The month of November is a great time to slow down and reflect on what makes us thankful. Here at Computer Concern, we are most thankful for our clients and the relationships that we have formed over the years. We know that as small businesses, we are also supporting each other and in return, our local economy. We extend our gratitude and best wishes for a relaxing and happy Thanksgiving holiday to all of our clients and their families.
* Don’t forget to support your local small businesses that are participating in Small Business Saturday on November 25th. *
Having too much freedom at work for personal internet use can be traumatic to your network and company. If you have employees with unmonitored access to email and internet, there are a number of things they can do that can harm your business. Here are four reasons to avoid personal internet time at work:
1. Bandwidth Costs. Heavy graphics, video clips, and audio files are particularly notorious for clogging digital pipelines. If your staff is emailing photos of their family vacation to their friends, paying bills online, or downloading music, they are using up a large amount of expensive bandwidth and slowing down your organization as a result.
2. A Damaged Reputation. A lawyer at a London law firm forwarded an explicit email he received from a female acquaintance to several coworkers as a joke. Unfortunately, they had sent it to a few of their friends, and within a short period of time, thousands of people around the world, including the press, received it. Because of this email, they ended up in a huge controversy that hurt their image and credibility.
3. Loss of Productivity. Email and the internet offer a temptation that is hard to resist. It is why 73% of employees who use the internet are fully aware that they are consuming valuable bandwidth and hampering critical business activities with inappropriate internet usage–but do it anyway.
4. Viruses and Spyware. Employees can accidentally download harmful viruses and spyware through music files, screensavers, and other online files.
Since before computers were invented, humans have fantasized about machines coming to life – with the idea that machines could think for themselves and make their own decisions. From Terminator to the Matrix, Artificial Intelligence is nothing new.
What is Artificial Intelligence or AI for short? AI is the theory of having a machine react to stimuli that would emulate human response and thinking. We already have many examples of AI that are currently in action. From IBM’s Watson, to self-teaching AI that can now predict economic futures to a certain degree of accuracy. There is even AI that can detect Heart Arrhythmias in patients with cardiologist-level accuracy.
The future certainly looks even more promising for AI. There are developments that can relay information through AI to control things like roads and traffic lights. This would make it easier for first responders in cities or metro areas, leading to quicker response times, as well as tracking crime through city CCTV. The Department of Defense has also been looking into Artificial Intelligence for cybersecurity defense and offense. AI can react faster than a human can, as well as monitor more areas with less resources needed.
While it seems that Artificial Intelligence can only help to make our lives easier, there are drawbacks including physical and cyber security concerns. AI would have to be kept on a server, which could make it as vulnerable as its servers. A hacker may attempt to breach server security and take control of an AI for nefarious purposes. This would most likely be to steal personal information, instead of creating a real-world version of Skynet.
Thinking about a future with AI integrated into human society is very intriguing. Traffic could be reduced with self-driving cars, and certain industries could benefit heavily from AI being incorporated into their workforce. The downside would be opening up the next venue of cybersecurity attacks. However AI is incorporated in the future, it needs to be done thoughtfully.
Want to avoid the most common and expensive computer problems most Phoenix business owners experience? Here is a list of 5 things you should be doing to save yourself time and money:
Have an automated off-site backup system in place. Having an off-site backup of your data is the equivalent of wearing a seatbelt in a major accident. You don’t think much about it until you need it, but when you do, you will be thankful you have it. This is one of the most important things you can do to protect your critical data and keep your business running smoothly if disaster hits. If you don’t have off-site backup in place, contact us today to get that set up.
Centralize your data on your server. At one time, servers only made sense for large organizations because of their high cost and complexity. But today, there are very affordable and easy-to-implement server options designed specifically for any size business. Depending on your business needs, your server can be located on-site or hosted in the cloud. A server will not only speed up your network, but it will also make backups easier, allow secure remote access for employees to work from home or on the road, and make it much easier to share documents, databases, and printers. If you have questions about your server needs or about moving into the cloud, contact us today for a free network evaluation.
Keep your anti-virus software up to date, and perform weekly spyware scans. Almost everyone understands the importance of anti-virus software, but many businesses still do not perform weekly spyware sweeps. Spyware can cause a host of problems that include slowing down your systems, pop-up ads, and even identity theft. This service is included in our Managed Services offerings.
Create an acceptable use policy and enforce it! One of the biggest threats to your network are your employees. Employees can accidentally introduce viruses and software through checking their Gmail accounts, downloading photos, or visiting phishing websites set up by online criminals. There are several great programs available for monitoring employee activity online. We include this service as part of our security stack.
Perform regular maintenance. Just like your car, a computer network needs regular maintenance. This includes monitoring of critical components, performance, security patches, and your backup system. Regular maintenance can dramatically improve the speed and reliability of your network, as well as the security of your data. If you cannot afford to lose data or be down for days, you must perform regular maintenance on your network. This service is also included in our Managed Services offerings.
If you need help in any of these areas, or if you have questions about your current setup, don’t hesitate to contact us today!
Contact us for more information at email@example.com, through our website at www.cciaz.com (go to ‘Contact’ in the red bar and fill out the form), or call us at (480) 921-9044.
Back in the dark ages when television (now known as TV) was considered “high tech”, the typical business office had at least one typewriter, if not more. It was the office workhorse for memos, letters, documents and forms. Anyone could use it without knowing anything about menus, settings or preferences. It was a good machine that became one of the most relied upon pieces of office equipment, and it was easy to maintain. Following word processors with displays and editing capabilities, the typewriter was soon replaced by the desktop computer: a wonder of technology with more processing power than NASA had to send man to the moon. Even though many of today’s office workers have never seen a typewriter, they still treat their desktop computer as if it were a simple machine that required minimal maintenance.
Unlike the typewriter, the desktop computer requires regular maintenance. Programs need updating, disks need reorganizing and the keyboard, mouse and main box need to be dusted and cleaned regularly. A computer is more complex than a typewriter and needs more care.
Like typewriters, regular maintenance of the mechanical parts of the computer can be performed by almost anyone. However, keeping your computer running in top operating condition requires a bit more expertise. Qualified technicians know what files should be where, what programs are out of date and when the computer can no longer keep up with increased workloads.
If your computer is not performing as well as it could, it might be time to talk to an expert to find out if you have the right tool for the job.
What is this cloud computing people are talking about and what are the benefits of moving to the cloud?
Cloud computing is computing based on the internet. The largest benefit of this is the ability to access your data from any device, anytime. The actual computing is happening from a datacenter outside of your organization. Accessing your work is as easy to do at home as it is in the office, enabling you to work anywhere with an internet connection.
Thousands of businesses are trading in their traditional computer equipment for virtualized desktops and cloud-based servers. Cloud computing uses less power, and requires less in-office IT equipment or space to operate. It also offers instant data recovery and the ability to securely work from home or on the road. Here are just a few of the reasons why you may benefit from moving your company to the cloud:
– Work from anywhere with easy access to your data anytime
– Drop your overall IT expenses (hardware, software, maintenance), and also save costs by not having to run and maintain your own server- Gain flexibility and the ability to quickly scale for growth
– Go green by saving on electricity and only using the energy you need
– Automatic disaster recovery and protection from theft, viruses, and other unexpected circumstances
– Pay a flat monthly fee to better balance your IT budget
– Cloud tools to increase team collaboration with easy file sharing using applications such as Office 365
Contact us for more information on transferring your systems to the cloud at firstname.lastname@example.org, through our website at www.cciaz.com (go to ‘Contact’ in the red bar and fill out the form), or call us at (480) 921-9044 to get you set up.
Can you imagine cars driving all by themselves? If you have driven around the valley in recent years, you have more than likely seen the Google cars on the road with the roof mounted cameras, working to map out the streets for Google Maps. Now, there is a new breed of cars driving all around town. Waymo, an Alphabet company and the Google Parent Company, has been testing self-driving cars in the east valley for over a year now. Recently, they extended an offer to the general public to catch a free ride in one of their self-driving minivans. You can sign up to be an early rider and per their website, you can help shape the future of self-driving cars. Go to https://waymo.com/apply to fill out an application and if you’re lucky, you can be one of the first people in the country to catch a free ride in a self-driving car! This offer may not last long, so sign up while you can if you want to see a glimpse of the future! Safe travels.
The internet and email have become indispensable tools for business, but many companies are finding that employees are using these tools more for personal activities than job-related tasks. In fact, many business owners have recognized that unrestricted use of the internet by employees has the potential to have more of a negative impact rather than enhance productivity. Unrestricted internet usage also poses additional security threats.
To reduce the security risk and minimize non-productive activities, business owners are utilizing an Internet Acceptable Use Policy (IAUP), along with adding additional layers to their existing security stack. An IAUP is a written agreement that details the permissible workplace uses of the internet and email, and includes prohibited uses, rules of online behavior, and access privileges with penalties for violations of the policy. An IAUP can reduce wasted hours online, lower bandwidth usage and stabilize equipment needs.
Here at Computer Concern, we advise our clients to have an IAUP in place, and can assist with creating the documentation. Along with an IAUP, we recommend evaluating and increasing your existing security stack to ensure you are covered from multiple angles. Having Antivirus alone is no longer good enough. We recommend adding layered security, which includes gateway protection, advanced next generation routers and increased monitoring. As part of our security stack offerings, we offer Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), which creates an additional layer of cloud-delivered protection, both on and off the corporate network. There is no hardware to install or software to maintain. The final layer of protection is internet monitoring, called OpenDNS, which makes monitoring of employee internet usage simple. View usage by hours connected, sites visited or detailed reports that show all security level activity.
Contact us for more information on our online security stack options at email@example.com, through our website at www.cciaz.com (go to ‘Contact’ in the red bar and fill out the form), or call us at (480) 921-9044 to get you set up.
Spam emails are annoying and time consuming, but they are also becoming more dangerous to your privacy and the security on your computer. Millions of computer users are getting infected, spoofed, and tricked by spam emails every year, which can result in paying big fees to clean and restore their PC’s back to working order.
It’s very important to get a quality spam blocking software installed as a first line of defense. To reduce the chances of your email address being added to a spammer’s list, here are five simple preventative measures that will help keep spam out of your inbox:
1. Use a Disposable Email Address If you buy products online or occasionally subscribe to websites that interest you, you will more than likely be spammed. To avoid your primary email address from ending up on a broadcast list, set up a free email address (such as Gmail), and use it when buying or opting into online subscriptions.
2. Pay Attention to Check Boxes That Automatically Opt You In Whenever you subscribe to a website or make a purchase online, be careful of small, pre-checked boxes that say, “Yes! I want to receive offers from third party companies.” If you do not uncheck the box to opt out, your email address can (and will) be sold to online advertisers, so watch the online forms you fill out.
3. Don’t Post Your Primary Email Address on Your Website or Web Forums Spammers have special programs that can extract email addresses from websites without your permission. If you are posting to a web forum, use your secondary email address instead of your primary email address. If you want to post an email address on your home page, use “info@” and have all replies forwarded to a folder in your inbox that won’t interfere with your important email.
4. Create Throwaway Email Accounts If you own a web domain, all mail going to an address at your domain is probably set up to come directly to you by default. For example, an email address to firstname.lastname@example.org will be delivered to your inbox. This is a great way to fight spam without missing out on important emails. The next time you sign up for a newsletter, use the title of the website in your email address. For example, if the website is titled www.greatwidgets.com, enter email@example.com as your email address. If firstname.lastname@example.org shows up as the original recipient, you know the source, since that email address was unique to that website. You can now easily stop the spam by making any email sent to that address bounce back to the sender.
5. Don’t Open, Reply to, or Try to Opt-Out of Obvious Spam Emails Opening, replying to, or even clicking on a deceptive opt-out link in a spam email signals that your email address is active, and more spam will follow. The only time it is safe to click on the opt-out link or reply to the email is when the message was sent from a company you trust or do business with.
Interested? Contact Us! At Computer Concern, we offer and recommend Microsoft Office 365, which provides built-in spam filtering. Please contact us at email@example.com, through our website at www.cciaz.com (go to ‘Contact’ in the red bar and fill out the form), or call us at (480) 921-9044 to get you set up.
Imagine being at work one day, and your server suddenly crashes, which causes ALL of your data to be erased. This type of situation would be a costly tragedy, and your business would take a hard hit.
Here are some tips to make sure this doesn’t happen to you:
1. Don’t rely on inexpensive and automated online backup providers to backup your company data.
– Make sure to do your research ahead of time on the best solutions available. Some sample questions to ask any offsite backup provider are:
1. Ask if you have the option to have your initial backup performed through an encrypted hard drive. With the amount of data on most company’s servers, an initial backup performed over the web can take weeks to complete
2. Make sure that database files can be stored and recovered easily. Many cheap online backup services only hold simple office or media files, while ignoring your most important database files or making those incredibly difficult to recover
3. Ask for daily status reports. Any reputable backup service will send you a daily email to verify that everything is backed up. The more professional solutions will allow you to notify more than one person (like your IT company), in addition to yourself.
2. Don’t trust that your backup is automatically working without doing periodic test restores. Often times, a business owner thinks that their backups are working because they don’t see any error messages or apparent problems. Then, when they need to restore a file (or their entire server), they discover the backups stopped working MONTHS ago and their data is gone.
At Computer Concern, we offer an offsite Hybrid Cloud Backup solution, which helps keep your information at a secure location, safe from the dangers of the local environment. We can evaluate your current backup solution and make recommendations. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, through our website at http://www.cciaz.com (go to ‘Contact’ in the red bar and fill out the form), or call us at (480) 921-9044.
Reviewing your current backup and making sure your data is being backed up properly is very important, and you do not want to rely on luck for this!