Blog

November 25th, 2016

2016november25_security_aIf you’ve read this blog before, you already know security is paramount to the success of any small business. We cover the ever increasing cases of security violation in big and small businesses, as well as national and international organizations where data, applications, networks, devices and networks have been illegally accessed by unauthorized people. But today we want to look at simple preventative measures to ensure these risks never befall your organization.

Limitation of lateral data transfers

Employees not being educated on data sharing and security is one of the biggest reasons for internal data breaches. It’s a good idea to limit access to important data and information by restricting access privileges to only a small number of individuals. Also, you can decide to use network segmentation to cut unnecessary communication from your own network to others.

Keeping your machines and devices updated

Internal breaches might also occur when employees work with unguarded or unprotected machines. They might unknowingly download malware, which normally wouldn’t be a problem if machines were properly managed. Updating your operating systems, antivirus software, business software, and firewalls as often as possible will go a long way toward solidifying your defense systems.

Use monitoring and machine learning to sniff out abnormalities

It’s not all on your employees, however. Network administrators should employ monitoring software to prevent breaches by analyzing what is “normal” behavior and comparing that to what appears to be suspicious behavior. Cyber criminals often hide in networks to exploit them over a long period of time. Even if you miss them the first time, you should monitor suspicious activity so you can recognize impropriety and amend security policies before it goes any further.

Creating strong security passwords and credentials

No matter how often we say it, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to your passwords and login procedures. In addition to text-based credentials, you should require other methods whenever possible. Great for fortifying your network, fingerprints and smart cards, for example, are much harder for cyber criminals to fake. Regardless of which factors are used, they must be frequently updated to prevent breaches, accidental or otherwise.

Security Insurance

In the end, no system is perfect. Zero-day attacks exploit unknown gaps in security, and human error, accidental or otherwise, can never be totally prevented. And for this reason, small businesses need to start embracing cyber insurance policies. These policies help cover the damages that might occur even under a top-of-the-line security infrastructure. Considerations for selecting a policy include legal fees, first and third-party coverage, and coverage for reputation rehabilitation.

The field of cyber security is overwhelming -- even for seasoned IT professionals. But not for us. We spend our days researching and experimenting to craft the best security solutions on the market. If you're interested in one of our cutting-edge cyber-security plans, call us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
November 24th, 2016

2016november24_voip_aMicrosoft has recently announced an Insider Program offering for Skype. This program will allow Skype users on Android, iOS, OS X, and Windows to access more features and updates to its Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service and application. Read on to learn more about Microsoft's new Skype Insider Program and how it can benefit you.

At its core, the new Skype Insider Program is a way to allow Skype users to beta test cutting-edge features and software fixes. In addition to granting users access to the latest features before they become public, this program also gives Microsoft a major advantage because more beta testers means it can roll out full updates and upgrades more quickly. After joining, users can test out a wide array of improvements for any Skype platform, including Android, iOS, OS X, or Windows.

Make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into before joining this Insider Program, or any betas for that matter. It exists to test out how well new features work “in the wild,” and there is potential for bugs. The catch 22 is that with so many users beta-testing the software, those problems and bugs will be fixed far more quickly than before, and participants will have a head start on using those features when they officially roll out.

VoIP has been around for years now, and most vendor offerings are similar to one another. In our opinion, getting access to new VoIP technology is definitely worth it. You’ll be able to get a head start on the competition, and Microsoft will reward your contributions with a faster, more secure Skype connection.

An open and well-populated beta program almost always means great things for users and the software they’re using. If you are interested in becoming part of Skype's Insider Program, or if you have any VoIP-related questions, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP
November 21st, 2016

2016november21_businesscontinuity_aThe prevalence of digital data has become an integral part of life and business in modern times. Staggering amounts of data is generated every day and businesses have grown exponentially as they’ve found ways to monetize it. In fact, most experts agree that by the year 2020, there will be 1.7 terabytes of data generated per person on the planet. But in the here and now, we’re already struggling to keep data backed up and safe.

Too much data may sound like a good thing, but depending on your organization, backing up everything à la minute may be out of your price range or just flat out impossible with the amount of information you create. The problem then becomes: How do I structure my backup plan to prioritize the critical files? We believe the answer is analytics.

In order to avoid backing up unneeded data, you’ll require a “smarter” backup solution. This is where an experienced MSP (managed services provider) really earns its keep. We’ve spent years becoming experts in backup solutions and designing systems that keep your mission-critical data healthy, and we can offer something few others can’t: a backup solution that learns.

The first step in ensuring all of your customer information is safely duplicated and quarantined is to install sophisticated analytics engines that help determine what is most essential to your business's day-to-day operations. These ever-evolving engines will prioritize data in order of importance and translate that to a backup structure that ensures the right data is safe and sound should disaster strike.

Using analytics maintains your existing data-backup solution, but provides it with a map of what to save first, and what to leave for later. What does that mean? Drastically reduced recovery times in the event of untimely outages or disruptions. And, the use of analytics also helps increase efficiency and decrease overall backup costs by providing a better picture of what is unimportant or unnecessary.

Small- and medium-sized businesses have been the drivers of innovation for decades because, as they say, “necessity is the mother of invention.” And we’re here to deliver some good news: Whether you’re interested in implementing a cutting-edge analytics engine or simply want to start with a more straightforward solution, we’re ready to create a new system that prioritizes backups, just for you. Take a second to analyze that, then give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
November 10th, 2016

2016november10_security_aThe old cold-call scam is still a popular way for fraudsters to dupe people out of their money. But now they're taking their tactics to the computer generation, and it can be surprising just who is falling for the new tech-related fraud. Read on to find out how scam artists are targeting the younger generation -- and succeeding.

Results Conclude Youth is more Gullible

Microsoft recently conducted a survey of 1000 computer users of all ages and from many of the largest countries in the world to find out how many of them had been scammed by phony "technicians" claiming to be employees of Microsoft or other major computer conglomerates. The results were startling when studied demographically. Researchers discovered that seniors, who were traditionally viewed as the major victims of such fraudulent schemes, were not the most likely group to fall for the scam.

Research indicated that although seniors were most likely to buy into a telephone scam, they still did not fall for the act as much as younger age groups. The study found, in fact, that between the ages of 18 and 24, people were 2.5 times more likely to fall for the scam than seniors. Those between the ages of 25 and 34 were three times more likely than seniors to be tricked.

The scam that the Microsoft company recently studied involved the following scenario: Either a person calls claiming to be a technical support technician, or an email or pop-up alerts you that your computer is locked or otherwise compromised. In order to fix the problem, you need to call someone and pay for a program or provide access to your computer so some purported technician can solve the problem "remotely."

If you fall for this scam, you are giving them funds for a false program or access to your computer -- which also allows them access to your personal data and the ability to install malware onto your system. The study revealed that two-thirds of those surveyed (around 660 people) had experienced the scam first-hand. One in five had listened long enough to hear the story, and 1 in 10 actually gave the scammer money.

Why the Younger Demographic Became Easy Victims

While older adults often respond more to phone calls, younger people have learned to ignore phone calls, saving them from being phone victims. However, because younger adults spend the majority of their time online and often remain acutely aware of the status of their computer and online presence, they are more prone to react to a pop-up or email claiming that their computer is in danger. Nearly 60% of the adults aged 18-24 in the study say they were exposed to the scam through pop-up ads or online correspondence.

The takeaway here is simple: Cybersecurity is about more than just firewalls and antivirus software. You need to shore up the human side of your protection protocols. The best way to start is by doing some quick research on social engineering in our previous blogs, but ultimately you’ll need something a little more thorough. Contact us today for more tips and to ask about scheduling a cybersecurity training for your employees.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
November 9th, 2016

2016november9_voip_aWhen you run a business, having multiple communications streams and programs can be incredibly challenging and difficult. However, with Unified Communications (UC), there may be a way to combine all those communication streams into one. However, you may wonder about the pros and cons of UC. Before you choose a system, explore some of these benefits and drawbacks by learning more and then contact us with questions or to get information about how to transition to UC.

Understanding UC is important to understanding the pros and cons of this communications platform. Essentially, UC is the use of service, software, and equipment that creates a communications system that is fully integrated and centralized. This allows for phone calls, emails, video conferencing, calendars, and the like to be accessible on one system alone.

Pros of UC

There are numerous benefits of choosing a UC system over a non-integrated, disjointed communications system. One is that all people involved in the business process -- from bosses and employees, to vendors, customers, and other business associates or partners -- can access the same information and quickly and easily communicate with one another one-on-one or in groups.

VoIP UC makes it possible to receive phone calls through a computer, have them pushed to a mobile phone, and even get copies of voicemails and information about callers on the computer. Essentially, everything runs through the internet and wireless communications.

Additionally, mobile technologies can more easily be used to bring work groups together and make employees as productive as possible wherever they are. This means that virtual conference calls and meetings are possible and can be an important tool in the process of doing business. UC also save employees and other business associates a great deal of time and can improve productivity.

And then there is the issue of cost. UC can save businesses money in the short- and long-term by making it possible to telecommute, have meetings over great distances, and make work hours more productive overall.

Cons of UC

Of course, no business change or decision is without potential drawbacks. The initial overall cost of switching to a UC system can be high because of the software, equipment, and training needed. Already accustomed to existing systems, some employees might resist adopting a new technology. And other employees, considering their unique roles in the company, might think the new communications system irrelevant to them and so see little benefit to it.

Better understanding these potential benefits and drawbacks to UC can help you decide what is right for your business. Contact us if you have any questions or if you are ready to begin using VoIP UC processes in your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP
November 7th, 2016

2016november7_socialmedia_aEvery company wants to get more business out of social media. But to most small- and medium-sized businesses, a social media strategy is limited to the most popular platforms. There are at least a dozen more options however, and we want to take some time to cover the best sites that you’re probably not using, here.

Having great content on your site is the magnet that attracts visitors. However, when there is too much competition on the most popular platforms, it's hard for your social media reputation management to deliver the results you expect. To reap nominal rewards from social media marketing, you need to devise new methods to stand out from the crowd.

Meetup

For people with similar interests, Meetup is a great site to plan face-to-face meetings. Does your company sell hiking, camping, and backpacking products? Organize a meetup for the people in your community to go on a hike. You really can’t get a better customer interaction than engaging them in the activities they love.

Eventbrite

If you’re looking for a more formal event platform, Eventbrite helps you to organize, plan, and market your event so you can ensure its success. Another way it differs from Meetup is its recruitment potential. You can easily market yourself as an expert in an industry to either attract freelancers or educate potential customers about the problems you aim to solve for them. Townscript, and Picantic, offer similar services and can go to great lengths to improve your social media reputation.

Answer Forums

How many times have you scoffed at the amatuer responses to the questions posted on sites such as Yahoo Answers, Quora, and Reddit? However, if you take a step back you’ll realize that these people are often searching for information about certain industries or products. When providing helpful answers to their questions, establish your credibility by identifying your expertise and product.

Disqus

It’s easy to get stuck in a narrow interpretation of ‘social media.’ It’s just web technology that helps us to communicate with each other, right? By embedding apps such as Disqus into your online content, you can connect with readers and external websites to boost your material as well as your reputation. What’s more social than getting people talking about about your products or industry?

Slack

Most people who use the messaging app Slack see it as a way to communicate with friends and coworkers. However, with a little creativity you can join conversations from all over the world to boost your online presence. There are countless channels devoted to industries, categories, hobbies and more. All you have to do is insert yourself and your company into the conversation to get people talking about your business!

It’s hard to deny that technology has made our lives more complicated. We still believe it has made up for this downside ten fold, but we understand it can feel a little overwhelming at times. Thankfully, the answer is simple: a managed technology provider. For a never-ending source of information on reputation and social media management, get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
November 3rd, 2016

2016november3_businessintelligence_aThe use of Business Intelligence technology in making business decisions is a relatively new small business trend. BI software pulls information from a company's raw data across the board so that enterprise owners and executives can make decisions for the future of the company. Read on to see how businesses can use BI technology to budget for the future.

Compiling Data Across the Board Business Intelligence is not a new concept. Companies regularly compile data from many of their departments to make important business decisions. The manual process of gathering spreadsheets of data is cumbersome and time-consuming. BI software allows company owners to look at data from the various departments in one location, an online dashboard that can be manipulated to provide the exact information needed at the time.

Putting it all Together Business intelligence software extracts information from raw data provided by various departments to help business owners make important decisions in marketing, budgeting and financial planning/prediction. All on one dashboard, marketing campaigns can be tracked and evaluated for effectiveness, money can be moved from one department to another, and companies can see the financial health of the company.

In the past, IT companies provided BI solutions that used complex algorithms to gather intelligence. Now, the use of BI software is geared for the end user, providing self-service reporting for the individual business owner.

Moving Forward As the new fiscal year approaches, it is important for companies to incorporate business intelligence software into their yearly budget. The price of BI software varies, but because you are probably already spending the money on BI solutions for various segments of your business, it won't be a huge investment to compile the data in one location.

Today's business infrastructures are technologically driven. They need a solution that uses the same level of sophistication to make the best financial decisions for their companies. Business intelligence technology is that solution. Contact us today if you’re ready to take the next step.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
October 25th, 2016

2016october25_security_aCyber security is becoming more and more important in an increasingly digital age. While many people and businesses know how important their online security is, they may not know what types of online security are best, nor the differences between the most commonly available options. There are two security authentication measures that are quite similar in name and that are often used. These are known as two-factor authentication and two-step authentication. Read on to get to know some of the key differences so you can be sure you understand your cyber security better.

If you are seeking out a way to improve your business's cyber security, both for your business itself as well as for your customers, you are likely looking at your authentication process. Two-step and two-factor authentication are two of the most commonly used options in cyber security. And in current cyber security, many businesses use the terms two-step and two-factor authentication interchangeably.

There are, however, subtle differences between the two. A two-step authentication process requires a single-factor login (such as a memorized password or biometric reading) as well as another of the same type of login that is essentially sent to the user. For example, you may have a memorized password for your first step and then receive a one-time-use code on your cell phone as the second step.

Two-step authentication does function to add an extra step in the authentication process, making it more secure than a single-step authentication (i.e. just the password). However, if a person or business is hacked, it will do only a little to stop hackers from getting a hold of whatever they are looking for.

On the other hand, there is two-factor authentication (sometimes referred to as multi-factor authentication), which is significantly more secure. This type of authentication requires two different types of information to authenticate. For example, it could be a combination of a fingerprint or retinal scan as well as a password or passcode. Because the types of information are different, it would require a hacker a great deal more effort to obtain both forms of authentication.

In essence, every two-factor authentication is a two-step authentication process, but the opposite is not true. With this information in mind, you can be certain that you are using the right type of authentication in your business to keep your business and customer information as secure as possible.

Your network needs the best security technology has to offer. What type of authentication that results in is just one of hundreds of choices that must be made to achieve that end. To take the stress out of securing and protecting your network, call us today for all the help you could ever ask for.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
October 24th, 2016

2016october24_voip_aWhen most of us think of cyberattacks, we think of viruses, trojans, and ransomware. Unfortunately, those aren’t the only types of attacks you need to be on the lookout for. Companies that utilize Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems are also vulnerable to another type of attack. One of the biggest threats to these systems is denial of service (DoS) attacks, and if you have a VoIP system it’s imperative you learn more about it here.

Denial of service attacks

The end goal of any DoS attack is to overwhelm a system with so many requests that the system is eventually forced to shut down. Telephony DoS (TDoS) attacks are a subcategory wherein these types of attacks are leveled at VoIP systems. Sadly, this security bulletin has jumped to the front of security concerns as a result of its use against hospitals and 9-1-1 phone lines.

In another depressing development, some TDoS attackers demand a ransom to halt the attack. Much like ransomware, with the help of cryptocurrencies and caller-ID spoofing, it’s incredibly difficult to identify attackers.

TDoS attacks generally employ fewer resources than the DoS attacks that are designed to cripple IT systems such as networks, servers, and software. At its most basic, all that a TDoS attack requires is an automated phone dialer that calls a target phone number and hangs up -- over and over. That very simple concept can stop anyone else from getting through the line.

What organizations need to do

Counterintuitive as it might sound, locking down your VoIP system with complicated and unnecessary security measures will ultimately do more harm than good. Most businesses can’t operate if they can’t communicate with their customers.

Although VoIP may be a digital resource similar to your other IT systems, the very nature of phone lines makes it impossible to hide them behind firewalls and other protections. However, there are new solutions that offer protection to VoIP systems. The new security protocols can protect your communication infrastructure against those who try to use force to gain access to your directory information. These protocols can also identify, reroute, and filter calls coming from known attackers.

If you’re experiencing any abnormalities with your VoIP system, or if you want to deploy the most up to date solution that the market has to offer, we have just the company in mind. With years of experience in the field, our expert staff is ready to help you at the drop of a hat -- just call today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP
October 19th, 2016

2016october19_businessproductivity_aThe internet is undoubtedly one of the most powerful tools for improving business productivity. But it’s also a magnet for procrastination. With unfettered access to the internet, it’s easy to stray away from your important work responsibilities. If done in moderation, five-to-ten minute breaks on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are harmless, but if employees spend several hours a day there, the internet is impeding office productivity. Fortunately, web monitoring can ensure your employees don’t overuse these sites.

Time-saving measures At times, the internet can be very addictive. Internet monitoring software saves employees from the temptation of online videos and games by restricting access to time-wasting sites that you deem unnecessary for business. But internet monitoring software doesn’t even have to be as extreme as denying permission to harmless social media websites. Just letting your employees know that you’ll be randomly monitoring their internet activity discourages them from taking prolonged visits to their Instagram page.

Avoiding harmful websites The internet hosts plenty of unsavory links and websites. Employees who haphazardly click phishing links or access malware-ridden pornography sites can put your business at risk. Working with infected machines can slow down the entire system and, in some cases, completely halt operations. But by using internet monitoring tools you can restrict access to dangerous websites, and identify reckless employees to remove their internet privileges, if necessary.

Controlling bandwidth usage Even while using the internet for the right purposes, bandwidth can be used up quickly. Internet monitoring gives you up-to-the-minute reports on your bandwidth usage. Once you have a clear understanding of your company’s overall bandwidth usage, you can then control its expenditure. This feature allows you to prioritize bandwidth for critical business applications and reduce bandwidth for less necessary websites.

Increasing productivity on the internet Internet monitoring software may be a powerful tool, but it should be used responsibly. As a business owner, you need to walk a fine line between over-surveillance and under-surveillance. What you should do is establish a clear internet policy. Then, explicitly define the disciplinary measures to be dispensed on anybody who goes against the requirements of the internet policy. And deal with time-wasting employees on a case-by-case basis. It’s unreasonable to remove everyone’s Facebook privileges because one or two abused theirs.

Employee productivity can be difficult to achieve, especially with the proliferation of what we would like to call, “procrastination software.” But with web monitoring software, you can truly get your business -- and your employees -- back on track. Looking for more ways to increase business productivity with technology? Give us a call. We’ll be happy to make suggestions.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business