Increase Productivity with Web Monitoring

With YouTube, Reddit, and Instagram just a few clicks away, it’s a miracle you can get anything done during an eight-hour workday. As you’re probably well aware by now, there is a huge possibility for employees to waste precious time on sites not related to your business. This problem arises when a company does nothing to monitor or regulate internet usage. To fix this, consider using internet monitoring software.

Time-Saving Measures

At times, the internet can be very addictive. Internet monitoring software saves employees from the temptation of online videos and games by restricting access to time-wasting sites that you deem unnecessary for business. However, internet monitoring software doesn’t even have to be as extreme as denying permission to harmless social media websites. Just letting your employees know that you’ll be randomly monitoring their internet activity discourages them from taking prolonged visits to their Instagram page.

Avoiding Harmful Websites

The internet hosts plenty of unsavory links and websites. Employees who haphazardly click phishing links or access malware-ridden pornography sites can put your business at risk. Working with infected machines can slow down the entire system, and in some cases, completely halt operations. But by using internet monitoring tools you can restrict access to dangerous websites, and identify reckless employees to remove their internet privileges, if necessary.

Controlling Bandwidth Usage

Even while using the internet for the right purposes, bandwidth can be used up quickly. Internet monitoring gives you up-to-the-minute reports on your bandwidth usage. Once you have a clear understanding of your company’s overall bandwidth usage, you can then control its expenditure. This feature allows you to prioritize bandwidth for critical business applications and reduce bandwidth for less necessary websites.

Increasing Productivity on the Internet

Internet monitoring software may be a powerful tool, but it should be used responsibly. As a business owner, you need to walk a fine line between over-surveillance and under-surveillance. What you should do is establish a clear internet policy. Then, explicitly define the disciplinary measures to be dispensed on anybody who goes against the requirements of the internet policy. Also, deal with time-wasting employees on a case-by-case basis. It’s unreasonable to remove everyone’s Facebook privileges because one or two abused theirs.

Employee productivity can be difficult to achieve, especially with the proliferation of what we would like to call, “procrastination software.” But with web monitoring software, you can truly get your business – and your employees – back on track. Looking for more ways to increase business productivity with technology? Give us a call at 800-421-7151. We’ll be happy to make suggestions.

What’s the Best Way to Verify User Identity?

When it comes to protecting yourself and your business online, the type of authentication you use for logins, whether for business or for personal use, is vitally important. While many people understand that secure logins are crucial, the differences between the various security measures may be lost on many people. Before you give up on understanding the variances between two-factor and two-step authentication, read this article to learn more so you have a fuller understanding of your cyber security.

If you are seeking out a way to improve your business’s cyber security, both for your business itself as well as for your customers, you are likely looking at your authentication process. Two-step and two-factor authentication are two of the most commonly used options in cyber security. And in current cyber security, many businesses use the terms two-step and two-factor authentication interchangeably.

There are, however, subtle differences between the two. A two-step authentication process requires a single-factor login (such as a memorized password or biometric reading) as well as another of the same type of login that is essentially sent to the user. For example, you may have a memorized password for your first step and then receive a one-time-use code on your cell phone as the second step.

Two-step authentication does function to add an extra step in the authentication process, making it more secure than a single-step authentication (i.e. just the password). However, if a person or business is hacked, it will do only a little to stop hackers from getting a hold of whatever they are looking for.

On the other hand, there is two-factor authentication (sometimes referred to as multi-factor authentication), which is significantly more secure. This type of authentication requires two different types of information to authenticate. For example, it could be a combination of a fingerprint or retinal scan as well as a password or passcode. Because the types of information are different, it would require a hacker a great deal more effort to obtain both forms of authentication.

In essence, every two-factor authentication is a two-step authentication process, but the opposite is not true. With this information in mind, you can be certain that you are using the right type of authentication in your business to keep your business and customer information as secure as possible.

Your network needs the best security technology has to offer. What type of authentication that results in is just one of hundreds of choices that must be made to achieve that end. To take the stress out of securing and protecting your network, call us today at 800-421-7151 for all the help you could ever ask for.

The Benefits of HaaS for Firms

Starting a business may seem simple, but running one has its costs. For a business to run efficiently, there must be necessary resources. IT equipment is one such resource, and it must be updated regularly to keep up with the pace of technology. Additionally, purchasing equipment is costly, and most businesses are now opting for Hardware-as-a-Service, or HaaS. Read on for a comprehensive review of the benefits of HaaS.

Upfront Capital

The main benefit of HaaS is that it enables businesses to conserve on upfront capital expenditures. By replacing these high costs with a lease structure and low monthly payments, resources can be redirected toward other budget items. As a result, the business will have more resources that it could have otherwise used to purchase the computers.

More Modern Hardware

For businesses with outdated equipment, HaaS is an easy workaround for them to upgrade their IT hardware. A service provider can supply the latest equipment at a lower monthly cost, and when their client’s machines age, upgrades can be provided without fear of incurring additional costs. By choosing this route, SMBs won’t have to deal with disposing their old equipment. The service provider will take full responsibility for that.

Taxes and Accounting

When it comes to tax payments, businesses that opt for HaaS are also at an advantage. Equipment will be listed as a service from a vendor rather than a capital expense — thereby decreasing their tax liability. SMBs will enjoy all the benefits of cutting-edge equipment, without the taxes that usually accompany it. HaaS allows companies to get the equipment they need without running the risk of incurring more debt. Having a balance sheet with less debt is beneficial to the business, as it provides the business with secure financial services to expand.

However, when it comes to HaaS, it is important to consider what sort of technology the business needs. For example, if there is a substantial need for equipment, the best option is to choose HaaS rather than incur debt from purchases. For more information on managed IT solutions and outsourcing your technology difficulties to the experts, contact us today.

Social Engineering and Personal Security

The technology of crime is evolving, and criminals get smarter every day. But when technology proves too difficult to exploit, criminals resort to manipulating information from their targets via social engineering. This burgeoning field allows criminals to trick people into disclosing sensitive information such as passwords and bank information. If you’re worried about the ability of your employees to avoid scams such as these, we have a few quick tips for you.

As more and more of our information moves into the digital realm, criminals are turning to social engineering to trick people into trusting them with their delicate information. People often trust others too easily and make themselves the targets of easy attacks from criminals. These attacks may come in the form of messages, baiting scenarios, fake company responses, and many others.

Most often, messages are sent to users in the form of an email that might contain a link or something to download. Although they may look legitimate, these emails often contain viruses; once the link is opened or you attempt to download it, a virus latches onto your computer, giving its creator free access to your email account and personal information.

Emails such as these can also come with a compelling story about needing help, winning the lottery, or even paying taxes to the government. Under the veil of legitimacy, criminals will ask you to trust them with your account details so they can either reward you or help you avoid fines and punishments. What you actually get is a bad case of identity theft.

In another scenario, criminals will bait their targets with “confidential information regarding their account.” This may come in the form of fake company messages that appear to be responses to your claims, which are followed up by a request for login details. While victims believe they are slamming the door on a crime by providing their information, they’ve actually provided their attackers with the keys.

There are several ways people can avoid becoming victims of social engineering. First, always ensure that you delete all spam from your email, and thoroughly research sources before responding to claims from a company – even if it seems like the one you normally use.

The same applies for links. Confirm the destination of any link before clicking on it. Sites like bit.ly are often used to shorten long and cumbersome links, but because users have grown accustomed to them they are often used to hide malicious misdirections.

Never give out sensitive information that includes your password, bank information, social security, or any other private details. No respectable financial institution will request this type of information through email or a site other than their own. If you’re unsure, navigate away from the page you’ve been sent to and visit the page you believe to be making the request. If the address doesn’t have the letter ‘s’ after ‘http,’ it’s likely a scam.

Last but not least, check that all your devices are protected by the most recent antivirus software. While the strength of social engineering lies in the fact that it’s people-driven rather than technology-driven, antivirus software can help detect and prevent requests from known cybercriminals.

Cyber security is essential to the success of any modern business. Don’t let yourself become victim to criminals who have mastered the art of social engineering. While we’re proud of our extensive experience as technology professionals, we also have more than enough expertise to keep your business safe from those who are using people-based exploits. Get in touch with us today for all your security concerns at 800-421-7151.

Could One Tiny Leak Wipe Out Your Company?

Things were going great at Michael Daugherty’s up-and-coming $4 million medical-testing company.

He was a happy man. He ran a good business in a nice place. His Atlanta-based LabMD had about 30 employees and tested blood, urine, and tissue samples for urologists. Life was good for this middle-aged businessman from Detroit.

Then, one Tuesday afternoon in May 2008, the phone call came that changed his life. His general manager came in to tell Daugherty about a call he’d just fielded from a man claiming to have nabbed a file full of LabMD patient documents. For a medical business that had to comply with strict federal rules on privacy, this was bad. Very bad.

It turned out that LabMD’s billing manager had been using LimeWire file-sharing software to download music. In the process, she’d unwittingly left her documents folder containing the medical records exposed to a public network. A hacker easily found and downloaded LabMD’s patient records. And now the fate of Michael’s life – and his business – were drastically altered.

What followed was a nightmarish downward spiral for LabMD. Not one to go down without a fight, Michael found himself mired in an escalating number of multiple lawsuits and legal battles with the Federal Trade Commission and other regulators investigating the leak.

Finally, in January 2014, exhausted and out of funds, his business cratering under constant pressure, he gave up the fight and shuttered his company.

One tiny leak that could have easily been prevented took his entire company down. Could this happen to you and your business? Let’s take a look at four fatal errors you MUST avoid, to make sure it never does:

Have you developed a false sense of security?
Please do NOT think you are immune to a cyber-attack simply because you are not a big company. The fact is, whether you have 12 clients, or 12,000 clients, your data has value to hackers. A simple client profile with name, address and phone number sells for as little as $1 on the black market. Yet add a few details, like credit card and Social Security numbers, and the price can skyrocket – $300 per record is not uncommon. Being small doesn’t mean you are immune.

Are you skimping on security to save money?
Sure, of course you have a tight budget… So you cut a deal with your marketing manager, who wants to work from home at times. He links into the company network with a VPN. If configured properly, your VPN creates a secure and encrypted tunnel into your network. So his device now links his home network into the company network. The problem is, his home cable modem may be vulnerable to attack, an all-too-common issue with consumer devices. Now you have an open tunnel for malware and viruses to attack your network.

Could lack of an off-boarding process put your company at risk?
It’s crucial to keep a record of user accounts for each employee with security privileges. When an employee leaves, you MUST remove those accounts without delay. An internal attack by a disgruntled worker could do serious harm to your business. Be sure to close this loop.

Have you been lax about implementing security policies for desktop computers, mobile devices and the Internet?
The greatest threat to your company’s data originates not in technology, but in human behavior. It starts before you boot up a single device. In an era of BYOD (bring your own device), for instance, lax behavior by anyone connecting to your network weakens its security. Your team love their smartphones, and with good reason. So it’s tough sticking with strict rules about BYOD. Without absolute adherence to a clear policy, you might as well sell your company’s secrets on eBay.

Don’t let a tiny leak sink your ship – here’s what to do next:
Let us run our complete Network Security Audit for you. We’ll send our top data security specialist to your location and give you a complete top-to-bottom security analysis with action plan. This is normally a $297 service. It’s yours FREE when you call now through the end of October.

Don’t wait until disaster strikes. Call 800-421-7151 or e-mail alopp@wamsinc.com to schedule your FREE Network Security Audit TODAY.

Making Useful Search Results for your Brand

When it comes to SEO for businesses, most focus on getting organic results based on keywords centered around those used in their industry. Unfortunately, those keywords don’t focus on your brand identity. That means Google search results are severely limited because users may not know about a specific brand. There are methods a business can work around this, and we’ve listed our favorites here.

One of the ways you can improve your branded search visibility is by ensuring your brand name is mentioned multiple times throughout your site. Make sure to link the brand name to the homepage of your website, include the brand name in descriptions of the company, and add meta descriptions to the site.

Because Google’s site indexing service is completely automated, just about anyone should be listed in the results. The goal isn’t getting listed, it’s getting listed first. Little things like placing your sitemap in an easy-to-find location, including descriptive titles, and always filling out meta descriptions to increase the chances of your brand links appearing on the search pages.

Social media may technically be a different story, but it works hand-in-hand in today’s search engine optimization efforts. These pages are very likely to be listed when customers are making ‘brand’ searches. Make sure you maintain profiles at every “big” social media site, and add as much information as you can concerning your brand identity. Because the ultimate goal is to drive traffic to your site, link to your website in every field that allows it.

Lastly, Google business reviews are more important in getting branded search results than most people realize. Claim your business on Google My Business and frequently encourage your top customers to leave positive reviews concerning your brand. The more positive reviews your website has, the higher your site will appear in the rankings.

SEO is important for business, but so is creating a brand identity. An intersection of these goals may seem difficult, but not impossible. For more information on SEO, branded search results and anything related to your Google search rankings, get in touch with us today.

New Collaboration Features for Office 365

If you thought Office 365 couldn’t get any better, Microsoft was not of the same mind. Late last month the company announced a new feature that allows users to invite guests to interact with 365 groups and their content. Whether they’re international business partners, local customers, or infrequent clients, you can involve them regardless of their 365 subscription. Here’s a look at the nitty-gritty details.

This new functionality mainly centers around Office 365 groups. A 365 group is essentially an email address with Office privileges that several people have access to. For example, if you have an Editorial Group, each individual writer at your organization will receive emails, calendar invites, and document read/edit privileges sent to editorial@acme.com.

If you’re interested in adding a guest from outside of your organization to an Office 365 group, the process is simple. From the group administration dashboard, click “Add Members.” Then, all you need to do is enter the email addresses of whomever you would like to add, and voilà.

Guest collaborators will receive an email alerting them of their new addition and access to group files, emails, and calendar items — all accessible via Office on the web.

Take note, however, of Outlook’s alert: “You’re adding a guest to this group. As a member, they’ll have access to group content.” This will grant new guests all the same read/edit privileges as other group members — including privileges from before the guest was added.

There is no requirement for guests to have a Microsoft account, and by always labeling the new member as a guest, original group members won’t ever have to worry about forgetting who should receive confidential document privileges.

Unless the guest is a trusted partner, we recommend creating 365 groups specially designated for the purpose of outside collaboration to ensure the privacy of your cloud documents. Administrators can remove them at any time, or guests can volunteer to leave on their own.

Adding and removing collaborators from outside of your organization may be as simple as adding an email address to a list, but the possibility for improved teamwork is limitless. If at any point in your workflow you feel that your work is suffering from bottlenecks in creation, communication, or collaboration, there’s a good chance Office 365 has a solution. If there’s anyone who will know that solution, it’s us. Call us today at 800-421-7151 about collaborating on all your productivity dilemmas.