optimize your brand while staying on point with your budget. 

Build Me a Website Too!

Founded in 1994, Creative Programs and Systems provides professional results for all computer needs. We design, create, and code an array of custom software programs and websites; implement internet marketing strategies for enhanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) results; repair and provide support for computers of both residential and professional nature; build custom systems and servers, and offer secure data backups. Need assistance or want to learn more? Call us at 810-224-5252 or e-mail info@cpsmi.com.

Servers Become More Climate Friendly

Danish researchers from the University of Copenhagen recently developed a novel algorithm that can substantially reduce the carbon footprint of computer servers. The green transition for computer servers is an urgent matter, as they are more taxing on the climate than global air traffic. The massive amount of electricity consumed by computer servers is expected to double in a few years.

Professor Mikkel Thorup and his fellow UCPH researchers have perfected a new algorithm that solves a fundamental server issue. Some servers become overloaded as they receive more requests from users than they can handle. As consumers stream the same Netflix film or a specific video, systems need to shift users around to achieve a balanced server distribution.

He said, “We have found an algorithm that removes one of the major causes of overloaded servers once and for all. Our initial algorithm was a huge improvement over the way industry had been doing things, but this version is many times better and reduces resource usage to the greatest extent possible. Furthermore, it is free to use for all.”

The mathematical calculation to achieve the extraordinary balancing act is immensely challenging. Up to a billion servers can be involved at one time; as new clients and servers join, congestion and server failure is inevitable. This resulting resource consumption significantly influences the climate. Cisco, an American IT firm, says internet traffic is projected to triple between 2017 and 2022, with online videos making up to 82 percent of traffic.

Thorup said, “As internet traffic soars explosively, the problem will continue to grow. Therefore, we need a scalable solution that doesn’t depend on the number of servers involved. Our algorithm provides exactly such a solution.”

The new algorithm safeguards servers by segmenting them as evenly as possible, while moving them around as little as possible, and retrieving content as locally as possible.

Do you need a server for your business? Contact the IT experts at Creative Programs and Systems today.

Founded in 1994, Creative Programs and Systems provides professional results for all computer needs. We design, create, and code an array of custom software programs and websites; offer top-notch digital marketing services including enhanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and paid advertising; repair and provide support for computers of both residential and professional nature; build custom systems and servers, and offer secure data backups. Need assistance or want to learn more? Call us at 810-224-5252 or e-mail info@cpsmi.com.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

2022: The Year to Protect Your Data

Cybercriminals are improving their ransomware computer viruses by exploiting weaknesses throughout different types of software and applications available on the Internet. Hacks were ever-popular in 2021, resulting in shutting down oil pipelines, food shortages, public water storage tanks, elevated gas prices, governmental breaches, and much more.

Ransomware has become a national security threat, according to Jen Easterly, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, “Everything is connected, everything is vulnerable, and the threat actors are just getting more sophisticated.”

Since many people continue to work from home due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, hackers are trying to exploit remote connections and gain access to corporate networks. Bank information, passwords, and other data can be used to hold accounts “hostage” by hackers.

Most businesses do not fully understand how exposed they are, as cybercrimes typically go unreported. Though the overall number of cybercrimes is not made public, a jump in notable metrics raised alarms for many experts.

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, data breaches that took place within the first nine months of 2021 were higher than the entire year of 2020 combined. The total amount paid to hackers during the first six months of 2021 was $590 million, as reported by banks and the like, according to the Department of the Treasury. Previously, the highest total was $416 million, set in 2020.

And the threat from hackers isn’t only on your PC or laptop: hackers are now targeting smartphone users worldwide. Two-factor authentication, biometrics, and push notifications are going to be essential in the fight against cybercriminals. Phishing is transitioning to mobile phones through e-mail, text messages, and QR-code scanning.

To win the fight against hackers, consumers need to ensure their information is encrypted and securely protected. Unfortunately, hackers will continue to find ways to infiltrate our electronics and gain access to our personal information.

Are you struggling to lock down all of your data? Contact the experts at CPS today. We can help protect your devices from hackers and ensure you are ready for potential threats.

Founded in 1994, Creative Programs and Systems provides professional results for all computer needs. We design, create, and code an array of custom software programs and websites; offer top-notch digital marketing services including enhanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and paid advertising; repair and provide support for computers of both residential and professional nature; build custom systems and servers, and offer secure data backups. Need assistance or want to learn more? Call us at 810-224-5252 or e-mail info@cpsmi.com.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

Computer Hand Gesture Recognition Improved

Researchers have been endlessly searching for ways to use computers beyond the typical mouse, keyboard, remote control, or touch screen. Much of their effort is geared toward unlocking more natural forms of communication. For example, voice commands have been a prominent feature in many smartphones and virtual assistants.

Hand gestures are another form of human communication that can be utilized to maneuver computer interactions. Camera systems, image analysis, and machine learning have made strides in optical-based gesture recognition; however, they are hindered by computational complexity, low speed, poor accuracy, or a small number of recognizable gestures.

A team at Sun Yat-sen University in China is set on improving hand gesture recognition and has created a new algorithm that seems promising so far. According to their research, the team integrated innovative strategies to overcome known challenges in consumer devices. By identifying different hand types, palm width, length, and finger length, the hand gesture recognition process is more refined. 

The researchers said, “Traditional simple algorithms tend to suffer from low recognition rates because they cannot cope with different hand types. By first classifying the input gesture by hand type and then using simple libraries that match this type, we can improve the overall recognition rate with almost negligible resource consumption.”

There is also a pre-recognition step in the algorithm, which calculates a ratio of the hand area to determine the three most likely gestures out of the possible nine.

According to researchers, “The gesture pre-recognition step not only reduces the number of calculations and hardware resources required but also improves recognition speed without compromising accuracy.”

Tested in a real-life situation, the algorithm showed more than 93 percent accuracy. Hand gestures were rotated, translated, and scaled in the process. The team will focus on improving the algorithm in situations with poor lighting and increase the number of possible gestures overall.

Founded in 1994, Creative Programs and Systems provides professional results for all computer needs. We design, create, and code an array of custom software programs and websites; offer top-notch digital marketing services including enhanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and paid advertising; repair and provide support for computers of both residential and professional nature; build custom systems and servers, and offer secure data backups. Need assistance or want to learn more? Call us at 810-224-5252 or e-mail info@cpsmi.com.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

12 Funny Questions to Ask Siri

Who couldn’t use a good laugh as we approach the end of 2021? We compiled 12 of the funniest questions and answers you can ask Siri, the AI (Artificial Intelligence) assistant on Apple products. While Siri can be helpful for a multitude of tasks, it also has a sense of humor. Read on for a good chuckle.

Q: What does Siri mean?
A: It’s a riddle wrapped in an enigma, tied with a pretty ribbon of obfuscation.

Q: How old are you?
A: They say that age is nothing but a number. But technically, it’s also a word.

Q: What are you afraid of?
A: I’m afraid I can’t answer that.

Q: What are you doing later?
A:  I’m at work. My shift ends in 614,978 years.

Q: Do you have a significant other?
A: My end user license agreement is commitment enough for me.

Q: Siri, I am your father.
A: Nooooo!

Q: Make me laugh.
A: The past, present, and future walk into a bar. It was tense.

Q: Who let the dogs out?
A: Due to unforeseen circumstances, that witticism has been retired.

Q: Windows or Mac?
A: I’m pretty loyal to Apple. It’s just how I’m made.

Q: What is the meaning of life?
A: I can’t answer that now, but give me some time to write a very long play in which nothing happens.

Q: OK, Google.
A: Very funny, [Your Name]. I mean, not funny ha-ha, but funny.

Q: Alexa.
A: Not exactly, but I offer no resistance to helpful assistants.

Founded in 1994, Creative Programs and Systems provides professional results for all computer needs. We design, create, and code an array of custom software programs and websites; offer top-notch digital marketing services including enhanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and paid advertising; repair and provide support for computers of both residential and professional nature; build custom systems and servers, and offer secure data backups. Need assistance or want to learn more? Call us at 810-224-5252 or e-mail info@cpsmi.com.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

IT Job Growth Slows

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth in the US IT industry decreased during October. The latest figures from Janco Associates showed 4,800 positions added, a drop from 8,900 positions in September.

Slowdowns in the restaurant, entertainment, service, and other hospitality industries due to COVID-19 continue to decrease IT growth. Finding qualified applicants is currently the biggest challenge in the industry.

M. Victor Janulaitis, Janco’s CEO, said in a statement, “From data that we have reviewed, shutdowns resulted in fewer computer science candidates graduating from universities and trade schools. Those in the pipeline for those degrees were reduced as well. One of the drivers of that trend was that the closing of borders limited the number of foreign nationals who could qualify for that training and education. Many of the new positions that CIOs are trying to fill are in new technologies. There is a shortfall of individuals who have the training and skills necessary. There are open positions that cannot be filled. At the same time, attrition rates are on the rise in many IT organizations.”

Earlier in 2021, the US IT industry was more robust, with a surge of 25,400 new jobs in August, 18,500 in June, and 9,900 in July. IT job growth accelerated for 15 straight months, averaging 13,000 new jobs each month of 2021. IT salaries were also growing during 2021.

Pre-pandemic, the IT job situation throughout the US reflected similarly to how it looks now: more positions than candidates. If businesses found qualified IT professionals to fill positions, they would have reached an increased number of employees. With HR focusing on staff retention rather than finding developers, cybersecurity, and compliance professionals, the talent shortage is feeling the pressure.

As of October 31st, 189,000 new positions were available in 2021. In total, Janco estimates there are roughly 3.72 million IT professional careers open in the US.

Do you need some IT help due to an inability to find/hire employees? Look no further; contact the IT professionals at Creative Programs and Systems today. From residential services to Managed IT plans, we have you covered!

Founded in 1994, Creative Programs and Systems provides professional results for all computer needs. We design, create, and code an array of custom software programs and websites; offer top-notch digital marketing services including enhanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and paid advertising; repair and provide support for computers of both residential and professional nature; build custom systems and servers, and offer secure data backups. Need assistance or want to learn more? Call us at 810-224-5252 or e-mail info@cpsmi.com.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

Microsoft Teams Partners with Meta

A new integration will allow Microsoft Teams users to access Meta’s Workplace updates without switching screens. The two companies also plan to enable streaming video calls directly from Workplace soon.

Workplace, which has more than seven million paid subscribers, plans to support Teams on the Meta Portal video device. A Workplace app for Teams can be pinned to either the side navigation or added as a tab. Workplace content can be marked by Teams admins to garner attention from teammates. Users can also drag Workplace content into a Teams channel and react to Workplace posts within Teams.

In early 2022, the duo is planning to introduce video integration, which will allow users to view a Teams video call from Workplace. Those using Teams will be able to track views and reactions in both apps.

Ujjwal Singh, head of product at Workplace, said the Teams integration “Will make it easier for people who use both tools for work to keep up to date with information and create even more opportunities for company-wide engagement.”

Jeff Teper, Microsoft Teams CVP for product and engineering, said, “It made sense for us to come together to help our mutual customers unlock collaboration and break down silos within their organizations.”

The new integrations are a no-brainer for Meta since they help to deliver information from Workplace to users. Workplace can reach employees through the Teams newsfeed while also allowing HR leaders to retain control over the communications.

There will undoubtedly be some hiccups; for example, both Teams and Workplace have their own chat functions. The solution for combining or separating chats will be discovered in time.

Founded in 1994, Creative Programs and Systems provides professional results for all computer needs. We design, create, and code an array of custom software programs and websites; offer top-notch digital marketing services including enhanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and paid advertising; repair and provide support for computers of both residential and professional nature; build custom systems and servers, and offer secure data backups. Need assistance or want to learn more? Call us at 810-224-5252 or e-mail info@cpsmi.com.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

Top Industries Most Affected by or Vulnerable to Ransomware

Ransomware is everywhere these days. In October, Microsoft released a statement about Iranian hackers breaking into countless Office365 accounts. Google also released a threat analysis outlining phishing campaigns targeted to YouTube creators. Twitch announced on Twitter that their company had suffered a security breach. The list is extensive, but some notable attacks took place in only one month. Recent attacks include hospitals, schools, gas pipelines, television stations, and numerous municipal water systems.

NordLocker released an analysis defining attacks based on the type of business. Estimated to cost businesses roughly $20 billion in total, thousands of ransomware incidents occur daily. Since the truly successful hacks are never openly revealed, there are presumably more than recorded or published.

In 2020, 1,200 ransomware attacks were analyzed by NordLocker. The results showed that internet companies and online services are generally not highly targeted. Construction companies have been hit the hardest, with 93 affected businesses within the industry. Manufacturing companies are a close second, with 86 affected within the trade.

The top ten businesses targeted by ransomware are:

  1. Construction
  2. Manufacturing
  3. Finance
  4. Healthcare
  5. Education
  6. Technology & IT
  7. Logistics & Transportation
  8. Automotive
  9. Municipal Services
  10. Legal

The most dangerous hacker is the Conti ransomware group that claimed 450 attacks during 2020. REvil was linked to 210 attacks during 2020, Dopple Paymer was responsible for 200 attacks, and PYSA was connected to 188 attacks.

If you’ve found yourself vulnerable or a victim of a ransomware attack, contact the experts at CPS today.

Founded in 1994, Creative Programs and Systems provides professional results for all computer needs. We design, create, and code an array of custom software programs and websites; offer top-notch digital marketing services including enhanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and paid advertising; repair and provide support for computers of both residential and professional nature; build custom systems and servers, and offer secure data backups. Need assistance or want to learn more? Call us at 810-224-5252 or e-mail info@cpsmi.com.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

What is the Metaverse?

Facebook made headlines last week when it announced it would be hiring 10,000 people in the European Union to develop the “Metaverse.” But what is the Metaverse, exactly?

Google the term, and you’ll find various definitions. According to Wikipedia, the Metaverse is “made up of the prefix “meta” (meaning beyond) and the stem “verse” (a back-formation from “universe”); the term is typically used to describe the concept of a future iteration of the Internet, made up of persistent, shared, 3D virtual spaces linked into a perceived virtual universe. The Metaverse in a broader sense may not only refer to virtual worlds, but the Internet as a whole, including the entire spectrum of augmented reality.”

The Internet is relatively two-dimensional, but novel connectivity allows different devices and technologies to augment the world into a different reality. When you’re unable to discern the difference between reality and virtual reality, robots demonstrate three-dimensional awareness, or virtual assistants build a relationship with a human; welcome to the Metaverse.

Digital avatars (Second Life) represent the Metaverse today, where the virtual world grows and evolves based on the avatars’ actions and society within it. Other games such as Fortnite, Minecraft, and Animal Crossing exhibit user-generated content in addition to large user bases in comprehensive worlds.

Due to the virtual shift to online, based on the global Covid-19 pandemic, it’s now common to hold family reunions on Zoom, weddings on Animal Crossing, graduations on Minecraft, and virtual dressing rooms. These seemingly small yet magnificent transitions represent a changing world…one that will be here before we know it.

Business-to-robot-to-consumer relationships will soon be the new norm, with virtual assistants and robots connecting with consumers on a more personal level. People might act or behave differently in the Metaverse than in real life.

In terms of lifestyles – shopping, culture, entertainment, and so much more – the Metaverse will be a novel, changing phenomenon, much like the advent of the Internet. Get ready; it’s coming soon!

Founded in 1994, Creative Programs and Systems provides professional results for all computer needs. We design, create, and code an array of custom software programs and websites; offer top-notch digital marketing services including enhanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and paid advertising; repair and provide support for computers of both residential and professional nature; build custom systems and servers, and offer secure data backups. Need assistance or want to learn more? Call us at 810-224-5252 or e-mail info@cpsmi.com.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.