Stay productive and secure your tech network as you deal with the coronavirus. Get support for at-home employees. Learn how to switch from an in-office to a remote team.
In the midst of the coronavirus, business owners are facing a host of new challenges. To slow the spread of the virus, you may have been asked to suspend services or allow your employees to work from home. At the same time, however, you also need to continue to bring in revenue, stay productive, and focus on growth as much as possible.
Making the shift from an in-office to a remote team quickly, especially at a time when everyone is dealing with untold stresses, can be difficult, and the right approach is essential. Check out these tips.
1. Decide What You Need to Stay Productive
Creating a remote team isn’t as easy as handing your workers a laptop and telling them to check in once in a while. If you don’t have a current work-at-home policy, you need to create one from scratch, and you may need to adjust workflows, find new tools, and create new security policies. As you try to facilitate this shift, keep these types of questions in mind:
2. Consider Providing Employee With Devices
Don’t necessarily encourage your employees to use their own devices when working from home. Their home computers and tablets have all kinds of music, videos, images, and other downloads that may be infected with malware, and their devices are usually not equipped with the same level of antivirus or malware software you use in your office.
To reduce the threat of cyberattacks, consider providing your team with company-approved and secured devices. However, if you already have a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy for your office, you may want to continue having employees use their own devices because in this situation, you’ve already taken steps to secure those devices.
3. Help Your Workers Secure Their WiFi Access Points
As a general rule of thumb, your employees home WiFi networks are probably less secure than the WiFi you use in your office. To secure these access points, instruct your team to do the following:
To help your employees with these steps, you may want to create detailed tutorials or contact an IT managed services provider to help you.
4. Route Traffic Through a Two-Factor Authentication VPN
To secure your tech environment as much as possible, consider having your employees access your network through a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN encrypts all the information passing from your employees’ computers to your network. Even if a hacker gets onto your employee’s WiFi network, they cannot see keystrokes or any of the data being transmitted.
If you don’t already have a VPN, look into services such as GoToMyPC or Zoho. Also, try to choose a VPN that supports dual-factor authentication. Then, your employees have to enter a username and a password, but they also have to use a second authenticator such as a code texted to their phone number or email address. This layer of security provides extra defense against cyber criminals.
5. Consult With an IT Managed Services Provider
Returning to business as normal may not be possible for a while, and a managed IT services provider can help identify the tools and processes you need to support your new working environment, while also taking steps to ensure your network is as secure as possible.
In difficult times, you want your business to survive, but if possible, you should try to thrive. Our managed IT services can help you adapt to this quickly changing environment. We can help you choose the tools, the processes, and the resources you need to stay as productive as possible.
Does your business use 2FA? With the prevalence of data breaches today, it’s time to start employing this simple security feature within your business.
Without a doubt, you’ve read and heard about the rampant cybersecurity problems that are insidiously plaguing businesses today. Municipalities in places like Florida, South Carolina, and elsewhere are having access to their systems denied unless they pay hundreds of thousands of dollars. Businesses of all sizes and in all industries are being shut out of their data until they do the same.
As a business owner or manager yourself, you are probably concerned about whether your organization will fall victim to the same fate. What can you do to prevent a cybersecurity attack?
You may be surprised to know that the fate of your business’s security probably lies within a straightforward thing that you and all of your coworkers and employees use every day: passwords.
The fact of the matter is that most people in your business are putting your data and systems at risk every day with the weak login credentials they use. That is, many people use the same password for all of their accounts — both personal and business related. Furthermore, many people use passwords that are way too simple and easy to guess by hackers — the name of the street that they live on, the name of their pet, their date of birth, or their anniversary date.
It’s hard to stop people from doing this because most employees don’t think that their password really matters. They assume that it will never be guessed by anyone (how could it be?), and as long as they don’t share it with anyone, it’s good enough to keep would-be cybercriminals at bay.
Unfortunately, this is not the case.
The only way to indeed keep hackers from guessing passwords or using high-tech trial and error algorithms to uncover passwords is to use two-factor authentication, also known as 2FA.
2FA or two-factor authentication is a security system that forces users to have two proofs of identity before they can log in to a database, program, computer, or network. This is a system that you should be using at home and within your business.
As the name implies, there are two elements of two-factor authentication. First, the user must provide something they know. This could be a password or passcode, a pin number, or the answer to a secret question.
Next, the user must provide proof of something they have. For example, the two-factor authentication prompt may ask that the individual put in their credit card number (because their credit card number is something they possess). Likewise, some organizations will give each individual employee a security token that actually stays in their possession. This might be an RSA security device, a Google Authenticator, or something else. This device will be activated when prompted during login and will provide a passcode or pin that changes frequently. Another option is biometric authentication, such as an iris scan, voiceprint, or fingerprint.
As the owner or manager of your business, it shouldn’t be your responsibility to ensure the security of your sensitive data and network systems. This responsibility falls on the shoulders of your IT services company, and within their security division, one of the pillars of a robust cybersecurity strategy should be two-factor authentication.
If your IT services company has not spoken to you about employing a two-factor authentication system, don’t wait to ask them about it. The foundational necessity of this simple security measure suggests that if they haven’t already employed it, they’re probably not doing their job in other ways.
In that case, it’s time to find a new managed services provider. Give us a call, send us an email, or visit our website today to learn how we can help.
If you’re suddenly working from home due to the coronavirus, maximize productivity with a dedicated workspace, enjoyable breaks, and engagement with colleagues.
For the vast numbers of Americans suddenly barred from their offices due to the coronavirus pandemic, working from home can pose significant challenges. At home, distractions — including undone chores, needy pets and bored kids — abound, and tech troubles like unreliable Wi-Fi can stymie conference calls and online meetings.
What are some steps you can take to maximize productivity as you maintain a balance between the personal and the professional?
For individuals living in small homes, working at the kitchen table may seem natural. However, trying to get work done in a space that has other uses — such as eating — can pose problems. At mealtimes, you’ll need to move your laptop, tablet, papers and other necessary work-related items elsewhere, then move them back later. In addition, working in a central location in your home can expose you to any number of distractions.
Consider setting up a dedicated workspace that’s private and quiet. Even a small desk tucked into a corner of your bedroom can work, and it provides you with a spot for leaving your work items set up at all times. A dedicated workspace also makes it easier to separate the professional and personal portions of your day.
Working from home, you may feel disconnected from colleagues — and, thus, obligated to participate in any calls or virtual meetings to which you’re invited. At the beginning of your workweek, consider reviewing your schedule to make note of any planned meetings.
Once you know when to expect virtual meetings, cordon off some time dedicated to intensive work that requires uninterrupted concentration. Staying connected with co-workers will be more important than ever as you try to get your work done remotely, but you also need periods you can devote to critical projects.
As you hammer out your weekly schedule, take advantage of the flexibility that working from home offers. In the time that you don’t spend commuting, you can take calls or dive into intensive tasks. If you prefer to read or get work done in the early mornings or later in the evenings, you can do so.
As you work remotely, consider scheduling some breaks into your day. Particularly when you work in a confined space, getting some fresh air and a change of scenery can provide a needed boost for both your state of mind and your productivity.
During the few minutes at a stretch you spend away from your screen, try to work in some activities that support health. Whether you prefer a quick walk or enjoying your lunch outside, time outdoors can give you the recharge you need to spend meaningful hours back at the computer.
If your job involves working as part of a team, you’ll want to keep in touch frequently. Along with virtual meetings, a business-oriented chat app can allow you to ask questions and provide feedback quickly and without the formality of email. For groups who work together throughout the day, a dedicated chat room can provide a virtual location for checking in between project work.
When you’re trying to concentrate or you’re on a deadline, you can use “do not disturb” functionality to signal that you are currently unavailable for online chats or calls.
Video calls have their downsides, including using more bandwidth than regular audio calls. However, conducting virtual meetings through video calling also provides an additional level of nuance and interaction that you may not get with the typical conference call. If you participate in frequent calls, consider using a video calling app for at least some of them.
As you adapt to performing your job from home, you’ll discover what works best for you — including creating a dedicated space, scheduling time for concentration, engaging with colleagues, and taking meaningful breaks. Your co-workers may appreciate hearing your tips as they strive to develop their own remote work-life balance.
When considering the employee and employer benefits of working remotely, businesses are wise to change. The alternative could make your outfit less competitive.
If you would like to gain a little perspective on how radically our culture has changed, try this exercise. Pick up a pencil and a piece of paper and write out a half-days’ worth of emails rather than send them electronically. You will probably discover the first one looks more like scribble than cursive writing. And, your productivity will completely tank.
At first blush, the exercise demonstrates our reliance on electronic devices and real-time communication. But on another level, it shows that thought leaders are wise to embrace technological advancements as they emerge. Remote workforces rank among the more innovative trends of the business landscape today.
“To remain competitive in today’s work-from-anywhere environment, companies will need to invest in responsive technology infrastructure and enhanced virtual collaboration tools, as well as training and tailored performance management and incentive strategies for remote workers,” director of HR at the Gartner research group Emily Rose McRae reportedly said.
This shift away from in-house staff to people working from home or on the road once earned mixed reactions from industry leaders. But the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted businesses across the globe to find a way to have valued employees work from home until health crisis passes. Employers and employees alike are discovering this advancement tend to be mutually beneficial when utilizing platforms such as Microsoft Teams.
The health crisis has motivated businesses to shift to Cloud-based systems and Microsoft Teams strategies as a short-term measure. But HR departments may want to take the opportunity to scan the workforce landscape because work-from-home expectations are expected to surge and impact hiring.
“By 2030, the demand for remote work will increase by 30 percent due to Gen Z fully entering the workforce. Gartner’s most recent ReimagineHR Employee Survey found that only 56 percent of managers permit their employees to work remotely. Organizations without a progressive remote-work policy will be at a competitive disadvantage for attracting and retaining talent,” according to Gartner.
That being said, these are the reasons why the global trend to remote productivity is well-received by management and staff.
With dispersed workforces increasing, Microsoft Teams ranks among the most business supportive products on the market. It seamlessly works with Cloud-based networks and delivers real-time communication. The platform offers chat, video conferencing, managed channels, shared calendar options, and project space that can provide supervisors with top-tier oversight. In these troubling times, Microsoft Teams use has surged by tens of millions. But industry leaders may also want to consider the long-term benefits of embracing remote workforces into the future.
Hackers are capitalizing on fear and concern related to coronavirus to launch ransomware and malware attacks. Here’s how to protect your business and employees.
As the COVID-19 spreads worldwide, hackers are taking advantage of an already stressed and strained healthcare system to attack vulnerable companies. Phishing attacks are on the rise worldwide, capitalizing on fear and a desire for information.
In many cases, hackers are sending emails purportedly from the World Health Organization or local hospitals. However, these emails contain ransomware and keystroke-logging malware.
Here’s the latest on coronavirus-themed attacks.
IBM recently warned of a spam issue targeting Japan. The messages contain Microsoft Word files that are full of macros. When opened, the macros infect uses with the Emotet Trojan. Once launched, the trojan can insert itself into email conversations. As the trojan propagates, the malware lets hackers steal information and embed malware onto users’ machines.
Japan is particularly vulnerable, not only due to the coronavirus but also the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, which are under threat of cancelation. One message translation warns of the coronavirus’ spread to areas of Japan, urging readers to open the attached notice.
A similar campaign has targeted Italian companies with a phishing campaign. It purports to be a notice from the World Health Organization with precautions to take to prevent the virus from spreading.
It contains a malicious Word document asking users to click on an “Enable Editing” button then an “Enable Content” button to see all the information. Users doing so, however, download the Ostap Trojan-Downloader. It contains the Trickbot downloader that is a customizable, frequently updated tool popular with hackers.
As the number of news sites covering the coronavirus has grown, so too have the number of registered domain names related to the virus. According to one analysis, since January 2020, more than 4,000 domains have been registered globally related to the coronavirus. Three percent are considered malicious and another 5 percent deemed malicious, making coronavirus-themed domains 50 percent more likely to be dangerous than others registered in the same timeframe.
The World Health Organization has issued a warning about the daily reports it’s receiving about phishing attempts. However, hackers are smartly creating emails that look as though they’re coming from official sources, leading more users to open the emails and download files. Hackers can scrape information from official websites to create email templates that seem legit.
“National emergencies and/or disasters add a fear factor that acts as one more hook for hackers to get what they need,” said Ron Culler, ADT Cybersecurity’s senior director of technology and solutions, in a recent Vox article. “When fear is added to any targeted campaign — be it a legitimate or scam campaign — the effectiveness of that campaign is increased.”
Businesses can take several steps to educate employees and protect against these attacks. A layered approach to cybersecurity is a prudent way to reduce the risk of attacks from various vectors. Here are some tips:
Businesses must now address coronavirus-related issues both from an employee safety standpoint and a cybersecurity perspective. For assistance in protecting your business from coronavirus cyberattacks, contact your managed services provider today.
Have you ever wondered what the IF Function in Microsoft Excel actually does? Here we explore a few top tips for making it save you time while evaluating data.
There’s no doubt that Microsoft Excel is a robust program. Companies all over the globe utilize this application to analyze, track, and otherwise organize data in an easy-to-read format. But how much do you know about it and the various features that are available? And are you taking the right steps to ensure you’re looking at your spreadsheets in the most efficient manner possible? Here are a few of our tips and techniques to help you save time and improve your data analysis by using the IF Function in Microsoft Excel.
Tip #1: Understand What the IF Function Actually Does to Help Your Workflow
The first real step in making sure you’re using Microsoft Excel’s IF Function appropriately is to understand what it actually does. The IF Function tests whether a condition is true or false, and then performs an action. These actions can be calculations, data entry, or something closely related. The function is incredibly useful if you have large data sets or need to make significant changes, as it is a great way to save time in your workflow.
Tip #2: Creating the IF Function is Incredibly Easy
Creating the IF Function effectively starts with knowing the three parts: the logical test and then a value if true and a value if false. From there, all you have to do to make it work with your spreadsheet is to choose the data sets that you want to evaluate and determine what you want the true and false results to be. To do this, use the IF Function on the Insert a Function menu. Click okay and enter the conditions as you are prompted to do so on the screen.
Tip #3: Knowing How to Nest Functions
It is possible to use multiple IF Function formulas at the same time. In some cases, you might have multiple different possibilities or different levels of data that you want to compare. That’s when knowing how to nest multiple IF Functions becomes important. Nesting functions adds the ability to build more comparisons within your formulas instead of having to complete them separately.
Tip #4: Adding AND and OR to Your Functions
You can also add AND and OR to your IF Functions to make the results much more specific. While this is technically part of understanding how to nest functions, knowing how to do this is an effective way of utilizing the IF Function in a more efficient manner. An example of this is comparing two columns of data: one showing the amount of sales and one determining if an employee has completed training. By adding AND or OR to your IF Function, you can show a specific result, such as those employees that hit a specific sales goal and finished the training program you provided. As you can see, this can be a really easy way to get the information you need without having to spend a ton of time scouring through your entire spreadsheet.
Tip #5: Using Range Names to Make Data Easier to Sort
Range names are essentially a stored label that allows you to identify a range of one or more cells. They are incredibly useful for navigation, formulas, and even printing off specific parts of your spreadsheets. For use with the IF Function, you can utilize data ranges to save time when you’re working on a specific block of values as it allows you to use that range name instead of specific cell names. Range names can have letters, numbers, or an underscore, but cannot have spaces. And they are not case-sensitive, but title case is recommended for ease of viewing.
Tip #6: Remembering to Use Quotations with Text Strings in Your IF Function
Using the IF Function is an incredibly easy way to add text to a specific cell when certain criteria are present. However, you do need to remember to use quotations around your text strings in your IF Function formula. Failure to do this can really mess up your data set and make the formula not work correctly. Should you have a problem getting the IF Function to work for you, this is one of the first things you need to check.
Tip #7: Changing Text with Conditional Formatting Based on Your Result
Not only can you add text or insert a formula with the IF Function, but you can also change text visually with conditional formatting based on your result. It can be done automatically and setup within Excel under the Home tab. Examples of this option in use include turning a specific number bold and red if it does not meet the criteria of your IF Function, or highlighting it in yellow if it does meet certain requirements.
Microsoft Excel is a great way to analyze and interpret datasets. The IF Function allows you to do this in an easy-to-read and simple manner while saving you tons of time in the long run. These quick tips are a great way to skip complicated formulas and really make your spreadsheets work for you.
Learn about what two-factor authentication is and how it works. Once you understand its benefits you will see how helpful it could be for your business.
Two-factor authentication is something every business should be using to protect themselves and their customers. You know the value of adding layers of security to your business. If you have a brick and mortar operation, you probably have a lot more than a simple lock on your front door. Security cameras, alarms, barriers and more are common for most businesses because one layer of security is never enough. The same is true for online security. Two-factor authentication gives your business and customer another layer of protection beyond the standard password – so why not use it to improve your security?
You have probably already encountered two-factor authentication as you navigate the internet for personal or business reasons. All the major tech companies like Google and Facebook are using it because it makes sense to do so. The process of two-factor authentication goes something like this:
You have definitely encountered the older way to verify your identity – security questions. But security questions have become less and less effective at protecting your information than they used to be. Most security question answers can be found on your social media account, after all. Hackers can spend just a little time doing some research to find all the answers they need, particularly if they have already stolen your password from another site through their cybercrime efforts.
You can easily implement two-factor authentication or 2FA into your current business security efforts – both for your employees and your customers. There are multiple ways you can use two-factor authentication, including:
2FA is possible using a variety of methods – the most important thing is that you start using it to begin with. Whichever authentication method you choose, your business and your customers will be more secure as a result.
Incident Response plans are proving to be a key element in data breach recovery. That’s why proactive industry leaders are adding and updating these strategies.
Entrepreneurs and other decision-makers are acutely aware that doing business in the digital age requires robust cybersecurity. Most companies employ standard anti-virus scans, firewalls, and other commonplace measures to protect valuable data. But we are all just as keenly aware that the number of debilitating data breaches suffered continues to uptick despite business leaders’ best efforts.
From 2017 to 2018, the number of exposed records increased from 197 million to more than 446 million, according to reports. Cybercriminals will ultimately continue their efforts to come up with increasingly deceptive ways to penetrate business networks and leverage personal identity files, financial records, and other information that can be ransomed or sold on the dark web. How your organization responds to a breach could have lasting implications about business sustainability. That’s why companies now need an Incident Response plan embedded into their cybersecurity strategy.
Proactive business leaders are enlisting the help of cybersecurity experts to create a viable response to an otherwise debilitating breach. These plans are crafted with input from key stakeholders to be ready to identify, contain, mitigate, and make a full recovery from a cyber-attack.
What many industry professionals may not realize — until it’s too late — is that recovery from data and financial loss could be the least of your problems. When employees, shareholders, and other businesses are impacted due to a hack of your network, you could be facing civil litigation. With that goes the industry reputation you worked so hard to develop. To truly recover from a systems hack, industry leaders are pulling together their resources to implement a six-phase Incident Response plan.
It’s imperative that decision-makers understand that a robust Incident Response plan is not a set-it-and-forget-it endeavor. As part of your overarching cybersecurity strategy, it will need to be revisited regularly. That’s mostly because digital bandits are ceaselessly finding innovative ways to penetrate business defenses. Regardless of their criminal activity, a deftly implemented Incident Response plan delivers results. These are the six necessary phases.
Although every business wants to be ready to defend against a cyberthreat, The Third Annual Study on the Cyber Resilient Organization indicates that upwards of 77 percent do not have a clearly articulated Incident Response plan in place. If your organization has not implemented an Incident Response strategy, we would like input about enhancing an existing one. It may be in your best interest to enlist a third-party cybersecurity consultant.
Ransomware can damage and take a heavy financial toll on your business. What is ransomware and 5 tips you can take to protect your business today?
For businesses and organizations of all types, the Internet represents great promise and risk, with risk in the form of cyberattacks. Of the different kinds of cyber attacks, ransomware, in particular, can be very damaging exacting a heavy financial toll on you and your business.
Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to block access to your system until a ransom is paid. The reason they are dangerous and damaging is that even if you pay, there is no guarantee that you will get your system back. There are many stories of organizations paying their ransom, receiving nothing in return, and dealing with the loss of their data.
In a ransomware attack, hackers gain access to your system through a malicious link or vulnerability attacking your network and backup files. Their mission is to render your back up files and folders useless so that you cannot gain access to your system files. Once incapacitated, the hackers contact you demanding a ransom, often in the form of cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, believing that they are protected behind a shield of anonymity.
One would think that the organizations most vulnerable to a ransomware attack are small to medium-sized. The truth is that any organization that is not taking its cybersecurity seriously is at risk of a ransomware attack. Cybersecurity, for many, is often an afterthought until it happens to them. This includes businesses, non-profits, and government agencies of all sizes.
While there are things you can do to minimize the chance that you will be a victim of a ransomware attack, the risk cannot be entirely eliminated. However, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk of an attack. If ever you needed a reason to take action, consider that ransomware prevention is a fraction of the cost to recover from a ransomware attack. Never mind the financial cost. Consider that for most businesses, their IT system is the brains and nerve center of their operation storing customer lists, financial information, and everything else.
Some of the things that you can do to prepare for a ransomware attack include:
Having a business continuity plan
A business continuity plan consists of daily backups of all of your data, both locally, and to the cloud.
Invest in the best tools and equipment
You don’t want to cut corners when it comes to your cybersecurity. For that reason, you want to invest in the best tools and equipment. This includes anti-virus software, anti-malware, DNS filtering, and very strong firewalls.
Never click an unknown without knowing the sender
The average office worker receives 121 emails per day. As a result, it is easy to see how you or an employee can overlook a malicious email. While most people would click a link or download a file without a second thought, never open an attachment or click a link without verifying the authenticity of the sender. If you have any reservations about an email or sender, delete the email.
Keep up on your training
Cybersecurity is evolving quickly. Unfortunately, so are the hackers. As a result, you and your staff need to keep on top of your cybersecurity awareness training to stay ahead of the curve.
Work with a competent IT company
Make sure that your IT services company knows what they are doing. Many companies are marketing themselves as cybersecurity experts. As a result, you need to do your research to assess their cybersecurity skills.
There are more things that you can be doing to protect yourself from ransomware attacks. However, this is a good start for what you can do today. The other thing is to contact us to discuss a personalized ransomware prevention program for your business.
Every day, new malware is discovered that threatens U.S. business and individual security. Continue reading to learn about six of the most recent named and dangerous malware threats.
Back in 2018, U.S. Cyber Command was restructured to become an officially unified combatant command–meaning that it now acts as its unit organized under its commander who reports directly to the Defense Secretary. This critical change became necessary following an increasing amount of sophisticated cyber attacks. Hackers are constantly evolving, constantly upping the ante, and the U.S. Cyber Command is now one of our frontline defenses against those attacks. One way they have assisted the entire country is by diagnosing and alerting the general public of new malware. This is critical information that every business owner and the tech-savvy individual should keep up-to-date on to protect their assets and data.
The Basics of Malware
The word malware is a mash-up of malicious software. It is thereby defined as any software that is malevolently used to steal data, compromise computer functionalities, bypass admin controls, or otherwise cause an issue with another person or organization’s computer. As you might expect, malware is a broad umbrella term that encompasses different types of attacks, such as viruses, adware, and Trojan horses.
The 6 New Dangerous Malware Named by the U.S. Cyber Company
There are always new types of malware being created and deployed by malevolent forces. The six new dangerous types of malware announced by the U.S. Cyber Company are ones discovered to have been used by a government-backed North Korean hacking group. These six types of malware have been unleashed against various U.S. targets, but it is yet unknown the scale of those attacks, or all who were targeted. This is why all businesses and professionals need to keep abreast of the latest digital security news.,
The six new dangerous malware named were as follows:
Essential Tips for Preventing Malware Infection From Impacting You & Your Business
The hackers may be getting more sophisticated every year, but so are the good guys. Your browsers, plugins, applications, and software all have teams of tech gurus working on them to make them safer and more resilient to outside attacks continually. The following is a look at a few tips and ways to leverage those assets and be smart to prevent a malware infection:
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