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April 28th, 2016

2016Apr28_Security_AKnow thy enemy. When it comes to hackers, most business owners get hung up on the technical and mechanical details of a cyber attack forgetting another important aspect: motive. Why are they attacking people and organizations in the first place? And who are they targeting? By answering these questions you’ll have a better understanding of what resources need the most protection in your business.

Script Kiddies

When it comes to skill level, Script Kiddies are at the bottom of the totem pole and often use scripts or other automated tools they did not write themselves - hence the name. With only an elementary level of technical knowhow, Script Kiddies usually don’t cause much damage...usually. The Script Kiddy virus known as the Love Bug which sent out an email with the subject-line “I LOVE YOU” fooled millions of people, including some in the Pentagon, in the early 2000’s. The virus reportedly caused around 10 billion in lost productivity and digital damage.

So who is a Script Kiddie? Most of the time they’re simply bored youth looking for a thrill or notoriety. Many never evolve into a full-time hacker, and instead just use their skills as a hobby. Oddly enough, many Script Kiddies find a career later on working in the security industry.

Hacktivist

If you’ve heard of Anonymous, LulzSec or AntiSec, then you’re familiar with Hacktivists. These groups are made up of members of varying skill levels, all the way from Script Kiddies to some of the most talented hackers in the world. Their mission is largely politically motivated as they aim to embarrass their targets or disrupt their operations, whether that be a business or government body. Two of the most common ways they attack their target are by stealing sensitive information and exposing it or denial of service (DDoS) where a server is overloaded till it finally crashes.

As a small or medium-sized business owner you are not necessarily immune to Hacktivist disruption. If your business or a company you’re associated/partnered with participates or provides services that can be seen as unethical, such as Ashley Madison (who fell victim of a major Hacktivist attack last year), then you too may be targeted by Hacktivists.

Cyber Criminals

Often talked about in the media and well-known by most SMBs, cyber criminals are after one thing: money. Their targets run the gamut, including everyone from individuals to small businesses to large enterprises and banks. But what do these targets usually have in common? They either have a very valuable resource to steal or their security is easy to exploit...or a combination of both of these. Cyber criminals can attack in a number of ways including using social engineering to trick users into providing sensitive information, infecting an organization/individual with ransomware or another form or malware, or exploiting weaknesses in a network.

Insiders

Perhaps the scariest type of hackers are the ones that lurk within your own organization. Insiders are made up of disgruntled employees, whistleblowers or contractors. Oftentimes their mission is payback; they want to right a wrong they believe a company has perpetrated toward them, so they’ll steal sensitive documents or try to disrupt the organization somehow. Edward Snowden is a prime example of an insider who hacked his own organization - the US government.

Now that you know what motivates your enemy, you’ll hopefully have a bit of an idea as to whether or not you’re a target. To learn more about how to secure your business from these types of hackers, get in touch with our experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
April 25th, 2016

2016Apr25_InternetSocialNetworkingAndReputationManagement_A500+ LinkedIn connections can open doors. It can lead to more business, new clients, and provide social proof to yourself or organization. However, getting to 500+ connections can seem like a daunting task, especially if you have a business to run. So how can you break through and become a LinkedIn power networker? Here are a few tips to get you to 500+.

Network every day

If you’re struggling to grow your LinkedIn network, you may not be spending enough time on the platform. If you want to become a power player, you need to use the social network often. So dedicate 15-30 minutes a day to network on LinkedIn, and make it a goal to reach 500+ connections.

Join and participate in groups

Utilizing LinkedIn groups presents an opportunity to meet other professionals (and eventually add them as connections) as well as learn and share valuable advice. The point is not to just join a group, but actively participate in them. This requires a degree of focus and smart selection.

How many groups should you join? Shoot for around ten. This will ensure you have time to participate in each group and connect with its members. As for the groups you join, you’ll obviously want to join those in your industry, but you should also diversify. So choose five within your industry and five that relate to your other interests or provide you an opportunity to learn from its group members. Some suggestions to consider are an alumni group for your university, groups that represent causes/charities you care about, and groups that relate to a new skill you’re hoping to learn. Obviously, all the groups you join need to be active. If members only post in a group once a week, this is a red flag to avoid joining.

Once you’ve joined, you should spend some time each day contributing in at least five of your ten groups. You can ask questions, provide advice, or share valuable articles or original content you’ve created. Once you’ve developed a rapport with group members, you’ll have an easy, non-awkward way to connect with them.

Personalize your “Connect” request

The less you know a person, the less likely they are to connect with you if you send a generic connection request. You know the one: “I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

Many people will simply ignore requests like this. This is why it’s important to include a quick note that either refreshes that person’s memory of you, mentions a common interest or connection you might share, or simply introduces yourself and your reason for connecting. The more personal your note the better.

Use keywords in your profile

Just like Google, Bing and the other search engines, keywords help you get found on LinkedIn. Plant these keywords in your professional headline, profile summary, and skill endorsement section. How do you know what keywords to use? Think about what you want yourself or your business to be endorsed for. What skills do you have to offer your clients? For example, if your business specializes in web solutions, some keywords you may think about using would include SEO or “web content”. As for your skills, be careful not to choose keywords that are too narrow. For example if your business is in the financial services and tax preparation industry, don’t use the names of niche tax solutions you specialize in like “estate taxes” or “small business taxes” as your endorsed skills. Instead, choose more general words like “tax preparation”. By doing this, your connections will be more likely to endorse you as it’s a broader category.

By following these tips and spending at least 15 minutes a day on LinkedIn, you’re sure to see the number of connections you have grow. And the more connections you make, the less work you’ll have to do to grow your network as more and more people will send you connection requests instead. This will provide more business opportunities and chances for you to meet new clients. If you’d like more ideas how to improve your social media efforts, feel free to email or give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
April 19th, 2016

2016Apr19_VoIP_AYou’ve likely heard of VoIP: the innovative telephony solution that can dramatically cut costs and replace your traditional phone line. While it may sound appealing, you might have a few reservations. What if the call quality isn't up to par? What if your staff is confused by the technology? What if you have to deal with the complexity and costs of installing an additional network? These are all assumptions that hold little truth. Here’s how you can avoid them, and ensure you get the most out of your VoIP service.

Use the same network for voice and data

A popular reason many businesses choose VoIP is to cut costs, which is exactly why you should run voice and data on the same network. Running them separately will significantly increase set up and running costs. And doing so will add an extra layer of complexity to your business that is completely unneeded. Regardless, choosing to combine your voice and data does take a bit of thought to ensure you don’t bump into unnecessary issues. So ask your provider the following questions before getting started:
  1. Will you be able to scale the service as needed?
  2. How much bandwidth will you need to cover both data and voice? Does your business have enough?
  3. Can you make modifications to the network?

Prioritize voice communication

VoIP saves you money. But you don’t want to do so at the cost of the integrity of your business. If you have unreliable voice communications with clients and colleagues, this can tarnish your reputation. This is why voice needs to take priority on your network over applications and other Internet activity if a bottleneck occurs. You can do this by setting the QoS (Quality of Service) on your router to prioritize voice and VoIP traffic. This can help provide clear voice communications without lag or interruption.

Provide comprehensive staff training

As with most technologies, VoIP has a learning curve. While many business owners are happy to give a few quick tips to their employees along with a brief manual, the training often stops there. However, what if your employees encounter problems with the technology while they’re on the phone with a customer? With proper training you can avoid such scenarios. What’s more, your training also gives you an opportunity to share some of the more advanced features VoIP has to offer such as in-call coaching, hot desking, and call screening.

To ensure your staff can maximize their VoIP experience, your training should include the basics of how the software, hardware and data flow operates. You should also include the procedures to take when encountering a problem with the technology and how your voice and data staff can work together for optimum VoIP performance. Once you’ve done that, don’t forget to test your employees on what they’ve learned and answer any and all questions they may have.

VoIP presents a unique opportunity for your business to gain a more advanced telephony solution while cutting costs. Call quality does not have to take a hit. If you’d like to learn more about how VoIP can improve your business, call us now.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP
April 18th, 2016

2016Apr18_Productivity_ALove it or hate it, mobile technology in the workplace is here to stay. While more and more companies are utilizing it as a way to up their productivity, there is a right and a wrong way to go about it. Here are four tips to help you successfully integrate mobile devices into your organization to create a more efficient and productive business.

Use the right tool

Some work tasks just aren’t cut out for mobile use. While using a mobile phone or tablet to send emails is an effective way to work on the go, trying to write long form reports on these same devices is a bad idea. As a general guideline, small tasks such as email, viewing documents, using search engines and project management apps are good for mobile work. Anything that is too detailed is probably better suited for a computer or laptop. Lastly, only train your employees to use and learn the mobile devices and programs that make sense for their role. If you want them to be most efficient, you don’t want to overwhelm them with every mobile tool your business uses.

Communicate face-to-face

Email is undoubtedly a valuable communication tool. But it’s also become the bane of existence for many of today’s employees and business owners. Too many emails kills your employees productivity, overwhelming them. And unfortunately, many times email is simply unnecessary. Instead of sending that email about a question concerning an upcoming meeting, simply go and ask in-person. You’ll likely get a response much quicker and you avoid adding yet another message to the email overflow.

Consider adding a face-first policy in your office. This means that every time your employees consider writing an email, they should question if it’s easier to just go talk with that person directly. If that person is located a quick walk away, then the conversation should take place in-person. This especially makes sense if your employee needs an answer within a few hours, as sometimes emails go unanswered for much longer than this. By enforcing an email policy, your employees’ inboxes are less likely to be overflowing and your communication will take place in a more timely manner.

Set boundaries

There’s no question that mobile tech can help productivity, but it can also hinder it. The problem is that many employees who utilize it have difficulty “switching off”. The lines between work and personal life begin to blur as completing work tasks is always right at their fingertips. While on the surface more work output from your employees may sound like a good thing, in reality it’s far from it. Being “always on” can quickly lead to burnout. And even if it doesn’t, if your employees don’t take time to break and recharge, their productivity will suffer. To demonstrate just how many employees fall into this trap of overworking, the 2015 Staples Business Advantage Workplace Index surveyed 2,602 employees and found that a quarter of them regularly worked after standard business hours, and four out of ten worked on at least one weekend a month.

So how can you resolve this issue as an employer? Simply set boundaries. Create time frames for when work platforms and applications can be utilized and for when emails can be sent and responded to. Also, don’t encourage employees to work on off-hours by sending emails during the weekend. If your concern isn’t urgent, then by all means wait till Monday to send it out.

Be flexible

While it may sound a bit contradictory to the last point, being flexible in your work policy can be a smart decision to boost productivity. By being flexible, we mean the ability for your employees to work at hours and locations of their choosing. Most people work better and quicker at certain hours as they are more focused at specific times of the day. And some people will work better remotely than they do at an office space as there can be less distractions. The Staples survey supported this fact as 59% of the employees surveyed said that flexible schedules had a positive effect on productivity.

Cloud tools like Office 365 and Google Apps can help encourage a flexible workplace. But regardless of how flexible your office becomes, be conscious that parameters on work, mentioned in the last section, should still be in place to prevent employee burnout.

Mobile devices in the workplace can go a long way towards making your business more efficient and employees happy. If you’d like to learn more about utilizing mobile devices in the workplace or how you can leverage technology to make your business more productive, call us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
April 13th, 2016

2016Apr13_Security_ABring your own device (BYOD) strategy is when an employee uses their personal mobile device to work with your company from anywhere. This strategy can bring about many advantages to your business such as increased efficiency and convenience. However, this can also bring a number of security risks for your IT infrastructure and data. If you’re thinking of incorporating BYOD in your office, consider some of the risks involved before making a decision.

Data leakage

The biggest reason why businesses are weary of implementing a BYOD strategy is because it can potentially leave the company’s system vulnerable to data breaches. Personal devices are not part of your business’s IT infrastructure, which means that these devices are not protected by company firewalls and systems. There is also a chance that an employee will take work with them, where they are not using the same encrypted servers that your company is using, leaving your system vulnerable to inherent security risks.

Lost devices

Another risk your company has to deal with, is the possibility of your employees losing their personal devices. When devices with sensitive business information are lost, there is a chance that this could end up falling into the wrong hands. Additionally, if an employee forgets to use a four digit PIN code to lock their smartphone or tablet, anyone can gain unauthorized access to valuable company data stored on that particular device. Therefore, your company should consider countermeasures for lost devices like completely wiping the device of information as soon as an employee reports a missing or stolen phone.

Hackers can infiltrate your system

Personal devices tend to lack adequate data encryption to keep people from snooping. This along with the fact that your employees might not have updated their devices can allow hackers to infiltrate your IT infrastructure.

Connecting to open Wifi spots makes your company more susceptible to hackers. Open wireless points in public places can put device owners at risk because there is a chance that hackers may have created that hotspot to trick people into connecting. Once the device owner has connected, attackers can simply surveil web activity and gain access to your company’s accounts.

Vulnerable to malware

Viruses are also a big problem when implementing BYOD strategies into your business. Using personal devices means your employees can access whatever sites or download any mobile apps that your business would normally restrict to protect your system.

Jailbreaking or rooting a device also puts your systems at risk because it removes limitations imposed by the manufacturer to keep the mobile software updated and protected against external threats. It’s best to understand that as your employees have the freedom to choose whatever device they want to work with, the process of keeping track of vulnerabilities and updates is considerably harder. So if you’re thinking about implementing BYOD strategies to your business, prepare your IT department for an array of potential malware attacks on different devices.

So you might be thinking that it would probably be best to just avoid implementing a BYOD strategy in the first place. However, BYOD will help your business grow and adapt to the modern workplace, and should not be dismissed as a legitimate IT solution. It’s just important to educate your company about these risks so that problems won’t occur for your business down the line.

If you need some help implementing IT security solutions for your company, or if you have any concerns regarding IT, give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
April 5th, 2016

2016Apr5_Facebook_AYour news feed is about to get a lot more expressive, thanks to Facebook reactions. Aside from ‘Liking’ a status update, you now have five more options to express what you feel about a post. The new feature not only makes it easier for you to appropriately react to a piece of bad news but it also provides you with exciting ways to manage your business’s social media page. So how can you use Facebook reactions effectively? Here are a few ways you can use the new emojis to your advantage.

Ask your audience for reactions

Sometimes, audiences won’t know how to react to your posts. You can point them in the right direction by giving call to ‘reaction’ phrases like “Did you learn something new? Give us a ‘wow’ by hovering over that like button”.

As Facebook reactions are a relatively new feature, you can increase the total engagement of your posts by simply asking your fans to use one of the six available expressions on your post. This will not only increase your overall engagement and reach but will also give your fans the opportunity to learn about the new Facebook reactions.

Soften the blow of negative reviews

If your service ever experiences any technical difficulties, reactions can be a lifesaver. Back when there were no Facebook expressions, people would often resort to negative comments or trolling when they are unhappy with a particular post. This could lead to a toxic page environment and may encourage others to do the same or even unfollow your page entirely. With Facebook reactions, you can minimize the effect of negative reviews with a more innocent ‘angered’ or ‘saddened’ emoji. Overall, this looks better on your page rather than lines of nonsensical text in all caps.

Gain more visibility with your page

Commenting and reacting to other local pages on your business’s Facebook account increases your chances of being discovered by potential customers. And, as an added benefit, engaging with other local pages can encourage them to return the favor.

Use reactions as constructive feedback

Facebook reactions add an extra level of depth to measuring how well your posts are doing. Before, more likes would mean more engagement. But now, reactions show that people are invested in your content.

What’s more, you can now measure what people feel about your content. This allows you to tailor your next post so that it gets the most engagement. For instance, if you notice that people are leaving more ‘Haha’ reactions to your posts, then this could suggest that your audience engages with your posts if they see more humor included in your content.

Check out your competition

You should note that page posts are public and can be see by anyone, even those who haven’t liked your page yet. This also means you can review your competitor’s posts and find out how people are reacting to their posts. This is valuable information to gauge what type of content, announcements, or status updates work for your target audience. Or if you find that your competitor is only getting likes rather than reactions, you can try experimenting with creative posts to get people to engage with your content instead.

Facebook reactions create a new and exciting way for people to express how they feel about certain posts. While some social media marketers would not pay too much attention to this feature, focusing on reactions can give you an edge when it comes to measuring how your target audience feels about your service. So the next time you’re going to make a new post, consider some or all of these tips to make the most out of those Facebook emojis.

Need more advice on managing your Facebook page? Contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
April 4th, 2016

2016Apr4_BusinessValue_AYour technology needs to produce a return on investment. If it doesn’t, you’re wasting you and your staff’s time and money. But how can you ensure you gain that coveted ROI you’re after? What does it actually mean to have a positive ROI? And how can you tell if you have one? Here are a few tips for calculating the true costs of a new technology investment.

ROI basics

What does it mean to have a positive return on investment? It’s pretty simple. A positive ROI means the results a technology produces are greater than or equal to the amount of time and money invested. Obviously you want a positive ROI, but when is the right time to consider it? Should it be before or after you make a technology purchase? The answer is both. Before purchasing, you want to carefully consider whether a technology service or product is worth your money. Then months after you’ve implemented it, you should analyze whether or not you made a good investment. Doing this enables you to learn from your mistakes (if you made one) and make a wiser technology purchase next time.

Also, don’t forget to look at your technology currently in use. Ask yourself, is your technology simply keeping the lights on? Or is it providing a solid foundation for your business to grow? If the answer is the former, there are likely better options out there worth trying.

How to calculate ROI

When calculating ROI, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Here is a simple formula to get you started.

ROI = net gain/cost Example: You spend $100 and make $150. Your net gain is $50 ROI = 50/100 = 50%

If you’ve yet to purchase a service or new equipment, you obviously don’t know how much profit it will generate. So you’ll have to do a bit of guesswork and estimation. It’s also important to consider some intangibles. Think about the productivity costs of staff time, disruption, and frustration (because most of us don’t work effectively when frustrated). Let’s take staff time for example. How much time will your staff save if you implement a Managed Services solution? With your employees no longer having to put out IT fires daily, what if your entire staff saves 50 hours a week because of it? How much does that add up to in saved salary expense? It’s important here not just to think about the savings in time, but also what your staff could be doing with those extra 50 hours. They could put those hours towards marketing or growing your business. And that alone could make up for the costs of the technology investment itself.

Intangibles don’t just apply to saving time, frustration and disruptions, but also the costs of implementing the new technology. For example, how much time will be required to train your staff on the new technology? What’s the cost of that? Also, how much time will it take to migrate from your old system to the new one? You should consider all of these when estimating your ROI.

Lastly, don’t forget to consider the unique circumstance of subscription purchases. Since you are usually paying these on a monthly basis, it can be a bit tricky to add up real costs. That’s why it’s important to use a timeline for these. For example, if you subscribe to software as a service, what’s the cost of that plan over the course of one year or five? How much money will you save over that time span?

What’s the benefit?

Besides the staffing example mentioned above, consider how a technology investment can create new revenue streams. For example, an investment in VoIP opens up an opportunity to offer video consulting to clients in parts of the country (or even world) that would normally be out of reach. This obviously leads to a new revenue stream and increased profits. So ask yourself, can the technology you’re considering create new revenue streams?

Next steps

Before making a technology purchase, it’s wise to talk with both management and end users about your decision. If you fail to consult your end users before implementation, they may disagree with your decision and therefore take longer to adapt or even rebel against it. Checking with them beforehand gives them a chance to offer valuable feedback on how it will be used in the trenches, and will get them onboard with the technology if you implement it. As for your management team, they can be a valuable resource to bounce ideas off of and gain insights about the technology you may have overlooked.

Lastly, ROI does not need to be calculated for every purchase. If you need to buy something small, like a new keyboard, just go and buy it. Save your ROI calculations for much larger investments that can have a dramatic impact on your business.

If you need help determining the ROI of a potential technology investment, feel free to give us a call for a chat. Our experts can help you determine the true benefits of a given technology and help you make a wise investment.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
March 30th, 2016

2016Mar30_VoIPGeneral_AVoIP has been a popular communications solution for many small businesses for quite some time now, simply because doing business over any IP device is a whole lot easier compared to using a traditional phone. However, did you know that your VoIP service offers useful features you may not even know about? Here are some to take note of to save yourself the trouble of doing things the old-fashioned way.

Busy lamp field

Nothing too fancy about this one. The busy light simply notifies you when people can’t take your call and frees up some time to wait for them or call someone else. With this feature, you avoid disrupting someone from an important phone call. It also saves you time from walking across the office just to see that the person is already occupied with another call.

In-call coaching

If you would like to give your employees some training on how to speak with clients over the phone, you can now do it virtually. Using add-on services like barge and whisper, you can help point your employees in the right direction when they’re dealing with a client. Barge enables you to silently monitor your employee’s phone conversation with a customer. While whisper allows you to provide comments on how your employees are doing while they are on call and without the customer knowing that you’re there coaching your staff.

Hot desking

With hot desking, you can potentially take calls from any IP phone without having to be at your desk. Imagine, for example, you’ve been transferred to a new office for a few days and can’t be bothered to set up a new IP phone. Hot desking solves that by transferring your phone preferences over to another IP device -- meaning, your voicemail, speed dials, number extension, and other customized settings can be accessed wherever you happen to be working from.

Hold Music

Sometimes what determines whether or not a client is willing to be put on hold is if the music is entertaining enough to keep their ear on the phone. Certain VoIP services allow you to customize your hold music so your customers will no longer have to listen to cheesy background music.

Hidden conferencing features

Many companies go to VoIP providers because it’s a cheap service that reduces the need to travel to meetings. However, a lot of people don’t use the other features that can help make a video meeting operate more efficiently. In the same call, you can mute other people, organize internal voting systems, and more.

Hands-free dialing

Hands-free dialing saves you from having to look someone up in your phonebook. This feature adds a button above someone’s email address that will let you call that person. From here you can redirect the call to your phone or better yet, connect with your clients over a video conference.

Call screening

Often a forgotten feature that is provided by many VoIP services, call screening displays the caller ID on your device and allows you to take whatever action you’d like before picking up the call. If you are getting a personal call you can simply choose to transfer the call over to your cell phone. Alternatively, you can also choose to hang up if it’s someone you don’t want to talk to.

Click-to-call

Click-to-call is a website widget that allows your website visitors to call you by simply clicking on a button on your page. This helps make call to actions effortless for the visitor since they don’t have to physically dial your number on their phone. You risk losing potential customers who don’t want to look at your contact us page to access your services. With click-to-call, they only have to tap on their smartphone to get a hold of you.

Analytics

Nowadays, cloud-based VoIP services excel in providing you with methods to analyze your data usage. It can show you a database of who is calling you the most, who you’re calling the most, a geographical distribution of your customers, and cost. With this data you can choose to focus more of your company’s efforts into a particular client or customer.

The next time you wonder if there is an easier way to do something when you’re in a phone call, take comfort in the fact that there are several features that can really make organizing your communications systems a lot easier. Consider using some or all of these features to get the most out of the VoIP service you paid for. To know more about the latest in VoIP trends and services, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP
March 29th, 2016

2016Mar29_Security_AYour computer has been acting up a lot lately. It keeps crashing, it’s slow and, to top it off, you keep getting pop-ups you don’t want to see. If these problems keep occurring then your computer may have a virus. So is there a way to prevent things like this from happening again? While there are various antivirus solutions you can take, it’s best to know how malware affects your computer first so you can quickly recognize and deal with the problem. These are a few ways to find out if your computer has a virus before it’s too late.

Slow computer

The most common symptom of a malware infection is a slow running computer. Are your operating systems and programs taking a while to start up? Is your data bandwidth suspiciously slow? If so, your computer may potentially have a virus.

However, before you immediately assume your computer has a virus, you should check if there are other causes to your computer slowing down. Check if you’re running out of RAM. For Windows, open task manager (Ctrl + Shift + Esc) and go to the Performance tab and check how many gigabytes of RAM you are using under the Memory section. For Mac OS users, you can open the Activity Monitor app and under System Memory you should be able to find out your RAM usage.

Other causes of a slow system include a lack of space on your hard drive and damaged hardware. Once you’ve ruled out the other potential causes, then a virus may have infected your device.

Blue screen of death (BSOD)

If your PC crashes regularly, it’s usually either a technical problem with your system or a malware infection. You might not have installed the latest drivers for your device or the programs you’re running could possibly be incompatible with your hardware. If none of these problems are apparent in your PC then the virus could be conflicting with other programs causing your crashes. To check what caused your last BSOD go to Control Panel> System and Security> Administrative Tools> Event Viewer and select Windows Logs. Those marked with an “error” are your recorded crashes. For troubleshooting solutions, consult forums or your IT department to figure out what to do next.

Programs opening and closing automatically

Malware can also be present when your programs are opening and closing automatically. However, do check if some programs are meant to behave this way or if they are simply incompatible to run with your hardware first before coming to the conclusion that your computer has a virus.

Lack of storage space

There are several types of malware that can manipulate the files saved on your computer. Most tend to fill up your hard drive with suspicious files. If you find any unknown programs that you have never installed before, don’t open the application, search up the program’s name over the Internet and use antivirus protections once you’re certain that it’s malware.

Suspicious modem and hard drive activity

Combined with the other warning signs, if your hard disk is working excessively while no programs are currently running or if you notice that your external modem is always lit then you should scan your computer for viruses.

Pop-ups, websites, toolbars and other unwanted programs

These are irritating signs that your computer has a virus. Pop-ups come from clicking on suspicious pages, answering survey questions to access a website’s service or installing free applications. Don’t click on ads where Jane says she earned $8000 a month staying at home. When you get pop-ups appearing out of the blue, refrain from clicking anywhere on the pop-up page and just close out of the window and use your anti-malware tool immediately.

Equally, free applications allow you to download their service for free but the installation process can be riddled with malware. When you’re installing a program from the Internet it’s easy to just skim over the terms and conditions page and repeatedly press next. This is where they get you. In the process of skipping over certain installation steps, you might have agreed to accepting a new default browser, opening unwanted websites and other programs filled with viruses. Just be cautious the next time you download something for free. It’s best to try avoiding any of these practices when you can in order to protect your computer.

You’re sending out spam

If your friends are telling you that you’ve been offering them suspicious messages and links over social media or email, you might be a victim of spyware. These may be caused from setting weak passwords to your accounts or forgetting to logout of them.

In the end, it’s best to know how malicious software affects your computer so you can take steps to rectify the situation as soon as possible. Regardless of whether or not your system has experienced these symptoms, it’s always smart to perform regular malware scans to ensure your business is safe. To find out more about malware and IT security, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
March 21st, 2016

2016Mar21_BusinessContinuity_ADisaster Recovery ain’t what it used to be. Long gone are the days where a DR solution cost over a hundred thousand dollars and predominantly relied on tape backups. With the onset of cloud computing, today’s DR landscape has dramatically changed. But, unfortunately, there are still many misconceptions about DR still hanging around. Here are a few of the myths that no longer apply.

Tape Backups are the best DR solution

Like a car, computer or television, tape is a physical object that deteriorates over time. Don’t believe us? Go ahead and listen to your favorite cassette. One day your tape backups will become distorted and no longer work. And hopefully, that day isn’t the same one when your business suffers a disaster. However, there is a good chance all your tape backups will work. So does that mean there’s nothing to worry about? Well, consider where you store your tape backups. Are they on-site or in a location within a few miles of your office? If so, remember that if your business is hit by a natural disaster, chances are those tapes nearby will be hit as well. And if they’re damaged or become inaccessible, say goodbye to your business continuity.

While tape backup is better than nothing, many of today’s DR providers will backup your data to an offsite location that is far away from the neighborhood your office is at. That way, if your business is affected by a disaster, your backup is located hundreds of miles away in a safe place that is likely untouched.

It’s also worth noting that modern day DR solutions also provide another valuable commodity - time. So ask yourself, is the mindless task of backing up tapes really worth the time of your IT staff? Wouldn’t you rather have them working on more valuable tasks that require a skill? Today’s DR service providers eliminate this need, as they take care of nearly everything. You or your staff will never have to bother with it.

The RTO you want will be too expensive

Recovery Time Objective (RTO) is of primary importance to most business owners. And who can blame them. If you’re going to invest in a Disaster Recovery solution, you want to be able to rely on it to recover quickly (on a timetable that won’t damage your business). In the old days before the cloud, a quick recovery time could cost you well into six figures. Today, tools such as the cloud and virtualization have made this much more affordable, and faster than ever. Most DR providers can backup all your critical data in a matter of minutes. And if you ever need to recover it, most services can do so in hours, rather than days. That’s the power of the cloud. And when it comes to DR, it truly has changed everything.

Disaster Recovery is for big business, not SMBs

Well, it once was. Again, the cloud has really leveled the playing field. And it is making a truly valuable service accessible to businesses of all sizes. From dental offices to small retail operations, SMBs can now easily take advantage of the best DR solutions on market, as the barriers of complexity, costs, and insufficient IT resources no longer apply. Modern IT advances and the cloud have eliminated these obstacles.

We hope these three myths will help you see how Disaster Recovery is more affordable and efficient than ever. If you’d like to learn how our DR solutions can safeguard your business, send us a message. We’re happy to fill you in.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business