Year In Reflection

Looking back at my first year as CEO, in a pandemic…

A little over a year ago I took over as CEO at 702 Communications. My first three months were a whirlwind. I made some strategic hires to expand our wholesale division, I was guiding the team through a wireless system conversion, I was working to complete 702’s acquisition of Computer Wrench, traveling around to introduce myself and foster business relationships. There were ups and downs, sure, but the days just flew by. 2020 was going to be a big growth year, pushing the sales staff, pushing the company to provide the best customer service possible, and then COVID hit.



As hospitals began to fill and mandatory shutdowns began to manifest, my priorities shifted. Our management meetings went from discussions about sales goals and project deadlines to making sure we could get our employees working remotely and closing the office to the public.

COVID guidelines were crafted for employee and customer interaction. I took part in weekly calls with the General Managers and CEOs of the Minnesota Telecom Alliance. We shared our best-practices and the information on each other’s communities. We committed to not suspend customers for non-payment and reached out to the local schools to see if we could help connect students in need.

Discussions with my sales team went from pushing sales goals to reaching out to customers and seeing what we could do. If they needed more bandwidth to support remote workers, we were willing to help. If they were reducing staff or closing the doors, we did what we could to make service adjustments that made sense. We tried to do our part.

As the months dragged on, we found ways to try to buoy spirits in the community. We sponsored virtual concerts with Livewire, we worked with the Arts Partnership on Chalkfest and The Fence Project. We also celebrated some milestones internally. Six employees at 702 have celebrated or will soon celebrate 20 years with the company. Fargo Inc just did a story and photoshoot for us on that. Read more here.

All in all, I was very fortunate. I am very fortunate. I’m working in an industry that’s essential for remote work and distance learning. I’m also very fortunate that we’re financially stable and didn’t need to furlough employees or reduce staff because of COVID.

So, as I look back at my first year as CEO, I didn’t accomplish everything I intended, but I am proud of the work we did.

I wish you all health and happiness in the holiday season.

Brian Crommett
702 Communications

Hacked. Now What?

First, what are a few ways hackers find their way into a device or accounts?

Unfortunately, there are lots of ways for hackers to find their way into our computers and our accounts. The software and apps we use are in a constant state of change. Sometimes, as developers work to maintain interoperability, opportunities arise for a hacker to exploit a change and access your computer.

Other times it’s a result of something users do themselves. We talked about this previously about opening emails that aren’t legit. Some of those emails may contain a payload that, once opened, deploys malware on your system. And, of course, hackers can always buy your password online. If you’re not diligent about password security, you could easily be hacked.

What should I be most concerned about a hacker gaining access to?

I think most people would say they’re concerned about a hacker gaining access to anything at all. But the biggest threat to an organization would be losing security of their customer’s private or financial information. As a consumer, I’d say the biggest concern would be your own financial information, but we’ve seen plenty of people lose private photos and videos that can be used to extort or embarrass.

What should be done immediately after learning the device or account is hacked?

If you have a hacked device, you need to take it offline as quickly as possible. If the device can’t transmit your personal information, you’ve got a compromised device but your information may not have been compromised yet.

Then it’s a matter of calling in an IT professional to help. Some viruses and malware can be very hard to completely remove from a system. It’s best to be sure.

If you have an account that’s hacked, you need to make an immediate list of any other accounts that use the same username and passwords. We’ve talked before about password security, about not using the same password for multiple accounts, and about using randomly generated passwords. If you have a separate password for each account you hold, your exposure to a single cracked or obtained password only affects the one account.

What additional security measures should be added to prevent repeat attacks?

It depends a little. If we’re talking about your workplace, you need a plan for cybersecurity. That will involve a policy for computer updates, access controls, antivirus requirements, and social engineering/phishing training for your employees. There’s a lot that needs to be done and recognized by each member of your organization to maintain security.

As a home user, you need to be taking steps to make sure you’re not using the same password for multiple accounts. Make sure your antivirus is up to date, make sure you’re not browsing to unreputable websites, and make sure you’re not opening suspicious emails.

That’s why 702 Communications offers managed services and computer repair support. We’ve got a team of IT professionals that can help you design your infrastructure to minimize risk. We can make sure your devices are automatically updating to prevent access via exploits, and we can set you up with a backup plan for your data if you’re the target of a ransomware attack. Whether you’re looking to prevent an attack or recover from one, 702 Communications is here to help.

Identifying Suspicious Emails

Phishing is a social engineering attempt to deceive the target into providing personal or financial information or to possibly get them to install a piece of software on a computer that will enable the cybercriminal access to the target’s information.

Phishing attempts are nothing new, but as time’s gone on, some of them have become a bit more sophisticated and, in this work-from-home environment, easier to fall for.

By now everyone’s on the lookout for emails from Nigerian princes who claim to want to provide you with fabulous wealth, for just a small investment of your own, but you might not be as cautious if you see an email from “Facebook” that claims someone just tried to log into your account, or from “Amazon” who’s emailing to tell you they’ve detected fraud on your account.

It is important to protect your online identify. It is important to make sure your social media accounts aren’t compromised and your online merchant accounts are secure. But before you click a button in a panic to respond to one of these alerts, make sure you take the time to really look at it and see if it’s not a trap.

Here are examples of both the “Facebook” and “Amazon” alerts for your reference.

I have a Gmail account for personal emails. The other day while perusing my Spam inbox I found the following:

At first glance, someone might think, “I don’t know Rosina Taylor, I’m not going to click on that. Someone tried to log into my Facebook account? I better check it out!”

If you’re careful, you know this isn’t from Facebook. For one thing, it’s in my Spam folder, so even Google thought it was suspicious. But sometimes they’re wrong. Sometimes totally legitimate items show up in there. That’s why I check it. But if you look twice at the sender, you see it’s not actually Facebook that’s sending the message, but Facebook. They’re missing an o in their identity field.

Here again, to Google’s credit, there’s a big gray banner telling you it’s in your spam folder because it’s similar to items that have been identified as spam in the past. But if that’s not enough for you, take a good look at the sender’s email address: UPRBKFIQ… A legitimate email from Facebook or from any other reputable company isn’t going to come from a randomized account like this one. It doesn’t matter what else might be in the body of that message or the footer of that message. There is no doubt that this is a phishing attempt and any further action on your part to engage this message may end in your computer being compromised by a cybercriminal trying to otherwise steal your personal or financial information.

Here’s the “Amazon” example:

But say you missed that and you clicked on the message. I did to show you. This is what comes up next:

Knowing what you do now, you can see that this is also an email that doesn’t require any further action. Amazon is never going to send you a notice from Here again, you can delete the message and move on.

Both of those emails were easy to identify as phishing attempts if you just take a moment to really look. But sometimes it can be a little trickier to see. That’s why it’s really important for you to be vigilant when reading and replying to emails. If you get something from a professional contact or from a company with whom you do business that’s at all out of character or at all suspicious, look carefully at it before taking further action. If you’re still not sure, ask a trusted IT advisor.

Recently an email came into a staff email box at 702 from:

Jim Walter was the CEO at 702 for our first 20 years. Everyone here (except our newest hires) knows Jim by name, so it’s possible that he’d be emailing an employee even in retirement. There’s a little bit of legitimacy there. The email address is funky, but who knows? Maybe Jim decided he wanted to start his own email domain of “” and send emails from it. It’s not hard to set something like that up. It’s not in character for Jim, but it’s not impossible. Let’s look at the body of the message:

Are you available, i need you to handle something for me asap, i can’t talk on phone now, just reply me here. Stay Safe

That isn’t Jim’s speech pattern. “reply me here” is a dead giveaway that this is a phishing attempt.

Our employee identified this as suspicious, reached out to our system admin regarding the email, and the phishing attempt was shut down. It does take a level of vigilance from each member in your organization to keep company information safe.

Be on the lookout in your own environment. Do your part. Stay safe out there!

Brian Crommett
702 Communications

Hosting Live Events Remotely

Large gatherings as we knew them are a thing of the past. 50% capacity or cancellations are the only solutions for some, but what about virtual live events? In the following clip, I discuss the logistics behind live streaming tech needed to bring your event to the masses safely on your own devices.



Thinking about putting on a live streaming event? Here are some pieces of technology to consider.
Wireless Mic
Patch Cable

Call us with questions on connectivity!

Brian Crommett
702 Communications

COVID-19: Home Office Tech

In the office, we have amenities like a copier, scanner, phone system, multiple monitors, and, for special occasions, a fax machine.

But in this current work-from-home climate, how do you maintain the same level of productivity without all that hardware? I’ve got some options for you to consider.

Let’s talk first about the multiple monitors thing. Honestly, we’re at a point where I don’t know that most of us are going to get back to our office jobs, in the office, anytime soon. So, if you’re limping along on a single monitor or laptop screen at home, and you’re still gainfully employed, you may want to think about investing in another monitor for home. Again, maybe it wasn’t necessary for the one-off work-from-home day you may have had in the past. But if this is going to be a longer-term engagement, you may want to think about beefing up your at-home system. You won’t regret making that investment.


We’ve talked in previous blog posts about using a VPN or remote desktop app to get you into your work network and increase productivity. We’ve also talked about cloud storage such as Drobox, Google Drive, Microsoft One Drive, or various others. You can learn more about those topics here.



Think about your phone system. At work, you may have a phone with a sidecar that shows all of your co-workers and their free/busy status, and, with a push of a button, you can call someone up, conference someone in, or transfer a call easily. If you’ve got a hosted PBX system from someone like 702 Communications, you have great options to bring that functionality to your desktop. It could be as easy as going to the office and bringing your desk phone home. Plug that into your home network and bingo, you’re up and running. You do need to know that if you’re going to use your office phone at home, you should talk to your provider about it so we can update your 911 location. If you move your desk phone and dial 911, unless you’ve let us know where that phone is, 911 won’t know where to find you. If you can’t bring your phone home, you also have the option to install what we call a soft phone on your computer or even on your cell phone. This is a piece of software or app that becomes your desk phone. You can make/receive calls from your desktop or mobile device without ever giving out your home number.

And that all-in-one copier/scanner/fax machine you might be missing? Your cell phone does all of that natively or with additional apps. I’ve used an app called Scanner Pro for the iPhone for several years now. It does a great job of document scanning. With my AirPrint-enabled printer, I can scan something, wirelessly print it out and pop it in the mail if I have to. Or, I can scan the document and immediately attach it to an email or even fax it to the recipient that needs that document. The only functionality your phone and home printer probably won’t replace is the binding and collating your office machine did for you. You might have to employ a roommate, spouse, or children to help with that!

I hope this helps you be safe and work well.

Brian Crommett
702 Communications