Working from home has its advantages but can also blur the line between professional and personal time. Plus, employees may grow more relaxed about what they do on their work computer while remote. This article shares things employees should avoid doing on work computers, whether remote or in the office.
What to avoid doing when working remotely
Log in to an unprotected network
Working outside the office means you are more mobile. If you have a business laptop, you could decide to work one day in a coffee shop and the next in a public park. But in doing so, never connect to public Wi-Fi. This is an unencrypted network. Hackers can position themselves to compromise your computer.
If you absolutely must use a public network, add a layer of protection by using a virtual private network. This can help shield your browsing from anyone monitoring your online activity.
Save personal files
You spend so much time on the work computer, and you want to get a few personal things done during the day. You might even start saving personal files on the computer. Maybe you created a “my stuff” folder on the desktop.
This isn’t a good idea, because personal data could get automatically backed up to the cloud with the work files. Cloud backup is good practice for the business, but now you’re losing control of your personal information. Plus, if you leave the job, you lose access to that computer and those personal files.
Let family and friends surf the Web
Working from home changes the office environment. People want to look something up, or kids need to submit schoolwork online. And your work computer is right there! Why shouldn't they use it?
This could expose proprietary business data or sensitive information. You may think “my 10-year-old won’t know what that spreadsheet says.” Yet, especially in a regulated industry, you could be compromising compliance.
What to avoid doing when in the office
Stream personal entertainment
You have a break, or things are slow, so you decide to catch up on your favorite TV show at work. What’s the harm?
In fact, you could be making it more difficult for your colleagues to do their work. Streaming takes up bandwidth, and there is only a set amount available to your business. So, while you’re laughing at a sitcom, others are struggling. Colleagues could drop from video calls or wait longer to download important files.
Click on unrecognized links or download attachments from unknown parties
This one is well-known. It’s up there with not using simple access credentials such as “password” or “letmein.” Be wary of what links or attachments you click on or download. Cybercriminals constantly leverage human error to gain illicit access to business networks. Don’t be the weak link in your company’s security posture.
Also, avoid visiting non-work-related websites. You are more likely to visit a site that harbors malware if you are surfing the Web for personal use at work.
Download software without first asking IT
You might have a preferred way of doing things, but the business computers don’t have the software you’re familiar with. Deciding to download it to your own computer seems safe enough. It could be a well-known app or piece of software. It’s not like one of those shady downloads from the point above.
Yet downloading software to a work computer can cause problems for the IT team, as they don’t know what’s working on the systems. There could be upgrades or system updates you miss that create a vulnerability. You could also, again, risk noncompliance.
These six things should be avoided if you’re using a work computer. It doesn’t matter where you’re working, you still need to be thinking of cybersecurity and productivity for you and your colleagues.
Need help knowing what your employees are doing with work computers on- or off-site? A managed service provider can help. Learn more about remote monitoring and other helpful tools.
Contact us today at 262-515-9499.
Myth Buster programs on television never focus on business misconceptions about IT. Too bad, because believing these myths can be both costly and dangerous to your business. This article debunks seven common business IT myths.
Sometimes myths are harmless, but when it comes to business IT myths, not knowing the truth is damaging. Make smarter tech decisions with accurate information and a better understanding of IT.
Myth 1: Consumer PCs are interchangeable with business PCs.
Sorry, this one’s false. Selecting a business-grade computer can impact productivity. Don’t squander your competitive advantage by relying on consumer PCs to get the job done.
Consumer PCs are largely about getting the price point down by using lower-quality materials, whereas business computers are built to last, use higher-quality components, and go through more testing. They have business-appropriate features such as fingerprint readers or encryption tools, and better warranties and support.
Myth 2: Apple computers can’t get viruses.
Microsoft Windows users are targeted more often because there are more Microsoft users, and the payoff is bigger. Plus, Windows PCs run any program requested, regardless of danger, whereas Apple has steps in place to prevent unauthorized malware from running.
This myth is also untrue. In fact, in September, Apple released a security update to fix its phones, tablets, and watches. Victims didn’t even have to click on a malicious file to risk device infection. So, if you’re using an Apple device, go into Systems and make sure you’ve upgraded to iOS 14.8, macOS 11.6, and/or watchOS 7.6.2.
Myth 3: One backup is enough.
In the case of data backups, you are much safer taking a 3-2-1 approach to data backup. Have three data backups available on at least two different mediums, one of which should be off-site.
You might backup your data to:
Myth 4: Antivirus software completely prevents infection.
Antivirus software is valuable, yes, and your business should consistently upgrade its antivirus software. But no antivirus is going to protect your business from every threat.
Security programs do their best to keep up with new threats and vulnerabilities, but infections can spread across the internet quickly. Plus, bad guys are getting better at crafting variations to evade antivirus tools. As a result, make antivirus software only one piece of your cybersecurity strategy.
Myth 5: Cybercriminals only target enterprises.
Attacks on enterprises grab the headlines, but nearly half of the cyberattacks hit small businesses. The bad actors know that small businesses are more resource-constrained and don’t have cyberattack prevention plans in place. It is easier to go after the little fish than targeting the enterprises with IT teams as big as a basketball squad.
Myth 6: It’s OK to wait until the computer fails to replace it.
You can wait, but it’s not going to be the best thing for your business. Long before a computer fails it could be slowing down your business. Older PCs disrupt productivity and reduce employee satisfaction.
As the computer ages, you'll lose time loading applications and dealing with crashes. You may also be leaving your systems vulnerable to cyberattack if you can't upgrade the software.
Myth 7: IT outsourcing is not effective for small businesses.
Maybe you think your IT systems are too small to need ongoing maintenance or monitoring, or (Myth 5) that you’re not at risk. Yet, IT systems of any size need ongoing, consistent attention, and outsourcing can help free up your IT resources to do more value-add tasks.
A managed service provider (MSP) can monitor hardware and backups, streamline systems for speed, and keep security current. The MSP can also manage firewalls, and identify and protect against threats.
Partner with us for business IT support today! Call us now at 262-515-9499
Smishing is high up on the list of words that do not sound as intimidating or threatening as they should. Smashing the word fishing together with the “SM” for short messaging service (aka text), smishing is a cyberscam.
Especially with online shopping skyrocketing during the pandemic, delivery smishing has gained traction. Don’t fall victim to this type of cyberattack.
What does smishing look like?
You’ll get a text message that appears to be from a shipping company. You’re told you have a package coming, but that more information is needed to ensure delivery. You’ll squeal, “a package!” OK, maybe you won’t squeal, but you’ll feel the anticipation and click on the link to help deliver that package to your door.
You might already be expecting a package. After all, as recently as June 2021, PWC was describing a “dramatic shift” toward online shopping. According to its most recent consumer survey, in the last twelve months:
So, you might not think twice about clicking on a link appearing to be from a major delivery service. Don’t do it!
What happens next?
You click on the link and are asked for personal information, even a credit card number or password. Otherwise, clicking on the link will download malware onto your phone. The bad guys use their access to snoop and/or send your sensitive data to its servers, without you knowing it.
The smishing scam is a global one:
Package delivery isn’t the only common smishing tactic either. You might also see:
All that would get your attention, right? So, what do you do about smishing? That’s covered next.
Protect against smishing
Avoid getting drawn in by the urgency or emotional appeal of the SMS. Don’t click the link, and don’t call the number in the message either. Instead, look through your bills or go online into your account for information on how to contact that company.
Reputable mail carriers and financial institutions won't send text messages asking for credentials, credit card numbers, ATM PINs, or banking information.
Look at the sender more closely. A message from a number with only a few digits was likely sent from an email address, which can flag that it’s a scam.
Also, don’t store personal banking or credit card information on your mobile phone. That way the criminals can’t access it, even if they do get you to download malware onto your phone.
You can help others to not fall victim to smishing as well. Report any attempts to your telecommunications carrier or your communications regulatory body.
For more helpful information on mobile security threats and how to protect your home network from cyberattacks,
contact us at 262-515-9499
Working from home is no longer only for a few employees in special circumstances. The pandemic pushed many businesses to enable remote work. The priority was getting it working and securing access. Now that it’s routine, it’s also time to consider how you back up work from home.
Data backup creates a reliable copy of business data. An accessible, accurate backup prepares you for system failures, data corruption or deletion, natural disaster, or a security breach.
Regular readers of our articles know that we’re in favor of the 3-2-1 approach to data backup. You have three separate backups on at least two different mediums, and one is always off-site.
Yet even those with best practices in place may not have thought about work-from-home backups. Still, with so many people using remote networking, you need to take a fresh look at backup systems.
The IT team should have already set up automated backup systems for the on-site work environment, but what procedures are in place to protect data generated remotely?
Remote Work Backup RisksBackup puts important business data in a protected place to ensure a quick emergency response. Without a backup, it will take a lot longer for your business to bounce back from an IT disruption.
In the home office, or when people are working remotely elsewhere, there are new risks. Saving files locally on a home computer may mean that data is not available to others who need it. Plus, the laptop could be lost or stolen (or broken when a furry colleague at the home office knocks it from the table). The business could also be disrupted if a remote worker’s system goes down due to power outage, fire, or an extreme weather event.
Businesses in regulated industries must also store data safely on- or off-site. Medical, financial, or legal industry businesses face data storage, protection, and audit regulations. The fact that people are working from home doesn’t mean they get a pass from compliance concerns.
Backup Best Practices for Work from HomeIf your teams use MS 365, that can help with business collaboration. No matter where employees are, they can edit and share documents and other files. Tracking version history from any device also helps with data currency.
Yet this is not the same as a data backup. Set up an automatic backup of all files created on remote laptops and computers. Ask employees to back up to the cloud using Microsoft’s OneDrive, Google Drive, or another alternative.
We recommend setting up backups to upload every night in the wee hours. Backing up takes a lot of internet bandwidth, and scheduling for 2 a.m. is less likely to interfere with someone else’s Netflix binge-watching or video game play.
It’s also a good idea to get an outsider’s perspective on remote backups. You may need to manually save files to appropriate locations or to set up policies to safeguard off-site files in case of hardware, software, or security issues.
You could take advantage of remote monitoring and management, and you can test backups remotely. This also improves recovery time, as IT can restore data without physical access.
Need help backing up work from home? We can help. Contact us today at 262-515-9499
When it comes to business technology, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Managed service providers (MSPs) know this firsthand. That’s why you’ll find they make it easy to partner with them for different levels of outsourced IT. This article outlines the three tiers of MSP outsourcing typically available.
Few of us would think we could run a marathon, or even a 10-mile race, without training first. Yet the number of people who think they could successfully run a 50-meter dash jumps dramatically, especially if they were being chased by a criminal, cougar, or scary clown. Still, that short sprint would be much easier with proper training, too. So, what does this have to do with IT? A lot, actually – keep reading.
Many businesses are taking a “we’ll dash when we need to” approach to IT. The news of ransomware at a hospital or a data breach at a national mobile carrier gets them spooked, and they are immediately running to try to solve the perceived cybersecurity problem. They’ll buy the newest app or device available, because it must be the best, right? After that they plod along, not paying much attention to good security practices, until the next spike in adrenaline has them dashing to ramp up IT infrastructure again.
But anyone who tries running without stretching or putting on proper shoes knows it is painful. If not in the moment, then the next day when the muscles say, “no way are we getting out of bed today.”
In the IT equivalent, it is more effective to put effort into identifying the best technology for you. Reliable IT isn’t about dashing for that latest device or running from the newest attack – it’s a marathon. You need to be working on it continuously.
Minimize IT Risk with an Integrated Approach
Consistent practices such as ongoing equipment maintenance and patching software provide security long term. Updating IT to better address threats or improve efficiency beats a reactionary buy.
Plus, by taking the time to make considered purchases, you can be sure you buy technology that:
Think about the marathon runner who sets out a training schedule 12 weeks before the big race. They’re a lot less likely to give up or get hurt. Taking a long-term view of your IT needs offers the same benefits. You’re less likely to let it slide after the dash or experience costly downtime.
Managed Service Provider as Running Coach
If you watched the Olympics, you’ll have seen sprinter and distance runner coaches. In your push to build up your cybersecurity muscles, a managed service provider (MSP) can be a big help, too.
Partner with an MSP to gain access to IT experts. They can maintain tech, consult on upgrades, and help secure systems. Instead of paying for an urgent fix, budget around lower, predictable fees for proactive care.
Yes, we can also help you if you have to dash. MSPs have the expertise to diagnose and solve tough IT problems, but we’d much rather run the race alongside you, helping to keep your IT environment in tip top shape mile after mile.
Call us today today and stop letting I.T. dashes run you down 262-515-9499
You may not be storing military secrets or running a billion-dollar empire, but your business is still an attractive target for hackers. You need a firewall - a guard standing at the door of your network to stop the bad guys from getting in while still letting your staff come and go without interruption.
A surprising number of businesses are operating without a firewall, or with one unsuitable to the requirements of a business network. For most, it’s a risk they don’t know they’re taking because they assume all systems have built-in protections. Unfortunately, by the time the lack is discovered, it’s far too late.
A firewall is actually a special type of hardware or software that acts as a protective shield between the computers on your network and assorted cyber dangers. Data is constantly passed through at lightning fast speeds, invisible to the user experience.
Filtering: A strong firewall actively looks for known viruses, phishing emails and spam, and then blocks them before they can get in the door. Its internal knowledge of threats is updated regularly and search patterns quickly adjusted. Business firewalls also monitor data in both directions. When a computer goes online, all the data coming in and out is inspected to see whether it’s safe or not. If it doesn’t pass the test, the firewall instantly blocks it and records the details in a log.
Performance: You can use your firewall to set network traffic priorities. For example, it can make sure a Skype call gets all the resources it needs to allow for flawless video and voice quality, while someone watching YouTube videos at the same time will receive reduced resources. Rules can be set to allow certain applications to be treated as a higher priority than others, certain departments or even users. You can tailor your network performance to meet your unique business needs.
Management: Business firewalls allow you to see who’s doing what and when over your network. You can create rules for specific users, devices and times. For example, you might allow your employees to access Facebook during lunch breaks only, while at the same time keeping it completely unblocked for you or your marketing team. Thorough logs are kept automatically and can be used to troubleshoot problems. For example, your firewall logs might show that a computer inside your network connects to a third world country at 3am each night, which would certainly be worth investigating.
Connection: A strong firewall allows your remote workforce to access your servers with ease and security, while at the same time keeping cyber-attacks out. Remote work arrangements are growing in popularity and necessity, often requiring server access at a moment’s notice. You can set your firewall to authenticate the identity of users before allowing access, and create a virtual private network (VPN) that keeps any transferred data safe from interception.
We can install, configure and manage your business firewall - Call us at 262-515-9499 to start protecting your business today.
You’ll know if you’re a victim of ransomware. Often you’re met with a red screen telling you your business files are encrypted. You won’t be able to do anything on the computer, although the cybercriminals will provide helpful instructions for how to pay up. How nice. Here’s what to do instead if you’re the victim of a ransomware attack.
It’s pretty obvious when your computer is already broken, but how do you know when it’s about to break? Even before it falls into a heap and refuses to turn on, or flashes big messages about how your files are now encrypted, you’ll be given multiple hints that something is wrong. Here are the common signs your computer needs repair, sooner rather than later.
1. It’s running slow. Most people assume their computer is running slow because it’s getting older, but it could actually be a variety of reasons. A program behaving badly, a virus, overheating or even a failing hard drive can all cause a massive slow down. You might only notice it when booting up or starting a program, or the problem may have taken hold to the extent that even moving your mouse becomes torture. Sometimes the slow speed is simply due to some newer software that your hardware can’t keep up with.
2. Your system is running hot. A very common sign with laptops, running hot can be both the sign and cause of damage. Computers have fans to blow out hot air so they can cool off their internal components. At the same time, fresh air is drawn in through vents to create an effective cooling system. Unfortunately, just about every vent in a computer can quickly become clogged with dust and pet fur, essentially choking off the circulation and leaving components to overheat. Desktop computers have more space inside to circulate air, but you’ll still need to keep their vents clear. You’ll know your computer running too hot if your system shuts down frequently (safety cutout), the fan is working serious overtime, or your laptop is too hot to use on your lap.
3. Blue Screens of Death are everywhere. A classic Windows error, this is quite literally a blue screen that covers your view. The system will still be running, but something has gone wrong. You’ll be shown some text and an error code, often with Windows suggesting a restart. If a restart fixes your problem, perhaps something didn’t load properly at bootup and your computer had a whoopsie. It’s rare, but it happens. If you’re getting blue screens all the time though, that’s a sign a hardware or software problem needs to be resolved. Your computer will continue to give blue screen errors more and more frequently, so it’s best to take action as soon as you know something’s wrong.
4. It’s making strange noises. Your computer has a number of moving parts. You’ll know by now which noises it normally makes, from the startup beep to the whirring fan. When your computers starts to make extra noises...that’s when things get interesting. Fans can wear down and screech or grind, hard drives can start clicking, and in emergency cases, you might even hear a zapping noise. None of those are good! Whenever you notice a strange noise, remember your computer parts are all designed to work together and one problem could quickly become many if left unchecked.
5. It crashes and freezes. If your computer is crashing randomly, restarting without you, or freezing up completely, it’s a sure sign there’s a problem. As annoying as it might be, your computer isn’t doing this to drive you crazy - it just feels that way! You might notice it’s showing other signs from this list too because crashing and freezing are what happens when something isn’t just wrong, it’s terribly wrong. The problem could be almost anything, hardware and software both, but it’s always fixable. This is simply your computer’s final way of crying out for repair, desperately trying to get your attention and a little TLC.
Is your computer doing these things? Let us fix it for you. Call us at 262-515-9499.
There are many acronyms in the IT world. Two common ones are SaaS and MSP, which stand for software-as-a-service and managed service provider, respectively. The bigger question is what the differences are between these two and why you would need one or the other. Here’s help.
Your business may already be relying on SaaS. Some of the more widely used platforms include:
SaaS companies are booming. Businesses are relying more and more on these technologies, and SaaS spending has grown 50% in two years. Why?
Software as a Service provides customers with convenience. The companies develop, manage, and update a product to support teams such as marketing, sales, or customer service. The SaaS platform will promise greater efficiency, improved productivity, increased transparency, and more. These tools automate and streamline processes to drive revenue.
Customers typically pay for a cloud-based subscription fee. In return, they get lower-cost services, reduced time to implementation, and scalability.
What’s an MSP?
Managed services supports software, as well as your networking and hardware infrastructure. The MSP has human experts to install software, upgrade hardware, patch systems, and track security. The MSP provides all-around support for the business’s technology. This third-party firm gets to know you to help keep your business competitive.
The MSP tackles all sorts of tasks behind the scenes for your business. When your business outsources its IT to an MSP, you gain efficiencies and expertise. You are not giving up control but adding a partner to focus on time-consuming, complicated, and repetitive tasks. Meanwhile, your people can concentrate on driving innovation and generating revenue.
Businesses reap many rewards from working with an MSP. These experts can often find cost savings. Most MSPs charge a predictable monthly fee that’s easy to budget around. The enhanced expertise can also help ensure security and compliance. The MSP will also have the know-how to recommend the tools your business can enjoy most.
It doesn’t have to be either-or
Understand that you don’t have to choose between SaaS and an MSP – the two work well together.
MSPs can help you deploy and get the most out of your SaaS. In fact, an MSP can make sure your SaaS solutions work well together. They can help identify features on one platform that you’re not using. This could lead to you dropping an underutilized subscription to another SaaS.
Going on your own with SaaS means relying on each company’s IT support or asking your own in-house IT people to get to know the ins and outs of many different platforms. When you have an MSP, you pay that single provider for help instead of having to spend on tech support for each SaaS. Also, if you have a security issue, the MSP will alert you and act to cut the damage and repair the problem. The SaaS manufacturer doesn’t have the same responsibility.
Before you even get SaaS, the MSP can help guide your purchase. Your business may think it needs Slack because everyone else seems to be using it. But if you already have Teams, that could be unnecessary. The MSP learns about your business and how you work to help determine what SaaS's are right for you.
The latest-and-greatest SaaS will come and go. Your MSP can remain the same as your business changes and evolves. Providing continuity of service, they will keep an eye out for the new SaaS you can adopt. The SaaS company wants to grow its customer base and evolve its platform, and the MSP’s job is to help your business succeed, with or without SaaS.
Contact us at 262-515-9499 today to enjoy the many benefits of working with an MSP.
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