Protecting Small Business Phone Systems

NY Times article noted, that in 2013 small business lost $5 billion in fraudulent phone charges. That number is up $1 billion from 2011, according to the Communications Fraud Control Association.

Digital phone hacking has been going on for years, and the internet has made it easier for hackers to break into on-premise small business phone systems. In one such scam, hackers leased premium rate 900 numbers, the ones that charge in excess of $1 per minute. High-speed computers, making hundreds of calls every minute, in a matter of a few days, can swindle a couple hundred thousand dollars from any one business. The payout for the lessee can soar as high as 24 cents for every minute spent on the phone. Continue reading “Protecting Small Business Phone Systems”

How a VPN can add to your business security

Being able to work from home is a wonderful benefit for employees and can keep them productive while reducing their stress.  It can also be a data security risk if not handled properly. Fortunately, if you have a local network, it’s not very hard to bring telecommuters into it. A network with this capacity is called a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Continue reading “How a VPN can add to your business security”

Why are software updates important?

When you are working on your business laptop or desktop you will receive prompts to install software updates(also known as a patch.)  These annoying pop-up notifications interrupt work and productivity, so many wish to ignore them. These updates provide fixes, patches and enhancements to make your programs and operating systems run more smoothly. More importantly, they keep your business network more secure. Continue reading “Why are software updates important?”

4 Ways to Avoid Data Breaches

In the current era of data, we face an ongoing risk of data loss, be it through hacking or system failures. The data you hold on your computer systems is crucial for your business; as such, it is critical that you protect yourself against data breaches and data loss. Continue reading “4 Ways to Avoid Data Breaches”

Is Your Business Due for an IT Assessment?

It is critical for businesses to conduct thorough IT assessments regularly so they can identify security violations, monitor performance, and document network developments.  An IT assessment can also help firms to ascertain the ways in which technology can enhance productivity and improve profitability. Continue reading “Is Your Business Due for an IT Assessment?”

Business phone solutions – step up to VoIP

If you’ve got a legacy PBX in your office, you’ve certainly noticed how it’s getting harder to maintain. You can’t get new systems that use the old TDM technology, and fewer and fewer companies want to support the old ones. The jump to VoIP business phone solutions might seem intimidating, but it comes with a lot of advantages, and if you use a hosted exchange, it’s not very hard to get it working. Continue reading “Business phone solutions – step up to VoIP”

The Benefits of Using a Network Proxy Server

One way to reduce the risks associated with business Internet activities is to use a network proxy server. A proxy server can be considered as the guardian of your network. It sits between your internal and external network servers and works to filter and monitor incoming and outgoing traffic.

What do Proxy Servers Do?

Caching: Proxy servers can download and store local copies of any web pages that you frequently visit. This is known as caching. They also monitor the pages on an ongoing basis and automatically update the cached version when the live form of the page is modified, making the cached version always up to date. Cached versions of web pages can be accessed anytime without being online; and as such, caching is a valuable method of enhancing your Internet speed and reducing bandwidth usage.

Content Filtering: In some cases, you may wish to have more control over which websites your employees access on the internet. For example, you may be concerned about your staff spending time on social media when they should be engaged in company activities. In these cases, you can use a proxy server to determine the content users can access within your network. Other examples of content that may be filtered in this way are gaming websites and entertainment portals.

Monitoring: In addition to controlling browsed content, you may also wish to monitor your employees’ online behaviors; for example, the emails that are sent, the websites they connect to, and the chat messages they exchange. You can use a proxy server to track incoming and outgoing information on your network from a single location.

Privacy: Users within the local network can connect to an external web page via the proxy server as opposed to creating a direct connection. As such, any requests that are filtered through the proxy server appear to be coming from that server and not your internal network. This allows users within your network to connect anonymously to the Internet, which enhances your business security.

Every modern-age business should make full use of proxy servers to protect business assets and maximize productivity. If you’re interested in exploring the option of adding a proxy server to your network, call us and we will be happy to talk about it.

Does your business have a problem with wasted employee time due to unauthorized web surfing or down time due to viruses?  We can help!  Contact us…

The Business Case for Using Pokemon Go

Pokémon Go has taken the world by storm in few days since its launch. People are hitting the streets in search of Pokémon, and getting sore legs in the process. But how can local businesses take advantage of people’s obsession with this latest fad to increase sales and profitability?

Before you start developing a strategy by which you can convert sauntering mobile gaming fanatics into cold, hard cash, you need to identify whether your business is a PokeStop or near a Gym. You can do this by downloading the Ingress map. While this online map of portals isn’t explicitly related to Pokémon Go, savvy game players have found that it pretty much maps 1:1 with the PokeStops and Gyms on Pokémon Go.

If your Business is a PokeStop, throw down a lure and wait for the customers to come streaming in; a lure is a special module that will attract Pokémon. When a lure is placed, Pokémon (and, more importantly, players) suddenly descend on your location.

You buy lures with real money. For a budget of $50, you can purchase 84 lures, which will give you a Pokémon at your business for 42 hours in total; that’s just $1.19 an hour! Think of how much foot traffic you can get through your door with 42 hours of promotional activity on the world’s most popular game.

If your business is near a Gym, capitalize on your location; users converge on gyms to enter into virtual duels with other players in a bid to take control of the gym. You can capitalize on this by running giveaways that are explicitly targeted at Pokémon Go players, offering discounts to the representatives of the team that has control of the gym, or advertising your proximity to a Pokémon gym on social media.

If your business is not near a Gym or a PokeStop, you can still take your business on the road to a PokeStop and lay down the lures from there. Or you can promote the nearest Pokémon on social media.

Fad or not, Pokémon Go can make you some cash right now.  Don’t miss out on an amazing opportunity to tap into this craze.

Five Great Time Saving Email Management Tips

The rise of email for business and personal communication has greatly reduced turnaround time in general and fostered greater information exchanges. Yet, it has also introduced new time-sucking woes. For instance, email has made it simple and cheap for communication you don’t necessarily want to arrive at your desk, and this can clog up your email service as well as monopolize much of that time electronic messaging was supposed to save in the first place. Here are some tips to reclaim that time:

1. Delete Obviously Unnecessary Emails

When you first access your email, you will notice some emails you can immediately identify as unimportant. Don’t even bother opening these; just delete them right off the bat to pare the list of emails down to the ones that do require your attention.

2. Recycle Sent Emails

If you find yourself sending out similar emails on a regular basis, why not just copy and paste the parts you need or the message in its entirety? This saves you composition time without sacrificing the quality of information you need to impart to a new recipient. You can also forward these messages; just remove all of the previous recipients’ information and make adjustments to the subject line to make your latest email appear brand new.

3. Sort Messages to Delete En Masse

Although different email services may vary in sorting options, most will allow you to make distinctions within folders by size or attachments. One method that is usually effective is to sort your Sent folder to discover those emails with attachments and delete them; after all, you likely have those attachments saved on your PC as well. This can free up huge amounts of space in a pinch.

4. Turn Notifications Off:

Unless it is part of your company’s policy or you have other reasons to receive a notification for every new email received, it is often a time waster. Many of these emails don’t require your immediate attention, but it does pull you away from the task at hand when notifications go off. It is usually better to check your emails at particular times of day instead of continually throughout the day.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Close Your Email:

There are times you don’t need the distraction of email. As long as you aren’t going all day without checking in, you are likely taking care of your electronic communication in a timely manner. When you aren’t using your email, don’t be afraid to close it out to remove the temptation to check in.

5 Easy Computer Maintenance Steps

Just as it’s a good idea to periodically clean out closets and other areas of your home, your computer needs de-cluttering attention as well. This not only makes it easier for you to find files when you need them, but can also speed up the computer performance.

1. Check for Viruses

If you do not have an antivirus installed and set to regularly check your system, make it your first priority to install an antivirus. Not all viruses put out obvious signals like the Blue Screen of Death; some can lurk in the background, slowing down your computer’s operations or running malware without your knowledge.

2. Use a Disk Cleaner

Disk cleaners clean your system looking for files you don’t use, particularly useless temporary ones. Such files won’t impact how your programs work, and they just take up valuable space and can even make your computer run slower than it should.

3. Organize Your Files

If you have long lists of files, try grouping them into folders. This will save you a lot of time when looking for something in particular and also makes your storage more aesthetically pleasing.

4. Toss Unnecessary Programs

You’ve likely tested out programs and decided they weren’t for you or even grown tired of them. There’s no reason to keep them. Go into your Control Panel and select Programs to see everything that’s on your computer. Uninstall the ones you can readily identify as ones you no longer want or need, and leave the ones you don’t recognize alone in case they are important.

5. Clean Your Web History and Cookies

Over time, all the little data records of where you’ve been while surfing the web accrue, and can greatly slow the functioning of your computer. Deleting your web history, including cookies, is something you should not be doing just during Spring cleaning, but on a regular basis to keep your computer operating at optimum speed.