There’s a long list of improvements that technology has delivered, but a major downside is cybercrime. The theft of digital information has become the most commonly reported type of criminal fraud. Surprisingly, the theft of digital information has actually surpassed physical theft. When Sony was recently hacked they stole 100TB of data – everything they could find – emails, movies, passwords, & payroll information.
Cybercrime: A Big Danger for Small Businesses
While financial institutions and large companies have been strengthening their networks against attacks, cybercriminals have begun targeting less well-defended small businesses. Small businesses are attacked everyday, it just doesn’t make the news like a massive data breach at Sony or Target. If you aren’t convinced that it’s a major problem, the following information based on a 2013 survey conducted by the US National Small Business Association:
- 44% of small businesses have been victims of cyber attacks. The average cyber attack costs a small business $8,700.
- Business must often pay to notify customers of a data breach and also pay for credit monitoring for customers with compromised information. Companies are potentially liable for damages in lawsuits brought by customers with compromised information.
Protect Your Clients and Your Business
Computer Troubleshooters offers the following recommendations to increase the security of your network and to safeguard your clients’ valuable personal and financial information:
- Cybersecurity Awareness: Awareness, education and training is actually the first line of defense when it comes to protecting your business and clients from cybercrime. Establish a cybersecurity plan and policies for employees that requires the use of passwords; guidelines for handling
- Secure Your Wi-Fi Network:You must password protect access to the router on your network. A common misconception is that simply having a router on your network will provide the protection you need. Without a password on the router, it is like putting a door on your office but not locking it.
- Authentication and Passwords:Each employee must have unique passwords. Changing passwords every three months is recommended. Multi-factor authentication adds greater protection because it requires additional information to gain entry. When working with vendors that are handling your sensitive financial information, ask if they use multi-factor authentication. If not, you might want to work with a different vendor.
- Clean Machines:Always use the latest operating system, security software and web browser. These will provide the best protection against online threats including viruses and malware. Block spam with a reliable spam filter, plus your e-mail will be easier to manage.
- Secure Transactions:Protect client financial information from theft during online transactions by using encryption software. Encryption software also protects your business’ financial accounts, personnel files, product information and other highly sensitive data. Isolate payment systems from each other and don’t surf the internet from the computer you use to process payments.
- Control Business and Client Information:Know exactly how and where critical information is stored, how it is used and how it is protected. Administrative privileges are only for key personnel. Limit employee access to data and always use strong and individualized passwords. Also, control physical access to computers. Lock laptop equipment when not in use. Use a reliable backup system that is at compliant with your industry.
- Firewall:Consider using a reliable software firewall that prevents outsiders from accessing data on your private network. If your employees work from home, be sure that their home system is also firewall protected.
- Mobile Devices:Require users to password protect their mobile devices, encrypt their data and install security apps to prevent cyber criminals from stealing information while the device is on a public network.
Play It Safe!
You have worked hard to establish your business. Success in any business is largely built on a reputation based on the trust and support of loyal clients and customers. Don’t gamble with this hard-earned loyalty by putting your clients’ security at risk. Safeguard your business against cybercrime by taking the necessary steps to ensure the security of your clients’ sensitive information.
Computer Troubleshooters can help you fight cybercrime by strengthening your business’ network with a variety of security products and solutions to cover all areas that are potentially at risk in your business. Computer Troubleshooters can also help you to establish a cybersecurity plan and policies for your business. Give your local Computer Troubleshooters office a call and one of our technology professionals will be happy to help you.
It is easy to see the colossal mess that can quickly pile up in the office kitchen when you are busy. Just a few days of neglecting the rubbish and suddenly your office kitchen has become a health hazard. Seriously, how long has that leftover slice of Christmas cake been sitting there? Hey, there’s not a single clean coffee cup to be found on the shelf!
Unfortunately, most of us who work in an office environment are familiar with that type of kitchen experience.
In reality, a similar fate can befall your office computers. If you neglect a regular schedule of computer updates and maintenance, messy problems will soon start piling up. A disorganized office supply room or a dirty kitchen is bad enough, but never forget that your computers handle your business’ most important assets: accounting, financial records, communications and client information
Keeping It Clean – Inside and Out!
Remember that keeping the outside of your computers clean isn’t just about aesthetic appeal. Routine cleaning, especially the removal of dust, can keep your computer from overheating and damaging the hard drive and other components. It’s important.
Perhaps even more important than a dust-free keyboard, is keeping your computer’s internal “nuts and bolts” in working order. To keep your computers in tip top shape, we strongly recommend the following guidelines:
Step 1: Keep your computer up to date. Both Mac and Windows release regular security updates for your operating system. These updates are generally set to run automatically. If you aren’t sure if the updates are complete or if you have disabled the automated updates, follow these guidelines:
Windows : Go to the Start Menu, click on All Programs and then click on Windows Updates. See the status of your updates and check on the automatic updates settings. You can set your computer to download and install updates or you can perform these tasks manually.
Mac : Open the Systems Preference menu and choose Software Update. All available updates will appear on a list. Select the updates you want to install.
Step 2: Clear your Internet history or over a period of time data builds up to a point that can cause performance issues. Use the tools that come with your Internet browser of choice and following the required actions:
Internet Explorer: See the Internet Options control panel and click Delete on the General tab under the Browsing History. Firefox: See Firefox menu and open Options to click the Clear button to erase cookies and cache data. Chrome: To clear data, hold Control and Shift and click Delete. This will open a menu where you can select the data you want to erase. Also click on Clear Browsing Data when you are done. Safari: Clear the browsing cache by using the Edit menu then select Empty Cache.
Step 3: Malware is a type of program that can create security holes and compromise your computer’s performance. Call a Computer Troubleshooters professional to learn about a variety of both free and paid programs that are designed to erase malware and spyware. One of the best ways to avoid malware is to never download anything you are not sure of, such as a mysterious attachment that comes from an unfamiliar e-mail address.
Step 4: Defend your computer against malicious viruses with a powerful antivirus program. Having an antivirus program on your computer is a necessity. While no program can guarantee you will be safe from every possible threat, not having this protection or having a low quality product exposes your computer to the likelihood of infection. To avoid losing important data or having to pay for expensive repairs, talk to your local Computer Troubleshooters about your security needs.
Step 5: Hard drive maintenance is an automatic task provided on most recent computers. It defragments and reorganizes data storage for greater efficiency. It also handles disk cleanup by deleting duplicates and unused temporary files. This process is typically automatic on a Mac. With Windows, if your computer doesn’t provide automatic hard drive maintenance, use the Start Menu to open and run the maintenance program.
Step 6: Now that your computer is running more efficiently, be sure that the computer has a reliable backup system in place. There are many different options for backup solutions that are both reliable and affordable. Call your local Computer Troubleshooters to discuss the available solutions that best fits your needs.
Take Care of Your Valuable Assets with Regular Computer Care and Maintenance!
Your computers are one of your business’ most valuable assets. Try to imagine getting through even one day of business without your computers functioning. Take care of your computers so that you can take care of your business. Regular computer service, maintenance and updates will keep your machine working at optimal efficiency. Computer Troubleshooters can help you with malware, virus protection and backup solutions or help to establish a regular maintenance schedule for your office computers. Give your local Computer Troubleshooters office a call and one of their technology professionals will be happy to help you.
It is the season for thunderstorm activity across Australia. Recent storms have caused havoc with IT equipment in office & homes for our clients. Last week’s storm in Sydney fried computers, printers, cable modems and backup external drives, let alone more expensive business equipment such as servers. No one who got equipment fried actually got struck by lightning, so why did they lose multiple pieces of equipment in one wild storm and most importantly how do you stop it happening to you or your business.
Most technology depends on a clean, uninterrupted supply of electricity. Unfortunately, inconsistencies in your electrical supply or a sudden complete loss of power can cause major damage to computer systems and other sensitive equipment.
Electrical supply is subjected to ‘brownouts’, surges and even complete outages. ‘Brownouts’ are momentary slumps in supply, to a level under 100 volts. They are frequently caused by electrical storms, creating a momentary drain on the power supply. Brownouts can affect a computer even if the voltage dip cannot be ‘seen’ (e.g. the lights in the room dimming). And if they don’t crash your PC, they can cause stresses that can shorten the life of its components.
Surges of power often follow brownouts as the power rebounds back to normal, and can have similar effects caused by too much voltage. Surges are common in areas where lines are hung on poles that are exposed to lightening, while the lightening may not hit the line the storms electrical activity is enough to cause variations in the voltage.
What devices will protect my systems from electrical issues:
• Surge/power filters or protectors are designed to ‘fail’ and cut the offending power supply before it damages your equipment. A direct lightning strike or similar condition will destroy any surge/power filter, but it will indicate that it has lost protection and may still have some protection in reserve until it can be replaced. A surge/power filter is designed to ‘self-sacrifice’ itself, and is low cost compared to some other alternatives.
• An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) sits between your power outlet and your electronic device, providing backup power from its batteries when the mains supply fails. This gives you time to safely save open files and initiate the computer’s shutdown process, this particularly important for servers.
Additionally, most UPS’ regulate the power that comes from the wall, eliminating sags, spikes, noise, and other electrical interference that can damage equipment and data or interrupt operations.
A couple of common questions about power protection devices:
• If I have a UPS, do I need surge protection? Yes – International standards don’t require UPS’ to have surge protection, so they don’t have a high level of protection as this would increase their cost and make them uncompetitive. They are designed to handle the end of a major surge, not the whole surge itself, so the UPS device itself also needs adequate protection from surges. It’s much cheaper to replace your failed surge protector than your fried UPS.
• How long can things run on a UPS during a blackout? Well, there is no standard answer, as UPS solutions are available to support devices from anywhere from five minutes to two days. There are also several types of UPS, namely Standby, Line-interactive, and On-line, which have different features (and associated costs). Typically, you should plan on enough run time to allow you to save any open files and safely shutdown your system, a definite requirement if you run a server.
In many cases, power protection can be justified by looking at the consequences of not having it. Several hours of professional work can be lost with just one brownout, due to a computer crashing before the work can be saved to disk. The consequences can be even more devastating if the power interruption physically damages the saved, historical data on the computer’s disk. This can cause a business to suffer expensive setbacks in terms of time and disruption, even if the data can be restored from a recent backup.
Prevention is always better than cure and for a small investment in electrical protection hardware you can make sure you don’t get fried in the next thunder storm.
Talk to your local Computer Troubleshooter about how power protection can help to prevent you from losing valuable time and money.
Microsoft has investet heavily on Office 365 as the way of the future for software licencing and it clearly turned out to be a winner! Both the consumer and business markets are enthusiastic about Microsoft’s Office 365 based on its user-friendly flexibility, effective communications and online productivity solutions. Have you thought about transitioning to Office 365?
Does Your Technology Support the “Time is Money” Viewpoint?
Advances in technology have enabled small and local businesses to participate in the global marketplace by maximizing productivity; delivering enhanced communication capabilities; providing affordable
e-marketing; and offering efficient customer service. It’s becoming increasingly common for small businesses to have user-friendly websites; online catalogs; call centers; customer relationship management tools (CRM); and streamlined inventory management systems. Technology is now primed to wring every ounce of efficiency and productivity out of a business to keep it one step ahead of the competition.
How Can Office 365 Benefit Your Business?
If you are an individual user or a business owner managing a team of employees, Office 365 offers many benefits including:
- Work Whenever and Wherever: Access your Office tools from anywhere on any device. Create and edit Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote files and share with your team using cloud-based file sharing. Even the Small Business edition can support up to 25 users. All editions provide great storage capacity for your data. You can also use Office 365 with your desktop version of Office.
- Email and Calendar: Sync your email and calendar with Office 365’s hosted business class email system. Stay in touch and on schedule with instant messaging. Secure and private communications are delivered across various devices with anti-virus and anti-spam protection.
- Easily Manage Your Website: With easy to use DIY online tools you can quickly make changes to your website. You can add your existing website, domain name and domain-based email address to Office 365 without any additional web-hosting fees. Make a great impression by taking control of your website and keeping it up to date.
- Online Conferencing: Take advantage of HD video conferencing for online meetings with desktop sharing. Save time and travel hassles with efficient online meetings that offer real-time note taking features.
- Mobile Apps: View and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files on your mobile device. When you return to your office, you can easily reconnect to these files from your computer with intact formatting and content. No time is lost when you can start working where you left off.
- Subscription Advantages: Save money upfront with the subscription service format. You can pay by the month with the ability to cancel the subscription at any time. You can easily upgrade your subscription to another edition or bundle services within a service segment. No need to purchase new versions of software ever again.
Is Your Business Ready to Take Advantage of Office 365?
You can reshape the way you are doing business by reshaping your workforce. Office 365 offers a range of advanced tools that enables your employees to be productive anywhere and at any time across a range of devices. Gain the competitive edge for your business by boosting the collective performance of your employees through Office 365’s powerful cloud-based solutions.
Embarking on the Office 365 journey requires guidance so give your local Computer Troubleshooters office a call today and one of our technology professionals will be happy to discuss how Office 365 can benefit your business
Your computer provides you with a lot of assistance in planning vacations and other trips throughout the year. Remember the hours you spent on various websites looking for the perfect vacation destination? How about all of the online comparison shopping you did to find the ideal Hawaiian resort? Remember that awesome discount deal you scored on those air tickets? How could you have planned your summer trip without your computer?
It is 2014, and we all know that every business should have a backup (and a recovery plan) for their most critical data. The reality is that over 40% of Small and Medium Sized Business do not back up their data at all, and that 60% of backups fail when tested!