Laptops and computer equipment are often overlooked when it comes to cleaning duties, but they can harbor viruses and bacteria on their surfaces – especially when it comes to touchscreens and keyboards. Below is some helpful advice for sanitizing your equipment to protect your health.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has offered up several helpful tips for cleaning and disinfecting facilities during the COVID-19 outbreak of 2020. First, the CDC recommends cleaning surfaces with soap and water, especially frequently-touched surfaces like doorknobs, desks, faucets, keyboards, and others. Then, surfaces should be disinfected with an EPA-registered disinfectant or a diluted bleach solution.
It can be difficult to clean and sanitize electronics with soap and water or with household disinfectants, but the CDC offers a few other guidelines specific to computers, keyboards, and other equipment. First and foremost, they recommend using a wipeable cover over keyboards and other electronics that you touch frequently. You can find keyboard covers for most laptops and major keyboards online. They also suggest looking up the manufacturer’s instructions for disinfecting computers and laptops.
Before attempting to clean any computer or equipment, be sure that is unplugged and completely powered down. Never spray anything directly onto the computer or equipment, even when it is advised that you utilize a spray. Always spray onto a clean, soft cloth and remember that microfiber works best – especially for monitors, which are prone to smearing and scratching.
For the most part, the guidelines for cleaning computers is the same regardless of the brand or model, but a few of the major manufacturers have created webpages for this purpose.
For the most part, cleaning your other computer equipment is as simple as wiping it down with a cloth dipped into a disinfecting solution or a disinfecting wipe. Things like the outer case on your computer (laptop or desktop), your servers, the legs/stand on your monitor, your mouse, and your desk area can all harbor viruses and bacteria and should be cleaned frequently.
Finally, your smartphone and tablet will also require frequent cleaning and disinfecting. Refer to your manufacturer’s instructions to discover which sprays are best for use with your particular device. Make sure you turn your phone or tablet completely off, then slightly dampen a microfiber cloth with the spray (never spray anything directly on the device) and wipe the entire surface of the device – the back, the front, and each side. Then, let the device sit for the time indicated on the spray and wipe any remaining product away with a damp microfiber cloth.
Whether you’re working from home or as an “essential” employee, it is imperative that you heed the advice of the CDC and your electronic devices’ manufacturers to keep them clean and sanitized. After all, our hands spend a lot of time with them, which makes them the perfect breeding ground. Killing germs on your computers, screens, keyboards, and other equipment frequently will go a long way toward keeping you healthy and safe.
Kentucky and Tennessee are not technically in the swath of the nation dubbed “Tornado Alley,” but neither state is immune to springtime severe weather. Things like straight-line winds, devastating lightning strikes, and even flooding along the Ohio River can have a detrimental effect on your business’s network, including its server and the associated data. To ensure your company’s success, you should ensure you’re protected with a backup and disaster recovery solution.
A backup is simply a copy of your company’s data – including files, customer data, software, and more – stored in another location which should always be separate from your main server. In the event severe weather affects your place of business and takes out your server, that backup ensures that your company’s data is not lost forever. Since 70% of companies that experience this data loss quickly go out of business afterward, backups are vitally important. They can make the difference between a failed business and one that succeeds, even in the face of a disaster.
Disaster recovery is the process by which information that was destroyed during severe weather, a fire, a flood, cybercrime, or even hardware failure is recovered. The entire goal of disaster recovery should include reobtaining as much of the lost information as possible as quickly as possible. After all, the more quickly you can get your data back and get your site online, the lesser the impact of the event that caused the data loss, and the more likely your business will come through unscathed.
Now that you understand the importance of backup and disaster recovery, here are a few tips to help you feel certain that you are protected before this year’s severe weather season:
As you can see, a backup and data recovery solution is critical to the overall success of your business. Without it, should disaster strike, you may lose your company’s data forever. For the best possible results, make sure you choose an expert company that can help your small or medium business weather the storm.
Every single day, your business faces numerous threats that could have a serious negative impact on everything from your reputation to your revenue. Malware may seem like one of the least problematic from the outside, but companies who have been adversely affected by malware know that it’s a serious issue. Below, you can learn more about malware and why it should concern you. You’ll also learn about excellent solutions that you can put in place right away.
Malware is a word derived from the term “malicious software,” which also serves as a great definition. Simply put, malware involves numerous software types that have been specifically created to damage the recipient in one way or another. In some cases, the recipient business may be specifically targeted with the malware; in others, the recipient may simply be unlucky.
Malware can damage your network, hardware, software, and company in several ways. It might duplicate and steal sensitive data, leading to a breach; it might shut down your entire network or system; it might be used to render your server useless; and it might also be used to cause a variety of problems related to system use for you and your employees.
The software is usually created by hackers who have extensive knowledge of internet protocols, firewalls, security limitations, and more. It can find its way into your network through various routes, as well. Malware comes in many different forms, including viruses, ransomware, adware, and botnets among others. Email is a very common point of entry, though it may also be possible for someone to hack into your network directly and “plant” the malware.
The best way to avoid the problems malware can cause involves avoiding malware in the first place. Numerous companies provide preventative solutions, ranging from email security options (since much of the malware introduced into business networks is introduced via email) to enhanced firewalls designed to stop breaches before they start. If you want to be certain that your network is up to date and protected against such intrusions, the best way to do this is with a network security assessment. This is designed to actively find holes in your network that malware could potentially penetrate, then give you options for plugging those holes and keeping your company’s data safe.
To further improve your network, you should always make sure that you have a strong antivirus and antimalware program running on every computer at all times. It is also important that you keep your systems and software updated. The best way to do this is to allow automatic updates and schedule them during non-working hours. Finally, train your employees to spot any potentially malicious activity and report it immediately.
Malware can have a horrible effect on your company. In fact, some malware can even completely erase your data or lock you out of your systems, rendering your entire business completely helpless. Schedule a network assessment today, and be sure that you have the best antivirus and firewall protection available installed.
If you manage a business that caters to its clients or customers onsite – including a hotel, a salon, or perhaps even a hardware store – there are numerous reasons to consider providing your guests with Wi-Fi access. Not only is it incredibly convenient, but it may even help you get ahead of your competitors. Here’s what you need to know.
If you’ve ever given away a free gift with a purchase or provided a free continental breakfast with a stay, then you already understand the power of the word “free”. One of the best and simplest reasons to offer your customers or guests free onsite Wi-Fi access is because it’s free. In fact, your customers may choose to do business with you over your competitors if you are the only one offering free Wi-Fi.
Giving your customers access to your corporate network so they can do their work while they are onsite is generous, but it can present several problems for your company. For instance, having 15 people on your network reading their emails may barely be noticeable, but if there are 15 people streaming Netflix, then you may start to feel the effects of the limited bandwidth. Giving people access to free guest Wi-Fi can reduce this congestion and keep your network running far more smoothly.
Though allowing someone to access the internet via your corporate network may not seem like a big deal, it certainly can be if you give that access to the wrong person. There’s a reason why your network is password-protected; it’s to keep people with bad intentions out. In some cases, all a hacker needs is access to your network to shut down your entire operation, wipe out your company data, or plant a nasty virus that affects not only you, but also others in your network – vendors, customers, and more. Guest Wi-Fi access drastically reduces this risk and lets you breathe easier when you see people connected to the web.
Finally, providing free guest Wi-Fi for customers and visitors is one of the best ways to show people that you truly care about them. Today’s world is fast-paced, and people always have something to do online, whether they’re catching up on their homework, writing a report for work, or even creating a speech for a major event. They need access to the internet to continue living their lives and doing the things they need to do, and when you can provide it to them free of charge, it shows that you are on their side – something they are sure to appreciate.
Guest Wi-Fi access is just one of many ways to help make your clients and customers happy, but it is also one of the most important. After all, in today’s day and age, we rely on the internet to live our lives. It’s where we shop. It’s where we work. It’s where we go to school. It’s even where we connect with our families. When you give this to people for free, they will be thankful.
Installing the right security software is important for keeping your business’s network secure, but even the most up-to-date software can only do so much. It’s up to you - and your employees, for that matter - to prevent many network breaches that could leave your business out of commission and losing money by the second. Here are things you and your employees can do to prevent breaches.
The more information stored on the network, the more information that could possibly fall into the hands of a cybercriminal. One way to reduce this risk is to simply reduce the data volume as much as possible. Don’t retain any data that isn’t absolutely necessary and try to find ways to simplify the data that you do collect. Finally, along these same lines, try to store data in only two places, with at least one place being in the cloud for disaster recovery purposes.
Email is the number one point of entry for viruses and malware that devastate small businesses, and over half of all major attacks on small businesses were made possible by an employee opening a phishing email or facilitating ransomware through malware in an email. Train your employees on the dangers of these emails and teach them tips for spotting them. Then, make sure your employees not only delete these emails, but that they also report them to the appropriate company. Usually, the company being “spoofed” in a phishing email, for example, will have a specific email address set aside for reporting such things. Be sure to forward the email along to that particular address (if it exists), then delete it.
If any of your business’s network information appears on physical sheets of paper, it is critical that these sheets be destroyed as quickly as possible. Don’t just throw them out; run them through a cross-cut shredder beforehand to discourage potential thieves from piecing together your critical information. You should also destroy and discard other types of physical media, including CDs or DVDs, that have important company data on them.
As tempted as they might be, it is important that your employees do not access unnecessary websites, especially peer-to-peer file sharing websites, on your company network. These are the perfect entry points for cybercriminals. Better still, utilize software to restrict access to any websites that are not directly required for your employees to do their jobs. Though it may seem too restrictive to you at first, it is the only real way to ensure that your sensitive information stays on your network.
Finally, there are several other policies you should put into place and enforce to keep your data safe. Make sure your employees understand which data is confidential and that they are aware of the repercussions of sharing confidential information with others, intentionally or otherwise. Do not allow cameras at workstations with company computers (to prevent purposeful or unintentional photography of sensitive information), and require your employees to change their passwords frequently. Go over these policies during your weekly meetings to ensure your employees understand their importance, as well.
If you’re a fan of Quickbooks, you are certainly not alone. It’s one of the best and most popular accounting platforms available today, and it is primarily geared toward small businesses. These days, Quickbooks is available in both on-premise and in-the-cloud formats that make it incredibly easy to manage your business from absolutely anywhere. Here are some of the ways in which Quickbooks Cloud Hosting can make things much simpler for your company, too.
Quickbooks Cloud Hosting isn’t a favorite for no reason; in fact, small and medium businesses rely on it every single day because of a few very important benefits:
Aside from the three main points listed above, Quickbooks offers much more. Business owners can create a hierarchy of access privileges that allow different levels of access for people across the company, which puts them in control of their data without sacrificing collaboration. You can create numerous business forms on the go - not just invoices - and you can choose from numerous plans designed in such a way that you will never find yourself paying for more service than you really need.
It’s also especially good for inventory management since you can view quantities on hand, get real time inventory valuations, and instantly access your own purchase orders from vendors no matter where you are. Finally, because the entire platform is cloud-based, you can rest assured in the knowledge that you will always be accessing the latest iteration of the platform without having to go through lengthy update processes on your various devices.
If you are looking for a software platform that is well-known, has a solid reputation for quality, and provides you with all the money and/or inventory management tools you need no matter where you are, Quickbooks Cloud Hosting can provide it, and it can make it incredibly simple at the same time.
Whether you run a small to medium business or you’ll be getting one off the ground soon, telephone service is a big consideration and something that is best to plan early on. The three options available to you include Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), landline, and mobile, and the information below will help you make the best possible decisions based on your company’s needs and budget.
There’s no doubt that mobile phone service is the most broadly utilized service of the three in today’s high-tech day and age. It is estimated that some 66.6% of the global population and 96% of Americans have mobile devices. Despite their popularity, it is important to remember that mobile phones are only best for individuals and many of the benefits that make a cellphone attractive to a single person simply do not apply to small businesses. After all, the last thing you want is a dropped call or poor call quality due to touchy reception. It may not be a big deal when chatting with a friend, but when it’s a client or customer, it means everything.
Prior to the incredible penetration of mobile service into the everyday lives of global consumers, landline service was considered the norm. Almost every household in the nation had at least one telephone line and number, and many had more than one to accommodate teens, home-based businesses, and more. Even medium and large businesses utilized numerous lines of traditional phone service in one location to keep their businesses connected with each other and their clients and customers.
However, landline service is very expensive for businesses of any size. Each line has its own associated set of costs, and those don’t account for hardware installation, wiring, and more. Now, barely 40% of Americans utilize landlines. Though businesses are moving away from landline service more slowly, the introduction of “softphone” services delivered via VoIP is slowly phasing them out.
For many businesses – especially small and medium-sized businesses interested in scalability – there is no better solution than VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol. To put it simply, VoIP is voice service that is carried on your data network rather than through copper wires. The result is phone service that is far more affordable and often even easier to use than complicated landline networks. VoIP makes it possible to add lines of service in seconds, activate call forwarding in just a few clicks, and take a telephone number anywhere as long as there is internet connectivity. VoIP continues to grow in popularity and is slated to help phase out landline service in the next few years.
There’s little denying that VoIP is the way to go for businesses of all sizes. Though it can help small to medium business save money on things like installation costs up front, even larger businesses can benefit from transitioning their landlines packed with fees and charges to VoIP lines that are scalable, functional, and easy to use.
If you regularly deal with documents, spreadsheets, and even take digital notes, then there’s a very good chance you’ve at least heard of Microsoft Office 365, even if you don’t currently use it. Below, you can learn more about Office 365 vs the traditional product and why it still reigns supreme over the various freeware alternatives like OpenOffice and LibreOffice.
What is Microsoft Office 365?
Microsoft Office 365 is the cloud-based version of Microsoft’s ever-popular Office suite. The suite itself comes with a host of helpful productivity tools, including Word (word processing), Excel (spreadsheets), Outlook (email client), and even OneNote (collaborative note-taking and filing software). With traditional Office products, you can only use them locally. However, with Microsoft Office 365, you can take your suite anywhere as long as you are connected to the internet. Office 365 also offers affordable monthly billing in exchange for free updates to the latest versions of each of its productivity tools.
Open-Source Microsoft Office 365 Alternatives
Despite Microsoft Office 365’s reputation for being the best productivity suite on the market, there are several competitors out there offering similar products for free. The two most popular are OpenOffice and LibreOffice, which each offer both desktop and mobile versions of their tools. To properly compare the open-source models with Microsoft 365, it’s important to look at a few different categories.
Though freeware can save you a bit of money when it comes to your productivity tools, Microsoft Office 365 remains the best option. It offers better support, it is optimized to run on Windows 10 (like many business computers do), and it comes with collaboration features that simply cannot be duplicated elsewhere. Microsoft Office 365 also pairs nicely with various email security measures and antivirus options, too, making it incredibly user-friendly.
Information technology has come a long way in the last two or three decades. Whereas servers once took up entire rooms, it is now possible to fit numerous servers in a room the size of a closet – something even experts would have never predicted. Below are five predictions for the future of IT that could affect the way your company does business – or at least affect the hardware and services it uses.
It’s hard to believe, but the first computers took up an entire room and had only a fraction of the processing power of today’s smartphone devices. Today, things are certainly different, and the technologies we use to keep us connected to the world and to our businesses easily fit in our pockets. Within the next 10 years, experts believe that we will be even closer to what is known as zero-size intelligence. This simply refers to having a ton of processing power in a very, very tiny package – perhaps even the head of a pin.
Though mobile phones have come a long way in the last several years, they simply cannot compare to the features and benefits associated with VoIP for business. In fact, companies that choose the right VoIP provider can enjoy many of the same calling features that a mobile phone would provide, including the portability. Other reasons why VoIP will remain relevant in the next decade include cheap international communication, enhanced affordability, user-friendly software, and incredible scalability.
IT, or Information Technology, is all about data management. In the next 10 years, experts think that the tremendous amounts of data being collected, the machines used to process that data, and the algorithms telling those machines what to do could progress to a point where many independent decisions about what to watch, what to wear, and even what to eat become a thing of the past. In fact, the technological advances may even pose moral problems in the future as people must decide how to use the vast amounts of data they collect.
There’s an ongoing joke that the older we get, the less “tech-savvy” we become, but it’s actually the opposite that is true. Younger people who grow up with the latest technologies fare far better in the high-tech world and they can adapt at a much faster rate than the older generations. Because of this, the younger generation is by far the best generation to drive the tech industry forward. They can build upon what they already know and create new technologies designed for convenience, safety, and more.
The more data we collect, the smaller the world becomes. The internet allows us to gain access to practically anything we can imagine – a recipe, a chat with a friend on the other side of the planet, and more – instantaneously with a few clicks. Unfortunately, while most people use the internet for good, there are some who use it for more sinister purposes. As technology advances in the next decade, these “dark web” groups and “hacktivists” will thrive, and they will pose new challenges for businesses of all sizes striving to keep their data safe.
The next decade will bring about some brand-new challenges for everyone connected to the internet, including both consumers and businesses alike. In some cases, the problems we already see today will be exacerbated. Hopefully, though, with increased knowledge and the ability to predict the actions of others, it will be possible to make the right decisions about information, technology, and the way they work together.
Phishing is a real threat to small and medium businesses, and if employees are not diligent about protecting the information that they can access, even the smallest mistake can cost your company everything. Phishing email tests are a great way to help you better understand your vulnerabilities, and they give you a great talking point during security meetings. Here’s what you should know.
Phishing is an online scam in which a criminal sends out emails pretending to be someone else, whether that someone else is someone within your organization or someone in another well-known organization, including Google, Netflix, PayPal, and others, in order to get your employee to provide sensitive information. The goal is to get your employees to act out of fear or curiosity and gain access to various types of data. This may include things like a username or password or even bank account information. For businesses, the ultimate goal may be your entire network, which can be devastating.
Per a 2017 report compiled by PhishMe, the average phishing attack on a mid-sized business cost that business a total of $1.6 million – a sum that can easily cause a company to go under. The same report found that employees are most susceptible to phishing attacks that target them as consumers rather than employees. The good news in the report is that phishing susceptibility rates are on the decline; 14.1% of organizations fell victim to phishing in 2015 compared to just 10.8% in 2017. Nevertheless, it is crucial that small and medium businesses remain vigilant in their security.
A phishing email test is a mock attack that helps you better understand everything from your company’s internal email security to your employees’ diligence in reporting phishing scams. It is a controlled environment in which an IT professional determines your employees’ awareness of cybersecurity by determining whether phishing emails can get through email security and, if so, whether your employees will respond to them. This way, you can make the changes you need to make – and properly train your employees – in anticipation of a real cyberattack.
Ideally, your phishing email test should include everyone in your organization, including those at the highest levels. This way, you can better manage these employees’ awareness of cybersecurity and make the appropriate changes where necessary. Take the results of the test seriously, and use them to determine the best next step for your company, whether that involves implementing managed email security services or providing more training for people who performed poorly during the test by responding to phishing emails.
The best way to prevent cyberattacks like phishing emails is to prepare for them proactively through managed antivirus and antispam services that are constantly monitored and updated to prevent even the newest and most dangerous threats. Aside from this, regularly performing phishing email tests in the workplace will help you understand your susceptibility and ultimately create a safer network for your business.