Blog

June 1st, 2015

Security_May27_BData breaches are all too common and, without adequate protection, every business is at risk of external attack. In fact, it’s never been more important to ensure your organization’s policies and procedures are foolproof, and that you have contingency plans in place should something go wrong. Google just made that easier for Drive for Work users, by adding physical Security Keys to its safeguarding toolbox. Here’s what you need to know.

Google already offers security precautions like two-step authentication, which provides additional protection by requiring you to enter not only your password but also a one-time code received by SMS or similar. This is a crucial weapon in the fight against hackers, since weak usernames and passwords are still be the primary reason for accounts being breached. Security Keys now take things one step further, strengthening your Google Drive account’s coat of armor to an even greater extent.

The Security Key is a physical USB device that is plugged into your computer, and which sends an encrypted signature, instead of a password or other code, to verify your identity and permit you access to your Google account. Crucially, Security Keys are inexpensive - starting from around $6 per unit - and require no additional software for deployment, use or management. Administrators have the ability to track when and where each key is used, as well as being able to disable them if lost and issue backup codes to allow staff uninterrupted access even if they do misplace their key.

Simplifying the login process is also a key part of what Google has tried to achieve with Security Keys. To that end, the first time you use your key to access your Google account on a particular computer, you can opt for Google to remember that device. On subsequent occasions you can quickly sign in using only your password, and without requiring either your key or a two-step authentication code. You can still sign in using your key on other machines, and if a hacker tries to access your account without your key they will also be prompted for a two-step verification code (which, unless they have access to your cell phone, they shouldn’t be able to provide).

Security Keys aren’t an entirely perfect solution, though - there are some significant limitations to the technology. For one, you can’t use them on mobile devices, since they require a USB port to work, and they only allow you to access your Google account through the Chrome browser. Windows, Mac OS, ChromeOS and Linux operating systems are all supported, but if you’re working from your phone or on a browser other than Chrome then you’ll need to continue using two-step authentication. Google says you can mix and match different methods of verification, opting to use Security Keys where they are supported and two-step verification otherwise (or if you don’t have your key with you).

What’s more, only Google Drive currently supports Security Keys - it’s not yet possible to use them with Google Apps, for example. But, while the technology is primarily targeted at Google Drive for Work users, it’s possible to link a single key to multiple accounts, meaning you can use it to access both your work and personal Google accounts. Some users have also queried how much of a safeguard the technology really provides in the absence of an additional PIN code or fingerprint authentication being required for activation, suggesting that a stolen Security Key could be used to access a computer that a user has previously asked Google to remember. But Security Keys do appear to offer at least some additional protection, which will be of comfort to businesses handling sensitive data.

Give us a call to find out how to employ Security Keys and other technology solutions to bolster your protection against network intrusion and data breaches.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
June 1st, 2015

BusinessContinuity_June1_BUnforeseen disasters can strike at any time and, when they do, your business could come to a grinding halt. A business continuity plan could prevent this from happening by securing your precious business data at another location. But all too often, data backup can be too complicated for the average IT personnel to manage. Should you get hit by disaster, a lack of proper data backup could mean the end of your business - all the more reason to integrate cloud hosting in your data backup strategies. Here’s why the cloud is better than internal backups.

Better uptime

Backing up to an internal drive or an external hard drive won’t completely secure data. If someone steals your computer, you lose the hard drive and the backup. Natural disasters or man-made errors will also likely destroy your backups. Your company could face expensive downtime if your backups are lost or damaged. With cloud-hosted backup, however, things are different. The entire purpose of a cloud backup is to make sure your data is available when you need it. Top cloud service providers will offer redundancy, which means they will make a backup of your backups. This increases uptime and ensures optimum levels of data availability.

Fast resource provisioning

When backups are being implemented, spikes in user activity or cloud environment accessibility can rise rapidly and slow down a website or other running systems. This is where a cloud hosting provider comes in. By closely monitoring user activities, providers can see spikes either before or as they are happening. The provider will provision more resources and virtual machines to manage the influx of users. This type of flexibility is particularly useful for when data backups are in process.

Backup frequency

Most companies work on files and update information throughout the day, so it’s important to have a real-time backup plan ready in case an unexpected disaster occurs. When you backup data to the cloud, you will no longer have to worry about managing the frequency of your backups. Most cloud-hosted providers offer hourly, daily, monthly, or other fixed backup frequencies, while others let you set your own backup schedule. Some of the services offered by these providers will back up files as you make changes, so you’ll know that the very latest version of files and data are always backed up.

Distributed infrastructure

Cloud-hosted backup literally means the delivery of data backup to users all over the world. Selecting the right type of cloud hosting partner is equally as important as having a cloud backup plan in the first place. If international users are trying to access database or download applications through your business website, latency will become a factor - the closer the user is to the data, the faster they’ll be able to access information. A suitable cloud hosting partner will be able to provide backup servers at the location that best suits your company’s business continuity needs. Distributed infrastructure is beneficial if you’re looking to support a large number of worldwide users.

Businesses everywhere are utilizing cloud backup solutions - don’t be the one left behind. If you’re looking for a managed cloud backup service to protect your business data, give us a call today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

May 29th, 2015

164_B_iPhoneIn our fast-paced, interconnected culture where nearly everyone is equipped with a media device, privacy is becoming a valuable commodity that’s harder and harder to retain. And if you’re an iPhone user and business owner who’s oftentimes on the go, you may be texting confidential information on on a daily basis that, if made public, could have a negative impact on your company. Don’t let that happen. Here are three easy steps to take to ensure your iPhone text messages are kept private.

Turn off message previews

Have you ever accidentally left your iPhone on your desk while taking a bathroom break? When your phone is left unguarded in a public place, this is a golden opportunity for a passerby to glimpse a confidential message on your phone’s display. Here are the steps to take to prevent this from happening. Click on the following:
  1. Settings
  2. Notifications
  3. Messages
  4. Show Previews (turning it off)
With the preview setting off, you’ll still be alerted to a new text message. The only difference is that not a single line of said message will be viewable if someone sneaks a peek at your display.

Automatically delete texts

If you lose your phone or it gets stolen, there’s always the chance of it falling into the wrong hands. When that happens, you don’t want your sensitive or valuable information exposed to a stranger.

To avoid this nightmare scenario, there’s an easy solution to ensure your messages are deleted automatically after a designated time period of your choosing. Follow these steps for this additional security. Click on:

  1. Settings
  2. Messages
  3. Keep Messages
From here you now have the option to keep your messages for 30 days, a year or forever.

Turn off read receipts

When the word “Read” appears under a text message you’ve sent, this is a read receipt. It informs you that the the receiver of the text has seen your message. This works both ways, and also alerts the person you’re messaging with that you’ve read their text as well. So, why would you want to turn this off?

Maybe you don’t want to respond immediately to a client or colleague who is corresponding with you via text. If that’s the case, you may not want him or her to know that you’ve seen their message and are waiting to respond. In this scenario, turn off your read receipts and whoever it is you’re texting with will never know you saw their message.

To turn off read receipts, click on:

  1. Settings
  2. Messages
  3. Send Read Receipts (turning it off)
With these additional privacy measures in place, you can rest assured that a confidential text message will never be seen by the wrong person.

Want more iPhone tips or need a technology question answered? Don’t hesitate to give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic iPhone
May 29th, 2015

VoIP_May29_BTechnological developments have greatly changed the way we communicate with one another. The introduction of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) has revolutionized communication all around the world, allowing us to make calls over broadband Internet with little to no expense. Recently, Facebook has introduced video calling from within its Messenger app. Here’s a quick rundown on the social media giant’s latest innovation.

Facebook first introduced desktop video calling in partnership with Skype in 2011. But now, with the launch of video calling in Facebook Messenger, there’s no doubt that Facebook and Skype have parted ways.

Today, Messenger has approximately 600 million users, and the new video chat feature will likely reel in even more people. Messenger already offers people the ability to make voice calls around the world, and video calling will expand its real-time communication features. This will enable people to reach out to others whenever and wherever, making Messenger’s video calling function a powerful tool.

How it works

Video calling in Messenger will be available today for iOS and Android users in most parts of the world, with more regions to be added in the coming months. The new video chat feature is simple to use. You simply engage a conversation with a friend in Messenger, and tap the camera icon at the top of the screen to start video calling. The call uses your phone’s front camera by default, but you can also switch to the back camera when you want to show off your surroundings to your correspondent.

Connectivity

Messenger will adjust the quality of your video call according to your Internet connection. Facebook will notify you if the connection weakens to a point where video won’t work, and you can simply switch to audio VoIP. What’s more, it’s free! You will only be charged for data use by your mobile operator, which you can avoid by using a Wi-Fi connection. The one thing that sets Messenger’s video calling apart from its competitors is the way it allows you to turn off your video feed to increase the other person’s video quality. This way you can give your friends extra bandwidth if what matters is you seeing their surroundings, not them seeing yours. The Messenger team has made an enormous effort to try crunch the data needed for video calling to make it as small as possible. So despite an imperfect mobile connection, Messenger’s voice and video quality will remain strong.

What next?

The current VoIP video calling feature of Messenger is in its early stages of development. Messenger only allows one on one video calls at the moment, but Facebook may develop and add group conference calling in the near future. The tech team is also working on a bunch of secondary features to expand Messenger’s capabilities and to improve the user experience.

Overall, Messenger’s new video calling feature is a great addition from Facebook. It allows for spontaneous conversations rather than scheduled occurrences. People can text messages to each other in Messenger, then switch to video call with one tap - it’s that simple.

Effective communication is also important for businesses. If you’re looking for VoIP solutions to simplify your company’s communications, contact us today - our tech experts can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP General
May 26th, 2015

BusinessContinuity_May26_BEven with a business continuity plan in place, the success of an organization means more than safe and secure critical data. It is crucial that business owners make sure they can take care of their most important asset — their employees. To that end, here are five business continuity mistakes to avoid in order to ensure your employees’ peace of mind.

Mistake #1: Assuming your employees will be there to support you

Companies that survive unexpected incidents are the ones that thought about their employees’ needs. It is important that your management team are aware of the business continuity plan’s SWOT analysis, which examines the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats you face in a disaster. Review and obtain formal management sign-off on the SWOT analysis and have your management team make decisions in advance about actions that require expenditure.

Review decisions on paying all employees during a period of business interruption for a minimum period of time. Communicate your strategy and message to your employees to let them know that you will be there to support them and their families in the event of a crisis. This way, your employees will have peace of mind knowing you and the company are there for them, and in turn they will be there to support you.

Mistake #2: Using only words, not actions

Once you have your business continuity plan documented and your SWOT signed off, you need to think about the small stuff to ensure your plan is executable. This includes logistical considerations like food, travel and living requirements, medical aid and monetary support.

Walk the walk and ensure your medical providers have made arrangements in advance. Have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) in place to make sure your employees have access to people who can give them support in the event of an incident. Staff will remember if you provided them with care and support, and will remember even more clearly if you didn’t.

Mistake #3: Not showing your employees how the plan will work

While many business owners worry about downtime, they overlook the fact that explaining the plan and its execution to employees is critical to minimizing lost productivity.

As part of your maintenance program, include your employees as well as your security, medical and EAP team in the testing process. Execute a live test where various providers can demonstrate their capability to support your employees. This way, your employees will know that you care and can have faith you will be able to support them when the tables have turned.

Mistake #4: Not dealing with your employees first

When an incident occurs, the first assessment most businesses make is to determine the impact it has on the company. But how do you execute that process without people? When disaster strikes, your employees will naturally want to be taking care of their families, not your business.

Ensure your crisis management team addresses the people issues first. Where are they? What do I need to do for them? Are there any special employee needs I must address? After having accomplished this, you gain the ability to show your people that you’re in control and that you truly care.

Mistake #5: Reacting rather than communicating

In the event of a disaster, the most important thing to get right is communication. It is imperative that your employees know you can provide them with the most up-to-date information.

Set up a toll-free hotline so your employees can call in for regular updates, or create an open forum where your employees can tell you what you could have done better and what failed. With that, you provide consistent messaging and you can eliminate second-hand information and employee guesswork, while gaining insight into what could have been improved.

If your business continuity plan takes into account that your employees are your biggest assets, you’ll have peace of mind knowing the core of your organization is still standing strong even if the worst should happen.

Looking to learn more about business continuity and how it can help your business? Contact us today and see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

May 25th, 2015

HealthcareIT_May25_AHealthcare institutions today are increasingly opting for mobile devices to increase their employees’ productivity and collaboration, and to deliver better patient care and customer service. Yet the benefits come with the potential risks of data breaches and threats. Without proper security measures in place, hackers could steal patients’ healthcare data and use it for personal gains. Protecting patients’ information is a must for your healthcare organization - here’s how you can secure healthcare data.

Encrypt data

Data encryption stops hackers in their tracks of stealing information. When you set up connected device systems with service providers, whether it’s cloud systems or data transfer channels, make sure that data traffic of the device and its software application is encrypted when communicating your institution’s private networks and those of your outsourcing providers’. Personal healthcare information can be compromised during the collection and transmission processes. Encrypt data to protect information from being stolen.

Protect passwords

When setting up a system, connected devices are automatically deployed with default usernames and passwords, most of which are all too familiar for attackers. After setup is complete and before critical information is collected and transmitted, you should change the password immediately. Also, the connected device network shouldn’t be configured in a way that exposes authentication credentials in your institution’s network.

Authorize devices

Privacy protection can be strengthened by securing device and authorizing permissions. The devices should be configured to prevent data from being accessed or removed by all others except the authorized device holders. Restrict devices from accessing data beyond its intended operation, and set up permissions so that the generated data can only be accessed by an authorized person with a need to handle the information.

Inspect personnels

One of the loopholes in healthcare data security lies in employees. Former employees - both of your healthcare institution, vendors and its subcontractors - can be the source of unauthorized disclosure. Check for potential data breaches regularly, detect and repair the damage before it spreads. Additionally, issue security policies and watch over your current employees to ensure good personnel practice. This is especially important at the network administrator level, since that manager holds the key to your healthcare data.

As a healthcare business owner you should enter into agreements with your IT service provider to ensure the connected devices and network system is up-to-date and protected by multiple layers of security.

If you want to learn how to protect your healthcare institution from hackers, get in touch with us today - our cybersecurity experts are on hands to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

May 25th, 2015

164_Biz V_BRunning a business is time consuming. You likely are so busy managing staff, looking for growth opportunities and satisfying your clients that you have little time to search for technology solutions that can benefit your business. Even worse, you may be so frustrated with your current IT system that you make an impulsive technology purchase that causes more harm than good. To help you avoid this pitfall, we’ve listed five IT investment mistakes every business owner needs to be aware of.

Investing in the newest technology instead of the best fit

It’s the job of every marketer to make you believe the newest technology on the market will resolve all your problems. And while the latest cloud or virtualization offering is likely to make things better for many individuals and organizations, it isn’t going to work for everyone.

Don’t let the flash and hype of a new product deceive you. Take the time to think about the results you’re trying to achieve with technology. Make a list of them, and when you’re done match those criteria with the product that fits. Any good IT provider will be happy to serve as your consultant to ensure you make the best choice.

Believing everything will magically work together

As technology evolves, it is inevitably becoming simpler to use. Consumers want user friendly products and solutions that are easy to implement, and nowadays that’s what they’re getting - at least most of the time. Because of this belief that all products are going to be plug-and-play, many business owners hold the misguided assumption that any new technology they implement is automatically going to synchronize with their other IT. It is simply not true.

Though many technologies are compatible with one another, your business is taking a big risk - that could result in massive downtime and wasted money - if you implement a new tool that doesn’t integrate well into your current system and workflow. Be smart, do some research or consult with an IT professional before making a purchase.

Assuming your team doesn’t need support and training

Now that you’ve found the perfect fit technology and you’re sure it will integrate into your current IT setup, you go ahead and purchase it. You let out a sigh of relief as you kick back and let your sparkly new IT solution power your company to new levels of success and profits in a SMB “happily ever after” fantasy. Sound too good to be true? That’s probably because it usually is.

Don’t forget that not all of your employees are going to instinctively know how to use the new technology. Consult with your IT provider to see if they offer support and training. If not, you may want to look elsewhere or find an alternative solution before you buy.

Forgetting to create a budget

More and more IT solutions are packaged with pay-as-you-go monthly pricing. While this is a great way to help you avoid large upfront capital investment, if you implement too many different technologies too fast - and without thinking about the recurring costs - you could quickly run out of money before having properly created a complete technology platform.

Think about what you’re comfortable spending on IT before you open your wallet. Do some research, and either draft a budget on your own or acquire the assistance of a consultant to help you along.

Failing to get staff input

It’s wise to consult with the employees who will be using the new technology you implement, on a daily basis. It’s even wiser to do it before you purchase it.

The truth is that not all of your employees may be on board with the new product. They may actually even know some downsides to it you weren’t aware of. Regardless, it’s smart to consult with them beforehand, or you may find yourself in a constant fight getting them to adopt it.

Need to consult with an IT professional to create a complete technology solution for your business? We’re happy to serve you in any way possible.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

May 25th, 2015

SocialMedia_May25_BSocial media marketing is one of many effective methods to expand your business’s reach to a wider group of audience that could eventually turn into potential customers. When we think of social media marketing, our thoughts immediately turn to Facebook. Yet there is another alternative social media platform worth looking into - Twitter. As a small business owner you should leave no stone unturned, so consider using Twitter to market your business and drive more customers. Here are some Twitter best practices.

Tweet regularly

Consistent tweeting indicates an active, healthy profile. If you only tweet only once a week, or worse still once a month, most of your followers will forget about you. You’ve worked hard to get them to follow you, so make an effort to keep them engaged by interacting with them on a regular basis. Make sure you tweet relevant or useful information, content your followers will read, retweet, and favorite. Come up with a tweet schedule and refer to it when you’re running out of ideas.

Follow trends

It pays to stay on top of the latest happenings in your industry. Try to put your business in the light by following relevant hashtags and trending topics. This way you’ll always have something new to share with your followers. Add trending hashtags to your tweets, in order to reach new users that have similar interests.

Use visuals

People tend to understand visual content more than text. You should try to create a dynamic experience for your Twitter audience by adding different types of media to your tweets, such as images and videos, which are proven to receive more views, clicks, and shares than plain-text tweets.

Retweet great content

Don’t be afraid to retweet when you see something worth sharing with your followers. Retweeting somebody else’s Twitter content has its own benefits - you create a good relationship with other influencers on Twitter, and it shows your followers that you’re an active member of your online community.

Track mentions

Know what’s being said about you by tracking brand mentions and keywords. This is a great method to provide distinctive customer service or to reach out to new customers. For instance, when someone is tweeting feedback on your products or services, take the opportunity to respond politely. And when you see someone tweet about their needs for a specific service you can provide, jump in to the conversation and introduce your company.

Integrate with other marketing efforts

Twitter is much more effective when integrated with your other marketing activities, such as email subscriptions. For example, if you’re running a promotion or contest via Twitter, let your email subscribers know about it, since they are another customer base who want to receive messages from you - that’s why they signed up in the first place.

If you want to implement Twitter to your business’s social media marketing campaigns, get in touch with us today and we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
May 22nd, 2015

iPad_May22_BAccording to Apple, its iPad sales are on the decline, down to 12.6 million units from 16.4 million a year earlier. The tech giant has responded by unveiling a new advertising campaign that’s built around the tagline “everything changes with iPad”. The new ad highlights the many ways that each of us can use the tablet to assist in our daily life activities. Here’s what you need to know about Apple’s latest marketing campaign.

Why iPad sales are declining

The iPad’s initial sales growth has been in steady decline over the past few years, and there are many reasons behind it. For one thing, tablets aren’t like smartphones. More consumers are opting to buy bigger-screened iPhones, such as the iPhone 6 Plus. In addition, consumers usually hold on to a smartphone for a certain period of time, and then upgrade to a new model that promises better performance and new features. Tablets, on the other hand, have a much longer replacement cycle, with fewer advances in each new model release. They are usually passed between family members, reducing the need for new purchases.

“Everything changes with iPad”

Determined to turn things around with this new slogan, Apple has presented the new ad in a 90-second video displayed on its official website. The film shows adults and children using the iPad to assist with a variety of tasks - from cooking to picking up new hobbies, traveling, redecorating, learning, and communicating with loved ones.

Apple went a step further to promote its ad campaign by creating a dedicated marketing micro-site, and pooling in popular iPad apps like Green Kitchen, MailChimp, Google Maps, and Pinterest. These pitch pages provided solid reasons for us to consider buying an iPad - the argument being that it can change the way we do things every day. To cap it all, they have included a “Why iPad?” section, outlining the key features of an iPad and providing more justification for consumers to purchase one.

A deeper look into the iPad micro-site

Let’s take a closer look at Apple’s dedicated micro-site. It highlights the capabilities of an iPad to make the user’s life easier in many ways.
  • Cooking - If you need inspiration for out-of-the-box recipes, the iPad’s Green Kitchen provides you with creative ideas from some of the best chefs. Cooking is made easier with iPad apps that are able to show you a detailed recipe of your choosing, or instructions to make the most of the ingredients you have at hand.
  • Learning - Children can benefit and learn from interactive games that engage them through sight, sound and touch. Whether it’s visual puzzles, basic programming, stargazing, or academic lessons - the iPad has them all.
  • Small business - The iPad offers an array of productivity apps, allowing you to do business anywhere, anytime. From managing business appointments to tracking projects and making online payments, the iPad has opened new possibilities for business owners.
  • Traveling - The iPad could be a traveler’s new best friend, with its ability to book hotels and flights, display routes without the need for an Internet connection, and provide entertainment with its music and movie apps.
  • Redecorating - House decoration has never been easier. With the iPad, you can create an accurate floor plan without a tape measure. You can find fresh ideas from Pinterest to lighten up your rooms. DIY projects are also a breeze with the iPad’s step-by-step guides.
Apple is expecting an increase in revenue following the launch of this new iPad commercial. If you want to learn how to best implement the iPad into your office, give us a call today and we can help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic iPad
May 22nd, 2015

InternetSocRepMngmnt_May22_BHow often do you use your favorite search engine to check on a company’s products, services, and feedback before dealing with them? That’s exactly what most people do these days - they research a company and see what others have to say. The same thing applies to your business. If you have a bad online reputation, you’re going to feel it hit your bottom line hard. Managing and maintaining your online reputation is therefore as important as having one in the first place. Let’s take a look at the reasons your business needs a positive online reputation.

Trust and credibility

Trust and credibility are two important factors and could either make or break your business’s online reputation. If you can over-deliver on your customers’ expectations, there’s a good chance they will spread the word about their experience - and that’s great for your business. Take the time to earn your clients’ trust, and you’ll be rewarded with a strong brand image that will attract more potential clients for years to come.

Increased sales

Customers are more likely than ever to research brands, products, and services online before they make the decision to purchase. Make sure you have social media accounts ready, and ask your existing customers to follow you. Post regularly about your products, along with other valuable content related to the nature of your business to grab your customers’ attention. Personal interaction with customers is a great strategy to boost sales, so don’t let their comments go unanswered - see that you respond in a timely manner to every one of them to show that you value their business.

Online insights

Today, it’s very common to see negative feedback on a business’s social media pages. If things aren’t addressed properly, a negative comment or review could be the start of your business’s downfall, since they spread like wildfire online. By establishing an online presence you will gain a valuable insight into what your clients and competitors are saying about you and, if it’s something bad, you can step in and rectify the issue before it goes viral.

Show your best side

Potential customers are online right now, researching your company before doing business with you. Some of them don’t know you well enough to make immediate decisions, and so will judge your business on the basis of the information that is available to them. Whatever the products or services you provide for customers, once the feedback appears online, it sticks. This is a chance to present your company in a good light to attract more customers, which converts into increased revenue.

Always remember that it can only take a few seconds to destroy a brand’s online reputation that took years to build. Contact us today for advice on how to build an online reputation for your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.