The Internet, still in its early phases, is seeing a dramatic increase in the number of users. Unfortunately, this growth has also seen an increase in the number of cyber criminals and attacks against websites. The latest major attack was perpetrated against LivingSocial. If you have an account with this website, you may want to pay attention.
LivingSocial is a daily deals website that focuses on bringing bargains and original deals to users based on their geographical location. In late April, news broke that the website had suffered a massive cyber attack with 50 million accounts being compromised.
From the reports we have seen, the attack targeted accounts world-wide with only account holders in Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea and the Philippines being unaffected. An email sent out by Tim O'Shaughnessy, LivingSocial's CEO shortly after the incident said, "We recently experienced a cyber-attack on our computer systems that resulted in unauthorized access to some customer data from our servers. We are actively working with law enforcement to investigate this issue."
The company assured users that their credit card data had not been compromised, as they are kept in another database. Account passwords were also encrypted, which means they are harder to crack but not impossible.
What should you do? If you have a LivingSocial account, we recommend that you go and change your password immediately. This can be done by:
- Going to LivingSocial's forgot your password page.
<li>Entering the email address you used to sign up for the account with. </li> <li>Pressing Reset Password.</li> <li>Checking your email for an email from LivingSocial and following the instructions in the email.</li>
It is advisable to pick a new password, one that is as different as possible from your old password and, as always, the longer, the better.
Is there anything I can to do protect my company? If you are a business owner who has websites that encourage customers to sign up for updates, accounts, etc. you may be wondering how you can keep your user's information secure from cyber attack. In truth, you can't keep your important information 100% secure, if a hacker is committed enough, they will be able to get the information they need or wreak the havoc they want to. But what you can do is to make it as hard as possible for cybercriminals to get your information. This could be as simple as using multiple databases to store different bits of information, or as complex as using the latest encryption methods and systems.
Each business is unique, and the best way to ensure your valuable data is secure is to work with an IT partner who takes the time to get to know your security needs and develop a solution that is as near to 100% secure as possible.
If you are worried about the security of your systems, contact us today. We may have the perfect solution that will meet your needs and budget.
The computer has become such an invaluable tool to all businesses that it's hard to imagine life without one. While computers are important, many companies can't afford the latest and greatest and must make do with older systems. A problem with this is that older systems often run slower and can cause you to be counterproductive. However, there are steps you can take to keep your computers running as they should.
Below are four things you can do to keep your PC running smoothly.
1. Shutdown properly If you turn your computer off at the end of the day, or it freezes, it may be tempting to flick the off switch on the power bar, or press the power button until it turns off. This isn't ideal for your computer's health because when a computer is unexpectedly shut down, there could be damage to the operating system.
You may notice that when your computer crashes, it takes longer to reboot. This is because Windows is actually searching for, or trying to repair any damage that may have been done. There is a chance that powering down improperly could cause files to become corrupted which may make the system inoperable.
Therefore, you should follow proper shutdown procedures. If you need to shut down quickly, try pressing Control+Alt+Delete and selecting Shut Down from there.
2. Close unnecessary programs running in the background Some programs are written to be always running in the background. If you look in the bottom right of your screen, you should see programs running beside the clock. In truth, most of these likely don't need to be open. You should be able to right click on the icon and close them. This will save computing resources and make your computer run smoother.
A word of warning: It's best not to shut down the antivirus or security software as this will leave your computer open to attack. Also, don't shut down anything from NVIDIA or AMD as this is your video card software. Closing programs like this could cause your computer to crash.
3. Utilize Add/Remove on a regular basis Chances are high that you have installed a fairly high number of programs on your computer, some of which you may not use anymore. Those you don't use just take up valuable hard drive space, and should be removed on a regular basis. You can do this by:
- Clicking on Start or the Windows Orb.
<li>Selecting Settings followed by Control Panel.</li> <li>Opening Add/Remove Programs.</li>
It may take a few minutes to scan your system for programs, but a window will open with all the programs you have installed. Click on those you don't use anymore and remove them. We strongly recommend that you do not go into different files and delete programs, this could damage your system.
4. Use a malware scanner and antivirus program This may sound like a no-brainer, but it is still worth mentioning that having an antivirus program and malware scanner is a good idea. Many viruses and other malware often hijack system resources causing the computer to run slower, or crash. A regular scan can go a long way in minimizing this, which means your computer will likely run better for longer.
If you are looking for ways to keep your older systems running at their optimal levels, please contact us today to see how we can help you.
When it comes to running a successful business, the last thing an owner or manager wants to think about is a disaster that could cause their business to go bankrupt. While there are many things you can do to minimize the potential fallout from any disaster, the most important is implementing a comprehensive disaster recovery plan that covers more than just data backup. If you are struggling to figure out what to do, this article may help.
Here are five tips to help ensure that your business is fully ready for the next disaster.
1. Backup everything While it can be tempting to only backup the most important data and programs, it can be a chore to identify what is deemed to be important. Who knows, a file that is non-essential today may become essential in the future. If it is lost due to a disaster, this could prove to be a problem.
It would be a good idea to look for a backup solution that covers all data and programs. But, having a full backup solution isn't enough, you also need to ensure that recovery is easy and can be implemented quickly.
2. Look into tiered recovery Establishing a tiered recovery method means identifying the value and importance of existing systems and utilizing a recovery method that meets needs. It would be a good idea to identify mission critical systems and adopt a recovery method that can have these systems up and running as quickly as possible. From there you can tier different systems and match a recovery method. For example, archived files are likely not needed right away, so they can be recovered at a later date, using a slower recovery method.
3. Keep copies of all keys and licenses With the amount of software and programs businesses use on a daily basis growing, it would be a good idea to keep copies of the activation keys (the string of digits and letters you enter to activate the full version of software) and purchased licenses.
While many of these are now distributed electronically through email, there are still software developers that distribute keys by mail or with the physical install CDs. If you lose the codes in a fire, you will be out of luck and have to purchase the software again. This is an extra charge you likely don't want.
4. Pick the right recovery locations The best recovery plans offer numerous backup solutions which are hosted in different locations. A good provider knows this and will utilize data storage centers as far apart as possible. If you choose to backup your own data, it would not be a good idea to keep the backups in the office.
Similarly, if you are preparing for a big disaster, you likely have physical locations that you can move to if your main business location is damaged or destroyed. Optimal plans will have more than one location identified, and have them as far apart as possible. This will minimize the chances of losing full operations and increase your business's ability to bounce back quicker.
5. Match your recovery plan to your business There are so many different backup and recovery options that it can be tough to pick one. The best course of action is to look at your systems and how they work. If you operate strictly offline, a cloud based backup solution likely isn't your best bet. Or, if you operate fully in the cloud, a physical tape or hard disk backup may not be optimal.
If you are looking to beef up, or establish a disaster recovery plan, try working with an IT partner like us, who can help you find the optimal solution that can meet your needs and budget.
For the past five years there have really been only two major smartphone systems: Android and Apple's iOS. Systems like the Windows Phone have been on the outside looking in. Microsoft aims to change that, and has been gaining ground, albeit slowly. The latest version of Windows Phone, Windows Phone 8, offers users a solid mobile system that will likely attract many business users. The problem is, it can be a bit of a chore to switch to a new system. However, Microsoft has recently released an app for Android users that makes this switch much easier.
If you have an Android phone and want to move over to a Windows Phone, Microsoft has recently released an app that can help. "Switch to Windows Phone", available on the Google Play store, is an app that scans your device for installed apps and then links them to your Microsoft Account. It will also tell you how many 'matched apps' are available for the Windows Phone.
Matched apps are either the Windows Phone version, or a similar app that has the same functionality. It is highly likely that you will see more than 70% of your Android apps available on the Windows Phone Store.
After you have matched your apps on the Android device, you can then download the companion app from the Windows Phone Store, log in to your phone using the same Microsoft Account and the app will show you the available apps and allow you to tap on them to install them.
If you have synced your contacts, email and calendar with a Google Account on your Android, you can also log into this on your Windows Phone and the three should sync automatically. This means that switching is technically as simple as signing into two accounts on your Windows Phone.
Looking to switch? Download the free Android app from Google Play here. You can find the free companion app on the Windows Phone Store here. Check back next month for an in-depth look at how to switch to a Windows Phone from another system. If you are considering switching, or would like to learn more about how a smartphone can help make business easier, contact us today.
To many business owners, social media is one of the most important marketing tools at their disposal. It's true that a well executed social media strategy can make all the difference, while also giving smaller companies a way to compete with industry giants. What many may not realize is that social media can be much more than just a marketing platform.
Below are four non-marketing oriented uses of social media that businesses could benefit from.
Hiring LinkedIn is a social network dedicated to helping professionals and organizations connect and find jobs and new talent. Most social savvy companies will have a presence on this network and may even hire exclusively from here.
If you are looking for new employees, it wouldn't hurt to have a LinkedIn profile. To find the best talent, you need to forge and maintain connections (usually starting with people you know), and be somewhat active in groups and on message boards.
It's also important to not forget the other major networks when it comes to hiring. Tweeting a job opening on Twitter, or posting ads on Facebook could also help you find your next employee. Facebook can be particularly useful because you can pay to target ads (in this case, job openings) at specific demographics.
Internal communications Communication is an important part of business, and most people choose to communicate using email. You have probably seen emails with jokes, invitations to after work events, lunch orders, etc. sent to the whole company and also received the many replies that go with it. This can get very annoying, and also confusing.
Why not utilize social media for non-essential (aka. not related to work) communication. Set up a Facebook group where your employees can share content, invitations to lunch or after work gatherings, interesting stories, etc. That way you can limit email to more important, business-related aspects.
Using social media for internal communication is also beneficial for companies with younger workers. Most already see Facebook, Twitter, etc. as their main form of communication, some even feel more comfortable communicating over this medium as opposed to speaking out in meetings. Having a group portal or Facebook page could give less-empowered employees a way to voice their ideas, and maybe even improve on them with feedback from others.
Learning A common complaint of many business owners is that they have a tough time staying on top of ever-changing trends and what currently interests their customers. Using social media to connect with your customers can be a great way to learn not only hot trends but also about new ideas.
Customer service When it comes to social media, users will often complain publicly on their wall or through their tweets. This is bad for you, as the reach of this complaint can go a long way and make you look bad. Some companies have decided to confront this head on by having specific customer service accounts. If a customer complains, has an issue, or even compliments you, be active and respond using that account.
If done properly, over time, you will see more and more people reaching out to your customer service account through social media. This also gives you another way to please clients or turn around negative customer experiences.
Social media and the various platforms are not only great for marketing, but can be incredibly useful for other business functions. Do you have any other ways you use social media? Let us know. Or, if you would like to learn more about how it can help your company, then contact us today.
Lists are important part of any role in any company. Many lists are now composed in a word processor like Microsoft's Word. But have you ever struggled to create a numbered list in Word? Maybe lists start from one each time you enter a new one, or the numbers continue from previous list. This can be frustrating, but luckily there is something you can do to address it.
Below is an overview of how you can set up ordered lists to either continue numbered lists from where you last left off, or start at #1 with new lists.
Set up numbering for all future lists
- Open a new Word document.
- Go to the Home tab (Press Home at the top of the window)
- Press the downward-facing arrow beside the numbered list button in the Paragraph group. (it's located on the right of the bullet point button)
- Select Set Numbered Value... from the drop-down menu.
- Click the numbering option you want from the pop-up window.
- Press Ok.
- Start new list - If you select this option, new lists will automatically start at one.
- Continue from previous list - Selecting this option will continue numbering from previous lists in the same document. For example: If you have a paragraph and then a numbered list with three points, and type another paragraph then enter a new list, the list will start from four.
- Set value to: - Lets you set what number lists will start at.
Note that if you have a document with a continuous list that is separated by paragraphs and choose to reset one list to start at one, all subsequent lists will be changed to reflect the new ordering.
Did you know that the new HIPAA Privacy and Security final rule came into effect March 26? The rule, more commonly known as the HIPAA Omnibus Rule brings about a drastic change in the way practices are supposed to handle breach notifications. This change is something you should be aware of.
Under the old rule, when a data breach occurred, health-care providers were presumed innocent of harming patients until the patients proved otherwise. Under the new rule, when a data breach occurs. The opposite is the case: Health-care providers are presumed guilty of harming patients, and will have to prove their innocence.
Additionally, the new rule includes business associates (such as vendors), which could catch providers off guard.
Small health-care providers without resources to understand the changes can rely on government programs to help them do risk analysis. In essence, the programs recommend that you identify all parties with access to health records and ensure that you are protecting those records in compliance with the new rule.
Although the rule was effective on March 26, providers and their business associates have 180 days to comply before the Office for Civil Rights begins enforcement, beginning on September 23. Until then, however, providers will still be held accountable under the old rules. If you need help ensuring that your systems are secure, please contact us today.
Meaningful Use Stage 2 begins on January 1, 2014, and while many health-care providers have implemented electronic medical records (EMRs) in preparation, stumbling blocks exist. Here are three of them.
Getting patients to use portals. More than 50% of patients seen during the reporting period must receive timely online access to their health information, which means within four business days. Additionally, more than 5% of patients seen in that period must actually, "view, download, or transmit to a third party their health information."
Exchanging data. Health-care providers must provide a summary-of-care record for more than 50% of transitions of care and referrals, and for 10% of those transitions, the summary must be transmitted electronically. Moreover, at least one exchange must occur with a recipient who uses a different EMR. And, the data must be able to be generated in a specified format.
Creating medication and lab orders. More than 60% of medication orders and 30% of lab test orders must be done electronically, and test orders will involve new workflows in many practices.
While these three potential stumbling blocks may seem large, there is some good news: Stage 2 shouldn’t be burdensome for health-care providers who attested in Stage 1, as you’re essentially just demonstrating a higher level of use. If you are preparing for Stage 2, and are worried about potential challenges, contact us today to see how we can help make the tranistion smooth and worry free.
Security is an important issue for many business owners and managers. Many work with their IT department or an IT partner to ensure their network and systems are secure from threats. But what about your email, social media and bank accounts? The weakest link of these online accounts is your password, hackers know this and that's what they target. Do you take steps to ensure that you have a strong password?
If you want to minimize the chances of your password being hacked, here are five things you should NOT do.
1. Don't pick short passwords
While short passwords are easier to remember, they are also easier and quicker to hack. The most common way to hack passwords is by using brute force: Developing a list of every possible password, then trying this list with a username.
Using a mid-range computer like the one many have on their desk, with a normal Internet connection, you can develop a list of all potential passwords astonishingly quickly. For example it would take 11.9 seconds to generate a list of all possible passwords using five lowercase characters (a,b,c,d,etc.) only. It will take about 2.15 hours to develop a list of all possible passwords using five of any computer character. Once a hacker has the list, they just have to try every potential password with your user name.
On the other hand, a list of all 8 character passwords with at least one special character (!,@,%,etc.) and one capital letter would take this computer 2.14 centuries to develop. In other words, the longer the password, the harder it will be to hack. That being said, longer passwords aren't impossible to hack, they just take more time. So, most hackers will usually go after the shorter passwords first.
2. Don't use the same password
The way most hackers work is that they assume users have the same password for different accounts. If they can get one password, it's as simple as looking through that account's information for any related accounts and trying the original password with the other accounts. If one of these happens to be your email where you have kept bank information, you will likely see your bank account drained.
It's therefore important to use a different password for every online account. They key here is to try and use a password that's as different as possible. Don't just add a number or character onto the end of a word. If you have trouble remembering all of your passwords, try using a password manager like LastPass.
3. Don't use words from the dictionary or all numbers
This article published last year on ZDnet highlights the 25 most popular passwords. Notice that more than 15 contain words from the dictionary, and most of the rest are strings of common numbers. To have a secure password, most security experts agree that you should not use words from the dictionary or number combinations that are beside each other (e.g., 1234).
4. Don't use standard number substitutions
Some users have passwords where they replace letters with a number that looks similar, for example: h31lo (hello). Most new password hacking tools actually have combinations like this built in and will try a normal word, followed by replacing letters with similar numbers. It’s best to avoid this.
5. Don't use available information as a password
What we mean by this is using information that can be easily found on the Internet. For example, doing a quick search for your name will likely return your email address and social media profiles. If you have pictures of your kids, spouse, pets, family, their dates of birth, etc. on your Facebook profile and have put their names in captions, it's possible for a hacker to see this (assuming the pictures are shared with the public).You can bet that they will try these names as your password. You would be surprised with the amount of personal information on the web. We suggest searching for yourself using your email address(s), social media profile names, etc. and seeing what information can be found. If your passwords are close to what you find, it would be a good idea to change them immediately.
There are numerous things you can do to minimize the chance that your passwords are stolen and accounts hacked.
When it comes to the environment, almost every company takes steps to 'do their part' and try to do what they can to conserve, recycle or give back. Any steps taken to help the environment, or reduce a company's environmental impact are seen as good in the eyes of stakeholders. The problem is, it can be hard to figure out how to start, or do more. One solution may be smartphone apps.
Here are four great apps that can help you and your employees make your company a little more green.
GoodGuide is an app that can help you find out more about products. Utilizing a barcode scanner, it can provide you with information like where the product comes from, whether it's safe and if it's green.
With over 170,000 ranked products in the app's database, it's a great way to start learning about sustainable and environmentally friendly products. The only downside of this app is that it currently focuses on the US only, and there is no word as to when, or if, service will expand. You can download it to your Apple and Android device for free.
While we are currently living in a digital age, we still get a lot of paper-based junk mail. This is incredibly wasteful, as most people just throw it away. PaperKarma is an app that aims to reduce or eliminate waste paper.
How it works is you take a picture of unwanted mail, the developers will then contact the distributor and ask that they stop sending mail to you. This app could go a long way in helping reduce the amount of paper your office uses, which will mean lower costs for you and less trees felled. It's really a win-win. You can download it to your iPhone or Android device for free.
An important part of any green initiative is recycling. The problem is, it can be hard to find out what, how and where to recycle. iRecycle is an app that aims to set this straight. It provides information on how to recycle almost everything and the nearest recycle points to you.
If your company has a fleet of vehicles, you are probably always on the lookout for ways to make them more efficient. Whether it be switching tires used, driving at slower speeds to conserve gas or carpooling, finding a way to cut costs is important. greenMeter is an app that could help. What it does is use your iPhone's accelerometer and manually entered data to assess your vehicle's power and gas usage.
While driving, this app provides real-time feedback on how efficient your driving is and how much gas you are using. This will help you conserve fuel (as you can see when you are burning more than usual) which will reduce operating costs and negative environmental impact. It's available for the iPhone and costs USD$5.99.
These are just four apps that can help your company go green. What other CSR initiatives do you take in your company? Let us know! And if you would like more tips on how technology can help you reduce your environmental impact, let us know, we can help.