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April 28th, 2016

2016Apr28_Security_CWhy do hackers attack? Is it for money, notoriety, or political reasons? Many business owners never ask these questions, and instead only think about the means of how a cyber attack takes place. But knowing the motive behind a hacker’s attack can help you understand whether or not you’re a target and what data you need to protect. So let’s take a closer look at 4 different types of hackers and their motives.

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 26th, 2016

2016Apr26_Hardware_CThe good ol’ two button mouse just won’t cut it anymore. They’re unresponsive, uncomfortable and the cord somehow ties itself up every time you put it in your bag. However, buying a new mouse can be a pain, especially when you don’t know what to look for. Do you need a mouse that’s more forgiving on your wrists? Are you looking for a tangle-free mouse? If you’re having difficulty deciding on your ideal mouse, here are some things you should keep in mind.

Cable or wireless?

Choosing between a wired or a wireless mouse is a factor you have to consider if you’re planning on purchasing a new mouse. Wireless mice are generally more comfortable since your range of movement isn’t limited by a cable and they’re usually very travel friendly. However they tend to be less responsive than their wired counterpart, which can be a problem for users requiring more precise mouse control. In some cases, wireless mice can also interfere with other wireless devices nearby. Furthermore, wireless mice require batteries, which can be a drag if you forget to buy some at the store. If you’re planning on using the same mouse for both work and home, you run the risk of losing the tiny USB receiver for your wireless mouse.

On the other hand, wired mice are cheaper and easier to use since you simply plug it in and you’re good to go. The only problem you’ll have to worry about is dealing with tangled wires. So when you’re deciding on a new mouse, think about whether you’re looking for comfort or convenience.

Ergonomics matters

You’re going to be using the new mouse for a while, so it’s important to choose a mouse that feels comfortable in your hands. When deciding on the right mouse, focus on the size and the grip of the device. The size of the mouse usually comes down to the individual’s hand size. For example, someone with smaller hands might find larger mice quite unwieldy. Certain mice can also accommodate for different types of grips:
  • Fingertip grip: With a smaller and flatter body, this mouse allows you to control the entire device with just your fingertips. This type of mouse usually provides you with more precise control of your cursor. However, it doesn’t give any room for your palms to rest on, increasing the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. Avoid using this grip unless your work requires a lot of photo, video or sound editing.
  • Palm grip: Palm grips are the complete opposite of fingertip grip mice. With a bump at the back end for your palms, this type of mouse reduces the stress on your forearm and wrist. This grip sacrifices precision for comfort so people prone to repeated stress injuries (RSI) should definitely opt for this type of grip instead.
  • Claw grip: This type of mouse is usually the one people are most accustomed to. Named after the shape your hand makes when you hold this type of mouse, claw grip mice give you the best of both the palm grip and the fingertip grip. Like the palm grip, your palms can rest on the mouse but this type of grip also gives you a bit more control. While the palm grip is still the most ergonomical mouse, the claw grip gives a good balance of both comfort and precision.

Do more than right and left clicks

Don’t just assume that extra buttons on a mouse would mean that it’s only meant for gamers. Extra buttons add more functionality to your mouse. For instance, you can assign your spare mouse buttons to Copy and Paste so you’ll no longer have to input keyboard shortcuts. Want to switch between open windows quickly? You can assign the Alt + Tab (for Windows) and Command + Tab (for Mac) to those mouse buttons. While this isn’t a requirement when picking a new mouse, it’s definitely a neat feature that will save you some time.

DPI (dots per inch)

For precise movements, higher sensitivity is a must. Whether you’re editing images, videos or audio files, you’re going to require more precise mouse movements to execute them well. If you ever had to move your mouse around because your cursor was stuck, then a high sensitivity mouse can solve your problems. Try looking for mice with 1200 DPI or greater for finer control.

Mouse specifications could be the last thing on your mind when it comes to buying new hardware. But comfort is important. A good mouse with the right fit, can make you more efficient and reduce the risk of injury. If you need some help setting up the best hardware for your company, give us a call. We’re happy to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
April 25th, 2016

2016Apr25_InternetSocialNetworkingAndReputationManagement_CMost people are still impressed when they see a LinkedIn profile with 500+ connections. It gives that person authority in their industry and shows they’re a valuable member of the business world. In other words, 500+ connections can help sell you and your business. So how can you reach this coveted number? Here are some tips to get started.

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 18th, 2016

2016Apr18_Productivity_CMost business owners are quick to think that utilizing mobile devices automatically leads to more productivity. Unfortunately, this is not always true. A poor mobile device policy can actually lead to burnout and see your employees become overwhelmed by technology. Here’s how to avoid these pitfalls and get the most out of mobile devices in the workplace.

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_CIn the 21st century, personal computing is with us wherever we go. This is all thanks to the proliferation of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. These devices allow us to take work home with us. And, with bring your own device (BYOD) strategy, businesses have never been so productive. However, BYOD poses a number of security risks if you’re not careful. What are these problems? How are they caused? Here are some BYOD security risks you should know before implementing it in your business.

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 6th, 2016

2016Apr6_Hardware_CSo your computer just crashed. Our condolences. When your PC displays a blue screen and spontaneously restarts your computer, this is called the Blue Screen of Death (BSoD). These errors are usually caused by internal failures in your hardware or, sometimes, your software. That’s all well and good, but how can you troubleshoot these problems? Before taking any actions to fix your computer however, you’re going to have to do some detective work and pinpoint what part of your system caused the crash.

Find out what caused your BSoD

The next time you get the blue screen, don’t panic. This is just an alert to prevent further system damage to your computer and to indicate the cause of crash. The most important part of the blue screen is the error name which displays messages like “Driver_IRQL_not_less_or_equal”. For Windows 8 to 10 users, this information is usually displayed at the bottom of the screen. For troubleshooting advice, a memory dump containing details of your latest crash can be found in Event Viewer > System > Windows Logs and click any messages indicating an error. Under the General tab you will see a full report of your latest crash -- this should be given to an IT technician so they can help you further.

Fixing the problem:

Update your drivers

Crashes are generally caused by problems with hardware or the driver software that is allowing that specific hardware to run. If you’re getting frequent blue screens, try to recall any recent changes you have made to your computer. Have you recently installed a new driver for an external device? You can also check if any drivers are conflicting by going to Control Panel > Device Manager. If you see a warning icon on any of the devices, there is something wrong with the device. Chances are, specific drivers are either outdated or weren’t properly installed.

To update, simply search online for your specific computer manufacturer and install the drivers provided in their list. Remember to only install the drivers that apply to the specific model of your device and your operating system. For example, if your operating system is Windows 8, only download Windows 8 related items for your specific model.

Other hardware problems

BSoD can also indicate hardware problems. Running very intensive programs that your CPU can’t handle will cause your computer to overheat and eventually crash. If you use a laptop, try to keep it on flat surfaces and away from fabric material as this could block the fan vents and cause your laptop to overheat.

Your RAM could also be faulty. Check if it’s attached to your CPU properly or go to Windows memory diagnostics to find out if you’re straining your RAM.

System restore

Using system restore will allow you to undo any significant software changes that are crashing your PC. To restore your computer to a previous time, go to Control Panel > System and Security > Backup and Restore then click on Recover System Settings for your Computer. From here you can select a restore point to a date where you think your computer was not experiencing frequent crashes.

Check for viruses

Some types of malware can cause instabilities in your operating system causing your PC to crash. If you are aware that your computer is infected with a virus, try running antivirus software. However, make sure you’re not running two antivirus software at the same time while you’re doing this. Both programs can conflict with each other and, in some cases, cause system crashes.

Clean reboot

This option is your last resort if none of the solutions above work. For Windows 8 or 10 users simply go to Settings > Update and Security > Recovery then select Reset this PC. If your computer is still getting frequent blue screens then it would be best to go to an IT consultant and have them look over your hardware.

The Blue Screen of Death is one of the biggest problems your company’s hardware is going to face. Consider using any of the above solutions to fix your blue screen and hopefully everything will be back to normal. If you would like to know more about any general hardware advice, or if you have any concerns regarding your IT, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
April 5th, 2016

2016Apr5_Facebook_CSimply getting a ‘Like’ on your post is not enough anymore. It doesn’t give you any other useful data and you can’t immediately tell what people feel about your post. However, with Facebook reactions, you can be getting just what your company’s social media page needs. Reactions allow people to quickly express what they think about your post with five new emoticons. But how can you use this to get more exposure and engagement? Here are five tips for you to consider if you want to effectively use Facebook reactions for your social media campaign.

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_CWhen purchasing new technology, how often do you consider its return on investment? For many business owners, calculating ROI is a tricky task that is sometimes skipped altogether. It shouldn’t be because if IT isn’t saving you money, it’s costing you. Here’s how you can gain a better understanding of technology ROI and how you can calculate it in your business.

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 29th, 2016

2016Mar29_Security_CAs companies go to the Internet to conduct their business, their IT security becomes more vulnerable to many hackers and viruses. That’s why it’s even more important to recognize whether or not your systems are under threat from malicious software to swiftly fend off the infection. So how do you know if your company’s IT security is under threat? Here are a few warning signs to tell if you are a victim of malware infection.

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_CWith technology changing so rapidly, it’s easy to get caught up in outdated beliefs. And when it comes to Disaster Recovery, far too often do we see business owners still clinging to ideas that no longer apply. So, what kind of DR myths are still widely accepted by the masses? Here are three that need to be retired into IT folklore.

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