One of the biggest fears of every smartphone user is having their phone stolen. Compounding this fear is the additional risk of the thief accessing the contents of the device and doing with it as they please. To help reduce the injury that comes from the insult of a stolen phone, security developers have come up with several clever solutions.
Detection of Wrong Gestures One promising security technique currently under development by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev can identify unauthorized users by how they interact with the phone. The idea here is that the way you use your own device is unique to you, meaning that your phone should be able to detect an unauthorized user solely based on them using gestures uncharacteristic of you. Upon making this determination, the phone will effectively lock the user out. In trial runs of this technique, it took the device a mere 13.8 seconds to lock out the unauthorized user.
A list of factors that this security technique takes into consideration are: the frequency, pressure, and speed of touch for the application used, how much electricity is used, and the previous 30 seconds of recent history prior to the phone landing in the wrong hands. Seeing how a new user would be unfamiliar with a stolen phone’s layout and customized interface, researchers estimate that a thief won’t get more than 35 touches in before they’re locked out.
Take a Picture When a Wrong Password is Entered Another clever security feature is an app that takes a picture with the device’s front-facing camera whenever the wrong lock screen password is entered. This measure is being compared to the other popular use of front-facing cameras known as “selfies,” and is thus given the name “thefties.”
Upon taking a photo of the would-be thief, the picture is then sent to either your cloud storage account or your email, depending on which theftie app you use. Some theftie apps will even go so far as to use the phone’s GPS feature to include a map of where the photo was snapped. Newer versions of the iPhone have this theftie feature built in, and additional theftie apps are available for download from the various app stores.
Remotely Wipe a Stolen Device Then there’s the nuclear option. If you’re sure that your phone is stolen, and we mean absolutely sure, like, you’re 100 percent confident that it’s not hiding under the front seat of your car, then you can remotely wipe all of your device’s data. This procedure effectively makes the device like new, eliminating all of the data that was on it at the time.
It’s best practice to enable this feature using your mobile device manager. For help with this, Net It On can provide you with an enterprise-level mobile device management solution capable of remotely wiping an employee's stolen phone if it contains sensitive company data. Also, depending on the phone’s service provider, they may be able to remotely wipe the stolen device if you call them and confirm your identity.
As much as having your phone stolen but it can at least be replaced. The data on your phone, however, is much more difficult to replace, or impossible if it’s not backed up to the cloud. Therefore, you’ll want to take all the security measures you can in order to ensure that your device’s personal data will forever be just that, personal.
Paper documents, manila folders, and file cabinets have long been symbols of office work. Today, these once-proud symbols are looked down upon, due in part to the public being more environmentally conscious, as well as advancements made in cloud computing that make a paper-centric workflow an inefficient option.
To find an example of this, look no further than your HR department. Did you know that the average HR record takes up a whopping 29 pages of paper? Now multiply that by the number of employees you have and you’re looking at a hefty stack of documents. For SMBs, these records alone could take up as much as an entire four-drawer file cabinet. Also, let’s not forget that it’s normal to keep HR records of previous employees on file for the past year or so. For companies with a high turnover rate, these files alone could take up an additional drawer or cabinet.
While it’s certainly annoying to have a row of bulky file cabinets take up precious office space, the annoyance level multiplies when it’s time to actually dig through all of these files and retrieve an obscure piece of information. When considering how much time it takes to pay a worker to manage and maintain the contents of a file cabinet, it makes sense how file cabinets wind up costing companies upwards of $20,000... each!
Alternatively, if all of these pages and pages of HR records (as well as all of your company's other documents) were to be digitized, then finding needed information would be as easy as entering what you’re looking for in a search form. Plus, if these documents were to be stored in the cloud, then those needing access to digital records wouldn’t be limited to viewing the documents only from their work PC. Instead, every employee needing access would be able to access these files from anywhere with an Internet connection, and on most Internet-connected devices.
Additionally, storing your documents in the cloud vastly improves security compared to keeping paper documents lying around the office, or even having them hidden away in a file cabinet that’s only protected by a low-grade lock. To give you an idea of how the cloud can improve document security, consider a recent study by IDG Cloud Computing that found that 94 percent of SMB cloud adopters claimed to have experienced security benefits from moving to the cloud.
Increased efficiency, money-saving workflows, and improved security, these are just three ways that cloud computing can improve how your company does business. Oh, and we forgot to go into the most important benefit: going paperless is good for the environment!
Many of those who are responsible for a business could tell you that managing it isn’t an easy task--and when IT is involved, it can very quickly get a lot more complicated. Of course, those that say that are more than likely using an antiquated, break-fix approach. Those who utilize managed IT services, however, will likely have a much different opinion.
The differences between break-fix and managed IT services can be summed up pretty succinctly. Break-fix comes with what’s on the box: your stuff breaks, and your IT resource fixes it. Managed IT services, on the other hand, operate in a more proactive fashion. Your technology is monitored so your IT resource can see issues coming and work on resolving them more quickly in order to minimize downtime.
While many businesses might look at these two approaches to IT maintenance and assume that break-fix is the more economically sound choice, they would be mistaken. While there are a very small few exceptions to the rule, taking the managed IT services route has a few other benefits that make it the more preferable option.
First, let’s examine costs. Comparing the two at face value, the pay-on-demand break-fix service seems like the cheaper option over the subscription-based managed IT service approach. Although, we must also accept that costs can be subjective, especially when you introduce value into the equation. Consider what you get when you practice a break-fix approach. You encounter an issue with your technology, so someone comes along, identifies the problem, and fixes it. However, with break-fix, there are other costs that come with the technician’s fees when dealing with tech that is experiencing issues; its capacity to enable productivity is compromised, if not removed outright.
As a result, the employee who uses that piece of technology will not be able to generate their typical levels of output, leading to a loss in profitability to the company as a whole. Plus, if they’re in the office, the business still has to pay them, essentially giving money away for an employee to be unable to strive toward the organization’s goals. This is the result whether a piece of tech is down for a few hours or a few days.
Network infrastructures aren’t infallible, after all, and an issue presenting itself there could easily lead to an entire workforce being benched until IT manages to sort out the issue. As a result, the business is no longer generating income, and is bleeding money out via the employee salaries and other expenses.
This is where managed IT services has the advantage compared to the break-fix approach.
At its core, the purpose of managed IT services is to avoid the repetitive pattern of excruciatingly costly downtime followed by an expensive, temporary patch that is characteristic of break-fix services. Consider it: the break-fix company is only getting paid when something goes wrong, which means that there is no motivation for them to provide any lasting solutions. Managed IT services, on the other hand, rely on the satisfaction of their clients, and are therefore motivated to keep their clients as happy as possible. This means that any issues the client encounters are treated as a top priority until they are resolved. As a result, downtime is minimized, if not completely avoided, allowing your business to continue uninterrupted.
Plus, not only can managed IT service clients expect to encounter minimal issues, their systems will also be maintained to promote their productivity.
Did you know? Today is National Clean Out Your Computer Day! As technology buffs ourselves, we want to spread the word about this annual opportunity to clean out the technology that your business uses on a daily basis. Here are five great ways to make sure that your computers are being properly maintained.
Update All Software Solutions The programs that you use to get work done should all be updated to ensure they are secure and operating with maximum functionality. Developers of enterprise software issue security updates and patches for two reasons: to improve security and make features more useful for you. This means that they should be implemented on your network as soon as possible. One thing to think about, though, is legacy app compatibility. You don’t want to update your apps while risking incompatibility with other parts of your infrastructure. The best way to avoid this threat is by reaching out to Net It On for a network audit, which can help show you which apps should be updated in the first place.
Eliminate Unnecessary Applications Your business likely has unused apps and programs installed on your network. This is a natural part of running a business, but it can also hinder your devices in the long run, taking up valuable resources and storage space. Furthermore, you might be wasting money on these apps that you don’t use, or use only once every couple of months. In cases like this, it’s in your best interest to remove this software before it puts an even bigger dent in your budget.
Clean Up Excessive Dust How long has it been since you gave your computers a nice, thorough cleaning? Dust is one of the major problems with owning computers, as it can collect around vents and fans, affecting airflow. Use a can of compressed air to blow it all away, being careful not to blow it inside of the machine. You should also clean your keyboard. Do this by turning it upside-down and shaking it. You might be surprised and grossed out by the skin particles and food crumbs that fall out, but you’ll be glad they’re not in your keyboard anymore.
Clean Up the Insides Cleaning up your computer’s internal components is just as important as cleaning the outside. You may not realize it, but the internal cavity of your PC accumulate a ton of dust, thanks to the fans. All of this dust can cause major problems by seizing up the fans and overheating critical components, which can cause your machine to crash. Before getting started, shutdown your PC and be sure to disconnect it from the outlet. Take a can of compressed air and clear the internal components of dust and dirt, but do be careful not to handle sensitive components directly with your hands if you haven’t washed them thoroughly first. The natural oils on your fingers could damage them. If there’s any question as to what you’re doing, always take a low-risk approach to maintaining your technology by letting skilled technicians handle this responsibility.
Run Defrag Software You know better than anyone just how much work you place on your hard drive. You’ve saved, moved, and deleted files, which leaves traces all over your hard drive that makes your computer work harder than it needs to. Running defrag software will essentially organize all of your scattered pieces of data, which can give your PC a nice performance boost. Also, if you’ve got a solid state drive, then you don’t have to worry about defragging, since this process only applies to hard disc drives. Additionally, if you’re running a newer version of Windows, then it should automatically defrag your hard drive when your computer isn’t being used. If you don’t know how to defrag your hard drive, we recommend reaching out to Net It On for assistance with this somewhat intensive process.
Is your business prepared to deal with network downtime? By this, we mean any situation when your organization’s network infrastructure isn’t operating as intended. Maybe you’ve lost power in your office, or you’ve experienced a data loss incident that keeps you from accessing crucial information. To prepare your SMB for times like this, you need to ask if your organization can handle such a wasteful occurrence.
It comes down to preparing your business to handle anything, but even this isn’t enough. You still need to understand that it’s inevitable that your organization will suffer from a network incident at some point or another, most likely due to the following occurrences:
Natural disasters: Issues like floods, power outages/surges, infrastructure fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and so much more all hold the power to bring down your network and lead to data loss.
User error: All it takes is an employee moving an important file to the wrong location to cause downtime. Furthermore, an employee unaware of phishing scams could accidentally expose information to those who wish to harm your organization.
Hacking attacks: Even if you don’t expect to be hit by a hacking attack in the future, anything can happen. Most hackers don’t intend to hit specific victims, so even something like an unexpected malware infection could make problems for your organization.
Don’t Be Limited By Downtime Disaster recovery is a much more welcome alternative to the downtime that constantly plagues businesses. You want to be sure that your business has a reliable way to get back in action following a downtime disaster. The first step toward building a quality business continuity plan is to make sure you have reliable data backup and disaster recovery. Considering how a big enough disaster could force you to rely on your backups, you need to be sure that they are adequate.
Take, for instance, the average tape backup solution, which can take hours or even up to a full day to restore your data. Unlike tape backup, BDR allows for almost instantaneous recovery to get your organization moving at top speed again immediately following a disaster. Since you’re restoring your data from the cloud instead of a physical tape, you’ll be able to avoid downtime and keep your bottom line from suffering. Another great aspect of BDR is that it’s relatively hands-off, meaning that you don’t have to set and restore the backup manually, like you would with a tape.
You don’t have to be a large enterprise to implement a security system in your office, and there are plenty of practical reasons to have one. How would you know if an employee made off with company hardware, or how much time are your employees wasting when nobody's watching? For concerns such as these, security cameras are a practical solution.
Before you invest heavily in security equipment, like purchasing cameras and running wires, you should ask yourself why you need them in the first place. Your answer should fall in line with the two most basic uses for security cameras: deterrence and investigation.
If you want to deter the possibility of theft in your office, make sure that your cameras are in plain sight. This gives potential thieves an opportunity to ask themselves if it’s worth getting caught.
If you want to investigate some creeping suspicions that you might have, you need to pick a location that helps you get a clear glimpse of the potential crime scene.
Under certain circumstances, you’ll find value in placing cameras in both locations, but chances are that if you’re considering security cameras, you have a reason in mind that you’ll want to stay focused on.
You next need to figure out where you want to install your cameras to best suit your organization’s security needs. For assistance with this step, consider these top four places to install a CCTV or other security camera system.
Be Sure to Cover Entrances and Exits No matter how much you want to keep your entire office under surveillance at all times, trying to accomplish this is unrealistic. It’s much more manageable to keep an eye on the doorways leading into and out of your office. Doing so lets you keep a headcount of who arrives and leaves, and provides you with an angle to catch a glimpse of your visitors’ faces.
One of the best ways to make sure that your cameras are effective is to utilize a TV or a computer screen to catch someone’s eye as they walk into a room. They will instinctively turn their head to look at the screen, giving you a clear shot of them.
At Places with POS Systems Organizations that utilize point-of-sale systems like cash registers, teller machines, and kiosks, will find cameras of great value. Consider placing your cameras pointing directly at where the customer stands at about seven feet off the ground. If you go much higher than this, you will place it too high where you can only see the top of your customer’s head.
In fact, some POS systems allows for direct integration with a camera system, going so far as to provide a capture of receipts to keep a close watch on transactions.
In Clear Sight of Your Most Valuable Assets Think about what you have that a thief might want. Is it being monitored as thoroughly as it should be? You don’t want someone walking out the door with a cash drawer, or accessing a cabinet filled with sensitive information. If there’s something that looks like it might be particularly tempting to any would-be thief, make sure there is a camera pointing at it.
Locations That Are Hidden from View It makes sense that someone who wants to try something sketchy might slip away from view to find a spot away from view. This could be behind the building, in a stairwell, or just anywhere that’s secluded within your office. If they know that the spot is being monitored, they’ll be less likely to go there and less likely to cause trouble.
Once you’ve decided where the best spot for your security cameras will be, you’ll need to install them. We recommend that you seek out professional assistance for this task, as you never know what complications will come up. Net It On would be happy to use our technical expertise to help you set up the cameras, implement data storage for large video files, and ensure that all proper networking contingencies are in place.
How can you use automation technology to leverage profitability and efficiency for your business? Whereas in the past, automating your company’s day-to-day processes seemed out of reach for SMBs, today’s automation technologies are easily accessible. To help you get started with automating crucial aspects of your business, we recommend looking into these three technologies.
E-Commerce and Point of Sales Every business that sells products (either directly or online) utilizes a sales interface in some capacity. If you’re currently using a point of sales system, then you know that processing a payment doesn’t end when the money is collected. Online orders have to be processed, shipping must be fulfilled, new product must be ordered, and staying in contact with customers for feedback and marketing purposes is an important step that busy business owners often let slip through the cracks. Thankfully, there’s technology available that can streamline and automate this entire process. The actual solution you’ll use will vary depending on your industry, but if you do your due diligence, you should be able to easily obtain software that can automate and integrate your company’s invoicing, shipping, customer feedback processes, and more, into one easy-to-manage solution.
Social Media Business owners that have been avoiding social media for personal reasons may be surprised to learn how far the various platforms have come in recent years by developing into powerful tools that can help businesses streamline their marketing initiatives. Take for example an application like Hootsuite that gives users the ability to post a single message simultaneously across multiple social media platforms. This removes the intimidation factor that a business owner may feel at the prospect of having to individually manage multiple social media platforms. Beyond simply posting messages, Hootsuite and various other solutions are available to assist businesses with automating their online marketing efforts.
Paperless Automation By now, you’re well aware of the financial and environmental benefits of going paperless. However, if you’ve attempted to go paperless on any level, then you’ve discovered firsthand how this involves implementing new processes and managing new systems. To help you with this, there are a host of technologies available that can automate and streamline your company’s paperless process. Solutions like modern scanning equipment (which is way more efficient than the older one-page-at-a-time models), document management software, and cloud solutions provide the access to automation that will help your company process and manage your paperless system. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure that all of your digital documents are backed up, which is a process that can be automated as well.
These are just three ways that automation technology is helping today’s businesses do more for less. If there are additional pain points that you’re experiencing with running your business, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that there’s a solution available that can automate what you’re struggling with. For assistance with finding your business the solutions you need to succeed, give Net It On a call at (732) 360-2999.
As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to account for each and every one of your organization’s software solutions, but do you know the exact value that your business is getting from them? This can be challenging when managing software solutions locally on each of your workstations, but the cloud makes this astronomically easier.
The Previous State of Software Management Traditionally, determining the value of software has been difficult at best. The one variable used most often to find this value was the number of users. For example, if your business has 50 employees, you would want to purchase 50 licenses for a specific software solution. While this is great for the software provider, it’s a large expense for an SMB. Plus, are you even using every single program that’s installed on your workstations, or are you buying licenses for software that’s not being used (or not used as often as you’d like)?
Before answering this question, just take a moment to examine your own productivity suite. You might use the word processor and the email management solution, but how often do you actually use your slideshow creator? You might have programs which you’ve used only once to wrap up a project, but have never touched again. For others, you might never have gotten around to even trying them out. It goes without saying that this isn’t the best way to manage your software assets.
Software Management Now The solution to this dilemma is clear; you only pay for software that’s actually used, rather than programs that might be used. It’s much easier to accomplish this than you might think, especially considering recent improvements in cloud computing. ITProPortal predicts that 2017 may allow for the most noticeable transition yet to cloud computing: “In 2017, the amount companies are willing to pay for software will be determined by levels of engagement rather than number of users. Cloud and mobile apps provide unprecedented visibility into these usage patterns, allowing companies to see more clearly how much value they get for their software. Smart companies are waking up to the reality that they should only pay for what provides demonstrable value. Slack has been on the cutting edge of this trend, and in 2017 other application providers will follow suit.”
Since your cloud provider hosts an application for you, they are privy to information providing them a detailed look at how the software is used on their servers. They can see how often the application is opened, how long each session lasts, and what the software solution is being used for. You can see how a tracking feature like this can revolutionize the way companies are charged for software.
Have you ever been taken aback by a stunning photo that appears when you lock your Windows 10 PC? While it’s nice to look at, you might notice that this photo changes every now and then. Have you ever seen an image so wonderful that you’ve wanted to download it and make it your desktop image? Well, with this week’s tip, you certainly can!
You may remember how in previous versions of Windows, the lock screen images were stored locally and pulled from a folder on your PC. However, Windows 10 operates a bit differently. It pulls its lock screen images through a feature called Windows Spotlight. This makes finding the files and downloading them rather difficult, but not impossible.
First, you need to open Windows Explorer and click on the View tab. You can find this to the right of Computer. Make sure that you check both the File name extensions and Hidden items boxes.
Next, you need to copy and paste the file directory we’ve provided into the Windows Explorer file path:
Notice the “username” in the above link? Make sure that you replace it with whatever your username is and hit Enter. This will bring up a window that is filled with files. These files are the pictures that you’ve been seeing thanks to Windows Spotlight.
If you want to put these photos at the top of the list, select the Size tab.
The next step is to make a folder on your hard drive where you will be storing these images. For example, you could place it on your desktop or in Pictures. Once you’ve done this, open the new folder.
It’s now time to move all of these photos to the new folder. This lets you view them at your leisure. Select the files that are larger than 100KB, which you can easily do by selecting the file at the top of the list. You can then hold the Shift key and scroll down to the first file that is greater than 100KB. Once these 30+ files have been selected, you just copy the files with Ctrl+C, and paste them into the new folder using Ctrl+P.
Be aware that this move will bring up a prompt by Windows Security.
Don’t worry--it’s safe to click OK. These files won’t harm your computer at all; in fact, they’re already on it!
Now that your files have been copied to the new folder, just rename each one and add a file extension to them so you can view them. To do this, right-click the file and select Rename.
You can rename the file something simple like 1.PNG. Hit Enter and you’ll see the file’s icon change to a photo. If you’d like, you can click View > Large icons, which makes renaming the files much more manageable.
Now that the file format has been changed, double-click the file and open it to show the image. You can then name the file as you see fit. Since the file is saved on your PC, you can access this folder on a whim.
Last year’s United States’ tax season when the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was breached and hackers used 464,000 stolen Social Security numbers to successfully E-file 101,000 fraudulent tax returns using false PINs. This incident should cause taxpayers to ask the question, “What’s the government doing to protect my tax returns?”
As reported by the IRS, the organization has made significant improvements over the past year in order to protect the identities of taxpayers from fraudulent returns “before, during, and after a tax return is filed.” From a November statement on irs.gov: “This is highlighted by the number of new people reporting stolen identities on federal tax returns falling by more than 50 percent, with nearly 275,000 fewer victims compared to a year ago.”
One new tool the IRS credits to dramatically combating identity theft is an annual Security Summit. This was a way for the IRS to begin identifying and implementing changes. According to the IRS, successful efforts of the summit have lead to:
Identity theft affidavits falling sharply: A decrease of 50 percent during the first nine months of 2016 compared to 2015.
More fraudulent returns stopped before processing: This factor also dropped by nearly 50 percent. From January through September of 2016, the IRS stopped 787,000 confirmed identity theft returns, totalling more than $4 billion.
A decrease in fraudulent refunds: Thanks to the number of bank partners increasing by 106 institutions since 2015, the number of suspect refunds stopped by banks and returned to the IRS dropped by more than 50 percent.
Shared information stopping more bad returns: This can be attributed to information provided by industry and state partners in order to improve IRS fraud filters, 57,000 bad tax returns were stopped that would have otherwise bypassed IRS processing filters.
Shared data elements helping to identify new areas: Adding new data elements on tax returns helped the IRS stop over 74,000 suspicious returns, preventing $372 million in fraudulent refunds from being paid.
While these improvements are indeed significant, any concerned taxpayer will take away from all of this that, though improved, the IRS still isn’t batting 1,000 when it comes to protecting citizens against identity theft. Therefore, continuing to be mindful of best security practices when it comes to handling sensitive data for all aspects of your business is still highly recommended.
To help businesses out, the IRS has prepared a list of critical steps you can take to protect yourself and your clients from identity theft.
Assure that taxpayer data, including data left on hardware and media, is never left unsecured.
Securely dispose of taxpayer information.
Require strong passwords (numbers, symbols, upper & lowercase) on all computers and tax software programs.
Require periodic password changes every 60-to-90 days.
Store taxpayer data in secure systems and encrypt information when transmitting across networks.
Ensure that email being sent or received, that contains taxpayer data, is encrypted and secure.
Make sure paper documents, computer disks, flash drives and other media are kept in a secure location and restrict access to authorized users only.
Use caution when allowing or granting remote access to internal networks containing sensitive data.
Terminate access to taxpayer information for anyone who is no longer employed by your business.
Create security requirements for your entire staff regarding computer information systems, paper records, and use of taxpayer data.
Provide periodic training to update staff members on any changes and ensure compliance.
Protect your facilities from unauthorized access and potential dangers.
Create a plan on required steps to notify clients should you be the victim of any data breach or theft.
While many, many people use the Internet daily, for work, leisure, and communication, very few of them actually know how their devices are able to access the Internet in the first place. How does information from miles away make its way to your device? The answer is something called a web server. Let’s take a moment and examine how they do it.
Using the Internet seems simple enough: after typing in the URL (or uniform resource locator), your web browser displays the associated page--but how does this really work?
Well, let’s examine how you got to this article. Let’s assume, for a moment, that you are doing so on a workstation. When you saw the link to this blog and clicked it, your browser took the associated URL and analyzed its three parts.
The HyperText Transfer Protocol, or the part of the URL that says “http,” is how your machine reaches out to the web server that holds this website’s data. The middle part of the address, starting with “www” and ending with “.com,” is the server name that represents that particular IP (Internet Protocol) address. The rest of the URL is made up of a particular page’s filename, to inform the website what content needs to be viewed specifically.
Once this website’s host server received the request from the HTTP, it returned the HTML text for this requested page. Your browser then took that HTML text and converted it back into a viewable webpage, allowing you to read and understand these words.
Web servers are also responsible for managing the stored credentials that are allowed to access password-protected pages. Any time you’ve had to log into a website, you’ve essentially had to prove yourself to the web server before you were allowed access.
Of course, this is all assuming that the website is static, which is a technical way of saying that the site is only changed if the creator goes in and manually changes it. Dynamic pages, or ones that change based on input (for an example, think about Google’s results pages) operate on a different level, usually using things like CGI scripts… but that’s for another time.