UPDATE 4/6/2020 09:49

In case you missed our first session of our webinar below, the Baltimore Business Journal recapped 10 of the big tips from the talk.

Make sure you join us this Friday morning!

UPDATE 4/5/2020 10:23

WEBINAR: Working from Home: Covid-19’s Network Security Latest Challenges

Webinar Date: Friday, April 10, 2020. Time: 10-11:30am EST

Back by popular demand! If you missed our first session, don’t worry. We are running it again this Friday (4/10) with the same panel to give updates to the latest security challenges that come with working at home. Register here:

Looking forward to another great session! If you missed the first one, catch up here with some of the tips we talked about

UPDATE 4/4/2020 11:43

WEBINAR: Working from Home: How the Home Building Industry is Dealing with Covid-19

Webinar Date: Monday, April 6, 2020. Time: 11am-12pm EST

Looking forward to Monday morning’s webinar with Maryland Building Industry Association on the industry and its adjustments to working from home.

We are excited by our panel of Chris Riismandel, Lori Graf, with Jim Ries moderating! Find out complete info and register here, we hope you can join us Monday at 11am!

UPDATE 4/3/2020 15:56

Here’s a list of security risks that we at Epoch always are looking out for, especially now that the workforce has shifted remote.

UPDATE 4/3/2020 08:28

Do not rely on Microsoft as your back-up for data storage. Instead, Microsoft recommends using third-party apps. In a time like this where lots are working remote, maintaining your stored data is crucial.

UPDATE 4/2/2020 15:49

Microsoft Teams meetings are not supported on some browsers like Safari, Firefox and Internet Explorer.

Here are some tips and tricks from Microsoft on how to deal with getting around these issues if you use the above Internet browsers.

We also suggest downloading and using the Teams app, opposed to the Web app for Teams Meetings.

UPDATE 4/2/2020 11:17

RiskIQ researchers spotted a new e-skimming phishing tactic, dubbed “MakeFrame,” that injects HTML code into web-pages to phish payment data. RiskIQ said it took just 22 lines of JavaScript code infection for the attackers to gain real-time access to the sensitive data.

We are seeing these attacks happen in many e-commerce sites. This has been popular on one company that manages these sites:

  • NutriBullet
  • Olympics ticket reselling websites
  • Macy’s
  • Ticketmaster
  • British Airways
  • Consumer electronics Giant Newegg
  • Many other e-commerce platforms.

The recent wave of e-skimming attacks has grown so widespread — affecting over 18,000 domains — that it led the FBI to issue a warning about the emerging cyber threat and urging businesses to get sufficient security barriers to protect themselves.

UPDATE 4/2/2020 08:55

We’ve seen increase in “Spoofing Emails.” This is when an email displays a name of a valid and known contact, however when you reply it goes to a different email address. The hacker will engage you in attempts to compromise your IT systems.

If you hit reply, please verify the email address of the recipient. You can also do this by hovering your mouse over the contact name and looking at the email address.

Not only are they emailing, but they may give you validation through a text as well too.

Below is an example of a spam email thread that seems legitimate.

UPDATE 4/1/2020 15:45

We are noticing slow Internet speeds and lags on video conferences. If you are having connection issues we recommend you connect without video, or dial in to the call with your phone.

Also, try to avoid scheduling calls from 08:30-09:30 or 15:45-17:00 as these are popular meeting times.

UPDATE 3/31/2020 16:25

***URGENT*** Do NOT click on links in emails!

Once again we are seeing reports of Zoom and other video conferencing platforms being hijacked and attacked by hackers, this is called “Zoom-Bombing.”

In order to help avoid these attacks, you must:

  • Never click on links from messages
    • This includes LinkedIn invites, Virtual Meetings, UPS/Amazon/Tracking info, etc.
  • If you need to connect to these services, go to the appropriate website and review the message there or enter the meeting ID.   

AGAIN- DO NOT CLICK LINKS ON OR IN EMAILS.

UPDATE 3/31/2020 12:49

The Classic Catering People logo

One of our great clients The Classic Catering People is still going strong through this time and managing to adapt to the changes that come with Covid-19. With holidays like Easter and Passover coming up they’re here to help you celebrate at home while being mindful of the current guidelines and recommendations.

Online ordering is available here, and take a look at their menus:

The Classic Catering People Salmon Entree

UPDATE 3/31/2020 10:53

Be aware! We are seeing various cloud services have intermittent issues with login and portal directories this morning. This is possibly due to adjustments with increased traffic as new ‘shelter in place’ orders come from local government, and users are forced to connect from their own home networks.

UPDATE 3/30/2020 14:00

With Governor Hogan’s recent mandatory stay-at-home orders, you may find yourself stuck and needing a short-term laptop rental we suggest Rush Computer Rentals.

Contact Pete Smith- Office: 443-283-2213

UPDATE 3/28/2020 10:00

From 08:30-09:45 there was a disruption on mail flow on the Internet.  Users may have experienced bounce backs on emails during this time.

UPDATE 3/27/2020 17:00

It’s 5 o’clock on Friday, so it’s time for Happy Hour! Here’s how Impact Marketing is managing to maintain the company motto of ‘We were built for this. We’re energized by this. We got this.’

Despite being at home, they had a GoToMeeting Virtual Happy Hour after their workday on Thursday. Check out their photo here.

UPDATE 3/27/2020 14:04

***URGENT***- Do not click any links sent in emails. There are viruses perpetrating as valid links.

Zoom meeting invites, LinkedIn updates, UPS Shipping updates, and many more may seem like legit webpages for your benefit, but do not click any unverified links.

If you have a meeting we recommend you connect to the website directly, and manually input the code for that meeting into the site rather than clicking the links in the email.

Epoch has been recommending this for LinkedIn for awhile. If you receive an invite, log in to Linkedin.com directly, and accept the invite through there, opposed to clicking a link from an email.

UPDATE 3/27/2020 12:53

Microsoft has confirmed there is an exploit in all versions of Windows that is allowing hackers to potentially attack a user’s device and run malware.

There is no update or patch specifically for this, however we recommend that all users upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10 as soon as possible. The architecture within Windows 10 provides a lower level of threat severity than Windows 7.  All uses should be vigilant when opening unknown documents as this threat does require a user interaction to begin it’s exploit of the flaw. 

Epoch is working on minimizing this risk using our tools and processes.

UPDATE 3/27/2020 11:30

Thank you all for participating and attending our webinar this morning, Working From Home: COVID-19’s Network Security Challenges.

Thanks again to the Howard County Chamber of Commerce, the Central Maryland Chamber of Commerce, Cybersecurity Association of Maryland, Inc (CAMI), and all of our panelists for such a great and informational webinar. Looking forward to more in the future!

UPDATE: 3/26/2020 16:36

Be aware we are seeing viruses being transmitted via email hidden as Word and other Office documents. In reality, just because they say ‘.doc’ ‘.docx; ‘.xls’ ‘.xlsx’ ‘.ppt’ ‘.pptx’ They are not, they are actually hidden Visual Basic Viruses.

UPDATE 3/26/2020 15:30

The Cybersecurity Association of Maryland, Inc (CAMI) has put together a Cyber SWAT Team of CAMI member Maryland Cybersecurity companies. This Incident Hotline has been set up in case your business has an IT security incident, you can submit your claim and get connected with a member of the SWAT Team within an hour! Epoch is proud to be a member.

UPDATE 3/26/2020 13:13

While browsing the web you might experience a web page not loading properly, it may contain broken images and distorted text.  This could be related to the Security Services your IT team has implemented. 

The most common cause is a Content Filter with Intrusion Prevention Service enabled while you are accessing a secure site.  What’s happening is the Security Device will review a web page and it might take a millisecond longer to check than the Web Browser is willing to wait to render the site.

A quick refresh (F5) will resolve the problem almost always.  But if you are continuously having this problem contact your IT provider and have them review their settings to see about tuning it for your organization. It might be that the Security Service Device is being overloaded and does not have the resources available for your organization.

UPDATE 3/25/2020 18:35

Good business news:

When change occurs, opportunities emerge. This is how Endorphin, a brick and mortar gym, adapted to COVID-19.

Prior to COVID, they were 100 percent brick and mortar, consisting of seven gyms, and revenue was entirely reliant on membership.

Due to social distancing, they were required to close all facilities. The owners asked membership to continue to pay dues, and members were allowed to sign-out equipment to borrow until Coronavirus is no longer a risk.

Now, they are offering online classes and adapting to the situation, continuing to keep their members satisfied. Well done!

UPDATE 3/25/2020 08:28

Epoch Clients,

Not all Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is the same.  If you use SMS or email-based MFA for any systems, this is still hackable.  Please email support if you are still using SMS/email MFA verification, for other applications.  We will assist you in moving to application-based MFA.

Thank you for your vigilance.

UPDATE: 3/24/2020 13:30

WEBINAR: WORKING FROM HOME: COVID-19’S NETWORK SECURITY CHALLENGES.

Webinar Date: Friday, March 27, 2020. Time: 10-11:30am EST

As the threat of coronavirus continues to spread, businesses are sending employees home to work remotely, and students are moving to online classes. But with the social distancing comes a new threat – a cyber-related one. The first rash of efforts aimed at remote students and workers is likely to play on their fears and concerns about what sent them home to begin with – the coronavirus itself. This webinar will cover:

  • Challenges Working Remote
  • How Make Sure Your Information is Secure
  • Best Practices for Remote Working & Learning

Chris Riismandel – Owner, Epoch, Inc.

Jon Murchison – CEO, Blackpoint  

Gregg Smith – CEO, Attila Security

Brian Dykstra – CEO, Atlantic Data Forensics

Chris Sachse – CEO, Think|Stack

Moderator: Jim Ries – Director of Business Development, Offit Kurman

Join us for this webinar, hosted by the Howard County Chamber of Commerce held in conjunction with the Central Maryland Chamber of Commerce and the Cyber Association of Maryland Inc. (CAMI)

Click here for complete details and registration for Friday’s webinar!

UPDATE 3/24/2020 09:16

WEBINAR: COVID-19 and the Workplace: Live Employer Q&A

Webinar Date: Thursday, March 26, 2020. Time: 2-3PM EST

The impact of COVID-19 on the workplace is unprecedented. As an employer, you are likely facing challenges you have never faced before, receiving questions from employees you have never been asked before, and looking for creative work solutions you have never tried before. This is uncharted territory for many.

Join Berger HR Solutions and Kristyn Berger, President of Berger HR Solutions, and special guests Russell Berger, Principal and Department Chair of Offit Kurman, and Chris Riismandel, Owner of Epoch Inc., as we answer your questions related to COVID-19 and the workplace during our live webinar Q&A

Click here for complete details and registration for Thursday’s webinar!

UPDATE 3/23/2020 18:01

The President acknowledged ‘tremendous help’ from many companies and private institutions during this unprecedented time.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is enlisting AiMOS and the efforts to fight COVID-19

UPDATE 3/23/2020 17:11

Please continue to visit our website frequently to stay up to the date with the latest technical and COVID-19 releases.

Due to these unprecedented times please email support@theepochteam.com. We will be scheduling all support requests.​

This allows Epoch to be as efficient as possible, thank you.

UPDATE 3/23/2020 14:53

Today is starting to look like a normal Monday for us regarding SPAM and virus activity, which should mean that everybody is functioning and working wherever they may be. However, please do not let your guard down. Have a good work week and stay safe.

UPDATE 3/23/2020 05:16

From our SPAM filter company, there are lots of new “Corona virus/spam emails and new registered websites.” They got it under control!

“One thing that has been reported to me is that NED (our Newly Existing Domain look-up) has detected 1830 unique domain registrations that contain ‘Covid,’ ‘Corona,’ or ‘Korona’ in the last 60 days.”

They are blocking these emails from these domains before they are sent to your email address. Awesome! This SPAM management technique is called ‘border nuking.’

Take a look at the email activity last 24 hours, and refer to the charts from yesterday’s update.

UPDATE 3/23/2020 03:34

We have secured the networks throughout the night, monitoring our clients to ensure there is no dangerous/malicious activity.

UPDATE 3/23/2020 02:03

We are diligently working to make all future changes necessary to protect our clients.

UPDATE 3/23/2020 00:55

***Urgent***

DO NOT open mail or click on any emails that looks suspicious. Very unique viruses are being deployed through email. If you notice anything odd, call your IT company immediately. Spread the word! People need their computers working properly at this time. We are unaware if these unique techniques affect mobile devices.

UPDATE 3/22/2020 23:59

Epoch has confirmation from two independent Secure Operation Centers (SOC).

“VP of Threat Ops mentioned that they have already seen some other folks be compromised in their homes so they’re on high alert.”

UPDATE 3/22/2020 23:35

***Urgent***

Epoch Clients,

To combat recent virus and network attacks, Epoch will be implementing additional security controls to all managed devices and managed corporate email, immediately. These changes will be transparent to you, the user:

  1. Tuning and updates to the Antivirus and Firewall.
  2. SPAM filtering will now include Advanced Threat Protection.
  3. Our Secure Operation Center (SOC) will be enabled and will monitor all Windows PC’s and Laptop’s. 

As the user, please do the following, effective immediately:

  1. Turn all devices off when not in use.  We recommend this for your other personal devices as well.
  2. Regarding SPAM, please be extra vigilant and second guess/verify all questionable emails. The new ransomware is utilizing new techniques and methods to compromise user accounts and devices.
  3. Do not connect to corporate resources with personal or non-managed devices.
  4. Continue to review Epoch’s blog addressing these issues on a regular basis.

UPDATE 3/22/2020 12:09

Epoch highly recommends turning off all computers in home networks when not in use, for security purposes.

When not in use, personal computers and company issued devices located outside the organization offices, should be turned off completely. Devices inside your company offices should remain on, they are protected by the company Firewall.

We have to be very vigilant based upon the security environment. Make sure your firewall is on, and your patches and antivirus are up to date. 

Take a look at these charts over the last four weeks, zoomed into the last 24 hours. Notice the increased spike in spam/virus recently.  

Green = Clean emails
Red = Spam/Virus
Blue = Total
The scale of the graphs are one day, seven days, and four weeks. Notice that today was the biggest day in four weeks, after everyone moved to work from home.

UPDATE 3/21/2020 21:20

Video Communications -Possible audio issues with Microsoft Teams across different Internet Service Providers (ISP’s)

UPDATE 3/21/2020 17:05

Transitioning to working at home can be challenging with background noise, kids, dogs, and who knows what else.  We know everyone may need a webcam, printer, and scanner. Below are the options we recommend.

Additionally, if you want to tune out some of the background noise that your webcam may pick up, we recommend this sound machine.

Be wary buying products from secondary sites at this time. Some Amazon sellers are marking their items up over 200% retail price. An example, Logitech C920s – Regular Price: $69.99 and on Amazon: $299.00. Here are some links below in the chart for webcams:

WEBCAMS
Name:Logitech C920s Pro HD WebcamLogitech – C922 Pro Stream WebcamC930E BUSINESS WEBCAMBRIO ULTRA HD PRO WEBCAM
Price:<$70<$150<$150>$150
Resolution:1080p at 30 fpsHD 720p at 30 fps1080p/30fps720p/60fpsFull HD 1080p/30 HD 720p/304K Ultra HD2160p/30 Full HD1080p/30 or 60HD 720p/30,60, or 90
LENSFull HD glassFull HD glassFull HD glassFull HD glass
FIELD OF VIEW78°78°90°65°, 78°, and 90°
MICROPHONEStereoStereo2 omni-directional mics2 omni-directional mics
Zoom1x1x4x5x
Availability as of: 03/23/2020 16:00 ESTNo Delivery in-stockIn-StockIn-StockIn-Stock
Printers
Name:HP LaserJet Pro M404dw (W1A56A) HP LaserJet Pro M428fdw (W1A30A)HP LaserJet Pro M479fdw (W1A80A)HP LaserJet Pro M454dw (W1Y45A)
Price:<$250<$325<$450<$450
Wireless:YesYesYesYes
Multi-functionNoYesYesNo
ColorMono-chromeMono-chromeColorColor
Duplex PrintingAutomaticAutomaticAutomaticAutomatic
Availability as of: 03/23/2020 16:00 ESTIn-StockIn-StockIn-StockIn-Stock

UPDATE 3/21/2020 15:50

-Epoch clients, our previous SPAM digest message read: “Quarantine Report.” We have listened to a client’s request to update this, as the word ‘Quarantine’ may have a negative impact on an individual at this time. Even a minor change can help everyone get through these trying times, so our new SPAM message will read: “Blocked Email Report Provided by Epoch.”

Thanks, Larry!

UPDATE 3/21/2020 11:00

Operations meeting- Epoch decided to run full-help desk shifts throughout the weekend to help with transitioning clients to their home offices

UPDATE 3/20/2020 10:15

-Internet demand appears high, we’re seeing our first MS Teams errors on video calls. To address this, turn off video of non essential members when calling.

UPDATE 3/20/2020 05:15

-Very little latency across clients sites last night. It looks like the ISP’s are increasing bandwidth.

UPDATE 3/19/2020 14:52

-Seeing two different Comcast issues, one that resulted in 50 minutes and the other was 15 minutes of down time, at two different companies.

UPDATE 3/19/2020 10:41

-The overall amount of phishing emails are down, but there are reports from a few of our SOC friends that there is an increase in intrusion attempts recently.

-We are seeing more firewall and ports scanning occurring on the Internet looking for vulnerabilities.

-Epoch has migrated over 150 non-mobile users to mobile this past week alone so they can work from home.

UPDATE 3/19/2020 14:00

Video Communications- ZOOM meeting audio is having issues. If you’re experiencing video or audio issues, try dialing into a conference bridge, rather than using your computer audio and video.

UPDATE 3/18/2020 19:00

-Network utilization and traffic on the Internet has shifted since most people are working at home and kids are home using their devices. We are seeing an increase of virus traffic and hacking attempts. If you’re working from a home computer, make sure your firewall is on, and your patches and antivirus are up to date! Any personal device connecting to a corporate network should be protected by doing this at the minimum.

UPDATE 3/17/2020 18:00

-Microsoft 365 made temporary changes to non-essential capabilities in order to keep the overall status of the platform performing normally.

-Good news! Our friends at Verizon confirmed that the FiOS in Maryland infrastructure is meeting the demand and there is still capacity. That is a huge relief for our clients that have FiOS. The networks are tested to unprecedented capacity.

Update 3/16/2020 14:00

This is the message we sent to our security auditor that was in process of an audit when things started to take a turn:

“Pete,

Just looking ahead at the next few weeks. With the occurrence of COVID-19 I think it best that we postpone this for now. Depending on the status, maybe we can circle the wagons on the 4/3 and reassess?

We’re facing a bit of an unprecedented scenario that will require our attention over the next few weeks. Apologies for the inconvenience.

-Andrew”

3/17/2020
RE: COVID-19

Our priority at Epoch, Inc. is the health and safety for our employees, families, clients, associates, and all affected by the growing COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation here in Maryland.

Since late February, we have been working relentlessly, enabling our clients and their staff to work remote. Epoch has already distributed our staff to minimize spread of the virus, but we will remain diligently working with our clients as best we can. As a business owner, I can only imagine some of the stress and painful decisions businesses must make during this period. Some clients have been devastated based on their business vertical.  We will continue to support these and all clients throughout these unprecedented times.

We will continue to post these updates, adding to the list below, on our website and social media throughout the current situation as we receive notices from the Maryland Department of Health and other Government sources.

Thank you as always for your continued trust, even during these trying times. We encourage that you take this very unique situation seriously, and always keep health and safety as the main priority. Please help stop the virus and we’re here to help you #StayAtHome while maintaining your systems at work!

We also suggest that you remain diligent in where you are receiving your information and updates from, clicking only trusted sources and links. For all additional information visit:

Health Resources:

Cybersecurity Resources:

Financial Resources:

  • Small Business Administration
    • Small Business Administration’s Disaster Assistance
      • Anyone in an industry directly impacted by the virus and needs an instant shot of equity should reach directly out to their local SBA District office for an SBA Disaster Recovery loan. These loans go up to $2MM and are for working capital.
      • Rates range from 1.75-3.75% with an amortization as long as 30 years. The program is specifically created to give relief to businesses to sustain this virus disturbance.
      • They are supposed to be a quick close product up to $2MM (although they are already extremely overloaded). We do not underwrite the loans, they go directly through their SBA district office.
    • Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act
      • Paycheck Protection Program
        • The PPP makes available to businesses and non-profits with fewer than 500 employees about $300 billion in cash flow assistance to cover payroll costs, rent or mortgage payments (interest only), healthcare premiums, paid time off, utilities and interest on debt service. Businesses can request a one-time loan of up to $10 million (see calculation below) to cover costs between February 15 and June 30. 
  • Maryland Department of Commerce
    • Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grant Fund
      • This COVID-19 Emergency Relief $50M Grant Fund offers working capital to assist Maryland small businesses and nonprofits with disrupted operations due to COVID-19. Grant assistance is intended to provide interim relief complementing actions with its bank, business interruption insurance, and financial partners.
    • Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Loan Fund
      • This COVID-19 Emergency Relief $75M Loan Fund offers working capital to assist Maryland for-profit small businesses disrupted operations due to COVID-19. Loan assistance is intended to provide interim relief complementing actions with its bank, business interruption insurance, and financial partners.
  • Maryland Department of Labor
    • COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund
      • Governor Larry Hogan and the Maryland Department of Labor have launched the new COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund, which is designed to support businesses undergoing economic stresses due to the pandemic by preventing or minimizing the duration of unemployment resulting from layoffs.
  • Subscribe to the Maryland business information page for COVID-19

General Business Resources

Sorry for any typos, we feel like we’re moving faster than your Internet speed… hopefully only sometimes!