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July 1st, 2015

In the book Spam Nation, investigative journalist and cybersecurity expert Brian Krebs revealed the single most effective (and relied upon) way cybercrime rings gain access to your bank account, credit cards and identity. Ready for it? E-mail.

Whether it’s opening an attachment infected by a virus, or a phishing scam where you unknowingly give up your login to a critical web site, e-mail still remains the most popular and reliable way digital thieves can rob you blind, steal your identity and wreak havoc on your network. Worst of all? You’re INVITING them in! While there are a number of things you need to do to protect yourself, here are five pieces of information you (and your team) should NEVER put in an e-mail.

  1. Your social security number. Think of this as your “bank account” number with the government. You should never e-mail this to anyone because it can be used to open credit cards and steal your identity.
  2. Banking information. Your bank account numbers, routing number and online banking login credentials should never be e-mailed. Further, avoid sending a voided, blank check as an attachment to an e-mail.
  3. Your credit and/or debit card information. NEVER update a credit card via an e-mail! If you need to update a card with a vendor, there are two safe ways to do this. The first is to log in to your vendor’s secured site by going to the URL and logging in. Do NOT click on a link in an e-mail to go to any web site to update your account password or credit card! Hackers are masters at creating VERY legit-looking e-mails designed to fool you into logging in to their spoof site, which LOOKS very similar to a trusted web site, to enter your username, password and other financial details, thereby gaining access. Another way to update your account is to simply CALL the vendor direct.
  4. Login credentials and passwords. You should never share your passwords or answers to security questions with anyone for any site, period.
  5. Financial documents. An ATTACHMENT that includes any of the above is just as dangerous to e-mail as typing it in. Never e-mail any type of financial documents (or scans of documents) to your CPA, financial advisor, bank, etc.

 

Remember: Banks, credit card companies and the government will never ask you to click a link to provide them with any of the five items above. If you get an e-mail requesting you to update any of the above information, there’s a good chance it’s a phishing e-mail from a hacker. Don’t be fooled!

June 30th, 2015

Productivity_Jun17_BStaying productive is crucial to keep up in today’s competitive business environment. But while it’s one thing to acknowledge the idea, actually keeping productivity high is another story entirely. And while you might seek expert advice, the truth is that a lot of it doesn’t in fact work. To that end, let’s take a look at some false productivity tips and how to fix them.

Don’t check email first thing in the morning

What’s wrong with this when it sounds like such a good tip? Well, reading and responding to email can derail your entire morning. Your ten minutes spent reviewing emails turns into half an hour, and suddenly you’re late for work. And in many industries you simply won’t have the time in the morning to go through every single email and find out what has been happening overnight.

The fix

You should check your email first thing in the morning but make sure not to respond unless it will take you less than a minute. Something that requires a simple “yes” or “no”, or that can be forwarded to someone who can take care of it for you, is fine. But for anything else that requires research or a longer response, mark the email as “unread” and go back to it later when you have more time. You can also add it to your to-do list so you’ll be sure to check it later. Skimming emails in the morning is a particularly good use of commuting time even if you can’t respond right away, plus it can help you prepare for your day by giving you an idea of what lies ahead.

Tackle the hardest task first

While this sounds reasonable, in most cases your hardest task can really set you back time-wise. Plus, without proper planning in terms of the time, resources and energy you need for it, tackling the hardest job first might end up deflating your hopes of a productive day.

The fix

Instead of starting the day with your most difficult task, build your confidence by starting with something smaller and easier. Simpler tasks will help get your momentum going and ease you into a productive mode. You could also cut that difficult project into smaller bite-sized to-dos, so you can tackle them individually without burning out.

Make one to-do list for everything

While it’s a good idea to get everything out of your head and down onto paper, having just one go-to list for all the things you need to get done is a huge mistake. Why? It can be quite the headache to pick tasks off a never-ending list. Once you see that long list, you’re more likely to be demotivated before you even get started on a task.

The fix

Write everything you need to do onto a list, then rewrite your list into specific, actionable tasks. Break your lists up into a work list, home list, side project list and so on. Having multiple lists that detail the specifics of what you need to do makes it easier for your brain to digest all this information, instead of having to wade through numerous things that you can’t possibly do all at the same time. Keeping your lists separate will help you stay focused on what really needs to get done first.

Stop multitasking

You’re already really busy doing just one thing, so it’s a bad idea to risk compromising the quality of your work by multitasking, right? Wrong! In today’s fast-paced world, you multitask without even knowing, whether it’s by listening to music while working, or when you’re reading an advertizing billboard while walking along the street.

The fix

Be selective with what you choose to juggle! For instance, walking and listening are two tasks that complement each other, whereas it can be too hard for the brain to split itself between simultaneously typing and listening.

It’s important to keep in mind that just because something is named “the best advice” doesn’t mean it’s best for you. Looking to find out more about how to boost productivity in your business? Give us a call; we’re sure we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity
June 30th, 2015

164_Mic_BAre you the type of person who uses one master password for all your web logins, or do you have dozens of individual ones named after your favorite sport teams or muscle cars? Whichever you are, either scenario comes with drawbacks. Have only one password and you’re left feeling anxious it might get stolen. Have several and you may constantly forget them and be unable to login. Wouldn’t it be great if all these passwords just went away! Well, they actually just might. Windows 10 is working on making it possible.

The problem with passwords

The problem with passwords is simple - they can be stolen. And from Facebook to iTunes to Flickr and thousands more, nearly every major website and thousands of niche ones require a password to use. And because we Internet users are logging onto dozens of these sites and services everyday, it’s virtually impossible for us to create a unique, complex password for each one. So people resort to using only a handful of passwords, or even just one master password, since it’s easier. But of course, this poses a security risk. So what’s an Internet user to do?

Microsoft Windows 10 is pioneering a new technology that is ready to flip this dated system on its head and eliminate the password problem for good.

Login to your devices with biometrics

Passwords can be stolen easily, but how easy is it to steal a person’s physicality? Microsoft’s new technology, named Hello, uses biometrics - such as your fingerprint, or face or iris scan - to log into your computer, laptop or other device. This ensures that no one can login to your device but you.

Well, what about using a photograph to login instead, you might ask? It won’t work. Using technology that takes a detailed map of your face in 3D, Hello is trained to reject the token photograph or selfie on login attempt. This makes it virtually impossible for anyone, besides you, to login to your device.

Use biometrics to login on the web

Logging into your computer with biometrics is great, but what most users really want is a more secure solution to login to websites while not having to remember a bazillion passwords. This is where Microsoft’s Passport comes in. Passport allows you to login into applications and online content without the need for a password. For example, instead of using your typical password to sign into your Microsoft Windows Account, you can now use Windows 10 facial recognition (or other biometrics) to log you in instead. That means you can access Skype, Xbox Live, Office 365 and more without a standard password. In addition to your Microsoft Windows Account, you’ll be able to use the biometric capabilities of Passport to access thousands of enterprise Azure Active Directory online services. Bear in mind, though, that it will be quite some time before you can use Passport to replace all your standard logins, since not every website has implemented this technology yet.

Want to hear more exciting Windows 10 news, or need assistance with your Windows device? Get in touch with one of our technology experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 29th, 2015

Windows_Jun18_BFollowing the let-down that was Windows 8, Microsoft is keen to impress - so much so that it’s skipped number 9 and jumped right to Windows 10. Now the new operating system’s release has been confirmed for July 29, and Windows-based small businesses are clamoring to try out its impressive new features. Here is the rundown of the things you need to know before you spend your summer upping the ante with Windows 10.

You can get it for free

They say the best things in life are free, and that might just be the case with Windows 10. Microsoft has kept its word about making its newest operating system free to access - at least if you’re currently running an authentic version of Windows 7 or 8.1, its two most recent releases. You’ll enjoy a free lifetime upgrade to Windows 10 provided you make the move within the next year and, better still, it’s an automatic upgrade directly from your existing Windows 7 or 8.1 interface. If you’re running an older version of Windows, you’ll need to make a fresh install and you’ll also need to pay - the various available versions of Windows 10 are expected to retail starting at $119.

It’s being launched in phases

Although the official release date is July 29, in reality Microsoft is expected to undertake a phased launch. This means that you might not end up using the brand new Windows 10 on July 29 itself - instead, Microsoft is likely to make the new operating system available to desktop and laptop users first, and only later to mobile and other devices. What’s more, the firm already has its next move in the pipeline. Upgrade and update plans for Windows 10 are anticipated to be on the way in two phases, in June and October 2016. But we are expecting these changes, codenamed Redstone, to come in the form of more minor tweaks to the Windows 10 infrastructure rather than a full overhaul.

It’s the last you’ll see of Windows

Microsoft has made no secret of the fact that it sees Windows 10 as the operating system’s final release. But that’s not quite as ultimate as it sounds - this is not really the end of Windows. Instead, what we’re seeing is the transition of Windows from a product to a service. Microsoft envisions a future where, instead of major new versions of Windows emerging every few years, there are regular improvements and updates - far beyond the WIndows Updates that we know at the moment.

It’s likely that version numbers will come to play far less of a role in system updates in the future - in much the same way as mobile apps operate, we’ll instead settle into enjoying a frequently updated service that incorporates the latest features Microsoft has developed. And while some have expressed fears that this could lead to home and business users being tied into a subscription model in order to stay up to date, Microsoft appears committed to ensuring that ongoing upgrades are free.

Ready to make the leap to Windows 10? Want to find out how best to make the transition with minimal disruption to your business? Give us a call and let us walk you through it.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 29th, 2015

BusinessContinuity_Jun25_BData is essential for running an organization, and it is certainly the central component of any business continuity plan. Without immediate and constant access to data, your business will come to a grinding halt. Worse still, in the event of a disaster you could risk losing valuable data if you don’t have a backup strategy in place. Backing up data should be at the top of your list of priorities, so here are some devices you can use to protect your data.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to data backups. You’ll want to consider the pros and cons of each of the backup devices below before making a purchase.

USB stick

USB flash drives are basically miniature hard drives that you connect to your computer using a USB port. The drives are extremely cheap, with prices depending on their capacity. They’re also portable, and can be used to backup information from several computers to the same drive.

Although USB sticks are highly convenient, they’re still not a complete backup solution, and are best suited for intermediate backups, such as storing file recovery programs or critical business documents.

External hard drive

An external hard drive is perfect when used as backup storage media. It has the lowest cost per gigabyte when compared to the other backup devices out there. External hard drives use the same plug-and-play functionality as USB sticks, so you can plug the drive into your computer and immediately start selecting the files you want to backup. The transfer rate is also very fast, and you can backup a large amount of data within seconds.

One of the evident drawbacks of using an external hard drive is that you’ll need to update your backups on a regular basis, or else new files won’t be included. There’s also the risk of the device being stolen or misused. For instance, a colleague may take your drive when you’re away from your desk, or a disgruntled employee may copy all of your important business files and take it with them when quitting.

Network attached storage

Network attached storage, or NAS for short, is a dedicated device with its own IP address. It can be used as a multimedia server, and can function as an email or lightweight database server. NAS offers data redundancy, meaning it will generate a backup of your backups, so you can ensure your files are fully protected.

The main downside of NAS is its inability to scale beyond the limits of the system; you have to purchase additional hard drive bays when you need more capacity. You also have to take full responsibility for data security if you’re implementing NAS.

Cloud storage

Cloud storage is becoming more and more popular among businesses of all sizes, due to its many benefits such as allowing users to access data anywhere on smartphone devices, as well as enabling you to work with the most current hardware and up-to-date software. It is also affordable, since you’ll only have to pay for what you use. What’s more, cloud computing is very convenient, because your service provider will take care of the installation, management, and maintenance processes.

On the downside, some cloud service providers don’t employ sufficient security measures on their systems, so your data could be exposed to potential cybersecurity threats. This means that it is not always the ideal solution for companies dealing with very sensitive data - medical practices and law firms, for example. Predicting costs can also be hard; if your business is growing rapidly, then you might find you have not adequately planned for incremental costs.

Choosing the best system for backup is a critical decision that will impact your business on a daily basis. There are trade-offs among backup devices, which is why you need to choose the solution - or solutions - best suited to your business. Contact us today and our experts will assess your company’s needs and provide the best backup solutions for you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 26th, 2015

HealthcareEMRGeneral_June15_AGovernment officials are determined to see that every healthcare institution has electronic medical record (EMR) systems, but many physicians are still reluctant to implement them. While EMR possess many useful features to help streamline healthcare processes, some people find the whole system overly complex and feel that they could take good care of patients even without it. But when implemented properly, EMR serves as a great tool to preserve critical medical information and increase workflow efficiency. With that said, there are a number of challenges that you need to overcome if you want to reap the full benefits of EMR.

Challenge #1: EMR is breaking your budget

It’s no secret that the cost of purchasing and installing EMR is huge. This includes hardware, software, implementation assistance, training, support, and ongoing network fees. In fact, the cost of EMR is the number one reason why many healthcare institutions haven’t yet made the switch. But the benefits of EMR are numerous, and greatly outweigh the cost of implementation. If you find EMR costs to be beyond your budget, you should make a thorough assessment of your needs, and consult with vendors to develop economical EMR solutions.

Challenge #2: EMR doesn’t fit with workflow

Some medical institutions may find that, even after careful planning and implementation, EMR just doesn’t provide the functionality they need. Imagine a scenario where you have invested a substantial amount of money in the technology, but are unable to use it to its fullest potential. Yet you can avoid this problem by putting more time into the planning process. Instead of making rushed decisions, ask potential vendors to provide an in-depth demonstration of the features and functions of EMR. It’s also wise to have your physicians and staff test-drive it, and provide some feedback, prior to the purchase.

Challenge #3: Training employees is difficult

Scheduling EMR training sessions for your employees can be a challenging feat, given the amount of work they already have to contend with on a day-to-day basis. The whole program might even be overwhelming to them, so much so that they shut their minds to the training completely. The solution is to designate key employees who are prepared to dedicate their time and effort to get to know all about EMR, and who can serve as ambassadors for the technology and as a resource for physicians and other staff members.

Challenge #4: Physicians resist using EMR

Some physicians simply refuse to accept new technology, either because they don’t believe in its capabilities, they’re convinced that their way of doing things can produce better results, or perhaps because they’re intimidated by it. Once again, you need to identify a superuser who can encourage others to adopt EMR and feel more comfortable about it. A peer-to-peer approach will work best in this situation.

Challenge #5: EMR doesn’t meet Meaningful Use requirements

It’s hard to keep up with regulations, and in particular the requirements to comply with Meaningful Use. Sometimes even vendors fall behind, which means you risk facing penalties for not meeting obligations. The best way to address this is to assign someone to communicate with vendors regarding Meaningful Use requirements and deadlines, so you don’t miss a step.

If you’re looking to implement EMR in your healthcare business, get in touch with us today and we can support you from planning right through to implementation.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 24th, 2015

There’s nothing quite as devastating as losing a key employee, especially if they give you no warning or notice. Often they’ll give you subtle signs such as a lackadaisical approach to work, arriving and leaving on time, not a minute sooner or later, long lunches or suddenly having several appointments at the beginning or the end of the workday. But one of the biggest giveaways is their Internet behavior at work.

We already know that employees spend personal time at work on Facebook and other social media sites; but you know something’s going on if they’ve added monster.com, Craigslist, LinkedIn and other local job sites to the web pages they frequently visit.

That’s ONE of the reasons we recommend our clients install an Internet monitoring software for their network. Not only will it reveal when employees are looking for work somewhere else, it will also alert you to employees who are wasting HOURS on social media, gambling, shopping and other non-work-related web sites. It will also prevent employees from accessing porn and file-sharing sites that could bring on a BIG lawsuit or nasty hacker attack.

While some people fear this is too invasive, keep in mind that you are paying those employees to perform a job with company-owned devices and company-paid Internet. We’re not suggesting you monitor their personal devices or what they do after hours on their own time. But it’s perfectly reasonable to expect an employee to put in a full 8 hours if you’re paying them for their time.

Of course, you should provide notice that their computers are being monitored and set the expectation that you want them working during company hours; you should also detail what employees can and cannot do with company-owned devices in your Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). If you want to give them the ability to check personal e-mail and social media sites during work hours, you can limit it to 30 minutes a day during their lunch hour or break. Again, we don’t recommend this since this can be an easy gateway for viruses and hackers—but these options are available.

Need help designing an employee monitoring system on your network? Give us a call. We can help you put together an Acceptable Use Policy and put the right software in place to enforce your policy.

June 23rd, 2015

164_browsers_BIt’s time to roll over Google Chrome, Firefox and Opera. There’s a new browser in town, and it’s ready to make some noise. Its name is Edge, and Microsoft’s new wonder child is loaded with features that may just be set to revolutionize the way you browse the web. Excited yet? You should be. Edge may turn into your browser of choice in the not too distant future.

With Windows 10 launching later this year, Microsoft has a new browser packaged with it. Formerly known as Project Spartan, you can test out a beta version of this browser as part of the Windows Insider Program. But if you’re not ready to jump on the bandwagon and try it just yet, here are three reasons why the world is getting excited about Edge.

1. Speedy browsing

A major reason Internet Explorer made surfing the web as slow as a tortoise was the support of legacy technologies such as ActiveX, Browser Helper Objects and others. Now, without the excess baggage, Edge is operating at a speed eons better than its predecessor. What may come as even more of a surprise is the fact that in recent tests it also outperformed both Chrome and Firefox in terms of speed.

2. Features, features, and more features

There are tons of cool features Edge offers that are sure to get anyone excited. From the Reading View function that allows you to view content without any ads, to the Annotation feature that enables you to write notes on a web page and share them with friends or colleagues, Microsoft appears to be set on pushing boundaries and wow-ing users with their focus on the future of internet browsing.

3. There will be extensions

If you love the extensions that Google and Firefox have on offer, you can let out a long sigh of relief. Microsoft Edge will have extension capabilities as well. And even better, you can “steal” extensions from Chrome and Firefox and use them on Edge too. Bear in mind, however, that extensions will not be available right away.

Is Edge the real deal?

While it may have felt like the creators of Internet Explorer were spending more time napping than updating their browser for the 21st century, this appears not to be the case with Edge. In a recent post on the Windows blog, the Microsoft Edge team wrote that “improving performance is a never ending theme” when referring to Windows 10. It seems Microsoft is now committed to staying current, which didn’t really feel true with Internet Explorer.

Want to learn more about Microsoft Edge and other browsers? Curious to discover the best browser for your business? Let’s talk. Call us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic browsers
June 19th, 2015

BusinessIntelligence_Jun9_BBusiness intelligence (BI) involves the use of a variety of software and applications to analyze a company’s raw data, and present it in a way that’s easy to understand and enables effective business decisions to be taken. But in reality, many businesses fail to have an effective BI strategy in place, causing them to lose large sums of money. Here are five common BI mistakes you need to know, so you can take deliberate measures to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Not defining business problems

One of the biggest mistakes in BI implementation is jumping to conclusions too soon without first identifying what your business wants to accomplish. When it comes to integrating BI into business operations, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution. Looking for a single BI tool to solve all analytics problems is one of the main reasons many BI projects fail.

You need to clearly define the business problem you’re trying to solve, and understand the specific tools required to solve those problems. Only then will you be able to select and purchase the BI tool that best suits your needs.

Mistake #2: Not getting buy-in from end users

Even the best BI tools are ineffective if they’re not properly utilized. Forcing your employees to use newly purchased BI technology without informing them or hearing their thoughts beforehand is a big mistake.

Instead of telling employees they have to use something, first focus on highlighting the benefits of the new BI system. Help employees understand why they’ll want to use it, and convince them by showing them what they stand to gain from the new BI technology.

Mistake #3: Rushing implementation

A rushed deployment of new technology is often times not a successful one. When it comes to deploying BI solutions, patience is key. If you hurry into BI implementation too quickly, your end users may not have enough time to develop the skills required to use the software effectively.

Take an incremental approach to implementing BI solutions. Make a list identifying business problems and, rather than expecting to solve every business problem all at once, try to prioritize specific outcomes you want to achieve. When you have solved the first issue, move on to the next one and so on until you have incrementally solved all the problems on the list.

Mistake #4: Insufficient training

New BI systems are complex structures that require a lot of training in order for users to make the most of them. If users lack the skills necessary to operate the software, then bottlenecks can occur. The product may be left dormant for long periods of time as users wait for experienced IT staff to resolve teething problems.

Spend wisely on providing ongoing training, so that users really understand how to use the system. Consider hosting weekly lunch sessions where a different aspect of the BI system is discussed. You could also provide online training videos that enable users to learn more about the new system at their own pace.

Mistake #5: Not making use of information and reports

BI tools are designed to analyze raw data and turn it into valuable information that can be used in business decision making. But some organizations fail to exploit the information fully - it is not shared, not analyzed, and not acted on. BI software can generate reports on various data points, identify risks, and predict trends. It’s important to leverage the information gathered and to apply it to your business’s objectives and goals.

Business intelligence software is a highly useful tool that, when used properly, can drive your business forward. Avoid these mistakes in order to make the most of your BI solutions. If you’re looking to implement BI tools to your company, contact our experienced consultants today and see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 17th, 2015

1. Your Team Needs To Learn Together

Rarely do teams learn together. Too often, increases in skill are confined to individuals. Sometimes that can become a barrier to teamwork: because there are dramatically different knowledge and skill levels, some team members aren’t able to keep up. When an individual attends a course or discovers a useful practice, he or she should be encouraged to share it with the team. And periodically putting the entire team into a learning environment is critical.

 

2. Peer Recognition Is Powerful

If you’re a team leader, understand that despite your best efforts, you will be incapable of adequately recognizing every team member’s efforts and contributions. Good work will slip by and go unrecognized. If this happens often, the team member may well become disillusioned. Relieve yourself of the burden to be the sole dispenser of recognition: ask team members to recognize each other. Make it a team expectation to thank other team members for their assistance and to look for opportunities to catch each other doing something praiseworthy.

 

3. To Win More Together, Think Together More

Have you ever held a team retreat? When was the last time your team came together for the express purpose of thinking about the work you do? Do you periodically pause as a group to reflect on what you’ve learned and internalize the lessons? Do you meet to consider opportunities, and not just to solve problems? The team that thinks more wins more.

 

4. You’ve Got To Expect It And Not Tolerate It If You Don’t Get It

Some managers, knowing how difficult it can be to create great teamwork, undermine their efforts by making teamwork “optional.” That is, they appreciate the people who are good team players but they tolerate those who aren’t. As the old adage goes, what you allow, you condone. Those on the same team should know that figuring out how to get along and work with other teammates is their responsibility. Those who refuse to be team players should at the very least not enjoy the same benefits, and at worst, should be removed. It might sound harsh, but it is necessary if you want teamwork to work.

 

Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE, is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio dedicated to developing leaders in business and in life. Mark is an international best-selling author and noted authority on leadership, team-building, customer service and change. Mark is the author of 8 books, including the best seller The Fred Factor: How Passion in Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary, which has sold more than 1.6 million copies internationally. Learn more about Mark at www.marksanborn.com