Monthly Archives: February 2015

Cyber-Security Summit at Stanford

President Obama recently spoke at Stanford University, underscoring the importance of cyber security, and called upon industry leaders to fight back against hacker attacks and growing cyber crimes

President Obama recently spoke at Stanford University, underscoring the importance of cyber security, and called upon industry leaders to fight back against hacker attacks and growing cyber crimes

President Obama hosted a White House Summit on Cyber-Security and Consumer Protection at Stanford University Friday, February 13th. With what seems like a new hacker attack on the US everyday to our a major corporations, or security breaches where millions of people’s records are being compromised, the tech-industry as a whole is taking action. Within the past few months companies like Sony, and America’s second largest healthcare company, Anthem, have experienced massive cyber-security breaches. The president is fighting back against the constant stream of cyber crimes and threats by meeting with industry leaders in the heart of the nation’s tech community, the Silicon Valley, to call on private and public sector businesses to begin information and intelligence sharing.

Obama hopes to reach some common ground, and a solution that will keep our civil liberties intact while providing a higher level of cyber-security. However, some critics are fearful that giving the government too much control will stifle innovation and growth in the industry. The CEO of Apple, Tom Cook, and Dan Schulman, CEO of PayPal, were amongst the industry leaders in attendance at the meeting. The speakers at the Summit called for new information sharing policies across the private and public sectors of our economy, and believe that without sharing intelligence we won’t stand a chance against cyber-crimes. They also wanted to bring more attention to the foundations of cyber-security that will help protect the US all across the board: from keeping anti-virus software downloaded and current, avoiding suspicious emails, backing up data, to password technology.

Encryption was also a key topic of discussion as it is one of our most important cyber-security tools. “We can’t allow the short-sighted worries of some law enforcement officials to undermine the longer term goal of creating a truly secure Internet, which in itself will help prevent countless crimes,” Danielle Kehl, policy analyst for the New America Foundation’s Open Technology US News. Encryption is key for a secure internet, and for allowing things like mobile banking, and the transferring of classified information between government agencies and the military.

KCRA News reported that the President would be signing an executive order hoping to achieve that common ground that will get the private and public sectors to work together on these issues. They feel this is a matter of our public security and health, as attacks coming from inside and outside of our borders are compromising our financial grid, healthcare systems, and power grids daily.

Please contact us for any additional information.

Eight truths about IT support that every business owner should know

IT support can do more for your business than just fix problems as they arise.

IT support can do more for your business than just fix problems as they arise.

For many business owners, IT personnel might as well not exist unless there’s a specific computer problem that needs an immediate solution. Once it’s fixed, the IT support folks can promptly withdraw from the scene, and business can carry on as usual.

However, there’s much more to IT support than just fixing problems as they pop up. The following are eight truths about IT support that every business owner should know:

  1. Your IT support should be proactive and not just reactive. IT support personnel can help you come up with ways to prevent problems from occurring; for example, they can regularly enhance your cyber-security plan and data backup measures.
  2. IT support can further your business goals. Your company’s productivity and the direction you want it to take depends in part on your IT infrastructure. If you discuss your business goals with your IT personnel, they can help ensure that your IT set-up lines up with what you need (and with enough flexibility to accommodate future changes).
  3. IT support personnel are human. Highly skilled and highly trained humans (hopefully), but still, only human and not magic robots. Often, solving a problem will take more than pushing a button or typing a single command. Although proactive measures reduce the risks of problems, there’s no such thing as a 100% problem-free work environment. The best you can hope for is an IT support team that works effectively and as quickly as possible, while prioritizing their work based on your needs.
  4. IT support saves you precious time. Think of all the time you and your employees would waste dealing with the problems that IT support personnel take care of. Beyond handling specific computer difficulties, IT support can help you make your day-to-day business operations flow more efficiently, with your employees relying on the right programs and devices.
  5. IT support personnel can help educate employees. Many cyber security breaches and other computer problems have their source in employee error. And in regards to simpler computer issues, your employees might also be given the means to quickly solve simple problems themselves, leaving IT to deal with the bigger issues. Your IT support is a potential source of employee knowledge and training.
  6. Your customer relations can improve thanks to IT support. From keeping your website up and running to maintaining software that allows you to connect with and keep track of your customers, good IT support enhances customer relations.
  7. IT support personnel know the best, most up-to-date practices. They keep up with tech and software developments, understand safe and effective practices, and are up-to-date on industry standards and guidelines. They can help you benefit from state-of-the-art, cost-effective solutions that also comply with government regulations.
  8. You can outsource IT support to a trusted provider. Hiring an IT staff or expanding on your current staff might not make financial sense. In many cases, it’s more cost-effective to outsource IT support to a provider who will work closely with your company and provide you only with the services you need; the money you save on IT can get redirected to your core business areas, promoting growth. Furthermore, even if you keep in-house IT personnel, it’s useful to have trusted outsiders to consult with; they can bring additional expertise to your company.

Be sure to contact us for more information about our IT support services. Strong IT support is indispensable to your company’s success.

Beware of Ransomeware

Ransomware is in the news lately -- it's worth it to invest in experts to guard your clients' information.

Ransomware is in the news lately — it’s worth it to invest in experts to guard your clients’ information.

A new type of computer virus, called CryptoWall, a family of ransomware programs that lock up computer files, are making headlines. Typically, virus software has been used to destroy computers or steal files, but according to NBC Nightly News computers hackers aren’t just stealing people’s information anymore, they’re now hacking into computers and locking you out until you pay up. They are accessing files, tax documents, and personal information, and then holding it all ransom with a clock giving you only a short window of time to pay the specified amount. These criminals have their sights on larger targets too, and have hacked into over one million computers including small businesses and even a police department. In Dickson County Tennessee the Sheriffs office had to pay 600 dollars to retrieve their files that were being held ransom. It can happen to anyone and at any level, but security experts say, “don’t pay, if none of us paid the ransom, these guys would go out of business.” By paying to get your files and computer back you’re fueling their fire, and will keep their operation profitable. Protecting personal and work computers from dangerous malware is the most important thing people can do. The experts suggest, prevention through updated anti-virus software, backing up files on external hard-drives and being sure to disconnect the hard-drive after, and being careful of what emails are being opened, are a few of the ways to protect your computer. The hackers often send out an email pretending to be a trusted organization like the United States Postal Service, then require the user to open a file that needs to be downloaded, and, unfortunately, sometimes it’s as simple as one click, and they’re in. From a business stand point, it’s worth the time and money to have experts guarding your clients information. Hackers know they are ahead of the average user when it comes to computers, that’s why having your own well-equipped artillery of experts to ward them off is well worth it. Contact us if you’ve been struck by a disaster and need to get your servers and work stations up and running, or if you are looking to prevent one altogether.

The Service Your Customers Really Want

The customer-service department should be friendly and conversational, while maintaining professionalism. The representatives should listen to each customer, regardless of how many are waiting in line.

The customer-service department should be friendly and conversational, while maintaining professionalism. The representatives should listen to each customer, regardless of how many are waiting in line.

A company’s customer service department is simply answering customer concerns in a prompt environment.  When you are dealing with online backups, emails and system monitoring, customers expect more from companies than answering questions efficiently.  Customers want appreciation and companies want loyalty in return.  One bad experience with their website or computer and customers are quick to turn.  Here’s how to give the service your customers really want.

Companies need to make the customer service department sound like a conversation while maintaining the business substance.  It’s up to the employees to make it happen.  As consumers chat with a representative about a virus or disaster recovery, mention each person by name during the conversation.  Try to sound friendly, likeable and warm to the customer to make them feel like prom queen/prom king.  Each person needs to feel important no matter how many people are waiting in line.  Listen to each one thoroughly, offer an answer when the customer has stopped speaking, and take action.  A great suggestion is to send an email asking consumers to take a survey about their recent customer service experience.  The answers may open your eyes about what is next.

In addition to appreciation, offer flexibility, accessibility and accuracy.  Customers should already know about hours of operation, various lines of communication and bilingual representatives.  The customer service foundation is about providing an answer, and there’s no point in being fast if the answers are incorrect.  When customers deal with computer, email or web issues, companies can’t afford to be wrong.  Have an experienced staff who is detailed in problem solving so customers can follow the instructions.

It’s never enough to provide a solution; consumers expect exceptional customer service.  Customers expect more from companies now.  For more information about our IT services, contact us.  Contact us for more information.