Essential Small Business Management Software for 2020

Efficiency and productivity are two things that every business strives for. The more productive the workforce is, the more profitable the business is.

There are a million ways to make your team more productive and efficient. Fortunately, there are software tools that can make it much easier.

Read on to discover the top small business management software tools you have to use to make your business run better.

Accounting Software

The health of your business isn’t measured by revenue, but by cash flow. About 82% of businesses close because of cash flow issues, making it the main reason why businesses shut down.

Having a great accounting program to help you manage your business is an absolute must so you can easily manage your cash flow.

QuickBooks has long been the industry leader in the field and you can find a plan to fit your business, no matter the size.

Customer Relationship Management

Small business owners have so much to keep track of it’s easy to let things fall through the cracks. A customer relationship management solution will help you keep track of leads and customers.

You’ll be able to see exactly where your leads are in the sales cycle and stay on top of your customers’ needs.

Some of the top CRM solutions are from SalesForce, Zoho, and HubSpot.

Marketing Automation

How would you like to have your customers come to you instead of constantly chasing your next customer?

Marketing automation is a simple way to allow you to do just that. A simple marketing automation tool will allow you to build an email sales funnel and have it sent out automatically as you get subscribers. MailChimp and SendPulse are two tools that are good starting points for marketing automation.

There are also solutions that are more complex and allow you to segment leads and trigger emails for certain events, like if someone abandons a shopping cart on your website.

Document Sharing in the Cloud

It seems like everything is moving to the cloud. The cloud is simply the internet.

One tool that you need is a cloud service that will allow you to store, access, and edit documents from anywhere.

This is particularly handy if you spend a lot of time on the road meeting with clients.

Managing Software

These are all great tools that can help you manage your business and be more efficient. However, you have to manage all of these tools. You want to make sure that your software is updated, and your employees are trained to use them.

Integrating new tools in the work environment is challenging because employees don’t like change. They need to understand why the change is necessary and how it will make their work better.

The Top Small Business Management Software Tools

Small business management software is necessary if you want to do things faster and more efficiently. There are countless tools to choose from and you want to find the solutions that best fit your needs.

Managing a business is tough. Managing technology to run your business presents even more challenges. You don’t have to figure it all out by yourself. Contact CORE Networks today to find out how we can help you in your business.

5 Reasons Why Employee Education is Important in Protecting Your Network

Insider-caused data breaches are happening more often and at higher costs to companies, according to the Ponemon Institute.

Institute experts recommend stepping up efforts to minimize risk. One of the top steps you can take is to hire experts to train your employees on policies and procedures.

Here are five reasons why employee education is vital in protecting your network.

1. Security Will Become a Clear Priority

You’d hate to see your company make data breach history, and your employees would too. It’s hard to feel proud of a company doesn’t seem to care about security and privacy.

By setting aside company time for training, you’re showing employees your company is serious about security. This increases the chances that they will take it seriously as well.

2. You Will Raise Awareness and Provide Specific Directions

Anyone can fall victim to common cyber security risks. Knowledge is the top way to fight that.

Do your employees even know you have a security policy? Do they know what to do if they see something that concerns them or if they think they may have slipped up? Are they aware of what kinds of threats are out there today?

They will be if you bring in professionals to educate them properly. After all, nobody wants to see the employer who puts food on their table lose cash because of security-related legal bills.

3. Employee Education Makes Security Personal

It’s unlikely every employee feels personally responsible for security issues, such as protecting business data. It can feel like a responsibility that rests on IT’s shoulders. Teaching employees to protect your company helps them realize that it’s part of their daily job description.

One way education does this is by making security a personal problem. When employees learn that data breaches can release their own HR and payroll records, that can raise a red flag and inspire action.

Adding this personal touch also helps employees feel like they’re getting a benefit. They can use the tips they learn for their own accounts and home network.

4. People Will Open up to IT

Once employees gain a sense of their role in security, they will understand how important it is to be honest if they have a concern. They will be much more likely to report issues to the IT department or the managed services provider.

Having a reporting plan in place will make it much easier for employees to know what to report and how. Thanks their training, everybody on staff will be ready to react quickly.

5. Your Policy Will Fit Your Company

When you include employees in training, the direct interaction can help ensure everyone is on the same page about your polices and procedures. Giving employees the chance to ask questions, share concerns, and provide feedback may help you build a better plan for the future.

You’ll end up with a policy that works for your company’s needs and culture. You’re more likely to see success.

Get Expert Help with Employee Education for Superior Network Security

With professional employee education, you can get your network security in gear. If you’re ready to educate your employees, contact us to get started.

What Does Windows 7 Support End of Life Mean for Your Business?

In 2019, Help Net Security found out that 43% of businesses were still running Windows 7.

If your business is among them, it’s high time to prepare for Windows 7 end of life. From January 2020, Microsoft will no longer provide support for this system. As popular as it was, Windows 7 always had a limited lifespan.

Not sure why it’s time to move on? Here’s a quick guide to help you out.

What It Means

First things first: why is the end of Windows 7 support such a big deal?

For starters, there’s the matter of security. Once Jan. 14 rolls around, PCs running Windows 7 will face higher exposure to security risks. These include viruses, corruption, data loss, cyber-attacks, and so on.

Also, your business may be subject to regulatory compliance such as GDPR, PCI, or HIPAA. In this case, if you continue to use an unsupported operating system, your business won’t pass its yearly audits.

The Two Options

The best way to protect your IT infrastructure is to migrate to Windows 10 by the Jan. 14 deadline. You have two viable options at your disposal.

1. Upgrade to Windows 10

Are most of your business laptops and computers less than three years old? If so, your best bet is a simple upgrade to Windows 10. This won’t take a long time and allows you to keep your existing files and software.

The upgrade costs depend on whether your PCs have Windows 10 pre-loaded. If they do, you only need to buy the installation file ($120-$200 per machine). If you need to buy the license as well, you may end up spending a lot more.

Once you add the license costs into the mix, the age of your existing PCs becomes a key factor. The older a computer gets, the closer it is to the end of its life. If you’ll have to replace it soon, it may not be wise to invest in it.

2. Purchasing New PCs

Your other option is to buy PCs that come with Windows 10 installed. This is the more expensive route, as well as the more time-consuming one. Researching new PCs, transferring the files, and setting everything up can take a while.

That said, this may be the right move for two types of businesses:

• Businesses with computers that are more than three years old

• Businesses with computers that don’t have the Windows 10 OEM license

As mentioned above, the Windows 10 license and software can be steep. In these situations, businesses should look at each individual PC. If most of them don’t have licenses or are older than three years, getting new PCs makes sense.

Of course, keeping PCs that are older than three years is also a valid option. That said, keep in mind that these will keep slowing down over time. Plus, they may not be completely compatible with Windows 10.

More on Windows 7 End of Life

As you can see, you shouldn’t take the Windows 7 end of life deadline lightly. If your business has an in-house IT department, they should already be on top of it. If you have a managed service provider, check in with them.

Want to know more about the security issues that Windows 10 can protect you from? Worried that your business isn’t safe from cyber-attacks? We can help you out — contact us right here, and we’ll get back to you!

Great Ways To Avoid Falling For Email Phishing Scams And Attacks

All it takes is a single click to put all of your business’s confidential data in the wrong hands and plunge the entire company into mass chaos. Data breaches can devastate a business because of how hard it is to bounce back from them. The most popular scam that causes these sorts of breaches is email phishing.

Sometimes it can be hard to tell a fake email from a legitimate one. Hackers are getting craftier by the day. 

There are some methods that you can use to protect yourself from these vicious attacks. Check out this helpful email phishing guide. 

1. Stay Informed 

The first step to any successful action plan is to keep yourself updated and informed. Keep your eyes open for any news regarding email phishing. 

The sooner you know about these scammer’s latest methods, the less likely you are to fall into their trap. 

2. Think Before Clicking

It’s one thing to open an email from a known and trusted client without thinking about it, it’s another to open one willy nilly from a stranger. When you get an email from someone you don’t know, inspect it carefully

Hover over the links in the email to make sure that they are going to the place they say they’re going to before you click them. Check and see if the email contains your name at the beginning. If it starts with “dear customer” it’s probably a scam. 

3. Install a Toolbar 

The best way to keep your business safe is to brace yourself with the right tools. Most browsers have a security toolbar that you can download. It provides basic protection and it’s completely free. 

The toolbar runs checks for phishing websites every time you visit a site. If they find anything you will be alerted so you can get off the website ASAP. 

4. Check the Site’s Security 

Everyone is a little cautious about sharing confidential data online but as long as the website is secure you’re fine. There are ways to check and make sure that it is secure before you start typing in personal business information. 

First off, you want to be sure that the website URL starts with “https”. Second of all, you want to look at the little lock icon located beside the URL in the search bar. If the lock is closed the site is secure and if it’s open then it’s not. 

5. Keep Your Browser Up to Date 

Browsers are constantly updating themselves with security patches. These patches are released to fix loopholes that hackers found in the security system. 

So, if you’re the type of person to ignore these patches, stop. Listen to your browser and install the patch. It’s annoying because you’ll have to stop what you’re doing but it’s worth it. 

Expert Ways to Avoid Email Phishing 

Email phishing is a security scam that can be easy to fall victim to. Hackers are crafty. Sometimes the emails they send look as legit as the ones that you get from clients. 

The trick to avoiding this scam is to stay aware of the latest computer security news and keep your computer updated and protected. Don’t let your business’s information fall into the wrong hands. 

Do you think your work computer has suffered from an email phishing incident? Contact us for immediate assistance.

The Top Cyber Security Risks And How You Can Avoid Them

Did you realize over 58 percent of the cyber attacks perpetrated each year target small businesses? For most businesses, using the power of technology to stay connected with consumers and other businesses is a must. Making sure the network you have in place is secure should be one of your top concerns.

Ignoring the need for better network security measures can lead to big problems in the long run. This is why learning about cyber security risks and the measures needed to mitigate these risks is vital. Informing yourself and your team about these online dangers can help you keep sensitive information out of the hands of hackers.

Read below to find out more about common cyber security threats and how to avoid them.

Ransomware Attacks are Surprisingly Common

Keeping sensitive information on your servers is probably something you do without much thought. One of the worst things that can happen to a business owner is becoming the victim of a ransomware attack.

This attack involves hackers taking control of a business network and demanding a ransom to release the information contained on it. Paying this ransom will only make your problems worse, which is why taking measures to prevent these attacks altogether is important.

The best way to mitigate the risks posed by ransomware attacks is by putting a backup and recovery system in place. A cloud-based system will backup your data immediately. With this backup, you can wipe your network clean and remove ransomware with ease.

Phishing Scams Can Create Lots of Problems

You and your employees probably receive hundreds of emails on a monthly basis. The worst mistake you can make when receiving an email from an unknown address is to open any attachments. Cyber-criminals use email phishing scams to put viruses on a network or to steal sensitive login credentials.

Not only will you need to bulk up your network security to fend off these attacks, you also need to work on educating your team about phishing scams. The more they know about what to look for when receiving emails, the easier it will be to avoid these scams.

Avoid Establishing a Bring Your Own Device Policy

Saving money is one of the main concerns most business owners have. While staying on budget is important, you need to avoid making decisions based on cost alone. When it comes to allowing employees to bring in their own devices to access sensitive information, you need to avoid this at all costs.

Most smartphones and other mobile devices are not secure. This means that the sensitive information accessed on these devices can be stolen by a cyber-criminal.

By providing your employees with devices, you can rest assured they are secure.

Professionals Can Help You Avoid Cyber Security Risks

If you are unsure about how to avoid common cyber security risks, working with professionals is a good idea. Without this professional guidance, you are bound to make mistakes.

Are you looking for an experienced managed IT provider? If so, contact us now to find out about the services we provide.

8 Ways Hackers Use the Deep and Dark Web to Steal Your Information

Deep and dark web hackers buy and sell all kinds of personal information. They sell stolen credit card numbers for as little as $9 and if the card uses a unique one-time payment code even that is available for the right price.

Credit card numbers are far from the only thing that’s at risk though. Let’s look at 9 ways hackers on the dark web steal your information.

The Deep and Dark Web Compared

There are three levels of the web:

  1. The world-wide-web that anyone can access.
  2. The deep web is made up of sites that aren’t indexed by the search engines but aren’t necessarily bad.
  3. The dark web, a subsection of the deep web, deals mainly with illegal activities.

Encryption & Anonymity

The foundation of how hackers steal your information through the dark web is encryption and anonymity. They use special software to access these sites that encrypt everything they do. Nobody uses their real name and most transactions use completely anonymous cryptocurrencies.

Carding

“Carding” is the buying and selling of credit card information. If your credit card details get stolen, they could end up for sale on the dark web for any hacker to use. Even high-tech protection like one-time purchase codes is for sale.

Botnets

Botnets are one of the most common ways hackers steal information. They take over personal computers around the world and turn them into “bots” that are all connected through the internet. These botnets are incredibly powerful because of the sheer number of machines involved.

Brute Force Attacks

Hackers may use a brute force attack to steal your information by hacking into your accounts or your PC. These attacks often use botnets to test millions of different passwords until they find one that works. This is why it’s not a good idea to use dictionary words for your password.

Malware

Viruses and other malware are another common method of stealing information. Once your computer gets infected with one of these, a hacker can easily access all your data and even track everything you type including things like your login credentials for banks and other websites.

Stolen Documents

Scanned copies of sensitive documents are often available through the dark web. Passports, citizenship documents, and other personal information can be bought by anyone with access to these sites.

Finding Your Address and Other Information

Hackers use resources on the dark web to find addresses, phone numbers, workplaces, and many other things about your “real” life. Hackers can use these to target you in other ways or as part of a larger identity theft operation.

Social Engineering

Most people picture someone in a dark room, hammering away on their computer keyboard when they think of hackers. A lot of the information hackers collect is obtained through social engineering. They’ll pretend to be someone they’re not and trick people into revealing personal information through email, over the phone, or even face-to-face.

Deep and Dark Web Hackers are Buying and Selling Information

The dark web has its own underground economy, with hackers buying and selling almost any kind of information you can imagine. They use untraceable websites and payment methods to do “business” with one another outside the view of most of the world.

If you’ve been targeted by hackers on the dark web or you want to make sure you’re protected if it happens, Core Networks can help.

Get in touch with us today to find out more about our Cyber Security service and how it can help keep you safe.

It’s Not a Nigerian Prince! How to Tell if You’re Being Scammed in 4 Simple Steps

An alarming number of Americans are scammed each year. According to the United States Senate, seniors lose nearly $3 billion per year due to scams.

Many people have heard of the Nigerian prince scam. Here, a (fake) “member of the Nigerian royal family” promises to share their fortune with you.

To get your cash, you simply need to pay a small transfer fee and provide your bank account information. Next thing you know, the scammers are emptying your bank account.

The Nigerian scam is one of many common email, online, and phone scams.

Read on to learn how to tell if you’re being scammed in four easy steps.

1. Maintain Awareness

The first step in identifying scams is being aware that they exist. You should be naturally skeptical of any attempt to give you money or other amenities.

If a proposal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This is especially true if the source of the offer is unexpected or unknown.

2. Exercise Caution

It is important that you exercise caution when opening e-mails or accepting phone calls from unknown sources. You should not click on hyperlinks included in e-mails from unrecognized sources. This is likely a spear-phishing attempt to hack your e-mail account and extract personal information.

In addition, you should not provide any personal information. This includes banking information, social security, and your date of birth.

3. Do Some Research

One advantage of the digital era is the amount of information available on the web. Most scams can be identified by performing a simple Google search.

Conduct a search of the company’s name and see what comes up. Also, check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to see if the company is legitimate.

You can also perform an online search of what the company or person is offering. In many cases, you will find countless examples of victims warning you to avoid this scam.

4. Look for Warning Signs

For many scams, there are little details that are off. These are warning signs that the communication is illegitimate.

One common scam is an e-mail or phone call from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) stating that you owe back taxes. For starters, the IRS does not operate this way and would not communicate with you via phone or e-mail.

Furthermore, scammers try to make e-mails look as authentic and official as possible. Scammers may use a fake e-mail address that resembles an IRS account.

These fake accounts can be identified by subtle spelling or grammatical errors. Also, all official correspondence from a government account will come from a .gov e-mail address. Any e-mail from a .com or .org address purporting to be a government agency is likely fraudulent.

How to Tell If You’re Being Scammed: A Recap

In the digital era, scammers are everywhere and constantly seeking to acquire your personal information. The goal is to steal money from you or possibly your identity.

The best advice is to remain vigilant and protect your personal information at all costs. If you enjoyed this article about how to tell if you’re being scammed, check out our blog for more great content.

How to Protect Business Data Security and Privacy

Nearly half of all cybercrime targets small businesses. In fact, approximately 60 percent of all businesses will experience a cyberattack during their lifetime.

And, these attacks have the potential to cripple business operations. In some cases, an attack can cost millions of dollars in lost revenue.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to protect yourself.

Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we got you covered.

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about protecting your company’s data security and privacy.

Keep a Backup of Everything

This is one of the most important practices you can implement when it comes to protecting your data.

Unfortunately, you can’t ever have full protection against cyber threats since they are constantly evolving. By having a proper backup of your data, though, you can get limit the amount of downtime your company experiences from an attack.

For example, let’s say your company is struck by a ransomware attack.

Rather than comply with the hacker’s demands in order to get access to your data, you can simply ignore them and restore everything from a recent backup.

Sure, you may lose a bit of progress, but it’s better than losing everything. It’s also better than paying the ransom and facilitating future attacks.

Keep Your Software Updated

Old software exploits are a common reason why small businesses are primary targets for hackers. Whether it’s due to the price or lack of education, many entrepreneurs don’t prioritize using modern software.

But, foregoing the extra money and time spent on secure software could cost you everything.

So, get in the habit of scheduling updates for all the software your company uses. It’s best to do it overnight so that your daily operations aren’t interrupted.

Properly Train Your Employees

While most of us know not to open suspicious emails or click shady links, it’s not impossible for your employees to unknowingly cause a security breach.

Many hackers use tactics that appear completely legitimate, which can result in compromised information that you potentially won’t be aware of for days.

For example, an experienced cybercriminal could send an employee an email that (at a brief glance) appears as if it came directly from you asking for updates on sensitive data.

Then, the employee would unknowingly give the data directly to the hacker. As you can expect, the results could be catastrophic.

As an added measure of security, place restrictions on employee access to data based on merit. Lower-level employees should always have the least amount of access.

Handling Your Business’s Data Security and Privacy Can Seem Difficult

But it doesn’t have to be.

With the above information about company data security and privacy in mind, you’ll be well on your way to keeping your vital info as safe as possible.

Want to learn more about the dangers your company may be facing? This article has plenty of useful information.

Break-Fix vs. Managed Services: Everything You Need to Know

There are over 1 billion computers in use around the world. Many of them are used by businesses.

If you use computers to manage your business you need to find a way to maintain both the computers and the software that you use. 

There are two main options you should consider when thinking about maintaining your computer system, these are break-fix repair and managed services. If you are on a tight budget it can be very confusing to know what to do.

Here is a comparison so that you can choose the option that is right for you.

1. The Key Differences Between Break-fix and Managed Services

The key differences between a break-fix- service and a managed service is that a break-fix service is used as needed. This means that you only call a break-fix repair company when something is broken.

A managed service is responsible for your IT services around the clock.

2. Speed

A break-fix service will often charge you an hourly rate. How much you will eventually pay is highly dependent on how fast or how slow they work.

With a managed IT support service there are often guarantees made to customers. The faster the managed service provider works to solve your problem the better it is for their reputation and maybe even their pay depending on the guarantee that was made.

A break-fix service will often charge you more than once if they have to deal with the same problem twice. If you have a managed service and this happens there is usually no extra charge.

3. Get Access to the Latest Management Systems

When you use a managed IT service you are likely to have access to the latest in management systems. This is because your service provider has an incentive to keep you up and running.

Using a break-fix service means that you will have to implement the latest systems yourself. If you are to do this, you will see your costs for maintenance rise rapidly.

4. Have Your Own Dedicated IT Team

Having an inhouse IT team can be costly and if you are a small business this will raise your budget. Even when you have an in-house team you may find yourself limited by hours of operations.

When you have an IT team from a managed service you pay a monthly fee for a team that is always on call and dedicated to your cybersecurity

Final Thoughts

You have now seen the major differences between a break-fix service and a managed IT service. If you rarely have IT issues then you can choose a break-fix service. If your budget can manage costly repairs then you can also go with a break-fix service.

However, if you have a limited budget and need regular IT assistance then you should choose a managed service. In the end, you will save more money.

You will also have greater peace of mind when you use a managed service because you can rest assured that someone will always be on call to deal with your IT issues.

If you would like to get managed IT services please contact us.

The Top Email Scams (And How to Avoid Them)

Most of us know not to respond to emails from a Nigerian prince looking to enter a business proposition but email scams have come a long way from when that one started surfacing.

It’s difficult to see through some of the latest attempts to swindle and trick you out of your hard-earned money.

We’ve got five email scams for you to beware of and tips on how to spot one in your inbox.

1. Phishing Sites

Phishing site emails are hard to spot because they look legit. Many of these appear to be from a bank, credit card, or e-commerce website requesting you click a link to sign-in and verify your information. Some of these will make it look like there has been a major purchase, so you feel compelled to check it out just in case it is legit.

While the email looks like it is from a company or organization, you deal with the link goes to a fake site. This site will look practically identical to the real business and will have a sign-in page that records your attempts to access your account.

This allows the criminal to go to the real company website and use your log-in information to access your account and steal your money or change your password so you are now locked out.

2. Delivery Pending

Another email scam that seems rampant right now involves packages that require delivery. The email will either ask for a small delivery fee paid by a credit card or attempt to get personal information from you to steal your identity.

Do not give out personal information, especially if you do not recognize the sender and were not expecting a delivery. It is wise to verify the information with the company and the delivery courier through other means rather than clicking on a link within the email to do so.

3. Tax Refunds or Taxes Owed

The government is not texting you about taxes. Never give out personal information through email or unsolicited phone calls claiming to be from the government. If they are contacting you regarding your taxes, they will have your personal information already.

Always contact the government agency directly to verify it is one of their agents requesting the information. These types of email scams also include a phishing site link for you to click on.

4. Downloading Unknown Files

Any email that requires you to download an unknown file from an unknown sender should be considered suspicious. In fact, even if the person is on your contact list if you aren’t expecting a file from them, or the email seems off compared to your normal communication, hold off on downloading any files.

There are viruses and other harmful malware that can harm your computer just by being opened.

5. Blackmail Email Scams

A growing trend in email scams is one where the sender attempts to blackmail the recipient by stating they have video or images from their computer or webcam that would be embarrassing if made public.

These “final warning” blackmail emails are alarming but not real and should be ignored or reported if the email actually includes stills or video proof of their hacking into your computer.

While there are malware trojan viruses that can grant remote access to turn on your webcam, it is rare that this is the case and shouldn’t be suspected if the email is generic in nature.

Think Before You Click

If an offer sounds too good to be true or something seems off about the communication it’s better to be safe than sorry. Think before you click so that you aren’t taken in by the many email scams that are out there.

Be sure to bookmark our site for easy access to all our tips and resources or contact us today to answer all your online business security questions.