We often tend to be creatures of habit, particularly when it comes to technology. Passwords are a prime example. Many of us use the same logins for multiple websites and applications because we don't have a photographic memory. A large percentage of users aren’t aware that this is one of the most significant security dangers they can face online. It has a simple fix too.
Regularly, in the news today, there are stories about major companies being hacked, their customer data stolen, and their customers left stranded. Hackers commonly use data stolen from one site to access others where login credentials have been reused between accounts. In some cases, access to bank accounts has been gained simply by using a compromised email account.
Businesses and individuals can face significant losses simply because a third party outside their control has been hacked or compromised.
The Danger Of Old Passwords
MySpace is a key example of why old and possibly forgotten services pose a security danger when passwords haven't been regularly changed. Once a thriving popular network, the use of MySpace services declined drastically from 2007 onwards. While many people moved to new social networks, old accounts typically remained abandoned on their servers. Hundreds of millions of accounts remained on MySpace servers many years past the firm's peak.
In 2016, MySpace suffered a data leak which exposed usernames, emails, and passwords of 360 million user accounts. Shortly after the hack, these details were published online for anyone to see. Many were used to access email accounts, servers, and accounts that shared the same details.
Even if you have never had a MySpace or social media account personally, how many of your employees or coworkers have one or more? Many have had more social media, forum, or game accounts than they care to remember. Have their passwords been updated since 2016?
Your business network protects your systems, work, and intellectual property. For many firms it's the single most critical component, the backbone to business operations. Keeping it secure regardless of the number of people, staff or clients using it is a crucial task.
Consider how many people currently have access and how many of those may reuse their password on another website or service. Just reusing your password once can expose you to the hacking of a third party entirely out of your control.
Good security practice is to use a unique and strong password for every login you use. A strong password should include, where possible, capital letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and character symbols. Many consider this impractical or even impossible, but it is entirely achievable for every firm.
It is clearly impossible to manually remember a strong password for each one of the dozens of logins needed today. Few would even attempt to. A password manager makes storing, retrieving, and using unique passwords easy.
When using a password manager, an individual is required to remember only one single strong password to access a database which contains a different login password for each service. This database can be synced between multiple devices, saved and backed up to the cloud, and even used to create strong passwords for you.
Password managers can be used to implement security policies that demand zero password reuse, between services or over time, and set strict limits over the duration a password can last. With the right policies in place, both your business and your employees are protected against attacks from hackers that have compromised third-party sites.
The maximum recommended lifetime of a password for any service is a single year. There's no time like National Password Day to refresh your passwords and start new.
To help keep on top of your security and make sure your accounts are safe, give us a call at 262-515-9499
The pandemic has changed the world. More people have been pushed online in new ways, and for senior citizens this can be particularly challenging. Even registering for a COVID-19 vaccination requires going online in many countries. Plus, social gatherings and other appointments have gone virtual. Don't add to a seniors' social distance. Here's how we can help seniors with their technology needs.
Think of all that has moved online in 2021:
It’s not that these things weren’t using technology before, but there were other options. Now, seniors may need to get online to take part in weddings, funerals, or baby showers. Thus, it’s essential that they have the right tools and know-how to log in and connect virtually.
Another problem? The senior is stuck at home and can’t go out to get computer help the way they might have done before. Meanwhile, family members may not yet be able to visit to help out.
How We Help Seniors with Technology
Socially distancing can have an especially negative impact on senior citizens, and factoring in a technology barrier doesn’t help. A managed service provider can help seniors tackle tech challenges. With their coaching, the senior can connect confidently and securely.
To stay in touch with family today, the senior has many online channels available. They can get on Facebook, use FaceTime on a mobile phone, start a video call on their desktop, or send an email. They also might play online games with family members, or join a watch party on a streaming service such as Amazon, Hulu, or Netflix. The list goes on and on.
All this requires technology in the home. Deciding on what kind of computer to get or upgrade to can be daunting, not to mention the challenge of setting it all up and connecting it to other devices in the home … or installing a router … or making sure the software is up to date and patched to lower the risk of malware or hacker attack.
Then, once the technology is installed, the learning curve doesn’t flatten out entirely.
In our digital environment, there are so many more devices to connect to one another. Maybe the printer is wireless and connects to the phone, or the router provided by the cable service isn’t giving a good enough signal throughout the house. A residential IT expert can help with that, too.
Our IT team can also suggest software solutions to make life easier for seniors online. We can recommend ways to integrate all the technology to simplify the environment. We know about changing default passwords for cybersecurity, and we can also set up password wallets. This can help forgetful seniors who might otherwise repeat access credentials across accounts.
Connect with Our Residential Support Team
You can rest assured that you or the seniors in your life have the IT help needed to stay connected. We’re able to explain, coach, and troubleshoot at any time. As we’ll get to know the technology, we can often help faster, too, plus we can do a lot of our work remotely if that makes the senior feel safer.
Some seniors fear technology. We get it. We can address concerns about going online. We will reassure with the right precautions and by setting up a secure system. Our experienced techs are always happy to help.
Contact us today at 262-515-9499!
Most businesses are aware of the need for data backup. Without it they risk losing important files in the event of a hard drive failure or cyberattack. Yet having a backup in place isn’t enough: it’s important also to test that backup. Ensure that you are able to restore that essential data when you need it.
The many reasons to establish data backups include:
We recommend backing up in three places. You might have one on a local, on-site computer. You’d also have a backup on a remote device and another in the cloud. The cloud option gives you the most flexibility. It can be accessed from anywhere, regardless of conditions in your particular environment.
Yet while many people know they need backups, too few do recovery tests. The worst time to find out there’s a problem with your backup solution is when you need it the most.
Testing Data Backups
Regular data backups can offer peace of mind, but you’ll really know you are ready to go if you regularly test your ability to recover your system from a backup.
Testing your backup lets you verify the necessary data is available for recovery. Plus, testing helps you learn how to actually implement recovery following a data loss. If a backup test fails, you can take the steps needed to ensure you don’t actually lose valuable information. Otherwise, you’re throwing money at storage space and backup services that are no help, and you’ll find out too late.
Regular monitoring helps you keep track of any software or hardware changes that may have an impact on data backups. Via testing, you might also learn some staff members are storing data somewhere that isn’t being backed up, and you can now intervene with those employees or extend your backup protocols to prevent that data getting lost.
Scheduling data backup tests can also help you to identify a misconfiguration in the backup software or ways in which you’re not adequately addressing your backup needs. For instance, you might not have set up a complete backup in the first place. This might mean you’re backing up the data but not the settings. Most backup software will send error messages if there was an issue backing up. Still, they’re easy for an overworked IT team to miss.
Actively testing backups allows the business to confirm fallback data accuracy and effectiveness. Additionally, you’ll be able to gauge:
All of this is something you want to consider proactively. Some people say they work best under pressure, but most of us think more clearly and perform better if not in the midst of a data catastrophe.
Tech Force can help your business with data backup and recovery testing. Our IT experts can monitor for failures and make any changes needed to get the backup running properly again. You’ll be glad you did recovery testing in advance when things run smoother and quicker in the midst of your disaster recovery.
Give us a call at 262-515-9499 to correct your backups, make sure they are working the way you want to, and set up regular backup restore tests.
Buying a printer can be overwhelming. There are so many options available from different brands, and buying guides galore. Yet we still often see people with printers that aren’t the best ones for their needs. That said, we’re offering five tips to help you find the right one for you.
#1 Identify Your Needs
What are you going to use that printer for? Is it for family use? Home office use? Just as a backup for occasional documents you need to print and sign? For printing photos? For printing graphic designs? Your needs for quality, efficiency, speed, and color or black-and-white prints will influence your choice.
Different printers offer distinct perks. You may want one that prints quickly or one that is compact. Or perhaps you want one that holds a lot of paper. If your priority is photos, you may need a printer that can handle many types and sizes of paper.
If you are running your office from home, you may want to invest in a multi-function printer. These not only print but also scan and copy.
You may not even need a home printer. If you’re using your printer for photographs, you’re better off going to an actual photo printer. It’s about five times cheaper to get photos professionally printed than to color print at home. Plus, you’ll get top-quality copy every time.
#2 Don’t Settle for Cheap
Yes, it’s usually very cheap to buy an inkjet printer from the local big-box store. You may even get a free or dramatically reduced price on a printer with the purchase of your computer. That’s because they’re getting you to buy the printer so that you’ll need to take on the high cost of ink. You’ll also need high-quality printing paper if you want to avoid the ink bleed that can happen on normal office paper.
Another issue with inkjet printers? If you don’t use the color cartridges for a long while, they can dry up, which will leave partial lines on your prints, or the printer won’t work at all until you pay for a fresh, more expensive color cartridge.
#3 Consider Laser Printers
If you’ve decided you do need a home printer, consider a laser printer. Whether you want a printer that works fast or you plan to use it all the time, a laser printer is quick to start up and print. Plus, it offers high-quality results. There is a higher cost upfront, but in the long-term you could save on ink. These printers use a fine powder that doesn’t dry out due to inactivity.
Color laser printing is expensive, yes, but black-and-white printing on a laser printer can be quite cheap and effective.
#4 Read the Reviews
The manufacturer specifications will help you learn:
Still, customer and online reviews can help you find out about durability and productivity. Read both positive and negative reviews to get a full sense of how the printer will suit your needs.
#5 Let Us Help
Inkjet, laser, all-in-one, and photo printers each have their pros and cons, and there is a lot to consider. We can help you choose the right model, set it up in your home, and help you keep it going strong for the long term.
Contact us today by calling us at 262-515-9499.
Most of us know a fair amount about computers, even kids are joining circuits and coding programs in schools - but that does that make everyone an IT expert? It’s fair to say almost all workplaces have that employee who can finesse the printer or use shortcuts nobody else knows about. They have skills, absolutely, but they often know just enough to be dangerous to your business.
Hobby IT skills are learned on home computers which are very different from a professional business setup. When something goes wrong on a home computer, there’s no drastic impact if parts need to be replaced, data is lost or it stays down for a week or two. In a business setting, every problem costs time and money, usually creating a domino effect through the entire network. Would you gamble the success of your business with a non-professional who did a quick Google? It’s unlikely you’d let someone be your lawyer purely because they can deliver a stubborn argument, nor would you let someone perform surgery just because it looked easy on TV. Businesses have unique, specialist IT needs that go beyond amateur computer skills and there’s always going to be more at stake.
Designing and implementing a custom backup plan for your business is a particularly interesting area. While most home users skip this part entirely, an IT professional has seen (and recovered) all manner of situations and will use that knowledge to ensure that if the worst happens, your business is covered. This could mean anything from having a complete copy of your drive stored securely in the cloud or drilling down to backup only the most important data. An IT expert is equipped to help you identify the value in each piece of data and implement a plan so robust that if your business is ever hit by disaster or breach, downtime is minimal - along with losses.
If a disaster ever does occur, like fire, flood or theft, would an amateur know what to do? Who to call? These situations are so charged with tension and panic that making the wrong moves can lead to more damage. A professional helps design continuity/disaster plans, which map out exactly what should happen, who should do it and in what order. It takes out the guesswork and minimizes downtime. Perhaps more importantly, the expertly written disaster plan will include a complete risk analysis so that you know in advance where to strengthen your protection. It also includes a business analysis so you know which systems are dependent so you can stop the domino effect, plus know the legal/contractual impacts, financial impacts and so on.
Your IT professional will also help ensure your business is meeting any regulatory requirements. Many businesses are subject to strict data rules set by government bodies, such as FISMA and HIPAA. The regulations change often and demand increasingly more attention to data security, with hefty penalties for businesses that fall behind. Professionals are constantly in the loop around upcoming revisions and how best to comply with little to no disruption to your daily business. Part of ensuring your business is safe means staying on top of software updates and patching multiple computers at the same time.
The best option is to run the updates before employees arrive for the day, and since the process can take a few hours and be quite fiddly, it’s generally not something amateurs will prioritize. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen with recent cyber-attacks, delaying a security update by even a few days can lead to disaster. Engaging an IT professional is a cost-effective solution that keeps your business running, growing and earning.
Let the professionals manage your tech the right way by calling us at 262-515-9499
If your computer had a virus, you’d want to know about it ASAP, right?
Before your important files become corrupted, you lose your photos and your digital life is essentially destroyed. Even thinking about it is terrifying.
Tech scammers know we’d be lost without our computers, and that we don’t always know what’s going on behind the screen - which is why they’ve been able to swindle millions from every day people across the world.
The scam goes like this:
You receive a random phone call from someone with a heavy accent saying they’re from Microsoft, or an alarming pop-up appears on the screen, saying it looks like your system has been infected with a virus.
To fix the problem, they need to you to download some support software, which they’ll give you a special link for.
A technician then uses that software to gain access to your system and make it appear your system is riddled with viruses. Flashing screens, mysterious diagnostics whizzing by, fabricated errors…they’ll do or say anything to make you panic. They’ll even go as far as claiming your system has been infected with illegal content and if not corrected, you’ll face criminal charges.
Demands for credit card information follow immediately after. Once paid, they simply stop fiddling with your system to make it seem the problem is fixed. To continue the scam, they’ll soon access your system to recreate the problem, this time offering a subscription for ongoing protection.
What to Do If You’re Targeted by A Tech Scam
1. Don’t taunt them. Just hang up. Right now you’re only a phone number in their system and they’ll move onto the next – if you give them cause to target you personally, you may find yourself in a dangerous situation.
The real Microsoft will never randomly call people like this. EVER.
2. If a pop-up appears, immediately run an anti-virus scan. Don’t click the pop-up or call the number.
What to Do If You’ve Already Been Scammed
It’s okay. It feels horrible, but you’re not alone and the situation can be corrected.
Call your financial institution and have the charges reversed and your card reissued. It’s easier than you might think and helps the authorities locate the scammers.
Then give us a call right away and we’ll make sure they no longer have access to your computer. 262-515-9499
All good things must come to an end – it’s inevitable with computer software. If you’re using Adobe Flash, the day has arrived. It’s time to uninstall Adobe Flash Player.
Adobe stopped supporting Flash Player on December 31, 2020. What does this mean?
Adobe is no longer issuing Flash Player updates or security patches. The company “strongly recommends immediately uninstalling Flash Player.” The company announced the decision to bring Flash Player to end of life (EOL) in 2017.
To help secure user systems, Adobe began blocking Flash content from running in Flash Player on January 12, 2021. Major browser vendors have also disabled Flash Player from running: Safari, Firefox, Chrome, and Microsoft Edge have all stopped supporting the technology.
This renders Flash Player pretty useless. Flash was key to early Web browsing, powering interactive website elements such as animations and forms. Web developers loved it, because it saved them from offering users dull, static pages. However, open standards have matured to provide a viable alternative to Flash content. The HTML 5 standard has replaced Flash in many cases.
Adobe Flash is old, unsupported, and has unfixed security issues. It’s actively used for malware. Fake Flash Player installers have long been an effective way to deliver malware. As recently as 2020, three years after the EOL announcement, it was found that 1 in 10 Macs were infected by one prolific piece of Flash malware.
Don’t keep it on your system, and definitely don’t download versions of the Flash Play-er from third-party sites.
Uninstalling Adobe Flash Player
If you’re an iPhone or iPad user, you don’t need to worry. Flash was never supported on iOS devices. Otherwise, it’s worth checking if you have Adobe Flash Player in-stalled. You may not even remember downloading it, but don’t just let it sit there.
To check if Flash Player is installed, navigate to https://helpx.adobe.com/flash-player.html. Under Install Flash Player in five steps, the first step is to check installation. Click on “Check Now.” If it tells you “Sorry, Flash Player is either not installed or not enabled,” you’re in good shape.
To uninstall from a Windows computer, you will need to download the uninstaller found here ( https://helpx.adobe.com/flash-player/kb/uninstall-flash-player-windows.html ) to your desktop. Then, exit all browser and other programs that use Flash. Run the uninstaller to delete all Flash Player files and folders. Restart your computer, open your browser, and verify uninstallation is complete.
Mac users will download the uninstaller (https://helpx.adobe.com/au/flash-player/kb/uninstall-flash-player-mac-os.html) suited to their OS Version. You can determine your version by clicking on the Apple icon and choosing About This Mac. You then run the applicable uninstaller. After restarting your computer, verify the uninstallation is complete.
Without updates or security patches, hackers could access your system using Flash Player vulnerabilities. It can be frustrating when software reaches EOL. Even so, it’s important to be proactive. Take the precautions to keep your system safe.
Worried about downloading and uninstalling safely? We can help. Not sure what other legacy software you might have on your computer that is putting you at risk? We can help there, too. Contact us today at 262-515-9499.
We can review your computers to secure your confidential data and important info.
Many businesses were teleconferencing before COVID-19. After all, meeting virtually saves both you and your client time, and busy business owners often don’t want to spend the time to make a trip to your office. The coronavirus has hastened the move to virtual, but this approach presents some new problems, which we’ll address in this article.
First, let’s consider speed. You may have a promised internet speed such as “up to 15 Mbps.” But internet connection speed, which impacts your experience, reflects bandwidth and latency. Bandwidth is the amount of data transferred per second, whereas latency is how long it takes for that data to get from source to destination. You need both to be good to be able to handle many video calls at once. Yet a lot of consumer-grade hardware is not built for several of your staff to be on the same call with a client.
Tip: Switch to a business-grade router. Optimize its settings to ensure security from bandwidth leeches and improve signal strength.
#2 Quality of Service
Large downloads can also impact your connection with a client or team member. If you’re on a video call and someone else in the office downloads a large file, your call could lag or drop. Likewise, if you’re working from home during a conference call and your teen is playing Grand Theft Auto, that could also cause issues.
Tip: Use smart networking hardware. You can rank the activities your business values more to improve Quality of Service (e.g. configuring video conferencing to take data preference ahead of file downloads).
#3 Security and Privacy
With virtual communication, you need to be aware of security and privacy issues. For example, industries such as accountants have to consider compliance with regulations, too. Before jumping on an online call with a client, research the teleconferencing app, not only how it secures the call communication but also what it does with the data collected. Encryption is standard, but end-to-end encryption is the highest level available to you.
Tip: Depending on the app, there may be security options you are not using. They are not set up by default because they can make the software more difficult to use. Still, if security and privacy are a priority, you’ll want to make those changes.
Not all internet service providers (ISPs) are equal. Some ISPs, and the modems or routers they supply, may not be up to the task for your business.
Partner with a managed service provider (MSP) to identify the best options for your team. Perhaps high-quality internet isn’t available in your area. We can help you find a good wireless option. If the internet is unreliable, we can set up failover options to switch your traffic to 4G when necessary.
We can also help you address common issues. Our experts will find you the right hardware to handle your traffic. Plus, we can configure QoS prioritization, block some devices, and schedule activities that need a lot of bandwidth. For example, we can schedule system backups for the middle of the night when fewer people will be online.
Embrace e-conferencing advantages without losing speed, quality, or security. We can help. Contact our IT experts today at 262-515-9499!
That smile of relief when we fix someone’s technology is a gift of doing IT service. When we get a call out, we’re happy to go out (or log in remotely) to fix what’s broken. We enjoy getting our customers back up and running quickly. Who said saving the day is only for superheroes, right?
Still, as much as we get a boost out of being the hero, we’d rather our clients’ systems didn’t go down in the first place.
How can we make that happen? By adding you to our managed services client roster. So, what does managed services mean?
Fixing things when they break is reactive, whereas managed services are more proactive. It involves:
As your managed service provider, we get to know not only what’s gone wrong but also find out your goals and objectives. Understanding what your needs are, we can suggest the technology that best serves you. Plus, we might be able to help you find discounts on new software or cut costs for your home office. After all, we can identify where you are duplicating licenses or paying for more than you need.
Managed Services Make Budgeting Easier
All those services sound costly. The benefit is that you’ll pay a single, consistent monthly fee (or annual fee) for all managed services. Instead of having to handle a big financial hit when something does break, you’re already covered.
Plus, if the worst does happen, we already have a relationship. We know what’s important to you, and we focus on your needs. You’re a regular customer we want to keep satisfied rather than a one-off engagement (not that we don't appreciate those, too!).
Of course, no one can promise you’ll never get hit by a cyberattack. There are new threats every single day. But, if malware does strike, we can get you back up and running more quickly. After all, we’ve been keeping your systems up to date. So, less work needs done to clean up.
Your home IT environment is getting more complicated. Even if you’re not working from home, you probably have a desktop, laptops, tablets, gaming devices, and mobile devices. All these need secure internet access and might need data backup. Really, just connecting all your devices to a shared, secure network is a headache at this point, but it doesn’t have to be your headache. Stabilize your IT expenses and enjoy having an expert on speed dial with managed services.
If you want a higher level of IT support, we should talk about managed services. We can help keep the problems at bay. You’ll be happier. We just don’t get to see it on your face (though you’re welcome to send an appreciative email!). Call us now at 262-515-9499.
For many of us, 2021 couldn’t come soon enough, and we're hoping this year will be a better one. One way to get the best start in the new year? Take the time now to review business technology. There are several areas that you might improve to support 2021 success.
First, look at your website. In this digital age, your business website is your calling card to the world. It is where your prospects and customers will go to learn more and buy your product or service. Yet many business websites are at least a few years old. That won’t do these days. Whether you’re a B2B or B2C, your buyers are making a decision about your brand based on your website. If your website looks a decade old, they’re going to doubt you’re on top of your game.
When reviewing your website, priorities should be:
Updates in the Office Environment
Of course, there are still people who will pick up a phone and call a business. Traditional phone systems are the reliable business workhorse. But settling for a plain old phone system could mean you’re missing out on a lot. Modern digital phone systems offer you access to a wide range of useful features. With a voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) phone system, businesses of any size can get enterprise-level features.
Also in the office, there may still be employees signing in to desktop workstations running Windows 7. This operating system reached “end of life” on January 14, 2020. That means Microsoft is no longer updating the software. Hackers know that, too, so sticking with the old system could make you vulnerable to cyberattack.
COVID-19 prompted businesses that might have been putting off cloud migration to move up their timetable, but some use virtual private networks or other remote access to enable work from home. It doesn’t look like we’ll be back in the office full-time, full-force at the outset of 2021, so this is also a good time to revisit the idea of cloud computing.
Making Your Business Secure in 2021
Start the new year off right with a resolution to make your business IT more secure. This could mean embracing two-factor authentication as an upgrade to password-only authentication.
Encourage employees to change their passwords. Most people have dozens of online accounts but only two or three unique passwords. So, it’s a good idea to require your people to update their passwords regularly. That way, if a site such as LinkedIn suffers a data breach, you aren’t vulnerable because of an employee’s duplicated password.
Downtime provides an opportunity to review any long-standing IT problems and evaluate how much time or productivity was lost in 2020 while troubleshooting IT. It’s also a good idea to proactively plan your backup strategy and set up for disaster recovery. That way, if the worst does happen in 2021, you’re ready.
Keep your business secure and up to date with the help of a managed service provider. We’ll make sure you’ve got the best technology for your needs. We manage and monitor your IT tools, too. You stick to what you do best, and our experts will focus on your IT. Contact us today at 262-515-9499!
Tech Force Blog
We provide you with important, practical tips and insight for your technology and networks for both home and business.